It's hard to see a silver lining when you're out of work.
But some unemployed workers believe getting a pink slip was a blessing in disguise, according to a new survey by SnagAJob.com, which focuses on hourly jobs.
Of 584 workers who have been laid off since the start of the recession in December 2007, four in 10 saw the positive in getting the ax. And 26 percent who do not see their layoff as a blessing expect it will eventually become one.
"Once they got over the initial shock, they were able to refocus on themselves, spend more time with their families, their hobbies, their volunteer work," says Cathy McCarthy, a senior vice president and marketing director at SnagAJob.com, who was initially surprised by their optimism.
My sister-in-law is one who found a bright spot in her unemployment. A designer in Los Angeles, she has been laid off for a few months now, but she's looking at the setback as an opportunity to get out of a career in which she felt stuck and to pursue her passion. So far, she has started a design blog, started her own jewelry business and is looking to go back to school for metal-working skills.
The survey found similar pursuits by out-of-work employees, who have either found new jobs that are better (27 percent); went back to school (21 percent); or pursued a career they had always wanted, such as starting a new business (16 percent).
Moreover, 49 percent of laid-off workers are reconnecting with families and friends, and 36 percent are pursuing personal interests or hobbies. And 16 percent are doing volunteer work.
Besides finding opportunities for change, workers also reported positive changes within their lives, including learning how to get by with less (62 percent); spending more quality family time (38 percent); and developing goals as family (36 percent).
"Individuals are going on a journey, and they're really refocusing on their goals," McCarthy says.
Some workers, especially those in their 20s and early 30s, have turned unemployment into "funemployment."
According to the Urban Dictionary, funemployment is "the condition of a person who takes advantage of being out of a job to have the time of their life."
The Los Angeles Times recently featured people who spent time traveling, hanging out at the beach or simply doing nothing instead of looking for a job.
Of course, funemployment can go only as far as your savings, severance package or parents' money will take you.