The Origin of Suffering: What Makes Us Unhappy 229

what makes us unhappy

The following post is a sneak peek into my new book “This Moment”.

The present moment is never intolerable. What’s intolerable is what’s going to happen in the next four hours. To have your body here at 8 pm and your mind at 10:30 pm, that’s what causes us suffering.
Anthony de Mello

You now know what your pain really looks like. You see it from another point of view.

But a deeper explanation is needed.

Obviously, our generation has a big problem – our attitude towards life, the way we see things, what we focus on and think is most important is not right.

So something needs to be done. We need to find a way to alleviate that inner pain.

But to do that, we must first get familiar with the origin of this suffering, with all the things that make us upset, disappointed, depressed, stressed, unproductive, discouraged and lose hope.

So here is a list of what makes us unhappy and what form it takes in our daily life:

1. Ideals.

Most of the pain we experience, whether we realize it or not, comes from the fantasies we live in.

We create our own worlds, where there are certain rules, things to be done and said and events to happen. And every time that doesn’t go according to the plan (which, basically, means anything because we have no control over what might happen and can’t predict it), we panic.

2. Not wanting to be where you are.

We create a prison, we build its solid walls slowly through the years, and can remain there for the rest of our life if we don’t do anything about that.

No matter where we go, we want to be somewhere else right away. Either because we’re not contented with the current place and situation and think the problem is in them, or because someone else tells us about something better.

And that makes our present destination a nightmare, even if we’re swimming in the ocean of a tropical island or skiing in a top winter resort.

We’ll talk more about that prison later.

3. Struggle.

When we feel bad, we try so hard to destroy that emotion and feel better. We put effort into finding something to make us smile.
And when we eventually do (or should I say ‘if’ we do), we struggle to make it last.

So our whole life becomes a struggle. Pushing hard, interfering in the natural flow.

But we ourselves invented this fight. It’s fake. It lives only in our head and by trying too hard to succeed, find happiness, or else, we make it worse.

Here is what Leo says about that in his book “The Effortless Life”:

“We invent this struggle for many reasons: to give our lives meaning, to give ourselves a feeling of accomplishment, to dramatize our story (even if only in our own heads), or simply because this is the mode of thinking we’ve become used to.

Giving up the struggle isn’t always easy, but it is liberating. When you realize you don’t have to struggle with everything, life becomes so much more effortless.

Take the example of struggling with your young child when she won’t eat her vegetables. This struggle is unnecessary — forcing her to eat the vegetables accomplishes nothing. The child won’t like vegetables more because she’s forced to eat them. Instead, set the example of eating vegetables yourself, and find ways to make eating healthy foods fun for her. By making it fun, and letting go of the need to force her to eat veggies, you’ve let go of the unnecessary struggle.”

4. Seeking happiness in external sources.

There’s a void inside most people.

It’s been created by not being contented with who we are, not being happy with what we have, not being present and looking for something more, better, more exciting out there.

And we’ve always been trying to fill this void with something external.

Here are some of the fake sources of happiness people turn to:

shopping – buying stuff we don’t really need because it brings us momentous comfort and takes our mind away from our current problems;
food – a way to feel momentous pleasure, but then we immediately feel bad about ourselves;
a person – thinking someone else can make us feel good, obsessing over him, wanting to spend as much time with him as we can;

But it only makes the void bigger as we are okay for a while, but then feel even worse.

5. Holding onto the past.

Not letting what has already happened and can’t be changed go is something so bad, and yet so common.

Almost everyone does it to some extent.

Some people even live entirely in their past, not letting anything new happen to them, just spending their days going through stuff that happened a long time ago and has no importance in the present.

6. Refusing to accept.

One of the reasons for not being contented is our inability to accept things as they are, together with ourselves, other people, events and every little detail of our days.

And we try to change the unchangeable and control the uncontrollable.

Which only continues the struggle and increases our suffering.

7. Comparing.

Instead of seeing your positives, you focus on how much better other people look. You see that their house is more spacious, children smarter, bank account bigger, social life better, etc.

Which makes you unhappy with your life, even if you’re considered successful.

8. Not knowing what’s important.

Often we suffer because we don’t realize what’s essential.

We may want to be rich, but the rich are lonely.

We see all those people on TV that have won the lottery and want to be at their place, but studies show that they are even more miserable after having won the big check. They don’t really know what to do with all that money, take poor decisions on how to spend them, change themselves and their friends don’t see them in the same way.

9. Being a victim.

If you’re constantly asking the universe “Why me?”, then you probably think life is unfair, others are so happy and you’ll never be, or just take things too personally and make a big drama out of small things.

10. Worrying about what might happen.

Living in the future is another reason we live so unhappily. That’s why there’s a whole chapter for it later in the book.

11. Goals.

Living without goals may seem a bit too much for some of you, but what I mean with that item of the list is that goals are another version of living in the future, focusing on a result that’s not current, wanting something else and expecting it to become a reality.

Here’s how Leo summarizes it:

“These days, however, I live without goals, for the most part. It’s liberating, and contrary to what you might have been taught, it doesn’t mean that you stop achieving things.

It means that you stop letting yourself be limited by goals.

Sometimes you achieve a goal and then you feel amazing. But most of the time you don’t achieve them and you blame it on yourself.

Here’s the secret: the problem isn’t you, it’s the system! The goals system is a set up for failure.

Even when you do things exactly right, it’s not ideal because goals limit your possibilities. When you don’t feel like doing something you have to force yourself to do it. Your path is chosen, so you don’t have room to explore new territory. You have to follow the plan, even when you’re passionate about something else.”

12. Plans.

The same goes for them:

“Living without plans might seem foolish or unrealistic to most people. That’s fine. But if you want to be realistic, you should understand that the plans you make are pure illusions of control.

Many days, other things come up and the illusion of control is easily shattered. But some days we get lucky and our plans actually happen as we had hoped.

The more we embrace this chaos, the more we embrace the brilliant possibilities that might emerge. The more we try to control our day and actions with plans, the more we limit ourselves.”

13. Expectations.

It’s when you’re not happy with the person you’ve become and the things you do, because you have too big expectations of who you can be.

Or want your partner or someone else to do something for you, love you, be nice, ask you out, etc. You expect so many things from them, often unrealistic. And wait for them to do exactly what you imagine them doing. But people have their own vision of the same situation and it never meets yours.

You even ask life for more than it can give you. And become unhappy when you understand it has its limits, too.

14. Wanting to change.

Kids want to be grown ups, adults want to be young and careless again.
Single people desperately want a relationship, but those who are in one still complain almost all the time and wish for freedom.
The poor want money, the rich want more of it.

This means that changing your situation doesn’t prevent you from suffering, doesn’t make your desires go away.

So you need to change something on the inside.

What do you think?
Which of these makes you unhappy and how do you deal with it? What else can you add?

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Becoming Your Own Boss: Tips on Getting a Business Off The Ground 8

How Writing a Blog Can Help You Live the Life You Dream About

Becoming your own boss is a complicated process, and not everyone does it the same way.

I got lucky. I was still working when I got my business off the ground, so I had a source of income while I was working the kinks out of my business. I did most of my work for the new business when I got home or on the weekends. I asked for a change in job responsibilities at the office so that I didn’t have as much on my plate.

This all gave me a chance to start earning money without going into debt. When it was feasible, I stopped working my regular job and transitioned into working for myself full time. It took about a year and a half.

Establish clear boundaries.


Sometimes people don’t take you seriously when you tell them that you work for yourself. They think you are always available to chat or have lunch.

I had a number of friends that would call me at all hours, assuming I was available because they wanted to talk. Granted, it was nice to have that freedom at first. But, I soon realized that if I was going to be successful, I couldn’t let those kinds of distractions interrupt my workday.

Save before you start working for yourself full time.

I was in pretty good shape when I made the transition, but looking back, a few more months with a paycheck would have been wonderful.

When you start your own business, money can be very tight. You never know what you are going to make month to month.

I had one customer that initially made up most of my revenue. That customer only paid on a quarterly basis, which meant that times were tough in between payments.

I had to spend money to build the business, which meant there wasn’t a lot left over. If I didn’t get a payment right on time, it was very difficult to deal with.

There were times when I had to ask for a loan from family members simply to pay my bills.

Reach out and build a support network.

4 Tips to Track Your Remote Employees' Progress Without Demoralizing Them

It can be really difficult to adjust at first. You have great days and you have terrible days. You meet goals some months, while other months you are left wondering where you went wrong.

If you make a mistake, you alone are responsible for it and your business and reputation can suffer. It is easy to feel depressed at times. You may even start to feel like you can’t handle running a business and that you made a big mistake when you left your office job.

Remember that you are not alone. All entrepreneurs have these moments, which is why it is so important to connect with others in the field.

Take time for yourself.

I had a honeymoon period of about half a year. It was really exciting to see the business get bigger. Each milestone that I met was a reason to celebrate.

However, heading into the second year, it was more difficult. I was tired. Things weren’t as exciting because they weren’t new anymore. And then, year three came along. I was done with working such long hours.

I was done with having no time off. Burnout is certainly an issue in this business, so you have to figure out how to balance your personal and your professional needs.

It took me a long time to get where I am today. I had to do a lot of research. I had to educate myself on business. I had to find an SEO expert. I had to figure out who my main competitors were and keep an eye on them. I also had to stay current with what was happening in the field so that I didn’t fall behind.

No matter how hard I worked, it seemed like I could never get caught up. Running a business is a big responsibility.

If you are interested in starting your own business, you want to set yourself up for success. Try to cut back on your living expenses. Make sure you have substantial savings. Set up an area in your home where you can work, free from distractions.

If you are married, get your spouse on board. He or she can help pay bills while you are getting your business off the ground.

Your business is only as good as you are.

Make sure you have a support system of other business professionals. These people can help you acknowledge your weaknesses, encourage you to keep moving forward and advise you on common mistakes.

You can try and go it alone, but it will be very difficult for you. As with anything else in life, your support network has a lot to do with your success. You are probably strongly invested in your business; after all, it is something that you created. Make sure you have people that you trust to help you along the way.


Grace Lee has been practicing in the field of digital marketing for several years now. She has already brought numerous sites in search engines’ first pages in search results. In her spare time, she loves listening to podcasts about Google algorithm updates and other matters related to SEO.