Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Attitude Check Is First Step on Road to Becoming Happy

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Bored in Roanoke, Va.," the twice-divorced man who asked for your help in changing his life, prompts this letter. Please pass this message on to him:

DEAR BORED: No one "finds" happiness. Happiness is not to be found in another person, place or thing. Happiness comes from within. The first thing you need to do is change your thinking about being "middle-aged" in your 40s. I'm 63 and find it hard to think of myself as "middle-aged" -- much less the senior citizen I really am.

Attitudes are learned. You can learn to think of others instead of thinking of yourself all the time. No one is going to "make" you happy. You will not find a happy person until you, yourself, are happy. Like attracts like. Always act interested in others. Find out all you can about the person you are with. Do good things for others and soon you'll feel good about yourself.

Be thankful each day: thankful you live in America, thankful for your health, your family, your friends, your job, your home and your pet(s). Look around you. Smile. It takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown. Life is wonderful if you THINK it's wonderful, and it stinks if you think it stinks. Most of your story hasn't been written yet, and the end is up to you. Make it happen. -- SHIRLEY IN SPRINGFIELD, MO.

DEAR SHIRLEY: With an attitude like yours, I'm sure you're a force to be reckoned with and the center of a large circle of friends. People love the company of those who make them feel good about themselves.

Many readers wanted to reach out and help "Bored in Roanoke." Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Didn't anything ring a bell with you when "Bored in Roanoke" said he didn't enjoy life and could not find happiness anymore? Those are strong statements. Possibly this man should seek help from a professional to determine whether or not he's suffering from depression. Those two statements show that the man clearly has met two of the criteria for depression. Depression is terribly scary, very dark, and deeper than the deepest. If that's where he is, he doesn't have to stay there, and he should know it. -- LIZ IN SOLON, IOWA

DEAR LIZ: You are a caring woman. I agree with you that if "Bored's" symptoms persist, medical help is indicated. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: "Bored" may also want to find a divorce support group in the Roanoke area. Many people do not realize that people who have been through a divorce need to go through a grieving process for their lost relationship, and may need help in rebuilding their self-esteem. Without help and support, many divorced people shut down emotionally to avoid possible future hurt.

Many communities have divorce support groups, often through a local church. These are NOT dating groups, but opportunities to connect with others who understand the needs of divorced people. It is vital that we heal ourselves before getting involved in new relationships. -- MARTHA IN GRANTS PASS, ORE.

DEAR MARTHA: Thank you for the helpful input. I'm sure it will be of interest to many people. Support and empathy can do wonders in healing a broken heart.