Wednesday 6 July 2016

How to get your mojo back

It's 7:30 am, half an hour before the beginning of my shift. I know I should get ready, brush my teeth, pack my lunch bag and head out in 10 minutes if I want to make it on time. Yet, I stay rooted to the spot, unable to will myself to get up.

I don't want to go. 
This is the thought keeping me glued to the chair, holding me down with a force that seems much stronger than me.
You may wonder if something terrible happened at work.
Am I getting bullied?
Did I screw up in a big way?
Has work become unbearable?

Rest assured, dear reader, that none of the above is true. The truth is much more trivial and embarrassing than that.
I chose to get sucked into a cycle of negative thinking, complaining, and focusing on the bad. Worse, not only getting sucked in, but actively participating in it. Instead of ignoring the nay-sayers that are in every workplace, I fixated on them. All I could focus on were the things I didn't like:

How much I didn't want to work with someone.
How much I didn't want having to listen to other people's complaints. (Ironic, isn't it? Here I was complaining my little heart out to everyone who would listen. I didn't see the irony. When it comes to ourselves, we can be remarkably obtuse.)
How much I didn't want it to be too busy.
How much I didn't want it to be too slow.
How much I didn't want to be there. 

Thoughts are powerful. You may believe that whatever you think is safely locked away in your mind, invisible to the outside world. But you are wrong. What you think manifests itself in your physical world, and becomes visible by the way you act, the people you surround yourself with, and the mood you are in.
If you focus primarily on is the negative, guess what? All you see and experience will be negative.
My negative thoughts had started to overpower my normal feeling of contentment, contaminating my usually sunny mood.

I sat myself down and asked myself: Do you want to quit? (Well, go somewhere else, because: money.) And I could honestly say: no.
There are too many things I value about my current place of employment: The small community feeling, lots of the people I work with, knowing many of the doctors and nurses, having gotten comfortable with every department in the hospital.
I also appreciate the short commute, my secret lunch spot outside under a huge Cedar tree (nobody ever comes there, it's just me, my book and my food), and the friends I have made there.

With that question out of the way, the task at hand was both easy and challenging: How to get my mojo back?

Here are the steps I have started to apply to give my attitude a much-needed overhaul:

1. Think differently.

That one is huge. I read an article by Brianna Wiest in which she writes:

"The problem is not the problem, it is how you think about the problem."
That really struck a chord with me. My problem wasn't work itself - it was what I had made it in my head. I had created all these worst-case-scenarios in my mind, just waiting for them to become reality.
Well, I was the creator of these fictional problems, I could also be the creator of the solutions, right?

2. Shift your focus.  

Before, I would have this long list of everything I didn't like about work running in my mind on a loop, like a broken record.

Now, I tried something different: Focus on something I was looking forward to that day.
On a rainy day, I would tell myself that it was good I got to work inside, where it's warm and dry. (I worked in a forest during the winter when I was 20 years old. You learn quickly to fear the cold, and to appreciate a warm workplace.)
On a sunny day, I knew I could look forward to eating outside, either alone if I felt like it, or with colleagues.

The biggest one: Instead of thinking of the people I didn't want to see, I would list everybody I was excited to see (of which there are many, because I'm a lucky ducky). So simple, but what a game changer! You are the boss of yourself, which includes how you look at the world.

3. Change your perspective.

We tend to get absorbed into our own lives, and to lose sight of the bigger picture. While I'm fond of saying that "comparison is the thief of joy", it can actually be very helpful to look at other people's lives to put your own problems into perspective. Regina Brett stated it perfectly:

"If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back."

In my self-induced gloom, I forgot the many, many things I have always appreciated about my job: Job security, the satisfaction of making someone else's life just a little bit better, the fun we often have, making new friends, having a job that leaves lots of time for hobbies and passions.

Sometimes I think of everyone I know, and what they do for a living, and you know what? I don't want to trade with them.

4. Practice gratitude.

Looking at the world from a place of gratitude instead of dissatisfaction will change your entire life. It's easy to get caught up in the little annoyances of life, and to get irritated by the small stuff. But you know what? The small stuff doesn't matter.

So what, if someone snapped at you for no apparent reason?
So what, if you think you worked more than your colleague?
So what, if you think this wasn't fair?
Will it matter next year? Or even tomorrow? Nope, it won't.

I believe that we have a choice: We can choose to be annoyed, or we can choose to not let it bother us. Nobody can annoy us without our permission.
It takes practice and won't happen overnight - which is why it's called to practice gratitude.
The more we do it, the better we will get.

You know that feeling when you are absolutely, over-the-top happy, and nothing can spoil your good mood? While this may not be a realistic mindset for every day, the happier you are in your life, the less you will be affected by petty little nonsense.


"Don't sweat the small stuff ... and it's all small stuff"


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