Facile come the words of doubt and self-loathing to those for whom miserableness is the desired state of affairs. Far harder, the discipline to change.

A handful of friends and co-workers have been wallowing in self-pity; they complain as if they had no control over their lives. The cries of “I’m not successful” or “I don’t have enough money” roll off their tongues like Dan Rather on a metaphor binge. Yet powerlessness is not virtue deserving of pity or excessive understanding — especially when it lingers.

Each person has absolute control over his own destiny. True, different people have different paths, and the choices of the past can close some doors. But there are still plenty of knobs left to turn, and sometimes entirely new corridors will come into view.

Unhappiness is curable, with a bit of determination and optimism. Love life suck? Re-examine your expectations, and change yourself to be attractive to the kind of mate you seek. Work got you down? Find a new job, or start your own company. Suffering from existential ennui? Get a therapist. Family irritating you? Be honest about what’s really going on, and either fix it or alter some relationships.

No one can make you unhappy without your consent, and your active cooperation.

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