Reflecting on 10 Ways to Be Miserable

Coffee For The Brain Mastermind August Book Club

Here are my thoughts about the first 10 ways in which we can lead a miserable lifestyle from the book, How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use by Randy J. Paterson Ph . First, I like this layout of this book in terms of how it takes the reverse psychology approach. I find myself reading and nodding my head in agreement with the items he shares in the book while also understanding I should not be agreeing. This means I am being reminded about some aspects of my life I need to improve.

Lesson 1: Avoid All Exercise

In lesson 1 he poses the question, “What if she were only willing to change one thing?” I think this is manageable. We have just returned from vacation. I have all these things I want to do and fix about my life. I must reel it in because I am already invested in many ventures now. I have told myself I will start with exercise. This is my one thing. Build this habit up and then slowly work to change other habits once this one is established. Hopefully, once I start exercising I will stop eating what I have been told because I will not want to ruin the hard work. I believe they start to flow together.

Lesson 2: Eat What You’re Told

I love the question of we are not happy with our current mood, then why don’t we simply change our behavior? To me this seems so straightforward, yet so hard. I know I need to change my eating and exercise habits big time. However, I feel lost in a cycle of not being able to make the change. For me the hardest part of this is that I used to be able to do it and therefore the struggle to make positive change drives me even more insane.

Lesson 3: Don’t Waste Your Life in Bed

“The most valuable resource you have is time. No matter what you do, how much you earn, where you live, or how powerful you are, you only get 168 hours in a week.”

Time is the great equalizer and it is a reminder to me that we must use our time wisely, but not burn out so fast we shortchange our time we have here on earth. Sleep is something I struggle with, but it is something I have been working on for years to improve. I believe that I have improved while still not being great at it. One thing I noticed from where we stayed on vacation to our room at home is how dark we have made our room. It is dark with no lights and nothing to disturb us except from texts from Amanda’s phone at night!

What I am guilty at doing is not being able to turn off my brain at night. I worry and wonder about all things and get so worked up that I cannot fall asleep. I continue the cycle when I worry that I am not sleeping. I am not sure how to stop this, but it is my great downfall. I am an early riser no matter if it is weekend or weekday so I am pretty good with this routine, but it is the constant waking up throughout the night that does not do me much good.

Lesson 4: Live Better Through Chemistry

Nothing here. I read it, but nothing connected personally…Wait, let me skim again. Okay, I  probably take in too much caffeine which maybe affects Lesson 3. Okay, so in reflection I need to dive deeper into this.

Lesson 5: Maximize Your Screen Time

I feel that this lesson is perhaps the most important one in the first 10 lessons. This is one that hits most of us right between the eyes. The way he lays out the hours in a week and our habits really opened my eyes to rethinking my time spent on things in a weekly basis. Internet is a major time suck and it is not as helpful as we like to think. Reflecting on vacation, I know that we barely spent much time online and on our devices. I felt like we were all instantly happier and more connected than we have been in a long time. We were not in isolation staring at screens. We were laughing and playing. We were connecting in the physical world. It just felt better to be a human being around more humans instead of our screens.

Don’t get me wrong, we were all craving our devices which shows us how addicted we are to the notifications and feeling like we were missing out, but I could relate to this lesson more than any other time in my life because we had those hours to be together as a family. Think about what you could do with 26 hours a week not on a screen (26 is the average time for an American outside of work). Read this book for nothing else than this chapter. The math used to show how little time we make for our loved ones is insane. This one hit me hard and one I keep reflecting on it as a father and husband.

Lesson 6: If You Want It, Buy It

I have been working on this lesson all summer by decluttering things in my possession. I feel good about this lesson only because I am actually getting rid of many things and working to create more minimalist spaces in my house in a very purposeful manner. Material items don’t lead to happiness. Period. Don’t believe the hype.

Lesson 7: Can’t Afford It? Get It Anyway!

Debt is a monster. Avoid it. Send it back to the upside down. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should!

Lesson 8: Give 100% To Your Work

This is another lesson I have learned the hard way with as a parent and father. Part of this is the reason for some life changes I have made this past year. If you devote all your time to your work, then you will miss out on what is most important in life: love. Love of friends and family. Trust me, in the end nobody cares about your work. I poured my heart and soul into my previous job and gave up so much family time in exchange for the work I believed in to only watch it be eliminated and taken apart in a matter of weeks the minute I took a new job. People don’t care. They don’t. This is not a mean thing. They don’t care because they have their goals and dreams they want to achieve. We are all easily replaceable so spend time doing work you love and are passionate about. Be happy in your work, but understand that you will not be missed for very long. Think of the teacher that devoted 40+ years of life to a job and when they retire nobody cares a few months later. We are not as important as we think so invest in love, not work. This is where it matters most. Where you will be missed most is with family and friends. Are you spending proper time with the people that matter most and bring us the most happiness?

If you don’t, then you set a goal to reach. Once you reach it you don’t feel happy. Instead you feel like you should have made that goal and set out for another goal. What we all need is a better sense of balance. As stated in the book, “A one-legged coffee table is dangerously unstable.” Spend time building up all legs in life so you have stability.

Lesson 9: Be Well Informed

Trump has helped me with this lesson because I just cannot stand to find out what is going on next. I don’t watch TV much. The only time I do is when I am on my bike, but since I have not been exercising my tv watching is practically 0. You don’t need to know everything going on in the world. Media is designed to entice you to come back for the ads. It is all speculation and to be honest mostly negative. Spend time with people. Read books. Create your own work and art. Less consumption and more producing and connecting. You don’t need to know what is happening all over the globe. Move on!

Lesson 10: Set VAPID Goals

The mistake most of us make. Vague, Amorphous, Pie in the sky, Irrelevant, Delayed goals don’t work. Stick to the SMART goals. They are not easy, but they work. You will waste less time spinning in circles and more time feeling the benefits of having a plan

What about you? Have you read the first 10 lessons? What are your thoughts and takeaways? Leave a comment and join our Facebook Mastermind Group where we are growing and learning together.

 

Mastermind Group of Awesomeness

This reflection is for our Facebook Coffee For The Brain Mastermind Group of Awesomeness

Come join us as we discuss many things!

The book for August that we are reading and discussing is

How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use by Randy J. Paterson PhD http://amzn.to/2uPx1Xe

This book is an ironic twist to how we can work to lead a better life through a different perspective. This book was recommended to me from a great friend who listens to a podcast we both like. I have some great videos and podcasts to listen to along with the book. Buy the book and join us!

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Reflecting on 10 Ways to Be Miserable

  1. I especially appreciated the initial breakdown of life events into Column A (outside of control) and Column B (under my control). Once that was established Paterson further grouped the rules into four key parts: Lifestyle, Thinking, Others, and Meaning. This imposed structure significantly helped me to identify personal focus areas.

    I came away with one lesson in each group that I plan to work on with the exception of lifestyle, that one has two: exercise and diet! I think that’s a modest enough plan to get in place before reporting back to school in two weeks. Now to the pool before making a zucchini lasagna ;-0

    Happiness is getting back in the swing. It’s been fun taking this reading respite this summer! Thank you, Aaron. Is there one more book?

  2. Aaron
    Excellent summary and I especially find the screen time issue to be an important self conversation. I think the book hits the mark, but it leaves me with a few questions (I haven’t gotten much past this point yet so he may well answer them! He also may have answered them already as I read this part a few weeks ago…)
    #1: many of these described behaviors are often coping mechanisms for dealing with underlying personal issues. We also know that some of these behaviors are supported by our own biology (reward portioning on social media, drug/body chemistry interactions, sugar seeking) – how is this approach going to be any different then “just say no to drugs?”
    #2: This so far seems to be kind of a “recipe” for happiness, through external behaviors. I have read some of Pema Chodron’s books and they seem to be more internally based. While I am not a Buddhist, nor am I able to summarize her writing, she seems to see the happiness/unhappiness continuum to be less important than what you “do” with where you are. Is that a different and unrelated issue?
    Thanks again for filing this and I hope to get back into the book.