I asked a few people who appeared to be struggling what would make them happy, or at least what is their vision regarding a happy life. The answers startled my as to how how locked up people are in their current living conditions: jobs, relationships, the everyday life. Meaning that most answers did come in a negative form, i. e. "If I could have less stress at the office", "If I could have more time for myself", "I could stop arguing with my spouse", "If I could cease to procrastinate" and so on.
Very few individuals were able to express an affirmative vision of happiness: "Be my own boss", "Retreat to a quiet place in the nature", "Be with my loved one".
The next questions I asked was about the actions they might want to take in order to achieve happiness. Only a couple of my subjects had a plan or at acted in order to change their current life conditions in order to be happier. The others simply replied that either didn't think about it, or they couldn't do anything due to various reasons, or simply stated that it would only be a goal which would complicate their lives even more.
To sum it up, the core reason people refused to do some change in order to live a better life, to be happier, was quite disturbing, yet basic and predictable at the same time: fear.
On the side, they all managed to recollect happier times in their lives, times they obviously missed and held dear to themselves. As a result, I noticed that, although they weren't happy with their current lives, they either took refuge in the past or fantasized about some sort of alternate reality, while doing little to nothing to alter their current, distressed situation; they only hoped for the better.
Hope and fear, future and past - these came to notice as the main co-ordinate some live their lives by while, paradoxically, being deeply anchored in the present which overwhelms them.