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1 Stop caring. Caring about what people think, that is. When you care too much about what people think of you, you give them power over you (even if they don’t know it). The most liberating thing in the world is to not care anymore – if they like me, they like me lor. And if they don’t, then bite me lor. Besides, people don’t think about you as much as you think they think about you anyway. Why? Cos they’re too busy worrying about what other people think about them.
2 Stop trying. Trying to be happy, that is. The harder you look for something, the less likely you are to find it. It’s the case with car keys, it’s the case with love, and it’s the case with happiness. The moment you stop looking, the thing starts popping up all over the place. So the harder you try to be happy, the worse you’ll feel. The good news is, the reverse will also be true.
3 Be in the now. Think of the here and now. Forget the next hour, the next day, the next week. We become stressed (and therefore, miserable) whenever we think about the future – for instance, fretting about the talk you’re about to give in the next 20 minutes; wondering how you’re going to pay off that credit card bill next month; or worrying about dying old, shriveled up and alone cos you’re still boyfriend-less at 45.
4 Three things. Think of three good things you’ve got going for you. Come on, life can’t be so terrible that you can’t even do this. Okay, I’ll go first: (1) I have a great family; (2) I have a nice home; and (3) my hair looks cute today. Embarrassed at how trite your three things are? Don’t worry. You’ve just given me the perfect segue to Tip #5.
5 Expect nothing. Or at least have expectations so horrendously low that you will not only meet them but surpass them. So on second thought, forget listing three good things. Make it two (or one) not-so-heinous things that you’ve got going for you.
6 Read. About people who have it worse than you do. Go ahead, google it: miserable lives, suicidal people, celebrity has-beens, losers, whatever. Or just go look in the local paper – there’s bound to be a politician who’s recently been accused of corruption or been photographed nude in the toilet or something. Think of how wretched he must be feeling right now.
7 Fake it. 25 minutes of faking happiness and your brain may just buy it. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. The people around you may buy it and think you really are happy and start responding to you as if you were happy (instead of scampering away) and this might, in the end, boost your mood after all.
8 Buy it. Whoever said money can’t buy happiness … has no money and is a real dum-dum. Money may not be able to buy some things (although my mind’s drawing a blank right now) but it can buy plenty of other things, many of which can make you pretty darn happy pretty darn quick. Sure, it’s fleeting superficial happiness but hey, being superficially happy for 5 minutes sure beats being genuinely miserable for 5 minutes.
9 Move. As in move away from the bad situation that’s making you miserable. Of course, if the bad situation is your whole life, then I can’t help you there. But yeah, move away. If standing in a puddle of crud is making you unhappy, for god’s sake, step out of the crud. Some crud might be harder to get out of than others, so admittedly, this tip might take you more than 5 minutes.
10 Say no. Don’t do what you don’t want to do. One source of distress is saying ‘yes’ when you really mean ‘no’ and spending the rest of the day desperately trying to weasel your way out of it. Go ahead, say it: no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no-o-o-o-o-o!!!!!! And if you worry that you might offend someone in the process, see Tip #1.
11 Laugh. Watch something that makes you laugh. Put it on and really get into it. After a laugh-out-loud session, the crud that had ailed you earlier will look smaller and more distant. You will then feel less crap. But if you have no sense of humour or can’t afford pirated DVDs, see Tip #12.
12 Sleep. Nothing cures (or at least alleviates) misery like sleep. And if you’re too upset to sleep, pop a pill. Who cares how you do it, just stop being awake. Things almost always look better in the morning.
13 Trick your brain. Assign a time slot for misery, say from 5.15 to 5.45pm. For these 30 minutes, you have complete freedom to whinge, wallow and feel as wretched as you wish. You can shove your face in as deep into the crud as you want. But until the clock strikes 5.15pm, you are to go about your business and not feel like crap. You’d be surprised to discover that by the time 5.15pm does come around, your urge to whinge, wallow and feel wretched would’ve lessened considerably or if you’re lucky, totally vanished.