Here’s Why You’re So Unhappy


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The two main causes of unhappiness, in their order of significance are:

  1. Unmet Expectations and
  2. Lack of Control Over Your Work Life

Unmet Expectations

Definition of Unmet Expectation: Expectation + Negative Outcome.

The University College London is well-known for it’s numerous, groundbreaking studies, such as the Habit Study, which readers of my articles are very familiar with.

Another significant study they authored involved happiness, or rather, unhappiness. In this 2016 study, the researchers found compelling proof that expectations are the most significant factor in determining your level of happiness. Put another way, Unmet Expectations are the #1 cause of unhappiness. When you set your expectations too high and then the outcome you desire fails to meet those expectations, you become unhappy.

This is why it is so important to set expectations which are conservative, i.e. low. Lowering your expectations does not mean being pessimistic. It means being realistic. It is human nature to create unrealistic expectations. We, as humans, have a tendency to look at things through rose-colored lenses. Removing those lenses and setting realistic, or conservative expectations is one of the most important things you can do to minimize unhappiness.

Lack of Control Over Your Work Life

Two important studies focused on the effects of not having control over your work life.

In the Whitehall Civil Servants Study, 17,000 British civil servants were part of a longitudinal study (long-term study). Those civil servant bureaucrats who were the lowest in the pecking order, were unhappy with their lives.

The Bell Labs Study on one million Bell Labs employees, similarly found that those employees who were at the lowest levels within the organization, indicated that they were unhappy.

Together, these two studies concluded that individuals who do not have control over their work lives, were chronically unhappy. Worse, these unhappy individuals also had significantly higher incidents of heart attacks.

The stress caused by having little to no control over their work lives elevated cortisol levels (stress hormone), which depressed their immune systems, leading to a greater incidence of cardiovascular disease.

If you want to be happy, you need to manage expectations and find work in which you will feel valued and appreciated. This will also lead to a stronger immune system, less disease and a longer, healthier life.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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