How NOT to be Happy Tip 3: Pity yourself

This is the third of 10 tips for unwavering woe.

It’s a harsh reality that must be faced: ‘Other people’ simply do not appreciate how egregious things are. When you don’t get the expected promotion, you stay bitter for months because you care more than those other under-achieving joes/jos. They might find the flu unpleasant, but with your sensitive disposition, it’s abysmal. And they just don’t get the torment of receiving the wrong meal – your higher standards make your disappointment that the sauce isn’t on the side far more hurtful.

Making peace with such things leads to a slippery slope – nay, a veritable sheer drop – toward a sense of acceptance that’s alarmingly conducive to happiness. Extracting maximum torment is vital to your ongoing tribulation.

But there’s a problem. The failure of others to appreciate the enormity of your pain puts the onus on you to play that tiny violin alone – there’s no other option but to pity yourself.

If the others in your life won’t come to the pity party, it’s up to you to get the DIY misery going. (Fortunately, your sensitive nature and high standards make this a breeze.) Pitying yourself is the only way to (a) get the pity you deserve (even if it is from yourself) and (b) demonstrate to others how massive a deal each teeny disappointment really, truly, is.

The elegant application of self pity requires you to abandon all subtlety – being vague only leaves room for those thick-headed philistines to miss the magnitude of the misery you’re compelled to endure.

What’s more, body language research tells us that words alone contribute only around 7% of a message, so you need to draw upon a broad repertoire of non-verbal tools in order to hammer home your piteousness and milk each situation for its full pity potential.

Here are three tools you can use to augment your natural self-pitying nature and help keep happiness at bay.

1. Whine
Just as a good meal is enhanced by a fine wine, so too an exaggerated disappointment is seasoned by a sulky whine. Frankly, without the nasal, petulant tone, you leave too much room for people to think you’re being philosophical or, heavens forfend, upbeat.

Consider this: ‘I’d rather not go back to that restaurant – last time I got food poisoning.’ [WRONG!]

Versus this: ‘Pleeease don’t make me go back there. I got soooo sick and I just know that waitress gave me a sneezer and no one even came over to look after me even though I rang you all many times and told you how unbelievably sick I was.’ [RIGHT!]

2. Look miserable
It’s wise to practice various facial and body gestures in the mirror so you can produce them at will. With time, you’ll be able to pull together a beautifully integrated look of lamentation to match the occasion – rather like having a personal stylist to assemble the ideal outfit from a wardrobe of woe. I call it having a certain sartorial sufferance (and a whine that’s almost of your own).

For example, if your friends meet you to see the movie you were desperate to see but now, on reading the poster, believe to be potentially worse than Battlefield Earth: The Gigli Years, then you might opt for a simple pout adorned with a tiny flourish of sigh. However, if someone just gave you a green iPod Nano for your birthday when you wanted a blue one, then a full-tilt drop of the shoulders, head to the side, and brave-but-sad, martyr-like smile might be just the ensemble to showcase your righteous distress.

As with most tips to avoid happiness, more is more, so don’t be afraid to go all out. With their lack of sensitivity and low standards, others are unlikely to notice anyway. Remember, they, poor things, don’t understand how bad it is. If they did, they’d feel awful for you too.

3. Be indirect
At the heart of self pity is maintaining a vice-like grip on who did you wrong/what should have happened/how you were mistreated, etc. Being prepared to move past this signals that you’ve had enough pity – and we all know there’s no such thing.

Under no circumstances should you say what you do want, or express what might make you feel better. The reason is twofold.

Fold 1: If you’re clear about what you want, you open the door to someone actually meeting the need. Where does that leave you? Without a leg to stand about feeling sorry for yourself on, that’s where.

Fold 2: By moving from pity to possibility, you lose the whole martyr mystique that’s so attractive to wretchedness. Remember: Martyrdom puts the pity in self-pity. Take away the martyrdom, and all you have is self.

Other tips in this series of 10 tips for unwavering woe:

By Michele Connolly

Choose to be happier – and you will be.

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