Objectively speaking, things are going well for you.
You have a nice job. A nice home. Nice friends.
Still, you have this nagging feeling that something is amiss – and, for the life of you, you can’t figure out what.
Sometimes, it can take us a while to realize that we’re stuck in a rut or that we’re dissatisfied with our current circumstances.
Might that be your case?
If you’re feeling these 6 things, you’re secretly unhappy with your life.
Admitting there’s a problem is the first step to leveling up.
1) You feel “behind”
I’m a single freelancer in my mid-30s who rents and has no answer for the dreaded “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” question.
By society’s standards, I’m a failure.
I don’t have a stable career, a partner, 2.5 kids, a house with a white picket fence and neighbors jealous of my gardening game.
I’m a spinster who should retire to the English countryside and solve murders in her spare time.
(I can’t afford to. I totally would.)
Yet, I don’t feel like a failure. Not right now.
I used to.
As my friends were getting married, buying houses, and getting promotions, I kept asking myself why I didn’t want these things.
Or if I did, why was I not rushing to get them?
I thought something was wrong with me and I was doing life wrong.
Then I realized that there’s no universal timeline for success or happiness, regardless of what your parents, community, or strangers on the internet would have you think.
As long as you’re content with where you are right now, you’re on the right track.
There’s only a problem if you’re not. And it’s pretty easy to grasp your dissatisfaction:
- You keep comparing yourself to others and falling short
- You set impossible goals and get discouraged when you don’t reach them
- You’re obsessed with the idea of reinventing yourself
- You beat yourself up for not having achieved more by a certain age or life stage
If this sounds familiar, there’s a good chance you’re secretly unhappy with your life.
Just because you’re not exactly where you would want to be?
Feeling behind is a self-limiting belief that prevents you from enjoying the present moment and pursuing your dreams.
Death is the only deadline that matters. Everything else is noise.
2) You don’t get excited about anything
I have tickets to see Taylor Swift next year.
Some days, having this concert to look forward to is the only thing that makes my heart sing.
Work feels mind-numbing, friends are too busy to hang out, even my dog barely musters the interest to smell the grass when we go on our walks.
Days like this are inevitable. But if your lack of enthusiasm is constant, it’s a sign you’re secretly unhappy with your life.
This especially applies if you no longer feel energized by hobbies or interests you used to love.
You’re experiencing a period of low emotional well-being, which signals it’s time to switch things up.
Passion is essential for a sense of purpose. Without it, your routine becomes monotonous, and you no longer anticipate whatever each day may bring.
Explore new hobbies or experiences that might reignite your enthusiasm.
But if the apathy persists, consider seeking support from loved ones or a mental health professional.
They can help you navigate your feelings of unhappiness and rediscover your lust for life.
Without it, it’s hard to get out of bed, and even the sheer idea of hanging out with people you like feels draining.
Which brings me to my next point.
3) You isolate yourself
I have an unhealthy tendency to isolate myself when I’m unhappy.
I feel like my misery is contagious, and I don’t want to drag anyone else into my pit of despair.
Is this something you might be guilty of as well?
It’s common for people who are secretly unhappy to withdraw from social activities, either because they don’t have the energy for them or because they don’t want anyone to notice their discontent.
Unfortunately, it’s a vicious circle.
Feeling down causes you to ghost your loved ones. This leads to loneliness, which has adverse effects on your mental and physical health.
Plus, social interactions mean laughter, shared experiences, positive emotions. In other words, joy.
Depriving yourself of them can make you dwell on your problems, exacerbating your negative feelings.
So, what’s there to do?
Sorry to break it to you. You’ll have to force yourself to engage.
Ask your best friend to brunch. Connect with a stranger in a bar. Call your mom.
If you’re over your social circle, join a group or volunteer for a cause you care about to meet new folks.
It’s tiring at first, but you’ll reap the benefits in no time.
4) Your “case of the Mondays” lasts the entire week
Most people spend a considerable chunk of time at their jobs.
If the work is unsatisfying, the gloom sweeps into all areas of your life.
Everyone feels professionally unmotivated from time to time.
However, if your case of the Mondays lasts the entire week, it can signal that you no longer love your job.
In turn, this might make you secretly unhappy with your life.
Signs to look out for:
- You feel sluggish Monday through Friday
- You have trouble staying productive throughout the week
- You delay or delegate tasks and responsibilities whenever you can
- You barely meet deadlines
- You have a pessimistic outlook on your career
Sometimes, we get so complacent in our routine that realizing we no longer connect with our work takes us longer than expected.
If your job no longer fulfills you, find another one.
And if that’s not possible at the moment?
Try to fit exciting after-work activities into your day.
Go to the gym, watch an episode of your favorite show, connect with your partner, cook a delicious meal.
Work doesn’t have to be your entire life, despite what capitalism and its emphasis on productivity may suggest.
5) You’re anxious for no apparent reason
Experiencing anxiety for no apparent reason is disconcerting.
Perhaps you have a nagging gut feeling something isn’t as it should be.
You can’t sleep. You have difficulty relaxing.
You might even experience physical symptoms of anxiety, like muscle tension, restlessness, or heart palpitations.
If you worry even without an immediate threat present, your subconscious might be trying to tell you something.
Maybe that you’re secretly unhappy with how things are going, and you should make a change?
Even if you’re unaware of them, there can be underlying stressors contributing to your anxiety.
Toxic relationships. Existential concerns. Unmet goals. Neglected needs.
When this happens, it’s essential to take time to reflect on your thoughts and emotions.
Meditation and journaling are two practices that help.
6) You feel rundown
Feeling rundown can be an early warning sign of underlying unhappiness.
A few years back, one of my friends kept complaining about always being tired, regardless of how much rest she got.
She went to the doctor, took a vacation, tried supplements, exercised more. Nothing worked.
Then she broke up with her boyfriend. Her energy levels went back to normal a few weeks later.
Turns out, she was unhappy in the relationship, but they’d been together for so long that she didn’t want to admit to herself she’d be better off alone.
She hoped it was just a rough patch and things would improve.
Sadly, pretending everything was fine and burying her true feelings took a toll on her overall well-being.
It’s exhausting to keep up with a charade.
Unresolved emotional issues or difficult life circumstances consume your mental and emotional energy. Besides persistent fatigue, you might also:
- Lack desire to engage in daily activities you used to find pleasant
- Snap at others and be easily irritable
- Have difficulty focusing on anything
- Experience mood swings
If you’re perpetually tired without engaging in strenuous activities, and your doctor says there’s nothing physically wrong with you, it’s time to look inward.
Unhappiness takes many shapes and forms.
Recognize yourself in the points above?
Then, it’s time to make some changes. Flip the script. Take a detour.
Life’s too short to be secretly unhappy.
Figure out what you really want, and go for it.
Your future self will rejoice.