What is Happiness Anyway: Career and Money

 

Career and Money

Welcome to the first section of this short series on happiness ( If you're lost make sure you start with the introduction to What is Happiness Anyway?)

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We all know the old proverb :

"Find something you're passionate about and you'll never have to work a day in your life".  

For a long time, I believed that being happy with your career was a gateway to a happy life.  I held this sentiment close to my heart but, I think that's where a lot of us go wrong.

If anything that's becoming the farthest thing from true. Crafting happiness  solely through a career means doing work that you're passionate about, right? 

Except how many people do you know that are in a profession that they love? 

It's understood that if we all took that advice and pursued simply what we're passionate about, it may not give us the financial return we want. My question is should that matter? Even if it did, who says that our careers have to be our number one passions? As someone who enjoys writing, I can easily envision myself pursuing alternate careers paths. Writing would stay a hobby and I still being content with day to day life...At least that's what I thought, but the belief may be starting to weather a little.

 As I mentioned, I think associating career with happiness is where I definitely went wrong. 

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We must consider that present-day society structure professions to be ranked according to a capitalist agenda; one prioritizing things like entrepreneurship, consumerism and, consumption. Often people are taught to equate success with the ability to earn a high salary. Pursuing this idea of success often influences individuals to create unsustainable dreams, as they try to accumulate as much as they can (greed) and idolize people and products that seem to be infallible. It's all very toxic if you think about it. 

Take this blog for example, would I love for it to be a career I adopt one day? Absolutely. It embodies my passion and purpose of storytelling, spreading and simplifying (at this point, amateur) knowledge about various topics. Ironically as was intensely editing this series, my mom jokingly asked me if I was working on a novel. 

She seemed confused as to why I was spending so much time fussing over work that isn't required of me. Obviously, it's because I love doing it, even though it takes up a lot of time, and can be tedious. 

I gave her the short, response- no.

 Yet, In the back of my head, I felt that my answer shouldn't have been "no", but "not yet".  

But then I become stalled because I know that it probably won't provide me with the lifestyle I've been taught to want- expected to want.  

It's easy to get caught up in, the

Top carrear = Success = Happiness equation.

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I've considered it the easy way to live. Easy in the sense that it's safe to pursue a profession that you know will give you a high financial return and security...but is that fulfilling?

For some, maybe. For me? eh temporarily I'm sure. 

Plus it shows in your work. Ever have a teacher that is really passionate about what they're teaching? or the audience that their presenting too?

What about a sales-person who is actually genuinely in love with the product they’re trying to push? 

As a student or a customer didn't their natural fire for their field makes a world of a difference?

I really don't think I want to conform to the seemingly status-quo of having my actions being solely determined by the desire to "just earning money"It's highly idealistic but, the way I envision it is I want earning a living to be apart of my lifestyle. I would love for that to be the new norm for everyone. Better yet finding someone to completely share that with- yes that is happiness. 

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books/films. Only now, do I realize why I developed such an attachment to the storyline way back in highschool. It managed to confirm my beliefs about the world; mostly that the idea of that the  American dream is dismal. 

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 It speaks a truth that I've believed for a long time, far before I read the novel. The idea that there's actually no such thing as the American Dream. A dream that equates success with riches and presents it as attainable by anyone regardless of their intersections (i.e race, gender sexuality, class).

Ha. It's too early for a tangent so I'll leave it at that. 

 This "dream" completely dismisses the copious, systemic inequalities, and class hierarchy in America, making this goal unrealistic. Ironically people think their lives are a nightmare if they can't achieve this "dream" but that's not true. Actually we make our own lives nightmares stressing and trying to work towards accumulating money, fame, or attaining careers that we have little passion for. 

It's about time to shift the conversation a little. Career talk often goes hand-in hand with financial talk, so it's time to talk about wealth. 

Another proverb we all know is the claim that "Money doesn't buy happiness". Except we also live in a capitalist society so...money is often the motivation for the majority of our actions. 

My issue with money is that its sort of like a drug. Spending/saving is handled in a similar way to how we’d use Advil for a headache. Provides temporary relief, only masking symptoms and pain for a short while. Then, you need to take another one. 

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No matter how you frame it, with any substance (like caffeine), there comes a point where we've consumed so much of the stimulant that our bodies become tolerant.

A dose that would have left us satisfied no longer brings pleasure or relief- we crave more. 

Now it's not just being dependent on the substance. The consequence of reduced receptivity is a demand for a higher dosage. One that will give us a better energy or "high". Now,  if someone can't get that, then they might feel unsettled, uneasy and upset and, well...that's not happiness is it?

...It's not healthy either.

Returning to the cash-money talk, replace the word stimulant, or drug, for either; money or commodity.  

See how being addicted to material consumption and accumulating wealth can be just as destructive? Side note: numbers are infinite! One can be blinded by trying to gain wealth for their whole entire life and still never be truly satisfied as there will always be another coin to collect, dollar to spend, or lavish item to buy.

Yes, okay you may feel good in the moment, but that feeling is fleeting.

As far as Happiness Goes... 

Surely, I'm not naive to the fact that dollar bills can buy us things that will give us happiness. Nice car- sweet, nice house- yays, multiple vacations a year- awesome! If that's a by-product of where life takes me- fabulous, but the goal...my motive? 

Not completely.

At the end of the day how fulfilling, and sustainable is conspicuous consumption?

My guess is not very.

Not to mention that it's time-consuming, diverting our attention away from say, fostering relationships,  taking care of other, and ourselves, our health etc. 

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Security is probably the better argument for me here, at least financial stability will give me the ability to acquire things, and develop my life which in turn should make me happy... right? , start a family, access to experience.

Let's face it-it's also just rational. 

Personally, if my primary goal in life is going to make money, I know for sure that I better being doing something productive with my generated earnings or it won't bring me much fulfillment. Productive meaning, donating, employing, giving back, creating something that will serve others.

I've come to terms with the fact that an abundance of capital is not wealth I want to focus on accumulating. 

Ahh yes, and the complexity of this topic could continue but, its best to move on. Overall, yes money is important, yet it will only ever be a minor logistical part of the puzzle. 


If you want to get the most out of this section I advise you to quickly Google The Disease of More by J. Cole he sums it up all too well I think. 
Then come back and ask yourself…

Where are you placing your importance? 

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Sometimes I think that if material items and money would grant me happiness, life would be easier. Or there's moments when  I wish I could go back to that child-like juvenile mindset I use to have when I thought that, candy, clothes, that extra pair of shoes, the additional piece of décor, or new lip-gloss would make me feel content.

But I can't place that much value on commodities and cash anymore I refuse to do it.  As the video says don't place value on the "things"/ "stuff"

Disclaimer: Undoubtedly, I realize I speak from a position of privilege. Many people have to pursue work that they don't enjoy, aren't passionate about, or could care less for in order to care for others. To those people, you have my forever applause, as your out there doing the while I'm here pretending to have a millennial life crisis (it's embarrassing). 

Before moving to the next section: Education and Knowledge I'll leave you with this last quote:

Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
— Spike Milligan: