How to be Happy in Just 30 Easy Steps

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Step 1: Do not let other people bother you. As Celine once said, the rest is eyewash.

Step 2: Listen for the mail carrier. When you hear their approach be ready to react. Hide from sight, but stay within listening distance. When they leave, get your mail, quickly, without any wasted motion, and then return indoors to open whatever mail you have received.

Step 3: When glumness comes upon you, fix yourself a meal (note: this cannot be your favorite meal; instead, make it one you’d refer to as “rather enjoyable”), but do not eat not too much of it, just enough to mildly sate the pangs and horrors welling in your gut. Afterwards, do all the dishes except for one. Always leave one dish in the sink. Always.

Step 4: Paint an old hat with a brush and watercolors. It can be a baseball cap, but preferably it should be a homburg. Do not worry about what color or colors you use. Just paint the damn thing. It is okay if you are sloppy with the job. Just make sure you carry out the whole labor to the end. Also, dispose of the hat within 7–10 hours. Never wear it outside.

Step 5: Dust early and often. Use an old shirt you never wear, slightly damp with holy water. And make an effort to get rid of any plastic or fiberglass flowers you may have collected over the years.

Step 6: While doing chores make sure you chant singsong phrases to yourself, such as: “Scrub, scrub, scrub the tub, gently as a spleen,” and “Wash that face, oh boy, oh girl! Wash that face until it’s pearl!” and “Toilet’s getting spick-and-span. If I can’t do it, nobody can.”

Step 7: Go for a walk on the 7th, 18th, and 21st of each month. The walk should be roughly 16–19 blocks long each way. You must (and this is important) go by a Subway sandwich shop, a Starbucks, a carbon-dating supply store, and a Taco Bell on the walk. You do not have to go into these place. Just passing by them is enough.

Step 8: (This step can be combined with step 7) Give a twenty-dollar bill to a homeless person if they ask you for money. But do not give them anything unless they ask you. Do not say anything to them in response to this gesture. Do not feel good about yourself for doing this. Just give them the money and walk on. This step should be repeated monthly, unless being combined with step 7 (see step 7, above).

Step 9: Inflate and squeeze a Whoopee Cushion a few times every day. Make this habitual, something done without contemplation or any desire for results. If it helps, repeat this mantra to yourself while in the act: “Just squeeze it.”

Step 10: If anyone asks you to be more formal when you are in the midst of explaining your innermost thoughts, respond by telling them, “Holy shit! I’m spilling my guts here, Samuel.” (Another name may be inserted, but Samuel works best.)

Step 11: Recycle and reuse your ideas until you’ve repeated the same scenario enough times to know whether it is worth it to keep sinking your life’s work into it. (This step might seem farfetched or even nonsensical to some, but this is no reason to ignore it. Happiness is no piece of steak.)

Step 12: If you say something like, “That’s a piece of steak,” and someone tries to correct you by saying, “In this country we go, ‘piece of cake,’” then you must tell them, “Sorry. What I meant to say is that you are a real piece of shit.”

Step 13: When speaking with friends, lovers, fellow book-club members, coworkers, or chance acquaintances, start as many of your sentences as you can with, “In this country…” or, “Take this with a grain of salt…” or, “Excuse my French…” or, “Well, Barbarella was never a barber, but…” or, “Hail Mary, seriously…” or, “By jingo…”

Step 14: Be not deceitful in your quest for supreme relaxation at all costs.

Step 15: Put on some music that you like, but dare not ever dance to it — not even a tiny shimmy. Just stand perfectly still, stiff and at attention, and hold the pose for as long as possible. You may silently lip the words, “Just like the possums and the flowers and the F-15 fighter jets, I deserve to be here,” if the moment gets too harsh.

Step 16: Think to yourself, “Same difference,” when faced with two equally terrible choices, but don’t say it out loud. Then recite this: “It’s a car chase kind of day out, but I’ve lost my keys. Even Steve McQueen never had it so mediocre. Still…I will win! I…am…not…a…loser!!”

Step 17: Do not lose your keys.

Step 18: When regaling others with your stories, find a way to work this phrase in, “I was strutting around with most of my sense knocked out of me, back then, Toots.”

Step 19: If you are disturbed by noises outside of your living space, open the window and shout, “Hey! Maybe keep it down out there, buddy! Some of us are trying to 3-D print broken hearts and spliced atoms up here.”

Step 20: Don’t try; attempt. (Also, as a side note to this step: if some person chances to inquire as to what it is that you do, don’t ever tell them that you are suffering for your art. Instead, with an air of caution but not pretense, say something such as, “I play guitar, but never in a band.” You might wish to shrug and cough mildly into your hand after saying this, but it is not absolutely necessary.)

Step 21: Think of a good memory. Remember it. Enjoy the way it makes you feel. Then, as promptly as possible, forget it ever happened. (This step needs to be repeated until the memory cannot be recalled, or if it is, it is impossible to know whether it’s really a memory or just something you made up to take the place of a memory, or maybe just a dream you had when you were a kid.)

Step 22: Fail at something you’ve always thought you were really good at while taking the opposite side of an argument you feel very adamantly about. Tease both these things out to their eventual end, the longest of ways around, and then change your attitude about what your favorite smell and/or color is. At the end of this process proceed to drink a 6-ounce glass of ice-cold Angostura bitters.

Step 23: Ride a bike somewhere you usually drive to. After arriving there, give the bike to someone who seems to need it as a mode of transport. If none such person can be found, merely leave the bike in an out-of-the-way place where it will not be impeding or blocking any paths.

Step 24: Get a cat.

Step 25: With absolutely zero ulterior motives, be extremely nice to a sworn enemy. Perhaps make them some freshly squeezed tomato juice, play them in a friendly game of ping pong, or give them a nice vase.

Step 26: Go to stores to buy things; never have them shipped to you.

Step 27: Read a real newspaper until the ink stains your fingers.

Step 28: Honk nicely at another driver when they’ve done something wrong. Just a little toot. That’s all. And maybe smile and wave at them, let them know that it’s not that big of a deal, whatever minor infraction or dalliance they’ve committed, in the whole wide world of scheming human endeavor. We are all only here to help each other.

Step 29: Raise your middle finger at yourself in a mirror. Hold it there for a solid minute or so, staring at it. Make faces at yourself. Admonish the image staring back at you by telling it to, “Come and get it piss gargler. I’m booking me a ticket for Happyville and you, my bad, balding, and bedeviled friend, are not invited. Suck it!” Wait for elation to overtake you.

Step 30: Get a very comfortable pillow.

Ok. It’s time to take a shower. You should be happy by now. Ready for success. Habituated to the things you need to do to get there. Naturally recharged and high on life! If you’re not, well, just go back to step 1 and start over. Hell, I can’t do everything for you. Despite what you might have heard, I’ve got stuff going on. I’ve got a social life too, you know? What? Do you think I’ve got all this free time to just sit around and dole out advice to complete strangers? Come on. Get on with it already. Be happy. What the hell else are you going to do with your day? It can’t possibly be that difficult, can it?

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