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School Talk 15 -How to be Miserable in Spite of Good Fortune

Today we said we would talk about how to be miserable even when having good fortune. Most people we see manage to do that quite well. Many people called all week that were miserable--they were having fantastic experiences in their life, but they were miserable anyway.

If someone won the lottery next week for $10,000 a week for the rest of your life, immediately most could make a problem out of that. Number one would be taxes. They would be thinking of how they’re going to get out of the taxes and be utterly miserable with it. After all they didn’t have anything to start with, but they still have half of it left which they’re bound to have left--even with taxes. But they’re miserable anyway.

Another one is how to take care of it--what’s the best way to invest it. Now we can worry about that; and no matter what we do even if it’s to buy CD's or bonds, we get worried about that. If we put it in the money market fund, we worry. If we put in the bank--no doubt it will be like Continental Bank, it’ll go broke. There’s going to be a million and one things haywire.

Somebody called because his girlfriend has left him, and he is very very miserable. Of course, he didn’t know whether that might be the best thing in the world to happen because he didn’t know how the girlfriend was going to behave next week anyway. In fact, he had been miserable the week before because though she had been with him, she wasn’t doing exactly as he wanted her to do. Now he was miserable because she was gone. Now if she comes back next week, he’ll be miserable least she leave again or, again, doesn’t do what he wants her to do. So it’s not going to work out anyway.

If one determines that one is going to be miserable, one usually succeeds. We have a gentlemen whose going to be here in a few minutes who tells me that his life is always one of misery. It is merely that some days are a little less miserable than others, and he has utter good fortune all the time. He has fantastically good fortune, but, you see, it’s all the degree of misery that you want to live in.

Now most people maintain they don’t want to be miserable, is that right? You like to be miserable? Do you know of anybody who likes to be miserable? I just got off the telephone with someone who wanted to be miserable and has been miserable for umpteen years. They have spent great sums of money going to therapists, but then they’re miserable because they didn’t go to the right therapist.

So the best way to be miserable that I know of is to set up an ideal of how things ought to be. You should never be in the slightest bit challenged or disturbed or have anything interesting to do, because if you have something very interesting to do you’re afraid it will go away real quick or it will cease to be interesting or maybe I will become bored with it, or something on that order. So that is being miserable. So that seems to be the first thing, I think, that is necessary to be miserable, and most everybody practices it quite well.

We will give instructions on how to be miserable in case you’ve forgotten. That is to set up an ideal of the way tunings ought to be; and it’s pretty easy to see they’re not that way, or they may not be that way very shortly.

More than likely they’re not quite that way now, but the possibility of them being far from being that way is very imminent--coming up at any minute, Have you ever worked in that direction a little bit? That is you set up how things ought to be, and things look like they’re pretty close to that--then there is intense danger looming in the mind that those things may all change very quickly and then they won’t be that “ought to be” anymore..

We can go back and look at some past experience that didn’t work so well; and, no doubt, this present experience will turn out to be that way too. I know people who tell me that they’re so very happy, everything is so wonderful right now; but gets cancelled out right quick when they say, “What if it doesn’t last.”
They say, “Everything I’ve been involved in went sour on me in a little while,” whether it was a personal relationship--whether it was a business, or whether it was a job. We know people who are very miserable because they don’t have a certain job. As soon as they get the job, then they become miserable least they lose the job or that they will not perform adequately

We know people who have been very ill and they were very miserable while they were ill. They wanted to get well, and something came along and they did get well--now they’re very miserable least they get sick again. Did you ever feel real good someday Bonnie, and did you begin to worry least you feel like you’d felt some other day before. So you can’t stand to feel real good—but, you see, when one is miserable, it’s familiar and we don’t have to fret over things then, huh? They’re just the usual miserable state; and there’s nothing to fret over. If it’s going real good, then there must be something terrible looming in the distance.

My mother was an expert at teaching people how to be miserable. She worked on me since the day I was born; and I can recall quite vividly from age two or three on that she might sit down somewhere and say, “I’m very uneasy, everything’s going so well, I know something terrible is going to happen,” and of course, everybody was miserable then. I sat around the house a nervous wreck waiting for these terrible things to happen. This is the way I grew up. That’s why I had to get in the field of endeavor I’m in. It was a necessity or crack up, you know, because I was taught very well how to be miserable. “Everything’s going nice”, the lady said and was very uneasy to use Kentucky hill language, very uneasy because I know something terrible is going to happen. Nothing terrible ever happened that I know of; but who cares, I was miserable from the earliest time I can recall, until I left home and for quite a while afterwards until I found out it wasn’t necessary.

But all we got to have is some idea that something is not like it ought to be or it won’t be like it ought to be, and then we can be very miserable. Now misery is not from pain and discomfort, those things are pain—and we’re all going to be subject to that.

Misery is a mental condition—not a physical condition. It is strictly 100 per cent a mental/emotional condition—it has nothing whatever to do with physical. Now if I have a physical pain, that pain I can deal with; but a “what if something terrible is going to happen”--I have no way to deal with that. It is purely in the head and it is purely miserable. Did you ever have that Gary? Been there, huh? Many times? Once mostly--only once—all the time. Most of us have been miserable once in our life from the time we started until now. Is that about right?

It’s like our friend coming in says, it varies in degrees. Sometimes you can be slightly distracted from it. If you have enough things going on around you, you can be slightly distracted; but just let it get quiet around you and here comes the misery--just let it be calm that nothing anxious is going on—no big turmoil is going on, what happens Bonnie?

(Nothing is going on.)

You get miserable then, it’s right there, it starts full tilt to work on you so that you can now be very miserable, is that right? And when we tell people that being miserable is totally unnecessary, they look at us like we must be a complete idiot; or if they’re on the phone calling, and I tell them that—they tell me I’m a complete idiot--that there’s no way that the human being can get along without being miserable.

Now we have talked to many people and most everybody here has been aware of it, that we talk about think, act, feel. You think how you would like to feel? Then you think how would I act if I already felt that way. ………And if you begin to act that way, you will feel like you’re acting. Now if you sat and gave great sighs every few minutes—“Oh Lord”—“Oh how am I going to stand this”, you would feel how? You’ve already started it. You have already begun to feel miserable immediately as soon as you act it.

I was on the phone with a person this morning, “Oh, I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it. Oh Crap. I can’t stand this.” Well, you can tell me how this person was feeling. Huh? But if you get the person to start laughing and saying a few nice things and walking around like they owned the world; and you know, you do own it> You can use anything here, can’t you; and you can do anything you want to. Then you start being somewhat thankful, you know, you begin to feel good just about as quick as you feel miserable with these great heavy sighs.

I was on the phone five minutes ago and the lady was “Oh, Oh,” I said, “Well how are you gonna feel when you set around and sigh--when you give deep sighs, you’re gonna feel that way.”

I sit with people who sigh by the hour. Just one deep sigh after another—ever been around anybody like that? It’s remarkable how often we are doing that and haven’t the faintest idea that we are doing it. Now all you have to do to be miserable in spite of all the good fortune that may come your way is to act like you’re in serious condition—terrible troubles and problems—no telling when something horrible is going to strike—you know, the insurance companies tell you, you never know when illness is going to strike. As though illness were a little demon up there flying around the ceiling and it looks down there and says “There’s old Barry, I’m going to bite him. He’s big and fat.” So they get a good dinner off of him, you know, you just never know when those things are gonna happen—of course, if you pay the remotest attention to what you’re inner feeling is, your activity, and your nutrition and you’re environment, you will know, when you’re headed to being sick, and you will know when you’re headed to feeling very well too--anybody knows that.

But we act like we don’t know that. We say we are pure victims—there was a disease floating around and it’s going to attack you and you never know when it’s going to get hungry enough to latch on.

So we can keep all of our misery going in tact, no matter if you win lotteries, you have a date with a beautiful lady or a lovely man or whatever’s going on, no matter what’s happening, you can always foresee that something terrible is going to happen to interfere with your good fortune and if you do keep up your little attention as to how miserable things may shortly be—you can be very very miserable without any effort at all, no matter what kind of good fortune you have, huh?

We read about last evening where a man won fifteen million dollars or some such amount in a lottery. Can you imagine the agony that man’s going through now? He’s got to pay off all this and not only that he’s got to live to be 84 to get the whole 15 million because they’re going to pay him off $900,000 a year. Can you imagine the agony he’s going to have as to how he’s going to stay alive until he’s 84, when everybody has already arranged for him to die at 65. How is he going to get out of all the taxes he’s going to have to pay and all the people that are going to be hounding him to get some of that money? Every con man in the world is going to be after him and he knows it and he’s in utter agony right now. Ok?

I’ve talked long enough, let’s have conversation. You manage to stay miserable a few times in your life, Jeff, with some good fortune coming your way? You have done well at it? You’re like the old gent I met down in Alabama one day. He said I’ve had an awful lot of trouble. I’m very old, and I’ve had lots of troubles, very little of which ever happened.

(I remember being this high and…she indicates about age two on the floor……..we would be laughing and having a good time and my father would say, you’re laughing now, but you’re going to cry later.)

Right on, so you’d better get the laugh off of your face—wipe that silly grin off your face and get serious here. You just don’t realize the seriousness of this world we’re in. “This is a veil of tears that we’re traveling through.”

Once they drug me off to church when I was a little kid, and they talked about going through this “veil of tears” propounding the serious business being alive—propounding that It’s really a problem. Ok?

Paulette, what’s going on with you? You manage to be a little miserable now and then?


Sometimes when somebody spills a glass of water or something like that. Sometimes too many customers come in the place all at one time, can you manage? How about the night before last, was everybody working on being miserable—everybody there? They were saying…”What if this happens?” and “What if that happens.” and everything already had happened. But, you know, the building is still standing isn’t it? The building is still standing and the business is still going on, is that right? There wasn’t anything serious happen.

It’s fairly easy to remember, you know. Remember the story about the man who said he wanted to pay somebody a great sum of money to keep himself on a level. The wise person wrote for him—“This too, shall pass.” It’s really an even a better one to say “This came only to pass” or “It only came to pass”.

Everything that has come has passed so far, hasn’t it? If you don’t really latch on to it, and get tied up with it, it’s going to go right on by. But we don’t let the good miserable feelings go on by, do we? We keep that with us. That way, we can have it in tact and use it at all times.

Vicki, what’s going on with you—you’re making all kinds of notes and…….

(…… got me thinking—that’s what I said. My daughter called and I said something ominous is going to happen.)

Something ominous is gonna happen--something terrible is gonna happen--sounds just like my mother. I know something terrible has happened to the child because otherwise I would have heard from her, and if you do hear from her, “Well, I know she had something terrible going on, but she didn’t want me to worry about her, so she didn’t let me know.” So, doesn’t matter if the kid writes and says she has all kinds of lovely situations, the little not i’s in your head will jump up and say, “I know she’s in trouble, but she just didn’t want to worry me.”

Yes, all those little not “i’s” in there say they are great fortune tellers, and they say they can tell you what other people are thinking, what they’re all involved in including their motives. They further say they can tell you all the future and the terrible events that are going to happen. Have you ever noticed that they never tell you very much about nice things gonna happen--they’re not into that. They’re into telling you what terrible things are going to come about.

So about all it takes to continue our uninterrupted misery is that no matter what goes on with us, we continue to listen to the not ‘i’s' and believe that everything they say is true. They are the greatest detractors in the world. They’re telling you that everything that you touch is going “bad”. If you think about making an investment or going into a business or something, they always tell you all the things that can go wrong. They never tell you it might work out just fine.

We talked to one of our visitors this week and he said he was very tired of working for somebody else; he’d like to go in business for himself. I said, “Well, what are you waiting for.” He said, “Well, I might lose everything I have.” I said, “Well, how much do you have?” He said, “I have about $500 saved up.” He might lose it all in one fell swoop, you know. I’ve dropped more than that before I get up some mornings. It’s easy. So what’s a little thing like that? But you know, the not ‘it’s’ always tell you of all the misfortune and the miserable things that can happen to you, and how everything will go “bad”; and that no doubt because of something, you did when you were four years old, that you’re cursed for all of your life.

I spent some time interning in a mental hospital and we had many people who had committed some unpardonable sin back when they were six or seven years old and so they had had a miserable life. Now that’s one that’s guaranteed to keep you miserable from now on—commit the unpardonable sin—nobody knows what it is. It’s just one they don’t talk about—but no doubt we committed it, ok? No doubt we got that done early. So whatever we chose to make miserable, we can continue to be very miserable with.

Now we could decide that we were through with being miserable--I haven’t found any redeeming feature for feeling miserable. Has anybody here known any redeeming feature for being miserable all the time? You know any? Do you know any Jeff?

(Some people get lots of attention.)

Oh I don’t know about that--most people don’t get much attention while being and acting miserable. They try other ways to get attention.

(Some people make money with it.)

The best income from it, of course, is writing country western songs.

(Oh, that’s right.)

That’s the best income--writing them and singing country western songs. That’s the only saleable way of using misery. But most of us are not songwriters and certainly not singers. When I heard everybody sing happy birthday to me the other night, I was finally convinced that there are no singers here--that’s for sure and certain. No, I didn’t have any misery over that--my ears are kind of funny and don’t’ hear music very well anyway. But I can tell when there are no two of them singing in the same ballpark. That I can tell.

So that’s the only place I know where you can sell misery is country western songs. There are some of those ballads back in the hills of Kentucky. They are all so old, and there are no new ones written. But the little girls I knew back there told me a ballad was a song where only two people died. So that’s what I know about ballads, you know, only two die in that one song.

So if you want to be miserable, all you have to do is act a little miserable and ask yourself, “What if?”, and listen to the not “i’s”.

So there are three little rules that you can use and guaranteed to always be miserable.

1. Act miserable.
2, listen to the not ‘i’s’ which will always tell you something terrible is going to happen.
3. Act out and believe all that the not ‘i’s’ tell you. Then you can always be miserable and have your little ideal as to how things ought to be.

Obviously if you didn’t want to be miserable, you would only reverse those three. You’d only need to reverse them. You would do what Bonnie? You would start acting a little different, act like you were great, then second one is you would what?

(Put the not ‘it’s in their place.)

No, they are always going to talk anyway, but just don’t listen to them--they’re all liars anyway, why listen to them.

What’s the third one?--act like you feel wonderful and go on about your business. Then you won’t have any misery.

But who wants to give up our misery? You know, after all, that’s you’re claim to fame, isn’t it? It also indicates you’re a serious-minded individual and who wants to be frivolous.

After all, I was scolded when I was a child more often for being frivolous than any other thing I was scolded for. I was a good kid, so I didn’t get scolded for doing terrible things, but I was scolded for being frivolous which means I wasn’t miserably serious. You know, miserable people want everybody around them to be miserable—have you ever noticed that? If I forgot to play the role of being miserable, I was scolded unmercifully for it. You just can’t carry on that way because it’s not holy and righteous and nice.

(I recall one time I was told to be serious and grave.)

Right, and a grave is another thing, it is a place where they put people—it has a very southern meaning, but serious, grave, miserable. I just use a good country term, miserable. So if you want to say serious, or grave or miserable, you come out about the same synonym all the way through.

So I feel that if you want to be miserable, you may and certainly if you don’t want to, you quit! And it’s that simple, but who wants to quit. Barry, do you want to quit?

(*I seem to like it.)

Well, there’s nothing that prevents you from it. You know, if you know how to be miserable, then you also know how not to be miserable because you only do the other side of the coin, right? So how about going out and acting like you feel pretty good and that everything’s going along pretty wonderful and that you know wonderful people in the world and you don’t have any ideal as to how it ought to be.

In this week’s newsletter, we made a little blurb about being able to look around and see the wonders you lived in—you’ve read about old Solomon in all his glory back in his day. Wonder how much of his kingdom he would have traded for a Cadillac or even a Chevy or even a Ford Pinto—1974 model. That would have been pretty wonderful—how much would he have traded of his kingdom to have a house with plumbing and air conditioning and electricity in it? How about the dishwasher is another little thing he may have traded for. How much do you think he would have traded of his kingdom for that wonder? And if you go out here and look to think how many thousands of miles of wiring goes into the city of the valley of the sun, huh? How many thousands of miles? How many thousands of miles of piping is underground to carry in water and carry out sewage, carrying in gas, all those endless things—what kind of a marvel do we live in—makes the seven wonders of the ancient world look like kids toys.

But how often have you ever thought of how thankful you are to live in this modern wonder. Once?



We take it for granted. We just like we take everything around us for granted. We, the people around us for granted--they ought to all know I love them and care for them. They ought to do this or that or not do this or not do that. We take them all for granted. We take all the wonders we have for granted and then wonder why we don’t have a great feeling of elation.

We will have another little discussion next Friday afternoon at 4:30 pm. In the meantime, if you have something you want me to talk about next week, let me know through the week.

*Audience participation in parenthesis.