Written by Mitch McCrimmon, Ph.D.
What is happiness? People with low self esteem are unhappy with themselves. You can have OK self esteem and still be unhappy. This means that you like yourself but are unhappy with some of the circumstances of your life.
You could be unhappy with your relationships, career, finances, how you look, a recent setback, boredom, being criticized or any number of other factors.
But if you are unhappy, your self esteem could be low as well - this is because we often blame ourselves when we are unhappy.
How to be happy
- Unhappiness may be due to a specific circumstance in your life, but the feeling infects you completely.
- It is hard to feel happy about some things and unhappy about others at the same time.
- Small things can tip the scales to make us feel happy or unhappy.
- We all have happy and unhappy moods - feelings that do not last long.
- Often we shift from unhappy to happy just with the passage of time.
- Or something happens to tip the balance towards a happy mood.
- Something as simple as warm sunshine on a cool day or a refreshing breeze on a hot day.
- But what if you are unhappy most of the time?
- What can you do to shift yourself to a happier mood?
- Unhappy people may have real problems with relationships, career, finances, etc.
- Changing your circumstances might make you happier but this may not be very easy.
What else can you do?
- Try to avoid dwelling on what makes you unhappy - but thinking alone won't get you far.
- It helps to be active - doing what makes you happy and taking more pleasure in them.
- Even physical exercise can shift your brain chemistry towards a happier state. It's all about getting out of yourself.
- Try to take a different perspective on your life as a whole.
- Imagine that you just arrived at your dream holiday destination.
- Would you let the fact that your holiday has to end spoil your holiday?
- What about mishaps and setbacks --- short of being killed, seriously injured or mugged?
- Would you not strive to enjoy your dream holiday in spite of minor mishaps?
- Or would you waste your whole holiday feeling sorry for yourself?
- If you thought of your life as a dream holiday, would you not seek to make more of it?
- Why should you regard your life as the holiday of a lifetime?
- But can you imagine the great things you would have missed if you had never been born?
- Just being born is like winning the holiday of a lifetime.
- You can view your life however you want. It's your choice.
- But if you have an negative attitude towards your life or circumstances, ask yourself if it isn't your self esteem that's a problem rather than your external circumstances.
- It is easy to be defensive by dumping bad feelings on convenient external scapegoats.
- Constantly criticizing everything around us helps us feel better about ourselves.
- But this way of eliminating unhappy feelings is no better than abusing substances.
- So, becoming happier requires being active, changing what we can change, accepting what we cannot change, trying not to blame others or circumstances for our misfortunes, valuing what we have and developing a more positive attitude to our lives.