So you’re unhappy with your life. Discontent. Dissatisfied. You want things to be different. But life doesn’t seem to be delivering the right circumstances, the right job, the right friends or the right significant other. Some days it even feels pretty meaningless.
You get up determined to polish up your resume and get a better job, lose 10 lbs, go on date night and reconnect with your spouse, or if you’re single, create a profile on a dating app. Maybe you’ll join a meetup and meet some new people. Maybe take up meditation? Or go to church?
But aren’t these the same realizations and resolutions you made last time you felt this crappy? What about real happiness? Lasting happiness, as in all the time? Or maybe even just most of the time? Is it possible?
It is absolutely possible. The problem is, most of don’t know the real reasons we are unhappy, so all we are actually doing is “rearranging the deck chairs,” as the saying goes. We never get to the core of our dissatisfaction so nothing actually changes except for temporary rushes of newness and momentary excitement.
Let’s talk about the reasons most people are unhappy and what you can do about it.
1. What do you spend 80% of your waking hours doing? Are you being responsible, paying your bills and supporting your family? Are you creating security by saving as much as possible as fast as possible for retirement? Are you doing something respectable that your parents approve of? Are you in the family business or following in the family tradition? Or are you achieving success and getting respect at a lucrative career? There’s nothing wrong with any of these scenarios, as long as that’s truly what you want, deep down inside. But if it isn’t, that’s a problem. A big one. You’re spending 80% of your waking hours here, after all. If it isn’t what you truly want, how can you expect to be happy most of the time? Do you know what the most important question is? And do you know the answer? What is it you want? If you don’t, it’s time to come back home to yourself and to find out…
2. Do you love your spouse and respect your your commitment to one another? You love your kids and want to be there for them no matter what? But at the same time, you’re realizing that these days, it’s just one compromise after another. Sometimes it seems that you’re always the one compromising and even sacrificing? If you really think about it, your life has turned into something completely different than what you hoped and expected. You have learned to push away the things that excite you, the things that you used to dream about. Honestly, you’re not even sure what would excite you anymore. It’s all a bit foggy, really. Your life is good relative to societal norms… but nonetheless dull, foggy and perhaps even a bit numb. What happened? You know walking out on your commitment and responsibilities isn’t right. You don’t want to leave your spouse or kids. But surely there’s more to this life? The temptation is to blame your circumstances… your kids’ ages, your spouse’s needs, your financial constraints… But none of that is what causes happiness or unhappiness. The question is: do you know yourself? Who have you become at this point in your life? Who are you becoming? Who do you want to become? If you don’t know, it’s time to come home to yourself.
3. For those that are single, you may enjoy your single status on some days, but on other – and perhaps many – days, you wonder if life should be different? Your relationship is good, but not great. You wonder if you’re settling. You wonder if other people are happier, and if so why? Did they make different choices? Are they more likeable or lovable? Or maybe dating is challenging – it’s really hard to find someone that gets you and that lights you up. Instead, you meet the same kind of men/women over and over, with the same limitations and these days, you know after two dates that it’s not going to work. Perhaps your friendships aren’t much different; these days, they are one compromise after another. Why is that you’re always the one compromising or even sacrificing?
There are a few common denominators in all of these circumstances, but sometimes they’re hard to see. This is because they’re on the inside. We’re all so accustomed to satisfying our every need and want immediately with money, things and activities — things outside of us. Even those with minimal resources have the means to satisfy and distract. But that’s the key: immediate gratification is just a distraction.
Notice if this common denominator is one you experience: self doubt. How much self-doubt do you feel on a daily basis? Do you question the way your life has turned out? The choices that got you here? Do you feel confused or perhaps even trapped and unable to make better choices now?
What about common denominator number two: self-abandonment? Are you “taking care of” your family, spouse/significant other, children, friends or coworkers? Are you focused on their needs? Do you like to make sure they are happy? Do you spend so much time focused on other people’s happiness that you have no idea what would make you happy anymore?
And the most subtle but most impactful common denominator of all: your own limiting patterns and beliefs. What are the patterns in your dissatisfactions with life? Do you tend to experience the same annoying qualities in most of your bosses or customers? Do your intimate relationships or friendships end for similar reasons? Is there a familiar feeling in your body when you wake up feeling unhappy, trapped or perhaps numb?
These are the real reasons we’re unhappy – our self-doubt, our self-abandonment and our own limiting patterns and beliefs. None of these can be changed by rearranging deck chairs. So how do we shift our state of being then?
We have to be willing to stop and sit still, at least for a moment. Be willing to connect with ourselves. Listen. Look. Get to know ourselves again. Get to know who we’ve become and who we are becoming. Find our inner voice again, that we used to know. What is it asking for? Begging for? Is it screaming to get out attention? There is actually a means for immediate gratification for this voice, this deep inner need: sit still and listen. It doesn’t take that long really.
You don’t need to commit to a life of yoga and meditation (unless you want to!) You just need to stop and come home to yourself.
For now, take a deep breath and know that you are in the right place and all is perfect;
This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.
~ Hafez, Persian Poet.
P.S. If you haven’t already, click over a free 10-minute guided meditation that will bring some immediate gratification in the most fulfilling way possible.