How To Be Happy Again - Even If You Feel Like You Don’t Deserve It

November 18, 2022

Table of Contents

About The Editor
About The Editor

Abby Doty has written and edited creative and literary work as well as academic pieces focused primarily on psychology and mental health.

About The Writer
About The Writer

Sara Graff is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Florida.

About The Medical Reviewer
About The Medical Reviewer

Dr. Angela Phillips is a licensed therapist and clinical researcher.

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Table of Contents

When something bad has happened in your life, you may feel like it robbed you of your happiness. It may be something life-altering, like the death of your spouse or losing a job, or it could be a compilation of many smaller things. Facing stressors that rob you of joy can feel like a dark cloud looming over your head. You may wonder, “How can I ever be happy again?” 

1. Give Yourself Time To Heal

Have you noticed yourself feeling unhappy? Have you experienced an upsetting event? Maybe more than one event? If so, allowing yourself the time and space to heal from this event will go a long way toward finding your path to happiness. Begin by recognizing that you are going through a rough time in your life. Acknowledge the pain that you feel. Cry. Feel the emotions that bubble up from the inside of you. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel the pain and allow yourself the time to heal. Remember, healing does take time, and the experience varies with everyone.

2. List Out What Makes You Happy — And What Does Not

Taking the time to intentionally focus on what helps you feel happier and what does not can help you on your journey to find happiness. You can ask yourself a few questions to help you make two lists. Create one list of what makes you happy and one of what causes you to feel worried, sad, angry or stressed. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What are things I do that make me smile?
  2. What am I doing when I feel like crying? Or yelling? Or hiding away from people?
  3. What makes me laugh?
  4. When do I feel scared? Worried?

As you think about these questions, write out lists with the answers that come to mind. As you create the lists, you can better understand what things to incorporate into your life, what to change and what to try to eliminate from your life.

3. Discover a New Hobby

Research has shown that hobbies help improve your mental health. Engaging in hobbies can help:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Improve your overall well-being
  • Provide social connections
  • Decrease depression symptoms
  • Decrease anxiety symptoms

Is there a hobby you did in the past that you enjoyed? Maybe you have always wanted to try painting or hiking. Let your mind open to possibilities of hobbies you can try and might enjoy! Schedule the time in your calendar to explore activities, connect with nature, take a class or join a club. The hobby or hobbies you select can help you find happiness in your life.

If you feel stuck, lost or unsure of what hobby to select, consider some common hobbies: 

  • Cooking
  • Sewing
  • Art (painting, drawing, jewelry making, etc.)
  • Photography
  • Dancing
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Baking
  • Scrapbooking
  • Board games
  • Woodworking
  • Model cars

4. Exercise

Exercise has many mental health benefits and can help you work toward finding happiness. Researchers believe that exercise, similar to some medication, helps trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that help to improve mood. Participating in some form of exercise can help:

  • Decrease anxiety symptoms
  • Decrease depression symptoms
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Improve cognitive functioning
  • Help relieve stress
  • Provide social connections
  • Increase energy
  • Increase mental alertness

Whichever form of exercise you select, make sure to consult with your physician before starting a new exercise routine or activity.

5. Eat a Balanced Diet

Research has shown that a healthy diet can lower the risk of depression and improve mental health. Unhappiness, stress and depression can affect your appetite. Some people may skip meals, overeat, snack frequently or eat unhealthy foods. Planning and scheduling balanced meals and snacks can help make a balanced and healthy diet part of your routine and improve your mood.

When people do not feel happy, they often turn to comfort foods to soothe and nurture themselves. Comfort foods are usually higher in sugar, fat and other unhealthy components. Comfort foods may offer some soothing effects but can actually worsen unhappy feelings because of how the foods interact with the body and brain. If you desire these comfort foods, pay attention to the amount and frequency that you eat these foods and think about healthier replacements that might also provide you with comfort. 

6. Volunteer

Volunteering offers many benefits that can contribute to increased happiness. Volunteers often feel like they are doing something that matters. Knowing that you are making a difference for other people, your community and society can lead to an internal sense of satisfaction. Research has identified many benefits of volunteering:

  • Overall improved mental health
  • Greater life satisfaction
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Lower stress levels
  • Decrease in symptoms of depression
  • Social connectedness

7. Spend Time With Those Who Lift You Up

The people in your environment can impact your feelings of happiness or unhappiness. Spending time with someone with negative energy can leave you feeling emotionally exhausted, unsatisfied with life and extremely unhappy. Sometimes, you have the option to not associate with this person. When you must remain connected to a negative person, consider ways to minimize your time with them and set boundaries in the relationship. 

To increase your happiness, try to surround yourself with people who have positive and joyful energy. Happy people can positively impact your mood and happiness level.

8. Take Up Journaling

Keeping a journal can help improve your mental health and work on finding your happiness. Journaling sets aside an intentional time to focus on your thoughts, emotions and behaviors. You can gain a clearer understanding of negative thoughts, worries, problems and stressors to work toward resolving them. You can journal in many ways, such as through a journal book with guided prompts, freely writing in a notebook or using an app designed for journaling.

Using prompts for journaling can help you with the process:

  • Something that makes me happy is…
  • I recently laughed out loud about…
  • Three things that make me smile…
  • One thing I want to do to take care of myself is ______, and one step I can take to make it happen is _____
  • One positive change that I want to make is …

9. Break up With Social Media

Social media has become a way of life for many people. In 2020, almost 4 billion people across the world used social media. Unfortunately, social media use can have a detrimental effect on mental health and well-being. Research has demonstrated that social media usage can:

  • Increase social isolation
  • Increase feelings of loneliness
  • Expose users to harmful information, posts and interactions
  • Lead to bullying
  • Increase symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Increase risk of suicide
  • Lead to comparing oneself to others
  • Lower self-esteem

If you notice that before, during or after using social media, you experience any of these issues or other negative thoughts or feelings, consider taking a break from social media. It can help lead to more positive thoughts and feelings for you.

10. Take Some “Me Time”

Taking time to care for yourself can certainly help you find more happiness. Self-care time will decrease stress, give you relief and even help you feel more productive. You can feel a greater sense of balance and contentment from taking time for yourself. It is too easy to forget to make time for yourself in a busy life. Scheduling this time on your calendar can help make it a habit. A self-care activity does not have to take hours of your time. Some ideas include:

  • Going for a walk
  • Reading
  • Watching a favorite television show
  • Meeting a friend for coffee or a meal
  • Taking a bath
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Listening to music
  • Listening to a podcast

11. Join a Support Group

Support groups provide a safe outlet to discuss issues that may have led to your unhappiness. They offer the opportunity to connect with others who likely face similar problems and challenges. A support group can give you a sense of community and awareness that you are not alone in dealing with this issue. They can provide a supportive step towards finding your happiness.

12. Try Therapy

Working with a therapist can help you explore and identify the root causes of your unhappiness. In therapy, you can talk about your thoughts and feelings and learn coping skills to help you find happiness. Therapy can also help you heal from emotional pain, process trauma or work through grief. It can help you find the tools and motivation to work on your happiness.

What If You Feel Like You Don’t Deserve To Be Happy? 

Unfortunately, many people who feel trapped in their unhappiness genuinely believe that they do not deserve happiness in their lives. Why do people think this way? Perhaps it’s an impact from childhood. Maybe you lived in a negative home environment. You may carry shame or guilt from past experiences. You may have low self-esteem and question your value. Have you had someone in your life telling you that you do not deserve happiness? Do you tie your happiness to your ability to accomplish tasks or meet goals? Whatever the influence, you may have developed an inner voice telling you that you do not deserve happiness.

If you want to overcome this voice and allow yourself to feel happy, consider some of these ideas:

  • Forgive yourself for what you believe you have done wrong.
  • Stop punishing yourself (over and over).
  • Do not equate happiness with accomplishments.
  • Replace “deserve happiness” with “find happiness”.
  • Try daily affirmations.
  • Practice meditation.
  • Treat yourself with the same kindness you would show a friend.

When It Is Time To Seek Help

If you feel stuck in this world of unhappiness, lack the motivation or drive to take steps to find happiness, or feel overwhelmed by negativity, reaching out to a therapist can help you. Symptoms of depression will make it very hard to find happiness without the help of a therapist. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should consider reaching out for help:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Guilt
  • Worthlessness
  • Helplessness
  • Lack of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Low energy
  • Poor concentration
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Poor sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unexplained pains or stomach issues
  • Thoughts about dying
  • Thinking about, planning or attempting suicide
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy, fatigue or feeling “slowed down”
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

If you or someone you know wants to find happiness, the Nobu app can help on this journey. You can access free mental health support, including learning coping skills, journaling prompts and goal setting. You can also connect to a mental health professional and begin online therapy sessions. The app is available for download on the Apple Store and the Google Play Store

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About The Editor
About The Editor

Abby Doty has written and edited creative and literary work as well as academic pieces focused primarily on psychology and mental health.

About The Writer
About The Writer

Sara Graff is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Florida.

About The Medical Reviewer
About The Medical Reviewer

Dr. Angela Phillips is a licensed therapist and clinical researcher.


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