Why am I so unhappy with my life?
Have you been asking this question more and more lately?
Maybe you feel like that even when everything is fine, and there is no reason to be unhappy in the first place.
It’s obvious that everyone has their unique situation and experiences, but the core reason might be simpler than you think. Let me give you an example.
There used to be periods in my life when I felt unhappy all the time. Getting a new job, earning more money, buying more stuff gave only a temporary relief. Soon after I got what I wanted the feeling of unhappiness would return again.
I couldn’t understand why all my efforts ended up the same way. “What can I do to feel better?”
After starting my meditation practice and observing my thoughts, I discovered unconscious habits that were making me miserable.
Today I would like to share with you these 3 mental habits and what to do about them.
Mental Habit #1
To understand how this habit works, conduct a simple experiment. Pay attention to your state of mind in the middle of a routine activity.
Let’s say you’re waiting in line. Does it feel unbearable to the point that you would you do anything to make it move faster?
Do you feel angry at a cashier for being slow or at people who stand before you?
I remember feeling like that at my favorite coffee shop during the “rush hour.” I wanted to buy my coffee, but the waiting was killing me. I would start listening to music or reading a book on my phone to make the time go faster.
Eckhart Tolle calls this mental habit treating the present moment as a means to an end. You perform an activity only to get to the next moment. You don’t want to be where you are right now.
To the ego, the present moment is at best only useful as a means to an end. It gets you to some future moment that is considered more important. Even though the future never comes, except as the present moment, and is therefore never more than a thought in your head. In other words, you’re never fully here, because you’re always busy trying to get elsewhere. — Eckhart Tolle
Mental Habit #2
The second unconscious habit takes the first one a step further.
How do you know if you’re exhibiting this unhealthy pattern in your life?
It’s very simple – ask yourself how many problems do you need to solve in the next few months? How important are they on the scale from 1 to 10?
Once you’ve named them, notice how they take up all your thoughts and leave no space for anything else. All you can think about is your problems.
This is the point where life becomes problematic, and you treat the present moment as an obstacle. Seeing problems becomes your go-to approach to life. But for every problem that you solve, a new one pops up, and you continue to run in an endless circle of stress and unfulfillment.
“I’ll be whatever you want me to be,” says Life or the Now. “I’ll treat you the way you treat me. If you see me as a problem, I will be a problem to you. If you treat me as an obstacle, I will be an obstacle.” — Eckhart Tolle
Mental Habit #3
When treating everything as a “problem” becomes a habit practiced in all aspects of your life, the world becomes a very unwelcome place.
Eventually, you start seeing the present moment as an enemy. You hate what you do, complain about every little thing that goes wrong, and see yourself as a victim of unfortunate circumstances.
In other words, you are in conflict with what is. When you are in conflict with reality, your life becomes frustrating and unbearable.
You are making Life into an enemy and Life says, “War is what you want, and war is what you get.” An external reality which always reflects back to you your inner state is then experienced as hostile. — Eckhart Tolle
How to Stop Feeling Unhappy
Whenever you feel unhappy or discontent, ask yourself this simple question, “What is my relationship with the present moment?” And then look deep inside yourself to find the answer.
More often than not, you may find that you’re treating the present moment as a means to an end, an obstacle, or an enemy.
The truth is, the present moment is inseparable from Life. And so what you’re really doing is making an enemy of Life itself.
This question is an excellent way of unmasking the ego in you and bringing you into the state of presence. Although the question doesn’t embody the absolute truth — ultimately, “I” and present moment are one — it is a useful pointer in the right direction. Ask yourself it often, until you don’t need it anymore. — Eckhart Tolle