4 Signs You’re An Unnecessarily Miserable Person

Overall, suffering is an unavoidable part of life. But it’s possible that you might be carrying more

miserable woman SB Arts Media / Shutterstock

In my short life so far, I’ve realized something truly crucial. There are two types of misery:

  • Necessary misery: this kind of happiness is justified, unavoidable, and in fact, it gives life meaning. For example — the sadness you feel about missing your family.
  • Unnecessary misery: this kind of happiness is not warranted. And you can learn to avoid it to live a better life. For example — you are making mountains out of molehills.

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Here are 4 signs you’re an unnecessarily miserable person:

1. You go easy on yourself — but in the wrong way

There are two ways people go easy on themselves —

By telling themselves that it’s okay that they didn’t do what they promised themselves. For instance —when a student sets a high study target for a day but then at night, he tells himself that “it’s okay” that he didn’t finish it.
By making more reasonable promises instead. For instance — a student who sets a decent yet doable study target for the day — but completes it before going to bed.


The first way is a horrible way to go easy on yourself.

Firstly, people’s egos and lack of self-awareness make them set difficult promises. Then, when they inevitably fail to achieve them — they tell themselves that “it’s okay” — again to protect their ego. Two strikes.

This “it’s okay” spares them from feeling bad at the moment. However, when this happens over and over again, it leads to lowered self-belief as eventually, your word means nothing to you. This leads to misery that could have easily been avoided. How?

When you want to go easy on yourself, do so by making reasonable promises. Keep them. Let your self-belief build. Slowly make bigger promises to yourself and create an upward spiral to success.


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2. You give away the “editing” rights to your emotional document

Your life is like a google document — and you’re writing a story.

The mistake most people make is that they’ve given editing rights to everyone. Any Tom, Dick, or Harry can waltz in and edit your emotions.

  • That internet troll can comment something on your content online and ruin your day.
  • A guy you barely know from your office can have an opinion about you and your peace goes out the window.

It’s our desire to fit in and “be liked” that makes us vulnerable to these events. However, the essence of living a great life today is to learn to reject the natural instincts that no longer serve you. To that end — here’s what your emotional document should be like.


Only a few selected people — like your family and close friends — should have the right to influence your emotions. If they do something wrong — and you feel bad, it’s understandable. However if Mike from H.R. — whose last name you cannot recall — says something about you and you start questioning your whole existence — that’s just… unnecessary.

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3. You compare pixels

If your whole life was a picture, a day or a part of your life would be a pixel. In keeping with the metaphor — a huge mistake people make is they compare their lives on the level of pixels.

For instance, a person who’s having a rough day opens his Instagram and watches what his friends are doing. Naturally, since people only post their “highs” on social media, he ends up comparing his worst day to people’s best day. And that’s really unfair.

  • Firstly, you must try your best to not compare your life to other people’s.
  • Secondly, even if you are comparing your life to someone else’s — compare on a picture level, not a pixel level. Because one pixel is not a good proxy for what the picture actually looks like.
  • Thirdly, even if you’re comparing one pixel of your life to someone else’s pixel, choose one that’s on the same frequency. This means that even if you want to compare, compare your worst days to other people’s worst days, not their best days.

Comparison is hardwired in our brains. So even if you have a tough time stopping comparisons altogether, at least learn to do it a bit more rationally. If you compare yourself to others on a pixel level — and that too, comparing your worst pixels to other people’s best pixels — it’s a sign that you’re an unnecessarily miserable person.

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4. You operate with the wrong definition of failure

Most dictionaries — and people — define failure as “a lack of success.” But this doesn't take into consideration that failures teach you a lot. And these lessons can be used to propel yourself toward success.

A better definition of failure is “a prerequisite to success.” This means, that failures actually get you closer to success because. Sure. Duh. This makes sense to you. But do you actually have this perspective when you fail?


Most people understand logically that failures teach them but they aren’t able to remember this emotionally when they actually fail. And hence, they suffer more than what’s necessary. The delta, of course, equals unnecessary misery.

If you’re one such person, it’s a sign you have unnecessary misery.

You can reduce this misery by trying to remember the second definition of failure in such moments. And obviously, even with the better definition of failure, you’ll still feel some pain — but that’ll be much more manageable than with the pain induced by the first definition.


Recap: 4 signs you’re an unnecessarily miserable person

  • You go easy on yourself by telling yourself that it’s okay to break the promises you make to yourself.
  • You’ve given everyone the right to influence their emotions.
  • You compare your worst days to people’s best days.
  • You define failure as “a lack of success.”

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Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more.