9 Warning Signs You’ll Never Be Happy

How to change your habits and the way you think to bring happiness into life

Profile photo of Laura J. Tong - | 32 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Happiness, Life & Inspiration

9 Warning Signs That You Will Never Be Happy

Do you sometimes wonder if you’ll ever be happy?

I mean truly happy, not just a few moments of weak sunshine in between a lifetime of gray skies.

I did.  Often, my day would start out sunny, but invariably something would cloud my mood, and my happiness would sink before it had even properly risen.

Back then, true happiness, lasting happiness, seemed like a dream.

After all, how could you ever be truly happy when life tosses you around like a leaf in a storm, forever snatching happiness out of your hands?

But I came to realize that perhaps life wasn’t responsible for my woes. Perhaps I was the instrument of my own unhappiness. Perhaps nothing would change unless I took responsibility for my own life.

So I learned how to read the warning signs, the signs that told me I would never be happy if I carried on thinking and acting a certain way.

And eventually, I learned that my happiness depended on me and that I could make my own blue skies.

And you can too.

Related ReadTransform Your Life to Be Happy in 17 Simple Steps

9 Things You Do That Make You Unhappy

To secure your happiness, you need to start by recognizing these warning signs:

1. You’re Trying to Make Your Parents Proud

They may mean the world to you, but you’re not them, and they certainly aren’t you. Trying to live your life to please your parents is as poor an idea as trying to get them to change their expectations of what you should do with your life.

Basing your happiness on the approval of others, however much you may love them, is a sure path to unhappiness.

Instead, concentrate on living your life to please the only person whose approval you can’t be happy without – you.

“What you think of yourself is much more important than what other people think of you.” – Seneca

2. You Let Your Career Decide Your Worth

We all need to work for a living, and often that means we rely on someone else recognizing our worth, acknowledging it, and rewarding us. That’s how we advance in our careers, which is fine.

However, basing your happiness on that external validation is a sure warning sign that you’re letting someone else decide your value.

Instead, celebrate promotions when you get them, but don’t let it get you down when someone else gets them instead. Base your happiness on your own recognition of your value.

Promote yourself, and in your mind, choose your own title to hang on your door: CEO of happiness, successful parent, loving friend, compassionate human being; you choose.

“If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone, you have already forgotten your value.” – unknown

3. You Expect Your Partner To be Perfect

There really is no such thing as perfect because perfect means without flaws, and as human beings, we are all flawed. And that includes your partner and you.

Basing your happiness on finding your perfect partner  – or your present partner ever living up to your ideal of perfect –  is like canceling a picnic because of one tiny cloud in a blue sky. Your happiness and that picnic will simply never happen.

Instead, forget the notion of flaws to start with.

What you see as your partner’s flaws are just the characteristics that make them who they are. And the truth is, trying to change someone else in a relationship is like trying to change the weather; just because you’re in it doesn’t mean you can control it.

Instead, concentrate on embracing your partner and all his or her characteristics and habits as you would want them to do for you.

We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love – Tom Robbins

4. You Want More Money

Life’s easier with enough money, for sure. But how much is enough? How much is too much?

The more you earn, the more you tend to spend.

And anyway, basing your happiness on how much you’re worth is a risky game. It can change in a day even, leaving you feeling worthless because you’re worthless.

Instead, base your happiness on your inner wealth, on your own personal worth as a human being. Riches such as creativity, generosity, and authenticity can never be taken away from you – except by you.

“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy.” – Proverb

5. You Think You Need More Friends

It feels great to be validated; that makes you normal. We all want others to say, “I like you.” But basing your happiness on how many friends you have online, or offline, is a clear warning sign that you’re concentrating on the wrong marker.

 It’s not how many friends you have that counts but rather how many prove to be loyal friends.

So base your happiness on the quality, not the quantity of your friends – those who love you and stick with you through the sunshine and the rain.

“If you have one true friend you have more than your share.” –  Thomas Fuller

6. You’re Waiting For That Apology

Others can trample on your feelings with just a few harsh words, a single selfish act, or even a disparaging look. And it stings, sometimes to the point of distraction. You may believe they owe you an apology, for sure, but they may not feel the same.

And even if they do apologize, would it be sincere? 

Base your happiness on forgiveness instead. No one can stop you forgiving them. No one can stop you moving on with your life and replacing anger with peace.

This doesn’t mean that you condone someone else’s bad behavior or that you let them back into your life if you have distanced yourself from them. What it does do is allows you to get on with your life without your mind and happiness being taken up with them and their past actions.

“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” – Robert Brault

7. You’re Fixating On Future Results

It’s true that reaching a goal, particularly a major one, produces a peak in your happiness. But it’s often just as soon gone. We tend to get used to things quickly, so the novelty of a promotion or a new toy quickly wears off, and we return to our previous level of happiness.

Also having striven so long for that goal, we often feel a sense of emptiness and lack of focus in our lives after achieving it.

And the reality is, you may very well never achieve it. Too many factors in life are simply outside your control.

Which doesn’t mean setting goals is bad; they help us focus and grow.  But base your happiness on taking action toward those goals, not on attaining them. Then, if you fail to reach your goal, your happiness won’t suffer.

“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.”- Dennis Wholey

8. You Feel Sorry For Yourself

As I said, life isn’t all sunshine. Bad things happen – illness, relationship breakups, redundancy – some of these things are undeniably going to batter your happiness hard. But how hard is up to you.

Rather than feeling sorry for yourself and getting caught in a spiral of negativity, base your happiness on tackling those things within your control.

Look for ways you can mitigate or even reverse your unhappy situation.

It’s certainly not always easy, but by accepting responsibility for your life rather than wallowing in self-pity, you can move on and regain your positivity and happiness.

Self-pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.” –  Helen Keller

9. You Put Happiness Off Until Tomorrow

Most of us have a streak of procrastination in our basic character. We put off filing our tax returns, replying to that awkward email, or deciding to start that diet until the last minute. We put stuff off until tomorrow and beyond as if magically it will be easier then.

And we mistakenly do the same with our happiness.

Instead, base your happiness on today. The only time you can actually experience the feeling of happiness is in the present. The past is gone and cannot be changed, and the future is uncertain.

Now is the only time you are actually alive, can act, and can decide to be happy.

Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.

True, Lasting Happiness is Waiting for You

Making happiness more than a fleeting feeling can seem impossible, especially if you feel helpless and caught in one of the life’s storms, but you can do it.

Recognizing these warning signs will get you started on the road to real happiness. Avoiding them will brighten your skies.

Happiness, like all good habits, needs time to build. Learn to avoid these warning signs, and although the wind may rattle your happiness, it won’t be able to tear it down.

Weather-proof your happiness, and go make your own blue skies.

Over To You –

Do you exhibit any of these warning signs? And how do you counteract them? Please share your tips and thoughts in the comments below.



Show Comments

32 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Swadhin Agrawal

    May 5, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Hi Laura,
    Great post!

    As it is said, we can never find happiness in the outer world until we are happy at the inner side. This is so true to all the nine reasons you’ve shown that can make us sad.

    Definitely, where we hold ourselves is much more important than where others hold ourselves. Pleasers can’t always b happy.

    Somewhere down the line, I have waited for an apology. I must say that those moments were too tormenting and leeched away every drop of sanity and satisfaction in my life.

    I have now moved on. Like you said, “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.”

    Nice post.
    Thanks.
    -Swadhin

    • Laura Tong

      May 5, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Swadhin.
      Thanks! I’m so glad you found it of value. You are absolutely right – happiness is an inside job:) And what you think of yourself should be more important to your happiness than what others think of you.

      You can wait your whole life for an apology and carry all that bitterness inside you or you can let it all go and feel free.

  2. Laura Tong

    May 5, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    I would just like to say a huge Thank You to Harleena and the team at Aha-Now for giving me the chance to share my thoughts on happiness here. I hope they prove of lasting value to Aha-now readers.

  3. Profile photo of Ilka Emig

    Ilka Emig

    May 5, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Hi Laura!

    Good to see you here on AhaNow and thank you for a great post. I like your idea to see happiness more as a habit than a feeling that depends on outside situations.

    Long time ago a very wise lady said to me ‘Let your husband of the hook to be God.’ She might have saved my marriage with this advice. Thanks for reminding me of that 🙂

    Thanks for all the wondeerful advice and all the best, Ilka

    • Laura Tong

      May 6, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Ilka

      So glad to see you here as well:) Happiness really is a habit, not a one of affair. Practice it everyday and little by little you’ll see amazing results.
      And I just love your quote – I make it a rule to never put Mark, my husband, ‘on the hook’ in the first place:)

  4. Ann Davis

    May 6, 2016 at 12:01 am

    Great post Laura. I agree on #5 as an introvert I always thought I would be happy if I gained more friends. So I went out to look for those friends and boy..I was unhappy. I’am now happy with few friends.

    • Laura Tong

      May 6, 2016 at 10:49 pm

      Hi Ann

      There’s a great quote by Thomas Fuller – “If you have one true friend you have more than your share.”It’s the quality of your friends, not the quantity

  5. Quinn Eurich

    May 6, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Hey Laura,

    I was wondering why I’d been feeling happier lately! I think it’s because I finally got rid of the last vestige of defining success by what I do.

    These days – it’s all about how I do it!

    Great list – Welcome to Aha-Now!

    • Laura Tong

      May 6, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      Hi Quinn

      It’s definitely how you do it, not what you do. Enjoy the trip and the destination will take care of itself. Lovely to hear from you.

  6. Hema Unnoop

    May 6, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Hello Laura,

    Excellent post!

    Your post prompted me took me to take a look back on who I was and how happiness always seemed to elude me. I could relate to #2 and especially #8.

    I used to believe self-pity will comfort me. My goodness it just made me feel miserable day in and day out. Glad to have taken the necessary steps to overcome being the volunteer victim.

    Thank you for a great post that certainly needs to shared.

    Wish you and the Aha-Now community a great weekend 🙂

    • Laura Tong

      May 6, 2016 at 10:53 pm

      Hi Hema
      Well done to you! We write about these things but the reality is they are all hard to put into practice in daily life. Self pity is so seductive as is being a victim. So pleased you found the courage to change.

  7. Timothy Gagnon

    May 6, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Pretty spot on post, I counted 3 things that were hindering my happiness. I would like to add another one, living in the past.

    I had a weird childhood and it’s easy to blame it on my parents or other factors, a lot of anger that doesn’t do anyone any good. It wasn’t until I started focusing on the present and forgetting about the past that I made more progress with my life and felt happier and more fulfilled.

    Excellent post. Hope to see more in the future.

    • Laura Tong

      May 6, 2016 at 10:57 pm

      Hi Timothy

      living in the past is indeed a great impediment to happiness. It’s always easier to blame others for our unhappiness than to take responsibility ourselves. Which isn’t to say we were to blame for our original unhappiness in any way – sometimes circumstances and others are to blame – but letting go, forgiving and moving on are the only way to let ourselves find happiness in the present. And forgiving is now weak, it’s strength.

  8. Mi Muba

    May 7, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Hi Laura

    Very interesting topic and before reading each sign in detail I just scrolled down to read its sub heading just to know how many of them are in me as well. Thank God not many but a few I do feel sometime get on me.

    People have the right to follow latest trends but first they must examine what they love to do and what inborn qualities they have to decide is it wise to follow the popular approach or adopt their own to spend their whole life.

    It is an old saying that ordinary people follow herd instinct to avoid risk and extra ordinary people make their own way and never be particular if it is entirely different or the one that is being followed by many. Their main objective is to adopt a way that they like most and are fully confident of reaching their destination by treading on it.

    Many thanks for sharing this very lovely post and its a guiding beacon for those who wrongly assume happiness has a fixed track to brace them.

    Have a super fabulous weekend ahead.

    • Laura Tong

      May 7, 2016 at 11:49 pm

      Hi Mi

      It is always easiest to follow the path of least resistance – which is inevitably the most popular way. But as you say, this is not the best way to personal happiness. You are so right in that it is better to examine your own ‘inborn qualities’.

  9. Profile photo of Obinna Onyenali

    Obinna Onyenali

    May 7, 2016 at 2:08 am

    Hi Laura,

    That’s a comprehensive list of things that keep some people labouring under the weight of unhappiness. However, life is a league of choices. It’s up to one to choose whether to be happy or not irrespective of external factors. “Contentment is great gain.”

    Take care.

    • Laura Tong

      May 7, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      Hi Obinna
      You are quite right – there are many choices in life and we are free to choose. And happiness, true happiness is irrespective of external factors, although, being human, I would be lying if I pretended that they have no impact on our happiness.

  10. Shawn

    May 7, 2016 at 9:18 am

    1. You’re Trying to Make Your Parents Proud
    4. You Want More Money
    7. You’re Fixating On Future Results

    Above are the 3 that I always fall into.
    Trying to make my parents proud and thinking that I need more money. After reading your article, it is clear that what I want is not money, but the sense of freedom.

    I want to have the freedom to do what I want without having to worry about my finance. But I guess a lot also got it wrong in thinking that we all need more money to be happy.

    As for fixating on the future result, I’m clear now that it is the process that truly matters, not the end result.

    So Laura, thanks for sharing, appreciate it a lot.

    • Laura Tong

      May 7, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      Hi Shawn
      I think many people struggle with the ones you list. Most of us want to make our parents proud, but in the end it is our life, not theirs. Make yourself proud and hopefully, your parents will be proud too.
      Again I think most people believe they want and need more money but unless you are destitute, it rarely brings any lasting increase in happiness.
      And you are so right in saying it’s the process that counts. It’s great to have goals, but enjoying the doing, that’s where happiness lies.

  11. Profile photo of K.J. Hutchings

    K.J. Hutchings

    May 7, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Great post Laura! I think No.9 used to be the most problematic for me – probably because I was so good at procrastination :-). I’m much better these days about living in the present moment and enjoying the here and now. Happiness can be found in so many of the small details of life, the things we take for granted. I no longer fixate about future goals and tell myself “I’ll be happy when…” I choose to be happy now – I believe it really is a choice.

    • Laura Tong

      May 7, 2016 at 11:59 pm

      Hi K.J.
      It’s always a bit of a balancing act – enjoying the moment , the here and now, but at the same time, planning and working for the future. I think the best we can do is think about our future needs and goals, make a plan and then concentrate on the task in front of us and forget about the rest.
      And happiness really is found in the small details – in fact we are writing a post on how to find happiness in the smallest of things at the moment:)

  12. Profile photo of Adeel Sami

    Adeel Sami

    May 8, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Hello, Laura!

    I am extremely…….. agreed!

    I have been going through many of the mentioned signs these days …

    What I am working on is to fix my own self. Fix me is the only solution to my all problems.

    Due to one and two things, I am totally devastated and I can see the fix coming up in a matter of the days. As soon it has arrived, I will restart myself and become better at everything, with GOD’s willing.

    Thank you for mentioning them out, Laura!

    ~ Adeel

    • Laura Tong

      May 9, 2016 at 1:04 am

      Hi Adeel

      You are so right – fixing ourselves is always the answer. So often we look to external solutions when the true solution lies within us. Good luck to you.

  13. Stephanie

    May 10, 2016 at 5:14 am

    Hi Laura,

    This was an incredible article! It took me the longest time to understand that I would not find happiness in some of the things you mentioned. I recently have started to work on finding happiness from within. Since I’ve started doing things for myself, I found I’m happier, more relaxed, and excited for each day.

    Cheers,
    Stephanie

    • Laura Tong

      May 10, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      Well done to you Stephanie! It’s really hard because we are told all those things will bring happiness from the day we’re born and it’s a real struggle to break free. You have obviously taken the time and put in the effort and are getting your reward:)

  14. Kim Willis

    May 10, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Ouch!

    That was my immediate reaction when reading this potent post, Laura

    I am guilty of several of these behaviours. In particular, a couple of them really stand out:

    – Expecting our partner to be perfect
    – The perpetual quest for more money

    Laura, thanks so much for alerting us to these flaws in our behaviour. It’s important to be given timely reminders about this sort of thing. Then we can focus on doing something about it.

    Kim

    • Laura Tong

      May 10, 2016 at 11:28 pm

      Hi Kim

      I wouldn’t use the word ‘guilty’:) We are sold these ‘routes to happiness’ from our earliest days. Rather congratulations for having the courage to re-examine your life and realize that they were no the real road to happiness you were looking for.

      And I can do no better than re-quote Tom Robbins: “We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love“

  15. Stefany

    May 11, 2016 at 4:43 am

    Hi Laura,

    a great list you provided. To thin that many people still living for someone else’s apology and their approval is just sad.

    I personally used to be guilty of behaviour number 4: I used to think that having enough money to buy me everything I wanted would bring me happiness and it brought me the exact opposite.

    I realized that happiness is an inside job, a choice we make every day, so I choose to be happy.

    • Profile photo of Laura J. Tong

      Laura J. Tong

      May 11, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Hi Stefany
      Money is important in our lives, but once you have enough, it usually just increases your worries. There is a great quote by Epicurus:
      “Not what we have But what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.”

      • stefany

        May 11, 2016 at 8:01 pm

        Hi Laura,

        I definitely agree with you. Too much money, as well as material wealth will increase your worries.

  16. Lh. Louis

    May 29, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Yep, finding happiness is difficult. But until you be grateful and be resourceful that is where happiness start to come in.

  17. Matthew

    July 19, 2016 at 5:44 am

    This article was quite AMAZING! The title kind of repelled suggesting if you have these signs you’ll never be happy but I’m glad I clicked. You gave solutions to the problem at hand, and spoke the real truth of what people try to hide and cover up.




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Read more posts in the category: Happiness, Life & Inspiration




9 Warning Signs You’ll Never Be Happy

by Laura J. Tong time to read: 6 min