Everyone is on the pursuit of happiness, whether they realize it or not. Whatever it is that we do in life is for the improvement of our current situation from our perspective. This in turn leads to us satisfying our desires which in turn leads to… happiness. But rarely do we ever consider the question: “What is on the other side of the happiness coin?”

It seems that happiness is so focused on in today’s culture that rarely is the opposite ever considered. In fact, most people are clueless as to what the opposite of happiness is. Books on how to achieve happiness in life floods bookstores globally, but not enough attention is given to what constitutes as being unhappy.

What is the benefit of knowing what the opposite of happiness is? How does that do us any good? If everyone just wants to be happy, why should I care what being unhappiness consists of? And how can unhappiness be narrowed down or summarized? Aren’t there many different factors that makes us unhappy just as there are that makes us happy? These are all valid questions and the answers may be surprising to some of you.

It’s Not Sadness

At first thought, sadness may seem like the obvious answer. This is due to the common expressions of this emotion; crying, sulking, withdrawn, etc. All of these expressions are in stark contrast to what many associate with happiness; laughing, smiling, social, etc. But is being unhappy really just sadness? Is it really just a matter of displaying signs that are opposite of what many consider to be happy? And are those “expressions of happiness” indicative that someone is truly happy?

Different Factors But One Common Cause

Life can throw many different things at us all at once. So much so that at times we can be overwhelmed. And somewhere in the middle of all that, unhappiness can set in. In such situations, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Typically, the drama-312318_640situations do not relieve themselves and action must be taken on our part. That can very easily turn into a vicious cycle where our situation worsens and we’re continually impacted by it, diminishing our willpower to do anything about it. And then it repeats.

But in all situations where unhappiness sets in, there is one common cause for it. Before we reveal what it is, let’s see how this common cause was found.

Think of all the different possible situations where unhappiness could set in for you. Regardless of the situation, can you identify the one common denominator in all of them? Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, abusive workplace, unable to make ends meet, etc., all of these situations have one common cause of unhappiness to them, lack of goals and motivation.

How This Applies

In each of the mentioned situations, our motivation can be completely wiped out, depending on our perception of the severity of what had happened. Any goals we may originally have had may no longer be possible or at the very least put on hold. We can easily view those occurrences as something that’s holding us down.

Tim Ferriss had mentioned that the enemy of happiness is boredom. I don’t think that completely describes what the opposite of happiness really is. Boredom is one of the aspects of what one goes through when they lack motivation to achieve their goals or even worse, the lack goals in general.

The perception of unable to achieve one’s goals, of not having any goals, is just that, a perception. It’s something that is induced due the circumstances, much like the lack of motivation. And just like the way our perception can be changed with worsening circumstance, they can be changed for the better. But change in circumstance is not the only way to change out perception.

A I mentioned, the lack of goals is one part of the root cause of unhappiness. For a guide and more in-depth explanation of goal attainment, see my previous post here.

Everyone Should Know This

The tone of this article so far hasn’t been the brightest. Yet, it is important that we understand truly what causes unhappiness. Only by knowing and understanding something can we begin to do something about it in an effective way.

stress-864141_640This is by no means a cure for clinical depression or other medical conditions that causes some of us to be unhappy all the time, regardless of what we do. But this article is mainly to help us understand the nature of unhappiness and where it stems from for many of us.

More Than Just Doing the Opposite

It may seem logical to simply do the opposite of what makes us unhappy. But that’s very much like taking medicine to treat a symptom instead of the root cause. If we’re secluding ourselves from others, it may not necessarily be the recluse behavior that’s causing the unhappiness. Just by going to social outings or taking the initiative to hang out with friends may not necessarily make you happy again. If it does, then great! But it’s not always this simple.

If you have read the post I linked to above, you’d see how important it is to ask yourself those specific questions. But if your unhappiness was caused by a life-changing event, or drastic circumstantial change that has impacted your outlook, then it’s crucial that you ask yourself those questions regularly.

Avoid Getting It Back

Going through a life-changing event can cause a major shift in our paradigm, so much so that our priorities, interest, life-goals are changed completely. That’s why it is so important to regularly ask yourself if you are aligningbaby-390555_640 your way of life with what you want. This tends to change over time for everyone, but if you are unhappy, this can be something that changes frequently. Therefore, constant evaluation of your goals is of the utmost importance.

Motivation to keep going is the main driver of what’s going to bring you back to the state of happiness. It most likely happen overnight, but it is something that’s worth the fight.

So what has caused you to be unhappy? And how did you gain back your happiness? Please share in the comments below!


Stay healthy,



Like What You See? Share It!

Written by 

I've just started getting serious about health and fitness around 2014. Since then I've learned the insider info on how to optimize athletic performance and healthy living through both nutrition and proper training. The most important thing I've discovered however, is the connection between the mindset of those that excel in athletics, and those that succeed in their life pursuits. I've spent the last couple years observing and drawing these connections and similarities, finally created a platform to share with you all what I've found, and how to apply them in your own life to get similar results.

10 thoughts on “What Is The Opposite of Happiness? It’s Not Sadness

  1. Hey man,
    This is the first site that I have seen that has written a post like this. It the truth, lack of motivation and goals definitely do cause sadness and depression. I am a highly ambitious, happy, and successful individual but it wasnt always like that. I became great the moment I startd writing down my goals and watching motivational videos on Youtube. Ive surfed through you site, and I gotta say that I really do enjoy it. Good Work!

    1. Jose,

      I’m glad you found your way to stay motivated and ambitious! Yes, I feel that not many sites talk about these types of topics, maybe it doesn’t directly correlate to their niche. But I feel it’s crucial to understand this.

      Thank you for your kind words! There will be more coming soon so stay tuned!


  2. Thanks for a very interesting post, I appreciate your viewpoint although I differ in some aspects. I agree about sadness.

    I find it easier to understand happiness when I see it not as an emotion, like sadness or elation, etc. but as positive emotion. Then the opposite of happiness is negative emotion. The process of being happy is now clear – avoid negative emotion.

    Great job, keep it up!

  3. Hello, Wing. At the end of your post you the reader to tell you the cause of his unhappiness. Well, for me is the fact my mother died a few months ago. I was and still am crushed because I feel I could have been a better son, even though I tried sometimes I did not do my best. My salvation from this guilt is my decision to be the best I can be and be the man my mother would have been proud of. Follow the example of your readers, what has caused you to be unhappy and how did you overcome it?

    1. Hi Nikola,

      I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I lost my grandmother 2 years ago and although the pain may not be as deep as your pain, I can understand the feeling of losing someone close. And that is actually one of the low points in my life. My grandmother has never left Hong Kong and I’ve been in the US since I was 9 years old. I’ve only been back to visit 3 times, and I felt irresponsible when she died. I constantly thought to myself: “What kind of grandson am I? To only see his grandmother a few times over 15 years?” I beat myself pretty bad about it.

      After coming back to the US, for about 6 months I would randomly burst into tears. Sometimes it was the thought of my grandmother, but sometimes I don’t know why but it’d just happen. I was lucky that I had friends that supported me. The silver lining of it all was that I was in Hong Kong at the hospital when she passed. My family was able to talk to her before she died.

      It took some time, I’d say close to a year, before I got over my sense of guilt. Thinking back on how my grandmother was, she would want me to live my life, without the sorrow of mourning her. I will never forget her. I’ve made it one of my goals to be the best son, brother, friend, and whatever other title that I have that I can be. And I think she would be proud of that.

      It seems that most of us aren’t able to truly appreciate what we have until it’s gone. It’s so cliche but it’s so true. I remind myself from time to time that I should be the best version of myself for my family and friends.

      Wow, you really trigger some memories. Thank you for sharing your experience and I’m sure you’ll be the man that your mother would be proud to call her son!


  4. I feel like a lot of people totally see this or feel this in their life, yet they neglect to talk about it or acknowledge that it even exists. Happiness is something that we all should obtain, but when it goes away, some of us (I know I did), completely lose motivation and have the sense of asking ourselves, “why does it even matter”.

    And that question is a killer for perseverance and determination. Even if it’s something small, everyone needs to have a goal to cling on to. Because once you reach that goal, the big picture will open up again.

    1. Jeremy,

      I can relate to what you’re saying. No one’s life is filled with happiness everyday, yet that is what everyone strives for. But I feel that times of unhappiness helps us appreciate when we are actually happy.

      I think when we think of questions like that you mentioned, we should also ask ourselves why we started on our journey to begin with. This usually helps remind myself how important my goals are and that if I put in the work, I deserve the happiness that comes with it.

      Thank you for your input!


  5. This article really hit home for me. Thanks for writing such a detailed piece–it felt like you were speaking directly to me, and I suspect that there are others who would agree.

    The thought that the opposite of happiness is “lack of motivation” truly strikes a chord. This truly is a more precise way of defining that feeling.

    The general feeling of “blah” has been something I’ve been grappling with so much lately. It seems like a particularly difficult pit to crawl out of because you have to be particularly motivated to make it happen. The irony!

    Admitting that you aren’t motivated to achieve goals can be particularly difficult. In a way, it’s more socially acceptable to feel sad than it is to feel unmotivated. People sympathize with you when you are sad. They assume that you must have a good reason to be down. But when you say that you feel unmotivated, suddenly the rest of the world just calls you lazy.

    I appreciate that you wrote this article, because I think it’s an important discussion for people to have!

    P.S. I’m reminded of something similar I heard about the opposite of Love. The opposite of love is not hate…it is indifference.

    1. Amy,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      It’s unfortunate that current society views unhappiness in this light. Like you said, people generalize others as lazy if they’re unmotivated, but that’s actually when they need help the most.

      I agree totally on the opposite of love being indifference. Both love and hate are strong emotions. But indfference is pretty the lack of emotion. Very good point you bring out here.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *