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Home > Blog: Work/Life > Are You Unemployed and Happy or Employed and Miserable?

Are You Unemployed and Happy or Employed and Miserable?

I hear and read stories about people who feel miserable in their jobs, but can't risk quitting in today's job market. Some who have held onto their jobs are even expressing envy toward those who have been laid off. It reminds me of a line from an old TV drama about an impending nuclear attack: "The living will envy the dead."

That's a bit melodramatic, but it does seem highly ironic to be jealous of someone who's collecting unemployment while you're drawing a steady paycheck. Still, there's enough misery among the employed that I'm sure some of them have wished for their own layoffs. ("You mean I don't have to put up with this miserable job anymore and can sleep in?!? Excellent!!)

Even the optimists among the still-employed may be more apt to ride out the recession before they look for new jobs. Based on the results of a recent survey, 54% of employed adults in North America are at least somewhat likely to look for new jobs once the economy turns around.

That's understandable if: (1) They didn't like their jobs or companies even before the recession struck but feel they need to stay put until job prospects improve, or (2) They wound up working more hours and spending less time with their families after they took on more work following a round or two of layoffs.

Meanwhile, there's no shortage of stuff on the web that says how being laid off can be an incredibly exhilarating experience that gives you time to recharge yourself, learn something new, spend more time with the family, and, heck, maybe even win a Nobel Prize. In 2002, during my own 7-month-long layoff, I did all that (except the Nobel part), and while it kept my spirits up, the depressing feeling of being jobless didn't go away. It's an awful feeling, even if it lasts for only minutes. Trust me, you don't want it.

All this led me to wonder how people are faring in this recession. If you're employed, how are things at work? If you're unemployed and looking for a job, what are you doing to stay focused and optimistic amid your job search?

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