Thursday, March 25, 2010

Money or Happiness?

I don't want to write about sports tonight. I know, this will probably be disappointing to many of you. However, I was sitting at the Honors College plenary lecture tonight where Matt Crawford was discussing his ideas concerning what is intellectual work. When Crawford worked as an abstract writer of scholarly articles, he claims to have felt very anti-intellectual because the work did not require much thought. He would skim the articles and then write a brief summary that was not necessarily representative of the piece. However, when Crawford dropped this job to become a motorcycle repairman, he said that even though the job of a mechanic is often seen as somewhat "simple," he found that it was much more satisfying and mentally stimulating than the supposedly intellectual job of reviewing scholarly articles. This got me thinking about my future career. What exactly is a job supposed to be in a person's life? If a job is just about making money, then I would perhaps become a plumber or electrician. Due to the fact that they would not have college expenses and loans along with the fact that master electricians and plumbers make quite a bit of money, it would make sense for me to become a plumber. However, would I be happy doing this? No, not really. Therefore, should my career only bring me happiness? If that were the case, I could make my career sitting at home and playing fantasy baseball. It is an activity I enjoy, so it would make a good career careers were all about happiness. Obviously, you realize that this is ludicrous because people simply need to make some money to survive. Okay, so if money and happiness cannot fully determine what career you should choose, how on earth should one decide? Personally, I think the enjoyment should take precedence over pay if you're only responsible for yourself. If I want to take a job that pays next to no money, I should do that if it only affects me. However, if I have a family, one sacrifice that I might have to make to make my family comfortable would be to take a job that will allow me to provide for more than one person. Each individual should be able to pursue his or her own passions, but I think that when other people are affected by your choices, these effects need to take just as much if not more precedence over your own. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, maybe I'm not consistent with the modern theory of "if it feels good, do it," but I think that you can pursue your own passions as long as they only affect your life directly. However, when you add the responsibility of providing for other people, one of the sacrifices that may need to be made would be overall love for work in return for overall love for family. I would hope that being able to make the ones you love comfortable would generate enough happiness to offset the happiness you might have to sacrifice if indeed finances demand it.

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