This isn’t a statistic tic, it’s a casual observation based on talking to way more people about their careers than any normal person should. I’m convinced that most people dislike their lives, not in any robust way but with the kind of casual contempt that can be easily ignored by a society that prizes movement and action above just about everything else.
They dislike their jobs, they dislike their boss, they dislike the things they must do in order to make the living that will allow them to continue disliking their life.
They don’t yell and scream and complain about it, in fact, they shuffle their way through it peacefully enough and teach their children that life is hard and painful and that they should appreciate any ounce of goodness that the universe deems them worthy of.
I think that the older you get, the more likely it is for you to fall into my 80%.
Children typically like life a lot. Teenagers are a little wishy-washy on it, but for the most part they think it’s the tops. The problem starts somewhere around the mid-20s, when we get thrown out into the world to do “whatever we want to” and we realize that the majority of that time will be spent surviving and helping others to survive.
Kind of a bummer, especially when you spend the majority of your early days looking forward to the freedom of being an adult. This realization is enough to cripple most of us, and very few who survive it make it through unscarred.
So who, you might be wondering, are the elusive 20% who are actually enjoying the ride?
The richly working.
More than any other criteria – age, class, wealth, sex, whatever – it’s the people who have a purpose, who have something they believe in and are willing to work on it despite whatever obstacles might get in their way who end up being happy. It’s the people who wake up and know they are moving in a direction, towards something that is important to them, that end up loving their lives. It’s the people who don’t think about retirement because whatever it is that they are doing is truly meaningful that end up being truly content.
Before you ask, you don’t have to quit your job and move into a commune to pull this off.
Having a purpose doesn’t mean devoting your entire life to that purpose. While the more you can do the thing you love the better off you will be, the more important thing is to identify why you wake up in the morning. You need to come to grips with something that you value and be willing to make sacrifices in order to move towards it.
It might take you 20 years to write your novel, but put a sentence or two on a page every day.
It might take half your life to save up enough to open your restaurant, but do save and make concessions, make sacrifices to see to it that you will eventually get there.
Don’t just hope that things will work themselves out, understand that you can make goals and as long as you actively pursue them it’s not foolish or crazy to think that you can really accomplish something.
A big part of happiness is having something that makes you happy. A bigger part is doing something with it, developing real, practical steps that you can use in order to reach your goal. You can work your entire life and never do anything that you like. Considering time is the only resource that is truly scarce, you have to ask yourself whether it’s worth it.