9 Great Ways to Make Yourself Absolutely Miserable
“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s
always your choice” Wayne Dyer
I think that becoming a happier person is not so much about changing
external circumstances as it is about changing your thinking.
You can pile up tons of positive external stuff in your life but if
your internals are messed up then your life won’t become that much better.
And the thing is that if you get your thoughts into the right place
then your outer world will start to align to those thoughts.
Now, there are quite a few ways to make yourself miserable. Here are
9 of them that I believe are some of the most popular. I have used
them time and time again. I still do from time to time.
I’d recommend decreasing these thought habits as much as possible.
Ditching them all together might be hard. But over time you can cut
down on them significantly.
To remind yourself of them you may want to print out this article or
write down a few of these ways that you feel especially apply to you.
You can use those notes as external reminders for the fridge or your
1. Compare everything you do to the lives and accomplishments of
The problem with comparing yourself to others is that there will
always be someone with more than you. So you get a car that is nicer
than the ones your closest neighbours drive. And that feels awesome
for a while. But then one day you see the young kid on the next block
driving around in his new, cool and expensive sports car. And once
again, you don’t feel so good anymore.
A more useful way of thinking is to compare yourself to yourself.
Appreciate the progress you have made. Take a closer look at the
areas where you aren’t improving as much as you’d like and try to
figure out why. Then make a plan for how you can improve on those
areas of your life.
2. Go along with what everyone else tells you. And try to please
Recognize that everyone will have opinions on what you can do. That
doesn’t mean that you have to do what they say. You cannot live your
life through the eyes of everyone else. Well, you can but then you’ll
most likely feel a lot of pressure from every direction and not feel
that well at all.
And even if you do try to please everyone you may find that some
people aren’t pleased anyway. That’s because what they are saying
doesn’t have much to do with you at all. What they are saying is just
an outer reflection of their life and how they feel. If they didn’t
say something negative to you then they would complain about cabbies,
dog owners or whoever popped up in their mind or in front of their
Now I could tell you that you should always think for yourself
instead and make your decisions on what you know. The problem I have
found with that point of view is that you and I are bit like everyone
else. We also like to feel like we are right and are sitting on the
best advice. So what you are thinking is right may not always be the
So try to do some research. Ask people who have actually been where
you want to go what they have learned. Try to base you decisions on
something substantial. Then just take action. In the end you have to
experiment, fail over and over again and discover what actually works
3. Live in a sea of negative voices.
What you allow into your mind will affect you. So be selective. If
you’re hanging out with negative people all the time then that can
really drag you down. It’s not easy to stay optimistic when pessimism
is the default mode in your world.
Another part of this is getting hooked on the news and prophecies of
the sky falling. The sky is probably not falling.
Consider spending less time with negative voices. Cut back on – or
cut out –seeing negative people. Cut back on watching the news or
even more spectacularly negative TV-shows. You’ll find yourself with
a chunk of new, free and fresh time to do something more fun.
4. Never mix things up or try something new.
This one is sneaky. It can fool you into feeling that things are
pretty OK. You have your pleasant, safe routine. But underneath there
are fuzzy negative feelings of dissatisfaction that sometimes move up
to the surface.
Remind yourself of the other times when you have tried something and
how you most often don’t regret it at all. In fact, you probably had
a pretty good time. Don’t fool yourself into complacency.
I’m not saying that need to go sky diving. But simply that it’s a
good choice to mix things up, to get some diversity at least once in
a while. The next time someone suggests trying something give a try.
Or make a suggestion to your friends.
5. Spend too much of your time in the past and/or the future.
How much time do you spend thinking about something that has
happened? Or on something that you think will happen?
How much time do you actually spend thinking about and observing what
is actually in front of your nose right now?
It may seem like a pretty good idea to think about a great memory. Or
dream about what you will do for the weekend or your vacation. And it
The thing is just that if you spend much time in the past or present
then thoughts tend to spiral a bit out of control. You start to over
think. You imagine future scenarios in an almost compulsive way. You
replay and reinterpret old memories. You trap yourself in a negative
downward spirals and moods.
Getting lost in these trains of thoughts is very easy. But you can
also train yourself to keep a closer eye on your thoughts. If you
start to question your own thoughts throughout the day with questions
like: “is this useful?” then you can improve your understanding of
what you are spending your time thinking about.
If you find what you are thinking isn’t really that useful just drop
it and start thinking about something else. If you can’t just drop
it – it isn’t easy sometimes – here are three suggestions:
Focus most of your thinking on finding a solution. Not on wallowing
in your negative thoughts. There is often something you can do about
a situation. Focus your mind on finding that or those solutions. Then
take action. This can bring you out of a negative mood and make you
see light at the end of the tunnel.
Focus on your breathing. Take a couple of dozen belly breaths and
just focus your mind on your inhaling and exhaling. This will calm
you down, release anxiety and align you with the present moment once
Focus on what is in front of you right now. Instead of thinking over
and over again about what your boss told you yesterday or what you
want for dinner just focus on what’s right in front of you. When you
are driving actually observe what is happening in front of you. When
you ride the bus observe the people, trees and buildings.
Like so much else, being present is a muscle you have to build. You
learn to stay longer in the now and it becomes easier to snap back
into it after some training.
6. Focus on what you don’t want.
If you focus on what you don’t want then that is what your focus
system in your mind, your reticular activating system (RAS), will
find. If you focus on how everything is going down the toilet then
your RAS will let you notice examples of that in your surroundings.
You can only bring into focus what you are focusing on. The rest will
blur into the background. So if you want to earn more money don’t
focus on your lack of money. Focus on how you can make more money.
Opportunities will jump out at you in conversations, while you are
reading the paper or watching TV or while you are just walking down
the street. It can be a bit freaky sometimes. Suddenly, after having
changed your focus, something that has obviously been there for quite
some time in the background jumps out at you.
Just focusing on what you want won’t solve your problems though. You
still need to take action over and over to take advantage of your
7. Spend your time looking for magic pills.
Reading a book on personal development won’t solve your problems.
It’s kinda devious though because reading the book can make you feel
like you are making progress. But without action there is little
But this pleasant feeling of making progress can become addictive. It
gives you an emotional high. So you read another book. And another.
And you become a personal development junkie.
Always looking for that one thing that will change your life. But
there are no real magic pills. Some books are certainly more helpful
than others. Especially if they wind up in your hand at the right
time. When you are ready for them. And exposing your mind constantly
to positive and helpful information is better than listening to
negative voices. Over time it can help you change how you think and
how you view your world.
But it is no substitute for taking action. Someone might try to sell
you something that they promise will bring big rewards with basically
no action your part. That’s probably just a sales pitch. The product
itself may be good, great or useless. You never really know. You just
have to try it out by taking action and see for yourself.
My recommendation is to stop looking for magic pills. Instead just
buy a classic personal development book from authors like Tony
Robbins, Brian Tracy or Eckhart Tolle. Then actually follow a tips or
two of their tips for 30 days. Just focus on that. Then move on to
another couple of pieces of advice. This will give you better results
than running around in circles looking for magic pills. You can find
some recommended books right here.
8. Always be looking for and relying on external validation.
This can be a huge one. External validation is basically that someone
other than you validates you. They might tell you that you are smart,
pretty, cool, successful etc. They tell you something that tells you
that you are a person of value.
Now, this may sound all well and good. Getting compliments is
wonderful. The problem is just that if you need validation from
others then you let the outside world, other people, control how you
feel. And that can be a real rollercoaster . Because if you need the
positive validation from people then it’s hard to avoid listening to
their negative input. Or you may feel bad when there is a pause in
So what do you do? You let go of the need for that input. But there
will still be a need for validation. So you need to fill that up to
not go back to really, really wanting validation from others.
You do that by validating yourself instead.
You appreciate how far you have come and the positive things you have
done. You appreciate your own value in the world. You set goals and
you achieve those goals. This builds confidence in yourself and in
your abilities. These things will help you to build a habit of inner
Don’t sell yourself short. Validate yourself and your
accomplishments. Get off the rollercoaster that is over-reliance on
9. Take things too seriously.
Things are seldom really that serious. It’s most often your ego
trying to fool you into thinking so. Because if your problems are
serious, huge and important then that means that you must be
important. It’s a way to try to raise your value for yourself and in
the eyes of others.
It’s not a great way of thinking though. You’ll spend far too much
time thinking the past and the future. You’ll create irritability and
instability within yourself that is reflected into the outside world.
You’ll probably spend quite a bit of time being hard on yourself.
Being hard on yourself might sound a like a good idea to “teach
yourself a lesson”. I believe it’s better to drop such behaviour and
learn what you can from mistakes and then move on. Being hard on
yourself just seems to create a lot of negativity and problems within
yourself. All in all, by taking things too seriously you can really
go down, down, down into a negative spiral.
Lightening up and not taking things too seriously is more pleasurable
and useful thing to do. I have done this by for example using a note
on my fridge to remind myself to “Lighten up!” and by not identifying
so much with my ego, emotions and thoughts. You can read all about it