Let’s talk about unhappiness


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“All in all I’m a happy person. When I’m not a happy person it worries me. How do I know when my unhappiness is something to be concerned about?”

We get questions like this often, especially these days. For those of you that are happy all the time, I get it, because you think that’s normal. But it’s not really normal to be happy all the time. I’m not saying that it’s abnormal to be happy, I’m just saying that there are very few people that are happy all the time.

So first of all, let me say that it’s normal to be unhappy sometimes. Sometimes it’s normal to be mad, normal to be frustrated, normal to be discouraged, normal to question what it’s all about, what’s healthy, etc.. So the first thing you do is normalize variability. Let me say that again, normalize emotional variability. Now, if it’s radical craziness, right, like you’re happy one minute, depressed the next, and burning cars the next, maybe you could use a little tune up, a little help. But if it’s normal variability, like ebbs and flows or watching the ocean tides, that’s pretty normal.

The second thing is to track the severity of it, so in your moments of unhappiness how does it make you feel – is it getting worse? Is it trending down, or does it not trend down? If it’s just the normal ebbs and flows, I would actually be more concerned about you if you told me you were happy all the time. And I’d want some of what you’re taking.

So, normalize the ebbs and flows, pay attention to how deep the dips are when you get them, and if they’re getting more severe, then you’ll want to talk to your doctor or a counsellor. Then the third thing is when you’re not happy, just explore what it is. What is the itch or the angst that you feel so that you can explore that a little more.

Probably somewhere in your life you learned that happy people are likeable or more easy to be around, and sometimes that’s true! Hope that’s helpful. Take care.

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