Happiness 102: When You’re Unhappy

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Happiness 101: What Happiness Is

The more variety of choices you have, the more dissatisfied you’ll be

  • There are ways to fight this Paradox of Choice
    • Control your expectations
    • Learn to love constraints
    • Make an actual choice about when you want to choose
    • Be an active chooser instead of merely a “picker”
    • Accept an available option as sufficient more often and look for the “best” option less frequently
    • Calculate how much energy you’re wasting on simply deciding
    • Make your decisions unable to be reversed
    • Adopt an “attitude of gratitude”
    • Regret less about your decision
    • Expect that you’ll have to adapt
    • Minimize how much you compare yourself to others and their decisions
  • The lower your expectations, the happier you’ll be
    • Some of the happiest people have the least possessions or accomplishments
    • Some of the most miserable people have unlimited resources at their disposal
    • Either set low standards or set high standards for yourself, things and others but very quick to forgive
  • Pay attention to emotional pain inside yourself
    • Recognize it when it happens
    • Learn how to treat it before it feels all-encompassing
    • Redirect your gut reaction when you fail
    • Stop negative thoughts as you witness them happening
  • Find others to share with who won’t judge or condemn you

Unhappiness is usually from one of the PERMA missing

  • Meditate about your thoughts to find out what’s upsetting you
    • Most of the time, unhappiness comes from not being challenged outside our comfort zone enough
    • Many times it can be ingratitude at current circumstances
  • P: Positive Emotion – do you have a positive emotion? If not:
    • Have some coffee, tea or juice, especially chamomile or green tea
    • Chew cinnamon or peppermint flavored gum
    • Eat watermelon or avocados
    • Forgive a lingering grudge
    • Listen to your favorite songs or extremely upbeat music at a high volume
    • Look at a work of art
    • Look up at the stars
    • Take a bubble bath or roll your feet over a rolling pin for 5 minutes
    • Take a nap
    • Enjoy something funny
    • Write down things that make you happy, that you like doing, people you love and good things that have happened to you
    • Write down negative thoughts or concerns and throw them in a trash can or fold them up
    • Smile for 60 seconds to trick the brain into releasing positive endorphins
    • Touch money, since it helps release endorphins as well
  • E: Engagement – are you experiencing a state of flow where you’re anchored in the present? If not:
    • Get physical and go for a walk, sing, do full-body stretches, dance or work out
    • Clean out a closet or do household chores, which brings clarity to the physical world
    • Paint out feelings or write them down in a journal
    • Do something different or new
    • Leave work early (with permission), change your routine or take a different route
    • Learn something new
    • Live in the present moment, control your breathing to take deep breaths
    • Throw a paper airplane
  • R: Positive Relationships – do you have enough meaningful, positive relationships with others? If not:
    • Encourage someone
    • Enjoy your pet
    • Have fun with some friends
    • Hug someone
    • Listen to other people’s problems
    • Spend some time with someone over age 70 or under age 6
    • Vent to a best friend
  • M: Meaning – are you serving a cause bigger than yourself? If not:
    • Say hello to a stranger
    • Go to church or join a church
    • Help someone who needs help
    • Volunteer
    • Share love openly with everyone you meet
  • A: Accomplishment/Achievement – have you bettered yourself in some way? If not:
    • Break large tasks into bite-sized portions
    • Clear your clutter
    • Do something uncomfortable that you’ve been meaning to do
    • Do the one to-do that you dread most
    • Find a bad habit to stop
    • Finish a lingering to-do today
    • Learn a new skill or doodle
    • Make a list of things to be done
    • Reminisce about how you’ve changed for the better
    • Set priorities in your life
    • Take a calculated risk on something that will improve you
    • Take stock of your achievements
    • Visualize yourself winning
    • Write down a list of your skills

Sometimes the unhappiness simply comes from stress

  • Sometimes stress will come from needs that haven’t been met
    1. Biological & Physiological Needs – i.e. survival
      • Breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, bathroom, physical equilibrium
      • Sometimes eating unhealthy food or an eating disorder can affect this
      • Dehydration is a common cause of unhappiness and depression
    2. Safety Needs – i.e. general sense of stability
      • Security of body, home/shelter, resources, morality, family, health, employment, property
      • Laws being enforced and there being a sense of order
      • Understanding of limits in self, others and environment
    3. Belongingness & Love – connection with others
      • Feeling of relationship or affection with family, friends, romantic partner, work group
    4. Esteem Needs – a sense of self-worth
      • Self-esteem, self respect, respect of others and by others
      • Feelings of confidence, achievement
      • Having status and reputation in society, responsibility
    5. Cognitive Needs – keeping the mind engaged
      • Knowledge, problem-solving, acceptance of facts
      • A sense of meaning and self-awareness
      • Spontaneity
    6. Aesthetic Needs – being inspired and carrying out inspiration
      • Beauty, balance, form
      • Creativity
    7. Self-Actualization – personal growth and self-fulfillment
    8. Transcendence – helping others towards ultimately self-actualizing
  • Stress usually comes from circumstances
    • Do you have any chronic problems?
      • This can include money problems, relationship/family problems or deadline challenges
      • These problems are connected to yourself, and by going through the rest of this site you’ll learn how to fix all of them
    • Have you experienced any major life changes?
      • This includes moving or changing jobs, someone moving in with you, someone moving out, newly married or engagement
      • The stress from this is completely natural, and just make sure that you don’t make any major life decisions at this point
    • Are you happy with your job?
      • Accept that your current life situation could always be worse
      • Explore other options, or accept that you may have to stay where you’re at
    • Are you happy where you live?
      • Consider moving or giving away your possessions
    • Are you happy who you’re with?
      • This can be a major cause of anxiety if you don’t have strong social skills
      • Anyone can be worth being with if there is a mutual connection
      • Take the time to really get to know them
      • Sometimes you’re actually surrounded by horrible people, which is normal to feel unhappy about
    • Have you suffered a loss recently?
      • You may be grieving, which is highly personal and can be over many things
        • Death of a family, friend, pet or other loved one
        • Family, significant other or other person leaving you
        • The loss of a job, a lot of money or an emotionally significant possession
      • There is no time limit or a “right” way to do it, but the stages of grieving are always manifest in some way
        1. Denial & Isolation
          • Denial is a defense mechanism that buffers the sudden shock
          • It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions
          • It’s a temporary response that carries throught the first wave of pain
        2. Anger
          • As the effects of denial and isolation wear down, we’re still not ready
          • We express that in the form of anger aimed at objects, strangers, friends or family
        3. Bargaining
          • Often you need to regain control when feeling helpless or vulnerable
          • This usually manifests as either regrets and deliberation of “what if’s”
            • Sometimes ambitious people feel that they can “outdo” a loss
          • Many times people secretly make a deal with God or other higher power
        4. Depression
          • There are two types of depression related to mourning:
            • A reaction to practical implications relating to the loss
              • Sadness and regret are the driving feelings
              • A lot of worry can come from various problems like burial costs or not having had enough time with loved ones
              • This is typically remedied from others by
                • Simple clarification
                • Reassurance
                • Helpful cooperation
                • Some kind words
            • Making a quiet preparation to separate from someone and bid them farewell
              • Sometimes you may just need a hug
        5. Acceptance
          • Not everyone reaches this stage, and it is a gift to reach it
          • This is marked by withdrawal and calm
          • This is NOT a period of happiness, but is clearly not depression
      • At any point someone can regress backwards through the stages all the way to denial, but they have to work back through the stages again
    • Are you content with your perspective about the past’s events, the present and the future?
      • This unhappiness comes from ingratitude or anxiety, and these take a change that will be discussed later

Once you’ve gotten past the unhappiness, get ready to make long-term changes

Next: Happiness 103: After The Slump