5 Ways You're Tricking Yourself Into Not Being Happy

Are you not happy? Is it for reasons other than external forces out of your control? Do you already hate me for asking? Then read on. Because having stared at the Internet for a while now, nothing is more obvious to me than the sheer number of viciously angry, angry people online. And anger is only a symptom of unhappiness, and there are two paths leading from it, and you don't want to take the wrong one.


Of course, some people never sucked, but we don't talk about them.

You know how I know you suck and are miserable? Because you're about to read the rest of this article, for one thing. Beyond that, here are a few more reasons you're an unhappy mess ...

#5. Comments And Social Media Posts Are A Counterproductive Way To Express Yourself

Happiness comes from accomplishment and purpose, and those come from Doing Shit. And we get shit done and accomplish things because we have to, and I know you're not happy because you haven't been forced to accomplish anything. And the best example of this is the angry comment you're already writing, despite not having read this entire article. You don't need to write articles to have your say online, because you can simply write comments. As a result, a website might have, like, 20 columnists but thousands of commenters.

But what if there were no comment sections? Well, you'd have put the time in to turn your thoughts into an article, then try to get it published, and then maybe you'd get paid, and that might lead to other things or give you the confidence to try something else, and then you might end up successful and/or happy. But we do have comments, and Twitter, and so on, and so we have a release valve for people who HAVE to say something. But that valve prevents the buildup of the internal pressure necessary to drive you to have your say in a more fulfilling manner.


Look how sad you're making the dog in this metaphor.

Everyone leaves a few Internet comments here and there, but if you're doing it INSTEAD OF writing articles or books or screenplays or crazy manifestos, then I know you're not happy, because there are only so many hours in the day (more on that later) and so many ideas in your head. If a comment tree gets 1,000 upvotes, does it make a sound? Media and the arts are ultimately the comment section of real life ...


I want royalties when this actually happens.

... so anything below that is probably doing you a disservice if you spend too much energy on it. Or think of it this way: If everything you've ever said can be blinked out of existence by a browser extension, then you may not have that much of a voice. Is the Internet preventing YOU from being happy by not forcing you to work to be heard? Let me know in the comments ...

#4. You Think You're The Same As Successful People

The worst way to get anywhere is to think you're already there (I showed my imaginary girlfriend that line and she loved it!). And one reason you suck is that you think you're generally on the same level as actually successful people. You know how I can tell you're not happy and productive? Well, for one thing, you get mad about stuff that should be ten millionth on one's list of personal priorities. (Have you ever unironically typed the phrase "anti-consumer" in a comment? Here's a simple test: Get out your birth certificate and check what it says under "Name." Unless it reads "Ralph Nader," you're a dumbass.) For another thing, you accuse successful people of doing things that YOU do. You, who notably suck and are a failure.

For example, if one foolishly spends enough time online, one will quickly pick up on the absolute plague of idiots accusing video game designers of "laziness" when it comes to some trivial aspect of their work. It's THE modern cliche of online dumbassery. But semantics matter, and any working creative professional is officially living in the Post-Lazy Realm, because laziness is the thing which prevents people from becoming working professionals in the first place -- that thing you're doing right now.


I was gonna just say this, but then I made the mistake of imagining it as a drawing.

Working pros can be compromised, or run out of time or resources, or simply make mistakes, but professionalism precludes laziness as you think of it -- that's the deal. And so accusing professionals of laziness is so very revealing, because we assume of others what we know of ourselves, and laziness is why YOU would do it.


See you later, extrapolator.

People who have put the time in to make something of themselves are not like you, but you erroneously think professionals do things for the same reason you would, in the same way that your cat thinks that you're also a cat. You see laziness in others because you just sit around and think you're entitled to have an equal voice in the public sphere with no actual effort on your part. So you don't put in the effort, so you don't accomplish anything, so you're not happy. Because you're fucking lazy.

#3. It's Not Cool To Be Happy

This isn't all your fault. One of the impediments to happiness is an absence of inspiration, and one of the impediments to inspiration is how, for whatever reason, the Inspiration section of any bookstore is by far the least inspiring thing in there. You may not be happy because the language of telling people things will be okay seems to have long ago been co-opted by idiots, the insincere, Hallmark, and Chicken Soup For The Money-Liking Fucking Liar Who Wrote This Best-Selling Book.


Pictured: Poe's law.

Inspiration as we know it seems to work on the theory that you can simply tell people what to do and they will instantly do it, which is frankly not even true of dogs. It's empty phrases and easy answers and telling people to quit their job and become a _______, because that sure is easy to say when you don't have to do it. Most inspiration is just the IDEA of inspiration, as opposed to meaningful advice. You likely fucking noticed all this shit and learned to ignore it long ago. You may be miserable, but you're not an idiot.


There's a reason these things are like 40 percent of the Internet.

So due to its tiresome association with glibness and moronity, is it easy to see happiness as kind of ... lame? Possibly? It does feel like the only people trying to sell happiness are also selling books and posters and fucking Scientology, so it's unsurprising that cynical people seem to stay cynical. What the rest of us can do is try to lead by example, and by god Make Stuff which inspires by example rather than by artificially trying to Be Inspirational, and give advice that takes, uh, reality into account, and try to sell success better, and not make people hate themselves by making it sound as if happiness is the fucking absence of misery, because it's not -- it's when you sometimes have a really bad day, as opposed to the opposite. You know how I know you're not happy? Because a lot of the people telling you about happiness are lame as shit.

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Winston Rowntree

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