How can I get out of the rut that I’m stuck in and stop relying on other people for happiness?

I currently feel like I have to rely on other people for happiness. on days off work I always have to try and make plans as I can’t sit around on my own. I get bored too easily and feel like it’s a waste if I am doing things on my own. I am on my own most evenings after work so I don’t like being on my own when I’m off. I feel that at my age (mid-thirties) I should be settling down, having kids etc. i feel like people are judging me for not having a boyfriend etc which puts pressure on me. I struggle to let people in or get close as I struggle to talk face to face about my problems
Asked by AD

Hello AD! Thank you for reaching out to BetterHelp with your question regarding creating happiness and feeling judged by others due to societal pressures. There are so many external things that society teaches us to chase and even gives us a timeline of when we "should" have these things. It can be exhausting and let's be real, unattainable sometimes! These things may include success, wealth, power, marriage/family, good looks, etc. But we have to as ourselves, are they really the keys to happiness? The answers I give you today are going to be based on actual research, so I will dive right into it.

Research finds that things like a big award, a raise at work, an exciting new relationship, a big circle of friends, or a fancy new car (you get the point), can make us feel great at first, but honestly, the happiness does not last very long. Humans are quick to adapt to new circumstances, which means that the positive things that initially make us happy soon become "our new normal" and we return to how we were feeling before these things. Does this make sense?

I'm going to give you a few tips on how to cultivate your own happiness, and I hope you find them to be helpful! Mental health and creating happiness for ourselves have to be "intentional," meaning that we have to put the work in. It does not happen automatically in most cases.

1. Train your brain to be more positive. Our brains are typically wired to notice the negative, so we have to be proactive to undo what comes naturally. Expressing gratitude can be a simple start! Teaching yourself to be more grateful can make a huge difference in your overall happiness. In fact, there are research studies that show that practicing gratitude consistently helps you experience more positive emotions, decreases depression symptoms, improves self-esteem, and can improve your relationships. Keeping a gratitude journal where you write down 3 things you are thankful for each day is a great place to start!

2. Make self-care a priority! Yes, relationships are a big source of happiness in our lives, and we should nurture and enjoy these relationships; however, taking the time to prioritize self-care is equally as important. Mindfulness meditation is a powerful technique for learning to be present and process thoughts in an effective way. Try journaling, moving your body through exercise, eating nutritious meals, getting adequate and quality sleep, and reading a good book.

I am also going to encourage seeking out a professional for counseling. Having someone to help guide you on your journey of cultivating happiness for yourself can be beneficial.

Starting today, I'm going to encourage you to make a commitment to yourself to find happiness in each day!

(M.A., LPC)