If someone displays these 7 traits, they’re probably quite unhappy in life

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Life is a roller-coaster of emotions. We all chase happiness, but sometimes, unhappiness catches up without us even realizing it.

Like happiness shows in bright smiles and hearty laughs, unhappiness too has its own signs. It’s often seen in certain behaviors or traits that people display.

While everyone’s story is different, there are common signs that show someone might be feeling down in the dumps.

In this article, we’ll talk about seven such traits that may signal that a person is not very happy in life.

Spotting these signs isn’t about labeling someone as unhappy, but about understanding what they might be going through.

It’s a chance to show kindness and offer a helping hand to someone who might need it.

Let’s dive into these signs, understand them better, and learn how we can be there for others, making life a little brighter for everyone around us.

Trait 1: They Often Seem Withdrawn or Distant

We all have times when we just want to curl up in our cozy corner away from the world.

But when someone often seems lost in their own thoughts or prefers staying away from others more than usual, it might be a sign of unhappiness.

Like a turtle pulling its head inside its shell, some people withdraw into themselves when they’re feeling down.

They might avoid social events, stop answering calls, or even spend most of their time alone.

This pulling away isn’t about disliking others, but more about dealing with their own inner turmoil.

It’s a way they try to protect themselves, maybe to figure things out or just to cope with the overwhelming world outside.

By understanding this, we can offer a gentle nudge of support rather than forcing them into the spotlight.

Sometimes, just knowing someone cares can be a small yet significant step towards pulling them back from the lonely edges of unhappiness.

Trait 2: They Frequently See the Glass as Half Empty

Life throws both sunshine and rain our way, but how we see things makes a big difference.

Some people tend to see the brighter side even when things get tough.

Others, however, might find themselves caught in a raincloud of negativity, especially when they’re feeling unhappy.

They might often expect the worst or focus more on what’s going wrong rather than what’s going right.

It’s like they have a pair of gray-colored glasses on that makes the world seem a little less bright.

I remember a friend who went through a rough patch. He began to see problems in every opportunity, rather than seeing the opportunities in every problem.

It wasn’t that he enjoyed being negative; unhappiness just had a way of dimming his outlook. It’s easy to label someone as a ‘Debbie Downer’, but understanding that this negative outlook might be coming from a place of unhappiness, can help us be more patient and supportive.

Offering a different, more positive perspective gently, without dismissing their feelings, can sometimes be the friendly nudge they need to start seeing the world in a brighter light again.

Trait 3: They Wear a Mask of Fake Happiness

Sometimes, people who are unhappy become experts at putting on a happy face. It’s like they wear a mask that shows a smiling face to the world, even if they are feeling quite the opposite inside.

They might laugh a little louder, smile a little wider, or act a bit too cheerful, just to hide the storm that’s brewing inside them.

It’s a tough act, but they do it because maybe they don’t want to worry others, or maybe they hope that pretending to be happy will somehow drive real happiness back into their lives.

It reminds me of a colleague who always had the brightest smile and the loudest laugh in the room.

But once, during a late-night work session, the mask slipped and he shared how exhausted and unhappy he was, trying to keep up this cheerful facade.

It was a heart-wrenching moment of raw honesty that showed how deeply unhappiness can bury itself under a guise of fake joy.

Understanding that someone’s cheerful exterior might be hiding a battle with unhappiness, allows us to look beyond the surface.

It’s an invitation to be a little more observant, a little more patient, and a lot more compassionate.

Sometimes, offering a safe space where they can take off the mask and just be themselves, could be the first step towards helping them find their real smile again.

Trait 4: They Seem to Have Everything, Yet Feel Unfulfilled

It’s easy to assume that people with seemingly perfect lives – a good job, a loving family, a beautiful home – are automatically happy.

However, happiness is more of an inside job than a checklist of external achievements.

Sometimes, individuals may have everything anyone could wish for, yet feel a void inside. It’s like having a plate full of delicacies but still feeling starved.

This counterintuitive trait of unhappiness often slips under the radar because on the surface, everything seems just fine.

I knew someone who had climbed the ladder of success rapidly, had a loving family and a circle of friends, yet he confessed to feeling an unexplainable emptiness.

It was baffling to many who envied his life, but his unhappiness was real and hard to shake off.

He was searching for something more, something deeper that material success and social approval couldn’t fulfill.

This trait teaches us that happiness isn’t always about having more; it’s about finding meaning and fulfillment in what we have.

It’s a reminder to look beyond the surface, to listen and understand when someone expresses feelings of unfulfillment, even when their life seems picture-perfect from the outside.

Offering empathy, understanding, and a non-judgmental ear can sometimes be the key to helping someone find what truly makes them happy.

Trait 5: They Are Overly Critical of Themselves and Others

We all can be a bit hard on ourselves or get irked by others’ actions now and then.

However, when someone is constantly critical of themselves or always finds fault in others, it could be a sign of unhappiness brewing within.

It’s like they have a magnifying glass that only spots the flaws, missing out on the bigger, beautiful picture.

I recall a dear friend who often belittled her achievements and constantly nitpicked at others.

It took a while to realize that her harsh words were a reflection of the storm of dissatisfaction and unhappiness she was facing.

She was tough on everyone because she was toughest on herself, trying to seek perfection as a remedy for her unhappiness.

This trait teaches us that sometimes the harsh exterior of criticism might be shielding a tender place of self-doubt and unhappiness.

It’s a reminder to approach such individuals with a blend of patience and gentle encouragement, helping them to ease up on the self-criticism and embrace both their own and others’ imperfections.

This small act of kindness might just be the spark they need to break free from the shackles of constant criticism, leading them a step closer to finding contentment and happiness in imperfection.

Trait 6: They Have a Hard Time Letting Go of Grudges

Holding on to past hurts or grudges is like carrying a heavy backpack wherever you go—it just weighs you down.

People who are unhappy might find it tough to let go of old resentments or forgive past wrongs.

They may often bring up old issues, or seem unable to move past certain events.

It’s not that they enjoy holding onto these grudges, but the unhappiness within might be fanning the flames of resentment, making it harder to let go.

For instance, there was a neighbor who seemed to remember every little disagreement or argument he had with anyone in the neighborhood.

Even years later, he would bring up these old issues, unable to let them go.

Over time, it became clear that his inability to forgive and move on was tied to his general unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life.

Understanding this trait is a reminder for us to practice patience and show understanding when dealing with individuals who find it hard to let go of grudges.

Offering a listening ear or helping them see a different perspective can sometimes lighten the load of resentment they are carrying around.

Over time, with support and understanding, they might find it easier to let go, making their journey towards happiness a bit lighter and easier.

Trait 7: They Struggle to Find Joy in the Little Things

Life’s joy often blooms in the small, everyday moments – a warm cup of coffee, a beautiful sunset, or a chat with an old friend.

However, when someone is wrestling with unhappiness, these little joys might seem to pass by unnoticed.

It’s like their world has lost its color, and everything seems a bit gray and dull.

They might overlook the small pleasures that used to make them smile, being too engrossed in their own whirlpool of gloomy thoughts.

I had a cousin who was always enchanted by the morning sunrise. He would wake up early just to catch a glimpse of the sky painted in shades of gold and pink.

But during a tough phase in his life, he mentioned how the sunrise didn’t move him anymore, how the world felt a bit less magical.

It was a heart-piercing moment, witnessing the gloom of unhappiness dimming the simple joys that once brightened his world.

This trait is a stark reminder of how unhappiness can cloud our vision, making it hard to find joy in the little things that once mattered.

It nudges us to be more attentive, to gently remind our loved ones to pause, breathe, and soak in the simple yet profound beauties of life.

By doing so, we might just help re-color their world, making it easier for them to find their way back to happiness, one small joy at a time.


Life is a blend of ups and downs, and sometimes, the downs take a toll on our happiness.

The seven traits we explored aren’t about labeling someone as unhappy but are cues to understand what someone might be going through.

They’re little cries for help that often go unnoticed in the rush of our daily lives.

But with a bit of attention, kindness, and understanding, we can spot these signs and extend a helping hand.

Unhappiness isn’t a permanent state. With the right support, empathy, and sometimes professional help, individuals can find their way back to a happy and fulfilling life.

It’s all about being there for each other, lending a listening ear, and offering a shoulder to lean on during the tough times.

So, let’s be vigilant, let’s be kind, and let’s create a world where we help each other find happiness in every corner, no matter how tough life gets.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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