Six years of coaching has shown me there are some definite characteristics of a chronically unhappy person. It may take a few sessions but invariably it becomes clear to me the areas we need to work on.
Mostly as we grow spiritually and mentally we tend to bounce back and forth between happiness and unhappiness in the course of even one day. But there are those who are blinded to the fact that they can change the course of their life by allowing God to show them how to renew their minds and what tools to use to do that.
I’ve learned there are certain traits and habits chronically unhappy people seem to have mastered. We all have bad days, even weeks when we fall down in all seven areas.
But, the difference between a happy and unhappy life is how often and how long we stay there.
- Happiness is fleeting. It can claim your full attention for the ten seconds it takes to sing a fun song. Or it can stream through your being for weeks on end.But happiness can’t hold the same space as sadness, or anger, or the range of so-called “negative” emotions for very long. This is why it’s transitory and subject to your choices.
- Joy is the foundation of your Soul. (mind, will, and emotions) And since your Soul can never be annihilated your access to joy never vanishes. Because joy is so foundational to your true being, every other state or emotion can rest on top of joy, it can accommodate everything.
This means that it’s possible to grieve with your whole heart, and still sense your joy. You can feel rage, suffering, and pain and still be aware of joy waiting patiently for you to return, and you take deep comfort in that.
It has never failed that when I have been through the most heart-breaking passages of my life — betrayal, financial hardship, divorce, dreams dashed, deep loss — the pain brought me to the floor of my spiritual being and what did I find there? His presence…. and then His joy in the midst of my sorrow.
♥ Happiness. Has to be a choice you make. You are the only one responsible for your happiness.
♥ Joy. It’s the love from His character that lasts no matter what. You walk into it by faith and He gives freely.
So, with that said here are 7 traits of chronically unhappy people that I have noted.
1. Your core belief is that life is hard all the time. You think there is something wrong with you, as opposed to others, that makes your life hard.
Happy people know life can be hard and tend to bounce through hard times with an attitude of curiosity versus victimhood. They know who they are in Christ and realize that though life may be hard they take responsibility for their thought lives and focus on moving forward to better times. Perseverance towards problem solving versus complaining over circumstances is a symptom of a happy person. Unhappy people see themselves as victims of life and stay stuck in the “look what happened to me” attitude versus finding a way through and out the other side. They tend to think God is a respecter of people and has ruled them out when it comes to happiness.
- You believe most people can’t be trusted, thus limiting your vulnerability to those who can truly help you see truth.
Healthy discernment is important, but most happy people are willing to trust. They believe in the good in people, versus assuming everyone is out to get them. They are generally open and friendly towards people they meet, and happy people foster a sense of community around themselves and meet new people with an open heart.
Unhappy people are distrustful of most people they meet and assume that strangers can’t be trusted. Unfortunately this behavior slowly starts to close the door on any connection and thwarts all chances of meeting new friends.
- You concentrate on what’s wrong in this world versus what’s right.
There’s plenty wrong with this world and all you have to do is watch the nightly news to open the door to fear, yet unhappy people turn a blind eye to what’s actually right in this world and instead focus on what’s wrong. It can and is addictive to fill your mind with the negative, day in and day out.
They are usually the ones complaining and responding to any positive attributes of our world with “yeah but”. Happy people are aware of global issues, but balance their concern with also seeing what’s right. They allow their focus to be on Him rather than what they see in the world. Or as the word of God tells us: Philippians 4: 6-9 says this:
6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
However, unhappy people tend to close one eye towards anything good in this world in fear they might be distracted from what’s wrong. Happy people keep it in perspective. They know our world has problems and they also keep an eye on what’s right.
- You compare yourself to others and harbor jealousy.
Unhappy people believe someone else’s good fortune steals from their own. They believe there’s not enough goodness to go around and constantly compare yours against theirs. This leads to jealousy and resentment.
Happy people know that their good luck and circumstance are merely signs of what they too can aspire to achieve. Happy people believe they carry a unique blueprint that can’t be duplicated or stolen from –which is true…we were created unique and special and God has a plan for each of our lives. They believe in unlimited possibilities and don’t get bogged down by thinking one person’s good fortune limits their possible outcome in life.
- You strive to control your life.
There’s a difference between control and striving to achieve our goals. Happy people take steps daily to achieve their goals, but realize in the end, there’s very little control over sufferings and trials that may come…it is those trials however, that perfect our faith and draw us closer to Him. Unhappy people tend to micromanage their lives in effort to control all outcomes and fall apart in dramatic display when life throws a wrench in their plan. Happy people can be just as focused, yet still have the ability to go with the flow and not melt down when life delivers a curveball.
The key here is to be goal-oriented and focused, but allow room for growth when the best laid plans go awry- because they will sometimes. Going with the flow is what happy people have as plan B.
- You consider your future with worry and fear.
Unhappy people fill their thoughts with what could go wrong versus what might go right. Happy people are usually deluded with doubts and allow themselves to daydream about what they’d like to have life unfold for them but are always disappointed things didn’t go as planned.
Unhappy people fill their souls with constant worry and fear.
Happy people experience fear and worry, but make an important distinction between feeling it and living it. When fear or worry crosses a happy person’s mind, they’ll ask themselves what choices they can make to rise up over their adverse circumstances and how they can fight the good fight of faith to prevent their fear or worry from happening (there’s responsibility again) and they take it. If not, they realize they’re rooted in fear and they lay it down.
- You fill your conversations with comparisons and complaints.
Unhappy people like to live in the past. What’s happened to them and life’s hardships are their conversation of choice. They are sometimes so stuck in their past pain they just can’t get to a place of letting go. It actually becomes their identity and like an old friend (foe?) to stay in the pain. And sometimes when they run out of things to say, they’ll turn to other people’s lives and compare.
Happy people live in the now and dream about the future. You can feel their positive vibe from across the room. They’re excited about something they’re working on, grateful for what they have and dreaming about the possibilities of life and what wonderful things the Lord has for them in the future.
Obviously none of us are perfect. We’re all going to swim in negative waters once in a while, but what matters is how long we stay there and how quickly we work to get ourselves out. Practicing positive habits daily is what sets happy people apart from unhappy people.
For more encouraging and engaging podcasts and videos, visit the E-Squared Media Network at www.e2medianetwork.com.