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I Didn’t Know I Secretly Enjoyed My Unhappiness, I Thought I Was Just Unhappy

I Didn’t Know I Secretly Enjoyed My Unhappiness, I Thought I Was Just Unhappy

Everywhere we turn in modern society we are bombarded with advice on how to achieve the most elusive commodity in the world: Happiness.

Magazine articles scream out their top tips for happiness from glossy front pages. TV can easily lead us to believe happiness can either be bought or simply obtained through swallowing the latest and greatest anti-depressant pill. In short, there is a multi-million dollar industry built around the premise of living “Happily Ever After.”

So, where’s the advice on being unhappy?

I’ve yet to see a book on the Top 10 Tips To Misery hitting the New York Times Bestsellers list. Why isn’t the blogosphere trending with articles on Living Miserably Ever After? Put simply, it doesn’t sell. Most people already have enough unhappiness in their lives. The last thing they wish to seek is how to garner more of it in their lives. However, once we dig a little deeper it becomes clear that this isn’t always as clear cut as it seems.

Sometimes we choose to be unhappy

What about the friend who’s always getting involved with unavailable men, or that colleague who actively seeks out things to get annoyed by? Why are they seemingly edging ever closer to making themselves unhappy? Actually, when you really think about it, many of us spend much of life making ourselves miserable by choosing to stay in a bad marriage, or refusing to quit a soul-sucking job. Whether we initially began with the very best intentions and life’s complications got in the way, or whether we made these choices without much forethought, the point is that sometimes in life we simply get in our own way, sit our asses down, and refuse to budge.

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Which leads me to ask that pertinent question:

Do we secretly get a thrill out of being unhappy?

In my case, the answer to this intensely difficult question was a big “Heck Yes!” I spent close to five years being miserable. No, I wasn’t locked up in solitary confinement, nor was I living in a war zone. The source of my misery came simply as a result of my own choices. These choices were well-intentioned at the time. In the beginning, I brushed up against happiness enough times to feel some semblance of contentment. I was in a healthy relationship and had a great job that enabled me to live in Los Angeles. However, time passed, circumstances changed, and I suddenly found myself at the mercy of my own unhappiness.

I did nothing to change my circumstances.

The company I had spent many years working for in LA closed its doors and I was transferred over to the New York office, bringing my long-term boyfriend with me. At first, things were great… until they weren’t. New York City is a tough town and people generally love it or hate it. My boyfriend hated it. In fact, he made it known every single day. Meanwhile, I was dealing with a high-stress job that resembled nothing to what I had initially signed on for.

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Essentially, I was stuck in an unhappy relationship and an unhappy career. Yet for years and years, I did absolutely nothing about it. I would spend the working day stressed and unhappy only to come home to more stress and unhappiness. There was no escape, at least in my mind. These were my choices and I was sticking with them – happiness be damned.

I was ignoring my needs, allowing others to control me, and catering to others until I was exhausted. I began to resent my own self-imposed obligations. In hindsight, there must have been a part of me that was secretly getting a thrill out of my circumstances, like being a martyr, if you will.

Personal martyrdom involves a vicious cycle of self-sabotage. In my case, I was repressing my own needs, which ended up making me feel controlled by the demands of my job and relationship. There is no fulfillment in this. Believe me. However, I still stayed.

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I refused to ask for and receive help.

Another challenge of embracing martyrdom is to open up to asking for and receiving help. I was too proud and stubborn to admit that my picture-perfect life in NYC was turning into a nightmare. I refrained from reaching out and speaking the truth to my friends which simply isolated me further. I struggled to connect with people on a deeper level because I was too scared to admit that my life was unraveling.

On top of that, I was slowly falling in love with my own misery because it was all I’d known for such a long time.

My continual acts of unnecessary self-sacrifice were a way of making me feel good about myself whilst masking the actual act of self-sabotage. I was giving up on hopes, dreams, and passions that would make me truly happy.

Eventually, my misery got the best of me and started to manifest itself in physical illness which was the wake-up call that I was so desperately seeking. Time was quickly passing me by and I couldn’t afford to waste another decade putting my life on hold whilst working a job I hated and staying in a relationship that was well past its sell-by date.

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Choosing differently…

Finally, I summoned up the courage to quit both my job and relationship and chose to start all over again. Looking back at this time has taught me so many valuable lessons on the seductive power of embracing your own unhappiness. The most important lesson of all was that being stuck in a victim mindset does just that. It keeps you stuck. It gave me something to complain about and most importantly held me back from attempting to follow my dreams.

Whilst my current life resembles nothing of the misery I went through for so many years, I still look back at that time as a pivotal moment in my life. It taught me so much about my own personal shadow behavior, it showed me what I don’t want out of life, and that my self-sabotage was keeping me stagnant.

Most importantly, it gave me the wake-up call that I needed. It gave me the opportunity to finally get out of my own way and open myself up to the belief that I was worthy of happiness.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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