“I Can’t Find Anything to Be Happy About”

This month the Know-It-All Sisters Mary Lloyd and Barbara Morris address a concern from a reader known only as Damn Tired of It:

“There’s been so much bad going on lately that I really can’t find anything to be happy about. How do you have a good life when the politicians alternate between stubborn battles over ideology and philandering and the fat cats keep getting fatter while the rest of us keep getting the shaft. How do you make a good life with all that as a backdrop?”

As always, the Know-It-All Sisters, who always know absolutely everything about everything,  tackle the issue, perhaps not to the satisfaction of Damn Tired of  It,  but the Sisters do their best. If you have a different solution, please chime in on the Contact page.

Here we go:

Mary Lloyd

Mary Lloyd

Sister Mary Says:

Dear DTOI,

Yeah, I’m with you. The behavior of those we look to for leadership is pretty pathetic at the moment, whether you’re talking about politics, sports, or entertainment.  But let’s not lose track of the forest for all the louse-infected trees that we keep seeing on the news.

The choice to let someone else’s behavior ruin your good day is yours alone, whether it’s the nasty kid in front of the library or the latest congressman (or woman) to admit to mind-numbingly inappropriate behavior while in office.  When you let those kinds of things make you unhappy, you’ve basically handed over something the bandits didn’t even ask for.  That’s a bit like telling the thief who just broke into your house where the family silver is hidden when they weren’t even looking for it.

Letting anyone else take away your joy is victim behavior.  All it will get you is more of the same.  Don’t surrender your happiness to some bozo in a headline.

There are two things to remember about all the awful behavior by people in high power that we see these days.  First, much of what we hear about is amplified by the media outlets’ need for “news.”  We hear a lot more about a lot more than we did decades ago because there are so many more news outlets trying to get our attention.  Some would argue that it makes us better informed.  But that’s true only if the information we are being bombarded with is relevant.  Most of the time, that’s not so.

This kind of “news” is not in anyone’s best interest.  But it gets wide distribution because they need to report something.  And for ratings, it’s best if that something is information that most of the other outlets don’t have.  Muck-raking can give you an edge.  (At least until the whole house of cards collapses around you as it seems to be doing for Rupert Murdoch and company at the moment.)  So don’t put a lot of faith in what you’re hearing in the first place.

The second thing to remember is that these people are just people unless we give them that high power.  When they don’t carry the mantle well, we need to be better about shunning them rather than listening to every inane thing they say and do thereafter.  And as soon as we have the chance, we need to demote them.  Instead, we accept repeated, steady doses of garbage that wasn’t worth hearing about in the first place.  If we stop tuning in, the media will stop churning it out.  If we stop tolerating it and force these people out of the high profile positions they hold whenever we can, those who come behind may make more prudent choices.

We need to “vote” however we can to get these people off the stage of our reality.  Turn off the TV.  Don’t read the juicy details of what’s written about the sordid behavior.  Show up for the next election with a well-informed opinion about who would do a better job.  Get involved in getting that person elected.

Right now, the NFL owners and players are still arguing about how to divvy up ridiculous amounts of money derived exclusively from the loyalty of fans.  We would all do well to tell them to go to hell when they decide to get on with the season.  Same with the NBA.  Greed isn’t pretty in any uniform.

Part of keeping your own good humor is taking some kind of action to disassociate yourself from the bad behavior.  Write your senator if you don’t like how he or she is handling things.  Do what you can to take a stand against whatever you see that’s wrong.  Then let it go and get on with your life. 

This junk is not worth your ongoing focus.  Pull that dead skunk off the road for the safety of other drivers and then get the hell out of there rather than eulogizing it at a funeral.  Handing over your happiness to the fat cats and bad actors is not what you need. 

Sister Barbara Says:

Dear DTOI,

Barbara Morris

Barbara Morris, R.Ph.

You may not be able to change undesirable circumstances but you can change how you respond to them. That said, more often than not it IS possible to change undesirable circumstances but it takes effort, sacrifice, and even the risk of unpopularity.

Yes, it appears things are going to hell with the speed of light but there is still time to turn it around if we are willing to make an effort. Making an effort, politically speaking, is tough for Americans because we can’t imagine the American way of life not ever being what it has been. We take for granted what we have, and that’s a dumb thing to do — in good times and bad times.

Okay, so politicians are philandering and lying and selling out America, so what are you going to do to try to change things to your liking? Do you vote? If you don’t then you have nothing to complain about.  If you do vote do you know who and what you vote for or is your vote determined by manipulative campaign ads or the urging of friends, family, or co-workers who are just as poorly informed as you are?

If an incumbent is up for election, have you checked his or her voting record? You may be astonished to learn that the always-smiling handsome or pretty glad-handing elected official has an agenda that’s radically different from what you support. Have you bothered to uncover a candidate’s real agenda? Look at the individuals or organizations backing the candidate. Where are campaign funds coming from? That will tell you more than empty promises made to garner your vote.

Time is long past that we can afford to vote according to party affiliation or because friends and family always voted along party lines. Know what you believe and stand for it. It’s time to take the blinders off and get involved to make the kind of “change” YOU want, actually happen.

If you want the “good life” that “used to be,” work to educate your self, friends and family. Understand how and why we are in the mess we are in and what action needs to be taken to clean it up. Become involved with like-minded friends and groups. If you haven’t read the Constitution now is the time to do it. If you believe the Constitution means what it says, stop complaining and get to work to restore it so we can get back to the “good life” the Constitution made possible for us to have, and which we have allowed to slip away because we have been lazy, indifferent, or uninformed.

On a positive note, as you become involved in cleaning our political house, enjoy each and every day with your friends and family. It makes the burden of doing what you have to do a lot easier. Be grateful for what we still have. The USA is still the best place on the planet. You may be unhappy with the status quo but people risk their lives to get here to enjoy and prosper in our land of plenty. No hard feelings, Damn Tired of It. Sometimes we just need another point of view — or two — to see things in a different light or from a different perspective.



  1. Both of you know it alls hit the nail on the head. Learned helplessness is our enemy. I strictly monitor the vast amounts of stuff  I read in the media, don’t watch TV news/reality shows, and make an effort to dip into many points of view. I’ve taken an interest in a local state senator’s doings and I go onto their web page and keep him in touch with my ideas. Participating makes me feel empowered and energized. It’s fun, give it a chance!

    • Barbara Morris says

      Esteed, thanks for commenting and especially, for keeping an eye on your local politicians! Your participation DOES make a difference.

  2. I worked for CBS when it was owned by Paley and Walter Cronkite was still on the air.  We were proud to work for WBBM-TV, because their News Division was the envy of every other station in our market.  The reason it was different from the rest was because Paley didn’t require News to show a profit.  Those days disappeared almost immediately after Paley was gone.

    It’s not that we have more news outlets, it’s that the outlets we have are concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.  And anyone who believes that news is not influenced by the ownership of the outlet, is naive.  We don’t get news, we get infotainment.  They say it’s what we want, but we have no chance to decide what we want.  Some assignment editor in some media outlet, looking over his shoulder so he doesn’t offend his owners, is calling the shots.

    I watch Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, and I read The New York Times….and even The Times isn’t what it used to be.

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