12 Ways To Be Miserable

Here are my notes from a talk given by Vancouver based Dr. Randy Paterson, author and psychologist at Changeways private clinic at the Vancouver Wellness show Feb 7th 2009

Here are my notes on his talk.

People often engage in actions and behaviors that if you keep asking them “and if you get that, what will that get you?” the ultimate result is often “If I get that I’ll be happy”. One way to figure how to achieve more happiness is to find what works to make people the opposite of being happy, being miserable, and then do the opposite of that in order to become happier. In this talk he’s discussing how to be miserable, not necessarily full blown depression.

Pete’s note:Adults with ADHD have much higher rates of depression and dysthymia than non ADDers

12 Ways to be miserable.

1. Don’t exercise
2. Don’t eat well
3. Don’t waste your time in bed
4. Give 100% at your work
5. Retail therapy
6.Do what you feel like doing
7. Exist on hope
8. Install a negative filter in your brain
9. Do downwards comparisons
10. Be informed, watch the news
11. Be fashionable, not stylish
12. Improve yourself

Sometimes depression is a natural reaction to some person’s life situation.

Ronald Kuhn was the first person to discover an antidepressant, the trycyclic Imipramine in the 1950’s. At first the drug companies weren’t interested in it because it would take hundreds of millions of dollars to get approved and they thought there weren’t enough depressed people out there to make selling it profitable.

Pete’s thoughts: there goes the conspiracy theorists “depression is a conspiracy of the drug company” theory out the window.

1. Don’t exercise.

James Blumenthal did a study of 156 people with major depression and divide them into 3 groups, aerobic exercise, antidepressant (Zoloft) or both. The

Exercise group had 60% improvement
Antidepressant group had 66% improvement
Exercise and antidepressant group had 69% improvement

To follow up he brought them off antidepressants and discontinued the Aerobic program. The relapse rate (became depressed again) was:

Exercise group had 8% relapse
Antidepressant group had 38% relapse
Exercise and antidepressant group had 31% relapse

Routine exercise is shown to be as effective as psychotherapy. Aim for 3 x 30 minutes a week, but 6 x 30 minutes a week is the best treatment for depression. It doesn’t matter what the exercise is, yoga, Taichi, weightlifting walking, as long as you build up a sweat.

2. Don’t eat well.

If it’s advertised on TV, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Broccoli doesn’t have an advertising budget. If it comes from dirt, eat it.

3. Don’t waste your time in bed.

Most people in urban centers are sleep deprived. Some suggest that even low levels of light might affect your quality of sleep. Your bedroom should be so dark you can’t see your fingers.

8-9 hours of sleep is the best. You can get jet lag by changing your sleeping schedule. It takes 3 days to set your circadian rhythm. So maintain a regular sleep schedule.

4. Give 100% at your work

If you do, how much is left for the rest of your life? Keep work in its place.

Think of the last 3 people you know at work that retired. Ask yourself this question.

Does their legacy live on?

5. Retail therapy

When you feel a void, buy something to fill it. Storage is one of the fastest growing industries in North America.

6. Do what you feel like doing.

  How You Feel 
gymyuckfine, boringgreat
taxesyuck not too bad relief
seeing new friendsinertiafunglad
surfing the nettemptingdulla waste
watching tveasyboringwaste, dissatisfied

Some activities start bad and get better. Some start good and get bad. The feelings after last the longest.

If you base your actions on your feelings about the activity beforehand, you’ll eat too much, drink too much, watch too much TV etc. So be more hedonistic. Do what you’ll be glad you’ve done, because the feelings after have longer lasting benefits.

7. Exist on hope

Hope can be destructive. Gambling is a hope disorder. A lot of bankruptcies are caused by hope. Appropriate hope is great. Inappropriate hope and excessive hope is self-destructive.

When we’re in hope, we’re living in the future, not the present. Don’t hope, plan.

8. Install a negative filter in your brain

Then positive and neutral events in your life won’t pass through. Depression tends to create an involuntary negative bias. Pay attention to the whole picture.

10. Be informed, watch the news media.

reality media filter    coverage

safe bus
safe bus
bus crash            bus crash
safe bus
safe bus

Avoid too much news consumption. Be usefully informed, not obsessively fixated.

11. Be fashionable, not stylish

Quentin Crisp said fashion was learning about how to become like everybody else. Style is the opposite. Take your individuality you want to hide and bring it up to the front. So be stylish, not fashionable. Spend more time being like yourself than others.

12. Improve yourself

We live in a culture of inadequacy. Even though he’s a self help author he says stop reading self help books. Or pick up a few, learn them, but don’t only read self help books.

Half the point of therapy is to get out of therapy. What if you were already good enough? What would you do then? Why not start doing it now?

Books by Dr. Randy Paterson

Your Depression Map: Find the Source of Your Depression and Chart Your Own Recovery

The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships

I found it to be a very useful and interesting talk. I’m sure there’s more than 12 ways to be miserable but it’s a good start. He gives training and presentations to psychologists and to the general public, details are at his website.

Pete’s note: Adults with ADHD are far more likely to have major depression or Dysthemia (chronic low level depression) and anxiety than non ADDers. If you think about the symptoms of ADHD, and how they can impact a person’s life, it’s not too hard to imagine how having adhd and not learning how to effectively manage those symptoms could easily lead to depression.

You might consider making a list of what things you can do that will make your adhd symptoms worse, and try doing the opposite of those things.

What are some of the things that you do that make you most miserable? What are their opposites?

4 thoughts on “12 Ways To Be Miserable”

  1. Great stuff Pete, learning lots about myself through your invaluable site 🙂

    God bless buddy 🙂

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