I Finally Found Out What Made Me Unhappy

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

We don’t like to talk about happiness. It seems so out of place amongst all the conversations that are deemed more appropriate for everyday discussions.

If you share that you’re unhappy, then you come across as depressed. You’re pessimistic. Ungrateful, even. Why bring the mood down?

If you share that you’re happy, then you come across as boastful. Are you just bragging about how good you have it when others are struggling? Life isn’t a romantic comedy, so you can save the sappiness for TV.

Let’s just be clear, happiness is a dynamic state. One moment you could drift off to euphoria, and the next it could feel like the weight of the world is crushing on top of you. There’s nothing wrong with feeling happy one day, and not so much the next.

There is an inevitable guilt when you suddenly transition out of happiness. How can I can so quickly feel unhappy after just recognizing the bliss in my life? I shouldn’t feel this way, right?

For the longest time, I attributed my moments of unhappiness to external forces: pressures from society to be a certain way or to achieve certain things. In a way, that is still true.

It’s all too unfortunate that I also have to depend on the sun for my happiness. My toxic relationship with the gloomy cold winters of the east coast / midwest is one of the reasons why I gladly packed my bags to move to the south. I’m lucky to endure just one week of winter “storm” in Texas in exchange of more sun.

Okay, okay. Those are some of the factors, but they weren’t my “aha!” moment.

I’m not saying that I have happiness all figured out — I don’t. But I’m glad to be just a little closer to achieving a glass half full.

Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

See, here’s the thing about me (and I’m sure many of you feel this way too): I hate uncertainty. I stress about uncertainty.

What is going to happen tomorrow? What if my career never takes off? What if I don’t have enough money saved up for my dream house? I want to go on a tropical vacation with my friends this summer— I need to budget for this. I want to achieve something BIG in my life before I turn 30. I want to live comfortably without worrying about the finances for the rest of my life, etc.

As soon as I start to worry about the future, my mental health takes a toll.

It wasn’t a new discovery, but it did take a while for the concept to settle in. I realize that I’m the happiest when I live in the now.

Having financial, career, and personal goals is an important way to keep me focused and my life centered. However, there may be too much emphasis on planning for the future and not enough on enjoying the now.

Take shopping, for example. I can’t catch a break from financial thought leaders consistently preaching to resist extraneous purchases and budget tightly. For the longest time, I really bought into the mindset that being financial frugal will lead to longer term successes.

I still actively work toward being money savvy. But maybe, just maybe, we’re inflating the importance of delayed gratification.

I’m all about being financially responsible and postponing immediate pleasures for a greater reward in the future. A big house, the freedom to travel the world, a celebrity-grade personal chef.

But maybe, just maybe, that’s not all that life is about.

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Amy Huang

Amy Huang

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I write about self-improvement, work culture, lifestyle, and relationships. Full-time dog and cat mom.