You look around you and think, “I have a great life, I should be happy, but why am I not being happy?”
Does this sound familiar?
Perhaps your career is going well, your relationship is strong, your family is great, and you have all the material things you need. So, why are you still plagued by a feeling of unhappiness?
Happiness is a tricky thing and measuring it is even trickier.
But before we start considering why you may not be experiencing the happiness you feel you should, ask yourself this question.
Are you not happy or are you not satisfied?
Happiness and satisfaction are often confused but there is a distinct difference.
To begin with, happiness is an emotion whereas satisfaction is not. If you are looking at your life and the various components that give you pleasure, it is likely you are not unhappy but rather dissatisfied.
Feeling dissatisfied is fairly common.
We are conditioned to want certain things in our lives– money, houses, cars, work accomplishments. Without them, we might feel like we haven’t satisfied certain criteria for success. We feel that we are missing things.
We are also never told that there is a point where you can feel, well – done. In other words, once you achieve the things you were aiming for, most people want more and will ask (or feel like asking) “what’s next?”
The feeling of dissatisfaction or “what’s next” is a frustrating one. It can prevent us from really enjoying our lives and the people in them. It can cause us to always look for the next thing.
So, although you may have everything you need to feel happy, dissatisfaction may be keeping happiness at bay.
But what if it isn’t dissatisfaction and you truly do not feel happy in spite of what seems like a pretty good life?
Feeling unhappy in a seemingly happy life can happen for a number of reasons. Give some thought to those below.
1Happiness is subjective
Measuring with the wrong ruler is one of the biggest issues with happiness. What makes one person happy is not necessarily the same thing that will make another person happy.
So, if you are not happy and feel like you should be, think about what you are evaluating.
2You deny yourself
Do you love to draw, dance, write or read? The list could go on and on.
If you deny yourself things in life that are a release or an outlet because you feel like they are silly or superficial, you could be limiting your happiness. Hobbies, no matter which ones you choose, are an important part of life and happiness.
3You feel guilty
Yes, this happens.
Too often, people don’t think they have a right to their own happiness. They feel guilty about enjoying their lives because so many others struggle. You never need to feel bad about having a happy life. Enjoy it.
If more people did, the world might be a better place.
4Anxiety, worry, and stress
No matter how happy you are, these three are a factor in nearly every life to some degree. The key is managing them.
There have been chapters written on how to do this but your approach will depend a great deal upon what it is that’s plaguing you. If one or all of these things are a problem in your life, it can impede your ability to be happy.
This is another factor that comes in various degrees, but study after study shows a direct link between being physically active, eating well, and happiness. If you haven’t already, it may be the right time to make some positive changes to your physical well-being.
6You don’t know what makes you happy
Have you checked all the boxes and still don’t feel the happiness you think you should feel?
Maybe they’re the wrong boxes.
This goes back to using someone else’s ruler. Many people never get to know themselves well enough to really know what makes them happy. They follow the guidelines that have been generally accepted by society and expect happiness to come from doing so.
Remember, everyone is different.
7You are depressed
Many people suffer from depression. It isn’t a passing sadness or dissatisfaction but a persistent feeling of unhappiness and hopelessness.
Depression doesn’t typically go away on its own and should not be left untreated. If you suspect that you are suffering from depression, seek professional help.
If you have reached a point in your life where you are questioning if you will ever actually feel “happy”, take some time to really consider what that means to you. If your definition seems to be what you already have, look a little deeper. You may actually be dissatisfied or perhaps just one step away from getting where you want to be.
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Author: Dr. Kurt Smith
Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their relationships better.