Conservation of Misery? No, Thank You.


Simply explained, Conservation of Misery states there is a finite amount of misery; the only way to lessen my share is increase the misery for someone else. Let’s look at this in practice:

Step 1: I stub my toe, it hurts and I want it to stop.

Step 2: I stomp on your toe, it hurts and you want it to stop.

Step 3: We both have throbbing toes.

Hmm…that does not seem to have worked. Let’s try again:

Step 1: You drink too much, become drunk and obnoxious.

Step 2: I decide to keep you company (what a friend I am !) and I drink too much, become drunk and obnoxious.

Step 3: We get into several fights – with each other and others – miraculously find our ways home, to be sick the next morning.

Hmm…that does not seem to have worked any better. I wonder why….. (SPOILER ALERT)….


Misery is not finite, it is a virus as contagious as the common cold. We are warned “Misery loves company” but that is not true; an accurate statement would be “Misery requires company” because that is how viruses spread. From time to time, even the most content people have disappointment, sadness, frustration, anger (all forms of misery looking to grow their colonies). I am not suggesting suffer in silence – in fact, I would never suggest swallowing suffering as that just makes it stronger with possibly tragic results – it is certainly a good idea to share your thoughts and feelings with your tribe (or village, if you prefer). Cry if that makes you feel better but be careful not to wallow too long; misery is insidious and will trick you with a false comfort leeching happiness from future moments.


What is not a good idea, indeed a very, very bad idea, to lash out at your people because you are hurting. You are not a wild animal, you are a human adult so please act accordingly and treat people with kindness and respect as you yourself would like to be treated. And if you have not been treated with the kindness and respect you deserve, dust yourself off and lead by example.

The best cure for misery? Happiness. Choose to be happy in the small moments: walk through fallen leaves, catch snowflakes on your tongue, linger in the falling spring rain, watch the butterflies dance, look up at the full moon and marvel at her light, or any of a billion other small moments we are given to enjoy.

Happiness is both the prevention and the cure for misery – take it in big gulps every day.


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