Advice for Charlie from the Bad Guru |

Advice for Charlie from the Bad Guru

Dear Bad Guru,

Well, that was that. Thanksgiving. Done. I had my typical moment where I felt a wave of gratitude and appreciation and really, really swore to myself that it would have some staying power this time. But by Saturday mid-morning,, I was already crabbing about the dishes left in the sink, the traffic, the this and the that. Despite my best efforts, this easily was my shortest period of really being thankful thus far.

What’s the deal with that? How can someone (me) go from celebrating abundance to being a nit-picking whiner in such a ridiculously short time? And more to the point, how can I stop? I really need to get this one handled by Christmas time.

Charlie, Dayton


What you’re describing is known as the human condition. Not to be confused with human conditioning, which is a ridiculous exercise craze involving brick-filled buckets and tiny rubber bands that will eventually pass like all the others.

If it’s any solace to you, know that you’re not alone. Your dilemma is shared by so many that it also ought to be made into a national holiday. Business-as-usual Day, perhaps. Or maybe leftovers-are-barely-gone-and-i’m-already-an-ungrateful-jerk-again Day. Neither are likely to be snapped up by the greeting-card industry.

As for what to do about it, well, that’s pretty much the question, isn’t it? You could try meditating, affirmations, yoga, chanting, prayer, Pilates or fasting, but it’s possible for your lack of gratitude to pierce through all of these. The only thing I can guarantee won’t work, and I’m going to tell you this even though you won’t believe me, is anything that includes the words “free next-day shipping.”

Dear Bad Guru,

I’m excited, enthusiastic and full of life. Seriously, I just totally dig being alive. I can barely stand it, it’s so good. The only thing is I can also barely show it. See, my demeanor is incredibly deadpan, so demonstrating giddiness in the usual way doesn’t happen for me. I can’t even bring myself to use exclamation marks or write things in all caps. Allow me to demonstrate: My God, I’m so happy. Yes. Yes. Yes.

I don’t personally have a problem with this, as laughing on the inside is just fine with me, but other people seem to think that I should be a bit more whoop-de-doo, horn-blowing and confetti-tossing.

What do you think?

Charlie, Santa Barbara


In Guru school we are taught that being even-keeled is a sign of spiritual capability, so it’s good to celebrate our victories and mourn our losses with the same general expression. This also saves wear and tear on your face. This was an area that I excelled in, as I also tend toward the mellow side of enlightenment.

Getting stuck on the smiling/frowning/laughing/crying merry-go-round just puts unnecessary miles on your cheeks, and you end up prematurely creased. It’s better to savor the peaks and valleys of life without a bunch of silly faces to distract you from your mission.

As for what your friends think, well, that’s a whole other topic. I remember the time as a teenager that I first refused to high-five someone over a trivial matter that was in no way deserving of a celebratory sports-based hand slap. Everyone thought I was stuck up, but this wasn’t true at all. I was just more spiritually advanced. Still, they judged. Just as they always and forever will. Get used to it.

Dear Bad Guru,

My kids are right on the verge of figuring out that Santa is really their mom and me. Should I just flat out tell them before they even ask? Or should I wait to be confronted?

Charlie, Fort Worth


Unless your kids ask you clearly and directly, do not spill the Christmas beans. Soon enough they’ll find out that you’ve been lying to them all along. They’ll learn that you, the person they thought they could most trust, has been involved in a vast conspiracy of deception and obfuscation, and it will change their lives forever. So a preemptive confession isn’t going to make it any easier for them. Neither will holding out for as long as you can. Either way, they’re joining the rest of us in a world devoid of both magic and trust, and adjustments will be necessary. Kids are resilient. The’ll get over it.

That said, a “Merry xmas btw Santa is fake. omfg, right?” text is probably not the best way to deliver this life-changing news.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays. More at