Finding Joy When You Are Unhappy
Updated: Feb 18, 2020
Everyone has certain expectations for themselves. No matter who we are, we have dreams, goals, and milestones we want to achieve within our lifetime. However, there is one big, real, and painful lesson I believe everyone learns many times throughout our lives. That is, not everything will go our way.
This lesson is a theme in life. We witness it personally as do our family and friends. When our hopes, dreams, and expectations do not work out the way we want, it can cause a huge blow to self-esteem and self-worth.
Growing up, we were taught many things: How to work hard toward our goals, how reaching these goals will make us happy. What happens when we face the part of life where we haven't reached our goals find ourselves in an unexpected situation? How can we find joy in these moments of life?
I believe there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is an external and temporary feeling. It is a reaction to what happens to us during the day-to-day.
Joy is more internal. It is that feeling of security and contentment, no matter what is happening outside your body. Joy is influenced by consistent gratitude, the practice of positivity, and peace with your situation.
Joy is not easy to achieve. It is easy to feel sad and hopeless when you aren’t experiencing happiness. We have all been there. In fact, I am currently experiencing this. At the moment, I have found myself on a sidetrack in the path I laid out for myself. I have always been naturally very hard on myself (honestly though, who isn’t?). So when things veer off my perfectly planned path, I must admit I kind of freak. This panic paired with all the comparison between myself and social media didn’t contribute well towards my happiness.
Instead of trying to be positive about my situation, I felt myself sinking into my sadness and coping in a negative way. I was taking the easy way out. I was letting the unhappiness consume me.
Have you ever felt this happen to you? It is so easy to be influenced by unhappiness. I believe this is because we think in “all or nothing terms”. If we don’t achieve exactly what we want, we believe our lives are a failure. However, our situations aren’t as black and white as we assume.
Luckily, this theme has presented itself to me before. I have learned through prior disappointment that letdown and uncertainty are a natural part of life. With the practice of striving towards joy, we can all accept our true purpose in the world and have faith in where that purpose leads us.
I am happy to share my personal practices I have learned through my own disappointment. Hopefully, they will be great tools for anyone experiencing this type of uncertainty.
Practices to find Joy when you are unhappy:
Be at peace with your situation: This is probably the hardest and most important practice. As humans, we are naturally competitive. We have high expectations for our life! When we aren’t exactly where we want to be, it seems as if we are failures. But the thing we actually fail to remember is that we are exactly where we need to be in our journey. I know it can be hard to accept, but when you look back to the past doesn’t this make sense? Everything you have gone through before has led you to this point in your life. The disappointments, achievements, and times of uncertainty have made you the strongest you have ever been. This current moment will only lead you to greater moments, especially if you remain positive.
Remind yourself what you think you may need isn’t what you actually need: I know we each have this grand plan, but unfortunately, we are only human. We have no idea what we are supposed to achieve within our lifetime. I had this grand idea during college of obtaining a certain image. After experiencing sadness and disappointment when I didn’t achieve this goal, I eventually realized I was chasing the wrong goal. In fact, the setback I experienced led me to my new passion for food and self-love. Pursuing a career in food and wellness has been twice as fulfilling than what I was trying to achieve before. Now I am in an environment where I can be creative and most importantly help others. I am extremely thankful I went through an experience like this. It opened up doors to something even better.
Take little steps to get to where you want to be: Write it down! Where do you eventually want to be? How can you get there? What small things can you do every day to get yourself closer to your goal?
Stop comparing: though we can’t see it, everyone has some sort of issue they are trying to work out. When you find yourself comparing to that one person who seems as if they have “everything”... stop! They have their own battles to fight. Focus on you and what you are doing right.
Practice gratitude: This is easier said than done, but it is so important! Keep a journal by your bed and write one to three things you are grateful for every day. Meditation helps with this as well.
Cling to the people who have always been there: It is so important to surround ourselves with people who love and care for us. The people who really know us can be there when we feel in a rut!
In conclusion, finding joy in life is a constant journey. It takes practice, confidence, and most of all faith to eventually realize that everything will turn out how it is supposed to.