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Unhappy Hour

You're invited to celebrate Unhappy Hour. It's a ceremony that gives you a poetic license to rant and whine and howl and bitch about everything that hurts you and makes you feel bad.

During this perverse grace period, there's no need for you to be inhibited as you unleash your tortured squalls. You don't have to tone down the extremity of your desolate clamors.

Unhappy Hour is a ritually consecrated excursion devoted to the full disclosure of your primal clash and jangle.

Here's the catch: It's brief. It's concise. It's crisp. You dive into your darkness for no more than 60 minutes, then climb back out, free and clear.

It's called Unhappy Hour, not Unhappy Day or Unhappy Week or Unhappy Year.

Do you have the cheeky temerity to drench yourself in your paroxysmal alienation from life? Unhappy Hour invites you to plunge in and surrender. It dares you to scurry and squirm all the way down to the bottom of your pain, break through the bottom of your pain, and fall down flailing in the soggy, searing abyss, yelping and cringing and wallowing.

That's where you let your pain tell you every story it has to tell you. You let your pain teach you every lesson it has to teach you.

But then it's over. The ritual ordeal is complete. And your pain has to take a vacation until the next Unhappy Hour, which isn't until next week sometime, or maybe next month.

You see the way the game works? Between this Unhappy Hour and the next one, your pain has to shut up. It's not allowed to creep and seep all over everything, staining the flow of your daily life. It doesn't have free reign to infect you whenever it's itching for more power.

Your pain gets its succinct blast of glory, its resplendent climax, but leaves you alone the rest of the time.

If performed regularly, Unhappy Hour serves as an exorcism that empties you of psychic toxins, while at the same time -- miracle of miracles -- it helps you squeeze every last drop of blessed catharsis out of those psychic toxins.

Pronoia will then be able to flourish as you luxuriate more frequently in rosy moods and broad-minded visions. You'll develop a knack for cultivating smart joy and cagey optimism as your normal states of mind.

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Now let's get you warmed up for Unhappy Hour.

First, unload a groan.
Second, disgorge a howl.
Third, unfurl a sigh.

Now say or sing these declarations:
Life is a bitch and everything stinks.
My pain is so bad I can hardly think.
I'm afraid to live, I'm afraid to die.
The world's so messed up, I can't even cry.

Exhale another very long groan. Eject a further desolate howl. Spill an additional self-pitying sigh.

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Now you're almost ready. When I say GO, you will have as much freedom as you want to dredge up and steep yourself in your savage sorrow, your unspeakable doubt, your shrill anguish, your secret shame, and your fearful fantasies.

Give yourself permission to make guttural moans, rueful cackles, or animalistic growls and squawks. Argue with God or your parents or the past while blurting out manic, explosive wails. Allow yourself to be crushed and dissolved, flung around and flayed, appalled and unhinged.

And while you're at it, you might want to scrawl down curses, scratch out narratives, or scribble symbolic drawings incited by your misery.

Later, make photocopies of these curses, narratives, and drawings, and conduct a ceremony of purification, burning them to ash, being careful not to set your house or the woods or yourself on fire, too.

As you burn, pray that you will extract all of the mojo you possibly can from the pain, and that the pain will make you smarter and wilder and kinder and ­trickier.

Pray that you will grow to feel gratitude for the pain, thereby turning the pain into a blessing and diminishing its power to hurt you.

Ready? Get set. GO. Be unhappy -- but for no longer than 60 minutes.

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(excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia)
 
 
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