While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On envying your friends' success: (1) Get rid of your TV - for mountains of reasons that become obvious when you think about it.
(2) Cultivate a few friends who value giving, and who believe living lightly on the earth is a better goal than acquiring. There are a lot of us.
(3) Focus on what you can do to make the world a better place. Even a tiny improvement helps.
I made the transition 30 years ago and still wake up with a smile.
On having friends disappear on you: Please, folks who are feeling miffed about plans being canceled, emails going unanswered or friends acting funny, please consider they may have something going on in their lives bigger than you, and it's OK, the friendship is still there.
This smacked me upside the head recently. A friend was acting moody, and I later learned his wife had a miscarriage. Another friend FINALLY showed up for a night with the gang, and he emailed later to thank us since he's been dealing with his ailing father, which we had no idea about. And now I'm pregnant! I'm having to lie like a dog about not drinking and I'm canceling plans that called for late nights (I'm soooo tired). It's too early to tell them, and it's none of their business.
But I know we'll all celebrate when the time is right. Same goes for my other friends. Their struggles are not my business until they're ready to talk about them.
On being badgered: I had many conversations with my mother along the lines of, "If you don't (whatever), you'll end up old and alone" until I realized I could never please her, ever.
So at the next opportunity, I chirped, "Well, you never know, maybe I'll die young!" Or, "Maybe there will be a nuclear war and I won't have to worry about Social Security!" Our conversations were never quite the same again.
Truly, if you want things to change, then do something different.
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