Whether you love your job or hate your job, you can definitely be thankful for it.
I know for me, the easiest thing to “blame” for any unhappiness is work. I deal with the same stuff any of you do — annoying coworkers, early wake-ups, long hours, surprise meetings, unfair blame, frustrating bosses, red tape, boredom, etc. When I’m spending 10 of my 15 awake hours either getting ready for work, driving to work or working, it becomes a pretty easy scapegoat for any dissatisfaction in my life.
It’s so easy to think, “Wow, my life would be so much easier if I just made $10,000 more.” Or, “If I didn’t have to wake up so early or commute so long, I would be in a good mood every day!” But the truth is, the only thing we know and can cherish is what is happening to us right now. Our lives might not actually be any better if we get that raise or wake up an hour later. It’s shown over and over that whether something amazing happens to you or something horrible happens to you — all people tend to retreat to the same baseline level of happiness.
The easiest way to just be happy with your situation is find gratitude for your job right now. You can totally strive for bigger and better things while appreciating your current life instead of wishing every day away. I’m 24 and have tons of things going my way — and it’s time I start appreciating it. Here are eight underrated things about my sucky job I’m grateful for right now:
1. I have a job.
I am employed. I don’t know about you, but if I wasn’t employed, I would feel bitter AF. First of all, for practical reasons, I am so thankful to have a job to be able to fund my lifestyle and not live on the streets. Even though rent is literally the most annoying thing to be spending $1,000 every month on, I am thankful that I have the ability to put a roof over my own head. I can also feed myself, clothe myself, and have access to things like electricity, clean running water, and heat. This is more than so much of the world can say.
For less noble reasons, I am happy to have a job for self-esteem purposes. I loved my senior year of college telling everyone I already had a job lined up — with a higher-than-average starting salary in the field of my dreams. Even if each hour of each day doesn’t have “meaning” or “purpose,” at the end of the day, I still have a job in the first place.
2. I am being paid.
Like I said above, I am beyond thankful to be able to afford all the basics in my life like food, clothing and shelter. I am also thankful to have an abundance of money. In addition to paying for just paying for shelter, I have paid off $31,000 of student loans in just a little over a year, gone to Europe and L.A., begun investing, and still have some extra spending money.
3. I am interacting socially with people every day.
Besides gratitude, another really, really important part of happiness is our relationships and community. Even if you think you hate social interactions (meeeee) and/or everyone at work, we literally need them to survive. Healthy, happy relationships are one of the most important things we can do for our health. It’s been proven that we pretty much just need one really close personal relationship and a couple of other casual relationships to be happy and beat loneliness.
People that work from home often report their number-one work complaint is loneliness. I think working from home sounds like a dream life, but everyone says spending every single day all alone in your house really starts to get to you after a while. So even though I hope to have a home business one day, I am appreciating all the different people I get to see and talk to for now.
4. I have perks at my job that other people don’t have — and you probably do, too.
It’s a common complaint at my work that we don’t get free Goldfish. It seems silly once I typed it out, but people get legitimately heated about this topic (including me!). But instead of focusing on the fact that I don’t have Goldfish for free, I really try to focus on the bonus perks I do have at my work that other people don’t, like:
- Free pretzels, chips, coffee, tea, and sometimes catered food
- Three weeks vacation plus six personal days plus thirteen company holidays
- A parking lot with free parking (this one is very easy to take for granted!)
- A flexible schedule – I am able to work 7 AM – 4PM instead of 8AM – 5PM
5. Contrast creates beauty.
Christmas wouldn’t be so special if every day were Christmas! You can’t have flowers without rainy days. The sun is only appreciated in contrast to gloomy, rainy days. Summer feels good because we have sucky winter. Traveling is exciting in contrast to your humble abode and routine life. Guys, you need shitty days to make the good ones feel good. You wouldn’t know there’s “good” days if every single day was good. So if you don’t love your job, it will only magnify the things you do love even more. Use the stuff you don’t like to appreciate the stuff you DO like.
Is there one guy in a different department who you hate? Well thank the lord every day he’s not your boss! Do you have to wake up at 5 AM every day? Well now 6:30 feels like a juicy indulgence on the weekends, while other people are complaining about it! I know there’s probably some stuff that really sucks, but it’s all about perception. Try to be thankful for as much in your life as possible.
6. The problems my company has are probably the same exact problems other companies have.
It can seem like the grass is always greener elsewhere, but guess what — it’s not. The truth is, many companies face the same exact problems. That’s why The Office and Dilbert comics are so popular. So many people can relate to certain office misery. Everyone has an annoying coworker. Everyone can relate to awkwardly socializing at the water cooler.
To be honest, the problems you think are bad at your company might be worse elsewhere. It’s like in Game of Thrones, where if you lived in King’s Landing and you hate Cersei, and think nothing can be worse than her, so you travel North to escape. But now you have White Walkers and Ice Dragons. It can always be worse.
7. Realize all that I do and be thankful for myself.
Unfortunately, bosses don’t have the reputation of being really excellent appreciators of their employees. This is really misguided of them. The most important thing, even more than bonuses or raises, to increase productivity and satisfaction at the office is giving employees proper recognition for their work. But guess what — thank your freaking self for what you do! You don’t need your boss’ stamp of approval to recognize all that you put in. I constantly have to remind myself I didn’t sign up for this job to be thanked. I have pride in my own self and a sense of accomplishment of my own work. Whether an outsider recognizes my work or not, I know inside the work was still done to the best of my ability. And on another note, just because your boss doesn’t say anything doesn’t mean she didn’t notice it.
8. I am learning new skills and bettering myself every day.
There are some days where I feel like I am learning NO new skills. I do research in a lab, which often times is really cool — but sometimes it just gets really repetitive, like when I have a lot of samples to run through the same exact test over and over. But even though I may feel like I’m not learning anything new, that’s not true. I’m getting better at learning the nuances of the test and increasing my efficiency and understanding. On days I get bored, I’m also learning patience, focus, and diligence. I’m learning how to stay positive — which is the most important skill any of us can ever learn. You are increasing your value every single day. Take a moment for gratitude.
Every single minute of every single day can’t be perfect. If it were, you would still feel unsatisfied that you’re now stuck in a repetitive, boring rut of perfect days. It’s okay to take a moment of gratitude for all that you have while still striving for more.
I’m thankful for my current salary while still striving for a raise. I’m thankful for when the company does feed me even though I still hope for Goldfish. I appreciate myself and the work I know I’ve done even though I still hope for the head of department’s “Good work, Kelsey.” At the end of the day, my life could be a LOT worse. There’s tons of awesome things about my job and my life in general — and I refuse to let the tiny things that could be better get in the way of my happiness!
Kelsey is a 24-year-old business owner, home cook, craft beer enthusiast, and chemical engineer. She runs a personal finance/personal happiness blog for 20somethings called On My Way to Happiness.
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