Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Start taking action to get to a happier place
New York, N.Y.: I moved to New York City for a job and I hate it here. My job is fine but after two-and-a-half years, I'm definitely bored. To make things worse, my biological clock finally got a battery and now it's ticking like nobody's business. Now, I'm 37 — very single (no real prospects), in a city that I hate, and I don't know what to do. I don't really want to date New York guys because I don't want to stay here. The economy is going to make a job change even harder. Please — give me some good thoughts . . .
Carolyn: Good thoughts are so personal, so it's hard for me to have them for you. Plus, the way you trotted out the negatives tells me you're positioned to argue against whatever I suggest anyway.
That in itself seems like a good place for you to start. Being negative is easy. There will always be a downside to everything good, a hurdle to everything desirable, a con to every pro.
The real courage is in finding the good in what you have, the opportunities in every hurdle, the pros in every con. If you're waiting for these to arrive at your doorstep as fully realized life plans, good luck.
A few people do well seemingly because the good-luck fairy likes them a whole lot, but upon closer inspection there's usually evidence that these people positioned themselves for good things to happen, even if just by remaining flexible in their attitudes toward whatever they were going through — or by getting impatient with themselves when they started complaining too much.
How do you become that flexible, when you're not? It's a matter of considering alternate perspectives to the usual pessimism — not, "Yet another job rejection," but instead "What else do I do really well?" — which requires mental self-discipline, which can take an act of pure will. With progress, momentum kicks in.
If you don't progress, then get your whole body into the optimism business — through exercise, better sleep, better diet, and a depression screening if you still aren't getting results.
You also need to stop assuming your way out of every solution. In your case:
Sure, someone you date in New York might want to stay in New York, but what's with assuming all of them do?
And let's say you do run across someone who loves the place above all others: Maybe it would be interesting to see the city through that person's eyes.
As for the economy, yes, it stinks, but that doesn't mean there's no point in even looking for another job. Things start happening — often totally unexpected things — when you try.
Wherever you find an assumption, you need to replace it with action, be it job-hunting within your current company, dating, scouting potential new cities, even forcing yourself to take in New York as a tourist — dating the city, if you will, to see if you find a more appealing side to it.
There's no magic to it, just hard work; to create a little momentum early (and keep you from getting discouraged) do whatever you think will get you the most change for your buck. Then keep adapting, until you no longer "hate" where you are.