Monday, 3 August 2009

Tribal Happiness

I have been thinking about things today. This is quite a common thing I know but a few things have come together...

Last week some colleagues bought some music in for us to listen to instead of the radio. It was good but not quite what I wanted to listen to so today I took my turn. I liked my music but it was pretty obvious that no one else was feeling it. My enjoyment of my music went down hill very quickly and i ended up putting the radio on. I think this relieved one or two of my colleagues. I kind of hope we don't do the music thing again but I suspect we will.

We listen to a local radio station and I don't think a single one of us really enjoy it. We have a few old rockers, a young dancey thing or two, some older easy listening types. I kind of like it all but not as much as my own music. I was kind of edgy in my music tastes when I was younger and I guess not everyone loves my tastes even now, even when I pick things I thing they will like. I liked things in that kind of area around grunge, goth, trance and punk. very much a child of the precise time I was in my late teens, a frozen snap shot of what the coolest alternative scene was at the time.

We have to listen to this station though, or one like it because it is more important that none of us really hate it, than none of really love it. I like some of the songs, occasionally there is one I love and I reckon all of us would say that but probably not about the same songs.

In school and college we divide up into tribes often due to tastes and interests. At work we are forced together with people that we perhaps wouldn't choose to be with, that we might have nothing at all in common with. We end up behaving in particular ways to get on with this mass group we may or may not actually want to spend time with. Not many of us really enjoy work, and even if we do, I doubt we enjoy it all the time.

I mostly like the people I work with and we have a real laugh but we are not at all alike. We can't sort ourselves out into tribes so well at work. We can a little by our choice of job but it isn't perfect and other factors apart from interest are in play.

I had been thinking about writing this and then I got home and read barry's post today about the effect on us of happy people around us. A happy next door neighbour is likely to make us more happy. So is a happy friend or sibling living close by and a happy spouse definitely makes us happier. Even a friend of a friend who is happy has a knock on effect. Apparently it is probably a proximity thing.

The only people this doesn't work with are colleagues. A happy colleague doesn't make us happier. is this some side effect of the artificial tribe thing? Maybe if we chose our own colleagues they would affect us more.

Some how this just makes me feel that the rat race is so phony. Even the society it creates doesn't somehow work right. I am not saying this is so everywhere, some workplaces might have a genuine bonding into a tribe.... Not sure mine does... Not really...


  1. Some interesting thoughts. It's like we are broken down into small sub-societies. Where we work, where we live,where we hang out. Sometimes we don't have a lot of choices about which sub-society we are in, like you say at work. I find this in the apartment I live in. It is a seniors apartment building. Except for the odd person who works part time we are all retired and so have a lot of time on our hands - some more than others. It is an opportunity to develop a sense of community and we have attempted this a few times, the newsletter and resurrection of the social club and yard sales for social club funds. However, there is an element in the building that constantly creates trouble, just like in work situations. There is vicious gossip, backstabbing and attempts at sabotage (like stealing all the left-over yard sale stuff). It has become so clear to me lately, I have always known it at some level, that no matter where you are in groups of people you will have this dynamic. It is also true that the attitudes of managment trickle down. We have had three managers since I have been here but the attitudes come from the owners of the building. An "I don't care about you" attitude. The owners before I came here were completely different and people got along much better. One of the art stores I shop in has the nicest most helpful staff and it is a joy to shop there, I mentioned it to a staff person one day and she said it's because of our manager. There is another branch of that same store that I don't like going to because the staff are unhelpful and miserable. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone made the effort to make the workplace more pleasant and even better if managers created a supportive, pleasant atmosphere to work in, treating workers with respect and rewarding them for work well done.

  2. I have just finished reading Garden Spells and Sugar Queen and really enjoyed them. Both of them being about women who were living solitary lives and Josey living in her closet. I thoroughly enjoyed the magical parts. I look forward to her next book.

    I believe the extra weight we carry is just another version of the Josey's cupboard in the closet. I totally understand what you said, my daughter has spent her whole life with this struggle and seems to have finally found her way out. I wish for you and I the same success.

    Have you read the Outlander series? Dragonfly in Amber and The Feiry Cross are two others in the series. I read them all except the last one because it wasn't as interesting when they moved from Scotland to America. If you haven't read them, I think you might enjoy them.

    I have printed out you story so I can sit and enjoy reading it. I am looking forward to it.

  3. I don't work, well not outside the home & garden.. but I totally 100% believe the rat race is phony...unconnected is a better word for it.

    I guess we are all products of our own generations in music taste, although as I get older I am listening to varied music depending on my mood.. just today it was French cafe music while I created a meal!

  4. Hm. I find that happy colleagues do make me happier- and have always found it SO difficult to endure work lunches when everyone just talks about work. BLEGH. I also find that some people are not as affected by the people around them- perhaps we are sensitive people :)

    FINALLY, a little late, here are the symptoms we're supposed to check for each morning before work. Just got another update on the 'swine' for the province- woo. Work recommends that if we have any 'new' of these symptoms that we stay away for 7 full days.

    • A new cough or fever plus one or more of the following:
    o Chills
    o Joint/muscle pain
    o Extreme fatigue
    o Sore throat
    o Headache

    so just one of those doesn't cut it- you need a new cough or fever PLUS one of the others. Pretty vague stuff, but at least it's something :)

  5. I so agree Miss*R - it IS unconnected.... I guess some people are lucky and work in industries which are a little more connected, but I don't...

    Ms Yogini, I guess I leave my work colleagues at work more than I leave my friends and family at home.... Thanks for posting the symptoms!