How I Stopped Hating Mondays

by Daniel Brenton on September 16, 2010

in Spirituality

Mondays
The TV Psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw has noted a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So why do we keep doing Mondays?

Start: Monday morning.

About four weeks ago, I woke up and hit that wall that most of us know all too well: I’ve got to go back to that damned job.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve got a good enough job. The pay is keeping me afloat and the benefits are certainly adequate (a true blessing in today’s mangled economy), but that morning, like most the Monday mornings of my working life, I just didn’t want to have to go to “that place” again.

Fortunately, instead of falling into the pattern of buying into a low-grade resentment or giving in to the “Monday Morning Blahs,” I had the presence of mind to question it.

Frankly, I could finally see it was ridiculous to continue reliving this same emotional roller coaster I had been riding, basically, since a few years into elementary school.

Gratitude vs. the Entitlement Mentality, or, “Oh, Suck it Up You Spoiled Brat”

Sitting there waking up in my modest (read: cramped) home office, my first thought was about gratitude, or a grievous lack thereof.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I am something of an advocate for establishing and maintaining a mindset of gratitude. So there I was, acting like a sulking little ingrate … and feeling like I was commiting a gratitude whale fail.

(Twitter-speak. Sorry.)

I could readily see the perversity of my feelings. It had not been all that long before that I was scrambling for a job — any job — at all, and here I was resenting what was, in reality, making it possible for my wife and me to survive.

It is painfully apparent to me that American society has undermined itself by engendering an almost pathological self-centeredness. The roots of this go back to the post-WW-II baby boom, of the plenty that surrounded the citizens of a nation becoming prosperous from an industrial base forged in the inferno of world war and retooled for peacetime Capitalism. An impressionable, coddled generation was raised expecting every problem could be resolved effortlessly, as Professor Morris Massey of the University of Colorado so astutely noted, in an hour with three commercial breaks.

If we thought the “Me Generation” was selfish, the following ones have raised this to an art form.

I was seeing (and I still see) this constantly in the workplace, people bitterly complaining about the most trivial issues in their jobs, somehow oblivious to what their lives would be like without them.

So I had to ask myself: am I doing this, too? I had hoped that, having spent as much time focusing on the power of gratitude that I would be “above” this.

(So much for being perfect, huh.)

Something Else, Something More

Though in all fairness to myself, there was something else in the mix, and I know I’m not alone in this.

Let’s think about the other end of the work week. Isn’t the reason we love Fridays so much (or whatever the last day of our work week is) is because despite whatever return we get from our jobs, we hate them and have a chance to get away from the accursed things for a while?

And why are they accursed things?

I think for most of us who aren’t satisfied by our jobs, we really don’t mind working. What we mind is that we are unfulfilled in our work. We hate our jobs because, at some level, we know there’s some other kind of work that would satisfy our personal sense of purpose. That there’s something else we want to do with our lives.

And we all know, at some level, that not finding this sense of meaning in our work is no damned way to live.

It’s one thing to be an ungrateful little snot, but another to acknowledge, honor, and embrace the inner knowing that, even in these outwardly uncertain times, our lives could — and even should — be something more.

The Future We Want

That morning, while I lay on a thin blanket on the floor, struggling through the morning stretches and reminding myself to breath, my answer hit me:

The Future we want has to come through the Now.

Put another way,

The Now we want has to come through the Now we have.

Do you see it?

Forgive the semantic word play, but the Future we want is actually the Now we haven’t achieved … yet.

(There’s only one Now … I don’t see a way around that one.)

If we dismiss the value of Now (as in, if our Now happens to be Monday) then we are denying the Now we want from entering the Now we have.

Likewise, if we only value the Now of our weekends, we are dismissing the value of the Now of the rest of the week.

(I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I can reject the present moment for a contiguous 120 hours.)

We want what we want, and it is only right that we literally want it Now.

So What About Mondays?

Laying there on my floor, pausing for a moment from trying to stretch out hamstrings that are just too tight for their own good, I let this realization settle for a few moments.

What this meant was that I could step back from the emotional baggage I had brought to the day for all these years.

What this meant was that, even though I was still tied to having forty two and a half hours (or so) plus travel time monopolized by my job each week, I felt more freed up to utilize what time I did have available outside of the job, instead of clouding and effectively diminishing that same amount of time with resentment for how little there was of it.

What it meant was that it would be easier from that point on to focus on creating the Now I want to eventually replace the Now I have.

Hey Buddy … Affirm This

In the weeks since, I’ve had to greet several Mondays, and I think I’ve done fairly well with keeping a better attitude about them. Honestly, this last Monday morning I found myself backsliding a bit, but I was able to break up the Monday Morning Blahs that were clouding my horizon by using my realization as a kind of personal affirmation.

So, repeat after me:

The Future I want has to come through the Now.

Copyright © 2010, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.

End

Lyman Reed September 17, 2010 at 5:20 am

Outstanding, Daniel… I’ve watched my co-workers complain about how much their job sucks, think to myself “Yeah, but where would you be without it,” and then soon after start thinking “Man, I wish I could be anywhere but here!”

You really hit it when you said that it’s not that we don’t want to work, it’s that we want work that’s fulfilling. I do know, though, that 92.897% of what makes my work fulfilling is my own attitude about it.

Thanks for the reminder to let tomorrow come through today.
Lyman Reed recently posted … Assess – Decide – Do- Natural Productivity – An Ebook ReviewMy Profile

Daniel Brenton September 17, 2010 at 9:45 am

Lyman –

I appreciate the comment. And thanks for the kudos … that means a lot, because I know you’ve seen a mess of personal development material.

– Daniel

Lyman Reed September 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

Couldn’t has said it better myself, Daniel… a “mess”!
Lyman Reed recently posted … Assess – Decide – Do- Natural Productivity – An Ebook ReviewMy Profile

Daniel Brenton September 17, 2010 at 10:05 am

Maybe I should have chosen a different word …

Narayanan Doraswamy September 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Your parable for the day:
Man said, “Lord, I hate Mondays! I don’t want to have to go in to work!”
And God said, “Let there be coffee!”
And Man was happy.

Daniel Brenton September 17, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Narayanan –

Thanks for the parable. Is that out of Who Moved My Cheese?

– Daniel

Angela September 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I enjoyed this post for many reasons, one of them being – well at least I’m not the only one with these thoughts!! Somehow it does help to know that…and to get a little encouragement, so thanks Daniel. Attitudes are then a bit easier to maintain.

Khan N Singh September 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Whilst I agree with you about focusing on making the now a positive place, one must make allowance for fatigue. It is Friday. I am rewarded by my job. I enjoy it. I find it intellectually challenging and emotionally fulfilling. And right now I am absolutely BEAT. Physically, mentally and emotionally. It took the best of me. And that is good. Its what it needed to be. But now I must recharge. And so many times we just CAN’T.

P.S. NO WAY any generation is more self-indulgent than baby boomers (says the girl watching self-indulgent baby boomer parents behave like spoiled teenagers for the past almost year).

PPS Apparently I require some big girl panties and sucking it up myself ;)

Daniel Brenton September 17, 2010 at 9:07 pm

@Angela –

I suspect most of the rank and file of the working class have the same thoughts, or feelings (really) if they aren’t able to verbalize them, though a lot of them … us … are probably stuck with the “I gotta get out of this place” mindset, of escaping with nowhere to land when they do.

@”Kahn” –

It sounds like you’re probably doing what you want to do, with the exception of being able to moderate the demand for your time and energy. Is there a place for one-on-one tutoring, or even consulting? Maybe you could find the right angle to have the best of both worlds, and a lot of us would be watching you from a distance, with more envy than we’d care to admit.

– Daniel

Khan N Singh September 18, 2010 at 4:08 am

Daniel-
I will be able to do just that in time. It will all smooth out in time. While I know this logically, it is difficult. It is an odd position. I’m am still paying my dues despite having a very large knowledge and experience base and truly being very good at what I do. While I have been working as a therapist/teacher for the past 11 years (good God, 11 years, how is THAT possible?) I have been “mommy tracking”. A temp gig here, grad school there, research assistant, etc. etc. with breaks while raising my kids. Much of the experience at an “intern” level simply by virtue of that was the only way to work at my level at a part time basis.

It’s given me a broad base of experience but I have yet to grab hold for a significant amount of time as a full time employee in an agency or school. I’m building that now. It will take another 3 to 5 years of hard core work to establish routines/reputation in my current placement. Hence the pseudonym. Hence a lot of the pressure/tension. Hence the need for the big girl panties. Apparently I’m in love w the word hence right now :)

Another struggle w/ knowing what I need to do, knowing it is right but having it be a damned hard slog. And doubt that I can make that transition of which you speak. And suspicion that all work life will simply be this difficult forever. Which is all a part of that projecting into a catastrophic future or pining to escape into a romanticized past rather than deal with the now that is rewarding but difficult. So I appreciate the wisdom and reminder of your article despite my whining.

Peace.

Nneka September 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Excellent post and exactly what I needed to read. I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of why I have these moments where I HATE my job. Not even the tasks that I do, just the concept of a job.

Today, I had to stop myself and start journaling about all the things I’m getting from my job, the least of which is a very cushy lifestyle. My work provides structure and camaraderie. It helps me to see different perspectives. It’s the fount of great anecdotes. It’s challenging and engaging. It’s demanding, but I left a “boring” job for it. Writing about it, I begin to appreciate it.

Just can’t think of the 70+ hours I spend on it :-(

Daniel Brenton September 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Nneka –

Thanks for dropping in, and thanks for the note.

In the vein of what I suggested to “Khan” above, maybe you can steer the job into something that doesn’t dominate so much of your time, or find a different way to approach the same kind of work (consulting, etc.) that would give you more flexibility or lead you to a greater quality of life in general. Just a thought.

On another note — I find again and again that the work environment (which is part of the overarching whole of our lives) is a place that offers lessons to learn about myself, as unpleasant as they may seem at the outset. I keep having to remind myself to pay attention, to keep an open mind, and I usually do find something of value, even in the tough stuff.

– Daniel

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: