9 signs you’re only happy because society expects you to be

There’s a big gap between genuine happiness and the illusion of it, often dictated by societal norms.

It boils down to authenticity. Living life on society’s terms means you’re playing a role, smiling on cue, and hiding your true feelings.

Genuine happiness, however, is about living life on your terms, being true to yourself and not being afraid to show your real emotions.

Being truly happy is about being at peace with who you are, not who society wants you to be. And smart folks know there are certain tell-tale signs that can help differentiate between the two.

Are you curious if that’s you? Well, buckle up and get ready to find out!

1) You’re constantly seeking validation

One of the key signs that your happiness is dictated by societal norms is an incessant need for validation.

It’s like a scene from a play – you’re the actor, society is the audience, and your performance is judged by their applause.

You find yourself doing things not because they make you happy, but because they earn you likes, shares, and compliments. Decisions are made based on what you believe will earn approval, rather than what aligns with your true desires.

This need for outside validation often leads to a cycle of temporary highs, followed by deep lows when the applause dies down.

Authentic happiness, on the other hand, comes from within. It’s not dependent on the approval or acceptance of others.

2) You’re scared to express your true feelings

There was this time in my life when I felt like I was walking on eggshells. It seemed like every conversation, every interaction, I had to put on a happy face, even when I was feeling low.

I would put on a brave face at work, laugh at social gatherings, and pretend everything was fine when friends asked how I was doing.

It was mainly because I felt society expected me to be happy all the time. Expressing any other emotion felt like a sign of weakness or failure.

But bottling up my true feelings didn’t make me happy; it only made me feel more isolated and alone.

Real happiness isn’t about suppressing your emotions. It’s about expressing them freely, without fear of judgment.

3) Your self-worth is tied to your achievements

In a society that often equates success with happiness, it’s easy to fall into the trap of tying your self-worth to your achievements.

We live in a world where the number of degrees, the size of your paycheck, and the prestige of your job title are seen as indicators of happiness.

But according to a study conducted by Princeton University, after reaching an income of about $75,000 per year, people’s day-to-day happiness does not increase with additional income.

This suggests that after a certain point, money and material possessions don’t necessarily make us happier.

4) You’re constantly comparing yourself to others

In today’s digital age, where everyone’s highlight reel is on display through social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison.

You see your friends’ vacation photos, their picture-perfect families, their shiny new cars, and you can’t help but feel a pang of envy. You start to question your own life and whether you’re as happy as you should be.

However, it’s crucial to remember that what we see on social media is often a filtered version of reality. It’s not an accurate representation of someone’s entire life.

5) You’re living a life that doesn’t align with your core values

We all have core values – fundamental beliefs that guide our actions and decisions. These values are deeply personal and unique to each individual.

However, if you find yourself living a life that doesn’t align with these core values, it’s likely that societal expectations are influencing your happiness.

For instance, if one of your core values is creativity, but you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t allow for any creative expression, you might find yourself feeling unfulfilled and unhappy, regardless of how successful you might appear in the eyes of society.

True happiness arises from living a life that aligns with your core values. If your actions don’t reflect your beliefs, it’s time to reassess whether you’re truly happy or just playing by society’s rules.

6) You’re neglecting your own needs for the sake of others

red flags youre a people pleaser 9 signs you're only happy because society expects you to be

It’s not uncommon to put others’ needs before our own. It’s something we’re often taught from a young age – to be considerate, kind, and selfless.

But there’s a delicate balance between caring for others and neglecting our own needs. When we constantly sacrifice our own happiness for the sake of making others happy, it can lead to feelings of resentment, burnout, and unhappiness.

Embrace the thought that it’s okay to prioritize your own needs and desires; to say no when you’re overwhelmed; and it’s definitely okay to put yourself first sometimes.

True happiness comes from caring for ourselves just as much as we care for others. If you find yourself consistently putting others first at the expense of your own happiness, it might be time to examine whether you’re happy because you want to be or because society expects you to be.

7) You’re afraid to step out of your comfort zone

For a long time, I lived in the safety of my comfort zone. It was familiar, predictable, and comfortable. But it was also limiting and stagnant.

I was afraid to take risks, try new things, or step out of the mold that society had created for me. I was living a life that was safe but unfulfilling.

It wasn’t until I dared to step out of my comfort zone that I discovered what truly made me happy. It was scary and uncomfortable, but it was also liberating and fulfilling.

If you’re living in the confines of your comfort zone because it’s what society expects of you, it might be worth questioning whether your happiness is genuine or merely a product of complacency.

8) You’re constantly busy with no time for yourself

In a society that values productivity and busyness, it’s easy to fall into the trap of constant activity. You fill your schedule to the brim, always on the go, with no time to just be.

But being constantly busy doesn’t equate to being truly happy. In fact, it often leads to stress, burnout, and a disconnection from your own needs and desires.

True happiness comes from balance – from having time for work, relationships, hobbies, and most importantly, yourself.

9) You’re not living in the present moment

True happiness lies in the ability to live in the present moment. It’s about appreciating what you have right now, instead of constantly striving for more or dwelling on the past.

Societal pressure often pushes us to constantly look ahead – to the next goal, the next milestone, the next achievement. This forward-looking mindset can rob us of the joy of experiencing the present.

If you find yourself constantly looking ahead or behind, rather than experiencing and appreciating the present, it could be a sign that your happiness is influenced by societal expectations.

Final thoughts: Authenticity is key

The journey to authentic happiness is often more complex and less linear than society would have us believe.

It’s a journey that requires us to dig deep, to question societal norms, and most importantly, to stay true to ourselves and our values.

Remember the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” There’s profound truth in this. Happiness can’t be borrowed or manufactured to fit societal norms. It has to come from within, from living a life that aligns with your core values and desires.

If you’ve recognized some of these signs in your own life, it’s not a cause for despair but rather an opportunity for reflection and growth.

Questioning our happiness is the first step towards understanding it better and ultimately, living a more fulfilling life.

So take some time for introspection. Are you truly happy or are you merely wearing a mask of happiness because society expects you to? The answer might just lead you on the path to authentic joy!

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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