There’s Only One Reason People Are Unhappy

There’s Only One Reason People Are Unhappy


Everything was going wrong

I arrived at the DMV with a plan. I was super early so I would get a great place in line, zip in, get my overdue registration processed by a kind, efficient worker and then skip out of there within the hour.

Apparently I was delusional about how things actually work at the DMV.

As I begrudgingly took my place behind 50 other people, I tripped on the curb. Minutes later I was shuffling through my purse when it fell over and everything inside fell out.

I was gritting my teeth at this point. This was not my day. I debated bailing and coming back the next day.

And that’s when I dropped my water bottle causing it to explode all over my shoes and pants.

I was done. I wanted to go home. I grabbed my purse and backpack and the plastic shards from the water bottle I had just destroyed.

And that’s when I met her.

The big shift

She handed me the biggest shard from my broken water bottle with a bright smile.

Although very young, she held a strong, commanding presence that calmed me immediately. She felt matronly to me even though I was easily twice her age.

Then I saw the necklace she was wearing.

It was a beautiful bright blue crystal that sat firmly at her throat, wrapped in rose gold wire.

I immediately shifted to the little girl in me — the one that is easily captivated by bright, shiny toys that are new and magical to me.

As I made a fuss over her necklace, the gruff looking guy behind her pulled a crystal out of his pocket and told us how he has carried it with him for the last twenty years, citing it as the reason things always go well for him.

Moments later I was bonding with two total strangers over crystals and spirituality and laughing about how everything had been going haywire for me that day.

Then that guy said something that I will never forget.

Your happiness bar

He had just pointed out that despite all that drama, it was still a beautiful day. It was a sunny morning. The sky was bright and clear. And here we were laughing, having a great time while we waited, sharing stories and learning new things from each other.

He then talked about his job at the local grocery store. Every day customers went through his check out line looking miserable and numb.

But many of these people were well-dressed, finely appointed and oftentimes loaded those groceries into nice cars.

“You know why these people look so down?”, he asked.

“Their happiness bar is way too high”.

What it takes to make most people “happy” is oftentimes unreachable on a moment to moment basis.

“People gotta lower their happiness bar,” he said. “My bar is so low I am standing on it.

And that’s why he was at peace spending a morning at the DMV — and able to make it fun and entertaining.

Lowering the bar

I was so struck by what he said that I lowered my happiness bar immediately. The bad stuff that was happening to me that morning wasn’t really that bad. Inconvenient, but trivial at best.

Things weren’t going the way I expected that day. And it derailed me.

I need to be stronger than that.

There is only one reason why people are unhappy— they want things to be different than how they are.

Basically, unmet expectations.

The key to lowering your happiness bar is to drop any expectations.

Once we do that, we open ourselves to surprise blessings.

The great news

My entire energy shifted after I immersed myself in what was happening right around me and began chatting with these two strangers, who quickly became new friends.

When I got my registration processed, not only was it quick and easy, but the woman waived the late fees for me upon my (very kind) request.

I had a shred of hope that I could get the late fees waived, but truth be told, I was doubtful. Very doubtful.

But here’s the good news.

People make kind gestures for happy people.

Had I gone into the DMV all fussy, agitated and annoyed, the worker would have likely exercised her choice to say no when I asked to have the fees waived. She didn’t have to make an exception for me.

The girl standing behind me in line when I broke my water bottle was the turning point for that whole day.

And the guy standing behind her, who told us about lowering our happiness bar, was the turning point for my whole life.

That day, I made two new friends — and got one life lesson I’ll never forget.

Easily delighted

The second secret to lowering your happiness bar is to allow yourself to be easily delighted. I have the spirit of a 5 year old girl, so this is easy for me.

I can’t walk by a jasmine bush without stopping and inhaling the scent from the flowers on it. That jasmine scent delights me to my core and never fails to bring a huge smile to my face.

The taste of a fresh blueberry, the adorable face of a puppy, the intricate bark of an old oak tree.

Someone wearing my favorite color. A smile from a stranger. A compliment from the cashier at the market. The warm sun on my bare skin.

No matter what is going on in life, there are a thousand things that can delight you, if you just look up and see it.

Lower your bar for what it takes to make you happy, step up on it and delight in the beautiful world around you. ❤

This post was previously published on


All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.

Compliments Men Want to Hear More Often Relationships Aren’t Easy, But They’re Worth It The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex ..A Man’s Kiss Tells You Everything


Photo credit: Anthony Fomin on Unsplash


The post There’s Only One Reason People Are Unhappy appeared first on The Good Men Project.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.