So, what are ya gonna do about it?
It’s a cliché to say it rains a lot in Seattle. Jokes about long-time residents having gills, or webbed feet, or that we don’t recognize that blinding bright ball that appears in the sky sometimes passed both cliché and passé decades ago.
This year was unusual. We had a drier than usual July. August, which is statistically our driest month anyway, wasn’t merely drier than usual, it was the driest that has ever been recorded. September nearly tied the record for driest September, ever, and for the first 11 days of October, the dry streak had continued. We had experienced just over 13 weeks of extraordinarily dry, warm, sunny weather. It was not as bad a drought as the midwest was experiencing, but it did effect crops throughout the state.
On Friday morning the dry streak ended with a light misting of just over a tenth of an inch of rain (though more was in the forecast, and heavier rain was falling nearby). I was checking my usual collection of news blogs and sources on line, and there, on one of my regular places, a reporter who I know has lived here for more than seven years, was already bitching about the rain.
I was among the tens of thousands of local residents (according to some recent surveys), who was anxiously hoping for the rain to come back soon, so maybe I’m a bit prejudiced, but I couldn’t help myself. I posted a slightly snarky comment on the post, and then I tweeted, “Dear Seattle residents (particularly news bloggers) who bitch about the rain: Move Somewhere Else or Shut Up. One or the other.”
Among the reasons I got so irritated at this guy was because I’ve been seeing, for many years in between his more interesting book reviews, movie reviews, and various news stories, a constant whining about how much he hates the weather. I’ve also seen him write editorial comments to the effect that people who complain about their commute should simply move closer to their work. And if they change jobs, move again.
If moving is an acceptable solution for shortening one’s commute, why isn’t it also the solution to his unending hatred of the weather?
I understand not everyone likes the rain. I understand that people need to vent about things that bother them. There is both therapeutic and social bonding value in complaining. I get that. Friends will attest that just last night I was telling stories about a couple of annoying things that happened recently at work. But there’s a difference between sharing occasional stories of annoyances or troubles, and telling people for years that you hate certain things about your life while apparently doing nothing to change it.
For instance, I don’t hate my job. I love my job. I love figuring out things. I love explaining things. I love designing and organizing information. I love that sense of accomplishment when I complete and hand off a document/help file/project.
In the more than a quarter century since leaving school and entering the work world, there have been exactly two times that I said to myself, “I hate my job.”
The first time I was working in an accounting department. The job was entirely about paying strict attention to millions of minute details, completely devoid of any big picture. The goals were to complete today’s task. There was never any point where we produced a final product that you could sit back and say, “Well, that worked out pretty well!” You either got the thing right, or you re-did it. And you would do the exact some thing the next day.
It was completely wrong for my temperament. It didn’t utilize any of my strengths. No part of the job engaged my enthusiasm. So, I found a new job.
The second time was some years later. The company I’d moved to underwent incredible growth. As the tasks I was working on expanded, we kept hiring people and sub-dividing my job (not just mine, of course). We had reached a point where there were five departments, each staffed with at least a dozen people, that were all doing the tasks that had once been my responsibility. At each point in the process, I had been involved in the decision of how my job would change.
Until we passed a critical point. Decisions about how our work would be done, about the nature of what our work should be, were made over my objections. I became very unhappy with my job. So I started looking for new work. I hadn’t gotten very far when my newest supervisor came to me with a proposal. She wanted to create a graphics sub-department, and wondered if I was interested in being the core of the new department.
After some discussion, we began interviewing designers and artists, and my job changed radically. While the stuff I was unhappy about continued to happen, it was no longer my job. I was much happier. I had a new set of challenges, new things to learn, and interesting work.
There have been plenty of other times that things have happened at my various work places with which I was unhappy. There are always crazy things, annoying things, or stupid things that happen in life. There are always trade-offs and compromises. There are always things we wished were better, or easier, or simpler, or just different.
But ultimately, our happiness is our own responsibility. If your happiness hinges on things beyond your control, life is going to be one disappointment after another. If that’s where you are, you have to figure how to become the kind of person who finds happiness in other things.
While you’re working on that, look at the things that are under your control. What can you do in those areas that will move you toward a less unhappy state? If the climate where you’re at gets you down, and you’re not in a position to relocate, can you plan a weekend trip away? Can you find activities that distract you from the weather? Can you learn to accept that the weather is part of the price you have to pay for other things you love about living where you do?
If you have been trying to make changes for a long time without success, it’s time to ask yourself if you’re looking at the wrong problem. But that’s an entirely different post.
First, honestly assess yourself, your situation, and your past actions. Unhappy? What are you going to do about it?