Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life, according to a popular quote randomly attributed to Confucius, Mark Twain and Marc Anthony.
Great advice, but loving your job every day – even on the boring days, the frustrating days and the messed up days – is not easy. Everyone goes through days when technology utterly fails, last-minute cancellations are the order of the day, and generally nothing goes right.
It’s on these days that it’s most evident that you’re not merely doing this job for fun and self-actualization, you are in fact, also being compensated for it. Yet according to experts, more effective than the promise of a paycheque, is an ‘attitude of gratitude’. This is the key to staying cool, calm and collected, even on the less stellar days of your career.
Adam Weisberg, a criminal lawyer in Toronto expressed this notion when he recently tweeted, “On #LawTwitter lots of negativity about lawyering: the hours, the stress, the expectations, etc. We have an amazing job that’s a lot of fun and we make differences in people’s lives (even corporate lawyers). It doesn’t even feel like work most days. We are actually very lucky.”
A recent Forbes story by Alison Escalante reports, “Studies have shown that grateful people are better at finding perspective. They are also more agreeable to be around and show greater openness to ideas. Grateful people also behave in prosocial ways. Further, gratitude has been tied to lower rates of burnout, greater happiness and a greater feeling of social support.”
Researchers at the University of Florida found that when coworkers made a daily habit of spending just a few minutes writing down what they were feeling grateful for, there was less evidence of gossiping, rudeness or exclusionary behaviour in their workplace.
More than a decade ago, as she was writing her book, The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin explained the phenomenon of gratitude: “Studies show that consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives; they even feel more physically healthy and spend more time exercising. Gratitude brings freedom from envy; when you’re grateful for what you have, you’re not consumed with wanting something different or something more. That, in turn, makes it easier to live within your means and also to be generous to others.”
If you’re new to journaling, don’t pressure yourself to make long lists or paragraphs. Rubin suggests starting with a ‘one-sentence journal’ about what you are grateful for that day. Save it on your computer, in your daily agenda, even as a memo in your phone. More important than a stylish notebook or beautiful prose is creating the habit of turning your mind to focus on your advantages, remembering that gratitude is itself a practice that allows you to evolve and improve over time.