Ah, holiday time: it's easy to be stressed. The traffic is frightful. The drivers are distracted. The stores are jam-packed. The time goes too fast and is never enough to complete all that needs to be completed. Demands are high: gatherings, shopping, baking, scrubbing, entertaining and just plain ... coping.
As if that isn't enough, here are some other key ways to be miserable (with just one caveat: remember that you do have a choice).
- Focus on the negative. Ignore anything that reeks of positivity. If you think negative thoughts, they grow and grow until they become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and soon enough you'll be as miserable as you want.
- Be a loner. Aristotle said that without friendship, no happiness is possible. What did he possibly know? Probably not much more than a more modern-day study, which found that friendship has as much impact on the risk of death as smoking, drinking, physical activity or obesity.
- Forget any sort of exercise. Just because it's been associated with improved mental well-being and a lower incidence of depression, is it really worth the effort and sweat?
- Be stingy. In analyzing data from scientific papers, scientists have found that people who volunteer had a 20 percent lower risk of death than non-volunteers, plus lower levels of depression, increased satisfaction with life and enhanced well-being. That's an awful lot to live up to, don't you think?
- Rather than appreciate what you have, yearn for what you don't. Being miserable depends on focusing on the negative.
- Hole up in your house. You can join the more than 140,000 Americans surveyed by Gallup-Healthways, who found that the individuals who report being alone all day perform the poorest on the Happiness-Stress index.
- Do not, under any circumstances, laugh. A recent New York Times article cited a British medical journal that describes the act of laughing as potentially harmful: it can dislocate jaws, prompt asthma attacks and even cause headaches and make hernias protrude. And much more.
Stay tuned next week for part two. And, please, in the meantime, feel free to add your own personal tips for being miserable!
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