The 48 laws of power: Law 10
Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky
You can die from someone else’s misery – emotional states are as infectious as disease. You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster. The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.
A person has a problem, a frustration, a grief. They focus on the problem, talk about the problem and nurture the problem until they finally begin to identify with the problem. They secretly love their problem. It gives them purpose.
You meet this person. They hope to share custody of their problem with you. They want to make it your problem, too.
In other words, they want to put a monkey on your back.
People know Wizzo is a problem solver so they assume he’ll be willing to have a long, pointless discussion with them about their monkey. They’re wrong. If that monkey gets near him he’ll kill it. Wizzo is not a monkeyfarmer.
Problem solvers believe in direct action: “Stab it through the heart with a knife.”
Problem solved. Monkey gone. Life is good.
The person who loved that problem is wide-eyed, shocked that anyone might want to eliminate their beloved monkey. They didn’t want to kill it. They just wanted to talk about it.
“Stab it through the heart with a knife.” Discussion over.
Problems are monkeys. Life without monkeys is good.