Career Calling

August 16, 2011

The Will to Be Happy at Work

Recently I’ve come across a few articles and books that make this claim:  You can be happy at work if you just have the right attitude.  In other words, you can “will” yourself to be happy.  I’m all for making the best of any situation.  However, this career management strategy strikes me as unrealistic and even dangerous.

In the preface to Working, Studs Terkel talks about how work hurts, how people attach themselves to their job, how they are wounded by a lost job.  Nothing has changed since that book was published in 1974.  In fact, with recent waves of salary cuts and layoffs, the pain may be increasing.

One of my clients was demoted and her pay was cut 20%.  Should she will herself to be happy and stay in a bad place?  Absolutely not.  Should my client who has had his workday extended without compensation mutter affirmations and positive thoughts?  No, he should making find a new job his #1 priority. 

Anger is not healthy, but neither is passivity wrapped in new age jargon.  If you’re unhappy at work, the situation is not likely to change on its own.  Start looking for a new job – and lay off your employer.  That will make you feel happy.

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