If you could rate your level of happiness on a scale of 1-10, what would you choose? Would you choose a number close to 10 or would your choice be somewhere near 1? If you chose a low number, you’re not alone. Many people are struggling to find true happiness and satisfaction in their lives. Like you, they’ve tried everything and nothing has been able to work up until now.
One reason we struggle with unhappiness is because we don’t know what’s causing it. We seek out cures hoping they will make us better, only to end up with disappointment. Society gives us plenty of tools to improve our happiness but I wonder how effective they really are if they leave us constantly searching for more?
Can we truly have lasting happiness and satisfaction? Or are we doomed to perpetually ride a roller coaster of emotions? What are the root causes of chronic unhappiness? Is there a real cure? Does God even care about our happiness? Does he want us to be happy? What does the scripture say about happiness and satisfaction? What I am offering you through this article is not a quick fix but I hope that some of what I share can open your eyes and lead you down the right path toward lasting happiness and satisfaction.
7 Reasons Why You May Be Unhappy With Life
I’d like to share seven core reasons why many people are secretly unhappy with life. Of course, there can be other reasons but these seven are big ones that stood out to me.
1. You Think Worldly Success Will Make You Happy
First, you may be secretly unhappy with life because you have a wrong perspective on what will actually make you happy. You think worldly success equals happiness. So, you strive as hard as you can to hit goals, gain recognition, win praise, and earn promotions. Despite all you have achieved, somehow, you still notice an emptiness in your heart.
Unfortunately, you can be wildly successful and secretly unhappy at the same time. Take some of the most successful people in the world – many of them are unhappy.
The thing is, the success of the world is like a drug: it starts you off a temporary high and then leaves you to suffer through the lowest of lows. It’s a system set up to fail. Sure, it brings happiness for a moment but the moment quickly fades. If you wanted to maintain your happiness through worldly success, you’d have to constantly strive for more. But you can only be so successful. What will you do when you’ve reached your threshold?
You want to know something else? Many of us don’t desire success in of itself. We desire success because we’re hungry for approval. We desperately want others to know that we’re worthy and good enough so we hoard success for ourselves hoping that they’ll look at us for a change.
But, our worth is inherent and it only comes from Christ. Success doesn’t make you worthy, he does. Before you could even lift a finger, Christ spoke worth into your being. Don’t let the enemy lie to you, telling you that you’re not enough.
What does true success look like?
If worldly success robs us of our happiness, what kind of success should we desire?
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8
True success looks like living for Jesus. You are successful when you know God and follow his word. True success is walking with God and trusting him to guide each step of the way.
The thing is, we chase what we think will make us happy without realizing it often leads to death. Jesus knows what we need to truly make us happy. The Bible says, Blessed are they that do his commandments that they might have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Rev 22:14). You will be happy if you keep God’s commandments.
Chase Godly success by walking with him and following his commandments, and you won’t have to worry about being secretly unhappy with your life.
2. You Struggle to Find True Meaning in Life
Perhaps, you could be secretly unhappy with life because you struggle to find true meaning. Maybe you are restless, and wondering what your purpose is. Or, maybe you’re not too sure if all this really matters.
We begin to struggle with meaninglessness when we trade our firm foundation in Christ for things that cannot uphold us. True meaning is only found in Christ because he is the one we live for.
When we rest our hope in the wrong foundations, they let us down because they were never meant to sustain us. If your job, or your boyfriend, or your husband, or even your kids become your foundation instead of Christ, meaninglessness will eventually begin to set in.
If you’re living your life to prove your worth to someone else, meaninglessness will begin to set in.
If you’re satisfying sinful desires, meaninglessness will begin to set in.
If the promise you’ve been waiting on becomes more important to you than the God you’re believing in, meaninglessness will begin to set in.
If anyone or anything has the affection you should be giving to Christ, meaninglessness will begin to set in.
The truth is, your purpose is found in Christ alone. If you’re looking for purpose and meaning in everything but him, you may find yourself chronically unhappy with life.
On the flipside, if your purpose is in Christ, regardless of what comes your way, you’ll have true joy and happiness that lasts.
Didn’t the Bible Say all is Vanity?
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.Ecclesiastes 2:25-26
At the end of his life, the author of Ecclesiastes concluded that everything was vanity. Wow, what a harsh statement. If you’re tempted to throw in the towel and go home, wait a minute. All was vanity without God. Why? He brings meaning to life. All the money, success, achievements, and goals can’t bring us lasting satisfaction like God can.
If you are struggling to find meaning in life, maybe you’ve removed Jesus from the center. What are you looking to for meaning? You need to shift your focus back to where it belongs. God created you and he’s the only one that can give true meaning to your life.
3. You Have Too Much Stuff
If you’re secretly unhappy with life, you may want to consider getting rid of some stuff. Believe it or not clutter in your home can lead to clutter in your heart. Think about it, how can you be truly happy when you don’t have space to rest from all the things fighting for your attention?
I started watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo last year and I must say, her Kon-Mari method for decluttering changed my life. Her methods and systems are both practical and effective. Marie teaches us to cherish the gifts we’re given but part with them when the time is right.
If we’re being honest, we tend to hang on to things hoping for a chance they’ll make us happy. Instead, they weigh us down. When we have tons of stuff weighing us down, there’s no room for God and without God, we’re destined for unhappiness.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28
Jesus invites those who are burdened down with things to come to him and receive rest. But the key is, you have to let go. Remember, the physical is often a manifestation of the spiritual. If we can’t let go of our physical stuff, how will we be able to let go of the spiritual weights in our lives?
So practically, consider decluttering. Maybe you’re holding on to old memories, keepsakes, or gifts that remind you of your past. Perhaps you’re holding on to your favorite dress, hoping that one day it’ll be your size again. Or, you could be holding on to old electronics, planning to use them again someday. Whatever it is, please let go. Some things cannot go with you into the future God has planned for your life. So, until you let go, you may remain stuck in chronic unhappiness wondering why you aren’t moving forward.
Jesus and the Rich Ruler
There’s a story in the Bible about a rich ruler who was excited to find out how to inherit God’s kingdom and get into heaven. When he asked, Jesus replied, “Well, you know the commandments.”
He’d kept all the commandments since he was a child. But, Jesus told him it wasn’t enough. He said, “Go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. Then come follow me.” Suddenly, the ruler’s happiness turned to overwhelming sadness because he couldn’t give away his stuff.
Are you willing to give up stuff for God’s kingdom? Do you value your things more than true happiness in Christ? If not, I’m challenging you to get rid of some stuff. Get rid of the physical and spiritual weights you’ve been too afraid to let go of and let Jesus bring true happiness into your heart.
4. You’re losing hope
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
Maybe you’re secretly unhappy with life because you’re losing hope. It can be hard clinging to hope when you’re waiting for God to fulfill his promise to you. It may even feel like nothing is happening. I know because I’ve been there.
I remember when I was believing God for emotional healing. I was so broken and I couldn’t see things ever getting any better. But, in the darkness, I clung to these words: hold onto your hope as your triumph unfolds. Suddenly the lights came on.
Hope is a wonderful gift from God. It can bring us incredible joy and happiness in the middle of hardship. Hope bring life into dead and darkened places. It’s is the light in the tunnel that produces the faith to believe the impossible.
What hope should you cling to?
I held on to my hope in Christ and I encourage you to do the same. Sadly, hope in anything else is a losing battle. The truth is, you never really know how things will turn out. You can only have full confidence in Christ.
Hold onto your hope in Christ and he’ll help you to have true happiness despite tough situations. I’m not saying that you won’t be sad sometimes, but happiness will guide the overall direction of your life.
You’re going to get through this. I promise, you will. But, you can still experience true happiness in the middle of it by clinging to hope and faith in Christ.
5. You’re lacking in gratitude
Next, you may be unhappy with life because you lack gratitude. We can’t be truly happy if we never stop to count our blessings. How can we have true joy if we never stop to recognize God’s goodness in our lives?
Believe it or not, routinely practicing gratitude can actually lead to an increase in positive emotions such as excitement, joy, and happiness. There are certain neural pathways in our brain that produces these positive feelings each time we practice gratitude.
It’s hard to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. Don’t believe me? Try it.
How to incorporate gratitude into your life
If you’re lacking in gratitude, start making some intentional changes.
List a few things you’re thankful for each morning as soon as you wake up. Even if it feels like there’s nothing to be thankful for, there’s something. If you dig deep enough you’ll find it.
Keep a gratitude journal to record everything you’re thankful for. Gratitude journals are especially helpful because moments will come when you can’t think of anything to be thankful for. You can flip through earlier dates in your journal to remind you of God’s goodness.
If you want, you can even get an accountability partner. Get a friend to agree to listen to a few things you’re grateful for each day. Accountability partners are great because you can work together to keep each other on track.
6. You’re comparing yourself to everyone else
Yep, this is huge. In this instagram world, it’s so easy to compare ourselves to strangers we don’t know. Someone makes an announcement and suddenly your life doesn’t seem as important anymore. Ever felt that way?
This is gonna set you free: it’s not true. Someone else’s blessing doesn’t negate your importance. You are important to Christ, period. But, if we continue to compare our lives to everyone else around us, we’ll be chronically unhappy for sure.
Listen, nobody can live the life God created for you but you. Her journey is not your journey and her path is not your path. God is ordering your steps right now and leading you to a beautiful place he prepared just for you. No, you can’t go where she’s going because it wasn’t made for you.
So, stop comparing yourself to other people and compare your life to Christ. Are you becoming more like him each and everyday? Then you’re good.
Comparison and happiness can’t be bffs. Comparison literally robs us of joy. If you want to be truly happy, stop comparing.
7. You’re being inauthentic
Finally, you could be chronically unhappy because you’re being inauthentic. Brené Brown, best-selling author and Ted Talk speaker, says that “authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
If you’re living your life trying to be someone you’re not, you’re going to be unhappy. Why? The real you is being suffocated by a persona.
Why do we become inauthentic?
We become inauthentic when we try too hard to please others and lose ourselves in pursuit of an image.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?Mark 8:36
Why gain everything and lose your identity? Why live to please others and neglect to please God? Your worth does not come from what others say or think about you, it comes from Christ. If you’re being inauthentic, unhappiness will definitely follow suit.
Does God want us to be happy?
I want to answer this question that you may be asking: does God want us to be happy? There’s a saying that goes something like this, “God cares more about our holiness than our happiness.” To be honest, when I’d hear this I would shake my head in agreement. Now, I respectfully disagree.
The Bible talks about rejoicing, gladness, laughter, and joy all throughout its pages. He even put Adam and Eve in an abundant garden to enjoy his creation. It’s no question, God wants us to be happy.
Happiness and holiness coexist peacefully.
The thing is, we can’t find true happiness without holiness. Sure, we may find some satisfaction from indulging in everything the world has to offer – lets be honest, a lot of satisfaction – but at the end, it’ll make us perpetually unhappy.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.Proverbs 14:12
God wants us to be happy but he doesn’t want us to pursue the “happiness” that leads to death. If you gain everything and you don’t have a relationship with God, the happiness it brings will be a counterfeit. If you lose everything and have Christ in your life, your happiness is true and lasting.
Do we have to be happy all the time?
Living in a state of happiness doesn’t mean we’re happy all the time. There’s a time for everything under the sun – including a time to weep and mourn.
We don’t have to be happy all the time but constantly living in a state of unhappiness may be a cause for concern.
How to be truly happy again
Now that you know a few reasons why you could be secretly unhappy with life and you understand how God feels about your happiness, here are five steps you can take to become happy again.
Discover the real root of your unhappiness
By now you know that chronic unhappiness doesn’t come out of nowhere. There’s a root cause. If you want to be truly happy again, you’ll need to do some digging to discover what is really causing your unhappiness. It could be anything on the list I shared or it could be something entirely different. The best way to discover the root of your unhappiness is by examining our lives and asking God for guidance. God hears us when we pray and he’s available to help us as long as we are willing to ask.
Put necessary changes in place
Once you discover the real root of your unhappiness, you’ll need to make some changes. What mindsets have you been holding on to that you need to let go of? Are you living your life without God? Are you burdened down by sin? Are you chasing worldly success that can never satisfy you? Surrender to God and make the changes that need to be made.
Make Jesus the center of your life
Without Jesus at the center, we will be chronically unhappy. He brings meaning to life. If there’s something or someone else sitting in the driver’s seat of your life, you’ll find yourself lacking true joy and happiness for sure. If Jesus isn’t the center of your life, make him the center. Rely on him to supply your needs instead of relying on yourself. Let him heal you instead of trying to heal yourself. Ask him to reveal any negative patterns in your heart and mind and make you new again.
Focus on Prayer & God’s Word
If you want true happiness, you’ll need to prioritize prayer and reading God’s word. If you are connected to God, you’ll have true happiness and satisfaction. Knowing God and his word is the cure to many problems that we are presented with. God’s word changes us, even if our situations don’t change. Perfect life situations don’t bring true happiness, truth does.
Develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving
This is key. Earlier I mentioned that it’s difficult to give thanks and be unhappy at the same time. When you praise God for who he is, your focus shifts from your problem towards the problem solver. Thanksgiving opens your eyes to see the truth about your circumstance. Sure, it might be hard but there’s good mixed into the hardship. You can do this practically by keeping a gratitude journal and writing down a few things that you’re thankful for each day. Doing this each day is guaranteed to change something within you and help you to become a happier person overall.
Get connected to faith based community
Faith based community is important because we need others to lift us up and encourage us. We need people to strengthen us and teach us truth. If you are connected to the right community, they can help lead you down the right path. They can pray for you and push you closer to God.
Bible verses about happiness and contentment
- And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
- With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
- For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
- You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
- A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. (Proverbs 15:13)
- But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! (Psalm 68:3)
- You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
- I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)
- Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
- Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
Helpful books to read on how to be happy with life
These four books have really helped to change my perspective on happiness and satisfaction. If you’d like to read further, consider picking up a copy of each of these.
If there’s a book that has entirely changed the course of my life, it’s this one. I received it as a gift from my Pastor’s wife when I was 10 and I only began reading it two years later. I learned so much about embracing a winning attitude despite life’s circumstances.
Own Your Everyday inspires women to embrace the everyday moments of life. Even the mundane and routine things can be filled with purpose. If you want to be happy in life, you should learn to balance striving with contentment. OYE teaches you to do just that.
This book may be helpful for the person who’s struggling to hold on to hope. I randomly discovered this book in a little shop in a train station and it changed my life. God used it to reignite hope in my heart at a time when I had lost it.
4. Successful Women Think Differently: 9 Habits to Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Resilient – Valorie Burton
Success isn’t what you think it is. This book dives into what true success looks like and gives us 9 principles to live by if we want to be successful, happy, and healthy.
5. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You Should Be and Embrace Who You Are – Brené Brown
A practical and motivational guide book helping you to embrace wholehearted living by letting go of what you think you should be and embracing the truth about who you are. Brené Brown addresses comparison and inauthenticity, two major factors leading to chronic unhappiness.
If you’ve made it to the end of the article, thank you. I hope it was helpful for you and that you learned something. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.