Life is hard sometimes. It’s always hard if you do any of the following with regularity:
- Live in the future. I call this if/when dependency. People that live in the future peg their happiness to if and/or when something happens. Their next paycheck, thing, town, home, relationship, physical enhancement, job, escape, whatever. The point is to live in the future and wait to be happy until something happens to you.
- Live in the past. Similar to the above, only the reverse. If you think your best years are behind you, you’re right.
- Try to make things perfect. Unhappy people are often perfectionists. They don’t understand that “good enough” is good enough. They think perfect is better than done. And they don’t set and keep deadlines.
- Socialize with negative people. Unhappy people often commiserate, wallow, and fester with like-minded people. If lingered with long enough, toxic people will even depress otherwise happy people. In instances where family members are negative, unhappy people fail to draw boundaries for them to avoid repeated negativity.
- Keep score with others. Although they’ve tried for generations, scorekeepers have never found fulfillment. They calculate and try to reconcile generosity towards others and worry about what other people are thinking, doing, and buying—especially the Joneses—rather than thinking, doing, and being what they want to be.
- Embrace pessimism, cynicism, and are untrusting. Skepticism is a good thing when it comes to critiquing something or questioning sources and authority. But it shouldn’t be confused with pessimism and cynicism, which both maintain a negative and distrusting outlook of situations, possibilities, and other people’s motives. Unhappy people do just that.
- Be self-absorbed, believe you’re harder off, and blame others. Unhappy people may feign sympathy and empathy for politically correct reasons. But deep down they really think they have it harder than others, are mostly self-centered, and blame others for their problems instead of owning their mistakes and empowering themselves with the knowledge that they get to choose how they react and respond to life.
- Own a lot of stuff. Unhappy people waste a lot of mental energy on all the things they own. The more they own, the more time they waste worrying (unless they’re good at delegating).
- Work a job that discourages you. Unhappy people are cowards when it comes to quitting or making immediate plans to eventual quit a job they can no longer tolerate. I’m not talking about short-term fast food gigs or other mundane tasks that everyone must endure. I’m talking about taking and keeping employment that makes you feel empty and sad inside.
- Have passive hobbies. Watching a lot of TV, for instance. Or anything that doesn’t require much movement or mental thought.
- Overvalue money. Unhappy people hoard or fret about money everyday rather than viewing it as necessary liquid asset that can be used to get the things and experiences they need or want from life.
- Commute longer than 20 minutes each way. I understand this is a necessary evil for some. But science says it makes us miserable and should not be done for sustained periods of time. Otherwise it makes us sadder than we out to be.
- Fail to keep a social calendar. If you don’t plan time for relationships, dates, parties, vacations, and get-togethers — especially as adults, which have a harder time socializing than youth — you’ll be less social and less happy than those who do.
- Blame your city or town for your problems. Unhappy people have been doing this for millennia. It doesn’t make them happy.
- Decline opportunities to sing and dance. Music and dancing make people happy, doubly so if you participate in both. Unhappy people do neither.
- Think about happiness on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Unhappy people think about happiness a lot. Happy people don’t. They just are.
First published on January 8, 2015