Saturday, November 02, 2002

Instructions for a Bad Mood

Instructions for a Bad Mood
written especially with the perpetually happy in mind

Working up a really bad mood takes some effort. Now many people think that one has to be born with a talent for being grumpy, and to these people I would say that while being born a screaming, sleepless baby certainly helps those of us in the business of being in a bad mood, everyone has within them the capacity to get into a really dark funk and stay there for as long as they'd like. For the really cheerful people out there who have often lamented their optimism in a gratingly chipper voice, I offer the following helpful instructions on how to work yourselves to a really dark state of despair:

1. Think about dreams deferred. The best way to get moody to is ruminate on life plans you've had but never fulfilled. While some big dreams - like becoming a mouseketeer, or the next Jacques Cousteau, or perhaps even that dream you had as a four year old of growing up to be Superman or a Kangaroo are clearly unattainable - the secret to really getting down is to think about the realistic dreams you had but couldn't fulfill because of circumstance or chance. Perhaps you wanted a college degree, but family problems kept you from completing your studies. Perhaps you'd like to travel more, but simply can't afford it. Maybe you wanted to be a fireman, but were rejected because of poor eyesight, weight, or illiteracy. It doesn't matter what failed dream you pick, so long as you really dwell on it. Ruminate on that dead dream. Bathe in its failure. This is the most basic form of self pity, and it's great for building the base of a serious funk.

2. Remember the significant other who let you down. Most bad mood rookies will take this to mean the lover who dumped you, but seriously grumpy people will know that this piece of advice is handy for more than just your post-breakup funks. This rule is exceptional when applied to family members, teachers, coaches, camp counselors...anyone, really, who promised you something that couldn't, or just wouldn't, remember to do. If you're into seriously advanced grumpiness, you can even apply this rule to the bus driver who was late that day it rained. Or that day when it was really hot, or heck, that day when you were not really inconvenienced. The point is, the bus driver was late. Get grumpy!

3. Criticize Yourself. Now some people think that the key to a really bad mood is to place blame upon others, but the pros know that the real blame for everything rests squarely on their own shoulders. Blaming other people for the woe in your life merely leads to a good mood again, because you can claim that nothing is your fault, and that you're simply a victim. Throw that victim talk into the trash can! The reason you don't get what you want out of life is all your own fault. The layoffs at your plant? It was all you, man. All 7,000 jobs. If only you had filed your paperwork faster, they would have never moved the plant to Mexico. Also, the dog was hit by a car because you owned the dog. And yes, you do know all about your parent's divorce, you homewrecker.

4. Think about the state of the nation. Bush is president. Think about that. George Bush Junior is President of the United State of America. It's permissible to cry. Then watch cable news networks all day. When you've seen the cycle repeat itself twice on one network, switch to another. With the current upswing in unemployment and crime, there's constant fodder on television for moodiness. Even if they're covering completely different stories, you should be good and grumpy after hitting just three stations, although if you're in a hurry, about 30 minutes of Fox news will make you pretty darn irate.

5. Compare yourself to others unfavorably. This works best if you have over-achieving relatives who are distant, so you only know about their successes without actually knowing about their very human downfalls. A great way to use this method for getting down is to read some of those really obnoxious holiday newsletters people put out with only the most positive things in them. If you can sustain the illusion that somewhere out there people are living a carefree, productive life while you languish in the hard work and drudgery of cleaning dishes everyday, you'll work yourself into a really fine bad mood. Sometimes sit coms are great for this, because people on TV always have spotless floors are are almost never seen scrubbing the toilet, as we all know everyone must do.

6. Be Creative. If you're still in a good mood after trying all five of the tips listed above, try to think of other things that get you down. You can result to the old standbys of Israel or Ireland if you're into "the whole world is shit" kind of funks, or if you're more of a local kind of person, and wish to concentrate on how bad your particular town might be, I would suggest thinking about the state of public education in order to get into "I hate this place" kind of evil feeling. To each very grumpy person his own brand of bad mood.

Now, as Oscar the Grouch would say, SCRAM!

No comments: