When the movie Office Space said, “Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays,” they almost had it right. I happen to have a case of the “weekdays.” Sadly, there is no known cure. The weekdays are always fatal.
Weekends do have a few things in their favor. You don’t have to go to work and you don’t have to deal with that puss-filled pimple of a boss. For a while.
But what else they got?
Sure, I look forward to weekends just like most everyone else. But Friday is the worst weekday of the week, notwithstanding Rebecca Black, of course. (You can see my Friday-is-the-worst-day-of-the-week logic here.)
You see, I’ve known something about Fridays for a long, long time. I was in the science lab (back when I was a much younger whore) when I put it all together. And I’m willing to share my findings with you. Shhhhhh!
Here is what my time in the lab proved*:
Tom’s Law #42
Unless death is somehow involved, every Friday is always followed by another Monday.
* I say “proved” but my results have not been subjected to peer review. We couldn’t find anyone sadly pathetic enough to perform the work.
One moment it’s Friday 5:05 pm and you stop to capture the moment. You take a swig from the flask of vodka under the driver’s seat. You just jumped in your rig, put in the key and are about to embark on the magical journey known as Friday night. Or, as I like to call it, “The Holy Time.” You try to freeze that moment in time so it will last forever, but try as you might, you cannot. Your eyes blink a couple of times, you shake your head, and suddenly, you find yourself in the same spot, only it’s Monday morning and the weekend in already over and the boss awaits.
“Oh my God,” you say to yourself. “How did that happen?” And, unlike Friday evening, time on Monday mornings slows down to such a point that a dead snail going backwards moves along faster. M equals Monday, M equals Molasses.
So yeah, some studies just came out, but they only prove what I already knew. Don’t worry, I’m here to help spread the good news. Read on to be cheered. What you don’t know could kill you.
There have been a couple of studies in the news recently.
One is about vacations. Researchers discovered that people look forward to vacations. They enjoy planning them. Their happiness actually goes up when they know a vacation is looming in their immediate future. At work this can often take the form of them acting like a jack ass. (This is similar in effect to short-timer syndrome.)
What about after the vacation is over? Alas, the happiness does not tend to stick around. Researchers found that once a vacation is over, “happiness” quickly returns to “baseline levels.”
Planning and looking forward to a vacation could boost happiness for eight weeks. Going back to work literally kills the happiness. I’m literally shocked. Who would have guessed? That’s inconceivable! Erm, not.
Even vacationers who described themselves as “very relaxed” saw no boost in happiness upon return to work. And their happiness returned to baseline levels in only two weeks.
With journalistic insight and excellence worthy of a metric ton of Pulitzers, The New York Times surmised, “One reason vacations don’t boost happiness after the trip may have to do with the stress of returning to work.”
They seem to have developed a firm grasp of the obvious.
Discussion question: Why should returning to work be so stressful? Oh yeah, that’s right. Our bosses are idiotic shit heads who serve to make our lives unpleasant. Can you imagine a world where bosses served a position function? Discuss.
You might be thinking, “Fine then! I’ll just take longer vacations.” Sorry. The study found there was no relationship between the length of the vacation and happiness levels upon return to work. A longer vacation did not help.
The second study now making the rounds has to do with kissing celebrities. No, don’t go away. I’m serious. A behavioral scientist asked college students to imagine a passionate kiss with a celebrity. Then he asked how much they would be willing to pay for that kiss.
The study found that a kiss “three days” away commanded the highest price. Not “now” like you might think. It turns out that the students wanted some time to anticipate the kiss.
The commonality between these two studies, of course, is that merely the act of anticipation can be enough to improve our “happiness.” (How in hell they found a way to quantify that I can only imagine.)
We look forward to things like Fridays, three-day weekends, holidays and, for those of us who actually get them, vacations. The anticipation is even enough to make us happier for awhile. But when these things are over, though, reality sets back in and we get right back in that same (lack of) happiness rut. A rut deep enough to hang posters.
Worse, we may not actually even enjoy that which we looked forward to. Says The New York Times, “And for some travelers, the holiday itself was stressful.”
Or, as Spock liked to say, “You may find that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. This is not logical, but it is often true.”
So you look forward to something very much. Probably too much. Probably because you need it so freakin’ badly to provide some possible justification for continued existence. Then you get the thing and it is very temporary in nature. Worse, it may suck and be stressful in and of itself. Then, you jump from that frying pan and right back into the fire that sucked in the first place.
Discussion question: The truly enlightened among you may be asking yourself, “So why not forget all this and concentrate on something else? If things like vacations and weekends don’t help us to be happier, then perhaps we should find a way, some way, to simply be happy with our normal regular lives. Maybe we should find a way to be happier at our jobs.” I’m not really going to dignify this with a response, except to say that you are truly sick in the head. How could you even ask something like that?!? You really need to get yourself some professional help. And how in the name of hell are you able to dress yourself and function in a society? Discuss.
The only constant is the ongoing suck. Just a little something to think about the next time you find yourself planning something that you’re going to anticipate with great expectations. My advice is to quell those positive feelings and keep things real. You’ll be in for a much smoother ride.
I look forward to leaving work everyday…
That’s a good point. Perhaps even the key to finding happiness at work, if I am understanding these studies correctly.
We see an increase in happiness when we are planning something and/or looking forward to it. Normally this takes place weeks out. But can it happen repeatedly over the course of a day? I think so. A work day, as something that totally sucks and must be endured, can be a little daily microcosm of anticipation.
As soon as you get to work and can shake the feeling of utter misery, dejection and abject failure, begin immediately thinking about your post-work experience. What will it be? How will you make it happen? Imagine how fun it’s going to be. Use the projection of the experience to contrast the demons slowly licking the flesh from your bones.
I realize I also do this at the weekly level. Friday sucks because it is the first step in a sequence of steps that eventually leads to a brand new Monday. Perversely, however, I actually look forward to Tuesday, which is the one day every week I have lunch with my wife, no matter what. Wednesday is Survivor night which we try to make into an event. (Tropical drinks can be transformative.) Admittedly this was a better get-through-the-week checkpoint when it was on Thursday night, but sometimes we have to adjust to change rather than totally giving up. (It can happen.)
In summation, there are all different kinds of anticipation. Daily, weekly, monthly and more. You gotta exploit them all if you aim to survive. I guess.
So I’m not the only one that hates Fridays? Sigh. I am so relieved at this, seriously I thought there was something wrong with me. Well, you know.