Money vs Happiness

November 10, 2016

We live in a world where ultimately we are told that in order to live a good life we need to do well in education and work hard for our entire lives to get money, and to some extent this can be perceived as true. But is it completely true? Well of course it isn't for people who are born into money because they can live a leisurely life knowing they don't need to work for money - they already have it. This is not what I'm getting at though and this post is in many ways an extension onto a previous post where I talked about how money and material possessions really aren't a compulsory ingredient to happiness.

Why am I writing this post then? A few weeks ago I was talking to someone at college who, from what I can perceive of him, is an intelligent, friendly and down to earth person who has a clear idea of where he wants his life to go and is motivated to work toward achieving his goals. From this, I can conclude that he is a very academic person and hence why his response to me saying that I'd like to go to uni to get a degree in either maths, physics or sociology and then go onto be a teacher, was that I should really do something else if I get a degree in maths or physics as these can get me into a lot higher paying jobs. This post is not in any way to shame what this person advised me, but rather to put it out there that this is the sort of world we live in: a world where we are encouraged to go into careers based on how much they pay monetarily as opposed to how much we want to go into that career.
I am in no position to complain because I've given into this influence by studying quite academic subjects at A Level just because I am good at them and know that by doing them I will be able to reach my full potential and when it does come to progressing into either further education or a career I have very little limitations as to what I can do. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. It means I'll have access to very high paying jobs when it comes to it (assuming I do as well as I am projected to). But that's where you start to see the problem.
Nobody ever asked me if I want to do these high paying jobs. I'm just told that I want to because I'm capable, and hence I start to believe this and believe that I want these high status jobs even though I really don't. There's a difference between capability and desire. Assuming I did get a degree in maths, yes I would be capable of getting a high status job in the banking industry, however I don't desire to have this type of job. If it were up to me I would be happy as a graphic designer, journalist or even a tube train driver. I'd love to do any of those three things but I'm not encouraged to love those things though because they're not academic or high paying jobs and my capability exceeds that in demand for those jobs, therefore it is assumed I want better (better meaning higher paying, not better as in what would make me happy).
So what should we take from this? I personally take from it that we live in a world where money is valued more than happiness, and hard work in academic areas is valued more than happy work in areas we want to work in. We are taught that we should do things just because we're capable of doing them, even though we don't want to. In all fairness, I think this is something where you can take from it as you will because there's no set interpretation. This is just my opinion and I'd love to hear yours either in the comments section below or via email by clicking here.

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  1. I couldn't concur more with this piece. I would add, however, that it's not just the end goal of which profession one enters and the motivations for doing do so that have arguably become mercenary and cynical; it is the fact that academia has become linked intrinsically with this end goal. Many people no longer see the honour and the privilege of education for its own sake. How wonderful it is to be able to understand and reason mathematics, the sciences, literature, history - everything! Learning is what makes us human on so many levels.