Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today My Mood Is:

Lately, I've noticed an abundance of signs hanging around desks at work that say "Today my mood is:" ...and then there are a bunch of cartoon faces or sayings with a variety of expressions, and a movable frame that allows you to showcase your mood for the day. Maybe these little signs have been lurking around the office for years but I've just recently taken note, and it seriously seems like there's been a hatching.

I've also noticed that an overwhelming majority of people who have this sign hanging around their workspace also have the frame displaying their mood as "STRESSED!!"

For example, the person who sits outside my office proclaims on her cartoon face that she is "stressed." I know, for a fact, that she spends an hour in the morning eating breakfast, an hour ordering lunch for everyone in her department, she takes another hour at her desk to eat lunch and invites 3 others to squeeze into the cube with her, lots of time in the bathroom in the afternoon -- no surprise (btw, she announces she's going there ... that's how I know), then she spends time in the afternoon cooking popcorn for herself and sharing it with others (and it smells, by the way). My guess is, she doesn't have stress -- she has indigestion. If she's stressed it's over being "found out" that she doesn't do any work ... it can't possibly be her job that she isn't doing that's causing her stress.

Why is it so hard for people to say they are busy and still admit that they like their job? I'm not saying there's no such thing as job stress, but a little pressure and a required sense of urgency shouldn't be driving everyone, en masse, to the rooftops. I wonder if it's really true that sooo many people are completely stressed by their job, where they spend 40plus hours a week? I'd love to conduct a little experiment -- how much of this stress could be alleviated by approaching the day with a different attitude? You know, "busy" and "intense" don't have to be bad or stressful ... they are challenges, an exercise for the brain. Sometimes I think people have a strange addiction to feeling stressed at work, like it makes us feel our contributions are huge and we're always pushing ourselves to our greatest capacity.

I am going to challenge the notion of the chronically stressed workforce and say we probably manufacture most of our own stress. Furthermore, with a different attitude I think most would be better equipped to handle busy-ness and long "to do" lists. I mean, what's good about constantly feeling like you're living and working under some sort of duress ... so put upon you must express yourself through a scraggly cartoon face hanging on the wall? I also hear it in conversation: "How's it going today" Response .. "ughhhhhh." How about "busy, but not bad?" Personally, I think all of this outpouring of "stress" is really unhealthy and nothing more than a swamp of negativity.

Let's face it folks, work is ... well, work. We get paid to do it, maybe not as much as we like or as much as we think we should, but we're all at our jobs by choice. Maybe it's not an attractive choice to be somewhere (or nowhere) else, but we are there by choice. We can choose to leave or we can choose to find another job. Staying is also a choice. Complaining is also a choice. Why not suck it up .... don't just be a martyr and tryyyyyy to make the best of it, but try to truly enjoy it. If you can't, maybe you need to choose something else. This whole schtick of always being completely frazzled is really exhausting and unbecoming. And it's infectious, like a cancer. It's a big fun-sucker.

Am I weird for saying I actually like my job? In my opinion, my job is hard (brain taxing, not physically taxing), it's always busy, I have a lot of responsibility, and I have to travel sometimes when I don't want to. But truth be told, I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't need a passive aggressive cartoon to hang on my wall to elicit sympathy from others ... others who will comiserate endlessly with woeful tales of "how bad things are."

We don't have it bad. Sick, dying, homeless, poor people have it bad. People with mental illnesses have it bad. People in crisis have it bad. But having to show up and work somewhere everyday shouldn't automatically send us all to the brink of a nervous breakdown.

So if you've got one of those little doodads hanging in your workspace, check out where your frame is hanging and consider that you may actually be something other than stressed ... and if you are, keep it to yourself. Better yet, come up with a plan to get un-stressed. Next time somebody asks you "how it's going", consider some positive response ... something other than "ughhhh " or "I'm stressed" or "terrible." You, my friend, could be Mr. or Miz. Sunshine around the office ... and I say that is much better than being a frazzled out cartoon face who spreads misery.

OK, now you can tell me to go fug myself if you want, but you can't rattle me ... my cartoon face is wearing a smile.


Los said...

Maybe the lady is stressed that she doesn't have more breakfast choices, or that the menu from the might be outdated, or that the popcorn got burnt, or that there wasn't enough toilet paper in the bathroom, or she didn't have something good to read while she was there, or maybe she has stage-fright in the bathroom and is stressed that somebody might walk in while she's "dropping rope," or maybe she's stressed that her cube is not big enough to accommodate her friends in a comfortable manner, or that the Solitaire game on her computer might be taken away from her, or that the e-mail may be down for more than just a few minutes, or that somebody else has been sitting in her chair, or maybe that the restaurant she orders from every day might stop delivering, or that the phone she is using might have germs on it, or that she got a bad parking spot ... lots of stress, darn it!

Sandi said...

Amen! I can't stand coming to work and hearing people complain. "Ugh, it's Monday." "Is it Friday yet?" Quit if you hate your job that much.

My job is the one area in my life right now where I'm not stressed.

schue said...

We all have bad days at work, but when people complain all the time, they should just leave, don't bring everyone else down.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

I am so in total agreement with your positive outlook, Babs! One of the reasons I used to hate going to work was not the work itself, but all of the complaining, moaning people there. I loved what I did, but I will admit that trying to set an example for what life would be like if only you changed your view - extremely exhausting. It was a bridge too far.

Pioneering in PA said...

Hey, thanks for the comment. Love this post, I am not one of those daily work grinders, I work for only 2 months a year. And now that I think about it, I do ask quite a bit if it's my day off yet, or answer how my day is going with a grumble. But, I also work 13 hour days, 6 days a week, in a steaming hot kitchen, lugging around heavy objects. I love the job, but not the exhaustion that my body feels! This year I'm going to suck it up, and try to look at it differently. Who knows, maybe my summer might end in a better mode of mental well being!
Thanks for the book suggestion. Those that I have read lately worth mentioning include Playing for Pizza by John Grisham, Playing Dirty by Sandra Brown, High Noon by Nora Roberts, Duma Key by Stephen King, and a non-fiction of John Grisham's titled The Innocent Man. Will look into the book that you mentioned, thanks again!