Finding Gratitude in a Hectic Work Situation

Nov 23, 2020


by Deanna Parkton


This is the time of year to take time to show gratitude for the small blessings in our lives. For good reason too – research around positive psychology shows that being grateful results in better life satisfaction. We often compartmentalize our work life separate from our personal life and as we well know, our happiness at work directly relates to our life satisfaction. With seemingly never ending task lists, competing priorities and unexpected requests, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle in our work lives. That can often result in feeling overwhelmed and thus, less than grateful for our work. 


Taking time to find gratitude in your work life has benefits not only to your satisfaction at work, but it also bodes well for your career advancement. “Having a positive attitude” is one of the top 10 qualities employers look for in potential employees. Additionally, research shows that when you’re happy, you are 20% more productive.


A quick exercise in gratitude is to challenge yourself to reframe your work challenges. By doing so, you are training your brain to play devil’s advocate to the natural inclination to feel frustrated with the situation. 

     1. Identify the challenge

     2. How might I look at this in a different way with a focus on the positive? 


While it is beneficial to first acknowledge the positive, it is important to feel empowered in your ability to overcome the challenge. Simply looking at the bright side is just the first step! Next, think about where the opportunity lies for you to make a change and improve the situation. 


     3. Where is the opportunity to make this situation better for myself?


Let’s try a few common workplace complaints. 


Why do all of my colleagues/clients come to me with their problems?

  • Try reframing to: I am a valued member of the team and my colleagues/clients trust me and my expertise. 
  • This is an opportunity to identify areas where I can train or coach others to solve problems independently. This is a win-win for them to be empowered and learn more and for me to have more time for my own work. 


My boss is micromanaging me. 

  • Try reframing to: My boss cares about my work and is taking special interest in me lately. I do not know if it is because they have concerns about my work, are feeling extra pressure from their leadership or something else. I should find out. 
  • This is an opportunity to have a proactive and honest talk with my manager to ask if there are areas of improvement that they think I should be aware of, or if they have concerns about any of the projects I’m working on. This way, in the future, I can be proactive in addressing concerns before they need to come to me.


I don’t have enough time to do my work. 

  • Try reframing to: I am thankful that I am busy and needed to do this work. I feel secure that my position is needed at my company. 
  • This is an opportunity to re-prioritize my time, discuss where I should prioritize with my manager and possibly set boundaries for a better work-life balance. 


By continuing to reflect on how you can improve the situation, you are exercising a growth mindset. A growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for stretching our existing abilities. Alternatively, a fixed mindset is the belief that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are givens which we can’t change. Exercising our growth mindset is a crucial aspect of not only improving ourselves as a professional but as an empowered and resilient individual. 


For other ideas on staying positive at work, check out: 


For more ideas on how you can turn work challenges into growth opportunities, consider working with a career coach. A coach can help you identify strategies to face workplace challenges head on. Check out our executive coaching services and sign up for a free consultation here. 


Deanna Parkton is a writer, career coach and educator with a passion for professional development and work wellness and happiness. With a focus on self-reflection, she works with individuals in their quest to reach their career goals as well as satisfaction in work-life balance. You can find more of her writing at and she can be reached at