1. Get annoyed
First, get annoyed. Forget about happiness. Nobody ever got happy by trying hard to get happy. If you tried, you know you only ended up feeling unhappy about your shortcomings in being – or becoming – happy. So if you did try, stop it immediately. And if you didn’t try yet, don’t start. Instead, get annoyed.
Right now, right here, there must be a crack in the universe. There must be a twinge in your head, a burn in your throat, or a throb in your heart. If not, there’s certainly a chill from the open window touching your shoulder, a foul taste of yesterday’s chewing gum on your tongue, a burnt smell from the neighbours’ barbecue tickling your nose, the flickering headlights of a car reflecting on your screen, or the distant sound of a helicopter rumbling in your ears.
And if none of those catch your attention, there must be a vivid memory of the man-bunned hipster cutting the line right in front of you at the supermarket, or the anxious anticipation of the dreaded conversation you still have to have with your colleague about who of you will attend the next meeting with your most short-tempered customer.
As soon as you’ve found one of these (or any other inkling of something not quite right), focus on that. Don’t let it go. Hold tightly onto it. Indulge in the observation of whatever annoys you, watch annoyance grow into irritation, hurt, anger, fury, and all-encompassing pain. That’s it. You’ve mastered the first step towards living a truly blissful life.
2. Take offence
Then, take offence. Next, whenever something is wrong (and by now, you’ll be skilful enough to always have something at your hands that is utterly, badly, completely wrong), make sure you don’t do anything about it. Instead, take offence. Add indignation to indisposition, and point your finger at someone or something outside of yourself.
This technique also works perfectly well when your indisposition is ill-defined, vague, foggy, or formless. In this case, just pick anything you perceive around you – and take offence as loudly as you can:
- “You’re not carrying an umbrella? How inconsiderate of you. Don’t you know it might rain any moment?”
- “You’re carrying an umbrella? How inconsiderate of you. Don’t you know how threatened my dog feels by anything resembling a stick?”
- “You’re talking to me? How rude of you. You’re intruding into other people’s lives!”
- “You’re not talking to me? How rude of you. You’re not interested in other people’s lives!”
You can also take offence on behalf of others – or even of the universe in general:
- “You’re marking the ballot with a cross? How utterly disrespectful of Christians!”
- “You’re taking pictures of the waxing moon? How utterly disrespectful of Muslims!”
- “You’re lighting candles one after the other? How utterly disrespectful of Jews!”
- “You’re breathing? How utterly disrespectful of Yogis!”
- “You’re mortal? How utterly disrespectful of life!”
The more you practice, the easier it will become for you to take offence at everything that comes your way. And the more you practice, the better you’ll get at seeing the interconnectedness of all the unfairness heaped upon you since times immemorial. Soon, telling your neighbour to keep their hammer will seem like an act of useless kindness. Instead, you’ll come to understand the incredibly insulting nature of the mere existence of hammers – as well as the unbelievably arrogant ignorance of those who dare to have hammers. If you’re in a position of power, you might now think about a global ban on hammers, getting rid of them once and for all. With this, you’ll have mastered the second step towards living a truly blissful life.
3. Assume bad intention
Thirdly, assume bad intention. In the old days, when someone stepped on our toes, dropped their ice cream onto our favourite summer dress, broke our singing bowl, or hurt our feelings, there was a superstitious ritual called: “Saying Sorry”. The way it worked was as follows: Let’s assume, A dropped a plate that belonged to Z. After realising that dropping this plate had pained Z (maybe not only because she now didn’t have enough plates to serve her football team, but also because it was a plate inherited from her long-deceased god mother and therefore very dear to her heart), A understood that he had (knowingly or unknowingly) interfered with Z’s well-being. So A would say to Z: “I’m sorry”. And – more often than not – Z (who understood that A had understood that Z’s well-being had been interfered with) would say: “It’s okay”. And from there, A and Z would move on to new adventures.
Now, there’s no need for so-called scientific research to understand that this kind of exchange is based on groundless, gullible, idealist beliefs: No excuse has ever unbruised a toe, unstained a cloth, unshattered a dish, or unhurt a broken heart. And if there’s no way to repair the damage that has been done, the only logical conclusion is to assume that permanent damage was what was intended from the start. Why break a plate if you don’t want it in pieces? Why punch somebody’s nose if you don’t want them to feel pain? Why reveal somebody’s mistakes if you don’t want them to lose their reputation? Why shatter somebody’s hopes if you don’t want them to fail? Why destroy somebody’s happiness if you don’t want them to suffer?
So: Don’t let yourself be tricked into accepting apologies. Instead, assume bad intention – in fact, to be on the safe side, always assume the worst possible intention of all, the great-grandmother of all devils’ intentions, the biggest, blackest, most hideous monster of all horror movies, the source of all evil. Whoever makes you take offence, must by definition be the embodiment of the dark side of the force, the hammer of all hammers, the ultimate destroyer of all. Once you’ve realised this, your world will start to clear up, as right and wrong separate as clearly as day and night. You’ve completed the third step towards living a truly blissful life.
4. Let others sort out the mess
Finally, let others sort out the mess. At the end, once you’ve gotten used to being annoyed, regularly take offence, and easily identify others’ bad intentions, you’re ready to take the final leap. Let others sort out the mess. Don’t get lured into ideas of agency, duty, responsibility, self-authorship, or even self-realisation. Be straightforward and simple: Expect others to clean up everything that’s in your way. If you’re skilful about this, you’ll never be specific about what you expect those around you to do. This makes it easier to complain about their (lack of) performance later on, so you continuously create fresh annoyances, offences, or assumed intentions to increase your expectations and make others work harder. Even if they have no hammer, you can now tell them to keep their hammer, blame them for not having a hammer, ask them in accusatory tones why they have (or have not) put the hammer away after cleaning up, or demand a visionary exposition of what they’d do if they had a hammer.
In addition, get used to casually uttering statements like:
- “Can you believe what I just saw? A guy was walking in the street wearing shoes”
- “A dog just ate my cousin’s homework – now, don’t ever tell me anything about dogs again”
- “This morning, the sun rose in the East. Doesn’t that say a lot about our society’s priorities?”
Those already working on sorting our your mess will diligently pick up on such statements and readily run to catch people wearing shoes, imprison all dogs, or bring down the sun. And of course they’ll continue to be haunted by hammers as long as there’s anything left to clean up.
At this stage, if you get bored of those cleaning up your mess, just fire some of them – there’ll always be new people to pick up where they left, lured by your sweeping statements of insight and wisdom, by your zealous interest in hammers, and by your ability to get annoyed at the tiniest speck of flour on a stainless white plate. From time to time, you can also thank them profusely – this will make them feel guilty, so you’ll actually help them to start their own work of getting annoyed. And when there’s no end of new annoyances coming up, guaranteeing a continuous cycle of taking offence, assuming bad intention, and letting others clear up the mess, you’ve finally reached the ultimate stage of leading a truly blissful life.
From now on and forever: Enjoy.
 This hammer, of course, comes with a deep bow to Paul Watzlawick.BACK TO TEXT