the meaning of life, etc.

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Posted by: stak
Posted on: 2006-10-12 00:26:45

had a random conversation with some guy on the bus back from badminton today. he asked me the time at the bus stop and we just started talking. turns out he switched out of business to get into actsci, seemingly for the money. so i launched into my spiel about how picking a career for the money is.. inefficient would be the best word, i guess. money is just a means to an end, and the end is happiness in life. sure, money can buy you goods and services, which in theory can make you happy, but if you spend 8 hours a day hating yourself to get to that point, well, it's inefficient. much better to spend 8 hours a day doing something you enjoy and taking a shortcut to the happiness.

in the end, he got my point and agreed with it in theory (i.e. it made sense, but it's unlikely he's going to put it into practice). it seems that most people i have this conversation with seem to find the concept non-obvious, even though they agree it makes sense after it's been explained. and they then proceed to ignore it completely (understandable, unless the person in question is an economist - they should understand when to let go of their sunk costs). i guess it is partly society that's to blame for this kind of behavior, and it's unfortunate society is so stupid that way. argh.

Posted by Fai at 2006-10-12 14:17:47
That's easy for you to say since the career you'd prefer to do also happens to pay rather well and you happen to be rather intelligent. This isn't so for everyone. What if the thing that makes you happiest is watching day time soaps all day? And no, you don't write well enough to write the soap digest, nor can you afford to go to college. What do you do then, in your ideal world of the pursuit of happiness?
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Posted by stak at 2006-10-12 19:17:37
Well, if the thing that makes you happiest is watcthing daytime soaps all day, you've got bigger problems. :)

Seriously, though, the argument in the post above only really applies when you have a choice between a job that you hate but pays a ton of money and a job that you love but pays greater than or equal to what's needed for survival. Obviously this doesn't apply to everybody, but it applies to a much larger set of people than you'd think at first glance. I'd probably consider it the low-hanging fruit in the search to optimize global happiness (and world peace!).
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Posted by Fai at 2006-10-18 16:42:34
I question how often this really comes up. the other issue would be that you often have incomplete knowledge. I'd take the happier job, assuming I actually could survive on it and I assume most other people would too, if it was known ahead of time.
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Posted by stak at 2006-10-18 20:14:18
Right, but most people don't bother to figure out what would make them happy. They just default to what will make them the most money, or what is easiest. Unfortunately, life doesn't come with happiness labels on everything, customized just for you.. you gotta invest the time to do that much yourself :)
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