DEAR HARRIETTE: The older I get, the less patience I have for complainers. There are a few friends who have been sort of close to me for longer than I can remember. I think they have been there more out of habit than anything. Literally, whenever we talk, it’s more out of habit than anything productive. It feels more like a chat session of what’s wrong with everybody we know in our social circle and the world. I’m sick of it. I just don’t want to waste my breath on negativity anymore. How can I release myself from these friends, or get them to change the subject? – Ready to Refresh, Dallas

DEAR READY TO REFRESH: Before dumping your friends, talk to them. Tell them where you are, and that you want to choose to be positive on a daily basis. Express your concern that your group often gets caught up in gossip, and you just don’t want to do that anymore. Ask them if they would be willing to talk about other things. Try it out by introducing topics that interest you.

Know, however, that it is difficult for people to change old habits. Even if they want to comply, it is not likely that they will be consistently able to do so. Same for you, by the way. You may find that it’s best to limit your interaction with some or all of them. More, it’s essential that you expand your horizons and engage in activities that will fill your spirit. By doing positive things, you will replace complaining time with inspiring time. You never know – your friends may want to join you!

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DEAR HARRIETTE: Many of the young people in my neighborhood are coming of the age to vote. As one who grew up when it seemed like everybody registered at the first second we could, I just don’t understand why virtually none of these kids is even thinking about voting. I ask them regularly if they are paying attention to the political discussions of the presidential candidates, and if they are learning about what’s going on in our town. I almost always get blank faces. One young man will talk to me, but none of the others. What can I do to inspire them to get involved? – Get Registered, Jersey City, New Jersey

DEAR GET REGISTERED: Focus on the young man who is interested. Talk to him about the political process and how he can get involved in it. Encourage him to register to vote. Rather than trying to corral everyone, stick with him for now. The reality is that you are not likely be able to get every young person involved. There is a good chance, however, that inspiring this one young man may rub off on others.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.