One of the biggest misconceptions in our current society is the thought that we should always pursue happiness. This idea is reinforced by social media. We see our friends in perfect photos, in idyllic locations, surrounded by love and sunshine #imsohappy #imhavingthebesttimeever.

The degree of happiness says something about our social status nowadays. By presenting ourselves as positive and energetic, we place ourselves a little higher on that social ladder. But happiness is overrated. In fact, allowing yourself to feel deeply miserable sometimes can even help you to feel happier. My advice: let those negative emotions be!

The numbers

You can find The Netherlands on fifth place in the world ranking list of the happiest countries according to the World Happiness Report from 2019. We live in a liberal, democratic and prosperous country, where education and healthcare are well organized. In short, we have every reason to be happy. Also, studies have shown that happy people are generally more successful in their careers, have more social contacts, sleep better, earn more money and live longer than those who are not happy. These are the benefits of being happy.

Are there any disadvantages to feeling happy?

There is nothing wrong with being happy and feeling happy. But the danger lies in the idea that we must always be happy. If we have that expectation, there is little to no room for having negative emotions. After all, these negative emotions do not fit in that picture of a ‘perfect’ life.

The function of emotions

When we deny or hide negative emotions, such as sadness, fear, anger or disappointment, we miss a number of important signals. All our emotions, both positive and negative, have a function. They tell us what we need. That restless feeling that you have in the morning before you go to work, or the disappointment that you always feel within that one friendship for example. They can all be signals that you are missing something or want something particular.

So there are benefits of feeling unhappy?

Exactly! By listening to that unhappy feeling, we will be more in contact with ourselves, with who we are and what we need. But this can be quite a challenge. Certainly when we are no longer used to doing this.

How do I become unhappy again?

Like so many things, everything starts with awareness. We do not strive to become unhappy, but we must learn to recognize when we are unhappy. Below are some tips that can help you with this.

  • If someone asks you how you are, tell them how you are feeling! Recognize when you feel bad and try to share this with others.
  • Don’t be afraid of having unpleasant feelings. Realize that negative emotions are not forever and shall pass too.
  • Remember that negative emotions are not meaningless, but can give you a lot of insight.

NiceDay app

In the NiceDay app you can register your mood with the help of a smiley. Set a reminder for yourself to keep track of you mood a couple of times a day. This can help you think more about how you really feel.

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Ayla Hoogenboom

Being a psychologist and a coach, Ayla is fascinated by what drives and motivates people. Her coaching is empowering. She is an enterprising out-of-the-box thinker. She gets energy from her family, running and doing yoga.

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