Archives for the month of: November, 2014


I’ve watched Once Upon a Time on ABC since it’s first season.

The show tells the stories of fairy tale characters, old and new (some from big Disney movies) in a way that highlights their heroic moments and their not-so-heroic moments.  It details every character’s history and why they have the feelings they do today which give you a good idea of their motives for their actions. The show does a great job at reminding it’s audience that the heroes aren’t always making the “good” choices and the villains aren’t always making the “bad” choices.  The characters always seem to get out of bad moods and poor decisions with the help of others who love them, even against incredible odds.

I like this message because it reminds me that life is all about the choices we make.  We can choose to have hope and act out of kindness, love, etc, or we can choose to be miserable and act out of jealously or hatred, etc.  It also reminds me to empathize with myself and others.  There is no one “right” way to live your life and once you start to believe that, your relationship with yourself and others will invariably improve.

I came across this post while browsing some blogs and news sites last week: What to Do When Your Boss Tells You to Smile, and I spent some time thinking about previous posts I’ve written about maintaining a professional image in the workplace. When I’m working and I frown or squint, am I giving an unprofessional impression? Am I leading people to believe that, because of what I like to call my “unintentional meanface,” that I’m miserable at my job? I had to read the article two or three times before I formed a coherent opinion about the this. First, I had to remind myself that I know I’m not miserable at my job and I treat my bosses and coworkers with friendliness and respect. Second, I do not have to make excuses for why I am making a certain expression (as long as I’m not being rude to someone). I actually don’t have experience with a boss or coworker telling me to smile; I do have experience with it outside of the office, though.
I’ve been approached by people (and by people, I mean men. Sorry, guys!) telling me to smile when I’m walking down the street. I think my reaction depends on the tone the person uses when he tells me to smile; if a man says, for example, “Hey, beautiful–why don’t you smile for me?” (this is a true encounter, by the way), then I’m going to be uncomfortable. If a person (man or woman) says, “You look sad and I want to see you smile!” (also a true encounter), I’m not offended. In fact, I think it’s nice that this person took a second out of their busy day and noticed that I looked stressed or upset. Maybe the person isn’t that nice and I’m giving him or her too much credit, but I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt. (I’ve written about this idea of always being kind and respectful to others here and here–it’s a huge sticking point for me.) In short, it’s all about the delivery–are you hitting on me and you want attention? Then forget it. Are you trying to be nice and funny to make me laugh? Okay–your heart is probably in the right place.
The person who wrote in to Corporette said that coworkers tell her she looks angry when she’s working and she says, “I do furrow my eyebrows when I concentrate, and often am reading very tiny print, which makes me squint a bit.” I can relate to that–I work in publishing and more often than not, I’m editing a Word or PDF document and to keep my eyes from falling out my head from exhaustion, I have to squint. In a situation like this in a workplace, my first question to the writer is where is the person asking you to smile coming from? Do they sound snarky? Caring? Sarcastic? Maybe they’re concerned about you. Maybe what you think of as your b****face is what they think of as a frustrated expression. I know I’m a happy, friendly person and I typically smile and nod or say hi to people in the office. But I’d hate people to think that I’m not very happy with my job because I look angry while I’m working. I understand the frustration that people (especially women) feel when they are told to smile; it’s like we are being told to perform a certain way in order to be considered acceptable as women and as human beings. I also think it’s important to take a step back and to think about what the intention of the other person might have been–it could just be their way of expressing concern. In my opinion, if being told to smile bothers you, then tell your boss or coworker in a respectful way. Most people will appreciate your honesty and back off.
Alright, let’s hear it, readers: have any of you, men and women, been told to “Smile!” at work? What about somewhere else? I want to hear about it!
Check out more about this topic:
1. The Professional Implications of a “Naturally Frowny Face”
2. The Chronic Bitchface Is Still Here
Sunflowers always remind me of happiness.

Sunflowers always remind me of happiness.

Marykate’s post last Monday really hit me in the face. In a good way.

Over the past few months I’ve had a lot of “those days”.  Things go wrong, I blame myself and I talk to myself in a mean way. This kills my creativity and productivity.  And without creativity and productivity I am pretty lost for my day’s work!

Marykate asked at the end of her post what kinds of things you do to get yourself out of one of “those days”.  I decided to make a short list:

1. Sing. Yes, even if you’re bad. It makes me feel so much better. I can’t explain it, but somehow if I am having a particularly bad day, singing to myself really helps.  Chalk it up to science or the amazing mystical power music has, but it’s a great way to change your bad day into a better one, if only at least to lead you to another realization to help you. (pro tip: listening to music works too, but sometimes that’s not available).

2. Change location. It’s that simple. Just get up and move from the spot you were harboring all of that negative energy.  The change in space will make it easier to start fresh and adopt a new mindset.

3. Phone a friend.  Talking to an old friend, even if it’s long after work hours, can help you re-frame your situation.  So many times we are trapped inside our own bubbles and have a hard time imagining a way out of our situation if it is undesirable. Talking to a friend can give us laughter and the joy of old memories, but it can also take us out of our own situation while we listen to what the friend is going through and reflect on that.

These things are things I do and they might not work for you, but I think it’s awfully helpful to have a list of things to try when you’re feeling down.

Thanks, Marykate for giving us all the reminder that happiness is a choice.  Let’s all choose it a little more.

Yesterday was “one of those days,” and it certainly didn’t help that it happened to be a Monday, too. Everything just seemed to go wrong and I kept blaming it on myself. I know many of us have had “one of those days,” but I realized yesterday that we don’t have to give that day power. The way I talk to myself and think about myself probably affects the trajectory of my day more than I admit to myself. Like many people, I’m my own worst critic, but I know that telling myself that “I can never do anything right” or “I can’t do this” is not constructive. So, how can I lift myself out of a negative frame of mind?

I know I’ve written before about being kind to yourself and to others, but I think it’s one of the hardest things to do to force yourself to think positive thoughts. I also think it’s something that I need to practice before I will do it every day. I’m much harder on myself than I truly deserve, and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Sometimes I think just simply saying nice things to myself reinforces my confidence, instead of putting myself down when things go wrong.

If you’re having “one of those days” today, don’t crawl under the covers, put yourself down, or blame every problem in the world on yourself. RESIST THE URGE! I know it’s hard, believe me, but in the end you are doing yourself a disservice. You are a capable, smart, kind person and you can make it through anything. I try to tell myself: “Would you be where you are right now in life if you couldn’t do it?” And the answer is, “Of course not!” Cut yourself some slack, but also be honest with yourself. You are not a terrible person, you are just having a bad day. Every single person has bad days–don’t drown in the negativity!

Do you have an example of how you brought yourself out of “one of those days”? I’d love to hear it!


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