Read This If You’re Unhappy.

It’s so consuming, isn’t it? Like a dark gas that fills up your entire body and makes you wonder if you’ll ever feel normal again.

Sometimes it lasts for a day. Sometimes, two. Sometimes it’s a bad month or a bad year. Sometimes it’s because someone broke your heart. Sometimes it’s just because it’s winter and it’s dark all the time. Sometimes it’s because your friend just got promoted at work or experienced an incredible success in one way or another, and you’re still just sitting here, being plain old you, wanting to feel happy for them but instead feeling panicky about how much worse this makes you feel, and then feeling even more awful because what kind of person are you if you can’t even be happy for your friend?

But whether it’s because of a friend’s success or because of your own broken heart or because you miss the long and warm days of summer or because of no reason at all – and whether it lasts for a day or three days or 246 days, you’re not the first person to feel this way and you won’t be the last.

I wish I could write you a list. A step-by-step guide of exactly what you need to do to stop feeling unhappy. But I can’t, because that’s not how unhappiness works. There are certainly things you can do to try to brighten your days a little bit – to make your home cozier and to do things that make you feel less alone and to find ways to help you keep your head above water until you can climb out of this hole. But there’s no trick to simply get rid of unhappiness, to wet your fingers and extinguish the flame in an instant.

But what you can do, in the meantime, is be kind to yourself. And being kind to yourself means a lot of different things. It means being gentle with yourself, and doing everything in your control to keep yourself comfortable and healthy – getting enough sleep, taking time to rest when you need it, going for walks, eating well, leaning on loved ones when things are really hard.

But being kind to yourself, especially when you’re unhappy, can also mean being hard on yourself.Refusing to let yourself wallow. Getting out of bed and making yourself go to work, no matter how cold or dark it is outside, or how sad you feel internally. Forcing yourself to exercise, even if it’s the last thing you want to do, even if all it means is walking outdoors for twelve minutes. Taking your friends up on their offer to spend time with you, even when all you feel like doing is hiding under the covers and being alone – because you know, deep down, no matter what you feel like doing on the surface, that what you really need is to be in the company of people who love you.

You have to do these things, these harder things, when you’re unhappy. You have to be strong, you have to take care of yourself. You have to tell yourself you are tough, repeatedly, every single day, even if you don’t believe it. You have to keep moving, you have to keep going.

The people who got out of these dark times before you weren’t better than you, or stronger than you, or less burdened than you. They felt weak and sad and like they were barely hanging on – just like you. BUT, they kept going.

You’re not wrong for being unhappy. You’re not a freak or a failure. You’re not lazy or seeking attention. What you are is a person. And when you’re a person, sometimes you experience painful, almost-crippling bouts of unhappiness. Sometimes there is a reason for it, sometimes not.

But all you need to remember is that you’re human, you’re okay, you’re not wrong for feeling this way. You have to be kind to yourself, you have to be kind enough to be hard on yourself. And most of all, you have to remember you’re not alone, you’re never alone, and this is exactly what connects you to every other person in this world.

Written by Kim Quindlen

(with permission)

This article was originally published in

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  1. I am overwhelmed after reading this. I have to Thank my stars and Kim Quindlen as well as LLIL Team for this article. It came at such an apt time. I have to admit I am going through all of it. Heartbreak, loss and other things.
    Just reading this made me feel so much better.

  2. thank you for this consoling and powerful words. I do not really know if I´m happy or not. It can change from minute to minute. But this wonderful article gives me light. To be kind to myself, but also hard to myself. Otherwise I will not be able to go on. I have to straighten myself to be not sad anymore, and then the world around will align around me

  3. thank you Arlene, you gave me more than you can imagine…I recognized, that that there are decisions in life, which you can only make by yourself.You have to become yourself, and than you go on…what happens in future? This is something we should asked god for! You never will surely know!

  4. Arlene G I am like you just now. I miss someone I thought was a good companion who would take away the lonliness. But, I also miss my youth , my ex husband from the 70s my soulmate who made everything better but I didnt know who he was to me I just new I liked himand he liked me.x Hed died 20 years ago from cancer at the age of 52.x Since then my life has been empty apart from meeting the narc. Then had my grandchildren stopped from seeing me by soc.workers after looking after them until I was ill and couldnt do any more. Then hit while im down because of evil socialworkers who only had egos and no sense of justice resulting in me being banned from seeing my grandaughter. These people were very bad to me and made my illness become near to nervius breakdown. I asked to see a psychiatrist because my thoughts were that I wanted to rid these people from my life and it would have involved breaking the law. They were only thoughts but I was also angry that I knew I xouldnt do anything to get them back for what they done to me. The only thing I can hope is that they will get their karma. My ex husband has never met 3 of his grandchildren nor does he want to. But I would have thought that if we went back to the late 60s when I met him I could perhaps make it all better. I have now lost my confidence and any personality I may have had and often cancel going out even after having paid to go for a weekend and backing out at last minute. I feel inferior I think thats the best way to describe me now. I now see my grandaughter but she too has issues from being kept from me and bullied by social workers. All this because I had to leaved my narc. husband who beat I had good social workers at one timme but when the kids went to foster carer from hell that along with everything else left me with guilt and a continued fight for my granchildrens welfare and new social workers took the fosterers side as they are short of these workers so they kids are left with them. My grandson has the best worker on earth but my grandaughter has a bully .

  5. Hello commenter are a clever and intelligent person who could relate much to the page we are seems we know each other how I wish…it is in this page that I can express truly how I feel…much as I would like it to be more direct and personalized but….(never mind)…

    to Miss Margaret, just think Ma’am you are blessed and that there are still others who love you…just keep on praying for your kids’ and grand children’s safety and happiness….the world will take care of them….just choose to be happy and positive….life is good….God is good all the time…..

  6. Thank you Arlene,
    Yes you are right. This review reflects a lot of my current situation.
    I have never experienced a long-term, persistent or recurring sadness. There is always joy and happiness coming from somewhere, which quickly pulls me out of sadness. For me at the moment, especially the part was interesting, where it is about beeing nice and hard to oneself.

    Of course, I do not know whether this fate will take me anyway. Therefore, I would also like to consider important, new steps that I make in life.
    I have learned through this article that there is this sadness that can last them, depressed and depressed. Since then, I have met people with more respect and forbearance.
    I know that I have to thank all this to the man, whom I love over all, who I admire and whneed at my side. I hope that I can return it all soon. In form vin love, solation and sunshine or whatever!

    P.S. den Kommentar aud

  7. P.S. I was unfortenatly not able to understand the comment of margaret martin.
    The google translation was too bad and I did not even understand what happend…: (

  8. Thank you Arlene G. I know I have to stay positive. I am working on it and on waiting list for counselling.x Thank you all for your comments. Sometimes its good to get it all out. There was a time when my thoughts were about 3 or 4 pages long. The fact that it is in a shorter paragraph , I know, means I am healing.xx

  9. Hello Steffi1970…we are normal to experience what we are into…we will just have to take guard of the sadness depression not to overrule our positivism..our happiness…we are so blessed to have almost everything (basics of life to live- not much of money in my case but never mind)…

    Miss Margaret- go go go….the world with God’s divine intervention will take care of everything..guard your yourself and enjoy every moment of living …entertain sadness just for a while…..

  10. Some people are unhappy because they made the wrong decisions in life earlier and they feel they are stuck in a rut from past decisions But if what you decided then wasn’t for the right reason Love that person anyway and make a new decision that will make you Happy and ask for forgiveness for past mistakes and go own I’m a firm believer that when it comes to being in a relationship it’s better to be Happy eating crumbs from the table than to be in an expensive restaurant Miserable as Hell

  11. What I ‘m trying to express is Happiness over everything Happiness extends Life It kills Depression It makes you Laugh It makes you have that Get UP Dress Up attitude about yourself and that Life is worth the Living Spirit IN YOU So if it’s a relationship issue Go on Be Happy instead of dying every day miserably yes I agree being kind to yourself regardless of the situation can make you Happy too

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