The Reasons for Unhappiness

Why Are You
Unhappy in the First Place?

In order to experience more happiness, it’s important to understand the purpose unhappiness is playing in your life. You are using unhappiness as a tool.

When you understand that, you can re-think it for yourself, re-evaluate, and come up with better tools for getting what you want. Consider it “belief rehab”.

3 Reasons You Use Unhappiness.

1) To motive yourself to be different.
Read the self-esteem section.

2) To motive others to be different.
Read the relationship section.

3) To show others (and yourself) that you care.

I am Unhappy Therefore I Care
I Care Therefore I am Unhappy

I remember an incident in High School where I learned being happy could be detrimental to my image. I played on the basketball team and in my senior year we had our last chance to win the state finals. We lost. I was sitting in the locker room, head down, forlorn, and thinking of all the mistakes we had made. A few girls were crying and being consoled by their teammates. It was a very somber affair.

At one point I distinctly remember thinking “Hey, wait a minute; the game is O-V-E-R. There’s nothing I can do to change that. What’s the point of feeling miserable about it?” I thought about college and all the things I had to look forward to. My mood instantly changed. I felt better and was ready to move on.

I stood up, changed out of my uniform, and started kidding around with some of the other girls hoping to lighten the mood. The reaction I got was remarkable. There were dirty looks, exasperated sighs, and one of the more out-spoken girls angrily asked me, “God Jen, don’t you even care that we lost?”

This is one of many events that grinded into me that I had to be unhappy to show others I was a caring person. Actually, I decided I could be happy and still care, but if I wanted others to think of me as sensitive, caring and loving person, I better not let them see any trace of joy in times of turmoil.

Joining Them In Their Misery Isn’t Required

Feeling bad in response to another person’s angst is a learned behavior. It’s not instinctive. I can’t speak for other cultures, but in the United States, we have created an emotional training ground where we teach generation after generation the proper way of responding to hard times. It’s like we’re handed scripts and everyone has learned their lines. If we deviate, you are likely to be shunned, judged, and experience behind-closed-doors, verbal persecution.

Laugh during a loved one’s funeral? How callous and crass. Smile on September 11, 2001? You coldhearted (and possibly a terrorist) jerk. Joke with a jilted friend? How insensitive, right? Maybe not.

Rethink Mourning

There are culturally set guidelines for determining how long a spouse should mourn the death of their partner. God forbid the man who dates a week after the death of his wife. That would surely mean he didn’t really love her. And heaven help him if he’s caught laughing. This perspective is worth rethinking.

"Contrary to conventional wisdom, psychologists from the University of California in Berkeley and Catholic University in Washington, D.C., say laughter is the best way to get over grief when a loved one dies. In the past, it was thought that a person had to "work through" the stages of anger, sadness and depression after a death. "It may be that focusing on the negative aspects of bereavement is not the best idea because people who comforted themselves by laughing were actually doing better years later," one of the researchers said. "We found the more people focus on the negative, the worse off they seem later." (UPI)

I’m not proposing doing cartwheels and singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” when a friend is in pain. Being comfortable doesn’t mean being flip or belittling what they are going through. But joining them in their misery isn’t necessary either. You can be a loving, caring, listening, and supportive friend without “feeling their pain”. You’re likely to be even more helpful than if you joined them in their despair.

So the next time you’re in a situation where people would normally expect you to be unhappy – become observant. Pay attention. Watch and listen. Ask them how they are doing, and really listen to the answer. See if you can be supportive without sharing their sadness. You can do it. You will see what’s possible and no tears required.


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If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

- Dalai Lama

I'm so happy because today I found my friends - they're in my head.

- Kurt Cobain