It’s safe to say that most of us want to be happy in our lives. If you have a good life but are still unhappy, you may feel concerned and worried, and it might be that a happy life is seems impossible. Many factors go into feeling happy, and different people feel happy for different reasons. Here’s what you need to know about finding happiness in your own life.
What Makes Us Happy?
In the world of psychology, happiness generally means a state of positive well-being in reaction to your personal quality of life. Happiness is a temporary emotion that can be incited by small positive incidents in our lives in the present moment – receiving good news, accomplishing a goal, interacting with friends and family, etc. – but happiness as a general life attitude can be harder to achieve.
Research suggests that our overall happiness with life may be strongly associated with our satisfaction with and quality of life. Those who consider themselves to be content in their lives tend to be happier, while those who are less content with their lives – whether that’s due to social disruption, financial worries, or other stressors – are less likely to be happy overall. There is also evidence of a correlation between the amount of control we feel in our lives and how content we are.
If you are thinking to yourself, “how can I be happy?” you may want to look deeper into the elements of your life that can affect your happiness one way or another. There can be many barriers to happiness in our lives that we may not immediately recognize. Feeling unhappy often can be a sign that something else is going on. Here are some of the elements in your life that may be causing you to feel unhappy.
Here are some of the elements in your life that may be causing you to feel unhappy.
The Company You Keep
Most people have a set network of social circles that they operate within daily – family, friends, teachers, coworkers, and other people you see regularly may feature in these circles. The people that we associate with can affect our mental state; according to recent research, the social connections we make are one of the strongest indicators of our happiness and have a significant impact on our overall quality of life.
If you keep asking yourself “how can I be happy?”, the answer may be because of the people in your life that you spend time with don't bring out the best moods in you. Track how you're feeling after spending time with people, and consider limiting your exposure to people who make you feel anything less than positive.
If you find that you are frequently disquieted or upset after interacting with certain people or social groups, they may be negatively impacting your happiness and mental health.Social Media And Happiness
Those who find themselves consuming this “perfected” content may begin comparing their own lives to those they see on social media and feeling dissatisfied in their own lives.
Stress, A Lack Of Direction, Or Mental Health Conditions
Moderate amounts of stress are usually considered normal and may support our happiness by providing us with a reasonable challenge that results in a sense of accomplishment. That being said, excess stress can have severe negative effects on our mental, emotional, and even physical health.
If you are living in a stressful situation – such as having an unstable home life, working in a taxing job, or studying a difficult subject in school – for which you don't have appropriate coping strategies or outlets, you may find yourself at risk for higher levels of dissatisfaction and unhappiness in your life, or even at higher risk for certain medical conditions.
Your stress may not be coming from an external source, however. Feeling as if you aren't in control of your life or as if you aren't living up to the expectations of those around you can cause you to feel unhappy. You may find yourself feeling tense and unsatisfied if you don't have or are unsure of your personal goals to follow, as this can leave you stressed about finding your purpose or direction in life.
Beyond this, some people may be predisposed to certain mental health conditions that can make it difficult to be content. Those who have a disposition toward mood disorders such as depression or anxiety may find it harder to find happiness even without obvious sources of stress or disruption.How To Find Happiness Again
Happy ending stories are proof that amidst circumstances, happiness is just around the corner. If you are unhappy in your life, know that you do not have to be unhappy forever. Discontentment is a temporary state that you can take steps to resolve and create a better future. Consider the following.Surrounding Yourself With Positive Influences
If you find that your stress and unhappiness are coming from your social circles, you may try limiting your contact with negative influences. If you have friends who are making you unhappy, consider distancing yourself from them and spending more time with the people who do make you feel good.
In the case of coworkers, you may try limiting your contact with them to necessary contact as well, or, in more extreme cases, seeing if you can be transferred to another position or department. If your coworker is actively harassing you, know that you are well within your rights to report them to the appropriate internal authorities such as a human resources department or manager.
If you accept you can’t control the behavior of others, but can only control your reaction to it, this may help keep the situation in perspective.
Resolving Stress In Your Life
If you find that your unhappiness is coming from stressors in your life, you may choose to implement some stress management techniques, such as:
- Limiting stressful factors in your life. For example, if remembering the deadlines for bills stresses you out, consider opting for automatic payments.
- Practicing mental quieting techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga
- Taking care of your physical health by implementing regular exercise into your routine and ensuring your sleep scheduling is regular
- Finding appropriate outlets for your stress such as journaling or counseling
- Remove an unhealthy habit, such as caffeine or alcohol, from your routine
Setting Achievable Goals
If you find that your unhappiness is coming from a lack of direction, consider setting reasonable goals for yourself. There are many ways to set achievable, actionable goals, but the general framework is much the same.
- Brainstorm your overall goals – what you want out of life, a sort of “bucket list” of big-ticket dreams.
- Break those larger dreams down into smaller steps. For example, if you dream of owning your own business, you might break it down into doing the appropriate research, establishing a detailed business plan, making the necessary legal arrangements, and finding the appropriate funding.
- Turn those steps into specific goals with a timeline to make it happen. For example, if your larger dream is to get a college degree, your specific goal might be to send in your application to your chosen school before its annual deadline.
By making your goals more specific and time-associated, you can bring a sense of direction to your life that may increase your happiness.
Online Therapy With BetterHelp
If you’ve been missing your sense of happiness for a while or feel unsure of how to begin to find it again, you may benefit from seeing a mental health professional. Therapists are professionally trained to help you with any stressors affecting your life – there’s no problem considered “too small" to need help.
BetterHelp offers online therapy with therapists who have experience in a wide range of areas and specialties. You can be matched with a therapist in about 48 hours and meet with them from the comfort of your own home and on a flexible schedule. You can also message them 24/7, so if you discover a source of unhappiness and want to discuss it, you can let them know right at that moment.
The Effectiveness Of Online Therapy
Though it’s a relatively new option for mental health treatment, online therapy has been clinically proven to be just as effective as traditional in-person therapy for many mental health conditions. This includes mood disorders, like depression, which may affect your happiness. If you’re facing barriers to traditional, face-to-face treatment, online therapy can be a viable alternative to getting care.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it hard for me to be happy in my life?
There are many reasons you may feel unhappy: you may be going through a stressful time at work or school; you may be too hard on yourself; there are no daily experiences that bring you joy, or you may be experiencing a mental health condition like depression or anxiety or substance abuse. It may be helpful to remember that, for everyone, happiness tends to be a fleeting emotion – there is no human who is happy 100% of the time.
However, if you want to feel more content in life, adopting free practices like journaling and meditation, or speaking with a mental health professional, may help.
Is it possible to never be happy throughout a persons life?
For many people, experiencing little to no happiness may be due to external circumstances like stress, a lack of social support, relationship issues, or not getting needs met. When these external circumstances are addressed, people can begin to feel happier. Not believing in yourself, not reaching out to your loved ones (or not trying to make new connections) can also contribute to unhappiness.
Additionally, some people experience anhedonia, which is a loss of pleasure in things they once enjoyed, and this can lead to feelings of unhappiness. However, since anhedonia is frequently a side effect of depression, getting treatment for depression can improve or resolve anhedonia, leading to more happiness.
Why can't you be happy in relationships with friends, family, and significant others?
If you find yourself frequently unhappy in relationships, there are many factors to consider. You may have past trauma that makes relationships difficult or uncomfortable; you may have an insecure attachment style, which can make relationships difficult; or you may be with the wrong person.
Just because you are struggling now doesn’t mean you’ll always have trouble in relationships. Taking time to better understand why you’re struggling – through interventions like journaling and meditation, as well as therapy or counseling – can help you better navigate relationships.
Is life worth the struggle and how can you persevere?
Struggle is an inherent part of life, and all of us experience highs and lows throughout our lives. It’s important to remember that, although life can be hard, it can also be very rewarding. With that said, if you feel chronic feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or depression, it is worth it to seek help from a mental health professional.
If you’re struggling to feel happy, it can be hard to take care of yourself. However, taking care of your basic needs, like eating, sleeping, and hygiene, can be some of the first steps to improving your mood.
Struggling with body image can be complicated, and it might be helpful to spend time in nature, moving your body in ways you enjoy (such as through dance or walking outside), meditating, and engaging in any other activities that you enjoy. If you’ve tried many interventions and still find that you can’t feel happy, you may find it helpful to reach out to a mental health professional.
How do you get happiness in hard times?
All of us go through hard times in life, and it can be difficult to remain positive in the face of struggles. However, there are things you can do to keep your head up in hard times, like spending time with loved
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