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How to Stop Being Unhappy

In her article, “How to make yourself perfectly miserable,” Marilynn Preston shares the advice of master family therapist Cloé Madanes, who lays out eight ways we perpetuate our misery. We all engage in them occasionally. The goal is not to fall into them unconsciously and make them a mainstay of your life. (Sarasota Herald Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com/entertainmentlife/20171205/preston-how-to-make-yourself-perfectly-miserable,12/5/17, E18, retrieved 12/5/17).
  1. Rumination involves constantly worrying or thinking about what’s wrong in your life, including what you did to cause it. If you spend a great deal time focused on your problems, how can you not be miserable? Observe how often you ruminate and whether the focus of your life is on the positive or the negative.
  2. Boredom is natural once in a while, but if you chronically complain how bored and uninterested in life you are, you’re promoting unhappiness. You’ll also be miserable if you engage in unhealthy, impulsive behaviors (drinking, social media, arguing, spending) simply to relieve boredom.
  3. Blaming your parents is not the same as recognizing that your parents were imperfect or even did terrible things to you. If you’re an adult, you’re in charge of your life now and can eradicate your misery by thinking and acting differently.
  4. Avoiding pleasure will make you really unhappy. So many of the dysregulated eaters I treat have little joy in their lives. Find more pleasure and you’ll eat less.
  5. Being critical only focuses you on the negative in everyone. Sure, we all have deficits, but we don’t need to worship them. If you complain a good deal, you are likely a critical person, which makes you bad company for yourself and others.
  6. Avoiding gratitude promotes thinking that the whole world has it better than you. How could you not be miserable thinking this way? Surely you can find things to be grateful for. Look for small daily pleasures.
  7. Holding on to a negative identity will ensure that you stay miserable. A negative identify says that you must be unhappy all the time or you’ll have no identity. Misery is something we all feel; it’s not something we want to be full of all the time.
  8. By being out for personal gain we ensure that we won’t have the fuzzy warm feelings of doing things for others which can lift us out of misery. Take care of yourself, but make sure to take care of (and care about) others too.
Reflect on how often you engage in these habits by being curious and not judgmental. Then remain conscious of them and stop yourselves from heading down the road to misery the next time you’re on it.
What’s Preventing You From Feeling Happier?
How to Gain Resilience After Trauma

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