Are you a functional melancholic?

As I write this, doomsday junkies in far-flung corners of nowheresville are busy stocking their bomb shelters with Spam and batteries, prepping for the zombie apocalypse they’re convinced is yet to come.

But who’s to say it hasn’t already happened?

Lots of people with a pulse are staggering through life, dead to the world, infected with a virus so insidious they don’t even realize it’s there: unhappiness.

I call them functional melancholics.

A low-level misery seems to be the hallmark of modern civilization, but I don’t think that’s why we’re on this gorgeous green globe. I’m pretty positive the universe didn’t bring us into being, biological miracles that we are, to slog our way through life like it’s a burden to be endured.  I think happiness is our birthright, humans just have a tendency to wander away from it.

Here are five signs you’re carrying the burden of unhappiness, even if it’s not obvious:

You rarely laugh.
I don’t mean superficial social laughter — the IRL version of an LOL emoji. That kind is forced and phony and totally for the benefit of whoever’s listening. I’m talking belly laughing — laughing till you cry — laughing so hard you pee (just a little). THAT’s real laughter. Remember that utter feeling of exhaustion feels after an epic guffaw? Best feeling ever. And it’s so damn good for you. But how often do you do it in daily life? Probs not enough. Now’s the time to add some Candid Camera vids to your YouTube playlist.

You wake up feeling blah.
Some of y’all just aren’t morning people. And that’s totally fine, as long as you’re not a 4 a.m. news anchor.  But putting that aside, if you wake up every A.M. dreading the 16 hours ahead of you, that’s a problem. Life is now, and living for a fleeting weekend or vacation or some future fairytale means you’re fast-forwarding through all the good stuff. Your days are the sands in your hourglass of life, and there are only so many in your bank account.

You lean heavily on artificial stimulants.
Need coffee to get you through the workday? A bottle of wine to endure an evening alone? Packs of cigarettes to power through the weekend? I’m not hating on booze, coffee or even nicotine. If you get true, ritualistic pleasure from sipping a rare vintage, puffing at a Cuban cigar or drinking Nespresso dark roast, by all means, indulge. But when it’s a crutch to lean on because you can’t hack life otherwise, that’s a symptom of something more serious.

You’re constantly wishing you were somewhere else.
This, in part, is a symptom of our socially dysfunctional society. Technology has taken us away from each other; alienating us from our own moments. You won’t find the happiest people glued to their cell phones. They’re out living life, not talking about it online. If everything is boring and you’re constantly looking for an escape, that’s a red alert that something’s wrong. The present is a gift … that’s why it’s called the PRESENT. Duh. You can’t be happy if you’re mentally living in past, future or alternate dimension.

Nothing inspires you.
What swells your beating heart? What gets you all revved up? What sparks that inner bonfire? Besides shirtless photos from the World Cup, I mean. Nothing? That’s a problem. Without passion, life is colorless and dull — days feel dreary and without purpose. Like Pleasantville, passion is the Technicolor of our life’s movie. If you aren’t sure what gets your pulse-a-pumping, explore. There are billions of pursuits on this planet, and there’s bound to be one or two or fifty you can get excited about.


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