The Christmas rush may be over, but before us looms a new year, and with that comes—what else?—resolutions. Most of us look for ways to improve our lives and get a fresh start at the new year, but if you prefer to revel in your misery, you may make some unhealthy resolutions.
Perhaps you read my last post, 7 Easy Ways to Be Miserable, Part 1.
If, among your resolutions, are some to be more miserable, what could be better than this post, which will give you even more to choose from?
- Hole up in your house. It's sort of a win-win for the truly miserable. 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, and you can be miserable in the comfort of your own home.
- Be a people-pleaser. Learning to say "no" is overrated anyway. Saying "yes" when you really mean—or should say—"no" can leave you resentful and overwhelmed. Perfect.
- Don't smile. It's a fact that most people feel whatever emotions they're acting at the moment, so the mere act of smiling will make you feel happy. And then, since it's contagious, you'll make people around you feel better, too. Not a good thing for your misery index.
- Don't practice gratitude. Just because research finds people who keep a daily gratitude journal are happier people, why try so hard? Writing down a few sentences each night before you go to sleep can interfere with being miserable, so use the journal instead for something else, like your daily to-do list.
- Don't live in the moment. Spending time on what happened in the past and what might happen in the future will keep your mind very, very busy with an adequate mixture of worry and anxiety.
- Stick to the same-old, same-old routine activities. Don't try new things. When psychologist Rich Walker of Winston-Salem State University examined tens of thousands of event memories in over 500 diaries, he found that people who had a variety of experiences were more positive and had less negative emotions than people who had fewer experiences. Shun all new experiences and you're guaranteed to be under-stimulated and, ultimately, more miserable.
- Forget pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Ignore the wise words of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who said, "The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen."
- Don't ask yourself, "How can I be happier?" It might just not be worth the effort. Face it: happy people understand that their happiness relies on them and take responsibility for their moods, thoughts, attitudes and actions. If you give up on happiness and resign yourself to the belief that life has no meaning, you're bound to succeed at being miserable.
- Forget rituals. If you decide to go on a date with your spouse each Friday, or work out three times a week or watch two movies a month, how will you have time for anything else? Planning ahead and making room in your calendar for pleasantries is a waste of time.
- Stay away from healthy, balanced meals. Caution: Improved mood and alertness can come from foods that contain a mix of complex carbohydrates and proteins, like toast with peanut butter. And why wash that down with some coffee or black tea, just because research finds it can elevate your mood and mental sharpness?