10 ways to be completely miserable in your LDS ward


Have you always wanted to be miserable? Based on the concept behind John Bytheway’s “How to be Totally Miserable: A Self-Hinder Book,” here’s a list of ways you can reach miserable status in your LDS ward. 

If you want to be happy, by all means, do the opposite. But if you follow the steps in this humorous list closely, you’ll be miserable in no time.

1. Expect to be bored


People who come to church with questions and with an optimistic view about the speakers and teachers usually come away happy. To avoid the risk, lower your expectations.

2. Show up late, leave early


If you’re worried that you’re starting to enjoy your ward, make sure to avoid spending unnecessary time with ward members. If you can, show up late to your meetings and always be the first to leave. If you get to know other people, you might like them, and that can lead to loving your ward.

3. Don’t answer your phone


Here’s a tip: Save the ward executive secretary’s phone number in your phone, then don’t answer when he calls. This way, you can be sure to avoid assignments and callings, which can lead to happiness in your ward.

4. Do as little as possible


If steps two and three don’t work out and you still manage to receive a calling, accept it grudgingly and put in little effort. Magnifying your calling will give you a feeling of satisfaction and purpose. Avoid this!

5. Be hard on people


In order to become and stay miserable in your ward, create thought patterns that reaffirm that your ward is the worst. Look for ways other people are falling short. Being hard on people will help you see the worst in them, which will help you stay miserable.

6. Stay home from optional meetings


If someone in your ward invites you to an optional activity, don’t go. These activities can sometimes be fun, and you don’t want to accidentally find yourself having a good time. Activities also usually involve other people, which means that attending them creates the risk of making friends.

7. Never home or visit teach


This one can be tricky, because your companion might try to persuade you to go. Don’t give in! Visiting ward members in their homes allows you to get to know them and creates opportunities to serve, both of which can increase happiness.

8. Disagree


With everyone. About everything. Even if you think you might agree with the basic idea of what someone at church is saying, find at least one way in which they are wrong. Repeat this exercise for anyone who makes a comment.

9. Complain during the week


Because you only meet with your entire ward once a week, it’s important to remind yourself during the week of all the reasons you hate your ward.

10. Wait for people to come to you


Whatever you do, don’t be proactive. Be sure to sit alone and wait for someone to come to you. If no one does, or if someone chooses to sit somewhere else even after seeing you, assume that it’s because they don’t like you.



Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.


  1. AvatarAHLSU95 Reply

    I appreciate the humor. But this article pokes fun at those who are miserable at church. The premise of this article is stated by this trite sentence: “If you want to be happy, by all means, do the opposite.” in other words, you’ll be happy if you: show up early, leave late; do as much as possible; accept all callings and assignments; going to all optional meetings; visit & home teach; be agreeable; speak only of positive things in the week; and be outgoing to people. Do those things, and you’ll be happy.

    The unspoken (and, in fact, laughing-at-you-not-with-you) point of this article is simply, “If you’re miserable at church, the problem is you.” That’s victim-blaming, and it’s a poor way to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”

    Love the gifs, hate the concept (and the self-righteous sensationalism of articles like these, and John Bytheway specifically).

  2. AvatarClifton Palmer McLendon Reply

    [8. Disagree]
    Even if you think you might agree with the basic idea of what someone at church is saying, find at least one way in which they are wrong.

    [10. Wait for people to come to you]
    If no one does, or if someone chooses to sit somewhere else even after seeing you, assume that it’s because they don’t like you.

    Pronoun-antecedent disagreement …

  3. AvatarBritney Reply

    I thought this was great. Not “victim blaming” at all. The truth is some people are miserable (at church, or in life in general) because they choose to be. Choose happiness, find happiness!

  4. AvatarTeine Samoa Reply

    I found this highly entertaining! I’m one of those who’re often unhappy at Church, and now I can laugh at myself as I picture me throwing a tantrum like Tinker Bell. While I appreciate the concern many of you have expressed, I also recognize that Miss Breanna couldn’t have written this article if she hadn’t done these things herself at some point or another. There’s a difference between being miserable and being Depressed. Depression is not a choice, being miserable is. Props to Miss Breanna for not bashing depression! 😀

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