Happiness, science tells us, is sort of like a skittish cat. Call for it loudly and it'll flee. But act disinterested and sit quietly next to some cat food and it just might sidle up to you now and again.
Unfortunately, thanks to our cultural obsession with happiness and try-hard striving (as well as approximately 10 million internet posts on how to get happier) most of us are the happiness equivalent of an earnest but misguided cat lover frantically chasing a terrified stray around the neighborhood loudly brandishing a can of tuna fish.
There is a better way to boost your happiness, according to psychologist Randy J. Paterson, author of How to Be Miserable. It's just that this method is totally counterintuitive. Rather than constantly focusing on achieving eternal bliss (and constantly being disappointed), Paterson suggests you creep up on greater mental well-being by trying to avoid things you know make you actively miserable instead.
To that end, he's put together the fairly hilarious video below (hat tip to Boing Boing) outlining the seven most effective ways to make yourself unhappy. They're dead simple and guaranteed to work, he pledges. And, of course, avoiding them is just as sure a route to greater happiness (if that might be something you're interested in).
- Stay still. Aim for as little movement as possible.
- Screw with your sleep. "Be sure to vary your bed time by several hours at least twice a week."
- Maximize your screen time. Screens help with points one and two as well!
- Use your screen to stoke your negative emotions.
- Set VAPID goals. Chase vague, amorphous, pie-in-the-sky, irrelevant, delayed, goals rather than specific, measurable, actionable, responsible, time-bounded ones.
- Pursue happiness directly.
- Follow your instincts.