Lion Goodman shares the secret techniques to suffering.
I‘ve spent most of my life making myself unhappy, and I learned long ago that I could share my misery with others. In writing this article, I didn’t rely on my own expertise alone. I interviewed hundreds of miserable people, and asked them to share the secrets and techniques they used to create so much suffering.
This is a compilation of the top 30 ways to make yourself miserable (along with everyone around you). It’s a well-known fact that “Misery loves company.” Why hoard your suffering when it is so easy to share with others? Many people have made their families miserable. Some have succeeded in making their neighborhood miserable. There are historical records documenting experts who brought misery to entire civilizations. We can use these glorious accomplishments to compare ourselves to, which will allow us to feel incapable, miniscule, or completely unworthy (This is Technique 11, detailed below).
Thousands of self-help books try to convince us we can be happy. But why bother? Happy people are universally disliked for their cheery, Pollyanna sunshine attitudes and their smug smiles. If you want to belong, be like other people. Be unhappy, and you’ll never be alone.
Happy people offer us crummy advice. They suggest that we see a therapist, meditate, or practice yoga. They tell us that we could become just like them. They promise wealth, great relationships, and terrific sex if we follow their cult-like behavior. To hell with that! I love being miserable! It’s much easier than struggling against it. I practice my path with equal diligence, and I’m always looking for new ways to master this craft. Don’t lose your sharp edge to those happy-faces.There’s nothing worse than dull-edged misery.
There are hundreds of techniques for making yourself miserable. I’ve chosen only the best. Many will be familiar to you, because you’re probably using some of them already. The old standards, such as Be Right and Make Others Wrong, have been used successfully for millennia, but it’s easy to take them for granted just because they’re so well known. I’ve researched the most effective methods, whether old or new, because when it comes to misery, technique really counts. And so does practice.
Here are The Top 30 Ways to Make Yourself Miserable, in no particular order. (Why should I bother putting them in any particular order? You don’t really care about the order I put them in anyway.):
- Practice the Essential 10 Beliefs. As often as you can, believe: 1) Something is wrong here; 2) There’s something wrong with me; 3) Something’s wrong with you/him/her/it; 4) I’m not good enough; 5) You’re/she’s/he’s/it’s not good enough); 6) I don’t have enough; 7) There isn’t enough; 8) I am alone; 9) I don’t belong; 10) Nobody loves me; 11) I don’t know how to love. Okay, 11. Who cares?
- Be ashamed. “Original Sin” was a splendid idea for creating misery. Believing that you have a built-in flaw – which only someone else can absolve you of – is a sure-fire way to be miserable. [Whereas guilt is about what you did (see below), shame is about who you are.] You’re flawed, unworthy, undeserving. You’re so broken that you don’t deserve to be alive! You’re taking up valuable space and resources. You should be ashamed of yourself.
- Feel guilty. There are plenty of things you should feel guilty about. Take almost any action, judge it as wrong or bad, then feel guilty about it. Here’s a good one: making a mistake. Or hurting someone. Or hurting animals or plants when you eat them. Or any natural impulse. Or not doing something you should do. [If you decide that most of your behaviors are no-no’s, you can literally wallow in guilt. In addition, this makes you easier to control by others, which you can then resist or resent.]
- Don’t keep your agreements. No one else does, so why should you? They’re not that important anyway. Neither is the person you made a promise to.
- Be right. Righteousness is one of the old classics for spreading misery around. It has a tendency to make you feel better temporarily, but then doubt creeps in. Maybe you aren’t right after all! If you get really righteous, you can enjoy torturing and killing non-believers that are wrong, then feel guilty later.
- Verminize others. Choose a specific class of people, and treat them like vermin (which have to be exterminated). Pick any group. For example: communists, terrorists, capitalists, industrialists, Mexicans, gays, Christians, Americans, young people, etc. There’s a never-ending supply of social, ethnic, and class distinctions you can use for this purpose. View them as inferior scum. Offer looks of horror when they cross your path. Treat them as if they were carrying the plague.
- Resist change. Put your foot on the brakes in any attempt to move forward. Undermine other people’s progress so you don’t get left behind. Since everything changes eventually, you will be provided with an enormous supply of things to resist. Remember: resistance causes friction, and friction causes heat!
- Resist what is. Dislike whatever is happening at this moment. (Disapproval is also good, because it adds a sense of superiority.) Let it eat at you because it’s not what you wanted. Wish it would change or go away. Focus on what’s wrong, imperfect, or could be better. Think about the fact that if it were different, you could be happy, then recognize that it will never be different. Complain loudly to anyone who will listen. If no one listens, complain to God or to invisible people.
- Exert control. Whatever you’re involved in, do your best to control the outcome so it comes out the way you want it to be. Then, notice that the actual outcome is not sufficient, or is plain wrong. Attempt to assert even more control. Next, attempt to change or control others’ behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Even when it works, it’s rarely satisfying, and it usually doesn’t work at all, providing many opportunities for unhappiness.
- Judge others. A classic. See others as inferior, inadequate, stupid or unpleasant. While judging, scowl, frown, and grump. Make others wrong for their values, behaviors, beliefs, actions, smells, etc. Show scorn when listening to others, and express your disdain through subtle words and critical tones of voice. Feel superior and inform others that they are inferior. Or, alternatively, keep it to yourself and gloat: “If they only knew how stupid they were…”
- Compare yourself to others. Look around, and choose people that are better than you in any category. Pick the most beautiful, thin, successful, talented, rich people you can find, and focus on what you’re missing, or how inadequate you are. Recognize that no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be as good as they are. This will give you more evidence for the 10 Essential Beliefs (1), shame (2), and guilt (3).
- Blame others. Everything that’s bad can be blamed on someone else. Point to the nearest person and identify their flaws that caused it. Sources are abundant. Point to the government as the problem, or the educational system, or the banks, or the Jews, or the Muslims, or religion, or media, or… whatever. Find a scapegoat and make good use of them. (Extra points for spreading gossip or causing violent riots against them.)
- Take things seriously. Very seriously. Very, very seriously. My God, do you know how serious it is? It’s very serious. Seriously. Wipe that smirk off your face!
- Have lots of wants and desires. Want more of something, or less of something. Since our wants are rarely fulfilled, there’s a very good chance you can be unhappy forever. Read fancy magazines that display expensive watches you can’t afford, places you can’t go, cars you can’t drive, and people you’ll never associate with. Imagine having the life you don’t have, then realize you’ll probably never have it. Enjoy the suffering thus created.
- Have lots of aversions and repulsions. There is plenty to be disgusted about, if you look around. Other people’s uncouth behavior. Other people’s habits. Your own habits. The way some people live. Unusual foods from foreign countries. People from foreign countries. Violence in movies. The people that make that crap. Sex in all of its forms, especially the aberrant ones. Visit porn sites and find out how many disgusting things people actually do in front of a camera. It’s shocking.
- Have attachments. Get really attached to something or someone, and hold on tight. Since everything is eventually lost to us, you can also worry about when it will be taken away from you.
- Take things personally. Whatever happens, take it as a personal insult to your good name. Ask huffily, “Don’t you know who I am?” The key to optimizing this feeling is self-importance. The more self-important you feel, the easier it is to be insulted. Recognize your importance to the world and the future of human civilization. You’re God’s gift, for God’s sake! And those jerks aren’t treating you the way you deserve to be treated. How dare they!
- Live in the past. Compare what’s happening today to the good old days when things were better. Ignore what is happening around you and focus on some other time or place when it was all okay. Notice what’s gotten worse over time, which is pretty much everything.
- Find something or someone to obsess about. Anything or anyone will do. Just think about them over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over…
- Keep yourself distant. Pull back from interactions with others. Become a mere observer (which allows you to detect their flaws more easily), or judge them silently (see #10). Become unapproachable. It helps to dislike children, animals, and people in general. You’re better off alone anyway. Who needs other people? If you allowed them to get close, they’d probably just disappoint you, or hurt you. Build an energetic wall around you – it’s much safer. [Bonus points for treating others as objects for your personal use and aggrandizement.]
- Avoid art and nature. There are many places that are dangerous to unhappiness, and we recommend that you avoid them: museums, concerts, artistic performances, dances, parks, nature preserves, beaches, or anywhere that children play. Avoid beauty. Yuck.
- Become what others want. Find out what others want you to be, and turn yourself into that. Change who you are and how you act. Comply with their requests. Support and serve them without considering yourself. Then resent the hell out of it.
- Have high expectations. When they’re not fulfilled, complain and make a fuss. Use the evidence of not getting it to prove that you don’t deserve it anyway.
- Hide the truth. They couldn’t handle it anyway, and it wouldn’t do any good. Keep your feelings hidden so no one knows who you really are. Keep your needs hidden so they can’t possibly be fulfilled. Keep secrets, because secrets separate you from others. What if they found out? (Of course, sometimes you’ll want to reveal a secret in order to make someone else miserable.)
- Be suspicious. Those other people are probably criminals, or worse. They might be plotting to take over, and take your share. Even though misery might look plentiful, there’s a limit to how much miserable-ness there can be in the world. So if they’re too miserable, you’ll run out of suffering and have to be happy. Watch out for them.
- Disagree violently. If someone expresses an opinion, states a fact, or shares their belief, react violently with a contrary opinion and disdain. “You idiot! You don’t know what you’re talking about! What’s wrong with you! Aren’t you aware of the research report that PROVED your proposition to be completely WRONG?” Cite facts, whether they’re real or not. The point here is to shut down anyone who thinks they know what they’re talking about, and embarrassing them back into the hole they crawled out of.
- Be easily bothered. Expand your sensitivities and increase you dislikes, especially to noise, other people talking, automobile traffic, airports, smells, weather, and children. Look down your nose, and get really bent out of shape if anything or anyone invades your space. Practice hate. It really ups your game.
- Have no goals. Allow circumstances to push you around and pull you into situations you didn’t want to be in. Then resent the fact that you haven’t accomplished anything.
Well, that’s it. The Top 30 Ways to Make Yourself Miserable. Okay, 28, but “Top 28” didn’t sound as good. You probably wouldn’t have read the article if it had been “28 Ways to Make Yourself Miserable.” You probably didn’t even like the article. Which makes me feel bad. I’m now going to pretend that I don’t feel bad so you can’t hurt me.
I certainly hope that this list has proven useful, and I look forward to hearing of your successes as you share your misery with those around you.
This post has been republished on Medium.