3 Psychological Reasons You’re Not As Happy As You Could Be

#1: Overthinking

Nick Wignall
7 min readMay 28


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

We all want to be happier. But figuring out how to actually do it is tricky.

Part of the reason is that we think too much about happiness as a function of more…

  • More vacation time
  • More money
  • More acts of charity
  • More meditation
  • More time with loved ones

Now, I’m not saying these things won’t lead to greater happiness. Several of them are potentially really great ways to be happier. What I want to point out is that the overall strategy of achieving happiness by doing more can be problematic, especially if it’s your only approach.

For one thing, it can make you feel like you’re never doing enough because there’s always more you could be doing. No sooner have you started doing 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day than you see a wellness influencer on Instagram talking about the benefits of at least 30 minutes of mediation per day.

It also quickly gets exhausting and stressful. Even if the things you’re adding to your life are happiness-promoting, there are only so many hours in the day. And the more packed your schedule becomes, the more stressed and overwhelmed you tend to feel.

This is why I like to advocate for the happiness as a function of less approach…

Instead of adding more happiness-promoting things, what if you focused on removing more happiness-depleting things?

Instead of adding a massage appointment each Saturday to de-stress after a long week, what if you stopped checking work email after 6:00 pm?

Both will probably add some happiness. But while the massage takes time (and money) away, the no email after six rule frees up more time!

If you’re with me so far, I want to add one more idea to the mix:

Often the most happiness-depleting things in life happen inside our own minds.

Of course, there are plenty of non-psychological reasons for unhappiness. But frequently you can get the most net happiness for your buck by identifying and reducing psychological factors that are…



Nick Wignall

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