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Old 07-06-2006, 05:10 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean
Just a thought. Do you think the whole concept of a "job you love" is more the province of those of us who are college-educated and relatively affluent and in a sense can pick and choose.

Aren't the many jobs that no one would enjoy doing. Are there really that many people who would gain deep satisfaction from making garments or in a meat packing plant. If everyone did 'what they loved' wouldn't a lot of those "bottom feeder" jobs go unfilled?

And so for such people, one would hope they are looking outside of work for satisfaction, contentment, and joy.
I definitely think affluence and college education are connected to it, but I'm not sure just how direct the relationship is. Certainly I've known people who have neither, but love and take great satisfaction from what they do...though all that I can think of either worked for themselves or for small businesses: a caterer, a freelance carpenter, a dog breeder/trainer, a mechanic. That cog-in-the-wheel, assembly-line syndrome is what sucks the joy out of it for a lot of people, I think. For that matter, I can even think of an emergency-med doc I know who loathes the whole system she works in (HMOs, etc.), hates being a cog in the wheel, will allow that she finds satisfaction in having the knowledge and skills to help sick or injured people, but really lives for her art and the fantastic paintings she has time to create when she's not off on another 36-hour shift. Closer to home, I've seen many professors wind up leaving academia--or worse, limp through it for decades with a sour attitude--because, after all that time and money spent earning a PhD, they realized that they really don't enjoy teaching and, pipedream fantasies about becoming the next Chomsky or Friedman or Dyson etc. aside, the truth is if you want to be a professor you had better love teaching. You might think that anyone who had the will to make it through whatever kind of professional training to begin with must surely love that job for life, but that's not always how it works out.

Personally, I can't really relate to the "live for what comes after I clock out" philosophy, but quite a lot of people seem to happily enough live by it. Nonetheless, I do think some amount of satisfaction with what you do, and some sense that you're valued by the organization you work for, is necessary for anyone for a balanced life's sake. Are the insults of being a "bottom feeder" INHERENT in meatpacking or garment making? Or is it just the way we've chosen to organize these types of work?
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Another thought. Isn't interesting how you hear from people who have dealt with the desperately poor how many seem to have such joy despite their severe lack of material wealth? (Having worked outside of the U.S. in poor countries, I've seen this too). What do you make of that?
Well I don't have your level of experience with "developing world" poverty; I spent a year doing fieldwork in Indian slums and that's basically it. I certainly don't agree with the notion that "the simple life" explains whatever happiness desperately poor people have; there is nothing remotely simple about being poor--everything from transportation to cooking, or communication, or household repairs, or keeping small children occupied, or washing your clothes, finding a little privacy, etc. etc. etc. is far more complicated for poor people (including here) than it is for others. Also, while growing up with the knowledge that you'll probably always be poor and there's no remotely likely way out of that can paradoxically bring a certain peace of mind and freedom from anxieties about "proving" yourself, nonetheless, this generally comes at the cost of accepting a constant if (usually) subtle burden of resigned shame at your low station in life...at least, if you live somewhere where NOT everyone is poor. Having freely chosen to step outside The Fast Lane and spend the remaining half of your life focusing on what "really" matters (as opposed to having spent your entire life constantly preoccupied with what REALLY matters, because you can't afford to be preoccupied with anything else) is simply not the same.

I suppose I think that to the extent very poor people(s) are happier than we are, it's mostly because they have fewer expectations from life, and relatively little to defend, and no one really to impress, and all that other self-important/self-loathing stuff that walls people off from themselves and each other. Still, having seen the appalling kinds of misery that all too often intrude into such environments, pains far far worse than our garden-variety angsts...the vulnerability of it all...I would not want to switch places and I would strongly question idealizing any of it. Because it really is all of a piece.
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Old 07-06-2006, 06:36 PM   #17
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I think we all go through a stage where we are not in a job we love, and believe that the key to getting to a job we love is increase income, or the financial ability to stop and seek that job we love. It certainly fits the world’s message that money = happiness. To the contrary, I have found many people who talk about previous jobs as “the jobs they loved,” leaving those jobs in search of more money. Of course, this is all from the unique wealthy perspective of the United States.

As for what constitutes a “job one loves” – it all depends on life circumstances and the intangibles that go along with the job. For some, a job is simply a means of support, and the life outside the job defines their existence. For others, the job is their identity. The reality is that we all have more of an ability to pick and choose than we may be willing to acknowledge. There may be some abstract comfort in thinking our circumstances control what we do, but a good deal of our circumstances are things we choose to do.

I think it is a good lesson for us all to see and understand the fortitude and joy of those experiencing severe poverty. It may be difficult to understand from our reference point of gross wealth – but it is a reality and something we may do well to learn. From my own experience, there is a genuine joy in the hearts of the children of Garbage City in Cairo that does not exist in the malcontents walking through the malls of the United States.
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Old 07-06-2006, 11:46 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean
Just a thought. Do you think the whole concept of a "job you love" is more the province of those of us who are college-educated and relatively affluent and in a sense can pick and choose.

Aren't the many jobs that no one would enjoy doing. Are there really that many people who would gain deep satisfaction from making garments or in a meat packing plant. If everyone did 'what they loved' wouldn't a lot of those "bottom feeder" jobs go unfilled?

And so for such people, one would hope they are looking outside of work for satisfaction, contentment, and joy.

Another thought. Isn't interesting how you hear from people who have dealt with the desperately poor how many seem to have such joy despite their severe lack of material wealth? (Having worked outside of the U.S. in poor countries, I've seen this too). What do you make of that?
Wouldn't your last paragraph contradict your first?
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Old 07-07-2006, 04:17 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Angela Harlem


Wouldn't your last paragraph contradict your first?
Well, it very well could!

I wasn't asking questions I already know the answers to in order to be "smart" Those were real questions, just off the top of my head.

My first question was about whether having a "job you love" defines happiness for everyone.

The last paragraph wasn't about jobs, but more about the story you hear about how "these poor people in 3rd World Country X have nothing and yet they're so happy!."

I guess the folks in the last paragraph would likely have the kind of jobs mentioned in the first paragraph, and yet are happy. . .so I don't think it's contradictory?
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Old 07-07-2006, 04:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland



Well I don't have your level of experience with "developing world" poverty; I spent a year doing fieldwork in Indian slums and that's basically it. I certainly don't agree with the notion that "the simple life" explains whatever happiness desperately poor people have; there is nothing remotely simple about being poor--everything from transportation to cooking, or communication, or household repairs, or keeping small children occupied, or washing your clothes, finding a little privacy, etc. etc. etc. is far more complicated for poor people (including here) than it is for others. Also, while growing up with the knowledge that you'll probably always be poor and there's no remotely likely way out of that can paradoxically bring a certain peace of mind and freedom from anxieties about "proving" yourself, nonetheless, this generally comes at the cost of accepting a constant if (usually) subtle burden of resigned shame at your low station in life...at least, if you live somewhere where NOT everyone is poor. Having freely chosen to step outside The Fast Lane and spend the remaining half of your life focusing on what "really" matters (as opposed to having spent your entire life constantly preoccupied with what REALLY matters, because you can't afford to be preoccupied with anything else) is simply not the same.

I suppose I think that to the extent very poor people(s) are happier than we are, it's mostly because they have fewer expectations from life, and relatively little to defend, and no one really to impress, and all that other self-important/self-loathing stuff that walls people off from themselves and each other. Still, having seen the appalling kinds of misery that all too often intrude into such environments, pains far far worse than our garden-variety angsts...the vulnerability of it all...I would not want to switch places and I would strongly question idealizing any of it. Because it really is all of a piece.
Oh no, Yolland. You're experience in the slums of India easily trumps any poverty I've seen in the Pacific.

I thought your post was very insightful. I learned a lot from it. Thanks for your thoughtful response to my questions. I think your observation about the "cog-in-the-wheel" as being the type of work that no one enjoys was particularly interesting. Also your analysis of what any apparent "happiness and contentment" as well as your challenging of the sterotypical visions of the "simple life" of poverty were quite compelling.
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