Why Can't I Be Happy

“Why Can’t I Be Happy?”: What to Do When You’re Not Happy

Have you been wondering, “Why can’t I be happy?”

You have a good job, a supportive partner, a loving family, and loyal friends. So, why do you feel unhappy all the time? You know that you have a lot to be grateful for.

This dichotomy is more common than you might think. The good news? You don’t have to resign yourself to constant melancholy. You’ve recognized the problem. Now it’s time to do something about it!

Let’s look at some constructive ways to invite happiness into your life.

Why Can’t I Be Happy?

Here are some reasons why you might struggle to feel happy:

You Look to Other People for Happiness

Do you sometimes wonder, “Why can’t I be happy? I have a great partner!”

While your partner may make you happy, they should not be your sole source of happiness. 

If you feel massive pangs of loneliness anytime you’re alone, you may need to learn how to stop depending on others for happiness.

When your happiness relies on others, you are doing yourself a disservice. True joy comes from within. Only when you truly love yourself and feel happy to be yourself will you be able to acknowledge that love and acceptance from others.

While it’s important to be with someone who makes you happy, it’s more important to be someone who makes you happy!

Practice self-love and spend quality time with yourself. Engage in activities you enjoy, like reading, hiking, or taking up a new hobby. Building a strong sense of self will help you find happiness from within.

man in red shirt standing up while his arms out

You Think Material Things Will Make You Happy

Perhaps you sometimes ask, “Why can’t I be happy? I have so many beautiful possessions!”

Sadly, many people think this way. They believe that if they purchase more items, own nicer things, or drive a better car, then they will find happiness. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Surrounding yourself with material goods will not make you happy long-term.

If you’re too focused on buying the next big thing, you need to learn to be happy with what you have. Who’s to say you’ll be happy with more?

The good news is that some of the happiest people in the world are those who have no material possessions! They appreciate the little things and are content with their lives. You can learn to do that, too, by practicing gratitude for what you already have.

You Have Unrealistic Expectations

Movies and social media can warp your view of the world. Unrealistic images of happiness can lead to skewed perceptions of happiness. This can lead to thoughts like, “Why can’t I be happy like my favorite influencer?”

When you obsess over other people’s lives on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media outlets, you stop focusing on your own life. 

Your own life is a reality show, the most intriguing one of all! Because it is your reality, you need to give it a thumbs up. Not all online content is bad, but you need to surround yourself with content that inspires you, not discourages you. 

Limit your time on social media and focus on your own life. Happiness apps like the Do Happy App can help you cultivate a greater sense of contentment and well-being. 

The Do Happy App, for instance, encourages you to perform scientifically proven activities to increase happiness daily, such as self-care, nurturing relationships, performing acts of kindness, and practicing gratitude through journaling. 

Moreover, a simple life is a happy life. Simplicity allows you to create space for self-reflection, meaningful relationships, and pursuits that align with your values rather than getting caught up in the pressure to keep up with others.

By embracing simplicity and letting go of excess, you can reduce stress, cultivate a deep sense of peace and authenticity, and focus on what truly matters.

You Confuse Being Alone With Loneliness

Loneliness and being alone are different. Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely, and just because you’re lonely doesn’t mean you’re alone. It’s essential to be able to tell the difference so you can address the real issue.

man sitting by the water looking at the sunset

Loneliness is an emotional state, while being alone is a physical state. Loneliness is a feeling of isolation, whereas being alone is simply the absence of others.

It is just as possible to be happy on your own as it is to be unhappy in a crowd. Happiness and unhappiness come from inside you. There is no shame in being single, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying some time on your own. But there is one caveat. 

If you continually turn down invitations to socialize, you risk becoming too antisocial and cut off from the world. Hey, we love alone time, and learning to be happy alone is beneficial. A bit of solitude can be healthy, but we all need social connections. 

Hanging out with happy people is one of the rules to live by for a happy life! Find a healthy balance between your ‘me time’ and the ‘free time’ you enjoy with others.

You’re Caught up in the Victim Game

Do you often find yourself asking, “Why me?”

This thinking can get out of control and lead to a downward spiral of self-pity.

Everyone has days when they feel down or find it hard to be happy for others. These feelings are perfectly natural, and you are not alone in this.

You will experience losses, disappointments, and conflicts. These are part of the natural cycle of life! 

You can choose how you respond to life’s ups and downs—embrace this power of choice and use it to create a more positive, fulfilling life for yourself.

Instead of a victim mentality, reframe your thoughts and focus on what you can control. Try to view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this situation?” or “How can I use this experience to become stronger and more resilient?” 

Shifting your mindset and taking ownership of your life will transform obstacles into stepping stones on your journey through life. By consistently practicing this new perspective, you’ll develop the mental fortitude to navigate life’s challenges with grace and resilience.

Remember, every setback is a chance to learn, grow, and ultimately become a better version of yourself.

Embrace the power of a growth mindset, and you’ll find that even the most difficult experiences can catalyze positive change in your life. As you learn to approach challenges with curiosity and a willingness to learn, you’ll cultivate a sense of empowerment and control over your own destiny.

smiling woman looking at herself in a mirror

How to Be Happier When You’re in a Bad Space

If you’re pretending to be happy or feel sad, don’t worry. Here are some tips to help you get into a better mental space! 

(You might also be interested in reading about these 10 scientific ways to be happy.)

Your Own Life, Your Own Words

Our words and thoughts create our reality!

You’re the only person who can control your thoughts and words. You have the power to create a life that you love. 

Use your words to build yourself up, to encourage others, and to manifest your wildest dreams. Replace negative words in your vocabulary with positive ones. Make a conscious effort to think positively and speak kindly.

"You Got This" written in chalk on the pavement

Start exercising positive affirmations daily to train your mind to think positively. Choose positive affirmations that focus on abundance, joy, and growth. Speak as if success is already yours and focus on what you can do, not what you cannot. Reframe your thoughts and talk yourself up. 

Your positive thinking will become a habit in no time, and your positivity will begin rubbing off on others, too. Happiness is infectious, and kindness is contagious!

Focus on Health

To have a healthy mind, you must start with a healthy body.

Invest in your health with regular exercise and wholesome food, as these will release ‘happiness chemicals‘ into your brain! Exercise reduces stress, improves mood, and boosts self-esteem. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins contributes to better mental health and overall well-being.

Start with small changes. Take online exercise classes or go on regular walks in the park. Experiment with new, healthy recipes. Find physical activities that you look forward to and can sustain over time.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Small steps in positive directions will get you to where you need to be! Celebrate your progress and be patient with yourself as you work towards a healthier lifestyle. 

Remember, every effort counts, and your dedication to your health will pay off in the long run.

Be Kinder to Yourself

Kindness is important – for you and those around you.

Being fit and eating healthy will always do wonders for your self-esteem. But remember to use those positive words! If you want to say, “I’m trying to lose weight,” instead say, “I’m starting to live healthier.” By doing this, you make your journey a positive and rewarding one. 

Your happiness will greatly benefit from speaking and acting with self-compassion. Treat yourself as you would treat your friends. Give yourself permission to feel and express whatever emotions come up.

The same goes for making mistakes — don’t be too hard on yourself. Sit with the feeling, then find ways to work through it, such as writing down your thoughts or talking to someone you trust about what you’re going through.

Being kind to yourself also means taking time to rest, relax, and reflect. Get a massage or facial, or pick up a hobby like painting or playing an instrument. Take the time to work on yourself, and your mental state will naturally feel better than before.

man walking along the shoreline

Practice Gratitude Daily

Happiness is a habit. When was the last time you sat down and thought about why you should be happy? 

Keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you’re thankful for each day. This simple practice can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life and cultivate a more optimistic outlook.

Sometimes, it’s hard to think of any silver lining when you feel down and out. That’s fine! Pick something small that makes you happy and focus on that. It could be a beautiful sunny day or the fact that you can still laugh with your friends even during tough times.

It’s easy to forget all the happy things and moments that make life so wonderful, especially when feeling down. Look at your gratitude list occasionally and remind yourself of all your reasons to be happy.

Gratitude will open your heart and make room for more happy thoughts and feelings.

Improve Your Social Circles or Join a Support Group

Stop spending time with people who make you feel bad about yourself. Recognize that they are entitled to their opinions of you. Also, realize that only your opinion of yourself matters. 

Seek out positive, supportive relationships. Join a group or club that aligns with your interests, or volunteer for a cause you care about. Surrounding yourself with uplifting people can significantly improve your happiness.

If you have difficulty connecting with new people, read up on how to make friends as an introvert.

Creating a healthy social circle is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You don’t have to go through your struggles alone — find people willing to support you during tough times!

two friends enjoying the sunrise

Remember, though, that cultivating relationships is a two-way street. You need to offer your support and kindness to others and accept when others give their support and kindness to you.

Strong relationships require investment and effort, but the rewards are worth it. So, open up to those around you, ask questions, and develop meaningful connections. You’ll find that having a great support network of people you can rely on can make all the difference!

Do What You Love, Love What You Do

Whether taking a class, starting a hobby, or simply making time for yourself, carving out space in your daily life for the things that bring you happiness is key to finding balance and achieving personal satisfaction.

If you’re unsatisfied with your current job or situation, take a step back and evaluate what you truly want. A new career path may appeal to your interests more than the one you’re currently in. Or a different work environment or lifestyle can help you feel more fulfilled.

Regardless of the specifics, taking the time to do some soul-searching and figure out what makes you happy is essential if you want to feel content with your life. Once you identify the things that bring joy into your life, prioritize them.

Remember that success is different for everyone. Everyone has different goals and dreams, and no two paths look alike. Don’t compare yourself to others or set unrealistic standards.

Focus on creating your own definition of success and allow yourself to take the time needed to get there. Get to a stage where you are living your best life, doing what you love, and loving what you do.

Seek Help if You Need It

If you’ve been struggling for awhile, seek professional help!

therapist taking notes as her patient speaks

A mental health professional will work with you to get your life back on track. If you are diagnosed with a mental illness like anxiety disorder or major depression, this is nothing to be ashamed of!

A mental illness is not your fault and is treatable. It might be a tricky journey, but you deserve to be happy, and you should focus on looking after your mental health.

If you or someone you know is in a dark space, seek help immediately. Call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) to get non-judgmental help.

These numbers are good to take note of if you or someone you know struggles with mental health or substance abuse. For those in the U.S., the number to know is 9-8-8.  

It’s important to remember that being depressed and experiencing moments of happiness are not mutually exclusive. It’s possible to have brief periods of happiness even when you’re depressed. These moments do not invalidate your struggles or mean that you’re not truly depressed. Instead, they can serve as a reminder that happiness is still possible, even amid mental health challenges.

Final Thoughts

We are all subject to bouts of unhappiness from time to time. We get caught up in the world around us and forget that inner joy can be ours if we focus on our own lives. 

You owe it to yourself to be happy. Take the time to look within to reflect on what is missing in your life and make the changes necessary to create a life that truly satisfies your needs.

Invest in relationships, hobbies, and activities that bring you joy. Don’t be afraid to take risks to find new experiences that excite you. Most importantly, take care of yourself and be kind to yourself.

Remember: You have the power to create the life you desire and deserve and experience true happiness. Make sure you use it. Good luck!


Check out the a little dose of happy blog for more tips on living a happier and more fulfilling life.

Consider starting with this article on why being happy is important.