No, not of the scientific kind: more of the life kind.
I blogged about my unhappiness and general negativity in my work-life here. The negativity was pretty overbearing, and I tried several ways to overcome it. I avoided, I listened passively, I even glazed over and mentally turned off when the bitching began, and all of it helped to varying extents. The fact of the matter was, the very people who were drains on my mental energy due to their bitterness were otherwise really nice and fun people to be around, besides being my only social interaction in the work-week. So after a while, instead of simply being a passive listener, I tried to offer a slightly different viewpoint. I tried to make way for a small ray of sunshine in the gloomy tales. I was afraid I'd come off as annoying and preachy as is often the reaction when a ranter gets unsolicited advice. Worse, I was afraid of being dismissed as naive. But in fact, I was received rather well. My suggestions were taken, my views were appreciated. I noticed that the cribbing was getting lesser over the past few days, and wondered if they had run out of things to complain about. Today, my co-worker actually thanked me and said I'd made a huge difference to her morale ever since I got here, and she was glad to be able to talk to such a well-grounded person.
(If only she knew ;) )
On the other hand, my own dissatisfactions at work have also begun clearing up. I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I switched fields in such a huge way. I was having a tough time understanding things, catching up and keeping up with an actively growing field of literature, and coming to terms with being the lowest on the totem pole. At the end of two months, I still don't have a defined project. And it didn't help that I was being so hard on myself, as I am wont to be, giving rise to a vicious cycle of less productivity and more despair. While I was busy hating myself for being so lost or having assimilated so little, I was making intelligent contributions to lab-discussions and every meeting with my boss always ended on a positive note with him being very happy with my progress. Clearly, things were not as bad as I was making them out for myself, but I was unable to bridge that gap.
I then made a conscious decision to lower my standards for myself. It sounds regressive, it was not easy to do, but it made me a much happier person and much more productive. Instead of aiming to present to my boss ground-breaking hypotheses or 3 specific aims for a grant proposal, I let myself be content in reading and understanding a few papers, and being able to put forth an intelligent idea. We would talk some more, and I'd take it from there. Of course, things are moving a lot slower than I hoped/imagined, but I have come to terms with that. With that, I have begun enjoying what can be a really fertile period in one's post-doc life: lots of out-of-the-box thinking, exploring and ideas that keep me up at night. Being new to the field has it's own charm- it allows me an unbiased view into things that can sometimes be very useful (and at other times, make me feel like a fool!). But in the end, it has revived in me the joy of discovery, an innocent fascination at how things operate in this system, and I am now enjoying this opportunity to find my own question and come up with how I want to answer it.