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America: 40% Satisfied. 10% Unemployed. 50% Miserable. How to Be the Exception.

11 Jan

As I write this, approximately 2.5 of the expected 8-12 inches of snow has already fallen on New York City, approximately 25%. Funny how that also matches the percentage of my Facebook friends who have similarly already posted statuses describing their hopes of having a snow day tomorrow (including myself). When you’re 12, a snow day means no school and getting up early to go sledding. When you’re 30, it means no work and getting up late to do, well, nothing most likely.

An astonishing 45.3 percent of Americans are “satisfied” with their work, according to a survey for the Conference Board Consumer Research Center released last year. And don’t forget that nearly 10% of the country is unemployed (how can we?) on top of that, bringing the percentage down even more. And while I intend not to make this into the ‘Debbie Downer Career Hour’, I’m simply being realistic. Are we truly satisfied with simply being satisfied? Continue reading

THE FRIDAY EDITION: Who Needs Pants When You’ve Got Gratitude?

12 Nov

“They’re just things,” is a phrase I find myself uttering modestly a lot lately. In times of sheer frustration, such as when my bank account is hacked into, or the dry cleaners loses all my jeans (today), I try to summon my inner coach who tells me I’m bigger than each of these situations.  Money, my favorite pair of jeans from the GAP, the brand new cardigan I left on a dirty bar chair – they’re all just “things”, right?

You can tell yourself that all you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ll be shelling out another $70 that wasn’t planning on for new pants.  And the worst part is that I’m petite – and curvy.  It’s hard enough to buy pants when you’re a petite woman, but throw the fact that I didn’t inherit the stick figure gene like the rest of my family into the mix, and shopping becomes a whole other party.

This morning I debated storming into the dry cleaners and making a giant fuss about the situation.  I went so far as to call my father to vent; his highly  conservative views often come in handy when I need someone to back me up on the various injustices of the world, and then promptly leave the conversation at that. The fiancee was already at work, and it’s his birthday, and the last thing he needs is to hear me screaming at him over the phone about how I can’t find my pants.  There’s a much better context for that discussion, at a different time & place.

And then it occurred to me that ruining someone else’s day on top of allowing this to ruin my day was the biggest injustice of all, and ultimately gets me no closer to finding my pants.  <sigh> Why do I have to be so wise?

One of the things I always tell clients who are trying to wrap their head around why negativity has seemingly taken over their lives, is that they’re greater than whatever the situation – meaning they’re not defined as a person by the outside events that come into their lives.  They are defined, however, by how they react to them.  We cannot control the workings of the world, the weather, or the actions/reactions of others.  But we can certainly control our own perspective on things, and how that affects the actions we take and the commitments we make.

I wrote down a brief description of what the pants looked like on the front of my original receipt copy, which sat in a book attached to 300 other receipts.  And that was it.  I’m not too hopeful about finding my pants.  But there are plenty of other pants out there to wear, and maybe that’s the answer- to suck it up, recognize the situation for what it is and take the opportunity to step into a different pair of pants that fit me better; leave the old ones behind.

And isn’t that what we do automatically whenever seemingly injustices come into our lives, and we want to blame, and scream and get angry?  Sometimes we do those things, but in the end we automatically move on, because what other choice is there?  It’s human nature’s survival instinct kicking in when we force ourselves to keep going.   If we refuse to define ourselves by our disappointments and instead look at the underlying opportunities, we invite success and happiness into our lives.  If you didn’t get that dream job you had interviewed 4 rounds for, it’s okay to feel disappointed and angry.  But then let go of that negativity and allow yourself an opportunity to replace it with something more positive – perhaps an understanding and trust that there is something better around the corner that is coming to you.  And when that opportunity arises, that old story of disappointment will be long forgotten.

Who needs pants when you’ve got gratitude?  Don’t focus on what’s been given (or not given) to you today.  Instead, allow yourself to focus on what you can give back from that situation, and react from a place of gratitude and not a place of grief.  Trust in what comes next, and the higher reasoning behind things.  Gratitude as an attitude.  I’m going shopping.

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