We all have bad days. Days when we’re exhausted, both mentally and physically, and can’t wait to just go to bed. Days when we feel beaten by the stress, frustration and negativity we come across. Days when we are anything but happy.
But if these days are turning into weeks and the weeks turning into months, then you need to know that something has gone seriously wrong. Here are our top eight reasons why you’re unhappy at the moment.
1. You’re focusing on being happy
You know that old proverb, ‘A watched pot never boils’? I strongly believe that this is one of the most relevant pieces of advice for happiness out there.
In a world where we tweet our feelings, share our favorite pictures and post about our day-to-day dilemmas, self-scrutiny has become as expected and normal as Britney’s lack of underwear.
But have you ever stopped to consider what this constant self-analysis is really doing to us? We are now pressured to feel and think something every moment of every day. And then, once we have identified that thought or feeling, we’re expected to share it with the world. Because after all, it’s not a thought or emotion until someone else knows about it right?
Not only is all this self-analysis making us terribly self-involved, but it’s also turning us into a bunch of philosophical emos. Fact.
Today, Facebook urged me to tell my social network how I’m feeling. What I’m thinking. And I thought, ‘you know what FB, eff you’. I don’t want to share my thoughts today. And I don’t want to share my feelings. I want, for once, for everything to remain private. Unexamined. Natural. Because goodness knows it’s been a while since that phenomenon occurred.
So one day this week, I want you to make a concerted effort not to examine your thoughts or feelings. Instead, I want you to do a John Lennon and let it be.
Happiness will never visit if you’re waiting for the doorbell. You’re not even going to realize it’s already there, sitting on your couch, munching on some popcorn and staring at you like an idiot. You’ll be watching the doorbell, waiting for a sign that you’re happy. That you feel good.
You don’t need a sign. Just feel it. Just feel happy. Don’t examine it.
2. You don’t think you deserve to be happy
This one really grates on my nerves because it’s so commonplace now to feel undeserving of happiness. We think that because we have flaws, faults and misdemeanors that we shouldn’t be happy.
And in fact, subconsciously we do everything we can do jeopardize our happiness. We create drama where there is no drama, we make things personal when they’re anything but and we criticize ourselves for making mistakes.
It’s true that you always kick yourself harder (mentally) than anyone else will for stuffing up, and in turn this can lead to feelings of self-resentment. We are always more critical of ourselves than anyone else. We are always looking for signs and indicators that we did something wrong.
But none of this is helping your happiness levels. Instead, and I seem to be saying this a lot lately, simply accept you as you are, warts and all.
You deserve happiness. You deserve every single piece of happiness in the world.
Go get it.
3. You have nothing to strive for
Have you ever experienced that feeling of lazing on the beach, or flopping down on your sofa and feeling vaguely dissatisfied but not really knowing why? I believe these feeling stems from a lack of goals.
We all need things that we can work towards and strive for. Things that motivate us, inspire us and push us to do better.
If you want to feel happy, give yourself something to feel happy about. Set yourself a goal and then savor the feeling of accomplishment (and happiness) when you reach each milestone.
4. You’re not grateful for what you have
If you’re reading this article, you’re in the top 10 percent of the population. You have shelter, food and access to clean water and, one step further, the ability to educate and inspire yourself.
You are, in short, extremely privileged. There are people out there who don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight. There are people that haven’t eaten for days. There are people that won’t ever read this article, because the idea of having internet access is so remote that they’d laugh if you even suggested it.
We’ve all seen the memes about ‘first world problems’. “Broke my nail and I have a date tonight! First world problems.” “Can’t figure out whether to wear the pink or the black dress! First world problems.” “Argh! Received a B MINUS on my essay! First world problems.”
And while it might seem silly to read this sort of stuff after listening to me rant about those less privileged than us, but the truth is that all of this crap is preventing you from being happy. That broken nail, impossible decision, lower than expected grade, tiff with your Mom … all of it pales in comparison to real world issues.
So get your head out of your butt and appreciate what you have. In fact, write a list.
Once you acknowledge everything you have to be thankful for, you’ll feel awesome about your life and realize that those things that get you down aren’t worth your time at all.
5. You’re allowing negative thinking to impact how you feel
I don’t know when it became cool to diss ourselves, but if you were given a printed out script of all of the thoughts you have in a day, you’d be amazed at how often we think negative, petty and horrible things.
Whether it’s the size of our ass, the size of our bank balance or our lack of social skills, there’s always something we can think negatively about. But negative thinking leads to negative feeling, which is about as far removed from happiness as you can get.
If you want to feel happy, start thinking happy. Focus on the positives and the rest will come. As Peter Pan said, “Just think happy things.”
6. Your external circumstances are undesirable
Do you have a crappy job? A bad boyfriend? Mean friends? If so, then it’s pretty standard that your happiness lake is experiencing a drought. As much as we’d all like to be the Zen Buddha that is unmoved by external circumstances, the reality is that we all get affected by the stuff that happens each day and more to the point, how we feel about that stuff.
So if you’ve always wanted to be a cake artist but are currently an admin clerk, make a change. If you’re dating Mr. Right Now, instead of Mr. Right, move on. If your friends are less supportive than your eight-year-old training bra, then shake things up.
The good thing about external circumstances like these is that you can change them. Get a new job. Dump the boyfriend. Ditch the friends. Live the life you’ve always wanted.
You can do it, and you’ll feel amazing doing it.
7. You’re existing, not living
When was the last time you watched the sunrise? When was the last time you went somewhere new without taking a photo? When was the last time you had a social media free weekend?
Our lives have become more and more about existing. About doing the 9 to 5 job, making dinner, doing chores, finishing homework, sticking to our responsibilities … But none of these things make you feel alive. None of these things are actually us living. They’re us existing.
So make an effort to live, not exist. Enjoy sunrises, be inspired by beautiful landscapes and disconnect from your phone every once in a while.
There’s an incredible, amazing, awe-inspiring, happiness-inducing world out there just waiting for you to discover it.
8. You’re putting too much pressure on your happiness gauge
We all have a happiness gauge. It’s a little internal mechanism that takes care of our happiness levels. It regulates when we’re happy, when we’re not and how happy we can be.
Some people are naturally happier than others. Out of ten, they might regularly sit at an 8 on the happiness gauge. Whereas you could sit at a 6 or 7. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just how you work. It doesn’t mean you can’t be happy, but it does mean that expecting to be a 10 on the happiness gauge all the time is a little unrealistic.
To suss out your happiness gauge, take a happiness diary for two weeks. Record how you’re feeling a few times a day (normally morning, lunch and night) and rate your happiness out of ten. Over a two-week period, provided nothing unusual happened, you should be able to get your average happiness gauge figure.
Once you know this figure, you can determine whether you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to feel happy all the time. We’re not designed to be happy 24/7. That’s why it’s an emotion – because it’s fleeting. Our natural state is not necessarily happiness. In fact, I think it’s more contentment rather than happiness that you should worry about for your predominant emotion.
So make sure you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself to be happy all the time. It’s okay not to be happy. It’s okay to experience the whole spectrum of emotions. As long as you feel content and fulfilled, you’re on the right track.
Now go out and enjoy the world. You deserve it.
Note: If you suffer from depression or believe you may be experiencing depression, please contact your medical practitioner. This information in no way replaces medical advice.