Advanced Search

Dear Philosophers,

Dear Philosophers, I've been told the "dream girl" as the "dream job" as the "dream life" don't exist. I disagree, I found a wonderful partner and got married to her. It is not a dream, meaning not everything is perfect: I have my flaws and so has she. the question is I've been looking for a career, an activity, anything that can make me happy, energetic, feel alive. (find the job you love and you won't have to work for the rest of your life; find what you love and you will wake up early and go to bed late because without feeling tired, and so on). I've tried to go for the prestige, and worked in bank and multinationals without any results. I then decided to go for the skills, played guitar, surfed, snowboarded, read, did marathons, learnt languages and so on but couldn't get any money from this and evidently it is not my vocation/career. At last I thought I could be a good salesmen and applied for many job. I have a decent job, that for many could be a dream one, as a sales manager, but I hate it, it's...

You are looking for a job that satisfies your three criteria (1) you love it (2) you can devote yourself to it and (3) you get rich. This isn't a mathematical puzzle with a definite answer; just like your search for the perfect mate, it may or may not exist i.e. is is contingent on the jobs available to you.

Obviously you are putting a good deal of effort into your search, and I wish you good luck. It might be helpful to read a basic book on figuring out what career is right for you (like What Color is your Parachute?). But perhaps you have tried this already. Here are some further ideas.

You may not have met your perfect job yet because there is no job that satisfies your three criteria. One option then is to create your own job (find a niche and be self employed). Another option is to relax some of your criteria. "Getting rich" is overrated as a source of happiness (see recent work by Daniel Kahnemann, described in the NYTimes this week, which suggestions that about $75K per household, happiness does not increase). Some people are more fulfilled by the combination of a job and hobbies (or more than one job); perhaps the second criterion could be weakened to "you can partially devote yourself to it." Some people have a single mission, others have multiple (one is not inherently better than another).

I don't think you need give up the first criterion i.e. that you love it (so long as you aren't unrealistic about love--but it sounds like you have a realistic view of romantic love, so perhaps you have a realistic view of love of work also).

You are looking for a job that satisfies your three criteria (1) you love it (2) you can devote yourself to it and (3) you get rich. This isn't a mathematical puzzle with a definite answer; just like your search for the perfect mate, it may or may not exist i.e. is is contingent on the jobs available to you. Obviously you are putting a good deal of effort into your search, and I wish you good luck. It might be helpful to read a basic book on figuring out what career is right for you (like What Color is your Parachute? ). But perhaps you have tried this already. Here are some further ideas. You may not have met your perfect job yet because there is no job that satisfies your three criteria. One option then is to create your own job (find a niche and be self employed). Another option is to relax some of your criteria. "Getting rich" is overrated as a source of happiness (see recent work by Daniel Kahnemann, described in the NYTimes this week, which suggestions that about $75K per...

I am sixty and I find myself becoming removed from my life (my very nice life, I

I am sixty and I find myself becoming removed from my life (my very nice life, I might add). I watch, rather than participate. Everything I read about, see, or experience is similar to that which I have read about, seen or experienced before. I've been down that road before, I know where it goes, it's hard to stay engaged. It's hard to care. I know that in the broadest view everything turns out fine- all good things end and all bad things end. I am not unhappy at all. Am I just old?

Thanks for your very well put and honest sigh of a reflection. It does sound as though you are bored and detached. You say that it is hard to care - which is right to suggest that caring is an activity-- not a feeling that washes over. Could you make stronger efforts to care, to get involved? I've often found that Pascal was right - going through the motions can lead to authentic feelings.

I'm in the same time territory and sometimes I think that there is nothing to look forward to - nothing good at least - just losing people I feel as though I can't live without, the body breaking down, not being taken seriously, the nursing home. I think it is a scary period. Not that this makes any difference, but it has also struck me how much being in the present, in America at least, depends upon having a future, a dream. It is as though for us, no tomorrow means no today. Sad. And at a certain point our future does in fact become pretty narrow and, well, terrifying.

I just try to care - to be as kind as I can, to soften my spirit, but this approach has been something that I have gotten from yoga, not from western philosophy. Indeed, I think that the Socrates guild has encouraged us to think that there is no wisdom in the body and movement. And sometimes just moving the body - taking long walks will move the spirit. I would try that when the great numbness comes over you. all the best, Gordon

You sound either bored or depressed (you say you are "not unhappy" which sounds anhedonic). Perhaps philosophy can help. You say, "all good things and all bad things end"--what follows from that? Value can be found in non-eternal things. It may be unhelpful to think in terms of age (am I getting old?) and more useful to think in terms of developmental stage (I'm ready for the next stage, what will that be?). And if there is nothing that you can think of that you want to do for yourself, how about helping others?

When I get sad and depressed I am often told to "wise up" and stop moaning

When I get sad and depressed I am often told to "wise up" and stop moaning because people in Africa suffer far more than I do. Is this a logically valid point? Does the existence of vast quanities of human suffering in Africa necessarily negate my suffering?

I love this question and have often pondered it myself. I don't think sufferings need to be compared with one another. All human pain is of moral concern and deserves unique respect.

Utilitarians like to quantify pain. Even if one does this, and thereby compares different pains, it does not follow that we need to devote our psychological attention to the place/person with the greatest quantity of pain. Utilitarians, do, however, think that our moral concern (but not our psychological attention) should be directed to where we can relieve the most pain or bring about the most happiness. Perhaps the audience to your suffering is telling you that they are more obligated to relieve suffering in African than to help you feel better. (I hope for your sake that your friends are not such utilitarians. Care ethics is a better moral framework for this kind of case.)

As for "stop moaning," I think this is often psychological advice. Often, we feel better when we consider others who are in much greater pain than we are i.e. "there but for the grace of god go I." Personally, I have found that this consideration works when I am suffering a bit, but not when I am suffering a lot.

Also, depressed people are often obsessed with themselves (this is a descriptive fact, not a rebuke from me!) It turns out that becoming concerned with the needs of others is often helpful, not only for those others, but also for the depressed person. (a kind of cognitive psychotherapy)

I love this question and have often pondered it myself. I don't think sufferings need to be compared with one another. All human pain is of moral concern and deserves unique respect. Utilitarians like to quantify pain. Even if one does this, and thereby compares different pains, it does not follow that we need to devote our psychological attention to the place/person with the greatest quantity of pain. Utilitarians, do, however, think that our moral concern (but not our psychological attention) should be directed to where we can relieve the most pain or bring about the most happiness. Perhaps the audience to your suffering is telling you that they are more obligated to relieve suffering in African than to help you feel better. (I hope for your sake that your friends are not such utilitarians. Care ethics is a better moral framework for this kind of case.) As for "stop moaning," I think this is often psychological advice. Often, we feel better when we consider others who are in much...