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5 keys to unhappiness
Flipping the script a bit
There's so much self-help advice out there, with internet gurus projecting with absolute certainty what you need to do to be happy in life. I thought that this area needed an additional voice of certainty, but as someone who is chronically uncertain, I needed to take a different angle. Here goes.1
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1. Build a life of comparison
Set ridiculous standards for yourself by always comparing your life to others. Extra points if they're in a completely different context, especially Silicon Valley. If they are financially successful but treat others like shit, make sure to exclude that from your analysis.
It's also a good idea to use the milestones of prominent individuals as benchmarks for yourself. If you haven't done X by Y age, you're obviously a failure. And if you're not on a 'Top 40 Under 40', why even bother? Don't you know that this is the formula for success?
Add to this a running list of 'shoulds' (i.e., I should have done this or that) that you continuously ruminate on. It's important to make sure that you have such high expectations of yourself that you never have space to reflect on your wins or the intangible wonders in your life.
Side note: never forget that money and power are the most important things. To be the most successful chimp, you need to have the most of these things.
2. Optimize all aspects of your life
Make sure to try to extract the maximum out of everything in your life. If there's no output or outcome for every hour that you're tracking, are you even alive?
Never be satisfied with what you have. If your relationship is not the idyllic picture of sunshine and roses, remember that the perfect partner of your fantasies is out there somewhere. They'll definitely be the perfect combination of vixen / stud in the bedroom, an intellectual thought partner, and a perfect parent to your hypothetical children.
Make sure to take all other human interaction out of your life and optimize all the basics. Every interaction has an opportunity cost. If you're not wringing the maximum out of every moment, you're failing. If you're not building some asset towards financial independence, you're failing. If you're getting paid by the hour, you're failing.
Outsource everything that is less than the hourly value of your time. That's what all the tech gurus say, so be sure to aim for this too.
Don't play or do anything 'just for the sake of it'. Everything must have some outcome in mind. Fiction and movies without higher meaning are out of bounds. Make sure to not do anything frivolous, and spending money on enjoying yourself is off limits. Dancing in your living room with the music blaring is completely forbidden.
3. Isolate yourself from others
The world is a scary place, so it’s safer to try and navigate it alone when you can be sure that you’ll never hurt anyone unintentionally, disappoint them, or protect them from the random, chaotic nature of life.
Build a life independent of others. 'No man is an island', except you, of course. The more you can be free of others for anything, the less of a burden you'll be to your friends and family and society at large. It's all about reducing the load on others.
Make sure to never make time for those you love, or at the very least the ones who love you. Don't ever call them, except on their birthday.
Don’t ever say ‘I love you’, in case you make a fool of yourself.
4. Distract yourself at every opportunity
Don't let your own thoughts mill around in your head for too long. Rather, consume the second-hand thoughts and content of others. Distract yourself from the present moment by keeping your smart device close at hand.
Be sure to pour second-hand thoughts down your throat, especially when you wake up in the morning. Instagram and TikTok are your best companions here. Make sure to look at the highlights reel of all the people you've ever met and those that you haven't every time you go to the bathroom. Tune out to the hilarious shortform content that's geared to keep you hooked.
When you have free time, make sure to plug other people's conversations (i.e., podcasts) into your ears. Even better if it's self-improvement, to make sure that any kernel of feeling that you are actually okay and worthy as you are disappears.
Destroy your focused or quiet times with distraction. Make sure to be dictated by the external environment: notifications, recommendations feed, etc. Never give yourself time to breathe. Make sure you never go on a run or walk without your earphones in.
5. Assume that the world is a fundamentally bad place and that everyone is out to get you.
Face it: everyone and everything is out to get you. On the smallest scale, the random person on the internet hates you, and society is set up for you to fail. Attack is the best form of defense. Make sure to define the 'others' in your life and ridicule and roast them at every opportunity.
Find something or someone to blame for your shortcomings. Remember that kid in primary school who called you 'stupid'? That's definitely the reason things didn't work out for you. And your ADHD? That's a helpful floatation aid to cling to in your sea of disappointment.
And when you're done hating on others, turn that sword inward. Remember that your true nature is fundamentally bad. Humanity has a fallen nature, after all. Even if things are going well and your light is shining, make sure to never let go of the feeling that you're worthless.
There, that's about it. I think I can say with certainty that if you follow these steps, you’ll be perfectly miserable.
So please don’t.
These are all things I’ve struggled with previously and often still struggle with. My goal is not to make light of any of the subject matter but to make a caricature that helps point out the unhelpful edges that I’ve encountered in my mind, in the hope that it might be helpful to others (and myself).