As you sit there in traffic, along with the gazillion other commuters all jammed together in motorized steel boxes grinding their way to work, you daydream. Wouldn’t it be nice, you think, if weekends were 5 days long and the work week was 2 days long. I mean, whoever came up with this disproportionate amount of work to do, anyway? The weekend is never long enough to do everything you want to do, and the work week drags by even when you’re on deadlines and in a permanent state of hurry-worry.

Now why couldn’t you have a job like your sister, Ellen? She’s a personal assistant to a record producer. She never clocks in, and she gets to go to glamorous places and meet celebrities, instead of sitting in the same old office at the same old desk doing the same old thing day after day. Of course Ellen has her own set of complaints: the producer changes his mind 15 times in the same day about the same thing, celebrities aren’t all that thrilling after the first 2 or 3 (did you know so-and-so is short?!), and running to pick up her boss’s shirts at the dry-cleaners is truly south of glamorous.

You sigh. Oh, well, at least you have a job to go to, and a paycheck with it. What was that thing you heard the other day “Have an attitude of gratitude”? OK, so you’ll try to be grateful.

Which is a great place to start. So as long as you’re considering a different point of view – being grateful instead of resentful - why not take it a little further. How about appreciating what your job does for you beyond a place to park your rear end and a weekly check? When you stop and think about it for a moment, your work does a lot more for you than that. Most importantly, it gives you a sense of purpose. It contributes to the meaningfulness of your life.

You see, you’re not working away there, in isolation. Your work has impact. As a bookkeeper, for example, you’re not just helping people and businesses keep their financial affairs in order. Your efforts make it possible for them to budget and spend wisely, which contributes to their success, minimizes their stress and makes their lives better. As a homemaker, you’re not just cleaning house, making meals, and picking up after the kids, you’re contributing to your family’s health and happiness. You’re also contributing to the overall health and happiness of your community and your nation, since healthy and happy individuals make for a more viable society. And your husband, the engineer, isn’t just someone who designs commercial air conditioning and heating systems. He makes environments comfortable and healthy for people who work in the buildings with the systems he designs. His work contributes to the overall well-being of people, helping them be more effective and happier.

Work gives you, gives all of us, this opportunity. Appreciating it places your work in a larger, more meaningful context, from which you can draw pride and a deep sense of self-worth.

Any work can be appreciated in this way: from running a mom-and-pop business to doing construction, from fundraising to waiting tables, from recording a song to inputting data. It doesn’t matter what you do, your work has purpose in the larger scheme of life.

So when you’re sitting there, duking it out with the rest of the commuters morning after morning, think about it for a moment. Let yourself reflect on how you contribute to the welfare of us all, and allow yourself to feel good about that. Your work week might just get - a little more enjoyable.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D. is a respected psychologist, consultant, speaker and author. Her most recent books are "The Power of Appreciation in Everyday Life (Insomniac Press, 2006) and "The Power of Appreciation in Business (MindLab Publishing, 2005). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives--at work, at home and in relationships. E-mail:, website: