It might be time to check in with a friend who exhibits this behavior to make sure that what seems like an ideal, lofty life really is it.
The truth is, being completely satisfied with life is not easy for anyone, no matter what “it looks like”.
“Being happy all the time is unrealistic and a fictionalized version of how things really are,” says Yeraz N. Markarian, Ph.D., a psychologist at Hackensack University Medical Center. “In the real world, pain and suffering, and ups and downs, are a natural part of life, as are joy and euphoria.”
How to check in
Checking in and asking about this person might give them an opportunity to communicate some of their sadness, as they didn’t have to come to you first. The Doctor. Markarian recommends starting with: “Hi, how are you? Is it OK for you?”
Remember that people with depression or anxiety may:
- Feel guilty about sharing because they think it will bring others down
- They act like everything is fine because they don’t want to acknowledge what they’re feeling, because it’s uncomfortable.
- Think they’ll “fake it ’til you make it”
Approach the conversation in a way that feels natural for your relationship. For example, if you often hang out with that friend or like to meet them for dinner, you can check in with them in a comfortable space. Staying true to your connection can help your loved one feel safe to open up.
When your help is not enough
Sometimes, when things don’t get better on their own, a person may need counseling. It’s when coffee with a friend to talk things over doesn’t help so much, or the good news they received at work doesn’t make them smile. If they notice that they still feel unfulfilled, hopeless, dissatisfied or empty, it is a clear sign that professional help may be the next logical step.
When the things that used to make people happy no longer work, it’s time to seek help, especially if they are having very negative thoughts about life or suicidal thoughts.
Turning off Images of Perfection
Social media seems to be preoccupied with celebrities or influencers creating the illusion that things really are perfect. This can take us down a very negative path.
“Overall, it’s healthier to turn off those images of perfection and focus on ourselves — taking a break from social media, for example, and celebrity obsessions,” says Dr. Markarian. “We should measure our own barometer of happiness and ask ourselves, ‘Am I going to follow others or focus on myself, what motivates me, what I like?’”
Next steps and resources:
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.