Symptoms Of An Addiction To Unhappiness (And How You Can Find Joy)

by John Esposito
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There are many addictions in the world, from smoking to drinking to video games. Perhaps not as well-known is another insidious addiction—unhappiness.

A person who is addicted to unhappiness may seem down nearly all the time. This person may seem unable to recognize the bright side of things and may be constantly waiting for the sunny day to turn dark. Not only does doom and gloom follow them like a ball tied to a string, but they often sabotage their efforts as soon as life begins to get good. If any of this seems familiar, there are things you can do to get out of this cycle of unhappiness and enjoy life again. An addiction to unhappiness does not have to rule your life. You can be free once you face the underlying issues that may be causing this continued state of misery.

Happiness is a complex state, but for many situations it can be chosen. A person’s level of happiness is dependent on many factors. Should your happiness be defined by external or internal success or something else entirely? The choice is yours to make.

Here are some signs of an addiction to unhappiness and a few ways to find joy.

Searching For The Bad

When life begins to brighten, you may look for reasons to be unhappy. Though you may have everything a person would reasonably find tied to happiness, you may be unable to search for the good and even if you tried to find the good, you may not be able to recognize it as such.

Auditioning For The Victim Role

Placing yourself in the victim role and blaming others is automatically done. When unhappiness is the default, it may be hard to take responsibility for your own choices and actions.

Competitive Victimhood

Often discussing your trials and tribulations may result in attempts to one-up friends, family, and colleagues to determine whose life, current or past, is the hardest.

Difficulty Remaining Goal-oriented

pessimist man with thumbs downDue to the future looking dim and seeing that there is little you can do to change your circumstance, you may have a great deal of difficulty setting and achieving goals or enjoying success if goals have been achieved.

Lowered Resiliency

When you are chronically unhappy you may have a hard time bouncing back when unpleasant life events occur.

Substance Abuse

You may use drugs, sex, gambling, alcohol, food, and other addictive substances or activities to cope, escape, or distract from your unhappiness.

Poor Self-care

Basic needs such as regular exercise, needed sleep, and a healthy diet are neglected when unhappiness is felt throughout the day.

Volatile Emotions And Relationships

You may feel trapped by your emotions and have little idea how to change your life or emotions. The unhappiness is so profound you may be discontent when life is going as well as it can. Your relationships may be dissatisfying and dramatic. This, unfortunately, can lead others to distance themselves from you, which may enhance feelings of discomfort and sadness.

What Are Some Causes Of Chronic Unhappiness?

An addiction to unhappiness may stem from a variety of underlying mental, traumatic, or psychological issues such as:


When a person suffers from a long-held belief that they aren’t good enough, they may feel like they don’t deserve to be happy, so they don’t seek help for their unhappiness.

Authoritarian parenting

When adults are raised by parents who discipline harshly and excessively or expect their children to meet unrealistic expectations, they may believe that love and success must be combined with unhappiness. As children, they weren’t taught love meant being happy, so they hold onto this belief in adulthood.


crying man in ruined buildingStruggles with negative experiences or trauma may lead to an unconscious need to remain in the unhappiness that dominated their informative years. They are used to unhappiness; it is their comfort zone.

Mental illness

A portion of the chronically unhappy may have a mental health disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Like an addiction to unhappiness, neither of these conditions need be dealt with alone. Seeking help can help ease many of these symptoms.


People who are consumed with unhappiness may believe they are being realistic or practical. More often than not they are being negative.


Some people may have committed acts they are ashamed of and are punishing themselves. They are unable to move past this poor behavior and so are filled with regret.

What Can You Do To Become Happy Again?

First, you must make the choice that you want and deserve to be happy. This process can take time, but challenging these beliefs can be done. After you have begun changing your beliefs, try these five tips to cultivate happiness.

#1 Stop Waiting For The Future

Rather than wait for a future event, like a promotion, higher pay, or relationship, focus on being happy, right now. The future isn’t guaranteed but the present is.

#2 Limit The Amount Of “Things” You Acquire

Money and things will not solve unhappiness. Though increased income will better your life and produce some increases in happiness, it won’t solve the underlying  issues. Buying things feels good in the moment but isn’t a substitute for hobbies, family, and friends. You don’t want to trade these intangible people and things for something many people can buy in a store.

#3 Leave Your Home

When unhappiness is robbing you of you sociability fight the urge to stay at home. Being around others, even if it isn’t the best experience in the world, can have a positive effect on your mood. Though you may feel like it, don’t isolate yourself.

For the most part, unhappiness, like happiness, is a choice. You are the only one who can improve your mood. If you have depression or anxiety, visit a health care professional to help you with this chronic and troubling emotion. Unhappiness does not have to be your life; it is a temporary condition that can be replaced with happiness.

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