In the past 5 years, a lot has changed. Every day there’s a new cause people are fighting for, a new controversy people are fighting over, and a new person to idolize or tear down. It’s almost as though we’re seeing the turbulence of the 1960’s without any of the charms of nostalgia. We can no longer decide on anything, every move made, no matter the direction is riddled with the angry cries of the opposition. Buried in our own opinions there is a refusal to acknowledge ourselves, driving people further into their own minds, more isolated and disconnected than ever before.
Politically, there has never been more division than there is today. Growing frustration among everybody has lead to some drastic changes. There’s a level of polarization on the political sphere that hasn’t been seen in a long time. Even though we’ve never lived in a more prosperous time in human history, people are irrationally pledging allegiance to one side or the other, blaming the other side for all the problems in the world.
Culturally, we have never contradicted ourselves quite as we do now. Depression rates are the highest they have ever been, but if you scroll through the lives of your friends on any social network, you’re told a different story. Being able to strongly curate people’s perceptions of our lives has made us completely ego dominated. We want our own opinions validated without any insight into other thoughts or ideologies.
From a technological standpoint, there has been rapid change that we still haven’t quite adjusted to yet. This has lead to what might be one of the most confusing, sobering and conflicting times in human history. Just like the introduction of any new technology, people are still finding out the pros and cons of these new tools.
With technological advancement, political, and cultural change making major leaps forwards, (and in some cases backwards), people have achieved new levels of affluence and awareness. We are living in the most incredible time in human history, so how have things gotten to this point. Why are we so unhappy? The truth is, we aren’t focusing on the right things in life.
Here are three main reasons people are unhappy and how to fix it.
1. Too Much Content
Currently, we are able to experience the lives of our peers without ever actually speaking with them. Every day, people see curated reflections of others’ lives. This topic has been talked about a thousand times, and yet we still come back to it. We know there’s an issue, but we keep falling into the cycle. Acknowledging that your perception of someone’s life is not accurate and still letting these things get to you is not ok. People need to be aware of the subconscious effects that constant content viewing does to a person.
There’s a growing discomfort with our unoccupied minds, how many people can actually sit in the same spot for more than 5 minutes anymore without getting restless. People have forgotten what it’s like to be alone with themselves.
We see a lot of negativity on our news feeds, constantly being fed scandals and tragedies. The news rarely ever reports on the good in the world. This can have intense repercussions on our lives as we’ve exposed to it on a daily basis.
2. Chasing Meaning
There is no secret or magic formula to life. There is no big plan or giant grand moment leading to a climax of our existence like some Hollywood movie. Not everybody is meant to be the next Bill Gates or Jonas Salk, not everyone’s life needs a grand meaning. Because of so much perception into other people lives, there is too much unnecessary value on our own. That’s not to say you shouldn’t value your life and not try, but if you’re not a millionaire or changing the world that’s completely fine. It’s okay to have your steady 9 to 5 and enjoy your down-time watching the game with some friends.
Breaking personal plateaus is a great feeling, but being wildly successful is not the answer to everything; it will not keep you fulfilled for a lifetime. Other problems will always occur, and the the novelty will always wear off. Getting that new job will lead to new stress, buying that new car will lead to mechanical problems. Both of these examples are great feelings that leave you with short bursts of happiness, but when getting material possessions it’s important to remember it is only temporary and it won’t solve everything.
Chasing these feelings of success and validation make us unhappy in the fact that the end is not attainable. This constant search for meaning and a place in the world generates more dissatisfaction within ourselves because it is so ego driven. This causes jealousy and entitlement making us turn our personal anger towards one another.
3. Lost Appreciation
We are living in a time where we can order almost anything online and have it delivered within the same day. We have access to endless amounts of information, we know more than every other generation before us. Being able to easily obtain so much has taken away a lot of the mystery of life. This isn’t to say that everyone has all the answers to everything or has gotten everything they’ve ever wanted, but being exposed to so much information, ideas, products have made life mundane and in some ways made a lot of people cynical.
Having instant gratification on so many levels has also lowered our tolerance for feeling bad about things. We expect to feel good all the time without understanding that we have to feel bad occasionally.
Being able to see and know so much more has made us lose real life experience in many ways. Instead of immersing ourselves in the present, we focus on a digital world that only exists within itself.
What To Do About It
A key to being happier and satisfied with your life is unplugging from social media. Social media has done some great things for the world but too much of anything can be a bad thing. It’s taxing to know what’s going on in everyone’s lives, in politics, or pop culture. We consume mass amounts of information all the time, and unplugging from the world occasionally will help cut out the static so you can enjoy the moment. If and when you do decide to get back on social media, remember to utilize it to enhance your life, not just needlessly evaluate others. Be aware of what is going on around you and make the most of it.
In a time when we only get a fragment of the story, it’s important to take more time to understand one another. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the workplace, the streets, or our very own homes, everyone has something going on, and not everyone is going to cater to how you feel all the time. If we can take time to understand one another better, we will be less judgmental. Realizing no one is perfect and we are all going to mess up occasionally will bring a lot more comfort to your life.
Being thankful for everything you have, even the bad, will contribute to your overall happiness. Don’t complain that you have work in the morning, but be happy you have a job to go to. Don’t complain that your parents are nagging you, but be happy you have a family that loves you enough to care about you. This seems like a general tip but it’s not always that easy to do in a world that is filled with instant gratification. Try making a habit out of this. Being grateful for everything adds meaning to everything.
Be Selfish (In a Good Way)
A key to being happy is doing what you want to do and paving your own path. This isn’t always easy as some people aren’t always blessed with good situations which allows them this type of freedom. But if you can, don’t follow what “needs” to be done from your family’s standards, but your own your heart. Focus on yourself – not in a selfish way, but in a constructive way and be aware of yourself and forgive yourself. Chase your own validation and nobody else’s.