9 Places Unhappy People Look for Happiness

be-happy

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” —Margaret Lee Runbeck

Happy people know that happiness is a choice. They know it is not a reaction to present circumstances. Instead, happiness is an available decision despite them. They have removed the thinking that waits for everything to be perfect before joy in life is experienced.

On the other hand, unhappy people are always searching for happiness. They believe happiness is reliant upon the acquisition of something new or something different. They are constantly chasing, but never attaining. Often times, they search for it in all the wrong places.

Consider this list of 9 Places Unhappy People Look for Happiness.

1. In their next purchase. For too many, it has been ingrained into their thinking the proper way to attain happiness is to find it in their next purchase. As a result, joy is sought in bigger houses, nicer cars, cooler technology, or more fashionable clothing. Most possessions never satisfy. In fact, the joy they bring is entirely fleeting. And those who search for happiness in them are left to chase the next purchase… and the next… and the next.

2. In their next paycheck. Perhaps, Zig Ziglar said it best, “Money won’t make you happy, but everybody wants to find out for themselves.” I know happy people who own less than me and I know unhappy people who own far more. Money is not the secret to happiness. It never has been and never will be. And the sooner we realize this truth, the sooner we can discover the freedom that accompanies no longer desiring riches.

3. In their next relationship. We were designed for relationship and there is great joy to be found in them. But relationship, by its very nature, requires humility and selflessness. And believing there is another person out there that can bring complete happiness into your life is to embark on a journey with no destination… and often with disastrous outcomes. Our relationships become far stronger and more fulfilling when we stop searching for someone to meet our needs and start using relationships to meet someone else’s needs instead.

4. In their next physical enhancement. Healthy bodies and healthy diets are important. I would never speak against their benefit. They allow us to maximize our days and effectiveness. But those who seek happiness in tighter butts, slimmer waists, and larger biceps are looking for fulfillment in physical bodies that were never designed to bring such outcomes. Happy people understand the importance of physical discipline. But they do not base their happiness on their physical appearance.

5. In their next competition. I have come to understand the mindset of competition in our world is based on a faulty premise. It assumes there is a finite sized pie—that one person’s success in life equals one less opportunity in mine. But this thinking is incorrect. The pie keeps growing. And those who seek happiness by ruthlessly beating out another compete only against themselves. In reality, the quickest way to find happiness in your life is to help someone else find it in theirs.

6. In their next job. It is important to pursue work you love in an occupation that contributes good to society and the world around you. This type of work brings fulfillment and promise to our lives. Unfortunately, I fear too many people nowadays are seeking the “perfect” job with high pay, few hours, and no stress. But the perfect job doesn’t exist. Work always requires blood, sweat, and tears—that is what makes it work. Again, those who are continually experiencing disdain in their present career because they think the next one will be perfect, are chasing happiness in the wrong places. While there may be a time for change in employment, there may also be a time for change in your approach to it.

7. In their next escape. Unhappy people seek escape. They believe distraction from their present circumstance is a shortcut to happiness. They often turn to television, addiction, or weekend getaways to numb the pain. But the entertainment always ends, the morning always comes, and the vacation always concludes. Meanwhile, the present circumstances have not changed—they have only been complicated. Happy people recognize their circumstances and do not require escape from them. Instead, they choose to practice peace inside them.

8. In the next person to solve their problems. Blame is a dangerous habit and a very real obstacle to happiness. Shifting the responsibility for shortcomings onto another person or external factor immediately eliminates any need or motivation to change. Instead, the victim remains trapped in a cell they built themselves—waiting for someone else to come solve their problems for them. But every time we blame someone else for our unhappiness, we lose. And in the long run, it keeps fulfillment and happiness just out of reach.

9. In accepting things just the way they are. Happiness can be discovered at any point in our lives regardless of our circumstances. But finding happiness in them does not mean we are complacent in the face of things that can be changed. It does not mean we stop striving or growing or maturing. We do not use happiness or contentment as an excuse for mediocrity. Instead, we walk forward in confidence and discipline to become the best possible versions of ourselves—not just for our own well-being, but for the well-being of others.

Your happiness is based solely on your decision to be happy—and this may be one of the most important life lessons any of us could ever learn.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    Agree. I’m one of those who have tried several of the above mentioned ways to happiness. They’re all dead ends.

    There’s one thing in common with the first eight examples: “in their next”. Always striving, always looking for something else, never pausing to reflect upon what they actually have. Here and now.

    I believe however that acceptance is one of the keys to happiness, but acceptance doesn’t have to mean that you stop changing. On the contrary. I like to view acceptance as a condition for successful change. When I come to terms with a situation, being able to say to myself “OK, this is where I am right now. I want to change it, but I accept that this is where my previous decisions have taken me.”, only then can I stake out a new path for myself.

    Maybe it’s just a matter of what you put into the word acceptance.

  2. says

    The first time I went to travel for a long time, I was running away from real life and from relationships. I wanted to get away and not think about anything for a little while. But like you might have guessed, my problems came with me. I carried them in my heart. I couldn’t escape them by going to another country or another continent. This time around, Thenix and I aren’t running away. We are travelling, we are learning, we are growing. Our goal is to ensure that we can figure out how to make money on the trip and to grow our relationship with each other. Because this is not an escape from anything, this time around I’m happier than I was the last time I travelled long-term.

  3. says

    “relationship, by its very nature, requires humility and selflessness. And believing there is another person out there that can bring complete happiness into your life is to embark on a journey with no destination…”

    Very deep truth Joshua. I see a lot of people that have come to realize that material things will not make them happy but they still seek ‘someone’ to make them happy. You’ve got to learn to be happy yourself so that you have some to share.

    Dan

  4. says

    “7. In their next escape. Unhappy people seek escape. They believe distraction from their present circumstance is a shortcut to happiness.”

    This point really spoke to me. In essence, points 1-8 could all be considered a form of escape. After all, that “next big purchase” is just a way to distract yourself from reality, to find joy in something aside from what you already have. Sometimes, when what you have is, for example, a job you hate, you use the purchase as a distracting “reward” for yourself because you “deserve it” for working so hard at that job.

    All of these escapes prevent one from really living in the present moment.

    “Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.” ~Author Unknown

  5. Heatherly says

    I agree with this list. I have found it is looking too for something to come and thinking that next phase or next thing will bring happiness. I have learned it is much better to live in the moment. I do my best to find joy where I am at. It is so easy to get down when things do not seem to happen that we really desire. Sickness, heartbreak and many other things come along. Those times mingle with the better times. It is not easy for anyone in the midst of a great difficulty to say.. oh this is wonderful. Sometimes I think I just go down the river of pain. I just simply make it through but then there are moments of wonder. I have found happiness in having good friends, or supportive families, expanding my talents, enjoying the quite moments as well as the exciting and energizing ones. I simple try to find joy now.. and be now.. exist now.. not in thoughts of future or past.

  6. Dianne says

    Many of these are the reason I am divorced from a long-term marriage. My ex-husband wanted bigger everything, more, newer, different…thinking that would make him happy and solve all of his problems. We had two beautiful children and lived in a nice home. I quit work to raise them and he took a job traveling every week of the year to make more money I had no interest in. I just wanted a quiet, simple, happy life. He once said out of anger, “I just don’t understand you. You are happy with nothing!” I told him, “But I have enough of everything I need.” Which was my family and spending time and being there to experience life with them. He was frustrated with me because I loved running outside in nature and riding bikes with the kids and that made me happy. He wanted a bigger house, more cars, a boat, motorcycle, drinking parties, women, etc..which he finally got after he left us all. He even left his dog and never saw him again.

    He now lives in another state with a woman he hooked up with in a huge mansion he bought on many acres of land. He has many cars, a boat, a lot of money…but no family.
    He has no relationship with his children, they stayed with me. They are grown up now and I asked them what their favorite childhood memories are and they said riding our bikes to the library all of the time, stopping at the park, skating, going for walks in the forest preserve, reading books at bedtime. I am so fortunate and feel so blessed to have spent that time with them growing up. The simple joys of everyday life.

    • Stacy says

      wow Dianne! You are the real deal! I can guarantee he is still not happy, but emptier than ever! You however will have relationship gold with the children for the rest of your life.

  7. Mike says

    Money can give you contentment if you don’t spend it. People who spend all of their money on things don’t have any money.

    Having money in the bank gives you choices.

  8. Sheel Palm says

    O my! wonderful!
    ” Our relationships become far stronger and more fulfilling when we stop searching for someone to meet our needs and start using relationships to meet someone else’s needs instead. ”
    i am thinking ……….
    enjoy relationships by consciously choosing to meet another’s needs > get pleasure in serving another instead of serving yourself all the time ; serve yourself & serve others : find the right*balance ;

    my third-eye functioning just got better. Thank you. )

  9. A Mom says

    Very nice piece. I agree with most all of it. Number 2 however could be tweaked a little. I know I would be happier with a few more dollars. I don’t desire riches, I just want the peace of mind that would come with not worrying about how I am going to feed my family tonight.

  10. will says

    In conversations with my Father (85) a few days after his wife of 65 years (my Mother) passed, he turned to me and said “It all went by so fast” on that day; I told my wife of 35 years, it’s time to change – EVERYTHING! So we did…

  11. says

    Happiness is found in fulfilling and challenging work that does not consume you. Along with that is the joy of fulfilling relationships with family and friends. I enjoy activity so socializing around activity brings me great joy. Meaningful conversations with my husband and three adult children bring me great happiness. Having created meaningful family memories based on our routines, celebrations, holidays and excursions are what we all can relate to when we miss one another or feel sad.

  12. Kris Stoff says

    There is a difference between “happiness” and ” joy”
    Happiness is dependent on what is happening, if good things are happening then I will be happy. If bad things are happening then I will not be happy.

    Now Joy is different, you may disagree but I believe it goes deeper and is more spiritual than anything. God gives Joy and we can have Joy in a relationship with him. Also we can have and experience joy and be joyous when the bad things are happening.

    “The Joy of Life is bound up in Relationships”

  13. GG says

    I just read yesterday

    “The secret to happines lies not in getting what you want, but in wanting what you have”

  14. Anon says

    This article calls everyone sad and unhappy, because we all seek these things. One way or another. Who doesn’t want to buy something that will -albeit temporarily-make them happy? or go to the next vacation ? or watch the next episode of that tv show they’re addicted to? and why is this bad? we all seek these “distractions” from our mundane lives. One way or another, everything falls into one of the categories listed in this article. Should I start feeling bad after surviving a stressful day at work and then wanting to relax by planning my next vacation? watching tv?shopping? or playing a video game that engages me?
    Inability to take action and “do something” when things are bad and “do something” about your situation is what matters. Lak of money and “things” – terrible. Poverty and sickness -terrible. Having too much money can cause unnecessary issues as well. Everything in moderation is the key to success ,but how does one achieve it?

  15. gina diener says

    Thank you, I look forward to your posts.This is my dream, and I can’t fulfill it alone.
    I can’t do what We can do together!!

  16. Sunny says

    Great list! I used to do all of that just to make myself happy, but not anymore. Now, I know what true happiness is. Actually, not really, but I’m learning to be happy without all that materialistic things.

  17. Ash says

    Love reading your posts! They all ring so true and are very relevant to our current western society. I use to buy myself things with my credit card as a treat when I felt down, it was exciting for a minute until the guilt set in and the credit card statement came. Now I buy what I need. I use to think I was a failure as I don’t have a newer car like everyone else although my car is neat and runs well and I use to think my currently unrenovated home was an embarrassment. I have now learnt gratitude, my home is filled with my family and is cosy. I was searching for happiness in the wrong places.

  18. Megan says

    I will share this with my Ethics class; we are discussing confidence, beginning with the influence the media/society has on our very definition. This will be a nice follow up!

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