On this day before Christmas, Straight, No Chaser is mindful that there are multitudes of us excessively happy and unhappy. Everyone has thoughts about the keys to happiness, but we can objectify the conversation and identify what’s most likely to make you unhappy and lead to depression. You may find this hard to believe, but outside of medical causes of psychiatric illness and factors outside of your control, there are actually three choices we make that most commonly adversely impact your happiness and good mental health. Take it for what you will, but the data is what it is. Stay away from these circumstances, and you’re less likely to be unhappy. Sometimes it’s about addition by subtraction.
Health Problems: People who are sick or have significant illness in their families generally aren’t happy. Although this may seem obvious and perhaps unfair, given that some illnesses and conditions are inherited or occur haphazardly, be mindful of the things you can control. Of course, this gets to the negative effects of obesity and smoking. More so than any other health-related activities/conditions, these will eventually lead to deteriorating health and subsequent unhappiness.
Job Problems: You don’t have enough to do with your time? Yep, an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop, as the saying goes. It should be pointed out that neither too much work nor the wrong type of work (i.e., low job satisfaction) seems to promote happiness. On average, people change careers seven times during their lifetimes. It’s often due to a search for happiness and actually is a good thing to do to avoid being stuck in a bad situation. Follow the job you love, and you’re more likely to be both happy and successful.
Relationship Problems: You make bad relationship choices? Well there’s one specific choice that is shown to be most likely to reduce your happiness—choosing a neurotic partner. What’s neurotic? For one particularly disruptive example, think about the so-called Drama Queen/King. A neurotic partner responds emotionally to events that wouldn’t affect most people, and their reactions tend to be more intense than normal. They’re more likely to interpret minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. Their negative emotional reactions persist for unusually long periods of time. In short, if you want to be really unhappy, become attached to such a person. They will negatively affect your world, keeping you embroiled in drama and unhappiness, no matter how good the financial, physical, or other parts of your relationship.
Now your results may vary but probably won’t. I’m not make judgements, just sharing the data. Life choices have consequences. Choose wisely!
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