Dale Carnegie once said, “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It’s what you think about.”
I don’t think anyone could say it any better than that. I’ve watched so many friends search tirelessly for happiness by changing jobs, moving to new cities, pursuing intimate relationships, and tweaking all sorts of other external factors in their lives. And guess what? They’re still unhappy. Because they spend all of their time and money adding positive externals to their lives when their internals are still in the negatives.
So with that in mind, here are 75 ways to stay unhappy forever. Of course, I would highly recommend you read each bullet point and then move swiftly in the opposite direction.
- Dwell on things that happened in the past.
- Obsess yourself with all the things that might happen in the future.
- Complain about problems instead of taking the necessary steps to resolve them.
- Fear change and resist it.
- Work hard, do your best and then condemn yourself for not achieving perfection.
- Belittle yourself.
- Hang out with other people who belittle you.
- Try to control everything and then worry about the things you can’t control.
- Lie to yourself and those around you.
- Keep doing the same thing over and over again.
- Be lazy and follow the path of least resistance.
- Hold onto anger. Never forgive anyone.
- Always be right. Never let anyone else be more right than you.
- Compare yourself unfavorably to those who you feel are more successful.
- Let small issues snowball into big problems.
- Never learn anything new.
- Never take responsibility for your own actions.
- Blame everyone around you.
- Don’t ask for directions and don’t ask questions.
- Don’t let anyone help you.
- Quit when the going gets tough.
- Be suspicious. Trust no one.
- Get four hours of sleep every night and convince yourself that it’s enough.
- Never throw anything way. Even if you don’t use it, hold onto it.
- Say “yes” to everyone. Fill all your time with commitments.
- Try to be everyone’s friend.
- Multitask, multitask, multitask! Do everything at once.
- Never spend any time alone.
- Don’t help others unless you have to. Do only the things that benefit you directly.
- Hang out with people who complain about everything.
- Focus on what you don’t want to happen.
- Fear the things you don’t fully understand.
- Always seek external validation before you consider yourself good enough.
- Take everything and everyone in life seriously.
- Spend your life working in a career field you aren’t passionate about.
- Focus on the problems.
- Think about all the things you don’t have.
- Read or watch lots of depressing news from broadcast media.
- Set lofty goals for yourself and never do anything to achieve them.
- Never exercise.
- Only eat junk food and fried food.
- Never check-up on your health.
- Setup your lifestyle so it revolves around money.
- Spend more than you earn and rack up lots of financial debt.
- Don’t say what you mean. Don’t mean what you say.
- Never tell anyone how you feel or what you’re thinking.
- Make sure everything you do impresses someone else.
- Always put your own needs on the back burner.
- Get involved in other people problems and make them your own.
- Make others feel bad about themselves.
- Watch TV for several hours every day.
- Gamble often.
- Stay in the same place. Don’t travel.
- Don’t play, just work.
- Let your hobbies go.
- Let your close relationships go.
- Never finish what you start.
- Take everything personally.
- Do lots of drugs. Drink lots of alcohol.
- Never say, “I’m sorry.” Never say, “I love you.”
- Don’t work hard at anything.
- Always wait until the last minute.
- Believe that, no matter what, you are entitled to things.
- Let others make decisions for you.
- Remember the insults. Forget the compliments.
- Let it all bottle up inside.
- Rely on others for everything.
- Fail to plan.
- Don’t dream.
- Don’t think about the future at all.
- Always disregard other people’s opinions and suggestions.
- Make promises you can’t keep.
- Don’t decide on anything, ever.
- Just keep going and going and going. And never ever stop.
And now that you know what not to do, let me tell you a secret about happiness. Nobody is happy all of the time. It’s perfectly normal to experience considerable fluctuations in your level of happiness from day to day, month to month, and even year to year.
In fact, according to a recent scientific study, overall levels of happiness decline from one’s teens until one’s 40s and then pick up again until they peak in one’s early 70s. So the chances are that your happiest days are yet to come. Hopefully that gives you something to smile about.
Photo by: Helga Weber
Thank you for this. I really needed it as my stress levels spike due to end of the semester demands.
Thank you for this article. I’m so grateful to be reminded …. 🙂
Armen Shirvanian says
I sure do many of these items – some quite often, others only at times. I can see how they cause problems.
It is quite interesting that you have come up with so many of these, as they are all different in some way. Who would have thought unhappiness could be acquired in this many ways?
Nice job assembling such a large package of these.
“18 . Blame everyone around you.”
Also can be, Blame yourself for everything.
Hey Marc –
Long time lurker, first time commenter. Appreciate the great list.
Regarding #37 : If we seek happiness it will always elude us, but we have an “attitude of gratitude”, happiness will always find us.
What we choose to focus on and think about determines how we feel. We can choose to concentrate on lack, want, and what we don’t have, which always leads to sadness and heartache – or we can choose to center our thoughts on what we are grateful for, which always leads to feelings of joy and happiness.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Shakespeare.
Bryce Christiansen says
Wow, what a miserable list 🙂 in a good way. Thanks for the insight into how not to live your life.
One other way to be miserable forever is to repeatedly turn down friends’ invitations. Soon you will stop getting any more and you’ll be wondering what happened.
Great list. Would love to see it’s anti-list. Maybe in a future post?
parker lee says
i think you pretty much covered it all, some things i’m definitely guilty of (a number to which i refuse to give out).
but hey, first step is acknowledgment 😉
cheers and thanks for sharing!
Living the Balanced Life says
This is a great list! Keep doing these things if you want to be miserable! I like #75. This happened in my life. I kept going and going until I crashed into a mental meltdown.
This was almost hard to read. I don’t think I do ALL of these things, but I am guilty of some of them.
I’d like to change that.
I’m going to have to refer back to this, I think, until I get it right.
Nea | Self Improvement Saga says
I’ve been guilty of several items on the list at some point in my life, particularly #67 (Keep it all bottled up inside). Great list, Marc.
Dream Innovation says
I support the anti-list idea by Keri up there. Learning the don’ts setup boundaries, but the do’s are what keep us on the right track. Anyhow, I also commend the list you made. A lot of people can learn a lot from this advice, though rarely do people actually apply.
Many will think “Yeah, I should”, but few will actually do. Become the few is my advice to others.
The opposite of this can be “spend too much time alone”! Sometimes one has to reach out to others to stay grounded.
I do too many things on this list and I want to make changes for the better. Thanks for pointing things out.
This was quite an amazing piece. I want to change a lot of things in my life, and am still striving to find some sort of stable “happiness”. In my search, readings, and introspection.. it’s easy to become almost desensitized to all of the positive affirmations and advice. It starts not to feel real, or that it could never really actually be applicable in my own life, or “ya, ya, ya, I’ve heard it all before.”
This, on the other hand, is not instructional. Its a common sense calling out. And it really, really struck me.
Thank you for this! It is definitely something I will print out and refer to time and time again.
Just 1 thing to say..”Thank you” ….
The best part about this list?
If you completely reverse the items you have an inspiring list for things to do that ADD to the happiness in your life. So two lists for one pretty much.
This blog always has exactly the right post at the right time to get me out of a hole of misery and back on track. It’s amazing how something as simple as a list can be the tipping point that turns around a day, week, month, or even a whole life. Thank you.
Awesome! Thank you!
Very nice post! I like all of them. Number 70, don’t dream is so true. More people should start dreaming and believing in their goals. Thanks for sharing
I read this list to my coworker as she was driving us to a meeting today and low and behold she relates this list to her current bible study lesson.
I don’t normally bring God into work, to many lawyers have tried their damnedest to punish anyone who mentions God in a public place unless of course your Muslim then by all means shove it in our faces.
Anyway, I told her that in the end she had to remember the simple rule of being happy “Happiness is like God, you don’t find it, it finds you when you let it into your heart.”
Discovered this blog thru Stumbleupon.
It’s interesting to see how often one of the items will say “never” or “always” and similar terms. Moderation might sum up and resolve quite a few of these items.
You must have been secretly observing my dad in order to compile this list! One of the saddest things is observe someone intent on staying unhappy forever. But I’ll take the hint from number 8 and not worry about the things I can’t control 🙂
So very true and easy to do. When we were kids it was always more fun to dream about what you could be getting than to actually open your presents. I see this in my own kids and it makes me happy.
I love the idea of my best days being yet to come…I have never looked forward to 70 as I do now!
great list… really enjoyed it.
ftr, if you live your life right and learn how to effectively deal with bs then happiness, real, longterm peace and happiness begins around 40. it’s the one time in your life that you’re likely still fairly young, healthy and probably have the most money and sense… 🙂
Ellie Di says
Ugh. I do soooooo many of these things, especially the first two. I’ve been working for years to change things, but it’s small steps and very hard work, yanno? Part of me wishes there were a magic wand I could wave to evaporate every one of these bad habits. But another part of me knows that the work is part of the joy you get after they’re gone.
x Corrine/Frock & Roll x says
Truer words were never spoken. Thank-you!
This is very good, so good that I’ll put a link here from my last article on how to overcome depression. Tweeted and liked. 🙂
I’m going through a lot right now and this really helped. I’m bookmarking it so I can visit again.
love this. love. this.
Live Life Every Day says
Great list! We all need to live by this. We only get one life so we might as well enjoy it!
My favorite is #35:
“Spend your life working in a career field you aren’t passionate about.”
Too many of us do this, it’s so sad.
Seth Czerepak says
This is a great list, and something I think we all need to look at periodically to check ourselves. Thanks for sharing.
Dear Marc and Angel,
Thank you for this wonderful list and this beautiful blog you choose to share with the world. This has certainly changed my outlook on life, and I strive to be better. I was wondering, could you possibly create a print-friendly or wall art version? I’d love to hang this in my room to be constantly reminded of the good I can bring to the world.
I posted this to my Facebook page. I’d love to see it written out as opposites (Law of Attraction-ized).
Jose M. Blanco says
You two are amazing. Thank you for your insights. Sometimes we need the inspiration and “nudge” you provide to remind us of things we know.
This reads like a check list of my thoughts, and brings a smile to my face. True happiness is all around you!! If you can live truly in the moment.. No past, no future..Right here right now!!! That’s all you can control… Dale Carnegie had it right! It’s what you think about… If you want nothing, you have everything!!
Liberty bryan says
I am so guilty of holding on to what’s happened in the past and I don’t trust anyone. Thats very hard on my marriage.. Somethings to work on. I am also guilty of go go go go non stop huge problem. Thanks, I needed this.
A perfect list! Just the medicine I needed.
Good reminders. Being happy is never constant, probably because we live in such a negative world. I myself strive for inner peace.
Thank you for this article. Inspiring. Good job!