leaves-yellowWhy Am I Not Happy?

Signs of Discontent

You don’t need a degree in psychology to know when you’re off-track, but sometimes it creeps up on you. It can seem like you wake up one day and realize that things are not right. These are a few of the signs:

  • You don’t want to get out of bed.
  • You have a hard time motivating yourself to do routine tasks.
  • You have doubts about yourself.
  • You feel mildly depressed for days at a time.
  • You sometimes overeat and/or use alcohol and drugs to feel better or escape.
  • You often feel chronically tired, de-energized, and listless.
  • You worry about how you will keep things together.
  • You feel bored or restless.
  • You wish you were somewhere else.
  • You often have headaches, stomach upset, and other body aches and pains.
  • You sleep too little or too much.
  • You have frequent bad dreams or nightmares.
  • You oversleep.
  • You complain and nag.

Feeling dissatisfied with your life is not a pleasant experience, but it can lead you in a positive direction. These feelings may be important because they are telling you that your actions are out of synch with your values, goals, or talents.

Rediscover What Is Important to You

Imagine that your life is handed back to you and you are able to do anything you want. What is important to you? What values will direct you? Consider each word on the following list individually. It is not necessary to force-rank them or compare them against each other. Assign a rating to each word:

1 = Critically important to me

2 = Important to me

3 = I can live without it

  Acceptance by others

  Accomplishment

  Activity

  Admiration

  Appreciation

  Authority

  Beauty

  Being liked

  Being well-paid

  Calm

  Casualness

  Certainty

  Challenge

  Choice

  Comfort

  Community service

  Competition

  Creativity

  Enjoyment

  Ethics

  Excellence

  Excitement

  Fame

  Financial security

  Fitness

  Flexibility

  Fortune

  Freedom

  Fulfilling my potential

  Fun

  Growth

  Harmony

  Health

  Helping others

  Honesty

  Independence

  Informality

  Leisure

  Making a difference

  Mastery

  Morality

  Nature

  Novelty

  Originality

  Peace

  Personal development

  Pets

  Pleasure

  Popularity

  Power

  Prestige

  Privacy

  Prosperity

  Quality

  Recognition

  Relaxation

  Respect

  Risk

  Solitude

  Spirituality

  Stability

  Status

  Stimulation

  Surprise

  Time for friends

  Time for my family

  Uniqueness

  Variety

  Wealth

  Wisdom

Now make a list that summarizes your most important values. If you think of something that isn’t listed, feel free to add it.

The final part of this process (and this is a very streamlined version of what is possible) is to compare how you are currently spending your time with your list of most important values. How well do they match each other? What clues can you find that will help you find more satisfaction in your life?

Things that don’t match:

 

 

 

 

What I can do about it:

 

 

 

 

Suggested Reading

Teri-E Belf and Charlotte Ward, Simply Live It UP: Brief Solutions. Bethesda, MD: Purposeful Press, 1995.

Paul and Sarah Edwards, Finding Your Perfect Work: The New Career Guide to Making A Living, Creating A Life. New York: Jeremy Tarcher, 1996.

Jennifer Louden, The Woman’s Retreat Book: A Guide to Restoring, Rediscovering, and Reawakening Your True Self. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1997.

Barbara Sher with Barbara Smith, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was. New York: Delacorte Press, 1994.