Working Wounded Blog: Give Thanks, Be Happy

I'll cut right to the chase -- I'm very happy these days. No, that's not really accurate, these are the best days of my life.

I know what you're thinking, that I must be an idiot. Who could possibly be happy today? That's the point of this blog -- why real Thanksgiving is so hard to find these days, especially at work.

Keeping up with the Joneses, planned obsolescence and conspicuous consumption aren't just concepts today, they're lifestyles. In fact, if the famous philosopher Descartes were to ply his trade today, he'd probably say, "I consume, therefore I am."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against you clicking on every ad that surrounds this page. Consumption is a good thing, until it creates a yearning in each of us that literally can't be satisfied.

I've been doing a little experiment. I tell people that I'm happy. Really happy. Probably the happiest I've ever been in my life.

So how do people respond when someone says they are really happy? Well, dear reader, I've done the experiment and these are my findings. The most popular response? A faint smile. Second most common, the other person says that they are happy for me. A close third: a blank stare.

Which makes me think of the all-black outfits favored by Johnny Cash, W Hotel staff and assorted urban hipsters. I'm starting to think that wearing black as a hip fashion statement doesn't just apply to the outside of these people. Most people today seem to think that intense cynicism is the only intelligent stance that a thinking person can adopt.

I've personally responded to over 50,000 e-mails from bosses and employees. So you don't have to convince me that there are challenges out there. The workplace is lean and mean, and getting meaner every day. GM's announcement just before the holidays of 30,000 more layoffs is one more sign that we probably haven't reached bottom yet.

So the next time that someone says they are happy at work, let me make a small suggestion. Don't kill the messenger. Don't try to drag them into the hole that you are in. Don't blow them off.

Rather, hear them out. See if you can get a contact high -- maybe some of their happiness can rub off on you. Count your own blessings. Think about what is going right in your life.

Call me a fool, but I think Thanksgiving shouldn't be about pilgrims, football and turkey. I think it should be about acknowledging the good that is all around you. OK, at most workplaces you might have to dig deep to find it, but it is there. Look for acts of kindness and appreciate them. And if your workplace is lacking in basic kindness and decency, start acting on your own. You have to be at work every day -- might as well do what you can to make it a happy place.

There is a lot of cynicism out there. But if we band together we can make a dent. That to me is the real message of Thanksgiving.

Quote of the Week

"Think left and think right

and think low and think high.

Oh, the THINKS you can think up

If only you try."

-- Dr. Seuss

Blog Ballot Results

Here are the results from a recent Working Wounded Blog/ABCNEWS.com online ballot:

Which is the biggest taboo at work?

   Bravado, 4.9 percent

   Why, 9.6 percent

   Too Much Information, 15.9 percent

   Felony, 34 percent

   Relationships, 35.4 percent

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, an internationally syndicated columnist, popular speaker and a recent addition to the community of bloggers. He welcomes your comments at bob@workingwounded.com.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

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