Naturally, you aspire to be happy. However, what if, in your efforts to reach this state, you’re actually achieving the opposite? In other words, being miserable. As a matter of fact, unhappiness is more than just the opposite of happiness. It’s stagnation, anguish, and the absence of personal strategies to build a fuller, more genuine, and meaningful reality.
It’s often thought that we’re motivated to seek pleasure and joy and avoid pain and sorrow. Nevertheless, if you take a look at those around you (family, friends, colleagues, neighbors), you’ll probably realize that most of them are ‘slaves’ to their problems.
Faced with this reality, you may ask why, when we feel bad, some of us do our best to improve, while others continue to aggravate their wounds and do nothing to solve their problems? This is a topic that’s always been of interest to psychologists, neurologists, and sociologists. Let’s take a look at what the experts say.
“You are the main source of your stress and therefore the key to happiness is in your hands.”
Unhappiness: a common reality
In 1930, Bertrand Russell wrote The Conquest of Happiness. His goal was to try to explain why society seemed to be so unhappy and reveal, in turn, what strategies could be followed to work on its well-being. In the preface to this work, the author pointed out that the most important thing in overcoming unhappiness is to follow our ‘common sense’.
However, what’s common sense? Perhaps you might understand it as your internal compass, the guide that everyone has that’s capable of telling you what you need, what you should fight for, and what you should avoid. Albert Ellis, psychotherapist, and creator of rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) pointed out something similar. In fact, according to this famous psychologist, you must try not to betray yourself, but to be loyal to your emotional balance.
Why some people ‘can’t’ be happy
Some experts mention an addiction to unhappiness. This involves an insecurity that’s rooted in you or a lack of self-esteem. For example, at a given moment, you may believe that you’re not worthy of happiness and therefore don’t struggle or fight to change things.
A second theory addresses education. For instance, if, in your childhood, there was excessive discipline or unrealistic expectations, you’ll have assimilated unhappiness as something that’s tolerable, normal, and an everyday occurrence.
Another theory suggests that if you’ve lived through several negative or traumatic experiences in your life, you feel, unconsciously, a desire to return to the ‘status quo’ of unhappiness, since all you know is this particular comfort zone. In fact, you don’t know what it means to be happy.
Another reason why you may be addicted to being unhappy could be a sense of pride you feel by being ‘realistic’. In other words, you believe that you should only focus on the negative and not the positive. If this sounds like you, you’re the kind of person who always sees the glass as half empty.
Some people, due to bad decisions they’ve made, feel extremely guilty. For this reason, they punish themselves by imposing a lack of happiness on themselves.
Feeling that after happiness comes disappointment
You may also be afraid of happiness because you’re ‘sure’ that, after good feelings or happiness comes disappointment or sadness.
Maybe you don’t want to fall in love again because you were hurt in a previous relationship. Therefore, you deny yourself happiness for fear of suffering. As a matter of fact, some people go through their whole life not finding a partner for fear of being rejected or abandoned. These people spend their lives complaining about how wretched their love life has been.
You may consider that if you’re happy you’ll never achieve your goals, that without sacrifice there are no gains. Thus, if you haven’t suffered before getting something you want or if you think you’ve achieved it in an easy way, this detracts from what you’ve achieved. Hence you don’t allow yourself to enjoy it.
Depression and anxiety vetoes your well-being
Chronic unhappiness can appear alongside a basic psychological disorder, such as anxiety or depression. A study conducted by the University of Tokyo revealed that dedicating our lives to highly stressful occupations is undoubtedly one of the greatest causes of unhappiness. These environments are sources of anxiety and depression, two direct factors of discomfort and emotional suffering.
Characteristics of chronic unhappiness
This list will help you realize if you’re addicted to unhappiness or if someone in your environment is. It’s classified as chronic unhappiness.
Mental and behavioral approaches that cause unhappiness
- Negative thoughts, defeatist approach, and lack of motivation.
- Lack of purpose.
- Adopting a passive role in life. Thinking that your problems are more serious or more difficult to solve than those of other people.
- Planning goals that are impossible to achieve.
- Not finding the vital energy with which to recover from adversity.
- Fear of starting new things (meeting people, starting new stages, hobbies, tasks, etc)
Unhappiness is almost like a virus that’s capable of appearing in your life when you least expect it. One way to avoid this is by working on the points we mentioned above. Indeed, having a purpose, being resilient, daring to be innovative, and setting yourself feasible and motivating goals can generate great and wonderful changes.
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