Job Satisfaction and Happiness – Pigs’ Ears and Silk Purses

Going to Work (1943), commissioned by the War Artists' Advisory Committee. L S Lowry

If you are not satisfied and fulfilled by your job it is a fair bet you are not happy.  Certainly not as happy as you could and should be.

Vicious competition in the grim darwinian struggle for survival dictates that most of us are pushed down the wrong avenue and I suspect most of us never even realise it.

The wrong avenue begins at school.  We are better these days at counselling and advice for the young but it still happens that choices are made which determine our entire future happiness. Maths is perplexing and so we avoid all sciences in secondary education. History is boring and so we never gain the perspective which its study gives us.

Long Room Interior, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland By Diliff - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Long Room Interior, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Worse, we never get properly educated. Circumstances beyond our control conspire to ensure we never have the basic tools for survival in a world of intense competition and ruthlessness.

Assuming we are lucky and persistent enough to equip ourselves with a satisfactory education we still need to cultivate awareness, self knowledge. Without that we will never achieve satisfaction.

If we are a pig’s ear we should not try to become a silk purse and vice versa. If we are a square peg we should not try and force ourselves into a round hole.

Whatever scientists say about the plasticity of the brain, whatever the gurus and philosophers say about the possibility of change, whatever the arguments over nature and nurture, my own belief is that we are stuck with a certain bedrock personality which is not amenable to radical change.

Reindeer herds form the basis of pastoral agriculture for several Arctic and Subarctic peoples. By Mats Andersson - Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Reindeer herds form the basis of pastoral agriculture for several Arctic and Subarctic peoples. By Mats Andersson – Flickr, CC BY 2.0

I have no doubt the much vaunted “singularity” will mean we can change whatever aspect of life or the universe we please, but that time is still a long way off.

In the meantime self knowledge is our only hope.

If you are quiet and cerebral don’t force yourself into sales or marketing.  If the ghastly world of commerce appals you, avoid it.  If you love the whole consumerist rat race then by all means join it: perhaps you are the sort of competitive showman who will actually achieve fulfillment that way.

Know yourself and choose your job accordingly.

 

2 Comments

  1. And this is the problem most people (especially teens) have, they don’t know themselves first when selecting their career and field of expertise in a job.

    1. Totally agree with you. My 24 year old son is only just discovering himself and deciding that the absurd world of Mergers and Acquisitions is not for him. I am 62 and still not sure that I know either myself or indeed anything around me!

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