While this may seem like an obvious statement, unhappiness really does cause stress. When we are unhappy, our mind's natural defense is to find a solution to the discomfort.
Remedies are great when they work. This sounds like something Yogi Berra would say, but it is true. If we keep trying remedies to our unhappiness and none of them work, the result is more and more stress.
People will find ways to release stress. Some of these are healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually, but fall short financially. For example, a quick vacation trip to Barbados may bring temporary happiness, but compound the unhappiness when the bills come rolling in. The same is true of shopping therapy.
Other fixes may work fine from a financial standpoint and even physically and emotionally. However, the spiritual cost is too high to pay. For example, it may feel great to indulge fantasies that cost nothing, physically don't hurt anyone and emotionally reset our dopamine levels. However, some of these release mechanisms will drive us far from God. Then, we eventually feel worse than before we started seeking an outlet for our unhappiness.
It is easy to think of indulgences that have a negative physical cost. And it isn't too hard to imagine deprivation strategies which would result in emotional downers. Staying home alone and saving money may be great for finances, physical relaxation and even spiritual pursuits, assuming we engage in prayer or Bible reading, but too much alone time can result in emotional imbalance, causing us to again become unhappy.
So, what is the secret to eliminating as much unhappiness as possible.
1. Realize some unhappiness comes with life. If you love, you will occasionally lose a loved one, whether it be human or a pet. By understanding that every life includes loss, our unhappiness can be reduced.
2. Find the root causes of your unhappiness. At least monthly, stop to ask yourself, what is lacking in my physical, emotional, spiritual and financial life? Then, prayerfully decide what actions you could take to begin (not fix), but begin to remedy the unhappiness. You might find that just starting to execute a simple plan will have a huge impact on your mood.
3. Try one new thing at least monthly. Our brains were made to enjoy the routine, but not too much of the routine. Trying new activities may result in enlivening your entire experience.
4. Give thanks for all the good things you already have. Our advertising-soaked world has at its core, a desire to make us want things we don't have. It moves commerce and spurs economic activity. That's fine and I'm a devout Capitalist. However, individuals need relief from this cycle of made up problems and expensive remedies. Just thank God right now for exactly what you own, enjoy and did today.
With these four ideas, we just might find some answers to anxiety and stress.