How NOT to be Happy Tip 8: Be neurotic

This is the eighth of 10 tips for unwavering woe.

To weed happiness out of your life, there’s a herbicide you can trust – neuroticism. Nurturing your inner neurotic requires:

  • an overwrought pre-occupation with the minutiae of your life
  • an unflinching determination to exaggerate every miniscule worry
  • a resolute dedication to wax miserable to anyone who will listen – and to do your best with those who won’t.

In this way, being neurotic doesn’t just promote your own misery, it radiates out to all who inadvertently get exposed to you – like a ripple in a cesspool.

You can start today to grow your neurotic sapling by using these little gems of manure.

1. Develop hypochondria

Hypochondria is wasted on genuine health concerns or legitimately worrying ailments. Its true magic works only on trivialities so trifling or nullities so non-existent as to be imperceptible to the untrained person (that is, the non-neurotic). Each affliction must be inflated to an Ebola-like peril, at which hands your final, rasping breath is surely imminent.

Practice with a headache. Assume no one else has ever had one (you can be sure they’ve never had one as bad as yours) and describe each symptom in graphic detail, making liberal use of words like phlegm, pustule and snot. It helps to be quietly dignified as you show you’ve made peace with the fact that the end is very, very nigh.

2. Voice every vexation 

If a sphincter tightens in an empty forest, does it make a sound? Of course not. Neuroticism requires others to share the suffering in order to give it meaning. This is why you must be vocally uptight about everything – leave no irritation unexpressed, no annoyance unmentioned, no inconvenience unbemoaned. Dedicate yourself to noticing and lamenting, noticing and lamenting. Complain loud, complain often.

3. Keep your strings high

Being highly strung keeps your many and varied agitations close to the surface, where they’re most useful in forestalling peace and contentment. Be prepared to tip into hysteria at the slightest provocation. Over-analyse everything people do and say. This makes those around you walk on eggshells, so they’ll be less inclined to cut you off mid-rant, lest they unleash the beast. Think retro and be uptight and outa sight (of happiness).

If you’re wondering whether these three pieces of compost would blend together into a nice medley of melancholy, then I’m right there with you. Here’s what I’m thinking.

You know the concept of the 30-second pitch, right? It’s a pithy summary of an idea that gets the basics across fast.

Well, this is just like that. Only not so much pithy; more pathetic. And for summary, think Paul Thomas Anderson film. Before the studio cuts. I call it the 30-minute bitch. Here’s how it works.

Say you’re walking down the street and you run into someone you haven’t see in a while. They smile, ask how you’ve been, and  before they can catch their breath – whammo!

Well, you know things haven’t been so good lately. I’ve developed a weird thing on my toe that oozes a lot of puss and it’s ruined all my socks and quite a few pairs of shoes too, but the doctor says it should clear up if I leave it alone but how can you do that when there’s all that blood and puss coming out all the time? Anyway I think it might be toe cancer, probably from the stress of Joey – you know he really loves netball but they’re very unpleasant about having him on the team, and I know he’s very big for his age and all, and he repeated third grade that time and also fourth, but he just loves the game and I don’t see why those girls find him so intimidating. Anyway it really worries me but boy do I know about that kind of thing because the people in my office can be so cruel about my hypo-hyper-pustulating-infarcted-chickenmcnugget-dypepsimax-trombonis and sometime I don’t know how I manage to go on…

Load your own conversations with your neurotic 30-minute bitch and you’ll be on the way to getting those pesky happiness buds out of your garden.

Before you know it, you’ll be talking fertiliser.

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

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