Trying to be happy is clearly for the birds. It takes so much energy to organize your favorite activities, spend time with your favorite people, and generally keep a positive attitude toward existence that even thinking about trying to be happy can be exhausting. The whole endeavor seems even more pointless once you realize how easy it is to be miserable. Being a total and complete sad sack is pretty much the natural state for human beings, so why fight the current with incessant positivity and vain attempts at self-improvement? Why not try to maximize your misery and see where that gets you?
As this fun little animated listicle points out, learning to maximize your unhappiness may actually have an unintended result. By pointing out the seven easiest ways to make yourself completely miserable—including having a sedentary lifestyle, irregular sleep cycle, too much screen time, and unrealistic goals—the video holds a mirror up to the viewer, causing them to say, “Oh shit, that’s what I do. Maybe that’s why I’m miserable.”
Of course, the makers of the video are fully aware they’re employing a bit of reverse psychology, and prefaced this how-to-be-depressed tutorial with a brief footnote video asking viewers to “not take the main video as literal advice.” The inspiration for this approach comes from the book How To Be Miserable by Randy J. Paterson, Ph.D., which is all about focusing on the opposite of your goal in order to back yourself into getting what you want, i.e., happiness. It’s a refreshing approach, considering the only thing more exhausting than trying to be happy is having people constantly tell you the quick and easy way to get there. It’s much easier to learn how to be miserable and then slowly and consciously unlearn it.