Column: The Fine Art of Misery

By: Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D., Psychology, Guest Columnist

The first five installments of “The Fine Art of Misery,” including this introduction, appeared on Dr. Roush’s blog Topics five through 10 will appear on her blog following publication in the CNM Chronicle.

This series is intended to be a spoof, a lighthearted invitation to look at how we create our own misery. It is by no means meant to be disre­spectful or minimizing of anyone’s true pain, particularly regarding depression and anxiety.

This series is being brought to you as a public service. I have recently observed an alarming number of CNM students smiling, walking with long, confident strides; their heads held high, greeting total strangers with kind­ness, remaining optimistic in the face of disappointments, and perhaps most alarming, exhibiting generosity while searching for parking spaces.

Now, to the casual observer, these might appear to be positive behav­iors. Don’t be fooled! Look around you. It is not normal to be happy and carefree.

If you are well adjusted, physically healthy and you enjoy a satisfying relation­ship, you are a social outcast.

You are in a minority that enjoys no legal protec­tions. You are hopelessly doomed to a life of being misunderstood, judged, and socially shunned. The normal person won’t be drawn to you. You will never be able to relate to Wednesday Afternoon TV Specials or Lifetime Channel movies. With no excuses for poor performance, people will expect quality outcomes from you. The pressure will be too much.

Think about it. The vast majority of Americans are depressed and overweight. The divorce rate is over 50%. Drug abuse is on the rise and even the planet is taking a nose dive. Do you want to risk social alienation at such a time of misery solidarity?

There is a reason for the saying “safety in numbers.” Rejoin our ranks and relax in the safe and strong arms of mediocrity and melancholy.

I am here to help you. Follow this series to learn a step-by-step guide to the joys of misery.

We will be covering all the major topics designed to create self-perpetuating, life-long drama.

Each topic skillfully builds on the last one, illus­trating a common-sense pro­gression of skill development and attitude changes leading to a lifetime of pervasive misery. Here is the list of topics we will be covering:

1. Stinking Thinking: The Sweet Smell of Successful Misery

2. Low Self-Esteem: How Low Can You Go?

3. Depression: Prozac is for Sissies

4. Anxiety: How to Work Yourself Into a Panic in the Absence of Any Real Threats

5. Finding True Love: Trample Over Those Pesky Red Flags

6. Fair Fighting? Nice Guys Finish Last

7. Create a Toxic Workplace: Take This Job and Shove It!

8. Using Misery to Destroy Your Body

9. Create a Lasting Legacy: Parenting to Create Crazy Kids

10. Your Deathbed Reflection: A Life Lived Badly

I bring several years of tried and true experience to this column. I have personally tested all of the techniques described in these articles.

My affiliation as a provider within the managed health care system taught me how to mas­terfully keep my clients stuck in their dysfunctional living patterns while being limited to their six allotted sessions. Stay tuned for these titles coming soon!

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