8 Fun Ways to Make Yourself Completely Miserable

By Marilynn Preston

November 28, 2017 6 min read

A smiling and enthusiastic fan of the column introduced herself to me the other day in Sarasota, Florida, waving a golden oldie from several years ago. "I loved this one so much, I still have it," she said, "and I made copies to send to my entire family."

Sending columns to loved ones can be risky (who likes to be reminded of their imperfections?), but Harriett survived. She also inspired me to revisit the subject, because making yourself miserable never goes out of style.

We all do it, until one day we decide to stop, and that's the intention of master family therapist, Cloe Madanes, whose books have been translated into over 20 languages.

Her guide to "honing your misery skills" presents simple practices you can use to make your life duller and drearier. Why be happy when you can choose to be pitied? Cool.

"When you're miserable, people feel sorry for you," coach Cloe explains. "Not only that, they often feel obscurely guilty, as if your misery might somehow be their fault. This is good!"

Ready to give up on happiness and start feeling your worst?

1. RUMINATE. This has nothing to do with cows. To ruminate is to spend a great deal of time focused on yourself.

"Worry constantly about the causes of your behavior, analyze your defects, and chew on your problems," counsels Madanes. "This will help you foster a pessimistic view of life. ... The point is to ensure that even minor upsets and difficulties appear huge and portentous."

2. PRACTICE SUSTAINED BOREDOM. Complain a lot about how bored you are. Keep repeating how everything in life is predictable and unexciting. Tell everyone you know so they'll feel they're part of the problem.

"Consider provoking a crisis to relieve your boredom," Madanes suggests. Quit your job. Have an affair. Go on shopping sprees. Or my personal favorite, start meaningless fights with your partner, boss, children and friends. Your level of misery is guaranteed to skyrocket.

3. BLAME YOUR PARENTS. "Blaming your parents for your defects, shortcomings, and failures is among the most important steps you can take," Madanes advises. "Your parents made you who you are today; you had nothing to do with it. If you happen to have any good qualities or successes, don't give your parents credit. Those are flukes."

4. DON'T ENJOY LIFE'S PLEASURES. Take no pleasure in things such as music, food, wine, theater and beauty. Those are for boring, flighty, shallow people. If you unexpectedly find yourself admiring a sunset, playing with a puppy or enjoying a walk on the beach, stop!

Remind yourself that these are what Madanes calls "transitory pleasures." They can't compensate for the misery, suffering, poverty and illness that we find all over the world.

If you can see the beauty of nature as a total deception — what's so special about a sunrise? — you are well on your way to making your life more miserable.

5. BE CRITICAL. Develop an endless list of dislikes, and voice them often. Be creative. Everyone dislikes traffic and mosquitos. Find new ways to be contrarian and set yourself apart from others. Your negativity can be applied to almost anything. Even Obamacare.

6. AVOID GRATITUDE. "Research shows that people who express gratitude are happier than those who don't," explains Madanes. "So never express gratitude. Counting your blessings is for idiots. What blessings? Life is suffering, and then you die."

7. GIVE YOURSELF A NEGATIVE IDENTITY. Make your condition the focus of your life. If you're depressed, become a Depressed Person. If you suffer from social anxiety, read up on all the symptoms so you can speak about them endlessly.

"Practice putting yourself in the physiological state that represents your negative identity," counsels Madanes. If your negative identity is as a Depressed Person, hunch your shoulders, stare at the floor and breathe shallowly. Never smile. You want to keep your body as depressed as you are.

8. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT ONLY FOR PERSONAL GAIN. Sometimes you may be tempted to help someone or contribute to a charity. Resist! Don't do it unless there's something in it for you.

"Remember," says Madanes. "Your primary goal is to take care of Numero Uno, even though you hate yourself."

So there it is. Eight easy steps to making yourself the party pooper no one wants to be around. Happy holidays.

ENERGY EXPRESS-O! HOW GREAT IS THIS?

"Oh! Most miserable wretch that I am! Why have I not learnt how to swim?" — Alexander the Great

Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.

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