Updated: Sep 1, 2020
We all have our own unique set of habits, desires, schedules, and ambitions. Sometimes, there are things we do every day and mindsets we have to guide our lives for better or for worse. If lately you've been feeling down, off, or generally unhappy, but you're not sure why this might shed some light on what the cause could be.
Here are 10 things that are secretly making you unhappy.
1. You're extremely goal-oriented. Having ambitions and having objectives in life are great qualities. They make us excited, give us something to look forward to, and achieving them feels empowering. But there's also such a thing as being too goal-oriented. Are you telling yourself things like: I'll feel good when I finally get a perfect grade, or I'll be happy once I get that promotion? If you constantly have a habit of waiting to arrive at certain destinations in life, it can take you away from being happy now.
2. You value possessions over experiences. Do you spend all your money on fancy watches, shoes, clothes, or other material items to make you feel good? There's nothing wrong with pampering yourself with things from the store once in a while, but according to a 20-year study conducted by Psychology Professor, Dr. Thomas Gilovich, our happiness quickly fades after buying things once they become an everyday part of our lives. This is known as hedonic adaptation. Experiences such as music concerts, kayaking, skydiving, or movies may not last as long as that new smartphone you bought. But the positive, exciting memories could last the rest of your life.
3. You're holding a grudge When you've been wronged by someone, it's easy to feel resentful and angry towards them. And that's a very normal and completely understandable response. But no matter how badly someone has treated or how much money they've stolen from you, holding a grudge with the intent to hurt them backfires and just ends up hurting yourself. It may feel good to think you're justified and deserving of extra kindness due to how badly you were abused. But if you never forgive and let go, the anger will only spiral you into more negativity and keep you from being happy.
4. You spent a lot of time in the past. It might feel nice for a while to drift off into past memories and reminisce over how fond life was: your first kiss, good times you had partying, and winning that football tournament were all amazing times in your life. But there's a difference between thinking about the past and living in it. Keeping your head in the clouds for too long can rob you of your happiness in the present moment and make you miss opportunities that are passing right in front of you. What's worse is brewing over negative memories, which will take an even bigger toll on your well-being.
5. You're overly frugal with your money. Saving your hard-earned cash and only spending it when absolutely necessary and on the best possible deals will help keep your wallet from becoming empty. But if you're so strict with your budget to the point that you're never having any fun or treating yourself with it, the whole point of trying to save it all can actually make a dent in your happiness. Money is meant to be spent after all. And as long as you're using a little less than you're making, it's okay to go out to eat or to the movies once in a while.
6. You're not contributing. It's natural to feel like you must keep everything that you own to yourself. However, according to researchers at Stony Brook University, when we're generous and give or provide to others, our brains release several chemicals that give us a sense of peace and joy. In another study, Carnegie Mellon University discovered that people who volunteer around four hours a week are 40% less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who don't. Perhaps giving truly is better than receiving.
7. You avoid all your problems. Rather than focusing on the fact you're in debt and have no plan to get out of it, it's much better to push those thoughts down with binge video gaming, distracting yourself with social media, drinking, and snacking. Or is it? It's never healthy to dread about your issues and worries. But if those problems aren't properly taken care of, they will only create more stress and unhappiness in your life. It doesn't matter if you're not thinking about that unaddressed argument you had with your best friend the other day, because you're still aware of it subconsciously. If you never tackle your issues head-on and try to pretend they're not there, it may only make things worse.
8. You allow distractions to guide your day. What's the first thing you do after you wake up? Grab your phone and start swiping on social media? What about during your free time? If you want to win an Olympic gold medal or become a rock star one day, it will be a good idea to set time aside to start practicing, working out, and honing your skills. But if you find yourself spending your whole day reading through emails, swiping or texting on your phone, or zoning out while watching TV or playing video games, you usually won't feel good about how you spend your time later in the future.
9. You deflect compliments. Sometimes, our self-esteem is low, or we don't want to come off as arrogant or full of ourselves, so we deflect, reciprocate, or discount others positive words about us. But in reality, there's nothing wrong with accepting people's kind remarks. In fact, that's the whole reason they're complimenting us in the first place. When we're told we have a nice haircut if we respond with phrases like, "It's okay I guess" or"I wish it looked better", this isn't the best habit if we want to feel good about ourselves.
10. You're taking life too seriously. It's important to be safe, careful, and mindful of the decisions you make in life. But if you're continually afraid of what others think of you, worrying about embarrassing yourself, or getting upset at every single inconvenience that happens to you will be stopping yourself from being happy. Life really is a roller coaster. After things go down, they'll go back up. Just laugh, choose to be happy, and have more fun. Have you identified any of these? Do you feel like you have any habits that are making you unhappy? Tell us your story in the comments below.