The Unhappiness Rules
Most of us want to be happy, and the recipes for achieving this state are endless. I don’t know if they all work, but I do know how to make yourself unhappy. if you really work at it and follow ALL the rules below, you too can be excessively unhappy. Read on and see if you have mastered any of these.
Compare yourself to other people.
Many, if not most of us, have been raised in an environment where we determine our worth by looking at the lives, the accomplishments, and possessions of other people. We have an old saying “ keeping up with the Joneses” which points out this is not a new phenomenon. However, it does seem a little more difficult in current times to avoid comparisons when our lives are surrounded by competition. Now personally I love competition. I'm one of the most competitive people I know. But when competition invades every aspect of our lives and we are constantly surrounded by people who are better than we are because whether we compete in athletic events, musical events, intellectual events, being the best mom, or the best worker. If we determine our worth by seeing how we measure up to others, the unfortunate truth is that we will always come up short. There is always somebody faster, stronger, more musical or artistic than we are. Even if we are the best of the world at something, we grow older and our place is taken inevitably by those who are younger.
Always try to be perfect in everything that you do.
A sure-fire way to be unhappy is to never be satisfied with ourselves or with anything that we do unless it is perfect. Of course, perfect may be impossible but that doesn't stop those who are really determined to be unhappy. These folks start out as kids who comes home from school and say “Look, mom, look dad, I got 95% on my math test.” Whereupon mom or dad replied, “What happened to the other 5%?” As adult they continually chase the elusive 5%.
Spend time with people who talk about you behind your back, criticize you and treat you badly.
I remember a client one time told me about her so-called friends. They let her down, gossiped behind her back, made fun of her, and generally seemed to be a rotten bunch of people. I mentioned these so called friends seemed to exhibit most of the qualities of enemies and asked her why she spent time with them. She looked at me, completely baffled, and said, “But they're my friends” How do you feel after spending time with your “friends.”
Set unrealistic goals.
We are a society, it seems, that focuses on goal achievement. This is certainly true in the business world where people are required to set performance goals, meet them, and hopefully exceed them. We pass on this attitude to our children and encourage them to set high goals and look to their future and future jobs that will pay well and be satisfying. If you don't achieve these goals, then you are deemed a failure. And when you do achieve them? Set higher, more lofty goals of course.
Expect that your life should be free of trouble, problems, and disappointments.
“Why did this happen to me? It's not fair.” We often hear this from others or may have said it from time to time to ourselves. I have often thought that I have been quite lucky the life isn't fair. I live in the best country in the world at a time for women that is better for us than in any other century. And this clearly is not fair. I have done nothing to have been afforded this privilege. I could have been born in ancient China and died with millions of others constructing the Great Wall. I could have been born in Africa and died in childbirth long before any modern medicine was invented. I could have lived in ancient Egypt and slaved building the pyramids. Nope life isn't fair. And I'm rather happy it isn't.
Catastrophize everything that happens to you.
“This is the worst day ever. If I don't get that job I'm going to die. If I don't pass that exam my parents will kill me”. Really? Exaggerating unknown (and unlikely) but potentially horrific consequences will glue this to our thinking patterns. The most trivial of faults, failures, or missteps will result in psychological collapse.
Spend excessive amount of time worrying about what other people think of you.
I understand that this may be new information to some, but actually, other people don’t spend much time thinking about you at all. Trying to make ourselves into something that everyone else will like, approve of, or appreciate just ain’t gonna happen. So, if you want to continue to be unhappy, make sure you follow this unhappiness rule.
Hold on to and nurture old grievances.
There are days when I can’t remember what I had for supper last weekend, but I can sure remember the unkind comment someone made about me 25 years ago at the Christmas party. Why do we remember things like this and not the former? One reason is because we keep recalling it along with the emotion we felt at the time. We remember and we think of all the brilliant replies we could have given. We remember and we feel X all over again. We remember and we recreate the scene in our memory right down to the colour of nail polish she was wearing. We remember, and remember, and remember, and never let go.
There! Pretty easy to be unhappy, right? But if you want to check and see if you are filling your unhappiness quotient, here is a simple test. Ask three people – your partner if you have one or a relative who knows you; your kids, if you have any, or a niece or nephew who knows you; a friend who will give you a honest answer, this question: “In general, do you think that I am a happy or an unhappy person?”