13 things you don’t realize you’re doing that are making you unhappy

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are the three unalienable rights from the US Declaration of Independence. 

But although all of us are pursuing happiness, each in their own unique ways, some things are holding us back. 

And sometimes, it’s the things we do that make us unhappy and dissatisfied with life. 

But first, we need to recognize the problem. And that’s where this article comes in. 

Keep reading to discover what those things are and how you can get back on track with happiness.

1) Digital overload

Spending too much time on screens, especially on social media, can result in a distorted sense of reality, feelings of inadequacy due to constant comparison, and reduced face-to-face interactions.

Constantly comparing myself to others made me feel like I was falling short or wasn’t good enough. It resulted in insecurity and jealousy, undermining my self-esteem and happiness.

Plus, the now ubiquitous example of a couple on a dinner date not even talking together but spending all their time on their phones is more accurate than ever. 

We’re all too obsessed with screens of all sizes that we’re slowly turning into husks of what we used to be. 

But let’s switch the gears a bit. 

2) Ignoring personal goals

Goals and dreams. We all have them. The only difference between someone successful and someone not is that the first one never stopped working on them diligently. 

Now, does that mean they’re more happy? Not at all. But at least their life has or had meaning while pursuing these goals, making them happier and feeling more accomplished.  

Neglecting your aspirations can lead to a feeling of stagnation and unfulfilled potential. I should know because I did exactly that for many years. 

3) Fear of change

Most people develop a fear of change at one point or another. For some, it’s because they have an incredibly comfy life, and they don’t want to rock the boat.

Others, even though they’re in a far worse position, still fear change because the situation they know is better than the one they don’t know. 

In fact, I’d distill this saying to describe most people’s lives. They’re just too complacent and hold on to a status quo no matter how bad it is. 

Resisting change prevents personal growth and limits your experiences. Embracing change, even when it’s uncomfortable, can lead to new opportunities and a sense of triumph.

4) Unhealthy relationships

Your living environment strongly affects how you live and perceive life. If you live near a landfill, your quality of life will be much lower than that of people not living next to it.

The same goes for people. 

Surrounding yourself with toxic or negative people seriously drains your energy and contributes to feelings of unhappiness. 

That’s why building and maintaining healthy relationships that provide support and positivity is crucial.

You also need to distance yourself from them more than anything else. 

5) Neglecting passions

This is one major mistake I made in the past. Starting a family, moving countries, and working around the clock have all made me neglect not only my passions, but also my health and well-being in general.

Ignoring hobbies and interests that bring you joy and fulfillment results in a sense of monotony and a lack of excitement in life.

And neglecting unique hobbies and interests that don’t conform to societal norms also results in a lack of authenticity and joy. 

No matter how busy you are, you should still find time to embrace your passions because, more often than not, your life has a much greater sense of fulfillment and purpose.

6) Underestimating small wins

This, however, is not a mistake of mine. In fact, I make sure to appreciate small wins and milestones as much as I can. Even if it only means sharing them with my wife and having an Aperol Spritz to celebrate. 

Overlooking small achievements and only focusing on significant milestones leads to a sense of constant striving and enduring while not acknowledging the progress you’ve made along the way.

You’re in a perpetual rat race with no end in sight almost. 

7) Decision avoidance

Another thing you might be doing that makes you unhappy is not making important decisions on time. 

For example, you desperately want to change careers, but you never actually sit down to put down your strengths and weaknesses on paper and make a game plan on how you will achieve the actual transformation. 

Avoiding decisions, whether big or small, means you’re stuck in limbo and powerless. Then all the unresolved choices accumulate and create mental clutter and increased stress levels.

Eat the frog first thing in the morning and move on with your day without the weight on your shoulders. 

8) Overthinking

Some people just overthink everything. They keep rewinding past regrets in their mind and get stuck in negative thought patterns. 

Negative self-talk means you’re constantly putting yourself down, doubting your abilities, and focusing on your flaws. 

This pattern of thinking can create a cycle of negativity, impacting your confidence and overall mood.

Plus, failing to be present in the moment by dwelling on the past or worrying about the future prevents you from fully enjoying your current experiences and opportunities.

Additionally, when you’re overplanning and obsessing about the future, you bring about stress and anxiety about things that may or may not happen.

I can see this happening all around me as people have such unrealistic expectations from life that it’s making them increasingly unhappy.

You know, most of the time, the bird in your hand is worth two in the bush. 

What I’m getting at is, if you have a relatively comfortable life, be content with it. Don’t dream of mansions and cars all the time, and don’t dwell on the past. 

Enjoy the present moment as much as you can.

9) Disconnection from nature

Spending little time outdoors and away from natural environments also makes us feel unhappy. I know some people that didn’t go into nature for many years and spend all their time in a city.

This makes them detached from nature’s calming effects, which contributes to increased stress and unhappiness.

It’s no wonder most people living in big cities suffer from anxiety and have not only cluttered homes but also cluttered minds.

It also often results in the following. 

10) Ignoring health

Neglecting your physical health by not exercising, eating poorly, or not getting enough sleep brings about fatigue, low energy, and overall unhappiness. 

I made a big mistake by ignoring my health for a couple of years which landed me with dangerously high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. 

And even worse, neglecting mental health resulted in increased anxiety and emotional struggles.

When you’re constantly working, your mind can only think of work. Even outside working hours. 

You just can’t relax anymore, can you?

11) Focusing on materialism

Who isn’t guilty of this nowadays? We’re all chasing material possessions and equating them with happiness. This often leaves us feeling empty and unfulfilled

Material things might give you temporary satisfaction, but they don’t usually lead to lasting joy. 

I always recommend focusing on experiences as they lead to lasting memories. Planning them is also a lot of fun. 

12) Lack of boundaries

Not setting clear boundaries with others results in you feeling overwhelmed, taken advantage of, and lacking personal time for self-care and activities you enjoy.

For instance, regularly working overtime. This is something that’s incredibly common. It also deteriorates your work-life balance and makes you unhappy.

Your boss, on the other hand, is delighted you’re working long hours while they get to enjoy life. Something you still aren’t able to do. 

13) Avoiding emotions

Many people also suppress or ignore their emotions instead of addressing them. This makes them extremely unhappy in the long run as, sooner than later, they’ll come out one way or another. 

That’s why it’s important to acknowledge and process your feelings. It’s key to maintaining your emotional well-being.

For example, shying away from confrontations and difficult conversations to prevent uncomfortable emotions like anger or sadness results in unresolved issues and strained relationships.

Or constantly striving to maintain a positive attitude without acknowledging and processing negative emotions.

Final thoughts

Staying happy is hard work for some of us. That’s why seeing others existing in a perpetually happy state is so defeating. 

The thing is, we don’t know how they behave inside their own four walls. Are they actually happy? Do they just fool themselves or simply put up an act? 

But there are some things we can control. If you simply realize what makes you unhappy or what things and people trigger your despair, you’ve already made a step in the right direction. 

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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