Are you…happy? Do you wake up each morning all pumped up to start your day, or do you dread the 98,355 hours of work you have to endure before you get to hit the sack again? Do you find yourself overwhelmed with largely negative thoughts and pessimistic opinions and seeing the sky as perpetually pervaded by that same dull shade of gray…?
You’re probably not alone in this. Listed below are 4 things most of us engage ourselves in doing—at times subconsciously—that are probably making us very unhappy.
1. Holding Resentment Against Others
We’ve all probably had a major fight with someone else—a loved one, friend, or a coworker even—at some point in our lives. It happens. Literally anything could be a cause for disagreement and displeasure, and when differing viewpoints are not calmly and sensitively handled, things often turn ugly. Each party perceives the other as being offensive, and thus both react with counter-defensiveness—this setting in motion the beginnings of a major dispute.
Fighting could sometimes be good for relationships though, as it allows people to understand each other better, and understanding often strengthens relations. However, this only comes when there is conflict resolution between parties, without which, the prolonged harboring of undissipated anger would eventually evolve into bitterness against the other party.
And that isn’t healthy and is probably what’s making you very unhappy at this moment in life.
It has been researched that feelings of resentment and unforgiveness can cause illness in people. Concordia University Department of Psychology’s professor Carsten Wrosch states “when harbored for a long time…bitterness may forecast patterns of biological dysregulation (a physiological impairment that can affect metabolism, immune response or organ function) and physical disease.” On top of that, resentment is also closely correlated with anxiety disorders, both of which are possible factors of peptic ulcer growths.
How then, do we deal with the gnawing feelings of bitterness?
Let It Go
There’s a quote that has been circulated all over the net—one you’ve probably seen somewhere in your social media newsfeed, which makes a whole lot of sense:
“Forgive others, not because they deserve it, but because you deserve peace.”
—Jonathan Lockwood Huie
To forgive isn’t easy; it’s even harder when we’re talking about forgiving people you feel are utterly undeserving of pardon. However, forgiveness is exactly the key to moving on. In burying the hatchet, you lose the burden that has long weighed upon your mind and spirits, and by letting go of past feuds and canceling every ounce of your adversary’s debt, you free yourself from further mental (and physical) torture.
People sometimes do not deserve our mercy and grace—extend it to them anyway. Because you deserve the peace of mind.
The other alternative to setting yourself free from the bondage of resentment and lack of forgiveness is to make peace with the other party. Sometimes, after a long period of animosity, a fatigue of mental warfare might start to set in. It may even feel senseless to continue fighting anymore. Time also allows for self-reflection, as well as careful and elaborated thoughts, which allows for growth and insight.
Making peace could therefore be an option if you wish to be healed and for the relationship to heal.
2. Constantly Comparing Yourself To Others
There’s just too much competition going around these days, and there’re too many things people focus on and obsess over in this day and age—things like social statuses, physical appearances, and lifestyles, which are, dare I say, overrated due to their intrinsically transient nature. Then again, most of us are likely to be guilty of having silently engaged in such unspoken competitions with others. And it’s very understandable.
Some of the topics that arise at gatherings with friends or family frequently involve the bringing up of some mutually known individuals, and the almost certain discussion of how they have been getting on in life. To converse about people and their lives isn’t necessarily bad, since inquiring could also be a form of concern. However, the things discussed over such conversations could sometimes trigger feelings of envy or jealousy of the person discussed, especially when one realizes that someone else is doing much better in life than he/she is.
And with everyone being on social media these days, the peeking into and supercilious evaluation of people’s lives just gets easier. Just thumbing through your news feed on Facebook might even upset you a little sometimes. It is shown that people “who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media.”
Here are some tips to fix our fixation on constant social comparison:
Free Yourself From Social Media (Or Take A Break, At Least)
Though social media does prove itself useful in connecting people online and facilitating the exchange of ideas and knowledge, it could be—as we might have experienced for ourselves—alienating and discouraging for some just as well. If you find yourself perpetually comparing your life to others on your social media feed, it is evident that these tools have become more of a hindrance than a boon for you and that you might want to consider freeing yourself, or taking a break at least, from it for some time. In so doing, you allow yourself space from the noise and clutter of the Internet world, thereby setting a good distance from channels that might cause the wounding of self-esteem.
Learn How To Be Content
Learning how to be content might be easier said than done, because it is in the human nature to always crave for more. Just offer a few sweets to a child—it is likely that the young one will reach for more than just one candy. To be satisfied in our stations is hard, but that being said, it’s doable. We simply need to learn to be at peace with who we are and what we have. If time and opportunity allow, consider taking up volunteer work. To undergo for yourself the lives and struggles of the unfortunate would certainly be an invaluable experience, one that is eye-opening and extremely humbling at the same time.
We can also seek to cultivate positive thoughts in our heads and set personal goals, while at the same time focusing on achieving our aims disregarding comments that seek to draw unhealthy comparisons between yourself and others.
By learning to be content with whatever you have and can achieve, you’ll eventually find yourself at a much happier position in life. Lao Tzu says it well:
Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
Be Happy For Others’ Success
Again, this might be rather tough a task to accomplish, but like the above, it’s entirely realizable with time and learning. Essentially, perceptions have got to shift. Instead of hating on the success of others’, why not try to be happy for them? And by that, we mean being genuinely happy for people’s achievements. It definitely might seem almost absurd at first thought, but understand that by being happy for others’ success, you are ultimately freeing yourself from the emotional burdens of envy, frustration, and worry.
3. Living A Lie
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”
This point definitely ties in with the above subject of social comparison, that which drives people to live their lives solely for the purpose to impress. It’s a lot about the silent competition people have with their peers and the veil they don socially. Just to be fair though, this image of ‘my perfect life,’ albeit seemingly vain on the surface, could simply be a form of defense mechanism for many people.
However, at the end of the day, it’s tiring to live a fabricated life. You soon realize that it takes increasingly more effort to keep up with the façade and that the pretense you put up is pointless. You seem happy, and people would assume you’re so…but you aren’t the least bit content.
Living Genuinely And Staying True To Yourself
To live genuinely is essential to a happy life. We all feel the most comfortable and relaxed in our lazy home wear, sprawled out on the couch, within our private space. That’s the time where we’re stripped of any form of adornments—physical or social—and are basically exposed to the elements. If we could bring that side of ourselves, however vulnerable and imperfect, into the social world, we’re onto living genuinely.
No, you shouldn’t be wearing your pajamas in the public space—put on your authentic self, that’s what it is. Smile genuinely, refrain from judgements, and most of all, be sincerely happy with what you have, who you are, and what you do. That’s the truest you can be to yourself, and by staying true to who you really are, you’re on the way to being a much happier person.
4. Sticking Around In A Job You Dislike
70% of people in the United States hate their jobs. The statistics are kind of agonizing to look at, but it probably doesn’t come across as a shock to most.
People stay on jobs they dislike for various reasons. Some reluctantly remain in their posts due to being afraid of losing the financial security their current job provides them—which is understandable, given the loads of loans to shoulder. Therefore, instead of pursuing a job that might offer more satisfaction and freedom, people choose to remain stationary in their unpleasant situations. Some simply fear changes—in work environments, coworkers, et cetera. There are myriad reasons as to why people do not quit the jobs they hate—too many to list. One thing is for certain, though: People aren’t happy.
Consider this—we spend most of our waking hours working—half or more of them in fact. If we were to devote so much time to doing something we detest, it’s not hard to imagine how miserable a life we would be leading. And then, before you know it, you’re about to heave your last breath. Time and tide wait for no man, that being an extremely cruel fact of life. Do you really want to look back at that point and regret not having spent your years meaningfully and joyfully…?
Pluck Up The Courage To Take On A Job You’d Enjoy
They say “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” How true is that?
The thought of making a job switch might be unnerving, and there’s definitely no promise of a risk-free subsequent move, but things might just get better. Life is about taking risks at times, and if there seems to be a possibility of things improving for you, why not take a shot at a chance for a happier life?
After all, we only have one life to live, and nobody wishes to live it unhappily. Let us derive learning from the regrets of the dying and allow the lessons of others to be teaching points for our own lives.
Because it IS possible to be happy, and life is what we make of it.