Unhappiness may be influenced — but certainly not controlled — by external situations. We’re unhappy because we allow ourselves to be unhappy.
Often, we plant our own seeds of discontent. Sometimes we realize it, but most of the time, the seeds take root and begin to blossom completely unbeknownst to us. Until it’s too late. Until the seed is a tree.
Unhappiness stems from many different things, but it’s within our power to eliminate. So, let’s pull it up by the roots.
1) Desire: Desire is the cause of misery. A desireless state of mind is the cause of happiness.
“When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself — Oh yes, I already have everything that I really need.” — Dalai Lama
2) Materialism: “An attitude to life which seeks fulfillment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth — in short, materialism — does not fit into this world because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.” — E.F. Schumacher
3) You’re always one step away; you think the next step will finally do it for you. “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” — Erich Fromm
4) You haven’t found your purpose. “Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life and that happiness, not mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity since it is the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.” — Ayn Rand
5) You have unrealized dreams. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney
“Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential.” — Winston Churchill
6) You’re jealous of people who are happy. “Don’t waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.” — Mary Schmich
7) You compare yourself to others. If you do so, you are insulting yourself. It gives rise to unnecessary jealousy. You have no idea what their journey is all about. Don’t let your neighbors set your standards.
8) You wish you were someone else. “The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.” — Lao Tzu
9) You’re being someone you’re not. Be yourself. Don’t imitate others. Instead of being a poor imitation, be a 100% original. The turmoil between our true nature and what we pretend and strive to be is what we call stress or tension leading to unhappiness.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest achievement.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
10) You’re stuck in the past. Make peace with your past so that it won’t mess-up the present. We cannot change the past. We should never brood over the past. Life is not a continuous procession of past regrets. Never ever live with regret. Whatever happened was destined to happen only that way. Why cry over spilled milk? Learn from the past and move on.
11) You’re stuck in the future. You can ruin the present by worrying about the future. Life is not a continuous procession of future anxieties. Do it! Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” — Buddha
12) You don’t live in the present. Let your mind be where your hands work.
“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” — Denis Waitley
13) You procrastinate. “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” — Lord Chesterfield
14) You’re unrealistic. “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” — Walt Disney
15) Your professional expectations are out of line with reality. “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them, that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” — Lao Tzu
16) You’re a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist and expecting others to be perfectionists is a sure short cause for unhappiness, especially when we fail and others do not measure up to our standard of perfection. There are many imperfections in life and we may have to simply live with some of them.
17) You’re afraid of failure. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
18) You try to control everything. “As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” — Emmanuel Teney
19) You’re insecure. Material security is the most ephemeral. Nor can we find total emotional security in relationships with others. No one can love us enough to fill up that emptiness within and possessive love only generates fear that accentuates this hollowness. Not security but insecurity is the basic fact of life and we must recognize it. Instead of chasing after something that does not exist, we must come to terms with the uncertain nature of our existence.
Security is purely a personal achievement. It is harmony and conviction in one’s inner essence that results from Self-knowledge and bestows a poise that remains unaffected by life’s ups and downs.
20) You neglect personal relationships. “By building relations, we create a source of love and personal pride and belonging that makes living in a chaotic world easier.” — Susan Lieberman
21) You’re with the wrong person. “People are not perfect… very often the relationships that are strongest are those where people have worked through big crises, but they’ve had to work through them. So, the challenge to us is to work through that.” — Patricia Hewitt
22) You have no real friends. Real friendship needs to be cultivated over a period of time.
23) You don’t love yourself. “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” — Lucille Ball
24) You’re afraid of yourself. Often, we are afraid of becoming something that has a low esteem in our eyes. We have to overcome this fear.
25) You don’t do any charity. Helping others, even if it’s in a small way, according to what we can afford, gives a sense of fulfillment.
26) You do not provide any value (to others). “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” — Albert Einstein
27) You hold grudges. Forgive and forget. That is the best thing to do.
“I’ve had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.” — Buddy Hackett
28) You’re not learning. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” — Henry Ford
29) You don’t spend enough time alone.“Solitude is the place of purification.” — Martin Buber
30) You’re dependent. Try to reduce being dependent on any particular place, time, object, people, environment, condition, situation and circumstance for happiness. Any kind of dependency is a cause for bondage and any kind of bondage is a cause for misery. Permanent and infinite happiness doesn’t come from impermanent and finite things and beings.
31) You hate your job. Instead of doing what you like, start liking what you do. Make the best of your circumstances. No one has everything and everyone has something of sorrow intermingled with gladness of life. The trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears. Chose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. Happiness and unhappiness are in the way we meet events not in the nature of these events themselves.
“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
32) You care too much about what others think. Do not worry about what others will think. If you think you are what your friends and enemies say you are, you obviously do not know yourself at all. What other people think of us is none of our business. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you. One practical down-to-earth effect of spirituality is that, when someone offends you, you can raise your spirits to heights where offences cannot reach.
33) You lack gratitude. “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley
34) You’re negative. “Quit thinking that you must halt before the barrier of your inner negativity. You need not. You can crash through… whenever we see a negative state, that is where we can destroy it.” — Vernon Howard
35) You’re unhealthy. Our thoughts, feelings and emotions; attitude and behavior and what we eat and how we eat — all influence our physical and psychological health. Therefore, always entertain good positive thoughts, emotions, attitude and behavior and have a healthy diet. Those who have everything in this world except happiness and health are the poorest and those who have happiness and health are the richest.
36) You have no spiritual life. Spirituality helps us to face all the challenges of life. Spirituality teaches us not to identify with the external, not to try to anchor ourselves in the things we own, nor in other people. The inner loneliness can only be transmuted by the experience of the eternal and unshakable within ourselves and spirituality provides us with the practical means to foster that experience.
“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.” — Buddha
37) You don’t relax. “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax and float.” — Alan Watts
38) You’re impatient. “Never cut a tree down in the winter time. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” — Robert Schuller
39) You don’t like your town / city. Happiness is a state of mind. It is independent of any particular place, object, people, relationship or circumstance. If you are not happy here and now you will never be happy anywhere any time. Can we run away from our own mind?
“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstance, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” — Hugh Downs
40) You equate comfort with happiness. We think that if we had every comfort and luxury available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. Now what has happened is that we sit amidst all the comforts and luxuries and are comfortably and luxuriously miserable!!! Happiness is within us and not outside. The Inner happiness is projected on the external world giving an illusion of happiness outside. Therefore, external factors can never bring happiness.
41) You can’t accept happiness and think you don’t deserve it. Our essential nature is of Infinite, Absolute Bliss. If you knew who you are in Reality, you will always be happy. Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response. Most people would rather be certain they are miserable, than risk being happy. You simply cannot be unhappy unless you have decided to be unhappy. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.
We let ourselves slip into unhappiness — it is not thrust upon us. Therefore, it is within our control to defeat it… and be happy.
Happiness is not an elusive object, always slightly out of reach. It is our very essential nature. There is a source of Infinite Bliss within awaiting to be discovered. It is independent of all external and internal factors. When one discovers that, one can always be happy anywhere any time, irrespective of the circumstances.