How to Become Miserable in 7 Steps

Follow these steps to become miserable, but beware — doing the opposite may just make you happier.

A glaring toddler next to his tricycle
Photo by Mick Haupt from Unsplash

The human species has objectively never had it better than we do right now.

This is irrefutable if you analyze modern life through any relevant metric that you can conceive of:

  • We are richer and no longer struggle to obtain calories
  • Our access to healthcare has never been better
  • Our access to information has never been better
  • We’re wealthier than we’ve ever been
  • We have Netflix, and we can order a burrito and watch its journey as it travels to us from the restaurant

Sure, things aren’t perfect.

We still have a TON of work to do. But when you compare what we have — what you have in this very moment as you read this — it’s clear that we’re doing pretty darn well.

But despite all this, we’re doing a great job of screwing it by staying miserable.

Social anxiety, depression, and the general sense of meaninglessness have never been greater. As we inevitably continue down this path of greater and greater comfort, we may have to work even harder at ensuring that we continue to mitigate these positive effects and maintain an adequate level of ennui, listlessness, and an overall lack of meaning and happiness.

The following 7 practices will be sure to help you become more miserable and unhappy. They’re exceptionally easy to do, and you can start immediately!

1. Compare Yourself To Others CONSTANTLY

Instead of framing your story and self-perception based on where you are in comparison to where you’ve come from and how much you’ve grown, always compare yourself to where others are currently.

Your inherent self-worth, the quality of your offerings, and what you contribute to the world should be judged directly against what others have done. It is important, when you do this, to never take into consideration the unique circumstances of someone’s life that have contributed to their success.

Someone who is doing better than you is doing so because they ARE BETTER than you. Things like age, life experience, chance circumstances, access to resources, family backgrounds — none of these matter, so don’t think about them.

Embrace the feeling of meaninglessness and inadequacy that will swell up inside of you when you do this, and remember that this cannot be changed.

To be effective with this, make sure that you never do the following things:

The worst thing you can do is to draw inspiration from people who are ahead of you, but maintain the perspective that maybe they’ve just been at this longer than you have.

Make sure to never analyze what successful people are doing, and apply it strategically to your own life while understanding that you are on your own unique journey and that a direct comparison between you and this person makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

It’s much better to simply compare without thinking too much about it.

2. Never Take Time To Unplug.

Being connected all the time is amazing.

It is very important that you allow yourself no respite from this. This is because the more that we rely on these connections, the more we become physiologically dependent on them.

The goal is to establish an addiction to all the various beeps and buzzes of our notifications, as these will begin to elicit the secretion of dopamine, and eventually, they will completely dictate the quality of our mood.

Taking time to be alone in your thoughts is not recommended.

Make sure to fill ALL free moments with email, Facebook, Twitter, and anything else that is not conducive to long-form thought.

Long-form thought is dangerous. It’s how you develop complex ideas that may result in insightful perspectives on the story of your life, what you want to do, interesting project ideas, etc. This can result in a sense of meaning and purpose. So don’t let it happen!

You’re fortunate to NEVER have to be in your thoughts thanks to YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and many, many more. Unplugging is dangerous, and it is not recommended.

3. Understand That Your Life Doesn’t Have Any Meaning.

Look at Elon Musk. Look at what he has accomplished and what he continues to accomplish. That’s a life with meaning. How could your small and insignificant life possibly have any meaning? What difference do you make?

This is the frame of mind that you must strive to constantly be in.

Keep Point #1 in mind, and always compare yourself to people with more life experience who have done greater things.

As with all the habits, you’ll want to ensure that you close yourself off to all ideas that threaten this perspective.

Such dangerous ideas include understanding that the world functions and operates because of the BILLIONS of people who day in and day out get up, shoulder their responsibility, and try their best to provide a service to society, their families, and their communities.

Never consider that we are all nodes in the vast network of humanity and that through the connected nature of our world, the smallest actions of courage and kindness can have ripple effects that magnify them exponentially beyond their initial scope.

Don’t take into account that there is meaning in pursuing the ultimate version of ourselves that we could be — that we ought to be if we can coordinate our actions with our intentions.

Forget that there is meaning in trying our best, reflecting on and understanding our true nature, and living a life in pursuit of the experiences and offerings that reflect that nature.

And finally, it’s a bad idea to consider that there is meaning in love — when you look into someone’s eyes and experience connection at such a deep level that for a moment, it’s as if there is no separation between your consciousnesses.

This stuff is meaningless, so please don’t consider it.

4. Take Everything Personally

It is highly recommended to always consider yourself the most important thing.

You are the center of the universe, and you should not explore the idea that other people are living lives remarkably similar to yours, complete with the same challenges, struggles, joys, loves, conflicts, pursuits, goals, dreams, and tragedies.

This is especially important when you experience some degree of conflict with someone. Instead of taking a moment to consider and reflect upon what they may be going through that is contributing to their behavior or the conflict, choose to take it personally.

This is about YOU.

They, of course, have a problem with you, and how dare they? You’re f@*king perfect. They’re just a weak-minded and terrible person who, for some reason, has decided to have a problem with you.

With you specifically.

Of course, it is about you specifically, how could it not be?

Empathy, and taking time to consider the potential circumstances of other people is dangerous, as it can alleviate our indignance, self-centeredness, and general irritability.

Take everything personally.

5. Don’t Exercise, Eat Well, or Get Enough Sleep

This is a big one.

Exercise is proven to create serotonin, which can make you feel fantastic. It will also provide you with more energy, confidence, and clarity of mind. Eating a clean diet full of essential nutrients and with a low amount of refined sugar will also have a similar effect. Needless to say, those activities should be avoided in order to maximize your unhappiness.

Don’t worry about making time for exercise, and consume something along the lines of the Standard American Diet, full of refined carbohydrates and sugar.

Perhaps the most important thing is to try not to get more than 6 hours of sleep per night. Getting 8 hours of sleep on a nightly basis is a great way to mitigate symptoms of depression, prevent neurodegenerative diseases, lower your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and cause you to feel alert, focused, and excellent.

So just stick to no more than 6.

A good habit will be to stay up late every night eating sugary snacks and watching Netflix.

6. Don’t Be Mindful

The anger, sadness, boredom, angst, anxiety, and literally everything that we feel manifests itself in the form of thoughts.

If you focus on the nature of your mind, with practice, you can develop a level of self-awareness that can prevent negative thoughts and emotions from taking over your mind and running the show.

You can use this technique to drastically reduce the amount of time that negative emotions, such as anger, affect your mood.

It is therefore essential that you DON’T develop this ability, as it will significantly prevent unhappiness.

You’ll be much more unhappy if you commit to never examining your thoughts, and allow your negative emotions to run amok. If you do this well, it will ensure that the constant barrage of thoughts that keep you anxious and depressed will thrive, and your state of unhappiness will have nothing to stop it.

7. Be a Dick

When you do a favor for someone or treat someone with an act of kindness, your brain produces dopamine that makes you feel good in combination with the inherent good that was done in your kindness or deed.

Being amicable, generous, and friendly also feels great and tends to make the person exhibiting this behavior well-liked, which in turn contributes to even greater feelings of positivity. Naturally, this type of behavior should be avoided.

Remember the advice from Point #4, and don’t practice empathy! See yourself as the center of the universe, and other people as entities that can either be used to help you achieve your goals or get in your way. Treat people that get in your way with utter contempt, and never take a moment to think about the fact that they are a person too, just like you.

The good news is that with this complete system of advice, this final tip should come pretty naturally to you. It will pretty much be inevitable if you’re following the other tips well.

If you put these 7 habits into practice, I can pretty much guarantee that you will feel miserable despite all the reasons that you have not to be.

The greatest thing about them is that they’re deceptively easy, they are in fact far easier than behaving in the opposite way.

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Colin Matson

Colin Matson

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Pursuing my potential and sharing lessons from the journey | Insights on health, habits, and self-improvement