There is a lot of information out there about how to be happy -- how to be more successful, how to find inner peace, how to squeeze more joy and satisfaction out of life, and so on.
But suppose you have given up on life for some reason, or simply enjoy being miserable and want to keep it that way -- where can you turn for help and advice?
For the benefit of anyone in the latter category I offer my simple, proven, 10-step program guaranteed to bring greater unhappiness and pain into any life.
Never be still
1. Never, never be still. Keep yourself busy and distracted at all times. You have to realize that stillness is your number one enemy, because if you give it half a chance it will open a door to undreamed-of joy and bliss. I don't care if this is a conscious realization or an unconscious one -- just as long as you refuse to be still under any circumstance.
My advice? Do whatever it takes. Go on a trip. Buy a new scarf. Get a new car. Get a new husband or wife. Get rid of your present husband or wife. And so on and so forth.
Never question your beliefs
2. Never, never, NEVER question any of your beliefs or prejudices. This can be very dangerous, because it may open your mind to a new sense of the limitless beauty and potential of life. In fact, the more I think about this step, the more I realize that it is just as important as the first step. In any case, just realize that if you dare to question any of your beliefs in this time of rapid change and transformation it may have creative consequences -- the very result you are trying to avoid.
Stay away from dogs
3. Be very careful to have no contact whatsoever with animals, particularly dogs. This is a big mistake that many misery lovers frequently make. Dogs, you see -- and many other animals, not to mention birds and trees and whatnot -- can make us happy without saying a word. I'm just warning you in the strongest possible terms -- stay away from dogs.
Watch out for babies
4. The above also applies to babies. It's true that babies can sometimes make a person irritated or angry. But it's a well-known fact that a baby can change our mood for the better in an instant -- even more effectively than dogs can. Babies are a special problem deserving of a fuller treatment than is possible to me in this brief post.
A mantra you must repeat every day
5. At the beginning of every day, repeat this mantra three times. It's most effective when spoken aloud, but if circumstances prevent that, it is still effective when you merely repeat the words in your head. Say to yourself, with as much conviction as possible: “This is going to be a terrible day. I know it's going to be a terrible day."
6. At the end of the day, take a moment to look back and congratulate yourself how well your prediction proved true.
A personal experience of stillness
7. I'm running out of ideas here for the moment, so I'm going to return to step one concerning stillness. I’d like to share a personal experience that happened many years ago when as a young fellow in my early 20s I first met my mentor.
This was in Vancouver, British Columbia. I had been very restless and confused, traveling the world in search of the truth of life. But the moment I met my mentor -- before either of us spoke a word -- I felt enfolded in such stillness and peace that it was like coming home. A seed took root that has persisted and grown through various traumas and disappointments to this very day.
Remember -- you are better than anyone else
8. Make it a guiding principle in your life that you are a little bit better than anyone else. Remind yourself of this every day. Supermarkets are a good place to practise. Subways are equally good.
This is the surest way to maintain a gnawing sense of unhappiness and loneliness that I know of.
Be careful what books you read
9. Be very careful what books you read. Read only books that support your views. By the same token, carefully censor what TV talk-show hosts you watch, what radio stations you listen to, and so on.
10. Finally, if you really want to remain enmeshed in the bottomless pit of unhappiness and despair never allow that ridiculous notion called "Hope" to take root in your heart. It could be VERY dangerous -- if not fatal.
Good luck in your quest to be unhappy.
PS. On a more serious note, I'd like to let you know that JoAnn and I are in the closing stages of (we hope) moving into a new home in Denver and I'm not sure when I'll be able to get a post out during the next couple of weeks. By early June, God willing, we should be nicely settled, and I will be picking my blog up again in earnest.