How to Love the Job You're With

Finding professional happiness may have more to do with changing your attitude than changing your workplace.

3 min read

You might not want to admit this out loud -- in this time of record unemployment and an unstable economy --but you don't like your job. And that can be pretty scary. After all, you know there are people who would gladly take your place. Yet being miserable day in and day out isn't good either -- not for your mind, your body, or your spirit.

Here's the secret to living with a job you're not loving: If you can't change your job, change your attitude -- and change it so much your job becomes engaging. Challenging. Even pleasurable. The secret? Try turning your ruts into rituals, viewing them with appreciation and presence. Doing so can bring elements of comfort, connection, and community to your everyday routine.

Savor the sacred. Think of the small actions you take daily, such as staring across the water as you ride the train to work. Chances are these routines evolved from countless repeated choices you made based on what gives you pleasure. Make a list of your repeated patterns of pleasure and then be mindful when they occur. Such “sacred” moments bring both meaning and order to your life.

Cultivate community. Think about how your work life creates opportunities for connection. Is it joking with the barista when you get your morning joe? Is it collaborating on projects with team members? The more you notice these moments of connection, the more important they'll become.

Bestow beauty. Anything from preparing for a meeting to filing the papers on your desk can be seen as creating order out of chaos. In fact, when viewed with a beauty-seeking eye, such tasks can become satisfying rituals. By recognizing these opportunities for creativity and control in the midst of mundane -- even tedious -- routines, we elevate our work experience from what we do for a paycheck to another venue in which to experience the delight of being alive.

And that's important. A recent Gallup poll reported that fewer than 27% of us are “truly engaged” in our work. But let's be clear: Getting engaged doesn't mean your job is perfect. Getting engaged means becoming involved so that your work -- warts and all -- is not a source of unhappiness. And that entails an attitudinal shift, not a job transition.

One of the best things you can do for yourself if you're struggling with job satisfaction is to create some social support for yourself. Here's how:

Keep it friendly. Invite trusted friends and colleagues to join you monthly to talk about work issues -- either in person or via email.

Keep it positive. This shouldn't be a group where all everyone does is gripe. Try to make it a true support group where you all explore ways to find and practice cultivating happiness on the job daily.

Keep it personal. Ask that people talk about just their own experiences and ideas, while refraining from giving advice.

Keep it confidential. True sharing happens when people trust and agree that what is said in the group stays in the group.