How to be Happy at Work When Everyone Else is Miserable.

Sir, what are you doing?

I… I’m just getting a pen.

This supply cabinet is for employees of this group only. Are you part of this group?

I… I’m sorry. I thought this cabinet was for everyone within the company?

Well, it’s not. The nerve of some people. Put that down please.

I walked away feeling like a criminal and embarrassed. Two hours later I was laughing to myself and thinking, “Wow. What a miserable person that lady was.”


There is being unhappy and unsatisfied at work and then there is complete misery.

Here’s how you know if you’re miserable:

  • You take a deep breath each morning before checking your email for the first time.
  • When people ask how you’re doing, you say, “I’M DOING GREAT,” when in reality you are one comment away from a mental breakdown.
  • When your boss is talking to you, you’re making eye contact but inside you’re screaming so loudly that you’re almost positive she can hear you.
  • When you go home, you replay different work interactions a million times in your head, saying all of all the things you wish you could have said.

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I did whatever it took to finish a deliverable. I worked days, nights, weekends, holidays, family events, summer days, snow days, football games, Leap days, St. Patrick’s Days, BBQ’s and birthdays. I was a machine.

My priorities were all messed up.

Here’s the kicker. No one ever demanded that I worked this much. I did it on my own. I set myself on fire to exceed the expectations of my manager and colleagues.


happy at work 3


Elaine did everything in her power to get a free sub that she “earned”

Here’s what I learned: It’s not your boss’ job to tell you that you’re working too much.

Let me make this a little bit more real for you. Your boss won’t tell you that you’re working too much.

You know what, I’m going to go deeper on this one, because I don’t think you understand.

Your boss will let you continue to overwork yourself without any regard to how it affects your personal life. It’s not their job to manage your personal life. That’s your job.

If you’re able to find a job that imitates your personal life, then God bless your soul. If your name isn’t Anthony Bourdain, AKA the man who gets paid to travel and eat food all over the world, then I don’t believe that you’re getting paid to do what you love.


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Jerry has a deaf girlfriend who is extraordinarily great at reading lips

The problem with miserable people is that they operate with severe tunnel vision. They aren’t able to look at their job holistically. So instead of understanding issues and how to create solutions, they continue on in the only way they know without learning new methods of solving problems.

Here’s how you become a great observer.

At your next meeting I want you to go out of your way to not talk. Pretend you’re just a fly on the wall. Even if you know the answer to the question, just shut up. Even if you want to add something to what someone else said, don’t. Just sit there and listen. Look around to see who’s on their phone. Look to see who’s multitasking and answering their email. Look to see which of your colleagues are texting each other across the room, exchanging super secret information.

Just sit there and observe.

Observe how long people talk during meetings. Could that person who just spent 5 minutes explaining a problem have explained it in thirty seconds? What about that other person who just HAS to add their commentary. Were there comments relevant and necessary?

Observe the times you receive emails from your colleagues. Who consistently sends email after 5pm or on weekends? Who works from home the most? Who comes in to work the most?

Observe others’ behaviors. Let it all sink in.

How does this help you become happier?

It helps you understand your current work situation better. Your goal is to understand what your real role is at work and to understand how others work.

There is a good chance that if you’re still reading this article with interest, you have tunnel vision. You have an inability to understand where you fit in at work. Do you really understand what your role is?


You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.” – Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, People magazine, 8 April 1974.


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AUTHOR’S NOTE: I actually hate quotes. I hate quoting quotes. I just couldn’t find a way to say it better than Edgar did. I’m also a very happy person believe it or not.

When you’re “in it,” it’s easy to believe that your job is so important that you have to put all of your energy into it.

If you’re like me, you take in your pride in your work. When you commit to doing something, you do whatever it takes to get it done so you don’t let your colleagues down. This is how the tunnel vision begins.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

This might blow your mind…





Yes, I’m talking to you. What you’re working on right now is not that important in the whole scheme of things. I know it SEEMS super important, but it really isn’t. I know you can’t possibly let your colleagues down. I know you need the money to work. I know this job is your lifeline right now.

Take a look at the space picture and read Edgar’s quote again. I want you to take a look at what you’re working on from the perspective of the moon. How important is what you’re doing at work now? Is it worth working overtime? Is it worth the constant stress you put on yourself? Is your job providing actual value to the world? The last time you got into an argument with someone at work, was it real anger or petty anger? Could you justify your hatred all the way from the moon?

Is it that serious?


This is where the majority of people fail.

They become miserable because they believe that their situation isn’t changeable.

They say things like “Robbie, I have a family to feed. I live paycheck to paycheck. I NEED this job. I can’t just slack off and live in your fantasy world!”

I really do get these emails often. The funny thing is I never said to slack off. I never said stop doing work or start missing deadlines. I never said stop being friendly to your co-workers and tell your boss to go screw himself. I never said, “You really don’t need a steady paycheck.”

You made all that up.

I’m saying learn how to advance your career by doing all the right things for your company AND for yourself. These concepts are not mutually exclusive.

When I’m in a miserable situation, I know that it’s temporary. I also have an action plan to get out of Planet Misery. I’m either taking coffee meetings with others outside of work or I’m talking to others within the company to understand what other positions are open, and I’m constantly building my own skills on nights and weekends.

I have a plan to get out of it. This way I can walk into the office, make eye contact with five miserable people and tell them how great life is and actually mean it.

I’m happy. Are you?

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PS: Read the only resignation letter template you’ll ever need.