Reasons Why You Might Not Be Happy In Daily Life

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated May 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention substance use-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Support is available 24/7. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

It’s safe to say that most of us want to feel happy in our lives. If you have a good life but are still unhappy, you may feel a sense of anxiety and concern, and it might be that a happy life 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.

Are you struggling to feel happy?
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. Feelings of happiness are temporary emotions that can be incited by small positive incidents in our lives in the present moment – receiving good news, walking in nature, making a difference in your community, 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. For instance, if you believe what happens to you is out of your control, you may be prone to feelings of unhappiness.

When you feel like you could be happier or there must be something wrong with you because you can't find joy in daily life, there are multiple reasons this might be the case. So, what makes us happy? The 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: Setting some goals

If you are wondering why you aren't 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. Not feeling happy 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.

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 if they do not offer you the social support that you need.  

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. It can be ideal to only make people who leave you feeling uplifted part of your life.

How social media can impact happiness

Those who find themselves consuming “perfected” social media content may begin comparing their own lives to those they see on social media and feeling dissatisfied in their own lives. Try to remember that, in general, it’s impossible to be as perfect as those on social media portray themselves to be. Bad habits of chasing perfection can lead to unhappiness.

Getty/Halfpoint Images

Understand how stress can affect happiness levels

Moderate amounts of stress are usually considered normal in the short term 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 struggling to focus in a difficult subject at 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 a mental health condition or ailment of the body.

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 and experience emotional strain. 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.

Existing mental health conditions or depression

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 mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety may find it harder to find happiness, even when bad things aren’t happening to them. They may believe that they can’t control all things like thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and thus, may think they cannot be happy.

Why am I not happy? How to find happiness again

Happy ending stories are proof that amidst circumstances, happiness is just around the corner. If you are not happy 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 genuine, 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 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.

Are you struggling to feel happy?

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
  • Removing an unhealthy habit, such as caffeine or alcohol, from your routine
  • Making time for yourself to enjoy hobbies and other activities

Setting achievable goals

If you find that your  lack of happiness is coming from a lack of direction, consider setting reasonable goals for yourself and your future. 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 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.

Find support with a mental health professional at 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 mental illness or stress 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 as a mental health treatment

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 substance use disorders and mood disorders like depression, which may affect your happiness. If you’re facing barriers to traditional, face-to-face treatment, there are effective additional resources like online therapy that can support you.


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 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.
Find your happiness with professional support
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