Who wants to be more miserable in life? Apparently more people than you think. The Vancouver Public Library recently hosted a 90 minute presentation on the topic. Guess how many people attended. 13? 27? 52? 116? 183.5? 200? or more??! What do you think?
My estimate is 200 or more. It was a packed house and many had arrived early to ensure a good seat. Imagine that! You may think it unusual for people to be excited about misery but we humans are a highly complex species not easily understood.
While waiting for the session to begin, we were asked to fill out an optional questionnaire, listing 3 things we could do to increase misery in our personal life. These strategies had to be something within our control. The presenter stated he was collecting responses for a future book he plans to write.
While pondering this question, I noticed much laughter and conversation in the room. It appeared that this group had a lot of work to do to become more miserable! At that moment, a well-dressed woman with crutches and only one leg entered the room. An elderly woman offered her seat in the front row. “No, thank you” insisted the one-legged woman as she made her way back to a seat she eyed in the second row, four chairs in from where I sat. She flashed me a pleasant smile as I pulled my legs and body back to make room for her. A companion followed right behind and quickly placed a cushion on her friend’s chair. I mused at the sight of the puffy red cushion and thought it would be a good strategy for increasing happiness, not to mention comfort!
All around me, people engaged in spirited chatter. Strangers struck up conversations with others who sat in front, behind and beside them. Apparently people were greatly amused by the subject. I contributed my thoughts to the conversations around me. My strategies for increasing misery were: #1 Hang out with grumpy people. #2 Neglect my personal needs. #3 I can’t remember at this time, but I am sure it will come to me!
As you may have guessed, the presentation was really about how to be more happy in life. It was confusing to experience this backwards approach to the subject. My brain felt blocked at times, like it had been turned upside down and immersed in a cloudy solution that impaired my mind’s ability to process information. In reality, reverse thinking is actually very good for our brain. It clears old cobwebs and powers up neurotransmitters for those snappy synapses to fire into action! Oh, it seems to be working now. I recall my third strategy for increasing misery, which is to isolate myself.
According to the presenter, the top three ways to increase misery are: #1 Perceive yourself as not good enough. #2 Allow your emotions rule. #3 Be like everyone else. There you have it. Any day that you are feeling a little bit too cheery, try one of these strategies or create your own and see what happens. I suspect laughter will arise from this experiment. Live life backwards for a refreshing approach to happiness!