All right, here's the good side. I have a friend who is a successful business man. He loves his job. But, if you ask him what his favorite job of all time was he'll tell you about the summer between college and graduate school where he worked for a brewery, delivering beer to local bars. Not exactly the type of response you'd expect to hear.
He explains, "It's the only job I ever had where people would applaud when I came in."
You don't have to start applauding every time your negative co-workers enter a room, you should start providing positive feedback. "This is great coffee you made," may be met with a snarl of, "if my salary was higher I could go to Starbucks." But, keep at it. Compliment their work, their font choice, their car color, whatever it takes. Try to engage them when they say something negative. "Oh, your boyfriend works construction? Has he built anything I'd be familiar with?" Or, "Oh, the dry weather is hard on arthritis, isn't it? What do you do for that?"
You have to do this sincerely or it will come off wrong. I realize this will be next to impossible at the beginning, but work at it. If you consistently shower them with positive remarks, they just may start being a little bit positive themselves. Of course, this works better if there is only one nattering nabob of negativity you are dealing with. They may gang up on you, but keep trying.
Because you are stuck there, you'll have to put up with more than you normally would. Just don't get yourself caught in their negativity. And if this doesn't work, start keeping a list of all their negative statements and stick it on the wall of your cube. It won't solve your problem, but it will amuse you and that's worth something, right?
Photo by Ell Brown, Flickr cc 2.0