One way to explain people enjoying unhappiness is to look at a situation in which most of us can relate: horror movies. We enjoy watching horror movies, even though they make us feel scared, which is a type of unhappiness. Andrade & Cohen (2007) carried out a study which analysed why people enjoy watching horror movies and concluded that people are able to feel both positive and negative emotions at the same time.
Psychologists want to apply this theory to general happiness/unhappiness and have developed a list of five signs so you can identify whether or not you enjoy being unhappy:
1. You find reasons to be miserableMaybe one of the most common and also one that may often go unnoticed. Even when everything in your life is going well, you dwell on something from the past or create a problem where there isn’t one just so that you can feel negative emotions again. This can be seen in subtle forms, so pay attention to your thoughts the next time you feel sad – are you creating something on purpose so you can enjoy being unhappy?
2. You struggle to celebrate your goalsPeople who enjoy being unhappy tend not to feel accomplishment after achieving goals. Or if they do, the positive emotions are very short lived before they’re on to the next worry.
3. You have a hard time putting things behind youThis is one that a lot of people struggle with. Something is said that bothers you, and you can’t let it go. Holding grudges often shows you enjoy being unhappy as happy people tend to put negative emotions and thoughts behind them. If you struggle to do this, it’s a sure sign that you enjoy being unhappy.
4. You play the victimThis one can be hard to identify with oneself, even for the most self-aware individual. You often feel as though other people or other things outside of your control are responsible for your problems rather than your own actions. Not owning up to your own actions when you’re in a negative situation can show you don’t like to take responsibility and would prefer to stay unhappy.
5. Dissatisfaction is second nature to youYou are always finding things to be dissatisfied about. Even when things are going perfectly fine and you may have even achieved a few of your goals lately, if you’re still feeling a strong sense that something is missing or that you can do more, it may mean you’re happy being unhappy.
Whilst it can be hard to identify certain behaviours ourselves, if you feel as though any of these signs apply to you – do something about it. The sooner you recognise and accept that this unhealthy behaviour is something you’re practicing, the sooner you can make changes towards enjoying being happy. Let us know what your thoughts are on this topic – are you recognising any of these signs?