Why You’re So Unhappy

Mark Manson

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T his isn’t going to be your typical pep talk about how the universe works in mysterious ways, or how everything will fall into place if you’re patient.

Spoiler alert: it won’t.

The cold hard truth is this: the universe doesn’t care about your happiness. You do.

Maybe you’ve searched for answers in meditation retreats or self-help books (even, like, really, really good ones). Or you went balls out and booked a trip to Peru to chug ayahuasca and talk to the gods over a long weekend.

But now you’re sitting there, probably with a perplexed frown, scrolling through your phone, sipping your triple-shot latte, wondering, “Why am I so unhappy?”

Look, the secret to your happiness isn’t concealed in an esoteric Zen saying, nor is it locked away in a mindfulness app.

The answer is staring right at you from the mirror.

So why, then, are you so damn unhappy?

Well, let me take a stab at it.

YOU’RE CHASING HAPPINESS

Here’s a sobering truth: chasing happiness is like playing tag with a ghost. You run around, exhausting yourself, and still end up empty-handed.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. It’s not bad to want to be happy. But when happiness becomes the goal rather than a byproduct of a life well-lived, that’s where things go south.

You see, life isn’t about always riding high on the crest of joy. Life is the troughs as well as the crests. It’s the stormy seas and the calm waters.

Remember the movie ‘Inside Out’? Those adorable characters, each representing an emotion, weren’t there just for show. They underscore a profound truth: every emotion, whether it’s joy or sadness, plays a crucial role in the grand scheme of things.

Happiness isn’t a destination. It’s a byproduct of a life filled with meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.

So instead of hankering after happiness, shift your focus to doing things that matter to you, things that bring you a sense of achievement and growth, even if they involve discomfort.

YOU’RE SHYING AWAY FROM PAIN

We live in a society where pain is treated like an unwanted guest. We’ve created all these shields from pain — from painkillers for the most minor discomforts to the indulgence in distractions for the avoidance of emotional pain or even just boredom.

But here’s the inconvenient truth: pain is a part of the package deal of life.

You can’t experience true growth without some measure of discomfort. The burn of an intense workout leads to stronger muscles. Similarly, the pain of facing difficult situations head-on, of overcoming challenges, leads to a stronger character.

Imagine you’ve always dreamed of starting your own business. But you’re scared of potential failure, financial instability, and the grueling hours. So, you decide to stay in your comfort zone, your 9–5 job that drains you. By trying to dodge the “pain,” you’re also dodging opportunities for growth and true fulfillment.

YOU’RE COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS

Welcome to the era of social media, the perfect stage for the comparison game. When your feed is flooded with everyone else’s highlight reels, it’s easy to feel like you’re not keeping up.

Constant comparison is a surefire recipe for dissatisfaction. Remember, you’re running your own race. It’s going to look different from anyone else’s, and that’s perfectly okay.

Your friend might be flaunting a plush corner office, while you’re working from a quaint home office. They might have a six-figure salary, while you’re earning just enough to live comfortably.

But here’s the catch: maybe they’re stressed, overworked, and lacking peace, while you enjoy the freedom to work on your own terms, and live a more balanced life.

YOU’RE LIVING IN YOUR HEAD INSTEAD OF THE PRESENT

Our minds are often time-traveling machines. We dwell on the past, reliving memories or nursing regrets. We fret about the future, spinning webs of anxiety about things that haven’t happened yet. In all this time travel, we ignore the present, the only moment we truly have.

Life unfolds in the present. You can’t rewrite the past or control the future, but you can make the most of the present. Embrace it, with all its beauty and its flaws.

Perhaps you’re reading this article in a bustling café, a mug of coffee at your side. Instead of stressing about the upcoming meeting or reminiscing about the past, take a deep breath. Savor the aroma of your coffee, feel its warmth seep into your palms, soak in the café ambience.

Live in the present.

YOU BLAME OTHERS FOR YOUR UNHAPPINESS

We’ve all been there — blaming our boss for our stress, our parents for our insecurities, our ex for our inability to trust. We hold them responsible for our unhappiness. But here’s the real deal: you, and only you, are responsible for your happiness.

It’s easy to point fingers, to play the victim, to relinquish control. It absolves us from taking responsibility. It shields us from the hard truth that we, and we alone, have the power to change our circumstances.

Blaming others for your unhappiness is like handing them the remote control to your life. It’s saying, “Here, you have the power to affect my mood and my state of mind.”

Why would you give that kind of power away?

Take that power back. You’re not a puppet on a string, swaying to others’ whims. You’re the puppeteer. You control your actions, your reactions, and ultimately, your happiness.

Think about it like this: you’re stuck in traffic, late for a meeting, and the cab driver took a longer route. You can either spend the entire ride fuming at the driver, blaming him for your day starting off on the wrong foot, or you can use the time to prepare for your meeting, or even enjoy a few extra minutes of your favorite podcast. The situation hasn’t changed, but your reaction to it has, and that makes a world of difference.

Ultimately, it boils down to this: don’t give others the satisfaction or the power to control your emotions. Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. And certainly, no one can make you unhappy without your permission.

Life is a rollercoaster, a mix of ups and downs, of good days and bad days.

Happiness isn’t a permanent state, but a fleeting emotion, much like any other.

Embrace the journey, with its triumphs and its trials, its joys and its sorrows. Because every bit of it contributes to your personal narrative, your unique masterpiece.

Let go of the frantic pursuit of happiness, confront and embrace pain, cease comparisons, anchor yourself in the present, and stop blaming others for your unhappiness.

And perhaps, in the midst of all this, you might just find that elusive butterfly of happiness landing gently on your shoulder when you least expect it.

STOP BEING AN EMOTIONAL IDIOT

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Mark Manson

Author of #1 NYTimes Bestseller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’. OG Blogger. Psychology Nerd. I enjoy cats and whiskey. But not at the same time.