Happiness isn’t free, and it means war

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Let’s imagine that you have some semblance of happiness in your life now. Well, don’t think for a moment that it comes without a price. You see, you have to fight to protect that happiness, as there are numerous people who will try and take it away from you. From guilt-tripping to slander to outright sabotage, miserable and jealous people will use whatever weapons are in their arsenal to bring you down to their level. “Misery loves company” is not merely an expression; for the people who are miserable and negative, it's a declaration of war.

Paul Hudson, a writer for Elite Daily, wrote of miserable people that they are this way because “their thought processes have been molded to always see the worst of every situation. They manage to find the bad in any good you throw their way.” Moreover, “miserable people believe their lives suck, so they do their best to distract themselves from it. They drink, they do drugs. The problem is, they are trying to get away from something they can’t get away from. Reality isn’t a choice, it’s a state of existence. Trying to get away from it will only make you more miserable.”

Okay, so this tells us that miserable people are pessimistic (“glass half empty” types), and have - whether they realize or not, and whether they admit it or not - trained themselves to be this way, or in some cases, were even raised to be this way. Rather than changing their own way of thinking and their own personalities, instead they believe that there is “a secret escape hatch” from their misery, which usually results in drinking and drug abuse, or in the case of some people, sitting around like couch potatoes for hours on end, stuffing their faces with junk food and their minds with daytime television. Still, as negative as these people might be, you might ask, “well, how does that affect me?” Oh, it does affect you; they make sure of that.

According to Hudson, they “like to bring others down to their level, usually by pointing out everything they find wrong about a person. They want to see your reaction [to this], to see if your mood will be worsened in order to be up to par with theirs.”

But this goes far beyond just that. According to a separate article from LifeHack, miserable people “avoid any expressions of gratitude at all costs, and will always have something to be ungrateful about.” In other words, they will not be appreciative of anything you do for them, and in addition to trying to bring you down, they’ll add insult to injury by essentially spitting upon whatever good things you do for them - not literally, of course, but through their attitudes and actions. The article went on to say that they also “love to pick fights,” “they do things for personal gain,” and they “blame others and play the victim.” They will also “take any remark, comment, or opinion the wrong way and think the person is trying to insult or put them down. They believe that humiliation is at the forefront of most people’s intentions.” Finally, “they are envious of other people’s success.”

If you live with someone who is this way, it’s very hard to break free of the web of misery that they weave. Like the grip of a bear trap, the situation can be hurtful and inescapable. Just as with people who are narcissists, the best way to avoid the influence of someone who is miserable is to get out as soon as possible. Once you have done that, though, you could potentially be hunted. For you see, if you get away and you’re still miserable, then it’s all well and good, as far as the negative person is concerned. If anything, they’ll gloat over your misfortune, and temporarily convince themselves that “hey, now I don’t feel so bad about my own life!”

But what happens if you escape the “bear trap of misery,” and become happy? Well, that just won’t work for them. Miserable people are never happy to see others happy; they look at the prosperity of other people not from any altruistic point of view, but rather, from a bitter and jealous one. Thus, if they can, and whether they realize it or not, they declare war. It might start with passive-aggressive behavior. With social networks this is even more likely. They’ll make posts that essentially say, “Hey, look! Pay attention to me! You’re happy and I’m miserable! Feel bad about that! Feel guilty about that!” When this gets no response, they step up their tactics.

For a while, trying to get your attention will be the core of their game. In this way, they divert your focus (or at least try) from your own life, and instead get you to think about them, spreading their misery like a virus, even though you’re no longer physically near them. The pleas for attention might take on a harrassing or demanding nature, and might grow hard to avoid. Private messages, melodramatic status updates, phone calls, etc. If you succeed in rising above their agenda, watch out. This is when things turn nasty. They’ll start resorting to their old habits - vicious accusations; passive-aggressive statements like “you hurt me,” or “you don’t care about me”; cheap-shot insults and threats.

This can affect a person who is trying to be happy and positive, because by intruding upon your daily life with this barrage of assaults, they are reminding you of their own misery, and trying their best to share that misery with you, like a dirty syringe. Even the most practiced optimists and stoics might be negatively influenced by these actions. Don’t think yourself weak if you are. You’re strong, for coming even this far. Soldier on, though, because at this point, the battle is almost over.

I should add, though, that this type of scenario becomes even harder if you care about the miserable person. As someone who is both positive-minded and compassionate, your emotion could rise above your logic, and thus the temptation would arise to try and comfort this person, to make them feel better, to tell them that everything will be okay. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: Don’t waste your breath. You could talk to them, console them, tell them that you care, even explain in the most careful and philosophic way why they are so miserable and spiteful, but none of it will get you anywhere. They’ll certainly enjoy the time and attention you’re giving them, because once again, you’re distracted from your own happiness and they’re the center of attention. But they won’t remember your words, they won’t learn any lessons from what you say, and they will have snared you once more in that horrible beartrap of misery. You might really want to try and help this person, but unless you’re a psychiatrist, you can’t. You have to let it go, and practice only communicating with them when they are polite, positive, and respectful to you and to your life and wishes.

And that is exactly what you do. When they say or write things that hurt you, don’t bite back. Don’t add more fuel to their tirades. Don’t keep the negative energy flowing. Instead, take away their voice. Make it so that they can’t communicate with you, can’t insult you or put you down, or inject their misery into your veins. Allow them no platform or playpen from which to spew their hatred and their jealous, resentful diatribes. Return that person’s voice to him or her only when he or she decides to play nice, and to cease being negative, attention-seeking, and manipulative.

If you can do this, or if you have done this, then congratulations. You’ve won the war. Be that much more appreciative of your own happiness and your own positive attitude, because now you know: it doesn’t come for free. You have to fight to hold onto it, and to prevent others from dragging it from your heart and breaking your spirit. Loving or caring aboout someone else does you no good if you do not love yourself. And deep down, this is the problem that lies at the core of every miserable pessimist: they don’t love themselves. A sad realization, but a harsh reality.

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