Feeling Thankful or Resentful? 5 Attitudes to Fuel Job Happiness

thanksful 4093883697_ae2b8d84e2_mA job is a relationship. When we sign on, we marry its requirements and the family that comes with it–a boss, coworkers, and customers.

A job can bring bliss or frustration on any given day. The only constant in our jobs is us. The skills we bring, our attitudes, and the actions we take make an indelible impact on our job happiness.

So, what’s your take?

Call it chemistry or culture, every workplace has a vibe. It may be upbeat, sour, defensive, or exciting. Whatever the tone, we are prone to be affected by it.

For some reason, it’s easier to see the bleak side of things, especially when those around us are harping about the:

  • unfair workload
  • self-serving boss
  • crumby equipment
  • frustrating customer complaints

Where we work isn’t supposed to be paradise. A workplace is more like a laboratory where we experiment and test new ideas, applications, and improvements. It’s a place where change, challenge, and disruption are the rule rather than the exception.

This realization can help us recalibrate our expectations about the swirl of things around us. Instead of resenting them, there’s reason to be thankful.

The gratitude edge

Getting happy at work means reconfiguring the way we see things and recognizing the asset value of the challenges and personalities that make up our surroundings. Gratitude for the opportunity to be in the mix is actually good for us.

Mary MacVean of the Tribune Newspapers, wrote in a December 31, 2012 article:

…if we developed the discipline [of gratitude] on a regular basis, year-round, research shows we’d be happier and suffer less depression and stress. We’d sleep better and be better able to face our problems.”

Then she quotes Robert Emmons, a University of California at Davis professor who has been studying gratitude since 1998:

…it’s one of the few things that ‘can measurably change people’s lives. Gratitude implies humility–a recognition that we could not be who we are or where we are in life without the contributions of others.’

The issue of humility is a big one: It’s about recognizing that we have the job we’re in because, along the way and even now, other people:

  • encouraged us
  • gave us training
  • attested to our abilities
  • had our backs
  • gave us opportunity
  • lent a hand

Our successes are not just about us–our deeds, our smarts, and our promise. They also comes through others.

5 Strategies

We all have down days at work, days when we’re not sure we’re in the right job. That’s just reality.

In total, though, our progress comes from the series of tests that we overcome with the help of bosses and colleagues who give us a shot, promote our capabilities, and help us move forward.

Attitudes of gratefulness need to be practiced. To increase your job happiness, you can start by being thankful for:

  1. The comfort of a paycheck, even if it’s less than what you may need or want. It’s predictability is a secure foundation for the financial and career choices you make going forward.
  2. Essential job duties that help you master or expand your skills while learning how they impact the business and insights that can position you for another job within or outside your company
  3. A difficult boss who requires you to become more assertive, a better negotiator, more thick skinned, a better performer, or a more strategic thinker
  4. Trusted workmates who encourage you, teach you tricks of the trade, help you get out of your shell, walk you through disappointments, offer friendship
  5. Good working conditions with current technologies, safe equipment, comfortable facilities, and benefits

Seek thankfulness

Every job doesn’t meet our every need, but there are always good features we can be thankful for. The grass is not always greener, so we need to feed and water the grass we have under our feet.

The more you can grasp and internalize the reasons you have to be grateful in your job, the happier you will be. Smile…that helps too!

Photo from from Ateupamateur via Flickr

Hankering for Colossal Success? Load Up on Support and Gratitude

Bracing ourselves for failure is a self-defeating mindset. But so many of us do it, spending too much time and energy worrying about:

  • Coming up short
  • Making a fool of ourselves
  • Disappointing the expectations of others
  • Losing ground

We let fear of failure tie us in knots, imprison our initiative, and confine us to whatever seems safe.

To prepare ourselves for success, and lots of it, means looking at failure as a stepping-stone not a millstone.

Think big

Opportunities for failure exist whether you go after something small or big. So you may as well shoot for the stars and see what happens. The more obstacles you tackle, the greater your chances of achieving something significant.

The key is to keep trying. It may sound hackneyed, but it’s true. When you get knocked down:

  • Get up and try again.
  • Learn something from the experience.
  • Try a new approach.
  • Seek help and advice

A lot of colossal success happened last weekend.

The colossal failure of pro golfer, Kyle Stanley, who blew his 3-stroke lead in the Farmer’s Insurance Open the Sunday before Super Bowl XLVI made a 360 one week later.

As Steve DiMeglio of USA Today writes,:

Stanley stormed back from an eight-shot deficit Sunday with a sterling, bogey-free 6-under-par 65 to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.

Tom Goldman from NPR adds:

What will resonate most for the spindly 24-year-old is that Feb. 5 was his day of redemption. And really, in sport, or in life, who doesn’t cherish a moment when they can say “I am somebody” after feeling the extreme opposite?

Then John Nicholson of the Huffington Post quotes Stanley:

 I’m never going to forget that. I think it makes this one a lot sweeter, just being able to bounce back. I’m kind of at a loss for words. I’m very grateful for the support I’ve gotten. It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable turnaround.

Then there was the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl when at one point in the season their chances of getting into the big game seemed unlikely.  The players, some with rings and many without, kept believing, setting their sights high.

Steve Edelson of the Times Union quotes Coach Tom Coughlin:

Mental toughness, resiliency, resolve. We keep playing, we keep fighting, and we’re highly competitive. We do have great trust in each other, great belief that we can finish, and that if we keep playing one play at a time as hard as we can go that we will find a way to win.

Edelson calls this season, “Coughlin’s greatest coaching job ever…,” adding, “It’s why he was so emotional in his address to his players Saturday night, telling them he loved them.”

He quotes the notably hard-nosed coach as saying,

I’m trying to think if I’ve ever said that before…this is a very special team, and I think it was appropriate and this point and time to let them know how I felt about them. So they didn’t have any question…that I deeply appreciated what they accomplished, where they’ve come from, the fact that they’ve done it together. I wanted them to know it. I told them, I’m man enough to tell you, “I love you.”

What it all means

To achieve big, you have to:

  • want success so much that you’ll fight through the negative pull of failure
  • deny failure a permanent place in your thinking
  • ask for and draw on the support of others
  • believe that eventually success, yes, colossal success, will be yours
  • keep getting better at what you do
  • be grateful for what you have achieved and for those who have helped

All great athletes visualize the outcomes they want on their field of play and see themselves holding that coveted trophy.

You need to visualize your own success, however you define it and see it. Your day will come, so please commit to seeing it today.

Photo from maxbee via Flickr

Help Giver or Help Seeker? Let Gratitude Fuel the Ride

I’ve always been at odds with the adage: “Good guys (and gals) always finish last.” It implies that being a team player, going the extra mile, or helping coworkers is a negative career strategy.

Often we’re warned that if we’re too generous with our time and talents at work, we’ll get taken advantage of. Well, maybe, but it’s worth the risk.

Most of us lend a hand because we:

  • Can’t help ourselves; it’s how we’re wired, raised, or compelled
  • Can put our knowledge and skills to good use
  • Care about the person or group in need
  • Enjoy collaborating, teamwork, and a new challenge

Our initial desire to help doesn’t usually consider the downside. We step up because it feels good.

The double-edged sword

Helping goes two ways: we give it one day and need it the next. We may go for long periods without needing help, but we’re pretty sure our time will come.

I’m as guilty as the next for resisting offers of help for reasons like:

  • I don’t want to be a bother
  • My need isn’t that important
  • I think I can take care of it myself (when I really can’t)
  • I’ll wait for something “really big” down the road

So I refrain from asking when I should, even when others are offering help.

At the same time, I’m eager to help someone else. I love nothing more than frantic phone calls from friends and clients who have some new craziness at work to figure out. This gives me a chance to provide help as a gift, my act of gratitude for their confidence and friendship.

Counted on or counted out

To help and be helped bind us. At work we need each other to:

  • Get the work done
  • Avoid being blindsided
  • Build our knowledge and skills
  • Create and innovate

We need coworkers we can count on and they need us too.

The other day I was thinking about the “helpers-in-waiting” in my life. These are the professionals I can call anytime with a question or a problem–special people who know who I am and care sincerely about helping me like my attorney, my accountant, my computer specialist, my personal physician, and my large and small animal veterinarians.

These aren’t people I talk to every day or month or year, but when I need them, I really do and  pronto. They don’t have to drop everything when I call, but most of the time they do. That raises my gratitude level and they know it.

A help-seeker’s gratitude expands when the help giver:

  • Acknowledges the need and responds quickly
  • Does a thorough job done and gives sound advice
  • Is fair and trustworthy
  • Communicates information and answers questions clearly
  • Takes a warm, pleasant approach and even shows a sense of humor

The help-giver’s gratitude comes from the help seeker’s:

In a business environment, no one is obligated to provide selfless help just because someone is paying for services. I know plenty of highly paid individuals who don’t provide help that generates gratitude. In too many cases, their help creates resentment.

Be kind, be helpful

In my view, the good guys and gals finish first. They attract a community of like-minded people who help because they want to, promoting a spirit of gratitude that is contagious.

Each day we need to reach out to others while expressing thanks to those helping us, in even the smallest ways. Recognize helpfulness in an email, a voice mail, a word in passing, a greeting card, an invitation to lunch, a “how are you doing” inquiry, or an offer of support. Gratitude costs nothing and makes a big difference.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and other post posts here. Believe me, I am enormously grateful for your interest, your comments, and your support.

Photo from smiles 7 via Flickr