Have you ever been with someone who appears to have lost their zest for life?
They might say that they’ve simply “learned how to be content” or that “they’re simply realistic.”
But somehow, you feel like they’re not being entirely truthful.
It’s possible that life has beaten them down so badly that they’ve completely given up on being happy.
And here in this article, I will tell you about their behaviors to help you understand them better.
1) They’ve lost all ambition
They used to be one of the most passionate people you knew.
They used to dream big and talk about how they’re going to become a millionaire and marry their soulmate before they hit 30.
But now they seem to have lost that fire!
They instead tell you things like “Well…money can’t buy happiness” or “Well, I don’t really need love to be happy.”
Now you might think that this doesn’t sound at all that bad. Genuine contentment and inner peace are important, after all.
The problem is that they’ve basically swung to the opposite extreme, and you can tell it’s not because they’ve actually learned how to BE content.
You can tell that deep down, they still want all those things. It’s just that they’ve lost all motivation to keep chasing after them.
2) They feel uncomfortable around happy people
You can feel their mood shift when they overhear good news.
They might suddenly stop talking when just moments ago they used to be the biggest chatterbox around.
I was this person a long time ago and my closest friend had a one-on-one talk with me.
She said “I can sense that you don’t care for other people’s good news. Are you alright?”
That was when I realized just how obvious my unhappiness was.
I felt uneasy when I was with happy people because it reminded me of how unhappy and unfulfilled I was.
People who have given up on happiness might act like they’ve found contentment, but you can see that they haven’t.
The way they act around happy, successful people betrays what they truly feel.
And when I say success I mean success—not just money or career, but also things like love, travel, and doing things one’s passionate about.
3) They only hang out with those who are miserable
This goes hand in hand with the previous one.
See, being uncomfortable being with happy and successful people more or less ensures that they’ll hang out with miserable people instead.
Misery loves company, after all.
They prefer to just be around people who, like them, have a lot of anger and misery to throw at the world.
This is also what I did back when I was at rock bottom.
I stayed away from happy people because with my state of mind back then their happiness did nothing but remind me of my misery.
But before you feel guilty and think “oh, I should stop being happy when they’re around”—no.
You’re entitled to your happiness, and while you shouldn’t rub your happiness in their faces, you shouldn’t bury it either.
They’ll come around and reconnect with you if you’re a good friend to them anyways.
4) They’ve stopped talking about their goals
They might be perfectly happy to chat with you about light topics like food, hobbies, and the latest movies.
But the moment you start talking about your dreams in life and the goals you want to achieve?
They suddenly fall quiet!
Sure they might still cheer you on when it’s YOU who’s doing the sharing, but then try changing the topic when it’s their turn.
That is to say, they don’t want to talk about their goals at all.
I can relate—I’ve been in that place before, and I always felt annoyed and attacked when my friends asked me things like “So what about your goals? Have you worked on them? Tell me!”
So if they say this and especially if they say stuff like “there’s more to life than goals”, then it’s a clear sign that they’ve given up on their happiness.
5) They say “no” to the things their past self would have said “yes” to
They used to tell you “I want to become an animator!” all the time.
So when you found out that one of the best colleges you know is offering a free public course for future animators, you HAD to tell them about it.
Curiously, however, they don’t respond positively. Instead they just shrug and go “oh, I’m not sure…”
Something has changed.
Is it because they know how underpaid and overworked animators are? Do they think they don’t have what it takes to be an animator? Are they too busy these days to enroll?
There are many different possible reasons, and all of them point towards the exact same thing—they don’t think they’ll ever be happy.
6) They now think happiness is unimportant
Their life used to revolve around the pursuit of happiness.
They used to wax poetic about happiness and what it takes to be happy. They geek out about it like it’s the most important thing in the world.
They couldn’t care less!
In fact, they would rather change the topic as soon as they can. They’d rather talk about practical things like work and DIY hacks.
They say that in times of great distress, happiness and sadness is unimportant—only survival.
So if someone you know used to be so into happiness and then they suddenly stopped caring, be gentle on them.
They’re probably going through something.
7) They’ve stopped working on themselves
One of the most obvious signs that someone is depressed (or at the very least in a very bad state) is that they stop caring for themselves.
At first you might notice that they’d stop exercising or eating healthily.
Eventually, their house becomes an unmanageable mess—a trash dump, even—and they stop caring about their hygiene, diet, and looks.
This neglect that you can see reflects just how bad they have it in their minds.
They don’t have the energy or the will to keep working on themselves.
So if you ever see someone let themselves fall apart, remember to be kind. They’re probably battling with demons that you can’t see.
8) They’re defensive
Ask them about their relationship and you can feel the venom in their voice when they say “We’re fine. Why?!”
To you, it was just an innocent question. But from the way they react, you could almost imagine that they took it as an attack.
And to people who are at rock bottom, even a simple “how are you?” CAN and WILL feel like personal attacks.
They’re so deep in their own misery that they’ll think “Isn’t it obvious that I’m not fine? Did you really have to rub it in?”
People who still believe that they can and will be happy won’t be this defensive.
Instead, they’ll admit “I’m doing quite badly at the moment, I’m afraid” instead, but then say that they’ll pull through anyway.
9) They’re angry and bitter
They used to be a star shimmering with love and joy—optimistic, bright, and cheerful.
But now? They might as well be the grinch.
They’re needlessly pessimistic, always seeing and pointing out the negatives in everything they see.
Christmas? What’s this “gift-giving” nonsense? It’s just a holiday meant to drain our wallets.
Weddings? Bah, they will divorce anyway.
Charity and activism? Why bother! It won’t change the world.
This negativity only exists because they genuinely think that happiness is out of reach.
They’re defeated, have accepted that defeat, and believe everyone else should too.
What to do:
It might be tempting to snap back at them for “always being negative” and think that they’re awful. Or you might be tempted to go out of your way to change them.
Chances are that they’re someone who’s sad and struggling at the moment. And they’ll eventually find their way out.
1) Don’t criticize their negativity.
Look, no one in a right state of mind will actively believe “I think misery is good, actually.”
Nobody WANTS to give up on happiness.
They’ve probably reached this point because they’ve tried and tried and all they got for their troubles was failure.
The last thing they need is for someone to tire them out further and feed into their negativity.
So let them be.
2) Be a good influence (but be super subtle).
They need help. But as I said before, they don’t want to be “forced” to change. They’re adults!
Rather than force them, try guiding them instead.
This is where the arts come in handy.
Perhaps you can invite them to an inspiring movie about not giving up on happiness. Perhaps you can recommend a song, or a book, or even a good quote.
3) Share your frustrations, too.
If all you do is talk about the good things that happen to you, unhappy people will naturally assume that you’re gloating.
But if you also tell them about your struggles and frustrations, they might just appreciate it.
In fact, you might end up forming a bond if they end up relating to what you’ve said… and they’ll end up feeling less alone.
They might not be the most pleasant company you can keep.
A lot of people in fact resent them for being “too pessimistic” all the time.
But there’s a reason why they are like that.
Life’s hardships have unfortunately pushed them to the point where they could not help but break.
So try to be kind with them. You don’t have to tolerate it when they end up ruining your mood, but at least try to avoid cursing them out or putting them down. It’s the last thing they need.
And hey—it’s not like they’ll stay broken forever! With the right people and enough time, they will eventually pick themselves back up together.
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