Most people nowadays have indeed become very unhappy and miserable. With everything that is happening around the world – natural calamities such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunami, etc., terrorism, and economic crisis – it would not be a surprise if people just give up hoping for a happy and bright future.
It is very easy to be unhappy when things do not go our way. We feel angry and irritable. However, we must not dwell too long on these feelings, for these can lead to problems that are more serious.
Keep in mind the prerequisites of happiness as discussed earlier. If any of these prerequisites is missing, then it becomes a cause for unhappiness. For example, how can a sick person be happy when he is in pain? How can a mother and a father be happy when they do not have enough income to provide for their children’s needs? How can one be happy when he does not even have a shelter over his head? There are many causes of unhappiness and each of them must be addressed.
Besides having poor health and insufficient income, other causes of unhappiness include:
Burnout And Lack Of Productive Work
The keyword is “productive” for it gives a sense of fulfillment. The lack of it leads to a feeling of emptiness and lack of purpose in life.
Getting physically and mentally active may help overcome unhappiness. Get involved with something worthwhile, something that will give a sense of fulfillment or achievement.
The Fear Of Rejection
It hurts when people reject us. It leaves a feeling of sadness and lowers our self-esteem. The “X” mark represents rejection and it can be manifested in different forms. Some people express rejection by verbally saying that they do not like the person or his idea. Some express skepticism or ridicule the person presenting new ideas. Others try to form their own group and exclude those they dislike.
Rejection is also expressed non-verbally. Some adopt the closed and defensive stance and refuse to listen to ideas by re-directing the flow of conversation. The thumbs-down sign is universally understood as rejection.
If this is the case, we should try to associate with other people who will accept us for what we are. Rejection should not put an end to our efforts. We should take it as a sign to do a re-examination and try another approach.
Living According To Other People’s Standards
This is a very common cause of unhappiness. Those who are too conscious of what others might say about them usually cannot make their own decisions. They live their lives according to other people’s will and expectations. It is very difficult to pursue happiness if all we do is please other people instead of ourselves.
We should be confident about ourselves. Cast fears aside. Just bear in mind that whatever anyone says or does mean nothing about our worth as human beings. Robert Louis Stevenson has this to say, “Don't let your neighbor set your standards. Be yourself.” We feel joy when our self-worth rests quietly within us, not on the lips of others.
The Fear Of Failure
Failure to achieve important goals in life can lead to feelings of inadequacy and frustration. We should set realistic and doable goals in life. These goals should be meaningful to us; otherwise, we will only derive little happiness from achieving it. Goals should be set for the major aspects of our lives.
Start with a systematic plan to achieve goals. Begin implementing them and monitor the progress. As we see ourselves realizing our goals, we will find our happiness increasing.
If life is not the way we like it, let it not be a reason for us to be unhappy. Edward de Bono has this to say, “Unhappiness is best defined as the difference between our talents and expectations.” Too many expectations can really cause unhappiness; therefore, we should try to live a simple life - with simple wants and simple needs. More importantly, we must try to rise above everything that pulls us down and get on with our lives.
Sins And Crimes
Nobody is perfect. All of us commit mistakes. Some people may have unknowingly committed mistakes. However, a few people consciously live their lives in sins and immorality. These people have not fully realized the serious consequences of doing sins.
Sins and crimes are cause of unhappiness. Crime does not pay. Criminals get caught and eventually, justice catches up with them. Violence begets violence. Truly, it is difficult to find a bright future behind bars or six feet below the ground. For some who manage to get away with their crimes, guilt will most likely haunt their conscience and can cause them to feel miserable for the rest of their lives.
Alcohol And Drugs
Some people think that happiness can be attained through alcohol or drugs. Consequently, they resort to these substances thinking they can escape from the troubles and worries of life. They are dead wrong! It is like escaping from small fire to hell.
Alcohol is a mood-altering substance and is a depressant. In fact, some doctors prescribe moderate amounts of alcohol as tranquilizer or sedative. A drink or two can actually improve health and help a person to relax. However, greater quantities can be fatal. Alcohol abuse ruins both the mind and the body. Anyone who drinks too much is risking the hazards of accident caused by loss of coordination, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and related disorders.
On the other hand, drugs play a role in destroying the mental health of the user. Today, we witness many examples of various forms of social disintegration and chaos due to the worldwide surge of drug addiction. Many of the suicide and homicide cases are related to drug abuse.
These are useless acts and seldom accomplish any positive results. If we have to give feedback, we must make sure it is constructive and useful. Criticism is one of the greatest causes of limitations in our lives.
We should learn to be tolerant of the behavior of others even if it does not fit the pattern of our opinions. Learn to savor the differences between people. Imagine how dull the world would be if we all thought, spoke, and acted the same way!
If we are on the receiving end of destructive criticisms, it is normal to feel upset but we should evaluate the purpose or motive of the person who expressed his thoughts. If we are upset with people who do not have anything good to say about us, we might as well avoid them. Let us try to associate with people that naturally please us. More importantly, always keep in mind that we cannot please everybody; hence, we should not let destructive criticisms be a cause of worry and sleepless nights.
Seventh key to happiness: Learn to avoid or overcome factors that contribute to unhappiness.