My work brings me into contact with interesting people. Some are happy, some are not. Some are wealthy, others are struggling.
The most interesting group I’ve encountered are those who are wealthy yet unhappy. After spending a few days with a group like this, I noticed a theme: they are actively practicing habits that lead to misery. Despite having loads of money, a healthy family, stable jobs, a safe environment and lots of relationships, they are not content.
Sound appealing? If so, here are 8 habits to attain misery, even if you have $8 million. These all work with people, so just in time for Thanksgiving.
Talk about people who are not in the room. If someone asks a question about you, quickly shift the conversation to talk about someone else. Gossip is much more entertaining than introspection. He got divorced. She got into trouble. Her engagement ring is small. He overpaid for that house. Really—anything will do.
Uncomfortable? Check your phone. Whether to combat awkward silence or avoid addressing a conversation you dislike, you can always find a quick dopamine hit.
Actively cultivate anger toward someone. It’s better if it is the same person repeatedly. That lets your anger blossom into a mix of emotions—jealously, greed, rage! This person won’t be experiencing any of these emotions, but that is not the point.
Invite others to cultivate anger toward the same person. You can even talk behind the other person’s back until the anger becomes all consuming. Remember, it does not matter that this person might be oblivious. The point is to increase the amount of misery in yourself, not them!
Practice noticing what is wrong with the things you have. For example, buy your dream house, then complain that it is too small. Rebuild your wardrobe, then focus on the items you’re still missing. Serve a bountiful meal, then complain about the food. Nothing leads to misery more rapidly than focusing on what’s lacking!
When conversing with someone else, don’t ask them questions. Instead, reference #1. It is more effective to talk about the things other people have that you don’t, or how they are actively screwing up their life, rather than trying to learn about life from the person in front of you.
Avoid interactions that might be fun. Remember, the goal is to be miserable, so if people are considering playing a board game, it’s not worth the risk. Better to leave the situation and hide in your room.
Avoid too many interactions with people generally. Don’t have an excuse? Don’t worry, you can always do your laundry, pack for an upcoming work trip, or remember that oncoming illness and feel the need to rest up.
Phew! Obviously, these habits sounds like a fast path to misery when you read them all at once. But beware! You might accidentally find yourself in one of these habits over Thanksgiving. If you notice, then great! Awareness is required before you can pivot.