The Four Roots of Unhappiness and Worry


We get upset and unhappy about many things. Someone something said or did upset you. Your parents, partner, friends, or kids are asking you to do things you don't want to or misunderstand you. They don't act in a way that you feel is right or helpful. Your manager, colleague, or customer criticized your work or aren't cooperating. You didn't get the promotion or award you wanted or think you deserved. You are running low on savings and income and worried that you can't support yourself and your family. You are in physical pain or your health is declining and you have unusual body aches and insomnias. Your country or community is divided. The system seems broken, leaders seem corrupt, people seem selfish and ignorant.  

All of these worries and unhappiness are rooted in these four root causes. 

1. Judgement instead of Acceptance. You don't accept reality as it is. You lament it, you disagree with it, you think it's unfair or it sucks. You expect and wish it to be different or better. 

Why did you have those expectations in the first place? Why did you think people, your environment, your mind and body are going to be just the way you want them to? Who told you that life is all rainbows and butterflies?

You can hope, plan and work towards an ideal reality in the future. But your current reality is what it is. Don't judge it, regret it, or deny it. Love it, embrace it, understand it, then play and work with it. Life is an improv show - you don't control the scenes, you accept and act in them. 

2. Attachment instead of Openness. You want something or don't want to lose something you have. You decide to be unhappy until you get that and worried whenever they are uncertain or even slightly threatened. 

You have no idea about why you were born, what life is about and you know you will eventually die and be absolutely forgotten. So what are these wants and where do these come from? Are they worth the constant unhappiness and anxiety?

We can't all live like monks with no wants or attachments. But pick your attachments consciously and limit it to a few meaningful one - don't just pick them up unconsciously.  When you have a negative emotion, think about it, uncover the underlying attachment and eliminate it. Be flexible with your wants and go with the flow. Everything is impermanent. 

3. Negativity and Hate instead of Optimism and Love. You assume things and people are worse than they are. You cave in to comparison, greed, envy or jealousy. You think, say and act on these negativities. They make you more upset and act more negatively, which makes the situation even worse. 

Accept the nature of people and the world as they are.  Be everyone's well wisher and give everyone the benefit of doubt. Don't assume malice, when it could be misunderstanding, ignorance, or incompetence. This doesn't mean that you have to be naive and be taken advantage of. Hold your principles, work with situations as they are, be collaborative and authentic, choose to be around people and situations that align with your values. 

4. Nature instead of Practice. You expect to be happy and balanced by default, without consistent effort. You get out of the rut once or twice, experience clarity, and expect that to last forever. 

We are survival machines. Our biological programming, innate nature, and societal influence will always bias us towards worry, insecurity, and wanting. Our equilibrium is to be unhappy. 

Just like you don't expect to be muscular if you don't work out regularly, don't expect to be calm and happy if you don't work on your mind. Move your body often to move your mind. Take time to relax and to do things you enjoy. Share your situation and get help from therapists, coaches, or friends. Be intentional about your life philosophy, goals, people, and environment. Practice regular meditation, gratitude, and reflection. 

You got one life - cherish it and live it well!