This is the seventh of 10 tips for unwavering woe.
Why pursue happiness? If happiness wanted to have its way with you, it would find you. Why make the effort of doing things that bring you joy and promote your well-being when it could be that happiness is just not that into you?
Remember the old joke about the guy who’s caught in a flood? He sends away a boat, a helicopter and a plane, saying he doesn’t need them because God will save him. When he inevitably carks it, he asks God why he was allowed to drown. That ole heavenly humorist replies ‘I sent you a boat, a chopper and a plane – what more did you want?’
You need to be just that resistant to happiness. Don’t let measly trinkets like pleasant activities, good work, people you like, beauty or chocolate make you happy. Hold out for the big stuff. Keep waiting. Godot is coming.
A useful approach here is to personify happiness as a lecher and see yourself as a demure and innocent maiden determined to maintain your virtue in the face of happiness’s raunchy reach. Whatever you do, don’t put out. Be a bliss teaser.
At the same time, think of people who easily let themselves feel contentment as happiness hos. Belittle their joys. Scoff at their pleasures. Refuse to laugh at their jokes.
The declaration of independence speaks of a person’s right to pursue happiness. It’s this pursuit that you must relinquish. Instead, sacrifice your prospects for happiness to:
- Other people’s desires.
Such temperance calls for a judicious blend of laziness (I can’t be bothered choosing to be happy) and low self-regard (I don’t deserve to be happy). At times all of us feel both of these tendencies; the trick to playing hard to get with happiness is to make them a staunch habit. Your reward? It will be almost impossible for happiness to find you, you wanton tease, you.
It also helps to tune out any inkling of your own preferences and avoid actions that might brighten your life. Step away from the work that gives you a sense of satisfaction, the people who leave you feeling good, the things you like to do, the places you enjoy visiting or the ways you like to spend your time – or you’ll be on a slippery slope to happiness ho-dom. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Before you know it, you’ll be laughing at only moderately funny jokes, telling people you like your job, wearing a shirt in a colour you love (lordy woady!) and channeling Louis Armstrong with a stirring rendition of Hello Jolly.
You’ll be helped in your happiness abstinence by the fact that nature abhors a vacuum. By simply not choosing what you do want, you’ll virtually guarantee that you get a lot of what you don’t want. You’ll end up, by default, with people you have nothing in common with inviting themselves over, music to gas yourself by on the radio, and movies that make you want to gnaw your own arm off on the TV.
It’s true – you can duck happiness’s advances just by doing nada. Passiveness pays, little glumsters. Which is just as well, since you probably wouldn’t make the effort to send a follow-up account.
For those seeking a little more help, here are some Dos and Don’ts for playing hard to get with happiness.
Don’t initiate social contacts. Invite no-one to the movies. Host no dinners. Organise nothing. Make no calls.
Do sit by the phone. Preferably in a darkened room. With maudlin music playing. And your shoulders slouched.
Don’t add fun to anything. Avoid music when doing chores. Dress for pure utility and look down on fashion.
Do bemoan the fact that chores are so unpleasant and your wardrobe is dull.
Don’t spend time doing things you enjoy. Have no hobbies that give you pleasure. Got a vague sense that you might love jigsaw puzzles? Never, ever get one.
Do lament forlornly, preferably during a sitcom at which no live human has ever laughed, and your third for the night, that you wish you had the time for such bagatelles.
That’ll show those happiness hos.
Other tips in this series of 10 tips for unwavering woe: