30 Ways to Make Yourself Miserable (Along with Everyone Around You)

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About Lion Goodman

Lion Goodman is the co-founder of Luminary Leadership Institute (http://www.luminaryleadership.com), an accelerated initiatory program for leaders of businesses and organizations. With his partner, Carista Luminare, Ph.D., he developed a program to help couples transform old patterns of insecurity and trauma into a secure and passionate relationship: Confused About Love (http://www.confusedaboutlove.com). Lion is a co-founder of The Tribe of Men, an initiatory program in Northern California, and he served as the Director of Men’s Programs for The Shift Network, where he produced the Ultimate Men’s Summit, attended by 20,000 people around the world. He is the author of three books: Creating On Purpose (with Anodea Judith, Ph.D.), Transform Your Beliefs, and Menlightenment: A Book for Awakening Men. He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, but considers himself to be a world citizen.


  1. Good article, who knew that #9 and #14 were part of keeing yourself miserable. sigh…

  2. I can’t really dispute the content, but the tone isn’t going to reach someone in the pits with this mindset. It is reality-altering, and it will just come across as snide.

    • Kenneth P. says:

      OirishM – that was the exact thing that I was thinking at first, but there is plenty of self-help literature out there. I don’t think this article (or really any article without some intervention or an internal decision) is for that type of person. I thoroughly enjoyed this and feel it was written for more the ordinary Joe like me – someone who may be neither happy nor unhappy, and has some bad habits mixed in with the good ones. This just helps point out those bad ones with some snark, which is always appreciated in my book. :)

    • It’s not snide. It’s sarcasm. At least that’s how I took it.

  3. OH MY PLOTZ AND PLANETS. This used to be me. There but for the long and worthy climb, go I… Went I?

  4. Wow, I do so many of these! Funny.

  5. Yes and no. Some of these thought/behavior patterns are clearly pathological. Others might be, or they might be the epitome of spiritual/mental health.

    For example: For, resisting what is…and taking things seriously – I’ve got three letters for you: MLK.

    Or, if you prefer, two words: Gay rights.

    Or, two other words: American revolution.

    In fact, I would say that resisting what is and taking things seriously is at the heart of all authentic activism. Do we really want to trivialize activism in this way?

    Here’s a better recognition, in my view: Fire – whether we’re talking about physical fire or emotional fire – is neither a good thing, nor a bad thing. It’s just a thing.

    In the hands of a child or a pyromaniac, it’s a terrible and dangerous thing. In the hands of an intelligent cavement, it’s a good and worthy thing.

    Context, context, context makes all the difference.

    • JiggleBillE says:

      Be like the river, as opposed to the mountain. Also, seriousness is only a condition imposed by your own mind… If you can laugh at a thing, person or situation, it cannot hold any power (real or self-created) over your spirit. The way I see it, it opens doors to a more open world to exist in, it took me decades of suffering to realize that so don’t torture yourself too, right? K bye lol

      • MLK was serious enough to know he was going to die for the work he did. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, we’re not going to have much of a conversation.

    • Paul: One of my favorite books by James Hillman is: “We’ve Had 100 Years of Psychotherapy and Things Are Getting Worse.” I agree that activism comes from dissatisfaction with what is, and it’s crucial to improving the world. I also know a lot of burned-out activists who suffer from imbalance in their lives. I’ve pointed out 30 (okay, 28) ways that people can get imbalanced, out-of-whack, and suffer because they’re not seeing the big picture, not interacting with the world in a way that makes sense, not opening their lives to the natural joy within, and not being all they can be. Thanks for reminding us that dissatisfaction is just as important as acceptance in a life-well-lived.

      • Drunk in sufficient quantities, water is toxic and will kill you. Being seriously out of whack always has karmic repercussions, and burnout is always a potential problem for people who care about something greater than themselves.

        But let’s think critically when we make our listicles. “Resisting what is” and “being serious” are really more important than ever these days, as we enter the Anthropocene Age, and contemplate, for the very first time, not just our own individual demise, but the very possible demise of human civilization as we know it.

        Here’s a serious article on the subject from Sunday’s NY Times. Take a read:


        Even Bobby McFerrin can’t stand “Don’t worry, be happy”.

    • A key word in the word activism is “act”. Number 7 seems to describe people who give lip service but don’t actually do anything. Judging from your comments, sounds like a few of these hit close to home. It’s okay, we all get a little miserable sometimes :-)

  6. JiggleBillE says:

    I was drawn to your article by the implied agreement that you would provide 30 ways. Now you haven’t folliwed through with that agreement, and I can only assume you don’t care because I am not important to you as an audience. Waaaah, lol

  7. I LOVE THIS LIST. Uh, wait. I hate it. And I hate people. And cars. And trying to park. And… other stuff. (But seriously, thanks. You put every possible stink bomb I have every practiced in one list. Much to be learned here…)

  8. Green Marke says:

    Why are there only 28? I was expecting 30.
    Now I feel miserable.
    *points* It’s all your fault, article writer!

  9. “#7 Resist change: Undermine other people’s progress so you don’t get left behind….”

    Yup, yup…that’s a doozy…! I finally got into grad school and shared a locked box of equipment with my lab partner….when his phone number written on a scrap of paper fell out of my purse and was discovered by seemingly up- til- then “supportive” ex, he went ballistic…I got reprimanded for what seemed like an hour…he was afraid of me getting ahead….of learning something new….of making new friends…

    [Actually, he fits all the criteria above!]

  10. I love it, I love your sense of humour AND the truth in some of your points.
    Strange how some beliefs have taken over my behaviours as in #1.
    #5 has caused me loads of misery and how #10 has a grasp on me!
    As for the common every day of life’s bitching #17 has really shed light on my pompousness.
    Man, can I wallow in #18.
    I understand now as in #27 why solitude is my best friend!
    F**k, didn’t know I was so miserable, no wonder I have so many friends!!!

  11. I got a good chuckle out of this. I might know someone who would do well to learn these things on their own. I agree that this article won’t help someone in the “pits of this mindset,” but it’s still useful. If you know someone who fits this well, don’t send it to them. Anyone who displays many of these behaviors ultimately feels very unworthy. Having someone else tell them they fit this description will just reinforce their inadequate feelings. As the saying goes, you can’t change people, only they can change themselves.. or something like that.

  12. I don’t see what’s wrong with any of those positions.. you pretty much just laid out a realistic picture of the world and our individual places in it.

    Sure, delude yourself if you want too, do whatever it takes to make you “not miserable”.. I’m going to continue on the way I am.. and if by some miracle things actually improve, like, really actually in reality improve, rather than just me being happy with whatever scraps I get tossed.. then I might be a little less miserable. Until then, You go play in narnia, I’ll be in a real world. If you don’t want me to ruin narnia for you, don’t talk about narnia around me.

    • j: The funny thing about “realistic” is that it’s so malleable. Two people in the same circumstances can have to completely different experiences. So what’s realistic? When you look into it, you find that your beliefs act like filters in front of your eyes, and you see through those filters, so you only see the part of reality that can come through the filter. Different filter => different “reality.” (If you want to get technical, different belief => different experience of reality.) Consequently, ALL beliefs are self-verifying. Since you’re seeing through them, what you see reflects the filter’s interpretation, so your experience verifies your belief. How right you are! Strangely, the person next to you who’s having a completely different experience is ALSO getting verification for their beliefs, even though they’re opposite of yours.

      No one can tell you what to believe (enough people have done that in your life, right?), or what beliefs are right or wrong for you. In fact, beliefs aren’t right or wrong, good or bad. They’re just tools for experiencing the world. If you’re enjoying your beliefs, and the experiences you’re having, good for you! If you don’t like them, or would prefer to try something else, change a few of your beliefs and watch what happens. There’s a natural tendency for us to judge others’ beliefs that don’t fit with our reality (like calling them “Narnia” or “unrealistic”). Judgement is a belief that the other person has less value than we have. The resulting experience is separation from others, and loneliness. Is that an experience you’re enjoying?

      • of course I’m not “enjoying” it. But there’s nothing I can do about it, it’s simply how it is. Why would I change my beliefs? My beliefs are accurate, if I simply wanted to do something to numb the pain and make me not aware of how much the world sucks, I’d take Heroin it’s far more effective.

        As Sgt. Barnes put it in Platoon, “There’s the way it ought to be, and there’s the way it is.”

      • I agree. Recently I went to a career development conference, which was amazing, and really helped me plan where my career will go over the next 5-10 years.

        One male lab-mate came out of the same conference, convinced that the seminar showed that careers in science are impossible.

        Another female lab mate came out thinking that careers for women in science were impossible. Despite the fact that the keynote speaker at the conference was a woman, with 40 years of experience under her belt, and six of the ten other speakers were female….

        Did we all go to the same conference?

  13. refreshing to read. actually makes me feel good. ironic i should enjoy reading ways to be miserable.
    maybe i should add that to the list: 29. Enjoy being miserable.

  14. Thank God you finally illuminated me! I’ve been wondering how to accomplish all of this for eons. Finally a formula. You are a miracle worker!

    Always your student,

  15. This article was amazing. Maybe 30 can be notice the misery in others and scoff at it. Lol. Had to laugh at myself because I suffer from a few of these …which make me feel guilty…then I feel shame. I’m going to yell at the children playing outside of my window. That should cheer me up!

  16. Wonderful piece and unbelievably spot on. although i do disgree with no 14. having aspirational wants and desires are very healthy as long as we are grateful for what is while being in anticipation of what will come our way. There is nothing wrong with wanting. In fact it is the basis of all expansion in the Universe and why we are here – seeking your joy and following it whether that be more money, a relationship you aspire to etc etc etc but truly a wonderful article. every other point is amazing. I feel this article is the truth. had to be written, had to be shared. thankyou

  17. wonderful piece. it is the truth. had to be written, had to be shared. thankyou. no 14 is the only one i disagree with. Possessing aspirational wants and desires is actually very healthy. In fact following joy is the reason we are on this planet – to create expansion of the universe. Having aspirational goals and dreams whether it is to be more rich or achieve career goals/ a different lifestyle is natural and essential as long as we are satisfied with what we have along the way and realise it is a journey not a destination. We WILL get there if we believe it and take steps towards it. Wanting things is not good because it adds to our worth – it doesn’t. nothing can. It is important because we all owe it to ourselves to achieve our dreams. We we just need to be grateful and accept what is while being in anticipation of what will come our way. I visualise the life I want all the time and I am slowly but surely creating it by doing this. I visualised my health better too. You MUST imagine yourself in the life you dream of and then go get it. That’s what life is all about. otherwise every other word in this article is superb. Ingratitude for where you stand in relation to where you want to be is what makes you miserable and not trusting life will take you there. It’s not having the desires in the first place. cos all dreams are achievable. if you can think it, you can be and do it.


  1. […] right smack in the pants), I suggest you take some time to meander your way through this list:  30 Ways to Make Yourself Miserable (Along with Everyone Around You).  It will simultaneously make you chuckle and wake you right […]

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