How NOT to be Happy Tip 4: Be needy

This is the fourth of 10 tips for unwavering woe.

How many happy-but-needy people do you know? Not many, right? It seems most happy people spend time with company because they enjoy it, not because they fear annihilation without the succour of others.

Forget such woe-foes; fearing annihilation has its own rewards. In fact, neediness is such a powerful prophylactic against happiness that, although it has much in common with Tip 3: Pity yourself, it deserves its own tip in this series. And while both are enhanced by a good dollop of whining, being needy is, ironically, perfectly self-sufficient in forming a staunch barrier against happiness. 

So how do you create your own neediness condom? There are three easy steps:

1. Avoid being alone.
When alone, you have the opportunity to hear your own thoughts. This can lead to many worrying problems, including getting to know yourself better, being more in tune with what you like and think, and most alarmingly, having a stronger sense of yourself. These are dangerous and frightening outcomes. Wise woe-mongers ward off such perils early. They learn to lean exclusively on others for all their insights into who they are and what they like – and you can do the same.

2. Seek constant reassurance.
Regardless of the situation, think of yourself as needing an IV line of propping up. For instance, consider dinner with friends. Relentlessly check in with them about your outfit, the quantity of product in your hair, what you said to the waiter, your choice of dessert, the way you walked to the restroom, the amount of time you spent there, the size of your tip, the flourish of your signature. No matter is too small and no amount of convincing is too much. Such unrelenting poverty of self-respect takes endurance and imagination, but the resulting neediness is a shield that happiness simply cannot penetrate.

3. Rank everyone else’s opinion above your own.
Other people’s thoughts matter more than yours – which means you have to persistently badger them for their take on everything. This calls for endless questioning, repeated clarifying and cunning ground shifting.

“So you thought Bruce Willis was really alive! Yeah, I see that now. I thought he was a ghost but now that you’ve pointed out he wasn’t, I get it. Cool.”

You can see why being alone is such a trap – if no-one else is there, how do you know what you feel? Spooky, huh? It’s obvious now that you think about it, isnt it? Well, it is now that I’ve pointed it out. Because you needed that.

You might be wondering where to find the people to fill your grand canyon of emotional need. If you have any friends left, these are ideal candidates – if they’re still around they know what they’re in for and will have no recourse when you routinely call them at 2am. 

More likely, though, friends are long gone. But don’t fret; your options are limitless.

You can turn to a barely-known work colleague to discuss your doubts about your sexual skills.

You can ask the girl reading a magazine on the neighbouring bike at the gym to be your exercise partner and commit to your new two-year weight loss plan.

You can bang on the door of the guy who moved into your apartment block on Saturday and review what went wrong in your last relationship (did you mention it was in 1992?). He must have headphones on, because you just saw him go in through your peephole. (Note here that there’s no need to wait in order to redeem that kindness you did him in not pressing the door-close button as he tried to get all his stuff into the lift.)

Turning to strangers gives you a tremendous edge in being needy: general politeness will make them easy targets and you’ll get in a lot of neediness before they cut you off.

It’s a sad fact for every glum and glummer: everywhere you go, there you are. But if you nurture your neediness, and ramp up your reliance on others, this doesn’t have to be the case.

You can become so needy that no matter where you go, you have no idea where you are.

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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