“I’ve been to the mountaintop… And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land.” Martin Luther King Jr. April 3, 1968
You and I have experienced people who seem to be stuck in chronic unhappiness. It is as if they had “Victim” tattooed on their foreheads and wore a badge saying, “long-suffering”
There is no question that some of the chronically unhappy people have suffered severe trauma and bad times. But there are other chronically unhappy people who seem to have everything going for them. They may justify their gloom with excuses like, “How can I be happy when some animals are going extinct?”
However, there are many more of us who have had horrible things happen to them, but remain basically happy people.
Those of you who know me, recognize me as a happy person. You also know that I have been through some horrendous experiences, most recently, losing three of my adult children. These losses were by far the worst of the 25 or so relatives, friends, colleagues and clients that have died in the past 10 years. But I’m back.
For most healthy people, their happiness in the moment is influenced by what’s going on in their lives. What is important is that their feelings of happiness and unhappiness act as signals that something is going right or that something is going wrong.
If you find yourself suddenly unhappy, you take it as a signal that something has to change, that something needs fixing. For example, if you have suffered a loss, you grieve so you can face it, accept it, and get back into your life. You pushed through your unhappiness and resumed your life. If you got stuck, you got help, because for you, being stuck in chronic unhappiness was not an option.
Sadly, the chronically unhappy usually refuse help. For one thing most don’t believe that happiness is even a possibility for them. Added to that is often the belief they don’t deserve happiness: “I should have been the one who died.”
The major reason why chronically unhappy people will not seek help is because they are afraid of what might change. They are comfortable in their unhappy state. It serves them to be victims, since victims don’t have to take responsibility and no one blames them.
Think about it: A change from chronic unhappiness to happiness would mean taking responsibility for one’s life and moods. One would have to give up victim-hood. And sadly, going to the mountaintop to take a peek at what’s on the other side is far too terrifying for most chronically unhappy people to consider. It’s safer and easier to believe their condition is terminal.