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How to be happy at work when you hate it

How To Be Happy At Work When You Hate It

You likely spend over one-third of your weekdays working. That’s a lot of time to be unhappy. Worse, workplace misery can be a slow-creeping acid eventually consuming your fun time, your friend time, pretty much all of your downtime. Heck, I bet you’ve even had a few nightmares about your office.


So, what do you do? Quit? That’s one fast solution. Before you do something drastic, take a moment to remember how hard you worked to get work. Then consider that the COVID-19 pandemic upended employment. I’m not suggesting you stay in a job that you hate long term. That’s not healthy. No paycheck is worth getting sick over. Instead, I’m suggesting you take a step back and consider these strategies on how to be happy at work when you hate it.


Write the Right Way


Sure it feels therapeutic complaining to chums and coworkers about your terrible job. Except, you’re really just making things worse. So don’t talk it out, write it out! Journals aren’t just for high school girls dreaming of vampires. They are a proven tool –– backed by scientific studies –– for improving our mental health. So start dealing with your job by listing all of the things you hate about it. Don’t hold back –– let the paper be a bestie willing to listen to your litany of grievances. When you’re done, review. Are there things you can change? Strategies to adopt? Sometimes our subconscious has already arrived at a solution. Doing a bit of free writing can unleash it.


The other writing exercise might become a helpful routine. Instead of endlessly hitting the snooze button (and believe me your partner does not appreciate this), turn off your alarm and do a short meditation. Focus on your breathing: inhaling for a count of five, holding your breath for five, then exhaling for five. When you are calm, pick up your notebook. List five things you are grateful for. They can be simple –– from sunshine to your best friend to the cup of coffee you’re about to drink. You needn’t make it about work. I suspect some work-related gratitude will seep in. Even if it doesn’t, it’s been proven that keeping a list of what we are grateful for will improve our outlook and attitude. So even if you can’t find one single thing about your job to put on the list, you will still arrive at the office feeling better. So there’s a simple solution if you’re wondering how to be happy at work when you hate it.


One last bit about writing. Many of us are more comfortable typing on tablets or laptops. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just try these exercises with paper and pen. The physical act of forming words can be very helpful.

Look in the Mirror


“Happiness comes before success, not the other way around,” points out How To Be Happy At Work author. Annie McKee.“So when we’re happier, we’re more successful in life, and not the other way around,” Attitude matters.  Maybe your job really is terrible, maybe your dread is totally justified. It’s just, you need to make sure. Problems have a habit of shadowing us like lonely terriers. Take the time to do a self-assessment. People “clock out” of jobs they hate long before they quit. Maybe your work is entry level or not connected to your career goals. It still has lessons to teach you. See if there are changes you can make. We tend to exaggerate how much we can control other people while minimizing how much control we have over ourselves and our lives. Maybe you can take a leadership role at work. Perhaps there are aspects of your job that you actually enjoy. Are there ways to do more of the tasks that you love?


If exit visas are imminent make the most of your time. See if there are training seminars offered at your company. Take a class. Volunteer –– perhaps using your non working time to cultivate contacts in an industry you like. Plenty of gallery owners started out volunteering at museums. Basically, instead of quitting right away you can take the time to lay the groundwork for a better position while enjoying a steady paycheck’s stability.


Other things that can help you endure what seems unendurable include developing new friendships at work and giving yourself small rewards for completing tasks. If you still eventually quit, you will feel better knowing you truly did all you could to make things better for yourself and for others. 


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