I am reading a Bertrand Russell classic, The Conquest of Happiness, and there is a chapter in the book relating to Work.
I think this book is a classic of Self Help and any and all youngsters should read it. Not only is Russell a master of English prose but the advice and suggestions that you get from the book are quite enough to serve as a guide to any person’s life.
Now in the above chapter relating to work, Russell makes the following points:
- There is a need to have a purpose in life which will hold you together and give life meaning. In Russell’s own words – The habit of viewing life as a whole is an essential part both of wisdom and of true morality, and is one of the things that should be encouraged in education. Consistent purpose is not enough to make life happy, but it is an almost indispensable condition of a happy life. And consistent purpose embodies itself mainly in work.
More on the subject of needing to have a purpose in life is available in the following link:
- Work may be of two types – the work of destruction and the work of construction. For example, there is the work of constructing a building and there is also the work of destroying it. Russell recommends that from the point of view of a satisfying life and career it is better to choose constructive work. According to him a constructive purpose will give rise to goals and satisfactions indefinitely whereas once the work of destruction is complete your work is over and you have nothing to do. Also, the work of construction will yield a more lasting satisfaction than destruction. It will also lead to establishing a good reputation in society and within your professional circle.
- Another advantage of work as opposed to staying idle is the exercise of skill. Any man who acquires a skill enjoys exercising it until it becomes a matter of course or until he can no longer improve himself. There is a pleasure in playing Chess or Bridge. The same satisfaction and enjoyment is to be found in skilled work. For example, the work of a surgeon, a lawyer and so on.
- The last point which I read and which I would like to tell you about is the question of whether a qualified and skilful youngster should hire himself out to organizations which insist on his producing what he himself regards as pernicious nonsense. Choose an employer or a profession that does not require you to prostitute yourself to purposes that you yourself regard as harmful. In Russell’s words – Such work cannot bring any real satisfaction and in the course of reconciling himself to the doing of it a man has to make himself so cynical that he can no longer derive wholehearted satisfaction from anything whatever. I cannot condemn men who undertake work if this sort since starvation is too serious an alternative, but I think that where it is possible to do work that is satisfactory to a man’s constructive purposes without entirely starving, he will be well advised from the point of view of his own happiness if he chooses it in preference to work much more highly paid but not seeming to him worth doing on it’s own account. Without self-respect genuine happiness is scarcely possible. And the man who is ashamed of his work can hardly derive self-respect.
There is much more that is discussed in Russell’s book and the section on Work is just one of the chapters. I highly recommend that you buy and read the book. But what I have written above is in my opinion evergreen career advice.
I would also recommend that you buy and read Dale Carnegie’s book on How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. This book also has a chapter on career planning and contains sound advice. I might do another article based on what it written there.
I’ll end here. Please explore this blog for more articles on Politics, Spirituality and Self Help. If you liked this article then please share it on Facebook and Twitter and feel free to post your comments or contact me. Link to contact is below.