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The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People - Page 4

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Don’t enjoy life’s pleasures. Taking pleasure in things like food, wine, music, and beauty is for flighty, shallow people. Tell yourself that. If you inadvertently find yourself enjoying some flavor, song, or work of art, remind yourself immediately that these are transitory pleasures, which can’t compensate for the miserable state of the world. The same applies to nature. If you accidentally find yourself enjoying a beautiful view, a walk on the beach, or a stroll through a forest, stop! Remind yourself that the world is full of poverty, illness, and devastation. The beauty of nature is a deception.

Exercise: Once a week, engage in an activity that’s supposed to be enjoyable, but do so while thinking about how pointless it is. In other words, concentrate on removing all sense of pleasure from the pleasurable activity.

Ruminate. 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. This will help you foster a pessimistic view of your life. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by any positive experience or influence. The point is to ensure that even minor upsets and difficulties appear huge and portentous.

You can ruminate on the problems of others or the world, but make them about you. Your child is sick? Ruminate on what a burden it is for you to take time off from work to care for her. Your spouse is hurt by your behavior? Focus on how terrible it makes you feel when he points out how you make him feel. By ruminating not only on your own problems but also those of others, you’ll come across as a deep, sensitive thinker who holds the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair and seek out negative feelings, like anger, depression, anxiety, boredom, whatever. Concentrate on these feelings for 15 minutes. During the rest of the day, keep them in the back of your mind, no matter what you’re doing.

Glorify or vilify the past. Glorifying the past is telling yourself how good, happy, fortunate, and worthwhile life was when you were a child, a young person, or a newly married person—and regretting how it’s all been downhill ever since. When you were young, for example, you were glamorous and danced the samba with handsome men on the beach at twilight; and now you’re in a so-so marriage to an insurance adjuster in Topeka. You should’ve married tall, dark Antonio. You should’ve invested in Microsoft when you had the chance. In short, focus on what you could’ve and should’ve done, instead of what you did. This will surely make you miserable.

Vilifying the past is easy, too. You were born in the wrong place at the wrong time, you never got what you needed, you felt you were discriminated against, you never got to go to summer camp. How can you possibly be happy when you had such a lousy background? It’s important to think that bad memories, serious mistakes, and traumatic events were much more influential in forming you and your future than good memories, successes, and happy events. Focus on bad times. Obsess about them. Treasure them. This will ensure that, no matter what’s happening in the present, you won’t be happy.

Exercise: Make a list of your most important bad memories and keep it where you can review it frequently. Once a week, tell someone about your horrible childhood or how much better your life was 20 years ago.

Find a romantic partner to reform. Make sure that you fall in love with someone with a major defect (cat hoarder, gambler, alcoholic, womanizer, sociopath), and set out to reform him or her, regardless of whether he or she wants to be reformed. Believe firmly that you can reform this person, and ignore all evidence to the contrary.

Exercise: Go to online dating sites and see how many bad choices you can find in one afternoon. Make efforts to meet these people. It’s good if the dating site charges a lot of money, since this means you’ll be emotionally starved and poor.

Be critical. Make sure to have an endless list of dislikes and voice them often, whether or not your opinion is solicited. For example, don’t hesitate to say, “That’s what you chose to wear this morning?” or “Why is your voice so shrill?” If someone is eating eggs, tell them you don’t like eggs. Your negativity can be applied to almost anything.

It helps if the things you criticize are well liked by most people so that your dislike of them sets you apart. Disliking traffic and mosquitos isn’t creative enough: everyone knows what it’s like to find these things annoying, and they won’t pay much attention if you find them annoying, too. But disliking the new movie that all your friends are praising? You’ll find plenty of opportunities to counter your friends’ glowing reviews with your contrarian opinion.

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8 comments

  • Comment Link Saturday, 29 March 2014 13:56 posted by Dee Dunn

    Vitriolic. Hmmmm...Is there a DSM-V code for that?

  • Comment Link Monday, 18 November 2013 09:20 posted by Frankie Wall II

    Wow, what can one one say about such an ignorant, unempathetic, victim blaming author. Cloe views "miserable people" (of which I am one - treatment refractory dysthymia with recurrent major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, primary insomnia; I am on disability because of these illnesses) as people who want to, and go out of their way to be miserable. I find this highly offensive as well as breathtakingly stupid. It's just one display of her ignorance. No one wants to be miserable. That assertion by Cloe says more about her than anyone else. She comes across as a jaded, cynical burnout, full of disdain for "miserable people" who just will not stop being miserable (by her account). One of her most bizarre assertions is that "miserable people," who are poorly defined, are selfish with narcissistic tendencies. Strange that I don't know many miserable people who fit this mold and I met a lot of miserable people in the 18 years I worked for a mental health agency, mostly with schizophrenics (who, I suppose, make themselves delusional and cause their own hallucinations...such is the "logic" of Cloe Madanes).

    Some of her "strategies" are actual symptoms of mental illnesses and they are most certainly not chosen by those suffering from them. Number 10 for instance is a symptom of depression known as anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure. No one goes out of their way to not enjoy themselves. In fact, I find myself fighting this symptom on a regular basis. It is torturous and I daresay one of the most debilitating symptoms of depression. It affects motivation, energy, and ones social life (if nothing is pleasurable why bother spending what little energy you have on pursuing it). Many of her other "strategies" are also symptoms of depression, as well as anxiety disorders.

    Overall, I have to say that Cloe is a hateful, bitter individual severely lacking in compassion. If she really is therapist, she needs to retire and start a support group for former therapists who also hate the clients they treated. I can imagine a suicidal person being pushed over the edge by this article. I can't imagine Cloe ever being or having been an effective therapist. And I find it obscene that someone actually posted this garbage for mass consumption. This piece belongs in Cloe's own personal journal where she can blow off steam, not out there where anyone can read it; there are people who suffer from chronic incurable (as they all are) mental illnesses, who are going to feel worse thanks to this petty, pathetic article written form the point of view of a spoiled child, a child who screeches "Why can't people just be happy?! They're being unhappy on purpose! Just to make me mad!" Oh wait, that sounds awfully similar to those "miserable people" Cloe so despises. Is this an article about hating herself and, well, everyone else who has ever been miserable on purpose (I mean, c'mon, that's the only way anyone could ever be miserable: by choice! Amirite?) Mental illness does not exist, especially not depression and nothing bad ever happens to people that isn't their fault. Grieving people obviously killed those they're grieving for just to be miserable and to make Cloe feel mild to moderate discomfort, i.e., torture.

    Read the comments on the AlterNet posting of this article. It made a lot of people feel miserable. It also brought the know-nothing know-it-all sadists who could "relate" to this article out of the woodwork to further shame the "miserable people."

    Cloe - if you have any sense of decency, you'll post a clarification about this article saying you didn't mean to offend anyone and are very sorry if you exacerbated the symptoms of anyone suffering from any mental illnesses. You will also admit to being insensitive and thoughtless. Maybe you can repair some of the damage you've done. If you actually care to.

    AlterNet comments: http://www.alternet.org/comments/personal-health/14-habits-highly-miserable-people#disqus_thread

  • Comment Link Sunday, 17 November 2013 20:28 posted by Marilyn Scholze

    This was the most judgmental article I have ever seen in this magazine. There was no compassion for where people's self defeating habits come from or the pain they cause. Yes, people have patterns that are self defeating, cause misery to others and are annoying or cause others to reject them. I first read this article on Alternet and was shocked to finish it and discover it was written by a world famous family therapist, not an ordinary writer doing a rant. If patterns and self destructive behavior could be willed away by ourselves, or by shaming and shunning from others, there would be no need for our profession. I am truly shocked that this article made the cut to be in the magazine which I have subscribed to and read for many years. Many people are terrified by the vulnerability of being hopeful and optimistic, and shaming them is not the way to release these old patterns. This article seemed like below the belt hits to annoying people, who in all likelihood were traumatized or raised by parents who were.

    The email below is not current. I changed it on my profile today, but if a reply was made to it it would not got through. I'm not sure why it would not allow me to self correct it.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 17 November 2013 14:09 posted by CHRISTINE ALLISON

    The article does lay bare some of the behaviors truly miserable people engage in, which I appreciate,. But, it also makes me wonder about the author's level of burnout... I read the first part of the article and then decided to log-on to see what others are saying. It is certainly a thought-provoking article. I hope others will comment with their thoughts and reactions!

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 06 November 2013 18:42 posted by Chris Williams

    What a surprisingly mean-spirited article! I understand it's meant to be ironic, but how does that tone help anyone? If the author wishes to claim that anxious and depressed people are actively choosing to be in those mental states, then it would be far more becoming to say so directly. As written, the article is a passive-aggressive accusation, far more likely to offend the people to whom it's ostensibly addressed than to make them stop and amend their ways. Commiserating about frustrating client behavior has its place-- addressing those clients with such disrespect perhaps also has its place, but maybe just not here.