One of my most favorite activity is visiting a book store. Many times I won’t buy anything; either because I am broke or just that nothing interests me. But it is great fun to stroll through the aisles taking a nice look at the attractive titles. I have done this parade with my friends for so long that we have a pretty good idea of many famous books; without actually reading them.
I might add here that it is very difficult for someone to join me in this book hunt because I can go on for hours, lost in the perusal. Fortunately, my acquaintances are aware of my habit and so they either scoot from it or join wholeheartedly.
Recently I had the pleasure of my cousin Lijo’s company to one of the biggest book fests I have ever been to; ‘Krithi’ book fest in the Marine drive, Kochi. As we are birds of the same feather, we flocked around the book store for a whole day.
In the aforementioned quest, one book caught my attention. Intrigued by the title, I went through the contents page and somehow I could relate to the chapters. I always have thought that it is not me that selects the book, rather it is the book that does the selection. So this one clearly had something to say to me. So I lent my ears, or rather my eyes and brain to it.
The book is titled ‘The Hidden Pleasures of Life‘. Written by the Oxford scholar and thinker Theodore Zeldin, it searches for a ‘better way of living’ or ‘the greatest adventure of our time’. This unique book is undoubtedly the most thought-provoking one that I have ever read.
In it, Zeldin meticulously asks some of the prominent and disturbing questions of our time. Each chapter, with an intriguing title in the form of a question, guides us through a unique thought process. Rather than spoon-feeding some supposedly elegant answer that the author came up with, Zeldin encourages us to think and arrive at a conclusion of our own. The chapters such as ‘What is a wasted life?’, ‘How can one develop a sense of humour?’ and so on are excellently written and have some valid points that needs to be debated.
Work or slavery
One of the questions that I could really connect with was about the new generation work culture. Zeldin posses very significant questions: ‘Is it possible to find a fulfilling job?’ Can someone ‘find happiness and feel completely free of pressure?’ if not ‘are there any amusing ways of earning a living?’
In ancient Athens, Zeldin argues, it was considered a great shame to be working for someone. Only slaves did that. But in the twenty-first century everyone is a part-time slave, who earns money by toiling hard to increase the fortune of some multinational cooperation. It is even considered inappropriate to not be a part of this slavery.
But unfortunately, the new generation is struggling hard to make a living. Work pressure, looming deadlines, long work hours, and inconsiderate bosses have made their existence difficult. The important question people ask each other is whether there is ‘work-life balance’, as if life is something completely opposite to work.
Despite the great care companies take, the employees seem to see through the conspiracy and realize that they are not free men. This estrangement of jobs from enjoyable life has made the process of working gruesome and has become the toll payable for being alive. Will there be a revolution in the recent future whereby jobs will acquire a different outlook and can be declassified from the category of slavery?
The Changing Pattern
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, people have been thinking of earning their daily bread whilst allowing them to follow their passion and illuminating the real potential they have. But is such a thing even possible?
Whether we like it or not permanent jobs with fixed salaries and pension schemes are becoming a thing of the past. Those who are clinging on to the security of conventional jobs are oblivious to the tide of change coming their way at their own cost.
Already young people are searching for more adventure from their lives. Success stories of people who dared to challenge the monotonous, degrading and redundant jobs are heard from around the world. So what can we do to be prepared for the next generation jobs?
Though entrepreneurship is seen as an alternative to working for someone, the stress of running a business alone takes the luster out of it. Moreover, as the business grows, the entrepreneur is forced to make more profit for shareholders. Thus his freedom is squandered and he becomes a mere puppet in the hands of accountants, business gurus, and management experts.
New Schools of thought
Astonishingly, research proves that seventy percent of the people around the world feel that they are working in the field not suited for them.
Osho, a mystic from the east, narrates the story of a brain surgeon who was extremely successful but pitifully depressed because he wanted to be a pianist. He was forced to become a brain surgeon by his parents. Osho says it is better to be a poor but happy pianist than a rich and miserable brain surgeon. But unfortunately, many people fail to find their calling in their lifetime.
Dr.Bethany Butzer, a leading psychologist, in her TEDx talk conducted in the University of California in Prague, is of the opinion that we should find something that creates ‘flow’, which is a state of mind which immerses us so much in the job that we even forget time-lapse. Usually, we are in a process of ‘Upstream effort’ where we unnecessarily push or are forced to push the pace and efficiency of job that we dislike and as a result become miserable. Her opinion is to make life easier with ‘Downstream effort’, whereby we pursue the job of our interest in a simple and relaxed way. That something which completely consumes our attention is the thing that we should make a career out of.
Indeed it is easier to follow the crowd and find a job which provides regular paychecks. But only pioneers who take up the challenge and follow the less trodden path with courage and confidence, have been successful. Many a time people around us can help us figure out our career. Maybe it is that skill that we have, an interest that consumes us or a hither though unseen talent that earns us our daily bread and makes life fulfilling.
The key element is confidence. An open-minded approach to the present scenario and perseverance is indispensable. Start slowly, baby steps like freelancing, talking with experts in the field and creating a trustworthy network. Once we are accustomed to the field, turn it into a fulltime career and give the best effort.
Isn’t it better to change before the tide of change drowns you? Before being forced to find a better way of earning a living? Think out of the box, break the bondage of conventional thoughts, and live free.