Feeling down in the dumps? Asking yourself, “Why am I unhappy?”
You’re not alone. We all go through periods of time in our life where everything just seems to make you feel down.
While some of it could be because of mental health issues, like anxiety or depression, other times it could be because of our perspective.
We seem to have everything these days.
Between the amazing technology and social media, we’re used to seeing everyone’s lives, keeping up with people we wouldn’t normally keep up with, and it’s all in the palm of our hand.
It can create a lot of feelings of unhappiness—but that’s not the only reason you may be unhappy.
Whether you’re feeling down in the dumps or just need a little boost to keep living your life, being unhappy isn’t something you should feel ashamed of. It’s something you can change, and I have everything you need to do so.
By doing just five simple things, you can turn your perspective around for good.
25 things that make you unhappy
What if I told you that it’s the little things that make you unhappy—not the big things. Yes, you will get to a point in life where something horrible happens. Maybe your relationship ends, you witness something tragic, or you’re dealing with hurt from your past.
And while all those things contribute to unhappiness, it may be the small daily tasks you do that end up ultimately making your unhappiness feel overwhelming.
When it comes to these small things, they’re hard to change. But, once you start realizing that you’re doing them, you can keep an eye out.
And guess what?
You can change them. It’s not impossible.
Here are 20 things you’re probably doing that contribute to your unhappiness:
1. You worry
We’re always told that worrying is bad. And I guess everyone else was right about that one.
If you find yourself worrying a lot, you end up focusing so much on the negative that you don’t get to see the positive. Worrying isn’t going to change things. When you find yourself anxious or overwhelmed with life, try a mindfulness technique to get yourself to stop worrying.
2. You’re materialistic
Always chasing the next new thing? Material goods have never, and will never, bring happiness. Close your eyes and think about the things you would save in a fire. Is it your brand new purse? That gaming console?
If everything you loved was in a house that was on fire, the first things you would save would be your family, friends, pets, and memories. You can rebuy goods—you can’t buy people.
3. You’re around negative people
Negativity breeds negativity. If you spend time with people that are constantly negative, you aren’t going to be happy. You have to surround yourself with people who are genuinely happy and loving people.
4. You feel lost
There’s something that comes with knowing your purpose. If you feel lost and confused as to what you want to do with your life, that can cause a lot of unhappiness.
Ask yourself how you can move on and feel like you’re fulfilling your life’s purpose. What do you care about? What do you want to be known for?
5. You’re living in the past
Are there things in your past that you haven’t worked through? Are you constantly remembering the things that happened? If so, you could be suffering from PTSD. A counselor can help you work through these issues and feel better about making new choices.
And if you’re dreaming of what your past was like, wishing you could go back, then you’re living in the past. It’s time to accept what happened and move on.
6. You dream of the future.
Setting goals is good. But if you’re constantly dreaming about the future so much that you can’t think of the here and now, you’re dreaming too much. You need to focus on the present, or time will run you by.
And in its wake, it will leave a whole trail of unhappiness behind it.
7. You’re spending too much time online
When you’re on social media, everyone is showing their highlight reel. Even those people who proclaim to be “real” and “raw” are still showing highlights. If you’re comparing your rock bottoms to their highs, of course you’re going to be unhappy.
Take some time to log off and be yourself—without the distractions of everyone else around you.
8. Your life isn’t what you want it to be
Maybe you’re in debt or you failed to reach the goals that you wanted to reach. If so, that can be really hard. Your life isn’t what you want, but you can change that. You have so much time.
9. You’re too busy
You can’t always stop things from happening. If you’re really busy, then chances are you may not be able to step back and clear your schedule. But even on those busiest days, you need to take some time for yourself.
10. You’re not taking care of yourself
Getting enough sleep? Exercising? Eating right?
When our body isn’t getting its basic needs met, it creates a huge problem. It can mess with your mental and physical health, so it’s not something you want to take advantage of.
11. You depend on someone else
Only you can make yourself happy. Depending on someone else to make you happy will strain your relationship with that person. Plus, it won’t make you happy in the long run.
12. You don’t like what you’re doing
Hate your job? Change it! If you don’t like what you’re doing, it’s always going to create unhappiness.
It’s never too late to change things. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working on it, you can still change directions.
13. You care a lot about other people
In this day and age of social media, a lot of us find ourselves worrying about what everyone else will think. We want that perfect picture and life.
When we do everything for the cares of other people, it creates a big gap in our mind’s happiness. The only person’s opinion that matters is your own.
14. You compare yourself
Why is so-and-so able to go on these lavish trips and I can’t? Why do they do everything so much better? Why is their relationship perfect?
No one has a perfect life. It’s wrong to compare your own life to someone else’s when you don’t know anything about theirs.
15. You’re pessimistic
Sometimes, we like to be realistic about things. Other times, we’re so realistic about things that we’re pessimistic.
This is hard to change. But, it’s not impossible. Whenever you find yourself being negative and pessimistic, stop. Take a breath, pause, and then respond.
16. You don’t have love in your life
I’m not talking about romance. I’m talking about the love of a friend, of a family member, of a partner, or anything else.
Hey, I’m even talking about the love of a dog or a cat. We need love. If you don’t have enough love, do something about it. Spend more time with the people you care about. Adopt a pet that needs you.
17. You’re not thankful
Gratitude is incredibly important. When you’re thankful for the things you have, you tend to see the happy parts of life. When you’re not thankful, you’re always looking for the negative.
Be thankful for the small things—even if it’s just that you got a green light on the way to work instead of a red one.
18. You’ve lost focus
Instead of focusing on the important things, you’re only focusing on things like work or your work-related goals. Money is great. Money helps with a lot of things.
But money isn’t everything. If your sole focus is on money, it’s time to change things.
19. You’re not authentic
If you’re trying to be something that you’re not, there’s a disconnect in your brain. We want to be the people we’re supposed to be.
When we’re not authentic, it’s harmful to our health. Do yourself, and the world, a favor by being yourself. Find people who embrace who you are.
20. You feel guilty
Is there something that you did that you’re not proud of? When we do things that don’t line up with our morals, or we hurt another person, we feel a sense of guilt.
Guilt isn’t bad—unless you do nothing about it. Use the guilt as the accelerant to make a better choice. Apologize to the person you hurt, change the thing you did, or recognize what you could’ve done differently and let it go.
Am I depressed?
Sometimes, our general unhappiness goes beyond feelings of sadness. If you’re depressed, reach out to someone.
Though depression can be a scary word, everyone goes through times of hurt and depression. It doesn’t have to be scary. Talk to a loved one, a doctor, or a counselor.
Sometimes, you may just need to work through a thing or two in your life to start fresh. Other times, you may need a little more help. Either way, it doesn’t define you.
Some common signs of depression are:
- Overly tired
- Feeling helpless or worthless
- Sleeping too much or too little
- No longer excited about things you used to be excited about
- Digestive problems
- Sad or anxious feelings
- Headaches or cramps
- Empty feelings
- Suicidal thoughts
5 ways to become happier in life
So, if you’re feeling unhappy with things in your life, what can you do?
Well, you don’t need to make huge life changes. As it turns out, being happy is something that can be done right at home. Try these five things to become happier:
Meditation is a huge part of happiness. Being mindful and living in the moment makes you a happier, healthier person. But, meditation scares a lot of people.
Sitting down and clearing your mind seems impossible—especially when you’re overwhelmed with your life.
Meditation can be done in just a few minutes each day. And thanks to the different apps, like Calm and Headspace, and online sites like YouTube, you can do guided meditations in as little as five minutes.
It can help you live in the moment, appreciate what you have, and teach you skills to better process the events in your life.
2. Go outside
You know when you take a deep breath of fresh air? Going outside is good for you. Not only does it up your vitamin D levels (which is important for being happy), but it also reduces stress.
Getting outside for just 20 minutes a day can create a big change. And studies show that your happiness maxes out at 57°F, so it doesn’t even have to be summer!
Try going for a walk before work or on your lunch break. If you don’t want to walk, just relax out on a park bench or in the grass. It doesn’t take much, and it doesn’t have to be long.
Ah, the dreaded exercise. You’re already busy, and you can’t imagine adding in another thing to do. But the great thing is, it might not take very long at all.
In fact, research shows that a seven minute workout may be all you need to get the mental health benefits to make you happier.
Everyone can fit in seven minutes, and there are even seven minute workouts designed for this.
4. Go to sleep
Did you know that even one hour less of sleep can impact your health? It’s time to redesign your sleep.
Take a nap, get seven to eight hours of sleep, and manage your time better to make sleeping a priority. If you’re having problems sleeping, try to make your room better for sleep.
Use blackout curtains, don’t use your phone before bed, and keep your room cool and comfortable to help promote sleep.
5. Be grateful
As it turns out, your perspective is everything. You have to be grateful for what you have, and this can be a hard habit to learn.
Because we’re used to instant gratification, we have a hard time being thankful for everything. If there’s one thing you can do, learn to be grateful.
Gratitude journals can help, but mindfulness is the most important thing that you can do. You’ll find that the more you look for things to be grateful, the more things you’ll find.
Start small. When someone does something for you, always say thank you. Then, look for the normal things you’re grateful that you may not think about often—your home, bed, phone, computer, food, etc.
Happiness isn’t something that happens to you, it’s a state of mind. You choose to be happy, no matter your circumstances.
Though it can be incredibly hard sometimes, doing these five simple says will help you become a happier and healthier person.
Sign up to Hack Spirit's daily emails
Learn how to reduce stress, cultivate healthy relationships, handle people you don't like and find your place in the world.