Author Topic: Shouldn't I be happier?  (Read 4670 times)

Lilith

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Shouldn't I be happier?
« on: October 30, 2017, 03:38:59 PM »
Dear MMM Community

I have been a silent reader for almost 4 years. However now I come to you in search of an ear and maybe some advice if you have any. I believe I am entering a very early mid-life crisis. At least this is what I imagine what it must feel like.

First some information on where I am on the mustachian path. I started working 4 years ago graduating with a science degree and no debt (thanks mum and dad). I studied in Germany and am currently living and working with my SO in Switzerland. Since starting to work I have managed to rack together around EUR  120'000 and have a current saving rate of 60 - 70 % of my net salary. My goal for FIRE is around 600'000 and I plan to move back to Germany for retirement in order to have lower expenses. I plan to reach FIRE in approx 10-15 years, at the age of 40-45. This all sounds great, right?

However lately I have noticed that I am not as excited/happy/content as I should be. Most of the times I do not feel anything just emptiness... Recently I took a long time to answer my mother-in-law's question whether I truly liked life ("Lebst du eigentlich richtig gerne?", in case someone who speaks German is reading). She is one of the strongest and kindest people I know and at that time she was in the middle of a lot of financial, family, legal issues and has all the reasons you can have in our fortunate countries to feel despair. It is not that I hate my life. It is just that most of the time I feel so little. There are moments when I feel happy. It can happen suddenly when I see a beautiful landscape or talk to an interesting person who is sharing their unique self with me. Then it feels like the clouds open and the sun is shining again. I do not expect to feel this kind of excitement and happiness at all times but I would like to feel content most of the time.

Now that I have outlined my issue I will give some background info that might be relevant or not.

I had originally planed to work in academia however I had to learn that working as a researcher is not as romantic as my teenage self had thought (who would have thought...). I decided to start working outside of university and I am currently working in a consulting company. The job is well-paid and I really like most of my colleagues (some of the above mentioned interesting people). I do not have to work at my full potential to get results that are expected at my level, which I count as a plus. I am not passionate about work, but I do not expect to be, it is just a job to me to put money in my bank account and it is just a temporary thing to me. I have no intention of continuing it after reaching my financial goal. In the last months I had to do a lot of overtime, which might also have affected my mood. I am going to compensate this overtime with a 3 week Christmas vacation.

Apart from work I am married to a wonderful man who is sensitive and attentive. We have many similarities and I really enjoy our time together a lot, but we do not spend nearly enough time together. Another source of contentment in my private live is sports. I practice two Japanese martial arts and during and after practice I am very much at ease. Unfortunately this does not carry over into everyday life and due to my current workload I only go two times a week instead of the planed four times.

On the weekends we spend our time socializing or recovering from the work week.

I have thought of several things that I could try to do in order to snap me out of my grey haze that is every day life for me.

Doing more of what I am passionate about: Spending more time with DH and sports, I have thought of reducing my weekly hours. However since I do not want to work for longer then necessary this is not an option that I am particularly fond of. I will start with compensating my overtime over Christmas and working less overtime.

More socializing/fun: I meet people after work on most days of the week and on weekends, however I could try to socialize more. But I feel this would be more exhausting and I am not looking for fun.

Goal setting: I have one big longtime goal which is financial independence in 10-15 years but I am lacking in short and midterm goals. Maybe reaching a certain level in my sports each year or mastering a difficult form. Work related goals are not useful here since I do not care enough.

Stop planing life post-FIRE: I have a lot of things that I would like to do, or do more if I had more time and I imagine finally having this time in retirement. However maybe building my FIRE castle in the clouds in a lot of detail is counterproductive and I should focus on the here and now? This will be hard...

If you have stayed with me for the whole post thank you for listening to my rambling about my first-world problems. I would very much appreciate it, if you could leave a comment. Maybe you have some thoughts or ideas that I and others can benefit from.

Thanks to all of you.

Lilith

mozar

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2017, 03:51:08 PM »
Have you taught any martial arts classes? You could do that on the side to get to FIRE quicker, or transition into becoming a full time teacher.

Lilith

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2017, 04:54:47 PM »
Hi Mozar

Thanks for your reply.

I am only a student and not qualified to teach (yet). With a bit of luck and a lot of dedication this is however something I could manage and also would want to do in this or the next decade.

However most likely I will be able to just break even on the costs if I run my own school. Additionally it is frowned upon to make money from teaching martial arts in my community, as it is commercializing something that is almost religious. I hope this makes sense, it is hard to explain.

Have a nice day
Lilith

Annie_R

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2017, 05:31:37 PM »
Hey Lilith

what does your post-FI life look like? what are you doing? do any of those activities involve making  money (if not teaching martial arts in  10-15 yrs, could you write a book about it or do something else related to your hobbies that will earn money?) most people post-FI are doing some kind of paid work. will that be able to offset your working hrs now and allow you to cut back on your current work time?

maybe you are sacrificing current happiness too much at expense of future happiness. after all every one of us might die tomorrow. if you're not finding fulfillment now then what will be the point of achieving FI if you have to be miserable for 10-15 yrs to do it?

can you arrange with work to do parttime temporarily for 3-6 months and see how you manage that way? if you have leave accrued can you arrange to use that somehow (take off 1 day a week for 16 weeks instead of 16 days in a row for instance). this is so you can try it out before committing. 60-70% is a high savings rate and even if dropping 1 day per week you are only losing 20% of income and possibly less depending on marginal tax brackets.

Cranky

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2017, 05:32:33 AM »
Maybe get involved with more people in "less fun" activities? Happiness is really about your social connections, IMO - being more involved in your community.

At the same time, I think you are at a very common stage of life where you look around and say, "This is it?" The trick, I think, is to cultivate your contentment with what your life does offer.

ooeei

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2017, 06:14:09 AM »
While I'm sure it's not the only problem you've got, have you had your vitamin D levels checked? I believe around 3/4 Swiss citizens are insufficient/deficient, especially during winter months.  Low vitamin D has been linked to depression.  Consider supplementing if you think this is a possibility. You can go get tested, but there's little downside to the supplements so they might be worth taking just in case. Even if you're out in the sun all day you might not produce it efficiently enough for that climate.

Keep in mind vitamin D isn't an overnight fix, it will have to saturate your system over a few weeks, so don't give up if it doesn't work in a week.


Laura33

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2017, 06:57:00 AM »
Please start with seeing a doctor to see if you are depressed.  Your third paragraph is a textbook description -- going through the motions, not feeling much of anything, etc.

If you are not depressed, then your discontent is a sign that you need to change something in your life.  Do a lot of thinking about what your various options are, and what tradeoffs you are willing to make.  Honestly, I don't think being too busy/exhausted to enjoy time with your SO and the hobbies that help keep you sane is a worthwhile tradeoff for FIREing sooner -- sure, you can FIRE, but if your marriage has broken up and your body has broken down from the stress and lack of exercise, what would you have left to FIRE to?

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2017, 07:24:34 AM »
^+1^  The first thought through my head was hmmm - a little bit of blahs but by third paragraph, it was nope - depression is definitely a possibility.  And while I am not trained in this area - it runs in my family and I skirt the edges of full on periods of clinical depression.  My best friend is a psychiatrist and we openly discuss when I need to get help from someone like her so she gives me her quiz.  Without being able to check enough boxes to say I am depressed, I still feel pretty damn lousy and have a great deal of difficulty finding joy. 

I found my late twenties were really up and down with moments of pure happiness and then some really dark moments.  Early thirties were much happier for me because I was having a great time with my husband.  We were working and playing hard.  Then at 34 I had a son and that is when I settled down and focused all my efforts on providing a happy childhood for him and eventually his little sister.  It was a time of pulling myself up by my boot straps and faking it if needed.

I have also found a great deal of reward working on my community initiatives - volunteering at the school to run an arts enrichment program - where I learned stuff about art and taught children and they taught me and shared this with other adults at the school.  I also helped lead many events in the community to bring people together or to protect things.  These activities are very rewarding to me.  I wouldn't define them as providing happiness - they are hard, involving working and tiring but they do bring joy into my life by bringing it to others.  Now I am doing a lot less parenting and community building as I try to focus on making some money but I continue to enjoy the dividends of the time spent every time I go for a walk and bump into someone I know.

I would suggest trying the gratitude journal for a couple of weeks in an attempt to notice the small happy moments that do occur.  Train yourself to look for beauty.  It is a learned skill for us naturally inclined to see the glass half empty.


kaypinkHH

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2017, 07:36:18 AM »
Hi Lilith,
I went through a similar thing in June 2016 (I was 28, so close to your age).  I had just spent the past years working towards goals: Graduating university, moving to a different city, starting my career, saving to buy a house, planning a wedding, hitting work goals, and then landing a site placement (big career opportunity in my field, and more money). In between I also set goals for personal fitness including a sprint triathlon, some Spartan Races and a half marathon, then a full marathon. I went from one big goal to the next..and then suddenly I found myself without major short term goals. And this freaked me out! And I was like you I felt like "I have it all, why I am so miserable???", I also related to what you said about "just going through the motions"....and it sucked.

I also was unhappy with my job, working in a city away from my DH, and feeling like I was "stuck" at work. I contacted a employee assistance confidential coaching program, and worked with a coach from June-Sept to write down how I was feeling. For me I realized most of my unhappiness was related to my job, and simply knowing that I could change that made me feel better about my job. Knowing that I wasn't "trapped" gave me the freedom to care less in someway, which left me open to care more about other things...

For example:
I the city I was temporarily living in, I joined a community theatre (I had done musical theatre throughout my childhood/highschool), and I met people that I normally would have never interacted with from all walks of life, and it really helped me gain perspective on my own life, and it was a ton of fun! Is there something that you used to do that you really loved and haven't done in a while??  I also volunteered at a cat rescue a few times, as hanging out with cats always makes me happy.

I also eased off the personal fitness goals, I realized that I wasn't enjoying the constant struggle of balancing work and GIANT runs for marathon training. I enjoyed that goal/motivation, but it was taking all of my free time for something that didn't bring me joy.

DH and I also sat down in November/December of that year and looked at our 5 year plans, and assessed our current jobs and plans. I spent a few months thinking about a career change, but that didn't pan out, and then we started applying for jobs in a city closer to family. We really had to look at what was making us unhappy (long commutes, the QOL of our current city, the culture/atmosphere at our jobs).

Fast forward to now and we have moved, changed jobs, and are currently expecting baby #1. Only after 1 month in the new place/new job I am so much more happier, the BIG GIANT CHANGE was exactly what we needed..

Not saying you need a big giant change, but doing an deep analysis on your life may help assess where those happiness gaps are, or what is sucking your happiness away, and working on those items really helped us! 

acroy

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2017, 09:01:05 AM »
Hello OP

You need purpose in life. So simple :)

Good advise up there ^^ finding some things that keep you engaged and on your toes. But if your life is purposeless.... those are just distractions to fill the time.

As MMM has said, something along the lines of a 'casually muscled stoic charity-hero' (or words to that effect, I forget exactly) if very rewarding. it is rewarding exactly because it is not about you, it is what you can do for others; and improving the environment and people around you.

Good luck!!

Schaefer Light

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2017, 09:49:34 AM »
However lately I have noticed that I am not as excited/happy/content as I should be. Most of the times I do not feel anything just emptiness... Recently I took a long time to answer my mother-in-law's question whether I truly liked life ("Lebst du eigentlich richtig gerne?", in case someone who speaks German is reading). She is one of the strongest and kindest people I know and at that time she was in the middle of a lot of financial, family, legal issues and has all the reasons you can have in our fortunate countries to feel despair. It is not that I hate my life. It is just that most of the time I feel so little. There are moments when I feel happy. It can happen suddenly when I see a beautiful landscape or talk to an interesting person who is sharing their unique self with me. Then it feels like the clouds open and the sun is shining again. I do not expect to feel this kind of excitement and happiness at all times but I would like to feel content most of the time.

I could have written that paragraph myself (well, except for the part that's in German ;).  It sucks to feel like this day after day.

FINate

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2017, 10:22:53 AM »
I second (or third, fourth?) the recommendation to see your doctor. Could be vitamin deficiency, thyroid problem, or any number of other things...or nothing physical at all. Also get checked for clinical depression and related. Don't try to self diagnose, a few tests will save you a lot of headache.

Would also recommend thinking about your diet, sleep, and exercise. These are all related and as I've aged these have had an increasing influence on my overall wellbeing. In my adolescence and early 20s I could get away with eating crap and getting very little sleep or exercise. By late 20s and early 30s not so much. Consistently eating a balanced and healthy diet helps me feel more energetic during the day, which means I'm more motivated to exercise, which helps me sleep better, and there's evidence that getting good sleep helps us eat a better diet and feel more energetic. It's a cycle. So you may need to be much more intentional about these. IMO doing martial arts a couple times a week is not sufficient, you need to find forms of exercise you can do 5x a week. In addition to the martial arts, maybe walk or bike to work, go for a run, yoga, etc. Get in the habit of regular sleep/wake schedule.

Working lots of overtime for short periods is fine, but it is not sustainable long term. You may need to find a way to establish work/life balance. Seek out career advice/counseling from people you trust. For some employers it's sufficient to just learn to say "no" and be clear about your boundaries. In my experience, even good employers are more than happy to let employees overwork themselves, and no matter how hard you work there's always more to be done. In other instances you may need to find another employer - e.g. if your employer expects everyone to work overtime all the time and/or working regular hours is frowned upon...this is the fast path to burnout, full blown depression, broken marriages, estranged children, etc.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 10:25:00 AM by FINate »

Lews Therin

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2017, 10:32:12 AM »
The FI/MMM has removed the stress, problems relating to money in your life, but that doesn't solve anything. if you want a quick perspective, think about the fact you have no money issues. Something goes wrong, you would be fine financially. That is a huge baseline of problems that has disappeared from your life.

That doesn't mean there aren't other issues. But if you apply the same mind-set, and start working on the other things that bother you, things should start to look up!

being FI/FIRE isnt the end-all, but it's a heck of a lot better than having money problems!

Lilith

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2017, 12:09:29 PM »
Hi everyone

Thank you so much for all your replies and support.

what does your post-FI life look like? what are you doing? do any of those activities involve making  money (if not teaching martial arts in  10-15 yrs, could you write a book about it or do something else related to your hobbies that will earn money?) most people post-FI are doing some kind of paid work. will that be able to offset your working hrs now and allow you to cut back on your current work time?

[...]

can you arrange with work to do parttime temporarily for 3-6 months and see how you manage that way? if you have leave accrued can you arrange to use that somehow (take off 1 day a week for 16 weeks instead of 16 days in a row for instance). this is so you can try it out before committing. 60-70% is a high savings rate and even if dropping 1 day per week you are only losing 20% of income and possibly less depending on marginal tax brackets.

My imagined/ideal post-FI life would first start with several weeks sleeping to be honest. After this relaxation period I would of course devote a lot of time to my martial arts studies. I will also start to seriously studying Japanese which is something I never find a consistent amount of time for while working.

As a side gig I had thought of giving tutoring and exam preparation (mainly math and physics) to schoolchildren or university students. However I have also been thinking many times of becoming a beekeeper.

I could definitely arrange to work part-time for a while. However it is difficult in my company to do this without giving the impression that I don't care about my job. This is important as it will affect career advancement and therefore income. However I will speak to one college at my level who is also my age, childless and works 80%.

I could imagine to stop working full-time when I reach 400'000 (in 5-10 years) and start with a small side business to get things rolling for when I am ready to quit the race.

Thanks Annie_R you have given me two very good option to consider :)

Maybe get involved with more people in "less fun" activities? Happiness is really about your social connections, IMO - being more involved in your community.

At the same time, I think you are at a very common stage of life where you look around and say, "This is it?" The trick, I think, is to cultivate your contentment with what your life does offer.

Cranky, thanks for your reply. I am not sure I understand what you meen with less fun activities? As I am living as an expat in Switzerland it is difficult to find connections (the Swiss are friendly but it is difficult to become friends with them). I have some local friends due to my martial arts classes and when we hang out it is always fun and I feel like I fit in. However these feelings do not transfer into the next day.

While I'm sure it's not the only problem you've got, have you had your vitamin D levels checked? I believe around 3/4 Swiss citizens are insufficient/deficient, especially during winter months.  Low vitamin D has been linked to depression.  Consider supplementing if you think this is a possibility. You can go get tested, but there's little downside to the supplements so they might be worth taking just in case. Even if you're out in the sun all day you might not produce it efficiently enough for that climate.

Keep in mind vitamin D isn't an overnight fix, it will have to saturate your system over a few weeks, so don't give up if it doesn't work in a week.

ooeei you're the best! I read this when you originally posted this, while at work. I miraculously remembered my daylight lamp that I had stored below my desk from last winter. I turned it on and immediately felt soooo much better. Thank you for reminding me. I will take your advice on vitamin D and look for supplements in a drugstore tomorrow. Any brands you recommend? Liquid or solid?

Please start with seeing a doctor to see if you are depressed.  Your third paragraph is a textbook description -- going through the motions, not feeling much of anything, etc.

If you are not depressed, then your discontent is a sign that you need to change something in your life.  Do a lot of thinking about what your various options are, and what tradeoffs you are willing to make.  Honestly, I don't think being too busy/exhausted to enjoy time with your SO and the hobbies that help keep you sane is a worthwhile tradeoff for FIREing sooner -- sure, you can FIRE, but if your marriage has broken up and your body has broken down from the stress and lack of exercise, what would you have left to FIRE to?

I have thought about this... but I do not think that I am depressed. I still prefer life over death and I do not have (much) difficulties getting out of bed each day. Also I talked to my husband about this who was depressed and had therapy when he was in his early twenties. Nevertheless I will get a phone appointment with my father-in-law who is a retired psychiatrist. Let's see what he thinks.

I would suggest trying the gratitude journal for a couple of weeks in an attempt to notice the small happy moments that do occur.  Train yourself to look for beauty.  It is a learned skill for us naturally inclined to see the glass half empty.


I will look into this. Probably makes a good addition to my bullet journal. It is true beauty can be found in many things. I should train myself to see more of it. Thank you Frugal Lizard.

Hi Lilith,
I went through a similar thing in June 2016 (I was 28, so close to your age).  I had just spent the past years working towards goals: Graduating university, moving to a different city, starting my career, saving to buy a house, planning a wedding, hitting work goals, and then landing a site placement (big career opportunity in my field, and more money). In between I also set goals for personal fitness including a sprint triathlon, some Spartan Races and a half marathon, then a full marathon. I went from one big goal to the next..and then suddenly I found myself without major short term goals. And this freaked me out! And I was like you I felt like "I have it all, why I am so miserable???", I also related to what you said about "just going through the motions"....and it sucked.
[...]
Not saying you need a big giant change, but doing an deep analysis on your life may help assess where those happiness gaps are, or what is sucking your happiness away, and working on those items really helped us! 

kaypinkHH this is very similar to what my live has been like the last years minus the super ambitious sports goals. Supporting my husband emotionally during the final months of his PhD, planning a wedding in Germany, waiting for my husband to find a job, so that I could apply for a job in the same city, staying too long in a job with a toxic environment, applying for a new job, looking for a new flat in the new city, organizing another wedding (same husband) in my country of origin to celebrate with my family, reaching 1st black belt in one of my martial arts. For many months my main feeling when thinking back to my wedding was "I am so happy I am done organizing this...".
Thanks for making me feel less alone with this :) I will find this happiness drain and plug it shut.

Hello OP

You need purpose in life. So simple :)

Good advise up there ^^ finding some things that keep you engaged and on your toes. But if your life is purposeless.... those are just distractions to fill the time.

As MMM has said, something along the lines of a 'casually muscled stoic charity-hero' (or words to that effect, I forget exactly) if very rewarding. it is rewarding exactly because it is not about you, it is what you can do for others; and improving the environment and people around you.

Good luck!!

Good point. I might be to focused on trying to make myself feel better maybe I need to shift the focus outside. Maybe there is some kind of soup kitchen giving food to homeless or so. I will look into it.

However lately I have noticed that I am not as excited/happy/content as I should be. Most of the times I do not feel anything just emptiness... Recently I took a long time to answer my mother-in-law's question whether I truly liked life ("Lebst du eigentlich richtig gerne?", in case someone who speaks German is reading). She is one of the strongest and kindest people I know and at that time she was in the middle of a lot of financial, family, legal issues and has all the reasons you can have in our fortunate countries to feel despair. It is not that I hate my life. It is just that most of the time I feel so little. There are moments when I feel happy. It can happen suddenly when I see a beautiful landscape or talk to an interesting person who is sharing their unique self with me. Then it feels like the clouds open and the sun is shining again. I do not expect to feel this kind of excitement and happiness at all times but I would like to feel content most of the time.

I could have written that paragraph myself (well, except for the part that's in German ;).  It sucks to feel like this day after day.
Schaefer Light, I am sorry you feel this way. It really sucks :). If you'd like to talk about it feel free to PM me.

I second (or third, fourth?) the recommendation to see your doctor. Could be vitamin deficiency, thyroid problem, or any number of other things...or nothing physical at all. Also get checked for clinical depression and related. Don't try to self diagnose, a few tests will save you a lot of headache.

Would also recommend thinking about your diet, sleep, and exercise. These are all related and as I've aged these have had an increasing influence on my overall wellbeing. In my adolescence and early 20s I could get away with eating crap and getting very little sleep or exercise. By late 20s and early 30s not so much. Consistently eating a balanced and healthy diet helps me feel more energetic during the day, which means I'm more motivated to exercise, which helps me sleep better, and there's evidence that getting good sleep helps us eat a better diet and feel more energetic. It's a cycle. So you may need to be much more intentional about these. IMO doing martial arts a couple times a week is not sufficient, you need to find forms of exercise you can do 5x a week. In addition to the martial arts, maybe walk or bike to work, go for a run, yoga, etc. Get in the habit of regular sleep/wake schedule.

Working lots of overtime for short periods is fine, but it is not sustainable long term. You may need to find a way to establish work/life balance. Seek out career advice/counseling from people you trust. For some employers it's sufficient to just learn to say "no" and be clear about your boundaries. In my experience, even good employers are more than happy to let employees overwork themselves, and no matter how hard you work there's always more to be done. In other instances you may need to find another employer - e.g. if your employer expects everyone to work overtime all the time and/or working regular hours is frowned upon...this is the fast path to burnout, full blown depression, broken marriages, estranged children, etc.


I see what I can do about saying no... I will also make an appointment for a health checkup. If there's nothing on the test, at least I know that there is nothing wrong physically and if there is I have an angle to work.
Definitely yes to more sport. I will try to cut the time for that out of work and not out of sleep time ;) this will be tough. At this moment I have to do overtime when it is required, but nobody is telling me I cannot compensate but due to some political changes in the company this might change for worse. However I know what to do in this case ;)

The FI/MMM has removed the stress, problems relating to money in your life, but that doesn't solve anything. if you want a quick perspective, think about the fact you have no money issues. Something goes wrong, you would be fine financially. That is a huge baseline of problems that has disappeared from your life.

That doesn't mean there aren't other issues. But if you apply the same mind-set, and start working on the other things that bother you, things should start to look up!

being FI/FIRE isnt the end-all, but it's a heck of a lot better than having money problems!

This is true. But I am not a person who is worried about the future. Not at all. I know that together with my husband we can handle anything as a team. I just don't like feeling so ungrateful for the silver spoon we are given...

Again thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and reply so far. I have made a list of all suggestions and I will try little by little to see what works. Writing to all of you and hearing your perspectives has already helped me a lot.

I am of to the Dojo (=martial arts gym) to get 2 hours of training in before sleep. Thanks to all of you.

Lilith

ooeei

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2017, 12:57:48 PM »
Hi everyone

Thank you so much for all your replies and support.

While I'm sure it's not the only problem you've got, have you had your vitamin D levels checked? I believe around 3/4 Swiss citizens are insufficient/deficient, especially during winter months.  Low vitamin D has been linked to depression.  Consider supplementing if you think this is a possibility. You can go get tested, but there's little downside to the supplements so they might be worth taking just in case. Even if you're out in the sun all day you might not produce it efficiently enough for that climate.

Keep in mind vitamin D isn't an overnight fix, it will have to saturate your system over a few weeks, so don't give up if it doesn't work in a week.

ooeei you're the best! I read this when you originally posted this, while at work. I miraculously remembered my daylight lamp that I had stored below my desk from last winter. I turned it on and immediately felt soooo much better. Thank you for reminding me. I will take your advice on vitamin D and look for supplements in a drugstore tomorrow. Any brands you recommend? Liquid or solid?

I'm not super knowledgeable about it to be honest. My girlfriend recently was tested for it for a related illness, and was found to be deficient. She took some boutique brand the doctor wanted her to use, but I'm not convinced brand matters. I believe they were capsules of some sort, I'll check when I get home. Do a bit of research online and I'm sure there are people who have looked into various brands and methods. I do remember that D3 was preferable to some other type for absorption.

Testing is <$100 here in the States, so I imagine it wouldn't be too expensive over there even if you have to pay for it. Keep in mind that what many doctors consider "healthy" levels are considered by many specialists to still be pretty low, so again it might be worth doing some online research to see what you want your levels to be. Make sure you get the actual results rather than just a "pass/fail" from your doctor.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 12:59:40 PM by ooeei »

rugorak

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2017, 01:59:36 PM »
Lots of good information already given. Especially finding purpose and joy now. FIRE is a great tool towards that but sometimes we confuse the tool with the goal. The goal is a happy life doing what we want to. A few other things I can think of based on what you have said:

- Talk to your spouse about the feeling that you don't get to spend enough time together and figure out how to change it if possible. At least communicate enough to make sure you are on the same page. I have to do this with my DW sometimes. She gets so involved with volunteering sometimes I have to remind her to make time for me. She enjoys it but it stresses her out sometimes. And she just has that sort of personality that she tries to do everything if others don't step up or someone doesn't tell her to step back. So me reminding her makes her realize it will make her happier too.

- Make time for things you want to do. So if learning Japanese is something you want to do, do it now. Even if you only can set aside 20 minutes before bed or when you first wake up, do it. As others said putting things off will not help feeling happy. Yes realistically some things you have to. But this is an example of something that there is no reason to put off.

-Keep in mind you are not only helping yourself but also others by sharing this. I know reading this and thinking of a response has helped me recognize some things I need to tweak in my life. I'm probably at least 10 years away from FIRE. A little more if the DW and I decide to spawn and she stops working (Although I would love to be a stay at home dad I make more than here, have better benefits, and a much more generous time off policy. So we decided that if we do have one of stay home it makes more sense for me to keep working.) So I need to find some things to make me happier now rather than far into the future.

BFGirl

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2017, 02:14:35 PM »
I found that I was much less happy the more time I spent thinking about everything I would do after retirement and begrudging the time that I had to spend at work.  I was miserable and anxious, even though I have a good life.  One day I decided that I was spending so much time worrying and dreaming about my future that I was ignoring my present.  I know that "mindfulness" is a bit of a buzzword these days, but I have found that I am much happier now that I try to focus more on the present.  I am trying to enjoy the good things about each day and the time that I do have for my loved ones and my passions.

matchewed

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2017, 04:37:13 PM »
I wouldn't necessarily get an appointment with a relative. I'd look for an objective viewpoint if you plan on seeing someone within the therapy/psychiatry field.

Laura33

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2017, 08:16:20 PM »
I wouldn't necessarily get an appointment with a relative. I'd look for an objective viewpoint if you plan on seeing someone within the therapy/psychiatry field.

+1.  Depression doesn't mean "I want to die and can't get out of bed" -- well, it can, but most people who are depressed don't get to that point (I never did).  Sometimes it just leaches the joy and happy out of life and leaves the annoying and boring.

But hey, if the light lamp works, even better!  Keep that puppy on!!

Sasha

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2017, 08:08:30 PM »
You might enjoy reading NPR journalist Eric Weiner's The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. He travels to several countries, including Switzerland, and muses on the various, complex relationships between happiness, culture, personality, money, etc. A very interesting and often quite funny read, I think (I quite dislike his chapter on Moldova, though.... Having lived there myself,  I think he captured its culture quite poorly. But still a book I highly recommend since he makes tons of really insightful comments on happiness).

historienne

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2017, 07:09:14 AM »
I wouldn't necessarily get an appointment with a relative. I'd look for an objective viewpoint if you plan on seeing someone within the therapy/psychiatry field.

+1.  Depression doesn't mean "I want to die and can't get out of bed" -- well, it can, but most people who are depressed don't get to that point (I never did).  Sometimes it just leaches the joy and happy out of life and leaves the annoying and boring.

But hey, if the light lamp works, even better!  Keep that puppy on!!

Yup.  Anhedonia (reduced ability to experience pleasure and happiness) is a classic manifestation of depression.  Doesn't mean you are definitely depressed; there certainly may be other things going on, or nothing clinical at all.  But it is a common enough symptom of depression that you should definitely consult with a professional.  I can't imagine having that conversation with my father-in-law, whom I like a lot, but maybe your relationship is very different.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Shouldn't I be happier?
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2017, 07:23:07 PM »
I wouldn't necessarily get an appointment with a relative. I'd look for an objective viewpoint if you plan on seeing someone within the therapy/psychiatry field.

+1.  Depression doesn't mean "I want to die and can't get out of bed" -- well, it can, but most people who are depressed don't get to that point (I never did).  Sometimes it just leaches the joy and happy out of life and leaves the annoying and boring.

But hey, if the light lamp works, even better!  Keep that puppy on!!

Yup. You [OP] sound like a high performance individual in other areas of your life so don't let your mental health be poor just because it's not so bad you aren't ready to kill yourself. Go see a professional. If nothing serious is wrong great and it there is something to address you've got the process rolling. There is no point having a shit load of money in the bank and all the free time in the world if you can't enjoy it.