Are You Happy In Your Job? Neither’s America!

Are you happy at your job?

Think about it – are you really happy doing whatever you’re doing?

Phillip DeFranco’s Youtube video the other set me onto an interesting thing. A social experiment was conducted recently in America and it turns out the American dream ain’t all so accessible for 52% of Americans. That’s how many people were said to be unsatisfied in their job and that the “perks” of working in certain establishments, such as games rooms and massage parlours and free catered meals and casual Thursdays, beer Fridays, health care and dental and whatnot, are not enough to grant them overall satisfaction in their work. 18% said they were “actively disengaged”. Essentially these people are just slumped over their desks, buggering about, pressing a few keys then slipping off for a beer to take the edge of the boredom.

What makes me sad is that only 30% felt their job to be “actively engaging or inspiring“. In a population of millions, in a country apparently busting at the seams with opportunity and preaching happiness and fulfillment and all that overly positive Americanness, such a tiny number of people have actually found that.

What does that say about the productivity of such a vast country? If they can have the amount of influence that they do with only 30% of people actually doing any properly motivated work, can you imagine the madness that would ensue if the other 70% were engaged?? It would either become a world so overrun by sunshine and productivity that the actual sun would feel like an underachiever and find another solar system (assuming of course it isn’t an unmotivated working class American, of course, in which case it would probably just stop shining) or it would be complete carnage! War. Need I say any more? They’re already farting rainbows over there, who’s to say what could happen!

When_The_Sun_Is_Gone_by_artofkerem

Which made me think. This isn’t even the number of people who are not doing the job they want, that dream job that has everything they are looking for in a satisfying occupation – these are just the people who are doing a job, one to get by, get some money, get paid and go home. What of the people who got the dream job – then discovered it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?

I’m under no illusions. In a society so uncertain of its future, life seems to be filled with “just getting by” moments, people doing what they can for money to support themselves and their families – but isn’t that such a crap way to live?? Argue that life is full of winners and losers, people who get what they want and people who don’t and that it all comes down to whoever has the balls to go out and get what they want gets it, but I think that’s a load of bull.

happy accordion player

happy accordion player

That’s like saying those 52% of unhappy people never tried to achieve their dream. Maybe they did. Maybe it just didn’t quite workout. Maybe they wanted to make it as a street accordion player, but unfortunately, the public were more into skater haired street buskers at the time. Gutted for them. Now they sell insurance in a call center.

Forget that – who is to say they’ve even decided what they want to do with their lives and are just trundling along at half speed til they can work it out. I’m 19 and I’m currrently trying to work out what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of my life. There are times when I think “well Gem, you’ve made a royal balls up of your life so far, what are you going to do about it??” Terrifyingly (though not altogether unexpectedly) the general response from that voice in my head is either silence or… “…fuck if I know, you control the legs in this situation, you work it out!” Yeah, coz the voice in my head is extraordinarily rude, by the way. Should probably have a word with it about that actually…

try again! never too late to rock the street XD

try again! never too late to rock the street XD

So now I’m wondering; what can the people represented in that awful stat do about it? Can they do anything? Go back to that accordion and hope the market’s changed? Get a hair cut and conform for the sake of a taste of success? How do you even measure success. I think it’s personal. If you are satisfied then surely that’s a job well done? You might not have millions in the bank, but you will be rich in spirit.

From the sounds of America, this whole appearance of total contentment in life is a facade, a nation wide pass time of pretence and self disillusionment. Maybe they should take a look at a happy busker, an old man and his accordion. A guy who took up the art again after years wasted in a desk job, having given up on the dream of his youth ; chances are there are holes in his shoes and a couple of missing buttons on that old thing, but I’ll bet there’s a smile on his face. Because he’s made it; he’s playing to his audience. Whether they listen or not is irrelevant – that little bugger with the cool hair has gone home… I hear he sells insurance now…

SSDD

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Impulses Influence Everyone

I recently made a post on how you shouldn’t let fear rule your life.

Well, I think this might become something of a theme with me. So get used to it. On with round two!

Fear doesn’t just rule your life, it ends up influencing the lives of those around you, too. Think about this situation:

Someone has a fear, something that is exercising a measure of restriction over their life. A person close to them has to deal with this, if not every day, then certainly on a regular basis.

So, not only are you struggling against that issue, it is being forced on the people around you, whether you want to or not, whether you mean to or not, it’s happening, regardless.

now you don't have to be perfect, you can be good

Say for example, that you have to have someone with you while you’re eating. You can’t eat alone, but at the same time, you can’t not eat. It’s not just that it would feel weird, sitting at an empty table, one lone table mat, one solitary spoon, a single bowl, a lonesome cup; it’s the whole social convension of the thing. If there are several people in a house, surely it is expected that they would eat together. No? Why not? And if you were to strike out on your own, let that cup have a friend in the shape your hand wrapped around it, that spoon find a home that isn’t chatting to someone at the same time, then how would other people react? Would they question you? What did you have? When? Why did you sit on your own and not wait til other people were about? Did you actually have something or are you just pretending you did?

So you have this inner turmoil. Then demand someone have breakfast with you.

Herein lies the problem.

What if the other residents of the household do not want to have breakfast at the same time as you? But you have to have it at a certain time. What will happen if you let them have a lie-in and have it later? Who knows? Maybe nothing. Maybe something terrible.  On and on it goes. The mental carousel from hell.

Even though for you, this seems like a huge deal that only you are dealing with, the necessity of having something done at a certain time, in a certain way, with the situation just the way you want it, this is not you exerting control – this is a part of your brain malfunctioning and controlling you and the people around you. As an individual, you have no influence here. You won’t, until you start fighting back.

It isn’t unusual for people to struggle. Everyone has struggles, whether that be with their mental health, physical health, work, body image, heights, hygiene, mobility… Any of these can be catastrophic for the sufferer but impact everyone. Think about it in the above example. You have to have someone with you all the time. That is going to get tiring, for everyone concerned, even though you are only doing it with the best of intentions, for reasons which seem right.

upstairs

So, to combat these problems you engage in behaviours, routines. It could be anything from waiting til people are out of the house before having your breakfast to dragging them out of bed, fully against their will.Think about how these impulses effect the people around you. You are just trying to get things done properly and avoid the fear that comes from not having them done right. So what if it’s not bothering them. It bothers you.

There are certain conditions, such as Eating Disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder and Anxiety Disorders, that mean that familys are often more accepting of such bizzare behaviour. The idea is that you can’t help it, but that you are trying to and for the most part, that’s enough to satiate their corresponding impulse to wring you bloody neck!

But stress gets to us all. There will be times when the pressure of having to get up at whatever time has been deemed the “correct” time just isn’t going to work for everyone. If an argument kicks off there is one vital thing to remember;

Your loved one is not yelling at you, they are yelling at the fear controlling you. Controlling both of you.

Remind yourself of that, and maybe, just maybe, the fear of everything collapsing in on itself will get a little bit less.

And try having your breakfast on your own. The first step.

don't feel alone i'm here

SSDD

Child Poverty In The UK Is Worse than Expected

So, you’re 28, a single parent with three kids, renting a flat in a bad area, acquiring toys and clothes for your little ones second hand for little or no money, living on minimum wage and working just 16 hours a week? (source: BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat)

Well, says the government, if we raise tax a little more…

In the UK today there seems to be a greater interest being taken in politics. There are currently huge overhauls being made to various societal features that seriously affect the everyday running of people’s lives.

Some of the main issues we are facing regard child poverty.

It was revealed just the other day that a shocking number of children are still living well below the poverty line – an estimated 2.8 million in the UK. The severity of these figures have prompted childrens charity Save the Children to launch their first ever campaign for youngsters in within the UK, having previously only raised money for projects in places like Africa.

It is thought that one in eight UK children go without at least one hot meal a day and one in seven will go without a warm winter coat or proper shoes because their parents simply cannot afford to pay for them. There are even parents choosing alternative lifestyles in order to eat more cheaply, living vegetarian to cut out the rising price of meat and 80% admitting borrowing money for essentials such as food and clothes. (source: Savethechildren.com)

The coalition has sanctioned that to be considered able to keep your family out of the “impoverished” category you must be earning at least £17,000 a year. It transpires that up to 60% of the families worst affected by the budget cuts and tax increases are living below these standards and have been struggling to keep up since the recession hit. Where they might once have lived a comfortable lifestyle, job losses and pay freezes have meant that families have fallen on harder times. In times when the entire country is struggling ways not previously thought of it might be an idea for the government to reassess their borders what it actually means to be “impoverished”.

More needs to be done to help these children, that much is certain. The uncertainty then, lies in what?

Measures are being considered to raise taxes for top earners, but this policy is unpopular within wealthier voters – and really, who can blame them for voicing their complaints?

Another would be to add taxes to various amenities and spread the cost over the good departments; but again, this is deeply unpopular, this time within the “squeezed middle-class”, who seem to be getting lumped with a whole load of added strain that could scarcely be afforded to begin with. To raise the cost of food again would most likely see the numbers of impoverished children increase yet again, yet to raise the price of sports and leisure facilities would be destructive to all the good done at the London Olympic and Paralymic Games this summer, ultimately obliterating any profit of benefit they stand to make to our health and economy.

It is a tricky mine-field to negotiate, for sure.

Another question we must ask is; what happens when they get older? What happens when those youngsters we keep healthy in the mean time grow up and find that, without the thinly veiled charity from friends and relatives or the support of organisations such as Save the Children or schools, there are no jobs for them to be able to support themselves?

Such realisations should be made in Parliament that it is not just amendments to the current treatment of our nations poorest parents that need to be made, it is preventative measures that need to be put in place to ensure this cycle does not extend to yet another generation.

Here are some links for more information on this, if you are so inclined to investigate:

Telegraph Cal Flyn 5th September     Child poverty: minimum wage ‘does not meet basic costs of raising children’

Telegraph Cal Flyn 6th September     Child Poverty, Mapped

BBC News Save the Children Urges Action

BBC News Poverty Target Will Not Be Met By 2020

Bernardos

End Child Poverty in the UK Campaign from 2009

SSDD

I Brought My Own Coffee, Thanks

There is a major problem with office workers.

How the hell they expect someone to survive in an office environment with crap instant coffee is utterly beyond me.

This was the predicament I found myself in recently, when I had two days work experience at my local paper. Now this post is in no way to be considered poor reflection on those fine wordsmiths at the Greenock Telegraph – which, in case you hadn’t heard, is in fact the finest local newspaper in the West Coast of Scotland – no, in the whole of Scotland! (and if that isn’t a claim worthy of the Sun then I don’t know what is) It is merely meant to reflect my utter admiration for people who work under stressful conditions – without super quality caffeine on an IV.

When I began my two days I knew roughly what to expect since I had spent some time there before. I felt prepared.

So this time, when I walked through those double doors at 9:30, I did not feel such an amateur. I slid in front of my very own computer booth, tapped in my personal log-in and snapped on my secretary-come-secret agent headset. Reporters notepad on desk, pen in front pocket and handbag stocked with reporter-like things tucked at my side, ready to be grabbed at the click of my editors fingers.

Everything was going well as I spent the morning fashioning nibs from local ads (what we in the industry call those little fillers at the side of the page that tell you of local events and whatnot). It was only when my trust-me-I’m-a-journalist shirt began to feel just a little chilly, that I noticed the other warning signs. The thirst. The headache. The tightening around the eyes that seemed to spread to my jaw. Eventually using a slightly shaking hand to straighten my short-in-a-sexy-yet-sensible-way skirt I had to admit it – it was coffee time!

10:30am. Damn it. I had hoped to make it til at least 11 before I let the caffeine get the better of me but hey, strong coffee is a mark of a true journalist, right?

But when I get to the tea room, I was a little… disheartened. Not so much disappointed, that would be too much. But my heart swelled a little at the sight before me, and not in that joyful way it sometimes does, more in that way that tells you something awful has happened but that your too pumped with adrenaline to appreciate it.

There was coffee, sure. And it was instant, which is fine, more than fine, it’s great. But it was the second most intolerable instant coffee known to man. It was that dreaded fiend, Tescos own brand. Not even one of the decent ones that tasted just like the good stuff but a slightly more aerated colour in a different jar. It was that rubbish that takes two spoonfuls to have a taste, two more to just about bear some morose resemblance to coffee. And the worst part – it was decaf! I know, I felt it too; the horror. I mean for goodness sake, why even bother drinking something characterised by its potentially heart disease creating key ingredient in favour of a version which might boost you concentration a tiny bit more but has only been so far proven to do in mice!? I can think of other kinds of murky water that could well have the same effect and probably taste about the same!

This sad scene put something of a dampener on my morning, but I was not prepared to let it beat me; so I had three more before noon and by then, things began to look significantly brighter.

I have nothing against the humble instant coffee; I drink cups of the sweet brown nectar everyday (black, two sugars, if you’re interested), and I did feel so suave and journalisty sitting in front of my pile of half read dailys, shorthand notes and copy print-outs. The steaming mug to my right was the perfect addition to my completed look; keen young reporter at work, disturb and face her cutting wit. Even the glasses perched half way off the end of my nose since I wouldn’t see the computer screen from the ridiculous distance it was stationed away from me made me appear somehow like I fitted my situation. (whoever sat at that desk before me must have been the most long-sighted fellow ever to have lived, by the way, and I think they superglued that tower to the flippin’ desk because for all my efforts, it would not move closer)

But be serious. I am only 19 years old and while yes, I may have acquired an unhealthy addiction to strong coffee at a young age, the rest of the people in that office were there every dayDrinking that stuff.

I knew I would be flagging after two days of that. My means of remedying a potentially embarrassing situation?

I brought my coffee, thank-you very much.

That’s right, in a sandwich bag. I brought enough of my favourite from home to last me the day and low and behold, my two days ended marvelously. I had a couple of pieces submitted for the paper for the rest of the week and went on my merry way, even with the promise of future days work to come.

So, ladies and gentlemen of the press, I would like to take this opportunity to impart these words of simple wisdom to you: If you work in an environment where concentration is key, make sure you are well stocked in whatever you need. Be that cigarettes for the nicotine addicts out there; biscuits and bananas for the diabetics, as I can only assume Eric, who had the desk next to me must have been since for all the time I was there the man never stopped snacking yet was not fat; or in my case, decent coffee. Make sure you have what you need and it will give you the confidence and the focus to enjoy the experience more.

See you in the headlines!!

SSDD

The Curse of the 19 Year Old: Panic Freedom

Ok, so I think I have a problem.

The other day was my 19th birthday.

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT MEANS I’M PROPERLY OLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY CRUEL WORLD, WHYYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?!?!?!?

Kidding, I don’t really care about getting old. 😀 It’s more the fear that a chapter of my life has now closed, that era which could still conceivably still be called childhood is no longer. It doesn’t mean that I have to suddenly shrug off my Invisibility Cloak (that tatty rag I used for Halloween when I was eight) and pull on that Robe of responsibility (a bra), but it is something to consider.

Age is not a garment, it cannot be measured in appearance. I think that, for the important things at least, age is a state of mind.

And my state of mind now; confused. Here’s why.

I always considered 19 year olds to have something over their peers. I don’t know what it is but a 19 year old in my eyes seemed to have a freedom and a rebellion that came from being that age; too old for the newly-legally-novelty to still really influence your actions, but not old enough yet that you feel any actual responsibility for your life or your future. Like there is still a sheen of total abandonment coating everything and a flavour of good ol’ “I’m too young to die” in every puff of suspiciously scented cig.

(if you get the reference hidden in there, props to my fellow AR fans… keeping the youth alive… and the movie sequel dream… :P)

In fact, I thought quite the opposite: I felt that a 19 year old was stuck in a place almost of panic, right before you turn into an actual, glorified adult, no longer able to claim it was teenage hormones that made that bad decision, that it was all down to a learning curve, that living excessively was all part of being young. I think it is that fear that makes a 19 year old seem to me one of the most hectic and volatile creatures in existence.

Imagine; one day it is all partying, no consideration, the next – you’re 20, the same laws that once ruled you are literally irrelevant, getting away with a child ticket is no longer merely “a push” but laughable. Using “only when I’m drunk” as an excuse won’t work – who has the time when you have to be up so early for work?!

Maybe life doesn’t stop at 20, even if it does start at 50. But from the shenanigans I’ve seen from some of those 19 year olds in the past, I’m not willing to take that chance.

So, I’m guessing that this year might have some surprises in store. Nothing that I can predict at the moment, but neither could anyone else, and most of them seem to have done alright for themselves.

If life were predictable, it wouldn’t be nearly so interesting. There would be no such thing as surprises. It wouldn’t be worth waiting around for. Zombies would be the norm, rather than that threat we nerds have spent decades preparing for the arrival of.

So bring on the impulse panic decisions. Bring on the freedom. Or, if it swings the other way, bring on the fight against oppression.

Because I may not be ready for it, but what 19 year old is?

 

SSDD

So, You Really Think This Is A good Plan!?!? : The Fat Acceptance Movement

Ever had that moment when someone has tentatively said to you “Ever thought about losing a little weight?” and, scowling and red-faced replied, “I just can’t, alright!!”

Well, good news. According to new research, it could be genetic – so don’t worry about it!

There is a new stance emerging – “Fat Acceptance Movement”.

Thinking “hey I think I’ve heard of that before…” but with no idea where? Nope, it wasn’t on that (now empty) tub of Ben and Jerry’s, nor was it scribbled on the bottom that take-out menu. You may have heard of it in passing while listening to the news or the radio, perhaps even on a heath or fashion TV show, (that’s right, they mentioned it on a couple of those recently!) but never really discussed on its own. I predict this will change very soon.

So Where Has This Idea Come From?

It stems from the Government. The idea is that governments are moving on from the stance that all overweight people can be helped back to a healthier size; apparently it all genetic! They are now entertaining the idea that they should instead focus on changing societal view of fat people to be less discriminatory.

I’m all for changing negative social stigma so that it isn’t directed at people. Stigma would be far better attached to negative things instead; a recent example would be the possibility of a law being passed to force cyclists to wear helmets – stigmatising this could save lives without needless laws being passed. (Amol Rajan discussed this in the i on Friday, link HERE)

However. I think this might be a tad ridiculous.

Yes, there are people who are naturally heavier build, same goes for some thin people – that’s just the way you are built. But there is a big difference between being big boned and being obese.

Obese people have made the choice to let their weight get out of control, therefore, their health problems are their own responsibility. Same goes for super thin people. This “fat acceptance” nonsense seems like the government are saying it’s too big a problem (excuse the pun) and are giving in a little.

This seems like an excuse for overweight people to say “I’m just going to accept that I’m too big and do nothing about it – it’s genetic! The Government even says so!” It seems lazy and like quitting.

But Isn’t Changing the View of Society the First Step Toward Changing the Individual?

Changing the social attitude towards fatness is not going to do anything to change the actual weight of the people or improve their lives in the end. It may mean that there is greater acceptance of the eve-expanding waistline of the nation, but that isn’t really a good thing if people are still unwell because of it.

It just means that, when you are lying in hospital having broken you leg while tripping on your run, and see an obese 28 year old in for a quadruple by-pass, the old guy on your left being treated for diabetes won’t shake his head and complain about how parents should educate their kid better – he’ll nod with a look of sympathy and ask you about your leg.

It is people’s best interests to say fit and healthy, which is why it is necessary to fight your genes and say no, I will not give in and eat that chippy/Chinese take-out/burger as well as that tub of ice-cream/cake/deep fried mars bar, every day of the week. (No sane person would ever say NEVER, coz, I mean, c’mon, take-out is the best thing ever… 😀 )

It’s all down to making healthier choices and receiving encouragement – not giving up and saying, know what, you go ahead and munch your way to ill health, we have no idea what to about it anymore.

Try harder, Mr. Cameron, or everyone’s favourite Mayor may just take-over… 😉

SSDD

To Ink Or Not to Ink… (2)

a very dedicated maths teacher…

Tattoos often get a bad rep: they used to be the body modification of choice for soldiers, sailors, bikers, criminals and mobsters. Dangerous people, or folk with dangerous jobs. But that is no longer the case. Yes, some nasty people have tats. But so do celebrities, teachers, doctors, even politicians.

So this poses the question: with so many of us now getting tattoos, should society as a whole be changing its prejudices against them?

Finding up to date statistics on public opinion on tattoos has been a little difficult, apologies for that, but…

In a survey conducted by the ask Jeeves website in 2010, an estimated 30% of UK adults between the ages of 23-35 have been inked and there are an estimated 1700-plus tattoo parlours – up from around 300 a decade ago. However this figure may seem miniscule considering that in the late 1800s, 90% of the British navy alone was inked up. Figures are higher in younger people now than ever before with the number falling to just 16% in people in their 50s and above.

Being a tattooist is now a level of artistry on par with a painter or sculptor in terms of creative skill and imagination. There are celebrities within the community, such as Ed Hardy, Cat Von Dee, Ami James, Jason Zube, Alex Binnie and Joey Pang. An entry-level artist is likely to be a fine arts graduate meaning that it is not at all a go-to job for the lazy-yet-creatively-gifted-wild child.

The study conducted in 2010 found that 26% of UK adults (out of 1000 participants) are said to regret their tattoos within a decade of getting them (between the ages of 18-10) but I’m sceptical of this figure. If that were the case, then almost all adults would regret their decision and I find that quite hard to believe – if the opinion were really so wide-spread, then surely people would cotton on that it is a bad idea and, I don’t know, stop getting them maybe?? But this has clearly not been the case as tattoos see a year on year rise in popularity, with many studios insisting that patrons book their appointments well in advance. Books are often full for weeks at a time with very few unfilled slots.

A survey conducted in September 2010 by Uxbridge High School revealed that over half their students had plans to get a tattoo, but that up to 50% of those students parents were not happy with them to do so. A third of these students felt that tattoos were a good creative outlet, one even siting that they “want to use their body as a canvas for art”.

We hear it all the time; if you are going for a job interview, be sure to cover your tattoos; of you are at work, cover your tattoos; if you are meeting the new partners parents for the first time; if you are going to be near children; if you are in any environment that is not related to your personal life, it seems – the consensus seems to be that tattoos should be covered.

Granted that does not apply to all professions, but the vast majority of professional environments would prefer all ink to be hidden away. Some have argued that it is a breach of human rights. Some have argued that it is unfair that body art and even piercings must often be removed/hidden while Muslim women are allowed to wear burkas. It may seem that this is double standards considering a headscarf can be easily removed, even if it is for religious reasons that it be kept on, whereas a tattoo cannot be removed at will.

In this age where freedom and liberation of character are arguably at their most potent for decades, one must wonder why such an inconsequential thing is such a big deal to employers. They do not make you unclean or mean that you can do a job better or worse than anybody else, yet the sight of a tattoo can often instil feelings of anxiety or doubt in someone’s mind. They are seen as being unprofessional.

For example, say a police chief were to confidently handle a suspect and work a case. They lead their team with authority and good judgement. Now, say it is summer time and that same police chief walks into the room wearing a short-sleeved shirt – revealing heavily tattooed arms beneath them. What would be the reaction? Would opinion change? Would it mean they were unable to lead their team any less competently? Of course it wouldn’t. But it would mean that their team, and anyone else they encounter in their work, might view them in a different light. An air of suspicion – no, curiosity – might then hang over them.

It is this attitude that I do not think is fair. To think any less of a person, even limit their job prospects, purely based on their tattoos is unfair and while it has, I believe, improved in recent times, that stigma is still attached and needs to be shaken off.

And it will, because at the rate we seem to be going at, most of the world will be inked up to their eyeballs within a few years.

SSDD