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Work is an essential part of a person's life. The type of work a person does for a living typically plays a significant role in their life, especially in terms of happiness and overall satisfaction with life. For example, an individual may regard their job as valuable because it allows them to support themselves and their families. One can also draw satisfaction from their work as a result of the praise they get for it. Job, on the other hand, maybe a cause of depression and unhappiness, affecting other areas of life such as families, fitness, and other social relationships. Given the importance of work in determining happiness in life, it is essential that one choose their career wisely as this decision may have a significant impact on life in the future. The main aim of this essay is to analyze the concept of work and its relation to happiness as portrayed by Bertrand Russell in “Work and Play”, and to explore the influence of my work experience on personal decision-making.
Work as a Determinant of Happiness
Whether or not work should be regarded as a determinant of happiness stimulates much debate as it is not exactly clear the role work plays in life at a personal level. However, according to Russell, the absence of work is no doubt a cause of unhappiness and cannot be compared to the feeling of performing a tiresome task. For instance, he states that:
“Work therefore is desirable, first and foremost, as a preventive of boredom, for the boredom that a man feels when he is doing necessary though uninteresting work is as nothing in comparison with the boredom that he feels when he has nothing to do with his days. With this advantage of work another is associated namely that it makes holidays much more delicious when they come” (p.332).
In addition to killing boredom and making life more interesting, work, both paid and unpaid, also provides one with the opportunity for ambition and success. The desire to increase one’s income or achieve great recognition contributes immensely to one’s state of happiness, even though the kind of work they are involved in is not dull. The reward of happiness from work is even greater when the person is a master of their own work. For instance, Russell notes that anyone who is proficient in their work can feel it as is the one whose work appears to them useful and requires exceptional skill. He states that:
“The production of satisfactory children is a difficult constructive work capable of affording profound satisfaction. Any woman who has achieved this can feel that as a result of her labor the world contains something of value which it would not otherwise contain” (p.335).
Work Experience and Its Influence on My View of Work and Happinness
Working as a photographer at the Buca Di Beppo Italian restaurant in San Diego, California has had a significant influence on the way I make personal decisions and my general view of life. First, I have had the opportunity to interact at a more personal level with people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. For instance, I was once assigned the duty of taking photographs of the Santos family who were having a birthday party for their last born, Manuel, sometime in January this year. Although I have many Hispanic friends, I did not know that they usually place great importance to family, which includes the extended family too. Manuel was turning only two years but the event was attended by everyone in his family, including his grandparents who had traveled all the way from Nebraska. Everyone was so jovial and happy, and they considered me a special guest. Not only did I take great pictures that day but also made new friends who have continued to teach me the value of family especially in this age.
Ever since my encounter with the Santos, I have developed a deep appreciation of family and the joy of sharing beautiful moments together with loved ones. Personally, I have improved my relationship with my siblings and now quarrel less and appreciate them more. They, on the other hand, have reciprocated with love and I now consider them my best friends. From a career point of view, I decided that I will work in the humanitarian sector, specifically with international organizations that provide relief to disadvantaged families around the world. Furthermore, Russell (335) states that there is more satisfaction derived from performing work that seems worth doing, compared to doing work that is highly paying yet perceived as worthless. Pursuing a career in the humanitarian sector is ideal for me as this is what I want to do and the chances of performing it well as also very high. According to Russell, genuine happiness is obtained from self-respect, which, in turn, is hard to achieve if one is ashamed of their work. This is also true based on my experience as a photographer, where my passion to see the joyous smiles on the faces of my clients motivates me to become even better.
Stubbs, Marcia & Barnet, S. The Little Brown Reader. New York: Pearson. 2011
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