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3 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Forget Our Unhappiness

3 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Forget Our Unhappiness

It is tempting to want to avoid all pain and discomfort. In fact, it is part of the human experience, even evolutionarily advantageous, to recognize and avoid pain. But simply trying to forget unhappiness or brush it under the rug will not help. It can actually hurt you to avoid unhappiness. It’s  not fun or easy, but there are some important reasons why acknowledging your unhappiness instead of avoiding it is essential to living a healthy and whole life.

1. You cannot selectively numb unhappiness without numbing joy, gratitude, love, and happiness

Researcher Dr. Brené Brown says that, “You can’t selectively numb. When you numb shame, you numb everything.” If you are continually numbing and forgetting your discomfort then you have no room in your life for joy, gratitude, love, and happiness. It’s a package deal. I don’t want to just gloss over pain with one wide brush of cliches — “you can’t reach the light without going through the darkness,” “there’s always a storm before a rainbow,” blah, blah, blah. But these ideas become clichés for a reason — they’re true.

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Experiencing unhappiness is a part of the human experience. Admittedly, it’s my least favorite part, but what can I do? I have to go through it. By allowing my pain to exist without trying to shove it into a deep, dark closet somewhere in the recesses of my soul, I can use that pain to understand more about why it’s present in my life. And when I allow myself to experience it, then I can experience joy and gratitude when it passes.

2. Unhappiness will not go away simply because you choose to ignore it

That might sound negative. But think about it this way: if you are always avoiding the pain in your life, where do you expect it to go?

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A relationship might be making you unhappy. Ignoring your unhappiness in that relationship will not make the sadness go away. Only dealing with the root of the pain can have any impact. I know how easy it is to try to ignore, to attempt to forget and run away from pain, only to find it constantly knocking on the door of my heart. If I ignore it long enough, the pain will start leaking in through the windows and manifesting in weird ways (ever had a crazy meltdown if Starbucks gets your order wrong?). Forgetting about the pain just won’t work. It will always be there, waiting to be addressed, waiting to be felt.

It’s like if you were experiencing a surprising pain in your back but you didn’t deal with it. You just take a ton of Advil and try not to move as much. The problem will not resolve itself and spine issues are no joke. It won’t be resolved until you go to a doctor and discover what’s happening beneath the surface. I’m not saying that every single source of unhappiness requires professional help, but it does require attention. And it’s not going anywhere until it gets what it needs.

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3. Unhappiness is a sign that something needs to be adjusted in your life

When you are unhappy, sad, angry, disappointed, lonely, or frustrated, the last thing you want to do is stop and process that emotion. If you’re anything like me, you want punch that discomfort in the face and run and hide under a blanket of Netflix and chocolate, hoping that the pain will forget you ever existed. Take it from me, this is not a useful coping technique. Instead of trying to forget about the unhappiness in my life, I’m learning to treat it as a sign. Discomfort in your life is a sign that something is wrong, or that something needs to be adjusted.

If you feel extremely anxious in certain social situations, maybe it’s time to evaluate who your friends are. It might be time to find safer people to surround yourself with. If you just really sad at the end of the day, it’s time to examine your career choices. If that’s not an option, think about what would make coming home at the end of the day a relaxing and rewarding experience. Do you tend to overreact when someone forgets about an appointment or a friend blows you off? Think about the first time you felt that deep pang of rejection or abandonment. You might be reliving a more fundamental and serious pain that is aggravating smaller more mundane sources of frustration.

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Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on February 13, 2019

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

Think being happy is something that happens as a result of luck, circumstance, having money, etc.? Think again.

Happiness is a mindset. And if you’re looking to improve your ability to find happiness, then check out these 10 things happy people do differently.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. -Dalai Lama

1. Happy people find balance in their lives.

Folks who are happy have this in common: they’re content with what they have, and don’t waste a whole lot of time worrying and stressing over things they don’t. Unhappy people do the opposite: they spend too much time thinking about what they don’t have. Happy people lead balanced lives. This means they make time for all the things that are important to them, whether it’s family, friends, career, health, religion, etc.

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2. Happy people abide by the golden rule.

You know that saying you heard when you were a kid, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Well, happy people truly embody this principle. They treat others with respect. They’re sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people. They’re compassionate. And they get treated this way (most of the time) in return.

3. Happy people don’t sweat the small stuff.

One of the biggest things happy people do differently compared to unhappy people is they let stuff go. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. Happy people realize this, are able to take things in stride, and move on. Unhappy people tend to dwell on minor inconveniences and issues, which can perpetuate feelings of sadness, guilt, resentment, greed, and anger.

4. Happy people take responsibility for their actions.

Happy people aren’t perfect, and they’re well aware of that. When they screw up, they admit it. They recognize their faults and work to improve on them. Unhappy people tend to blame others and always find an excuse why things aren’t going their way. Happy people, on the other hand, live by the mantra:

“There are two types of people in the world: those that do and those that make excuses why they don’t.”

5. Happy people surround themselves with other happy people.

happiness surrounding

    One defining characteristic of happy people is they tend to hang out with other happy people. Misery loves company, and unhappy people gravitate toward others who share their negative sentiments. If you’re struggling with a bout of sadness, depression, worry, or anger, spend more time with your happiest friends or family members. Chances are, you’ll find that their positive attitude rubs off on you.

    6. Happy people are honest with themselves and others.

    People who are happy often exhibit the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness. They would rather give you candid feedback, even when the truth hurts, and they expect the same in return. Happy people respect people who give them an honest opinion.

    7. Happy people show signs of happiness.

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    smile

      This one may sound obvious but it’s a key differentiator between happy and unhappy people. Think about your happiest friends. Chances are, the mental image you form is of them smiling, laughing, and appearing genuinely happy. On the flip side, those who aren’t happy tend to look the part. Their posture may be slouched and you may perceive a lack of confidence.

      8. Happy people are passionate.

      Another thing happy people have in common is their ability to find their passions in life and pursue those passions to the fullest. Happy people have found what they’re looking for, and they spend their time doing what they love.

      9. Happy people see challenges as opportunities.

      Folks who are happy accept challenges and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. They turn negatives into positives and make the best out of seemingly bad situations. They don’t dwell on things that are out of their control; rather, they seek solutions and creative ways of overcoming obstacles.

      10. Happy people live in the present.

      While unhappy people tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future, happy people live in the moment. They are grateful for “the now” and focus their efforts on living life to the fullest in the present. Their philosophy is:

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      There’s a reason it’s called “the present.” Because life is a gift.

      So if you’d like to bring a little more happiness into your life, think about the 10 principles above and how you can use them to make yourself better.

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