In a mood? You're not alone

I'm in a mood - and not a good one.

I read the papers, look on the internet, get in my car, watch TV, and it seems almost everywhere I go, people are in a mood too. The world is supposedly ending (due to disease or global warming, take your pick), people have decided they no longer need to be civil to one another, much less help each other, and the people we've elected to government offices have largely made everything divisive, attempting to sway people to "their side."

My mood reminds me of a movie called "Network." The main character was a TV personality, and his tag line was, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!" To that, I say, "Amen, brother!"

If I'm honest with myself, I don't like being in a mood, and I don't like being around people who are in a mood. I don't like people on the internet who are in a mood, and I don't like a culture that always seems to be in a collective mood of judgment, anger, self-righteousness and hatred disguised as concern.

Yet the more I focus on not being in a mood, the worse my mood becomes. The more I seek solace in things or social media or other diversions from life, the more unpleasant I become. Now, if you know me, you might not say I'm unpleasant (generally), but I'm a reasonably good actor, you see. I think most people are reasonably good actors, but many have decided to end their acting careers lately, and are instead just unpleasant.

While everyone has their moments, and I'm no exception, you can't change the world by focusing on yourself and what is wrong in the world. This is nothing new, but it's true. The only way to make things better is to first be thankful for what you have and then to try and help others with what you have. And I'm not talking about money. Money can help, but it's never the same as lending an ear to listen and show compassion or offering encouragement to help someone through something new and scary or being a companion to someone who is hurting.

When I was a kid, we knew our neighbors and helped them out. They did the same for us. This wasn't an act of indirect selfishness, but a recognition of what was the right thing to do. These days, people stay to themselves, other than a few friends, and many don't even greet strangers in the street. Is this the kind of world in which you want to raise your children? Not me.

So, I'm going to try to start each day with thankfulness, and help those who need help. I may not always succeed, but since it seems moods are contagious, I plan to try to make mine a positive one for a change. Hopefully, you will as well.

The world needs that right now. It needs you to be that positive change, too.

- Bill Lewis of Hinsdale is a former contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].