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Why Hating Your Shitty Job Only Makes It Worse (smaggle.com)
69 points by hamey 1610 days ago | hide | past | web | 45 comments | favorite

Too many words to express a worn out platitude: "See every day as an opportunity to learn something that you didn't know yesterday".

Here's the only part of the article that I really agree with: "Don't waste your time hating your job and doing it badly." That right there is the real reason why hating your shitty job only makes it worse: because you're wasting your time hating it, instead of looking for a way to either change it or quit.

As for the idea that "at the very least you'll make your days more pleasant with a positive attitude", I wish I could construct and program an army of little robots whose only task would be to kick the people who spout this crap in their shins.

If you subscribe to this "positive thinking will solve all your problems" mantra, I encourage you to watch this RSA Animation of a talk by Barbara Ehrenreich: http://y2u.be/u5um8QWWRvo

Finally, I'd like to answer the last question in the article. Did I enjoy this article? No, I didn't, because it had too much emphasis and I found that very annoying.

I largely agree with what you're saying, but I do believe that making an effort to be somewhat positive can have positive effects. Too much negativity in a workplace can be toxic and can have a paralyzing effect not unlike depression at the individual level. It seems a common retort around here would be, "just find another job," which is not a bad idea, but it's not always that simple.

I appreciate the link to the Ehrenreich talk. Her point on the anesthetizing potential of too much positivity is a good one. Realism and dissent are important for productive change in the workplace. But dissent can often be accompanied by a whole lot of pessimism and negativity (as she mentions), which isn't necessarily good for anyone. Striking a balance is important. As is often the case, it's a matter of moderation... which brings us back to that bold text.

That's exactly the thing though - - the corporate positive mindset isn't about avoiding needless negativity, it's simply enforcing causeless positivity and optimism. You might be the type of person who simply isn't a bucket full of sunshine all the time without necessarily being "negative", though in the corporate world you'd be considered that if you are anything less than super positive.

I don't think it's a question of "is negativity good or bad", I see it as more of why can't we just let people be themselves? As long as we have a healthy mix, we should have all types of views and personalities represented, en though that are slightly more negative.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 is more concise.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.


Sounds like an atheist, more so in the KJV version. I thought the bible was pro-heaven? http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+9%3...

  Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work,
  nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Ecclesiastes is in the Old Testament. The possibility of eternal life in heaven was only offered by Christ.

No, it's not something introduced by Jesus. There is "everlasting life" in Old Testament:

"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."


However, any reader of Old and New Testament should know that both "books" are in fact the collections of the hand-made copies of the texts written by different authors in different times. The idea of everlasting life is more recent, so it isn't present in the older texts, unless some copyist decided to "correct" that. Book of Daniel is believed to be quite "recent" compared to the most of Old Testament texts:


Still it predates the times of Jesus for up to 200 years.

Theologically, that would probably be a prophesy that was fulfilled by Christ. Historically, you're correct.

Also "theologically" according to the Jews their (older) Bible simply mentions "everlasting life" in the "Book of Daniel" at least century before the birth of Jesus. But they believe that the texts about Jesus written and collected by that newer sect that called them Christians simply don't prove that he's Messiah, as they are often based on misreadings of the Hebrew Bible, see for the example how NT came to use "the son of man" expression:


Of course, there's more than one "theology," even among different "Christians."

I'm just saying you can easily reconcile Ecclesiastes with the Christian notion of heaven by considering its context. I don't know if there's any such problem to be reconciled in Judaism.

My response was always to your claim that "the possibility of eternal life in heaven was only offered by Christ" and all my responses were to demonstrate that it's not "only by Christ" but an older and very known concept. They weren't supposed to help you reconcile that fact with your favorite theology.

I'm an atheist. I don't have a "favorite theology" but I understand some religions better than others, the original point of this discussion was a supposed inconsistency in one of them, and I find the subject interesting as an intellectual exercise. Now will you stop being needlessly confrontational?

Also important: Ecclesiastes 9:11 to counterbalance this piece of patronizing drivel.

I thought the whole bible was patronizing drivel personally.

There should be a disclaimer here that, if you are involved with a shitty job that involves customer service, hating it and not doing a good job will almost certainly make it worse, because most people actually like being helpful. Helping someone out and noticeably making their day better is one of the most surefire ways to make yourself feel better, even if you currently have a job you absolutely detest.

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of jobs that really suck where you have absolutely no interaction with any customers or anyone whom you are indirectly helping. In this case, how much better you feel after doing your job properly depends largely on how shitty the job is. If your manager takes all the credit for everything you do, because, well, it's a shitty job, then doing your job well really won't make anything better at all.

Of course, in all cases, you should be trying to find a job that isn't shitty so you can stop hating 40 hours of your week. Maybe not your dream job, but at least one you don't absolutely hate.

Sadly, most CSRs are punished for helping people, as that takes time or costs the company money in other ways. Instead,they are forced to try upsells when customers call for help. Startups, Please don't do this.

My view is that if you focus on the things you like in your job, they become resources that you can build on. Not necessarily for a promotion in the job; not even in order to enjoy that job, but as building blocks of what is meaningful to you. A resource; an asset.

There was a conversation on reddit about this, with people expressing hopelessness about bad jobs - even saying that to find any worth in them was pathetic. This onion story was brought up, with people agreeing with it: http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-ashamed-of-own-joy-upon... I really think the attitude in that story, of hopelessness, is a terrible approach, and that the problem with it is it sees that world as fixed, with no unknowns, no progress or change possible, that everything you see is everything there is - that what you see of the world is the world.

I think it's simply mistaken; in reality, we see only a tiny part of the world, and all else - good, bad, neutral - is unknown to us. Looking out for and noticing what is good in ones opinion is a resource one can build on; a stepping stone to other things that are good. Often, things that did not exist in our world-view previously.

This might be a bit petty, but I find the frequent bold-text rather visually unpleasant and distracting.

No, it's not petty. I found I almost had a headache by the time I finished the article. If the blog makes money from those sponsor links on the side, I think she'll profit a lot more without the frequent boldface.

It's very cloying and smug. Like the author thinks her readers are too stupid to extract the important points on their own.

Sad to see so many negative comments on this article and on the site, totally uncalled for and unfortunately very common with HN comments these days.

Give the OP a break. The story about the boyfriend was fascinating. Get over the bold sentences, they're fine. I can't believe we live in a world where someone says something nice and the first three comments on the article are regarding bold text.

And yes, some people can't quit due to circumstances outside their control. Fact of life. There's a reason 99% of famous startup founders are white American males - often they're people who come from circumstances where 'quitting fast' on their 'crappy job' is an option without severe consequences. Try finding me a group of famous founders who quit their job when they had dependents in order to go chase a startup dream and I'll be happy to back down on that one.

Some people do it tough. It's nice to read something like this that encourages us to cheer up and look at the good side of bad situations. That might not be enough to make life good, but it certainly won't make life worse.

>Try finding me a group of famous founders who quit their job when they had dependents

The "Traitorous Eight" who founded Fairchild Semiconductors.

"Most of the founders were married, busy starting their families and raising small children in addition to all the time and effort they were spending building Fairchild "


tl;dr - "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"

I disagree with just about everything in that article and my rejoinder would be "when life gives you lemons, realize that you don't have to accept them. then go and plant a tree for something you prefer and years from now you will be having mangoes, or whatever it is you really wanted."

In answer to the question "What’s the greatest lesson that you learned from a job that you hate?" it's that working in a job for someone else is the least productive utilization of my time, skill and energy.

Agree, but would add that sometimes the reason you hate the job is in part because there are some other factors. I used to completely deny that my problems with work were anything other than my sucky job. Then I switched jobs, and the problems didn't go away. Here are some things that cause problems that can make a job (good or bad) seem terrible:

* Depression - maybe a parent died, maybe you had someone hurt you (mentally), maybe you just feel like you can't escape your profession but have no idea what else you could do, maybe you can't even find a way to function properly

* Being overweight- even if you aren't obese, some people have more adverse effects than others and doctors will gloss it over saying you are "within normal range"

* Sleep problems- sleep apnea - do the breathe right strips, sleep study, CPAP (greatest chance of working, but didn't work for me), dental appliance, and several made-for-T.V. products that don't work. Axe all caffeine, then you feel like you can't concentrate, etc.

* Attention issues- whether you've got ADD, ADHD, other executive processing or other processing issues, it really sucks. If you feel like you're doing all you can, you can try to just write down the items you need to do that are immediate vs. not, you can add sites you need to ignore to /etc/hosts to point at localhost, etc. but if you have some of these issues, you just aren't going to do what others do. Just switching jobs may put you into an even worse position.

* Past history- some people have really awful family situations. Unfortunately when you grow up in a toxic environment, you may have to work 1000x times harder and may just have to accept that you'll always have that pain and just have to manage it.

So, WTF are you supposed to do? Don't give up. Do try to work on the issues, and looking for another job is good. Try to fix the health stuff. Do what you can to enforce healthy behavior, but don't do diets- you will lose weight maybe even for months, and then you'll be even more overweight. Find some way to exercise that you like and doesn't make you uncomfortable. Hang out with friends and do things that you enjoy, and if you can, try to get better at them. No matter what it is, there is a chance you could make a business out of it, or at least a fun hobby. Just don't hurt yourself or anyone else doing it.

Anyway- I still dislike what I do. But I know eventually things will get better, and I know how to get better. It's just a matter of doing it.

This is good. I apply these to ALL aspects of my life, not just the work place - "something here sucks. what is it? how do I fix it?"

I fixed my sucky job by identifying the main factors, then finding a job that doesn't have those.

I identified issues with my energy levels and concentration and addressed those with sleep/diet/de-stress methods.

Ultimately my problem is - work is unsatisfying. Nobody has a paid job for things that interest and fulfil me. So I need to find a replacement for "something that pays the bills" and that's what I'm working on. Then I get to work on whatever I want, however I want.

I imagine I'm not unique in having that goal.

"Winners quit fast, quit often and quit without guilt" - Seth Godin

Sounds a lot like what losers do too...

quit as in quit your job, it doesn't imply giving up here.

If you do as what Seth Godin says, you will end up being a super job hopper who does/adds nothing valuable to anywhere he will ever work.

Because I'm yet to see a job/work place/company that doesn't suck and everybody around in every possible place says so.

Learn everything you can from your job -- but sooner or later you will exhaust its learning potential. When that happens, invest all your energy NOT in the job but in getting a better one, or in lieu of that, building skills to open up opportunities.

Glad the guy who didn't smile & didn't respond cheerfully (but actually went and found the answer!) didn't have to hear this speech in person. Twenty seconds without a beaming smile at the auto parts store (not exactly a place I'd expect to be greeted w/ big wide smiles) and we learn this employee apparently has a lot to learn about life. Reads like a "This young generation is going to hell, but let me tell you how we did it!" talk.

Maybe the employee should just find a job he likes better and not give a second thought to the auto parts job if he truly does hate it. In some cases, life is just too short to eat the shit.

I was a Geek Squad employee, and before that a Best Buy customer service rep for several years. Something I noticed was that the worst days were the ones with the fewest customers.

When we were busy I couldn't be lazy--there was just too much work to do. But on slow days I hated every single customer who walked up to the counter because it felt like they were interrupting me.

I've noticed this from the other side as well. Ever try to order something from McDonald's at 1:00 am?

I feel opposite. On slow days, it nice to have something to do, but not exhausting overload.

Actually, I would like to chime in for the side of the platitudes and the article.

Sometimes, people can't quit their job. Its a tough scene, but some people have obligations they can not shake.

Sometimes, enduring and surmounting an annoying job is a test of character. Failing this test of character repeatedly (going from one job you hate to another) probably indicates you need to change your attitude.

I remember seeing a matrix where the axis were attitude and skill/knowledge:

Promote - excellent attitude, excellent skills/knowledge Train - excellent attitude, poor skills/knowledge Manage - poor attitude, excellent skills/knowledge Fire - poor attitude, poor skills/knowledge

I like the unspoken challenge ... and it's one worthy of life-hacker! If you don't like your job, find a way to turn it into something better. (If you can't, then find something else to do)

This is some rich dude bitching about the bad customers service he received at the weekend while shopping.

>>>Roses literally grow in shit ... but only if they eat it.

That is the best thing I have ever read.

Mushrooms do too.

Being told by your manager, more than once, you are one just sucks when he's dead-on right and enjoying the metaphor.

Imagine that rose having its petals plucked every time it started blooming, used for compost applied years later to cultivate something which looks better than a stripped rose but much worse than a nurtured one.

tl; dr "Let's all learn to love being exploited for the convenience of others"

Mr Smaggle is too "up his own arse" to understand wage slavery.

Some wage slave making minimum wage doesn't hop to attention to the second a college educated "lifestyle website" owner walks in the door, let me break out the violins. Then she's going to give some condescending life advice to the guy who is supposed to wait on her hand and foot.

Lowly wage slaves have their ways to deal with annoying, self-important customers. I have friends who are waiters. Believe me, the people serving you your food have all kinds of ways to get back at obnoxious customers. If I ever have the misfortune to sit at a table with someone who acts obnoxiously toward my waiter, or sends food back to the kitchen, you can be assured that I am finished touching any food that will come out of that kitchen again, destined for my plate. You can search the web for blog posts about these things if you're interested.

Reactions to obnoxious customers is strictly unprofessionally and shouldn't be tolerated. Someone is paying you to do your job. Do it right.

If I am doing all the serving, and the cooks are doing all the cooking, what then is the Appleebee's CEO and stockholders doing? The people working at the restaurant are the ones creating the wealth. They're not "paying" me, I am "paying" them.

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