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Imagine, Compare, Complain and Focus on the positive

Here’s a happy thought for today: Did you know that on average we Americans are always under more stress than the mentally ill patients who spent time in institutions for ‘stress’ in the 50’s? What are we doing to ourselves? Why do we allow that? To climb a corporate ladder? To where? Actually I don’t know where the corporate ladder leads because I’ve never really climbed it very far, so I must surmise that the fruit at the top of that tree is pretty sweet. But is it worth it?

I don’t know whether or not the pursuit of the fruit is worth the suffering, and I suspect that varies from person to person, so instead I’ve decided to dig into how we deal with the situations that cause us this stress.

For a little perspective I’ve asked a friend and co-worker to share her thoughts on dealing with these workplace shenanigans we all accept as par for the course. She’s chosen to remain anonymous for the sake of protecting her innocence so we will call her JuGGs McGGee. Here is what she looks like:

JuGGs McGGee shares her thoughts

JuGGs McGGee shares her thoughts

Say for instance you got a job. And it was an exciting job in a fascinating and glamorous field like television. What could be more awesome, right?

But then say you found yourself working said job and there was all manner of stress, abuse and long hours the likes of which would make 4 year old sweat shop employees pity you. As all semblance of your previous personal life slipped away you might think to yourself “wtf was I thinking!?” and “How the hell did I get here?” And that brings us to our central question:

How do you deal with unpleasant situations? Do you imagine how things could be worse? Do you imagine what you’d rather be doing?  Do you complain to everyone around you as much as possible? Some combination of all of the above? Or maybe just focus on the positive things that may exist in the situation?

JuGGs tells me that she likes to complain about her situation to everyone around her. So I asked her, “JuGGs, what do you get out of all of your complaining?” (I’ve not heard an abundance of said complaining from her, though. I feel I must clarify this point for the sake of my presumed journalistic integrity).

Her response? “[I get] laughs. Everyone else has a similar story and everyone needs a vent session.” And you know what? She’s right. We do all need to vent. Who says complaining is a waste of time and energy? A certain amount of commiseration can make an excruciating experience bearable. But should we be bearing it? Or should we fight for our right not to have to endure festivals of suck?

JuGGs says, “Sometimes when I vent and complain to other people and they tell me their problems I think ‘oh, mine’s not so bad. I do kinda see how things could be worse.” Like if we worked with this kid (below). Then we’d always think our jobs weren’t so bad, right?

An even worse job than mine - could things be worse for him?

An even worse job than mine - could things be worse for him?

This is the desk I used to sit in while toiling for many hours on a reality television program. Super glamorous, I know.

My office at AwfulJob, Inc.My office at AwfulJob, Inc.

I do my share of complaining/commiserating. But I also like imagining what I’d rather be doing. It allows me to fantasize about a better existence. “Think how wonderful it would feel to be standing on the beach in Hawaii, my toes sinking deeper into the sand with each and every single wave that washed over my legs.”

Oohhhhh yeahhhhh.

Oohhhhh yeahhhhh.

In my current job the people I work with are one of the best positives and something I try to focus on when I’m getting down. The great people I’ve met and the opportunities to learn new skills are wonderful and once I get free of the job and have a little perspective I know I’m going to be grateful for this part of the experience.

JuGGs agrees, “I’m happy in this industry and even on a show like this. Even with the challenges and the nonsense that goes on I laugh so hard ripping the scenes apart and that makes me happy. Sometimes I’m unhappy but overall I’m enjoying myself. I love this industry, its fun.”

Despite the bonding act of complaining she still has the best attitude. Interviewing her for this blog reminded me to do the same. Otherwise I’ll lose my right to call myself an optimist. But wait, there’s more. She also points out that, “We work really hard but on the other hand you can have 2 months off after this job because we freelance, so that keeps me going. Oh, and I like to  relax with wine or beer and a bath after long days.”

I too enjoy a little wine at the end of a long hard work day. A glass of wine with someone who wants to hear all about how terrible your day was is even better. If only they’d known about that in the 50’s maybe they wouldn’t have had to go all extreme and check themselves into the looney bin.

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