There's a new game in town: misery poker. Perhaps you've played? In these dreary days of recession, it's all the rage. The rules are simple: Anytime someone complains about their day, you try and trump it, explaining why yours was worse. Your brother got yelled at by his boss? You got yelled at by your boss, your boyfriend and the doorman. Your friend lost her job? At least she gets eight weeks severance, you're cut off. Your wife spent all day taking care of the kids? At least she has a nanny to help out. You're on your own 80 hours a week. "Instead of sharing our misery, we seem to be using it as a competitive weapon," observes the Wall Street Journal. Damn straight.
The motivation behind misery poker is clear: If you're going to be miserable, you might as well be the most miserable. At least then you can brag. Unfortunately, this impulse is not exactly helpful to a person's mental health. "We aren't supposed to act this way. It's much healthier when we share our stress and 'give succor to each other,'" says the Journal. Not to mention, it's incredibly childish. "Congratulations, you have the worst job on earth—how is that two
seconds of validation going to help you?" a NYC shrink wonders.
So how do you stop trying to one-up everyone's unhappiness? The WSJ suggests any number of mature ways to cease having the "adult version of a temper tantrum," including "taking a break," agreeing that for the next hour—or whatever amount of time it takes—you'll discuss only upbeat topics," and switching places with your spouse for the day. If those options don't work for you—and you've already tried psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and religion—may we suggest getting a drink and/or downing a couple of Xanax? It's worked for us.