I've mentioned before that the Pattersons have a hard time laughing at themselves. From the beginning of the strip, we can see them not being able to laugh off the small stuff that everyone has to deal with and how it made their life worse. The hatred they feel for their lives comes directly from their lack of any real sense of humor. If Elly were able to appreciate the absurdities of her daily life instead of thinking of them as a crushing burden imposed by a cruel and arbitrary fate, if John were able to get a good chuckle at the silly man in the mirror, Hell, if any of them were to see how ludicrous their conceits are and smile at their own stupidity, they'd be better for it. They'd still work hard because that's who they are. They'd also enjoy it which would make them better company in the long run.