Life can be stressful. Sometimes it even feels like we have no reason to be happy, ever. But realistically, if we suffer from chronic unhappiness, it is way more likely that the reason for our sadness lies within ourselves.
Let’s have a look at some typical habits of unhappy people – and how to start changing them!
Comparing yourself to others breeds self-doubt, jealousy and other kinds of negative feelings. Unsurprisingly, the most unhappy people you can find all do this.
They see how everything is so much easier for others. How other people simply get everything they want. And they constantly worry that they’re not good enough.
How to stop comparing yourself to others
If this is you (and, honestly, most of us do this to some extent), here are a couple of tips to dial down on this destructive behavior.
- Don’t compare apples with pears: Watch yourself and notice how often you compare someone else’s achievements with yours without knowing how much time they put into something. Do you tend to skip the effort you can’t see in your comparison?
- Watch your Social Media behavior: Social Media is the perfect place for unfair comparisons. You see perfectly lighted and retouched pictures depicting staged moments in seemingly perfect lives. Even if you are aware of the nature of these images, they will still work on your mind. So if you feel jealousy and self-doubt creeping up, it might be time to take a social media break.
- Compare yourself with yourself: To replace that kind of comparison, start looking at yourself from the past. How far have you come? Are you closer to your goal? What can you do to keep growing like that? Thinking like this puts the focus on what you can directly influence and achieve, making you more goal-oriented and happier in the process.
Perfectionists always see what’s missing to the 100% they are striving for. In the process, they fail to see the 96% already there. Again, the focus goes on the lack, the negative feeling. And focusing on that fuels chronic unhappiness.
Perfectionism is a way of thinking and as such, can be overcome. To find a new way of thinking it is important to
- recognize your cognitive biases about what perfect means
- purposefully do things that are less than perfect
- and challenge your beliefs that everything has to be perfect in order to be good
You can read more detailed tips about that topic here.
3. Holding negative beliefs about life
When you ask a chronically unhappy person what they believe about life, chances are they’ll answer something along the lines of “Life is hard.” Or maybe “Nothing in this life is free.”
You probably know that there is no “one reality” or truth. The same situations or facts can sound completely different, depending on how you choose to perceive them. And the kind of beliefs you hold about life will influence immensely how you perceive pretty much anything.
So someone who believes that life is hard and “out to get them” will always find confirmation of this. If their train is late, they’ll go “Of course the train is late. Nothing ever goes right for me.” While someone who believes that everything has an upside might go “This is so nice, I get to spend a few more minutes in the sun. The weather today is perfect for a late train!”
How to work on your positive mindset
Thinking like the second person and being happier as a result of it can be trained. Start by becoming aware of any time you think something that makes you feel bad. Then try and debate that thought. Find a different, more positive way to look at it. Notice, how the fact hasn’t changed, just the perspective.
4. Expecting the worst from others
Do you know those people who get offended by everything and anything? It’s not that they are especially sensitive. On the contrary, they very often miss completely what the other person was saying. The reason for this is that they always expect the worst from others, another habit of chronically unhappy people.
Think of a person you really don’t like, because they have shown you that you can’t trust them. Now imagine your reaction to anything that person says. It’s bad, right? People with chronic unhappiness have that reaction to pretty much anyone, regardless of if they know the person or not.
This makes them, again, only hear and see negative stuff. And it also makes them lonely, as everyone seems to have it out for them.
How to work on this habit
Whenever you feel offended by something someone else says or does, think before you react. Could there be a totally understandable explanation for what they said or did? Is it possible that they don’t have any bad intentions at all? And could there be any scenario in which you would say or do something like that? You might find, that this way, many arguments dissolve before they even start.
5. Being oblivious to their blessings
Another tell-tale sign of an unhappy person: If you ask them what they are grateful for, they just look at you confused.
People with chronic unhappiness are so focused on fighting all the bad things they perceive, they are completely unaware of all the things they could be grateful for. Usually, those people will also forget to thank someone else for something they’ve done.
How to be more grateful
Being grateful is not simply an emotion, it is a perspective on things and a habit. You can work on being more grateful simply by making it part of your morning or evening routine to write down 3 things you are grateful for. Bonus points if it’s something new every day.
With time, you’ll notice more and more opportunities to express gratitude. And then you’ll also start to notice all the benefits of gratitude. Guess what? You’ll definitely be a happier person for it!
Got any more symptoms of chronic unhappiness?
Do you know of any more behaviors unhappy people show? And do you know someone suffering from chronic unhappiness? Let me know in the comments!