I've Got A Good Life, So Why Can't I Be Happy?

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated January 27, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

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. Why can’t you be happy? What’s wrong? There are many factors that 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.

Want To Feel Happy In Your 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 – 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 happy we are. 

So, what makes us happy? The general consensus is we are often happiest when we are living fulfilling lives we feel in control of.

Why You Might Not Be Happy Right Now

If you are thinking to yourself, “my life is great, so why can’t 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. 

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 on a daily basis – 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 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 do not 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 are not in control of your life or as if you are not 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 do not 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 happy. 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

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. 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 happy. 

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.

Want To Feel Happy In Your Life?

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.

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.

  1. Brainstorm your overall goals – what you want out of life, a sort of “bucket list” of big-ticket dreams.

  2. 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.

  3. Turn those steps into specific goals with a timeline. 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.

Takeaway

Most of us want to find happiness in our lives. Realizing that you’re unhappy when your life seems to be just fine can be disconcerting and upsetting. There are steps you can take to improve your own happiness, one of which may be seeking professional mental health guidance through online therapy. Discovering a sense of happiness in your life again is possible with the right guidance.

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