7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy (2023)

Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options. HOMEPAGE



Home News

Lindsay Dodgson



7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy (1)

Maskot/Getty Images
  • Being unhappy is not the same thing as depression, which is an all-consuming feeling of emptiness.
  • There are some reasons you might be feeling down, like not getting enough sleep or sunlight.
  • It could also be because you're not living in the moment, or in a bad relationship.

Top editors give you the stories you want — delivered right to your inbox each weekday.

Thanks for signing up!

Access your favorite topics in a personalized feed while you're on the go.

Feeling hollow and all-consuming emptiness may lead to a diagnosis of depression, and often this is after several indications something is wrong.

But sometimes you just feel down, and it may be harder to seek out the reasons why you're simply not as cheerful as you'd like to be.

Experts told Insider there are many signs that can explain why you're not feeling happy. Here are some of the most surprising ones.

1. Not living in the moment.

7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy (2)

Boy_Anupong/Getty Images

Over-thinking what has happened and what is yet to happen can mean you may never drift off into a deep sleep so you don't wake up feeling refreshed and re-energized.

"If you always think about the future and the past, you don't spend time in the moment very much," online psychologist Carolin Müller told Insider.

In a way, happiness is strongly linked to living in the moment, she said. The brain doesn't really know the difference between an emotion you're feeling right now, and one you're re-living in your mind.

"If you think about the situation, you can have all of these feelings from back then come back — you can feel the anger again in your stomach or your chest," said Müller.

"We say it's like a cow, they eat the grass and they bring it up again, and they chew it again, and they swallow it again, and it goes to the next stomach. This is exactly what you're doing. Vomiting it up and chewing it again."

2. You're over-thinking.

7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy (3)

Maria Korneeva/Getty Images

Some people always let their minds jump to the worst possible conclusions, which is known as catastrophic thinking, or "catastrophizing."

Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist and columnist at the Telegraph, told Insider catastrophizing is an unhelpful habit people fall into in some way.

Like any habit, catastrophizing is hard to break, Blair said. Habits are stubborn, and in many cases, people have behaved the same way for years, perhaps decades.

Blair said a bad habit is always ready to jump back into your life, especially when you get highly emotional. But the solution is to learn to be rational and calm.

"You must be kind to yourself and patient, and recognize the more emotional you are the more likely you are to not remember to do it right," Blair said. "Then, when we're still and we're calm, and things are under regulation, we get a chance to be logical."

What you do with negative thoughts you can do with positive ones too, said Müller

"You can think about something really beautiful that happened to you," she said. "How you met someone very nice, or you had a good day at work."

3. You're in the wrong relationship

7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy (4)

Alao Yokogi/Getty

Sometimes, unhappiness can stem from being in the wrong relationship, but fearing the prospect of going it alone. Briana L. Severine, the founder of Sanare Psychosocial Rehabilitation, told Insider there are multiple benefits to being single that people do not always consider.

"There is years of research that show that heterosexual marriage tends to cause slight benefit to men that are not also held by the women in the partnership," Severine said.

People in relationships may have stopped putting in so much effort to their friendships, which could end up making them feel lonelier than ever. It is a misconception, Severine said, that a romantic partnership prevents those feelings.

"Single people can feel happy and fulfilled in their relationships without having those needs met by a romantic partner," she said. "Just as married people can feel that their social needs are not met, despite having a romantic partner."

Overall, being with the wrong person can have a dire impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. So if there's no medical explanation for the anxiety you feel, it may be time to reexamine your love life and work out if it is healthy or toxic.

4. You see yourself as a victim

7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy (5)

Crystal Cox/Insider

Sometimes people can't stop seeing themselves as the victim, Müller said, always asking "why me?" But the reality is, it could happen to anyone, so why not you?

The way to reframe your mind is to stop generalizing, said Müller. For example, if you say everyone is mean to you, really think about whether that's true. In all likelihood, you'll probably be able to find at least one person a day who was nice to you.

"If you see yourself as a victim you make yourself a victim twice because you diminish yourself again," said Müller.

5. You can't be alone

7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy (6)

NurPhoto/Getty Images

Being scared of spending time alone may mean you have autophobia, or monophobia. People with this diagnosis feel a lot of anxiety when they are left alone, potentially because they have a fear of abandonment that stems from trauma in childhood.

"When you're lonely, you feel unhappy or sad about the quantity or quality of social connections in your life," an article on Cleveland Clinic reads.

"When you have autophobia, you feel anxious or scared when you're alone or when you think about being alone. You feel this way regardless of how many loved ones and friends are in your life."

For people who do not have this diagnosis, learning to be content with your own company won't just make you happier in the long run, it will also be beneficial for all your future relationships, romantic or otherwise.

"If you understand yourself first of all, you will be able to understand others much more,"Müller said. "You'll know about your needs and your expectations, and you will understand why certain people act the way they do."

6. Your body isn't getting what it needs

7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy (7)


Overall, if you're feeling down, it's likely to come down to the most basic things, said Müller. For instance, not getting enough sleep, eating badly, not taking care of your relationships.

"See that you have a meaning in your life," she said. "Go out into nature, see more green than concrete, take care of animals and people that are important to you."

There is some evidence diet can impact our mood and wellbeing. Harvard nutritional psychiatrist Dr Uma Naidoo wrote in an article for CNBC that certain foods can cause "anxiety and stress."

For example, eating a lot of industrial seed oils, fried foods, and artificial sweeteners may be linked to a higher risk of depression, while probiotic yogurts, healthy fats in foods like avocados and nuts, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc could be good for the brain.

"Keep in mind that changing your diet alone won't help you fully prevent or cure depression and anxiety," Naidoo wrote. "But changing your eating habits can lead to positive effects that leave you feeling energized and rejuvenated."

7. Your emotions control you

7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy (8)

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Müller said the mind is just a tool that helps you make sense of the world.

"Use your mind so that it's useful for you," she said. "And look what it can do, it's amazing, you can solve the most amazing riddle, you can make crossword puzzles and build atomic bombs.

"We can go to Mars because we have a brain and a mind, yet it also leads people to think they are worthless."

If your negative emotions are uncontrolled, you're not the captain of your own ship, and you'll only be able to steer it if you retrain your mind to choose when you want to react.

"It's different from not having emotions, because they are so important for our life," said Müller. "It's more about, do I really want to go there now? Is this reasonable what I'm doing? And thinking maybe not, maybe I can see it from another perspective."

This article was first published in March 2019 and was updated in March 2023 to include more experts and new information.

Read next

Mental Health Health Happiness



7 surprising reasons you don't feel happy? ›

Stress, A Lack Of Direction, Or Mental Health Conditions

Your stress may not be coming from an external source, however. Feeling as if you aren't in control of your life or as if you aren't living up to the expectations of those around you can cause you to feel unhappy.

What causes you to not feel happy? ›

Stress, A Lack Of Direction, Or Mental Health Conditions

Your stress may not be coming from an external source, however. Feeling as if you aren't in control of your life or as if you aren't living up to the expectations of those around you can cause you to feel unhappy.

What are 5 things that make you happy? ›

Here are five ways you can boost your happiness on a daily basis.
  • Practice Daily Gratitude. Expressing gratitude has been shown to do more than improve your mood. ...
  • Surround Yourself with Positive People. ...
  • Do Regular Acts of Kindness. ...
  • Spend More Time with Family and Friends. ...
  • Spend Money on Experiences Instead of Things.

What makes us happy in life? ›

Contrary to what you might think, it's not career achievement, money, exercise, or a healthy diet. The most consistent finding we've learned through 85 years of study is: Positive relationships keep us happier, healthier, and help us live longer.

What truly makes a person happy? ›

Besides close relationships, there are two other things that predict happiness in people: having a job or hobby that they love and that challenges them and helping others through volunteer work, random acts of kindness or another type of prosocial behavior. All three of these things make sense.

What are the three things to be happy? ›

The Three Things We All Need for a Happy Life
  • Someone to love.
  • Something to do.
  • Something to look forward to.

What simple things make you very happy? ›

Survey: Simple things make us happiest
  • Sleeping in a freshly-made bed.
  • Feeling the sun on your face.
  • People saying "thank you" or a random act of kindness from a stranger.
  • Finding money in unexpected places.
  • Having time to myself.
  • Laughing so hard it hurts. ...
  • Snuggling on the sofa with a loved one.
  • Freshly-made bread.

What can I do to be happy again? ›

14 Tips for Finding Happiness Again
  1. Consider therapy. ...
  2. Start or return to a hobby. ...
  3. Ditch (or time limit) your social media intake. ...
  4. Journal. ...
  5. Meditate. ...
  6. Spend time with happy people. ...
  7. Say goodbye to unhealthy people in your life. ...
  8. Do what you love.
Apr 26, 2022

What makes a woman happy? ›

According to prolific novelist and playwright Weldon, women's sources of happiness are sex, food, friends, family, shopping and chocolate—in that order.

What gives people joy? ›

A few examples include throwing a Frisbee with your dog, dancing, hiking, looking at beautiful art, enjoying a concert, or making love. Play and other activities that don't have a purpose other than helping us feel relaxed and happy keep our mind focused in the present. The present is where joy lives.

What makes your heart happy? ›

Healthy eating is a key component of maintaining a healthy heart. Heart healthy eating patterns rely on a combination of nutrient rich foods. This style of eating is low in saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugar. It is also rich in whole grains, fibre, antioxidants and unsaturated fats.

What are the simplest joys in life? ›

Simple joys are the small gestures, the scents, the sounds, the warmth of the sun on your skin. They're the simple pleasures that we often overlook when we're so busy running from point A to point B. What is this? Simple joys engage our senses, make us feel present, and bring out our inner child.

What are the 4 P's of happiness? ›

The Four P's of happiness: Purpose, Perspective, People and Play – Read here as to how you can develop a process to move toward a sense of purpose and positivity in work and life.

What is the #1 rule of happiness? ›

Rule #1 – Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself!

Self-pity is the very worst kind of emotion. It destroys everything around itself, and leaves you feeling powerless. Stop being the victim, stop feeling sorry for yourself – and be happy.

What are the 4 pillars of happiness? ›

The four pillars of happiness are loving and engaged relationships, a sense of purpose, an attitude of optimism, and a connection to spirituality. All four pillars support a happy life. If you are unhappy, the first step is to identify which area you're lacking in.

How do you stay happy and positive? ›

Following are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:
  1. Identify areas to change. ...
  2. Check yourself. ...
  3. Be open to humor. ...
  4. Follow a healthy lifestyle. ...
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. ...
  6. Practice positive self-talk.

What is the most satisfying thing for a woman? ›

16 immensely satisfying things all girls love
  1. Taking heels off after a night out. ...
  2. Taking your hair out of a pony tail. ...
  3. Filing a broken nail. ...
  4. Taking your bra off at the end of the day. ...
  5. Taking skinny jeans off. ...
  6. Getting into a slightly too hot and very bubbly bath. ...
  7. Going for a much-anticipated wee. ...
  8. Doing a pore strip.
Mar 12, 2015

What keeps a woman in a relationship? ›

Women want their partners to miss them, give them attention, be understanding, and display forgiveness. They seek a friend in their partner with whom they can share their thoughts and speak their minds. Women want their partners to encourage them to follow their dreams and to believe in equality in the relationship.

How do you keep a woman happy always? ›

8 Rules to Keep Her Happy
  1. Build Capital. Flowers, foot rubs, and any other gestures of goodwill are best extended when they're least expected. ...
  2. Flirt Like She's Watching. ...
  3. Be Angry, Not Pathetic. ...
  4. Don't Coach Her. ...
  5. Clean to Her Peeves. ...
  6. Help Assess Her Dress. ...
  7. Don't Force Your Friends on Her. ...
  8. Choose Jealousy Wisely.
Apr 1, 2015

What is it called when you can't feel happy? ›

Anhedonia refers to the loss of ability to feel pleasure and is a common symptom of depressive disorders and substance use disorder.

What is it called when you never feel happy? ›

Anhedonia is a word that describes a reduced interest in activities an individual used to enjoy, as well as a decreased ability to feel pleasure. It's a core symptom of major depressive disorder, but it can also be a symptom of other mental health disorders.

What do you do when you don't feel happy? ›

'I Hate Life': What to Do If Nothing Makes You Happy
  1. Change Your Mindset.
  2. End Rumination and Engage in Problem Solving.
  3. Get Some Exercise.
  4. Develop Healthy Habits.
  5. Practice Meditation and Yoga.
  6. Reconnect With Joy.
  7. Consider Professional Help.
  8. Next in Small Ways to Feel Better When You're Depressed Guide.
May 16, 2022

What is it called when you can never be happy? ›

Cherophobia is a phobia where a person has an irrational aversion to being happy.

How can I enjoy life more? ›

Small (and cost-free) tips on how to enjoy life
  1. Develop a gratitude attitude. Human beings have a bias toward negativity. ...
  2. Find a reason to laugh. ...
  3. Take a nap (no, seriously) ...
  4. Exercise. ...
  5. Find out what makes you tick. ...
  6. Nurture positive relationships. ...
  7. Go out and meet people. ...
  8. Create a bucket list and set goals for yourself.
Sep 9, 2022

Why am I not happy but not unhappy? ›

Feeling not happy, not sad, just empty is an entirely normal feeling that indicates an underlying cause. It might be due to changing life situations, hormones, traumatic events, routine, lack of purpose, or mental health. Self-awareness is a significant part of identifying your symptoms or what you're going through.

How can I enjoy things again? ›

Try doing something you used to enjoy.

Instead of seeking enjoyment, focus on leaving the activity with a more neutral perspective, such as, 'I've done something to improve the way I feel.' Start with small, manageable bursts of time, spending 15 minutes watching a TV show or walking outside.

What does it mean when nothing is fun anymore? ›

Anhedonia, or an inability to feel pleasure from things you'd usually enjoy, is a very common symptom of depression — but it can also relate to other mental health conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and eating disorders.

How do I make myself happy? ›

How to be happier
  1. Manage your stress levels. If you have a lot of stress in your life, find ways to reduce it, such as learning a few time-management techniques. ...
  2. Enjoy yourself. ...
  3. Boost your self-esteem. ...
  4. Have a healthy lifestyle. ...
  5. Talk and share. ...
  6. Build your resilience.

How do I know if I'm not happy? ›

You feel depressed, anxious, or chronically worried. You feel like you're not appreciated enough. You find yourself judging others. You frequently numb yourself with alcohol, drugs, sex, television, or excessive busyness.

Is it normal to be unhappy all the time? ›

Feeling unfulfilled or unhappy can be a normal experience for many at different points in their lives. Factors such as work and family stressors, past traumas and negative self-talk can make it challenging to find joy.

What do you call a person who is never pleased? ›

If someone can't be satisfied, she is insatiable.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Corie Satterfield

Last Updated: 14/11/2023

Views: 6268

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (42 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Corie Satterfield

Birthday: 1992-08-19

Address: 850 Benjamin Bridge, Dickinsonchester, CO 68572-0542

Phone: +26813599986666

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Table tennis, Soapmaking, Flower arranging, amateur radio, Rock climbing, scrapbook, Horseback riding

Introduction: My name is Corie Satterfield, I am a fancy, perfect, spotless, quaint, fantastic, funny, lucky person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.