5 Steps to Unhappiness
I see lots of articles online about how to be happy. But I think the article that really needs to be written is about the steps to UNhappiness. Here are mine. Feel free to add your own in the comment section.
1. Assume that more will make you happier
If you think that more money, more fame, more stuff, more alcohol, more friends, more shoes, more food, more recognition, more material goods will make you happy, you are destined for unhappiness. There’s a threshold for survival that’s important but the thing about more is that the more you have, the more you want.
2. Compare yourself to others
If there were a Fast Pass to Unhappyville, this would be it. Easy to say, hard to live but absolutely 100% true. There’s a reason that they put blinders on race horses. Seriously. I’m telling myself as I’m telling you.
3. Live in fear
Fear of trying, fear of starting, fear of change, fear of disappointing someone, fear of being yourself, fear of rocking the boat; all will prevent you from being the person deep down that you really long to be.
4. Living the life others have planned for you
Many of us grow up with labels. He’s the jock. She’s good at math, she’s going to carry on the family tradition of lawyers. Everyone in the family went to grad school, he can’t be a mechanic. I’ve lost track of the number of people who tried to talk me out of my chosen career path. If you’re not disappointing someone in the life you’ve chosen, you’re extremely rare. One life per person. That’s the deal. You live your life and as long as you’re paying your bills, not breaking laws or hurting people you don’t owe anyone explanations for your choices.
5. Play the Victim
In many ways in life I got a raw deal. I won’t list them all here but suffice it to say that I’ve had more than my share of loss and heartbreak. The key is to deal with it, find yourself a good therapist who can help you get your life back on track and forge ahead. Grieve your losses for sure. That’s healthy. But using your losses in life as an excuse for why your life is horrible will get you a seat on the Unhappiness Express. Be known for your resiliency not your heartaches.
6. Spend time in what-ifs. What if you’d said this? What if he’d said that? What if I run into him/her/it and have to … While some role playing for the future can be helpful in preparing for realistic scenarios, most of what-if time is simply fiction. If you’re going to spend a lot of time writing fiction, at least call it that and put it on the page.
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That will freakin’ drive you into the Loony Bin. Yes, rewriting what shoulda, coulda been? Bad idea.
I’ve done it. I was crazy at the time. Fortunately it was temporary. (Not joking. Anxiety/depression combination. Willing to answer any questions.)
7. Assume worst intentions/be thin-skinned, or Play the Victim, Part 2: Give people the benefit of the doubt in any given moment. How many times have you said something and didn’t mean it the way it came out? Deep breath and a calm conversation will go further than a knee-jerk reaction.
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Yes. A variation of this is the “looking for a fight” method of life. If you assume that everyone is out to get you and think the worst of you, at some point you’ll start to be correct. I think humor can dissolve a LOT of awkward situations.
How about the Entitlement variation? You know the ones… they “deserve” all the good things in life, but aren’t willing to work for it. (Or maybe they don’t realize it actually takes a plan and some focus and effort to get there??)