Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Is it more important to enjoy your job than to earn a great deal of money?

An ancient Chinese proverb says: ‘Find a job you enjoy doing and you will not have to work a day in your life’. The meaning is that you will be so busy in enjoying your work that you will not consider it work at all. Certainly this is a realistic statement and we might add that a person who enjoys his job is likely to be happier and a better person than one who sees work as a drudgery or worse still as a necessary discomfort.

Time and again it has been argued by philosophers that the purpose of life is to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. Looking at it in that way, it is obvious that humans automatically look for what gives them pleasure. In that case it must be true that we look for work that we enjoy rather, though they may not pay very well, rather than choose a less enjoyable job which pays well. The argument here sounds simplistic: is this always possible? Can we all find jobs that are indeed enjoyable?

One certainty is that money is also important. There can be little happiness for a person who does not have enough money. For a person to enjoy life he certainly needs money, and if the means of obtaining money is somewhat unpleasant -- like working in a mortuary -- or even difficult -- like working as a manual worker, can we say that he should abandon his job and seek a job that he would enjoy? An immediate difficulty that comes to mind would be that if all of us seek only jobs that are enjoyable, there are jobs that no one will find enjoyable and no one would like to do them. What will happen to the country -- and the world -- if everyone wants to be a musician and no one wants to be a mortician or a coal miner? There certainly are jobs that no one can enjoy doing.

A good suggestion could be that we should learn how to enjoy what we are doing, rather than look for what we would enjoy doing. This may not be as unreasonable as it sounds. It is like saying that if you cannot marry someone you love, then learn to love the person you marry.

It should be easy to learn to love a job that gives you a lot of money. One could think of all the pleasures one could have and realize that it is the job that makes these possible and from there see the hob is actually enjoyable after all. Psychologists tell us that what gives us pleasure is a matter of programming. We have been programmed to listen to a certain type of music; like certain foods and even people. If this is true that would be possible to programme ourselves to enjoy our jobs -- whatever they are. So if there is a well-paying job that we cannot see as enjoyable, but which gives a great deal of money, we can see it as enjoyable.

Hence, we could say that though it is true that enjoying a job is more important that earning money, it would be wonderful if we enjoyed the job and earn a lot of money from it. Enjoying ourselves is a matter of attitude: we can find enjoyment anywhere if we look hard enough. But if given a definite choice that we can have only one or the other, I would agree that enjoying a job is more important than money.

No comments: