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Tackling the Question “Why Can’t I Be Happy?”

LadderAs I’m sure they are for a lot of people, things are in a sort of transition for me right now.

I’m coming up on the end of my lease at my apartment, so I have to decide where I’m going to move, job prospects are in the air, things could happen or they couldn’t and I find myself in kind of an anxious state, kind of unable to sit still.

The thing is I know that even if things change, I’m still not going to be one hundred percent happy with the way things are.

That thinking led me to the above question that I think everybody asks at some point, why can’t I be happy with what I have? Why can’t I find myself able to sit still and accept the things I have right now, both good and bad? Why can’t I be comfortable with the way things are? Why do I feel like I need things to change in order to be happy?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and I’ve turned to the go to’s of radical acceptance, gratitude, focusing on the good things and even some measure of faith and nothing seems to entirely cut out the anxiety I feel in my gut.

It pains me to say this but the only thing that quelled things a little bit was the prospect of a new writing opportunity for another blog and the money that comes with it. That money is going to give me a small buffer for the first time in my life and there’s something freeing about the knowledge that I won’t have to worry every month about going into debt and running out of money.

Still though, that aching anxiety in me remains to a degree, and I find myself wondering about how things are going to be in the future, if I’m going to be able to relax a bit and ease into a semi-permanent situation without feeling like things have to change.

I think the main thing is, I have several goals in my mind for how I want my life to be, what I want my situation to be and I want those things now, I’m not afraid to say that.

A comment came in on one of my other posts though, and this is something people close to me have said too, that while it’s good to have goals it’s important to be realistic about when they might happen, so as not to drive yourself crazy in the moment, and I think that’s the key.

Essentially, if you’re a struggling 20-something like me and you want a house in the mountains with a yard for your dog but your financial situation is in no state for even considering that, maybe you should set that as a long-term (10 years or more) goal.

Instead of thinking you can cobble something together in the next year or two that can make that happen (which may be unlikely), you can set that as a culmination to all the smaller goals and things you have planned for yourself.

The truth is, it takes time, patience and hard work for you to get anywhere in this life and to get anything that you want. The time and patience are key, you can’t expect big things to happen in such a small time-frame and I’m talking to myself on this point as well.

As for the question of being happy with what you have right now, I think as you get older, you get more set in your ways and more accepting and able to deal with the churning in your gut.

I’m hoping that in August, when I turn 30, something will click and I’ll be able to relax, but for now I’m going to be realistic about the timeframe for my goals.

Maybe that will help.

Tackling the Question “Why Can’t I Be Happy?”

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). Tackling the Question “Why Can’t I Be Happy?”. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Apr 2015
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