How to Stop Feeling Guilty for Being Happy

How to Stop Feeling Guilty for Being Happy

Have you ever wondered, “Why do I feel guilty for being happy?”

This feeling is more common than people think! When our modern world appears to be in such chaos, it’s tempting to start feeling guilty for being happy.

We are bombarded by news of wars, natural disasters, political tensions, and never-ending environmental tragedies. We then begin to feel guilty for feeling happy while it’s evident that others are suffering.

You are not a bad person for looking after your own happiness!

Let’s talk about happiness, guilt, and everything in between.

Why Am I Experiencing Happiness Guilt?

Happiness guilt is a real emotion that many of us experience. We face a constant barrage of negative news from the media telling us we should be upset or angry about something every minute of the day. In fact, we deserve happiness and peace.

This isn’t to say that we should ignore newsworthy events. On the contrary, we should stay informed and be aware of local and global issues that need our attention.

But there’s a difference between being aware and being consumed by negative feelings and emotions. We need to prioritize our happiness so we can become a positive influence in the world. Look after yourself before you start to look after others – otherwise, your capacity to help will wear thin.

Deciphering the layer cake of guilt is the first step toward breaking the cycle.

When we keep comparing ourselves to others, guilt will undoubtedly creep in. But it is important to remember that happiness is not a finite resource. You can be happy without taking away from someone else’s.

Asian woman looking worried

Socially, we are also constantly worried about what other people will think of us if we self-identify as happy. We live in a world of mental illness, violence, and inequality. If you are outspokenly happy, you might feel a bit judged.

The notion that we are not entitled to feel good frequently comes from those who envy our good fortune and sunny disposition. This is where we must take a step back and remind ourselves that it’s okay to be happy – no matter what other people think or say.

Guilt messaging is also frequently targeted at those with low self-esteem. Through this lens, we can see that happiness guilt is a form of manipulation to control our thoughts and feelings. We must reject these messages and embrace our right to feel joy, peace, and contentment.

The truth is that we are all deserving of happiness. We have the right to remain optimistic even in the face of great distress. We have a responsibility to look after our own happiness.

Happiness is beneficial to our mental and physical health. It enables us to cope better with difficult situations and make better decisions. We should work on it every day, despite who we are and where we are in life.

Why Do I Feel Guilty for Getting Better?

Once you understand why you feel guilty, you can focus on changing your way of thinking.

If you feel bad for being happy because you believe you don’t deserve to be joyful, it’s time to change that mindset.

You deserve to be happy, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to be happy. If you’ve been through hardship, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be happy now.

If you’re experiencing survivor’s guilt, you must understand that you didn’t do anything wrong by surviving. What happened was not your fault, and you should not feel guilty for coming out of it okay.

If you feel guilty because you believe you should be doing more to empower others, remember that being happy benefits others. When you are happy, you are more likely to be generous and help others.

When you investigate the signals that make you feel remorseful, you will discover that most are emotional false flags. Getting better and feeling better shows that you are strong and resilient. Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself and doing what it takes to improve your life.

How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Being Happy

Let’s talk about how you can stop feeling guilty about being happy. Read on!

1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Do you feel guilty because there are people who are worse off than you?

In our current climate, if you’re happy, it’s easy to be persuaded that you should compare yourself to people who aren’t.

distracted woman staring at her phone

However, remember that every person on the planet is living a unique experience. People are better off and worse off than others in various ways.

Not everyone views the same life events with the same lens. The person with nothing can still find joy in life, while the person with everything can still feel sad.

Nobody, especially you, is in control of another person’s approach to life. You are not responsible for other people’s emotions, so don’t let them take away your happiness.

How you respond to life is up to you – you can choose to focus on the positive and be happy, or you can choose to focus on the negative and be unhappy. Others make their own choices too. There are no wrong or right answers here.

Remember that your happiness does not necessarily detract from someone else’s. Happiness is not a zero-sum game; there is enough joy in the world for everyone. So stop comparing yourself to others and focus on your own happiness.

2. Realize Your Right to Happiness

According to a study published in the journal Emotion, people who experience greater happy feelings are more prone to having:

  • Stronger relationships
  • More rewarding employment
  • Enhanced physical and mental health
  • A holistic sense of well-being

Being cheerful also increases our chances of success!

So, what gives you the right to be happy?

Well, you’re on this earth. You’re alive. The whole idea of a ‘right to be happy’ is silly because it should be a given that everyone has this right!

When you start feeling guilty about your happiness, remind yourself that it’s not wrong to be happy – it’s healthy and beneficial!

Also, happiness is contagious. When we are joyful, we spread our joy to the people around us. If we all accept our right to happiness, we can help create a more peaceful and loving world.

female hiker admiring the plants around her

3. Accept That Happiness Is a Natural Emotion

Just like sadness, happiness is a natural emotion that we all experience.

You should let yourself experience all emotions, both positive and negative.

Take a moment here to think about loss. Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences we go through in life.

It is natural – and okay! – to feel happy again after grieving.

You are not betraying the memory of your loved one by living your life and being happy. On the contrary, you honor their memory by continuing to live and experience all that life has to offer. You can be happy remembering all the good times you had together.

Just like any other emotion, happiness comes and goes. You have to accept that it is a natural part of life and recognize it as an important emotion.

When you feel happy, let yourself experience that emotion, and don’t try to suppress it. Enjoy the moment while it lasts, and look forward to it when it returns.

4. Focus On Gratitude for Happiness

There are so many reasons to be happy. Focus on those reasons!

Instead of feeling guilty for being happy, cultivate gratitude.

Gratitude is an emotion that comes from acknowledging the good in your life. When you focus on gratitude, your happiness deepens and becomes more meaningful. You may also start to see the good in situations that previously seemed negative.

There are many ways to practice gratitude. Some people find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal, while others prefer to set aside time each day to reflect on what they are thankful for.

You can express gratitude by telling someone how much you appreciate them or sending a handwritten note. You can also show gratitude by performing random acts of kindness for others or donating time or money to a worthy cause.

No matter how you cultivate gratitude, doing so will help you make a positive change to accept happiness in your life.

two smiling women in a happy embrace

5. Get Active Seeking Happiness

The final step is to find happiness.

Deliberately partake in activities that make you happy, even if they aren’t necessarily productive.

Ultimate happiness comes from:

  • Being with someone who makes you happy, whether a friend, family member, or romantic partner.
  • Doing things you enjoy, like reading a book, going for a walk in nature, listening to happy music, playing a game, or learning something new.
  • Taking time for yourself and your well-being with self-care.
  • Exploring hobbies and new activities.
  • Being optimistic and making plans for the future.

When you actively do the things that make you happy, it’s easier to let go of guilt.

It can help you recognize that it is okay and even important to be happy since happiness rejuvenates you.

When you find happiness, you will be able to look at the world in a more positive light and appreciate what you have in life. You’ll find that it’s easier to take on life’s challenges and help others. By removing guilt from the equation, you’ll be free to enjoy life more fully.

smiling man wearing sunglasses

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been feeling guilty about being happy, hopefully this article has changed your perception of happiness forever.

It is normal to desire to be happy. It’s normal to want to feel joy! Happiness is, in fact, necessary for our survival. Happiness is something we need to combat all of the negative emotions we face on a daily basis.

So the next time you find yourself basking in a moment of happiness, don’t feel guilty. Embrace it.

When you focus on your personal well-being and become happier, you open yourself to being kinder and more compassionate to others. You can generate a domino effect of happiness and kindness throughout your community. You can be the reason someone smiles today!


Happiness is a choice you make every single day, so choose to be happy. If you need help with this, download the Do Happy App to help prioritize and do the things that make you happy.

Sharing is caring!