What Causes a Person to Be Unhappy? 20 Possible Causes

Medically Reviewed on 4/18/2022
What Causes a Person to Be Unhappy
Unhappiness is a part of life, often caused by behavioral patterns as well as cognitive patterns that affect how we feel from day to day

Unhappiness is a part of life, often caused by behavioral patterns as well as cognitive patterns that affect how we feel from day to day. One of the first steps to improving your overall emotional well-being is identifying patterns that are making you unhappy and finding ways to change them.

20 reasons why you may be unhappy

  1. Not living in the present: If you are brooding over your past or worrying too much about your future, it can be easy to miss things in the present that could bring you happiness. Learn to live in the moment.
  2. Holding grudges: Are you still offended by something someone did to you days, months, or even years ago? Let go of resentment and move on as best as you can. Forgiveness is good for you—even more than for the person who wronged you.
  3. Focusing on things out of your control: Everyone has unique limitations and challenges, some we can control and others we can’t. Instead of focusing on the things you can’t control, focus on what you can control.
  4. Leading an unhealthy lifestyle: Much of your overall happiness comes from what you put into your body and how much you move. If you have unhealthy eating habits, addictions, or a sedentary lifestyle, you are more likely to get stuck in negative patterns of thoughts and behaviors.
  5. Seeking the approval of others: Instead of looking for validation or approval from others, focus on your own values. As long as you like yourself, it will not matter as much to you if others view you as strange or different.
  6. Not being confident in yourself: If you feel insecure about yourself, it can be difficult to unlock your true potential. Building self-esteem takes work, but it can help you avoid much unhappiness and anxiety
  7. Having unrealistic expectations: While there is nothing wrong with dreaming big, make sure your goals are realistic and in line with your abilities. Setting expectations for yourself that are unachievable will only make you more unhappy.
  8. Criticizing others: Gossiping and criticizing can waste precious time and energy on things that aren’t really going to better you in any way. Focus on positive things that can help you grow mentally or widen your perspective.
  9. Not acting on your goals: You may have goals and dreams, but procrastinating or not acting on them can make you feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled. Take small steps to work towards your goals instead of simply building castles in the air.
  10. Being pessimistic: There is always some chance that things can go wrong. But if you always anticipate failure, failure is much more likely. Optimism gives you the energy and drive to make things better, even they’re not perfect
  11. Surrounding yourself with negative people: Friends, family, and other people you spend time with can have a huge influence on your outlook on life. Avoid people with toxic negativity and surround yourself with positive people who motivate and inspire you.
  12. Being disorganized: We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Some achieve a lot during those hours, whereas others squander their time and are left with regret. The key to making enough time to work towards health, fitness, and other goals is to be organized with your time so that you can prioritize what is important.
  13. Focusing on material success: Unhappiness doesn’t come from the car you can’t buy or the promotion you didn’t get. Happiness is not just about material success but comes from your health, relationships, and values. Focus on the truly important things in life and invest your time in them.
  14. Neglecting your relationships: No matter how introverted we are, we all need someone to lean on when we feel low or someone to celebrate with us when we have achieved something. Treasure your relationships with your friends and family and make an effort to stay connected.
  15. Lacking the drive to learn new things: You don’t stop learning new things when you grow old; you grow old when you stop learning anything new. People who have the urge and desire to learn new things or pursue hobbies tend to be happier, more creative, and calmer than those who don’t.
  16. Comparing yourself to others: Stop comparing yourself with other people. We all have unique skills and talents, and we all progress at different speeds. Focus on doing the best you can with what you have.
  17. Expecting greater results with minimal effort: If you don’t put in the work, you can’t expect to reap the rewards. Expecting certain results from minimal efforts will only leave you feeling disappointed.
  18. Looking for happiness outside yourself: People and things in your life may come and go. At the end of the day, all you really have is yourself. Invest time and energy in being the best version of yourself, so that even when you are by yourself you can find contentment.  
  19. Being too controlling over people in your life: Not everything is going to go your way, and that includes people. Remember that no matter how close you are to someone, they are their own person with their own distinct likes and dislikes. Respect their differences and allow them to be who they are.
  20. Health conditions: Not all causes of unhappiness are due to mental or behavioral patterns. Sometimes, chronic health issues can lead to depression and anxiety. If you are struggling with intense unhappiness that you can’t seem to manage, seek the help of a mental health professional.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/18/2022
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