Happiness comes in so many different forms that it can be hard to define.
Unhappiness, on the other hand, is easy to identify; you know it when you see it, and you definitely know when it’s taken hold of you.
Unhappiness is lethal to everyone around you, like secondhand smoke.
The famous "Terman Study" from Stanford followed subjects for eight decades and found that being around unhappy people is linked to poorer health and a shorter life span.
Happiness has much less to do with life circumstances than you might think.
A University of Illinois study found that people who earn the most (more than $10 million annually) are only a smidge happier than the average Joes and Janes who work for them.
Life circumstances have little to do with happiness because much happiness is under your control — the product of your habits and your outlook on life.
Psychologists from the University of California who study happiness found that genetics and life circumstances only account for about 50% of a person’s happiness. The rest is up to you.
"The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself." —Benjamin Franklin
Unhappiness can catch you by surprise. So much of your happiness is determined by your habits (in thought and deed) that you have to monitor them closely to make certain that they don’t drag you down into the abyss.
Some habits lead to unhappiness more than others do. You should be especially wary of the 10 habits that follow as they are the worst offenders. Watch yourself carefully to make certain that these habits are not your own.
Waiting for the future.
Don’t spend your time waiting for something that’s proved to have no effect on your mood. Instead, focus on being happy right now, in the present moment, because there’s no guarantee of the future.
Spending too much time and effort acquiring "things."
When you make a habit of chasing things, you are likely to become unhappy because, beyond the disappointment you experience once you get them, you discover that you’ve gained them at the expense of the real things that can make you happy, such as friends, family, and hobbies.
We all have those days when we just want to pull the covers over our heads and refuse to talk to anybody, but understand that the moment this becomes a tendency, it destroys your mood. Recognize when unhappiness is making you antisocial, force yourself to get out there and mingle, and you’ll notice the difference right away.
Seeing yourself as a victim.
While everyone is certainly entitled to feel down every once in a while, it’s important to recognize when you’re letting this affect your outlook on life. You’re not the only person that bad things happen to, and you do have control over your future as long as you’re willing to take action.
Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.
While talking about what bothers you can help you feel better, there’s a fine line between complaining being therapeutic and it fueling unhappiness. Beyond making you unhappy, complaining drives other people away.
Blowing things out of proportion.
A happy person is upset if they have a fender bender on the way to work, but they keep things in perspective: "What a hassle, but at least it wasn’t more serious." An unhappy person, on the other hand, uses it as proof that the day, the week, the month, maybe even their whole life, is doomed.
Sweeping problems under the rug.
The more you don’t do anything about a problem, the more it starts to feel as though you can’t do anything about it, and then you’re right back to feeling like a victim.
Instead of setting goals, learning, and improving themselves, they just keep plodding along, and then they wonder why things never change.
Trying to keep up with the Joneses.
In one study, most subjects said that they’d be OK with making less money, but only if everybody else did too. Be wary of this kind of thinking as it won’t make you happy and, more often than not, has the opposite effect.