There are a lot of happy people in the world today. Sure, we all have difficulties now and then, but for the most part we live at a time when we have more opportunity, greater personal safety and a longer life expectancy than any time in history. So many of us have the potential to be quite happy.
This is a big problem for advertisers and companies marketing products at us that we don't really need. Most advertising targets areas of dissatisfaction in our lives, suggesting that we fill the void or distract ourselves from our pain by purchasing products of little intrinsic value. The happier we are, the harder advertisers have to work to convince us that we need that new car, can of cola, or aftershave in order to attract the people we want into our lives. And major pharmaceutical manufacturers would go out of business if we all felt happy and didn't need to rely on the latest round of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications. Wealthy shareholders are suffering as a result.
To help address these problems, here are my tips on How to be Unhappy:
Take Everyone And Everything For Granted
Try to overlook all the good things that you have in your life, and take them for granted. Especially the people who love you, like your parents, siblings, partner, children, cousins, relatives, friends and lovers. Pretend that their love really doesn't matter and that what you really need in order to be happy is the love of some complete stranger who doesn't give a damn about you.
Under no circumstances should you allow yourself to feel, express or show gratitude for anyone or anything that is in your life. Remind yourself of everything that you feel you lack, rather than feeling any appreciation for the good things in your life. Practise the feelings of neediness and desperation on a daily basis.
Isolate Yourself Physically And Emotionally
Try to stay as emotionally detached from your fellow human beings as possible. Start with physical isolation wherever possible. Don't talk to people who live close to you, especially not your neighbours. Pretend that you are an island who can exist without the company of other people and spend as much time as you can disconnected from the rest of humanity. Fill your head with Internet porn, or pretend to be connected to others via Facebook or Twitter without having to experience the joy of their actual company.
When your loneliness unavoidably forces you to commune with other people, remain emotionally isolated by withholding your feelings. Never allow anyone else's feelings to affect you either. Especially ensure you never allow anyone else to love you. When love does come your way, just don't let it in. This will ensure that your feelings of bitterness and resentment grow to the point where you can no longer withhold them, and you'll find yourself spontaneously repelling other people. At this point, further emotional isolation will become automatic.
Shut Yourself Down Emotionally
In order to maximise your personal unhappiness, it's imperative that you shut down and internalise your emotions as much as possible. Learning to withhold emotionally from other people is just the first step. Ideally you want to push all your emotions down as far as possible so that you feel as numb as possible. Use the presence of unpleasant emotions to justify bottling up everything, especially happiness, peace and joy. Adopt an analytical career so you can be divorced from your feelings consistently for at least 8 hours a day. Then keep chasing the next high while building a pressure-cooker of repressed feelings on the boil at all times.
Lead by example and teach the rest of your family and friends to bottle up their feelings too. This will allow the people around you to become unhappy, which will help support your own feelings of unhappiness. Do whatever it takes to avoid expressing your true feelings to other people. Always keep your emotions to yourself. This will allow feelings of boredom, listlessness, restlessness and anxiety to fester deep within you, providing the rich market that antidepressant manufacturers are relying on for their well-being. Avoid natural feel-good activities like exercise, socialising and having fun. Ask the government to help pitch in and fund your misery.
Blame Everyone Else
Make yourself a victim and a martyr for the cause. Under no circumstances should you alter your lifestyle or take responsibility for your own unhappiness. Always find someone else to blame for your problems. Fill your head with fear, uncertainty and doubt. Current affairs programs are a rich source of fear, uncertainty and doubt; so watch them religiously.
No matter what bad things happen to you, always find someone else to blame. Allow yourself to indulge in a deep sense of self-righteousness in order to avoid any feelings of vulnerability. Make other people wrong whenever possible. Never allow yourself to grieve for the inevitable losses you experience in life and continue to make other people around you miserable by carrying that pain and resentment against them indefinitely. Instead of forgiving, make them play a fun guessing game by using the silent treatment on them so they know something is wrong, but not what it is or how to resolve it. Make other people feel as powerless as you do.
Take Bad Things Personally
Remember to take anything that generates unpleasant feeling in you personally. Make it about you. Your homeland gets invaded? Take it as a personal insult. Someone insults your prophet? Get angry. Kids not doing well at school? That reflects on you. Can't find a partner? Your fault, clearly. Learn how to blame yourself when bad things happen, but do it in a way which just makes you feel bad without actually taking responsibility for anything. This will ensure that you end up maximising your feelings of pain and powerlessness. Dwell on what isn't working in your life and what a bad person you must be in order for these situations to have persisted for so long.
On the flip side, when good things happen to you, attribute them to external forces beyond your control. Make it about someone or something other than you, so you don't fall into the trap of feeling powerful. Pretend that you have no control over your own life. Use religion to help if necessary: give thanks to God when good things happen, but blame yourself when the shit hits the fan.
Set Unrealistically High Personal Standards
Adopting an attitude of perfectionism will help keep you miserable indefinitely since no matter who you are or what you do, you will never be good enough. Judge yourself by an unrealistically high personal standard based on comparing yourself to the best qualities in the most successful, highest achieving people in the whole world. Let yourself down on a daily basis for not measuring up to this impossible standard. Develop an inner critic that tears yourself to pieces every time you get anything remotely wrong. Criticise in your head everything from the way you breathe to the clothes you wear to the people you hang out with. Critique others in your head too, as harshly as possible.
Keep overlooking all the good things in your life and avoid taking credit for anything positive that you have achieved. Pretend that none of these things are good enough for you. Judge other people by similarly unreachable standards so that nobody else around you gets to feel good about themselves either. When you do choose to compliment yourself or someone else, make sure it's insincere. Remind yourself how much people suck, and that you suck the most.
Give Up Things You Enjoy
Apply such a strict moral code that anything that you could possibly enjoy becomes illicit. Declare meat-eaters murderers and restrict yourself to bland vegetables. Wean yourself off animal products altogether and go level 5 vegan. Deliberately deprive yourself of enjoyable foods with essential nutrients, and feel self-righteous about it. Make arbitrary rules about what is and isn't OK, and keep restricting the rules any time you find yourself enjoying something. Declare consensual sex to be dirty and wrong. Adopt spiritual practices that leave you feeling permanently dissatisfied, and then work at them even harder in a constant attempt to address the balance.
For instance, take a practise that is helpful in moderation like meditation, and then make it so onerous, uncomfortable and demanding that it becomes a chore. Then meditate even more to try and overcome the discomfort. Or declare yourself an addict and join a 12-step group which forces abstinence from human intimacy on you. Become addicted to the group. Never allow yourself any “guilty pleasure”; just allow yourself the guilt, not the pleasure. Tell other people they're addicts too whenever they express desire or delight in anything. Keep telling yourself how bad you are for your natural human needs, and do whatever you can to avoid meeting them.
Bury Yourself in Guilt, Fear and Shame
Find a religion, cult or church that instils guilt and shame in you, and join them. Allow religious hierarchies to control your life and dictate your personal moral code. Make sure that this moral code defines things that you enjoy along with normal human emotions and drives as sinful. Adopt the belief that being imperfect (i.e. a sinner) leads to an eternity of damnation after death to ensure that you feel as anxious as possible about trying to be perfect while you remain alive.
Pretend that there are powerful evil forces in the world working against you, and use names like Satan and The Devil to personify them. Hang out with other people who pretend that there is a cosmic battle between good and evil. Join the “good” side, while lamenting all the people who aren't exactly like you and declaring them evil. Use biblical quotes like “Those who aren't for us are against us” to justify condemning anyone who doesn't share your views. Teach all this to your children too on the assumption that you know best. Get really upset if they question or reject your religion, even if it's not really working for you.
Alternatively, adopt a philosophy like “life is suffering”, and go live by it. Be attached to the idea of suffering, while seeking non-attachment. Find others who feel the same way and commune with them as often as possible.