Have you ever asked a co-worker how their day is going and received a response like "Don't ask," "Ugh, is it Friday yet?", "I'm so stressed out," or some variation of that? All you wanted to do was make polite conversation, and it's so rare to find someone in the office who you can have a pleasant exchange with. Everyone is walking around with the weight of the world on their shoulders, and everyone has more problems than everyone else -- money, kids, lack of sleep, overworked and underpaid, too much to do, and not enough time.
When did we become this way? Why are we so negative? Don't people realize how much easier the workday would be if we all tried to be a little more pleasant, a little sweeter? I know when I have a nice conversation by the water cooler, I go back to my desk feeling a lot lighter.
Picture this: It's the day after Christmas, which happens to be a workday. I think Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year. I love everything about it -- the festive music, the deep colors, the crisp air, the warm scents of cinnamon, pumpkin and cranberry, and most of all, the family traditions and the making of new memories. So why is it that upon returning to the office after Christmas, my heart brimming with joy and love, I'm greeted with a chorus of "Thank goodness THAT'S over with." "I'm exhausted." "I'm broke." "Now I have to go back to the stores and return everything." WHAT?
As a member of the cubicle community, I suggest we all reassess. Here are a few tips:
1. When someone asks you how your weekend was, instead of saying "Too fast, and now here we are again" just politely say "It was nice, and how was yours?"
2. Give people compliments every day! It may feel weird at first, but you'll get used to it! When you make someone feel good, you'll feel good too.
3. When you feel stress forming around you, take a moment to check in with yourself. Find your inner peace. Take a deep breath, and continue on. Don't get caught up in the chaos around you.
4. Keep a special quote handy or post a keyword that always brings you back to center. I have the word "balance" written on a post-it and taped to the side of my computer monitor. If I feel the anxiety coming on, I look at it and remember to breathe and stay calm.
5. If your schedule permits it, don't try to run all of your errands on your lunch break. Take a walk and get some fresh air. This is the time for a mid-day reset, not a race to see how many items you can cross off your to-do list in one hour.
Maybe right now you're not fortunate enough to have your dream career. That doesn't mean your work day has to be miserable! Keep these tips handy for the next time you're feeling the anxiety start to creep up on you. The truly meaningful moments in your life probably won't take place in your cubicle. So why stress it so much? Food for thought.