Whether we realize it or not, we have all gone through periods of time in which we felt unhappy with the way our lives were going. For some, this has come in short bursts. For others, these periods of dissatisfaction have lasted a little longer.
Regardless of the severity of your unhappiness with your life, there are things you can think, say and do to help you turn things around and start to live a happier life, even when things seem like they will never get better.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are feeling unhappy with your life. Your unhappiness can be changed, and it all starts with you.
Never feel bad for wishing your life could be different.
One of the most common responses, when someone complains publicly about a problem they are having, is something along the lines of, “Stop complaining! There are people much worse off than you are!”
While this might technically be true, saying this does not actually mean much. True, there are plenty of people out there without homes; without families; without jobs. For them, what they are lacking hurts; it is their greatest hardship. However, the things that are making you unhappy right now? They hurt you; they are your greatest hardship. Comparing one person’s hardship to another does not make one problem “worse” than another; it’s really just a way of saying, “I don’t want to hear you complain anymore.”
You should never, ever feel bad for wishing your life could be different. In many cases, this is normal. Also, acknowledging that you are unhappy with the way things are is a sign that you are aware of at least some of the things causing you unhappiness. It may also be a sign that you are ready for things to change. Regardless, you are allowed to express your unhappiness; that is your right.
But there’s a catch: you also have to commit to doing everything you can to make the kinds of changes in your life you truly believe will make you happier.
There are some things you can change.
Just because you are unhappy with your life does not mean you are completely out of control of the things that happen to and around you. Sometimes realizing you are unhappy with your life also means you are ready for things to change. This might mean that you need to step up and be the facilitator of that change.
Be aware and take advantage of the things that are directly under your control, such as your attitude and certain aspects of your lifestyle such as diet and exercise. Focusing on what you can control will make you feel empowered and capable, which are feelings much more difficult to come by when you are unhappy with your life. Small and gradual changes are your key to happiness.
There are also some things you can’t.
While there may be plenty of things in your life you have control over and can change, there are also things you cannot directly fix. You can not make other people change. You cannot expect other people to believe something they are currently unable or unwilling to believe. You might not be able to quit your job or move somewhere else or cut off ties with a friend or relative.
Part of learning to be happier, or at least dealing with unhappiness as well as you can, is accepting that you are not in control of everything. Embrace the things you can change and learn to live with the things you can’t, at least until you can either remove yourself from a toxic environment or confront a problem directly.
Take note of the negative things in your life and start eliminating or changing them now.
Don’t wait to start paying more attention to the things in your life that are causing you unhappiness. Start by making a list of things that are making you unhappy and make it a goal to either get rid of those things completely or change them to promote more happiness in your life.
Slowly begin to tackle the negative pieces of your life one by one. Eliminate the ones you can, such as bad habits; toxic relatives; reading too many comments on Facebook news feeds. Learn to cope with the ones you can’t right now, such as a less than ideal job or a roommate who doesn’t know how to respect your personal space. Negativity makes us unhappy. Sometimes it is less about finding things that make us happier and more about getting rid of the things that prevent us from being happier.
Take things one day at a time, and know that change is slow.
The reason it is often so hard for people to make big life changes is that they expect to be able to change everything at once, and that instant results are a probable and logical expectation. Far from it.
If you are unhappy with the way your life is going right now, and you want to change it, awesome! You can do it! But you cannot expect to be able to make many different changes at one time, and you certainly cannot expect to feel instantly happier. It takes time and effort, and sometimes things get worse before they get better. You must accept that you can only focus on one or two changes at a time, and that any changes that do occur will be slow and sometimes not noticeable right away.
If you can accept this, and you can allow yourself to believe that you will be happier soon, not necessarily right this second, then you are already well on your way to living a much happier life.
While it is not necessarily normal to feel unhappy with your life, it is a feeling many of us have experienced in the past or will likely experience in the future. Remember to take things one day at a time. Find the positive things in life that make it worth it. Things will get better; they always do.