Why Am I So Unhappy: A Question Worth Answering

By: Nicole Beasley

Updated October 26, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Alvina Acquaye

One of the most difficult things to witness is seeing others who are so joyful while you are struggling to find more than a momentary escape from your unhappiness. You deserve answers to an important question when life isn’t going as planned. Finding happiness isn’t a one size fits all approach; what works for one, may not work for another. Also, not all answers are available to everyone, but you certainly can and should explore the potential causes if you find yourself asking, “Why am I so unhappy?” This is a personal question that can help you explore roadblocks that are preventing you from seeking happiness. If you are asking the question honestly, you can benefit greatly from identifying the true answer.

What Is Happiness?

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While there isn’t a universal definition of happiness that everyone can agree on, it can perhaps be described most accurately as a state in which someone frequently experiences positive emotions such as joy. Being a happy person doesn’t mean that you don’t experience sadness, anxiety, or any other emotion that is typically labeled as negative. It’s a common misconception that happy people are able to allow negativity to roll off their back like its no big deal. The truth is that every person on this planet is susceptible to difficult times and will inevitably deal with stressors at one time in their life. It’s also true that people are not always naturally happy. We see people with a positive attitude, but don’t see the struggles they’ve been through or the amount of work they’ve done in order to reach that level of satisfaction. We can’t always see past the surface to know how they got to where they are. People who seem happy might look at situations through a different lens than people who are unhappy, but it doesn’t mean that they haven’t been through as many hardships as people who would describe themselves as unhappy.

As you might have guessed, there isn’t an all- inclusive checklist that one can use when finding out what makes them happy. It often takes time and practice to figure out what is missing or what needs to be modified in your life in order to maximize happiness. It’s important to keep in mind that patience and time is necessary when it comes to making these kinds of changes. The longer you have been unhappy, the longer it might take to find your stride again. It’s also important to remember that even small wins are important. People typically don’t go from being unhappy to happy all the time overnight. It’s a process, but one that will ultimately be worth it.

Why It Matters When You Say, “Why Am I So Unhappy?”

On some level, everyone wants to be happy. As a living being, it’s an important aspect to your emotional well-being, physical and mental health. When you’re able to find happiness in just one area of your life, it becomes easier to enjoy different aspects of your life even if they aren’t going exactly as planned. What you might not understand is that your happiness is also an important factor to the outside world. When your happiness gives you greater emotional strength, you’re better able to take care of yourself which equips you with the ability to better take care of others. Many people fall into the dangerous cycle of putting other’s people’s happiness before their own. We only have a limited amount of time and energy in any given day, so we have to be mindful of where our focus is. The answer isn’t to stop caring about other people and being kind but understand that in order to take care of other people in the long term, you need to learn to take care of yourself first. Your happiness matters. You are just as important as everyone else; never apologize for wanting to be happy.

You Deserve Happiness

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Happiness in life is not a given. As mentioned above, you may have to work hard to get to the point where you can feel happy. Even though it’s impossible to be happy all of the time, everyone deserves to have some form of happiness in their life. This typically involves changing the way you think. Our thoughts inform our mood which impacts our behavior. If we are constantly down on ourselves and thinking about all of the things going wrong in our life, we are going to miss the moments of happiness that we do have. Thoughts are just thoughts and even though some of them are uncomfortable, we have the ability to turn these thoughts into actionable steps that work towards our goal of happiness instead of allowing our thoughts to convince us that we won’t ever feel better. Learn to focus on what makes you unhappy and take small steps to improve it some way.

The Answer Lies Within You

Since happiness is an emotional state dependent on your thoughts and behaviors, finding happiness is your personal responsibility to yourself. While others may be able to tell you what they did to find happiness, it is ultimately a journey that you need to take on your own or with the help of a professional. Finding the things that work for you and be consistent even if you feel like the happiness is fleeting or even completely absent. For example, you might know that exercising really makes you feel better, but one day you do it and you still feel bad. That doesn’t mean that what you’re doing isn’t working and that you should stop. Emotions change frequently and nothing is 100% guaranteed to work all the time. It’s about the cumulative effect that you receive. If you’ve been consistently doing something in your life and it isn’t serving a positive purpose for you, you want to reflect on why you’ve continued to allow that person or thing to be a continuous part of your life. Other people may temporarily provide you with a distraction from your unhappiness, but it is not a permanent solution to your problems. True happiness comes from within and is a conscious choice that we make every day.

Accessing the Answer

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While the answer to the question of why you’re unhappy is within you, it might be hard for you to dig deep enough within yourself to access that information. This is not because you are flawed or incapable of helping yourself. It is often extremely difficult and overwhelming for us to know where to begin when addressing our struggles. Even if we are able to identify the sources of unhappiness in our lives, we may need an outsider to help us build a roadmap, so we know where to start. If this is the case, talking to a therapist would likely be beneficial. There are many trained professionals who can use evidence-based practices to help you find the answers you’re looking. As you think about your past and current life, your licensed therapist can help you identify the kinds of people, activities, places, and objects that make you happy. You can also discuss ways to increase your day-to-day happiness to have the life you most want. You may also find that just having an outlet where you can speak to someone in a safe, non-judgemental environment can be extremely beneficial.


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