How NOT to be Happy Tip 5: Be ungrateful

This is the fifth of 10 tips for unwavering woe.

Being grateful makes you focus on the positives in your life – you feel good about something you have, or something someone does for you. Woe-foes are forever thinking about what they can be grateful for; they let these thoughts cast a deep and daily shadow of joy over their lives. Don’t fall for it. Once you start becoming aware of good things in your life, it’s sayonara sorrow. That’s why adopting an ingratitude attitude is one of the surest paths to lasting despondency.

Now the idea of ingratitude may sound simple in principle, but in practice it requires a complex juggling of mutually inconsistent mindsets.

On the one hand, you need to adhere to a strict policy of looking every gift horse in the mouth. This applies to good luck, compliments, presents and any form of beneficence that threatens to brighten your doorstep. Here’s how it works.

Won the lottery?
What a pain – bet this brings all my low-life relatives out of the woodwork.

Got a promotion?
Great. Now I get to work longer hours under more stress.

Friends offered you their summerhouse for your holiday?
I hope the sea air doesn’t rust my car.

If someone’s generosity catches you off-guard and you’re stuck for an ungrateful retort at short notice, you can always fall back on saying nothing. Because the giver will be anticipating a thank you, your disquieting quiet will be quite enough.

For instance, say a co-worker who’s into scrap-booking has heard you say many times that you wish you could organise all the travel photos you keep strewn in your desk drawers.

Co-worker: ‘I put together a scrapbook for your birthday. It’s got all 3,862 shots you took on your Contiki trips in the 80s. I’ve crossed-referenced by city, year and number of people throwing up in the background.’

You: Silently place the album in your bag. Tumbleweed blows past. (For the quick thinkers, go for ‘I hope it doesn’t rip my bag’.)

The skilled happiness-hijacker can be simultaneously ungrateful and offensive: ‘Wow, you did this? You need to get a life.’Sound easy? Nuh-uh. This is where the other hand comes in. While being ungrateful, and possibly also somewhat put out, you have to simultaneously act as though you are actually the one responsible for the kind act/good fortune, and wrest the credit for yourself.

For example:

‘Hey, I’m glad I could give you a project for your little hobby.’

(Good follow up: ‘I have a friend who takes ‘art house’ pictures of aspiring models – I bet he’d like one of these scrappy-books too.’)

As you can imagine, maintaining such tension is no easy task. But the confused looks on people’s faces and the smart happiness-circumvention that it achieves will make the effort well worth your while.

Remember too that an ingratitude attitude needn’t only apply to new turns of events. You can be ungrateful for what you were born with (‘Being ridiculously good-looking is so much pressure’); where you live (‘Earth is over-rated. Uranus sounds like where I should be’); and life in general (*Sigh*).

I hope you’ve found this a helpful tip.

What’s that? Only an idiot would think being ungrateful was a helpful tip? And anyway, you’ve been ungrateful since you invented it in the third grade?

Touché, little glum-ster, touché.

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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