Happiness is a state of wellness in which a person feels a sense of deep satisfaction and meaningfulness in their life. A happy person is one who experiences positive emotions such as joy and excitement more regularly than negative emotions like sadness, anxiety and anger.
Staying happy does not mean that a person is always smiling or laughing and experiences no emotional discomfort. On the contrary, research shows that happiness typically results from being self-disciplined and making efforts to enjoy or to savour the simple enjoyable moments of one’s life.
Do we experience the greatest happiness at a particular age?
Well, repeated observations and research have not shown age to be directly related to happiness. However, it does seem age can contribute in some way to experiencing more positive or negative feelings.
In high-income countries like US and Australia, people in their middle adulthood experience a lot of uncertainty about their future in terms of job insecurity, income expectations, increased professional responsibilities or workload, childcare and caring for elderly relatives.
It’s also interesting to note there are many studies about human behaviour and desires, which are key drivers for happiness. For a long time, there has been an assumption that our decision-making processes centres on seeking pleasure to avoid pain.
However, if this is an accurate assumption, why do people who seem to ‘have it all’ are content to wallow in misery, easily become dissatisfied and continually complain?
The unfortunate reality is there are some personality types who are addicted to being unhappy.
Listed below are 5 traits unhappy people display:
- Insecurity – Unhappy people are usually insecure who don’t feel they’re good enough and are likely to hold a fear of rejection. Insecure people usually will reject everybody and everything so they will not have to cope with the possibility to be rejected themselves (have self-sabotage personality characteristics)
- Constantly comparing your life to others – Unhappy people are frequently jealous of everyone and their achievements as they have little joy in their lives and can view ‘happier’ people having a better and easier life compared themselves.
- Lack of energy and or motivation – Unhappy people are constantly tired and grumpy due to lack of sleep. If chronic fatigue develops unhappy people can become tired of life with often the simple things such as going for a walk or even getting out of bed can become a chore.
- Are always negative – Unhappy people often use negative words in the vocabulary, are constantly gossiping, regularly complain and tend to focus on the negative aspects of life rather than the positive.
- Play the victim – Unhappy people find life’s challenges just too much to deal with and usually seek to blame others for any faults rather than taking responsibility for their own actions or choices.
Are we hard-wired to be unhappy?
When you’re constantly unhappy and complain, you can incline to become more difficult to be around. Unhappiness drives loved ones, friends and work colleagues away. However, much of being unhappy is determined by your own habits, actions and addictions.
Psychologically, there are some explanations to explain what causes unhappiness in people… Here are a few:
- Unconscious desire to be unhappy due to lifelong struggles with trauma or having constant negative experiences
- Poor self-esteem or insecurities
- Continuous exposure to family and social environments where it was the norm to be unhappy
- Fearing happiness due to the unknown and therefore prefer the status quo
- Are more contented to feel miserable rather than happy, which could be caused by having an underlying mental health disorder
Various mental health conditions contribute to the “unhappiness” of humans and include mood disorders such as anxiety, and depression, poor self-efficacy beliefs and self-image or eating disorders such as binge eating (eating very large portions of food and feeling very guilty about it), anorexia nervosa (not eating sufficiently due to a fear of gaining weight), and bulimia nervosa (eating and then purging).
Life circumstances have little to do with happiness as becoming happy is under your control. Happiness is the outcome of your habits and your outlook on life.
Changing your habits to break the unhappiness cycle is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and if you’re unable to get started, counselling should be considered.
Seeking professional help can help identify any underlying mental health issues, resolve inner conflicts, help ‘untangle’ priorities and provide tools and strategies to increase one’s confidence and satisfaction to restore happiness in your life.
Hang on… there is another important reason to take control of your happiness… being happy makes everyone around you happier too.