Dear Dr. Debra,
I have a friend who is
unhappy at her job--for good reasons.
For equally good reasons, she cannot leave her job, so that
isnít a solution. Her
unhappiness at work colors all aspects of her life because she
thinks about it all the time.
Iím convinced that if she just changed her thinking about the
solution, she could be happy about her life in other ways.
How can I convince her of this?
How can an unhappy person learn to be happy.
A concerned friend
If your friend feels trapped
in a bad job situation and sees no way out, than no wonder sheís
unhappy with her life.
For most people the time spent at work is the biggest chunk of their
day. Many of us work
more than we sleep. And
if work is stressful, thereís little time or energy to do other
meaningful things in the evening or on weekends.
So itís vital that we work at jobs that bring us some
Youíre right that changing
her negative focus would change her unhappiness with life. Iím
assuming youíve already tried to talk to her about this, with no
success. Try taking a
different tack by giving her this column, or a
motivational/inspirational book, CD, or DVD.
My current recommendations are:
The Secret, by
Rhonda Byrne, and Becoming a
Better You, by Joel Osteen.
In previous columns, Iíve mentioned other motivational books
both classic and new.
See my column, Uplifting Motivational Publications, in the archives section.
Work with your friend on
developing an affirmation, which sheíll tell herself every day.
Affirmations set our thoughts along positive lines, which
helps us stay focused and obtain our goals.
Florence Scovel Shinn in her book,
The Writings of Florence
Scovel Shinn, suggests the following affirmation for job
satisfaction: ďI have
wonderful work in a wonderful way.
I give wonderful service for wonderful pay.Ē
Iíve used different
affirmations over the course of my life, depending on my needs, how
I wanted to grow, or what I wanted to achieve.
The one Iím currently using for myself is: ďMy life is
Maybe your friend canít leave
her job at this time, but she still can make plans for the future.
(This will help her feel less stuck in the present.)
Perhaps she can go back to school, even if she only attends
one evening class a semester or takes college classes online or over
Iíve often suggested higher
education to my clients.
Frequently I get the negative response, ďDo you know how long it
will take me? Ten (or
however many) years!
Iíll be fifty-five (or whatever age.)Ē
I reply, ďIn ten years youíll be fifty-five anyway.
You might as well have a college degree to show for it.Ē
Over the years, Iíve had several people take me up on this
challenge. Today they
are proud owners of college degrees, even if originally they never
thought they could do it.
Sometimes itís a matter of
money. If she saves up
enough money, and/or lowers her standard of living, she could leave
her current job and find one thatís more meaningful, even if it pays
less. If she has the
hope that thereís an end in sight to her awful job (although it
might be several years away) she may feel better about the present.
First she needs to find a way to cut her expenses, and start
saving money, even if itís only a small amount per paycheck.
Thereís plenty of advice out
there about saving money.
(Suze Orman has some great books.)
So Iíll only touch on some basics.
1. Pay off the credit cards (highest interest ones first.)
2. Put five to ten percent of your monthly income into a
savings account. If
possible have a salary deduction deposited into your account, so you
donít touch ever it.
(Research shows that people who do this are able to adjust their
standard of living to the ninety to ninety-five percent less income
and not really feel the difference.)
3. Learn how to manage your money and make careful
investments, so your savings can make you more money. (This is
called passive income.)
Your friend should also be
doing a regular exercise program to combat any depression and help
her feel better about herself.
Even if she doesnít feel she has time, she can find ways.
For people who tell me they donít have the time or energy, I
tell them to start with ten minutes.
Everyone can find 10 minutes to exercise.
Perhaps she can keep a pair of tennis shoes at work and take
a walk during her lunch break, or she can climb the stairway at her
office building. And, if
you exercise for ten minutes, three times a day, youíre receiving
almost the same health benefits of continuous a 30 minute aerobic
My last suggestion is for
your friend to become involved in an interesting hobby or charitable
work. Itís important for
her to create meaning in her life outside of her job.
Other gratifying activities can provide this.
Best of luck with reaching out to your friend
Feel free to
write me with your questions.
Debra Holland, Ph.D., is a licensed psychotherapist
who specializes in relationships and communication techniques.
To read previous 'Ask Dr. Debra' articles, please
where Dr. Debra is a regular contributor, or
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