3 Psychological Habits Making You Unhappy

#2: Unrealistic expectations

Nick Wignall


Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris

We all want to be happy, right?

We’re constantly looking for the next big idea, the next big promotion, or the next new person in our life who is going to make us happier.

But for thousands of years, wisdom traditions across the world have been telling us that happiness comes from within ourselves, not outside. In other words…

Happiness comes from how we think about the world, not the world itself.

As a psychologist, I see evidence of this every day in my work with clients. Specifically, I see first-hand how how destructive mental habits can sabotage even the best external events, achievements, and relationships in our lives.

If you want to be happier and more at peace in your life, try to recognize these psychological habits in yourself and work to correct them.

1. Using Emotions to Make Decisions

Emotional reasoning is the habit of using how you feel as evidence for how you should act.

For example:

  • You feel frustrated with your spouse, so you decided that it’s a good idea to immediately air all your biggest grievances against them.
  • You feel lazy and unmotivated, so you decide you need to stay in and rest instead of exercising or hanging out with friends as you promised.

It’s tempting to follow our feelings because they’re so loud. And because they’re loud — because we feel them so strongly — they seem persuasive and convincing.

But here’s the thing about feelings:

The strength of feeling is a poor indicator of its truth or usefulness.

For example: The anger and outrage you feel after reading your sister’s Facebook post argue loudly in favour of commenting back with a snarky and sarcastic comment that you feel is sure to show her the error of her ways. Of course, we all know how helpful snarky Facebook comments are…

If it’s so obvious in the abstract that acting impulsively on how we feel isn’t a great idea…



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com