When Feeling Unhappy and Unfulfilled Becomes Normal

August 22, 2012 · 7 comments

A few nights ago I watched a new documentary, I’m Fine, Thanks, a film about complacency and expectations and living the American Dream — even if it’s not your dream.

Is that red tape really necessary?

Is that red tape really necessary?

(I got an early download because I backed the project on Kickstarter, but the film will soon be available for purchase. In the meantime, you can check out the trailer.)

For a lot of people, I imagine the film will prompt a huge ah-ha moment: Holy cow, I don’t have to follow the same career and life path as everyone else!

That epiphany is positive, happy, empowering.

But I found the movie to be kind of, well, sad.

Why? Because the film is full of people who are unhappy with their lives — and until they had their epiphany (which is why they were featured in the film), they thought it was normal to be unhappy with their jobs, their responsibilities, their choices. Which means plenty of other people are out there feeling the exact same way, people who haven’t yet figured out that finding happiness often means doing something that’s perceived as unconventional.

It made me wonder: why do so many of us simply accept feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled at work? When did it become OK to let all of our first-world luckiness turn into regret? Why do so many people think it’s normal to be unhappy?

Most of our obligations are actually choices. And wanting to love your job isn’t asking too much.

You deserve it to be happy — in fact, you owe it to yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura August 22, 2012 at 8:13 am

I’ve never had much patience for jobs I hate. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I loved school, I got used to doing what I enjoy during the day, whereas people who hated school get used to doing what they hate and coming home to do what they love. I don’t know, but I do know that I LOVE being a writer and I love loving my job. It makes my entire life better.
Laura recently posted…A Tale of Two Writing JobsMy Profile

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Christie Wright Wild August 22, 2012 at 9:11 am

Hi! I saw your link on twitter. Interesting topic here. It made me think of someone I know. I agree, it is sad. On the flip side, in today’s economy, at least they HAVE a job. It can be scary to seek your dream when you’re worried about your next paycheck. What’s worse is not even having a dream. I am so thankful that I love my job. And the dream of becoming a full-time published author. For now, I write and write and write. I’ll get there some day. We all deserve to be happy. Having a job we enjoy can really help contribute to that happiness, but it’s not the only thing. Have a great day!
Christie Wright Wild recently posted…High Five Interview #19: Kindergarten Teacher Publishes Picture BookMy Profile

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Anne Belov August 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I always like to say that every path has it’s potholes. they are just in different places. But negotiating the path on your own terms, so that you can watch or own feet when it’s rough, and look at the view when it’s not, while no less difficult, is more rewarding.
Not to mention the joy of exploring those enticing side trails because you are on your own schedule. I’m exploring one now…you can check it out on my blog http://yourbrainonpandas.com
Can I post my Kickstarter link here? I’ll check back to make sure it’s OK. Thanks for a great post, and inspiring blog all around. I had hoped to sign up for your social media class, but it will have to wait till after I’m done with my kickstarter campaign.
Anne Belov recently posted…Today, I am the bear…..My Profile

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Alexis Grant August 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Sure! Kickstarter us!

And re: social media course, I’ve also got a Twitter-specific one that will launch soon.

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Geoff H. August 23, 2012 at 5:21 am

How depressing… I don’t know what went wrong in our society. Maybe it’s because people having too much fun are flagged as good for nothing by some bored and boring influencial people with high responsability office jobs. Having fun is also often thought to be something pueril when being depressed is a grown up thing…
Geoff H. recently posted…TVtrip Secret Paris pt.2My Profile

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Gary Korisko August 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm

True, True Alexis.

A lot of us “settle” into jobs and careers we hate. It’s part of that “blueprint” we’re sold when we’re young. As you pointed out, it doesn’t work out real well for most people when you try to live your life by someone else’s standards.

I finally found a place where I can work all of the things I love and that challenge me into the framework of a job – and I consider myself lucky.

You’re right. Wanting to love your job is not asking too much. But getting there requires thick skin and persistency. Sadly, I think a lot of people quit too early.

Smart post! Thanks.

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