Rewiring over Rice Noodles

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checkA few years ago, I was unemployed and spent my Thursday afternoons getting advice from a social worker.  Although I really appreciated this therapist’s insight, the process was exhausting.

After every session, I would visit a nearby Vietnamese restaurant and order my favorite dish.  The restaurant served pho, a delicious soup made with rice noodles, chili peppers, mock duck, and garlic.  It was served in enormous bowls and beautiful spoons.  The waiter would serve a separate plate with bean sprouts, herbs, and lime wedges.

I would go there alone and spend the time eating and contemplating the conversation I’d had the previous hour.  I would take the time to feel proud of myself for following through with the difficult task of therapy.  By the time I had picked at the last bean sprout on the plate, I would undoubtedly have had some revelation about the next step that I wanted to take in my life/ career.

This ritualized activity prepared my brain to expect new ideas on those Thursday afternoons.  As if the pho lubricated the neurons of my brain, I would really feel like my brain worked better in that restaurant.

At the center of many people’s unemployment is a singular focus on not spending money frivolously, so many people find themselves punishing themselves by eating food that they don’t really like and stopping doing things that they enjoy.

But nourishing the spirit and creating time to think is critical while fighting unemployment blues.

You can even realign your mind to develop positive associations with looking for work and the consumption of delicious food.  Humans have engaged in this kind of radical reprogramming for centuries.

For instance, in medieval times, according to Alberto Manguel, “biblical verses were written on peeled hard-boiled eggs and on honey cakes, which the child would eat after reading the verses out loud to the teacher.”

Although the process of recitation might have been trying for children, they came to associate the learning process with pleasant sensory experiences.

Commit yourself to a month of rewiring your body to associate looking for work with pleasant experiences.  By staying positive, you will not only feel better, but you will present a more grounded, content attitude to employers.

  • Enjoy a favorite meal after an interview
  • Burn your favorite incense while you revise your resume
  • Listen to music you love while you search for jobs on the internet
  • Work on a friendship with someone else who is unemployed so you can laugh about the downsides of unemployment and confess in the small pleasures of it
  • Sing or dance while you wear your interview outfit
  • Create a shrine by your work area where you work on your job applications
  • Develop a bond with the librarians at the library where you go to research jobs
  • Call a long-lost friend after dropping off your resume

Although the process of looking for work is daunting, staying positive is crucial– both on a spiritual and practical level.  It may take awhile to find a job, and it’s important to sustain your own well-being.

Read more in Unemployment

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.