The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People

Brilliantly written article. By the time I read the first two habits I was crying with laughter, so much so that I couldn’t see to carry on reading. My sides were aching with it. This is so descriptive of so many of today’s miserable people. Absolutely brilliant.

Mind Chatter

How to succeed at self-sabotage.


Photo Credit:

Most of us claim we want to be happy—to have meaningful lives, enjoy ourselves, experience fulfillment, and share love and friendship with other people and maybe other species, like dogs, cats, birds, and whatnot. Strangely enough, however, some people act as if they just want to be miserable, and they succeed remarkably at inviting misery into their lives, even though they get little apparent benefit from it, since being miserable doesn’t help them find lovers and friends, get better jobs, make more money, or go on more interesting vacations. Why do they do this? After perusing the output of some of the finest brains in the therapy profession, I’ve come to the conclusion that misery is an art form, and the satisfaction people seem to find in it reflects the creative effort required to cultivate it. In other words, when your living…

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Taking the Stress Out of Modern Life

Cenarth Falls 1

Cenarth Falls, Ceredigion, South West Wales

Cenarth Falls is a cascade of waterfalls at Cenarth, between Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. It is a peaceful village with beautiful walks around the falls; just right for relaxation.

In these busy days, too many people feel that they have no time to relax. Making a living is such a stressful activity that they feel they must devote as much time as possible to caring for their material needs and those of their families. Sadly, this often means not having time to spend with family members. In fact, many people spend so much time paying for their acquisitions that they do not have time to actually use those items.

Why Do We Need to Relax?

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Care – But Not Too Much


Yes. I know. How can you care too much? That’s a very good question which I hope to answer.

Consider a pride of lions. Each member is concerned with the welfare of his or her family. But he or she would also walk away if the circumstances dictated. If one of the pride was to die, he or she would have no worries about eating it. Not that I’m suggestion eating our friends, of course!

One of the best ways to find peace in our lives is to give of ourselves. Look around you. How many people are smiling? What about you? Are you smiling? Life, today, can be very hectic, leading to stress, misery, and ill health. In my previous post, Be Yourself – or Change, I mentioned that one way to change for the better involves taking an interest in other people. In The Power of Two I highlighted that we can all benefit from a trusted confidante.

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Enough Really Is Enough

Llyn Llech Owain
Your local area probably has great locations for photography and meditation. A holiday at home is less expensive and offers an opportunity to find these easily-accessible places.

Some years ago I was discussing the weekly shop with a colleague. He told me that his wife had been to the local superstore, the previous evening, and returned with a car “full” of bags. She had spent most of the week’s grocery budget. On checking the bags, however, it appeared that there was little food included. As he said, it appeared that the cleaning products, toilet rolls, toothpaste, etc., far outweighed the food.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow developed his theory of The Hierarchy of Needs. In it he proposed that the physiological needs fill the most basic necessities – food and water, among other things. Safety, such as you may consider to be satisfied by cleaning products, comes second. That makes sense. We are not likely to be able to clean the house if we fail to eat or drink for too long a period.

All of this highlights the difficulties of obtaining “sufficient for each day.” What do we mean by “sufficient”?

Advertising Pays – But It Doesn’t Pay You

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Be Yourself – Or Change

Yorkshire 3
Find a place to meditate

Actors in the ancient Greek theatres would use masks to portray different characters. Even today, the international symbol for theatres is a pair of masks, one happy, one sad. The ancient Greek word for actor was hypokrites. It came to refer to one playing false, or putting on a pretence. It’s where we get the English word hypocrite.

We have looked at the value of solitude, confidantes, and support networks. We have looked at how to deal with other people’s choices when they impact on our lives. And we have looked at the things that we can control – our choices.

But that raises the question of who we are, because none of us would want to be known as a hypocrite.

No Masks

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My Choice

Gorilla Eating

We have looked at the value of solitude, confidantes, and support networks. We have looked at how to deal with other people’s choices when they impact on our lives. Now it’s time to look at the things that we can control. And it’s important to start with our choices.

Our gorilla knows that he needs to eat the right things. (And if anyone thinks that a vegan diet will make you thin and sickly-looking, take a look at the picture again!) He also knows the value of both solitude and company. Here, he is concentrating on that which he can control.

Beware of The Consequences

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When It’s Not My Choice

Gorilla Thinking

I used to have a sign above my desk that said, “Bad planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” There are other versions of this but they all carry the same message: “I have no intention of becoming stressed just because you are.”

It’s a bit like this gorilla. He has very little say in what happens to him. He has been captured and placed in a zoo. So he accepts his situation, eats what he is fed, and seems to be content with his lot in life without worrying about the zoo keeper’s stress.

Dealing With Someone Else’s Decisions

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The Power of Three

Three Windsurfers

We have looked at the importance of solitude – having time to ourselves. And we have looked at the importance of companionship – having a confidante. Now we are going to look at the importance of having more than one or two people in our lives.

There are many references to the benefits of a large circle of friends. Nearly three thousand years ago the Bible said that there is wisdom in the multitude of counsellors. And even today the concept of a neutral observer or arbitrator is widely recognised. So how can we use the power of a third person, or more, in calming our anxieties?

The first, and possibly the most obvious area concerns what happens if we have an issue with our confidante. It may be that the very person that we turn to looking for a hearing ear is not available. Worse, what if our confidante disagrees with our proposed solution? After taking his or her views into consideration, we may see the sense of what they say. Or we may be even more committed to our own proposal. Now we need another viewpoint.

What if our confidante is the apparent cause of the problem? Again, we may need another person’s input in order to help us to get through the difficulty without too much anxiety.

The second area to consider is where we don’t have the authority to make a final decision. This is where “a multitude of counsellors” may be required. Of course, this can lead to its own stress. As soon as more than one person is involved in making a decision, we have to deal with more than one opinion; and opinions are often personal, which means that personalities are involved. Now it gets interesting. Some people have very strong opinions linked to their very strong personalities. How can we avoid stress in these situations?

That’s really a discussion in its own right. But, simply stated, how important is the decision, anyway? Most decisions are about personal preference. If it’s about personal preference, then is it all that important that we have our own way?

Of course, when the decision is made by a group, then we should be able to accept that we have been part of a process that seeks to find the best solution to a problem. And we can be content that, by consulting with others, we have done the best that we can to ensure a successful outcome.

Finally, there is the situation where we have no say in the matter. It would be easy to say that in this situation we can simply walk away without any need to worry. But so often it is the case that someone else’s decision affects us, or someone close to us. How we deal with this stress is the subject of a future article.

Dear Social Security

Pen y Fan 7

Dear Social Security,

I need money.
Kids are starving; they need food.
I need money.
And my wife is in a mood.

I need money.
For my children need more clothes.
I need money.
I’m not sure where it goes.

I need money.
See, I have to pay the bills.
I need money.
’Cause my kids are getting chills.

I need money.
To prioritise my life.
I need money.
I can’t work with all this strife.

I need money.
Can’t you see I need a fix.
I need money.
So that I can get my kicks.

I need money.
Life has left me with no hope.
I need money.
So that I can get some dope.

I need money.
For I have to pay the shrink.
I need money.
’Cause I need another drink.

I need money.
Or they’re cutting off my phone.
I need money.
I’ll be left here, all alone.

I need money.
Got to get some cigarettes.
I need money.
So that I can feed my pets.

I need money.
Or the bookie, he will call.
I need money.
Now my back’s against the wall.

I need money.
Or I’m losing my TV.
I need money.
Cable’s all I ever see.

I need money.
So’s to get on with my life.
I need money.
So’s to pay my other wife.

I need money.
Did I mention I have kids?
I need money.
’Cause I’m really on the skids.

I need money.
I don’t know where it all goes.
I need money.
Can’t you see I’ve suffered blows.

I need money.
Or my future’s looking bleak.
I need money.
I’ll be up before the beak.*

I need money.
I can’t cope without my drugs.
I need money.
Or my kids will get no hugs.

I need money.
Once I’ve paid for all my vice.
I need money.
For to buy my kids some rice.

I need money.
Life is really so perverse.
I need money.
Want to put the first things first.

I need money.
Now my phone is out of date.
I need money.
So that I can soon upgrade.

I need money.
Can’t you see I have a fight?
I need money.
So my life can be put right.

I need money.
Life is really looking grim.
I need money.
Time I think to sink or swim.

I need money.
And if there is any left.
I need money.
I won’t leave my kids bereft.

Yours faithfully,

Professional Benefit Claimant

* Beak – Old English slang for judge.

(WARNING: This is not a political statement. It is a statement of reality. Argue all you want for fiscal regeneration, quantitative easing, re-starting the economy, banning long-term benefit claims. But keep those arguments off my blog. I don’t approve of them and they will be deleted.)

My point, here, is that people don’t have their priorities right. Take a look at the mountain in the photo. That may not be the highest mountain in the world, but being safe on any mountain requires prioritising. In the same way, all of us have personal situations that may loom, mountain-like, in front of us. But some people simply look at the mountain and give up in favour of personal comfort.

How many people do you know who have the latest technology – 42 inch plasma TV’s, or bigger, a new cell phone, every six months, the most up to date digital equipment? Yet their children are neglected.

How many people do you know who cannot afford to buy food for their children because they spent all their money on alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes?

How many people do you know who pamper their pets while their children have holes in their shoes, if they have shoes?

How many people do you know who would rather give their money to the bookie, or the casino, or the barman, rather than buy clothes for their children, or put a roof over their heads?

And how many of them could work if they tried, but they have conditioned themselves to think that it is impossible? Believe me, these people could get a job filling out forms. They do it so well for themselves, why can’t they get paid to help other people to do it?

Don’t get me wrong, there are many genuine people out there who simply cannot get work, no matter how hard they look; or people who are too ill to work. You can pick them out very easily. They are the ones who are calm when discussing their circumstances with Social Security. They are the ones who keep looking for opportunities to do something, even if it is “only” voluntary work. They are the ones who put their children first.

I see so many people blogging about their long-term, often serious illnesses and, although they genuinely cannot work, they do a lot of good by sharing their experiences with others. Some of them have even tried selling their experiences, making a living out of a seemingly impossible situation.

They do not spend their Social Security cheque on cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, gambling, or any other vice. They spend their money on their children, often at great cost to themselves. These are people who will go without to make sure that their children have food, clothing, and a safe place to live.

A Lesson For Us All

Yet there is a lesson for all of us, in this. We all need to get our priorities right. It doesn’t matter whether we have no work, suffer chronic ill health, or have the highest paid job in the world. I only chose the above scenario for this poem as an illustration of the need to prioritize. I could, equally, have chosen the super-rich, some of whom also neglect their children.

How many people do you know who spend all their waking time at work, “to give the children what they want,” but who are never at home to give the children what they really need – their time and attention? How many people live in mansions, but are never there to enjoy them? How many people do you know who will farm their children out to boarding schools because they cannot be bothered to raise them at home?

Harsh? Possibly. And it is not the story for everyone. But for many this is the reality.

We all need to prioritize. Life is full of choices. And the addicts referred to in the poem, and the neglectful parents referred to in the prose, have made bad choices. Yes. Choices. They choose to be addicted to bad habits just as surely as non-addicts choose good habits. These bad habits make people prefer to neglect their children in favour of themselves. Then they beg for more resources to feed their habits while their children hide under the bed for fear of another beating.

Yes, we all need to prioritize. We all need to think about what is most important in our lives; and what should be most important. And before the do-gooders take exception to the word, “should,” let me say that its inclusion is deliberate. There are things that we should do. There are things that we need to do. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to get it right.

What Does It Take To Get It Right?

In simple words, mindfulness; or, if you prefer, cognitive behaviour, awareness, or any of the other buzz words used by professionals to describe prioritising. We need to be aware of the needs of the moment. That means being present in this moment. It means being aware of the consequences. It means thinking about how our actions, or non-actions, will affect, not only ourselves, but also those around us, both now and in the future.

Whilst remaining “in the moment,” we need to figure out how the succeeding moments will be affected. We need to be responsible for our actions. We need to consider the outcome before we act.

What does it take to get it right? It takes skill. It takes good judgement. It takes commitment. It takes good choices.

If we do all of this, then, maybe, we have a chance.