Are you fed up with being surrounded by happy, smiley people? Do you want to bring more misery, stress, anxiety and depression into your life and the lives of your loved ones? Then here is your handy guide.
1. Don't exercise
Even just 10 minutes or so per day of exercise releases endorphins (often referred to as the 'happiness hormone') and lowers cortisol (the 'stress hormone' associated with the 'fight or flight' response). Exercise doesn't necessarily mean going to the gym - the same effect can be achieved by going for a brisk walk.
2. Don't laugh
Laughter is an instant mood booster. 10 minutes of sustained laughter (e.g. through Laughter Yoga) can have the same effect as doing some exercise. Avoid at all costs if you want to be miserable!
3. Don't go outside
Fresh air gives you an instant energy boost - combine this with a walk and you really are in danger of straying into happiness territory! Sunlight, specifically, increases Vitamin D production, which isn't just good for healthy bones, but also boosts serotonin activity.
4. Don't get enough sleep
How much sleep you need varies from person to person, though typically adults need about 8 hours per night. Even just one night of reduced sleep can make you feel fatigued, grumpy and lacking in focus. The NHS quotes a sleep survey which showed that most people with anxiety or depression sleep fewer than 6 hours per night. As an added bonus, regularly depriving yourself of sleep will make you more prone to obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
6. Don't make plans
Setting goals gives you something to look forward to; it can increase your sense of hope and optimism for the future. Setting yourself challenging goals and then achieving them increases your levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps control the reward and pleasure centres in the brain.
7. Don't help others
Altruism gives you that 'warm glow' of having done something great. It makes you feel good. When you meet the needs of others, you can trigger the release of dopamine (see point 6, above). Additionally, helping others - perhaps volunteering your time to a community project or a charity close to your heart - can contribute to your sense of belonging, which in turn can release oxytocin, another hormone that, amongst other things, positively affects emotions.
8. Don't be grateful
Gratitude shifts your focus from the negative to the positive in your life. Because your brain can only actively perceive a tiny fraction of all information it receives, it has to filter out an awful lot. By regularly expressing gratitude, you are tuning your brain in to the positives so that it will filter out more of the negative and you will perceive your life and the world around you in a more positive light. Gratitude is particularly dangerous if you want to be miserable, as an experiment by Professor Martin Seligman showed that writing down '3 good things' per day for just 7 days could potentially increase happiness for up to 6 months. Steer clear!
So there you have it. It's not that hard to be miserable, is it?
Of course, if you actually want to be happy, simply remove the word "Don't" from each of the 8 handy tips above! Share this article with family, friends and colleagues to help them be happier, too.
This article was originally posted on the 'RWS | Resilience Wellbeing Success' website on 7th June 2016.