Many young people see going to school as a chore and only go because they absolutely have to, while some will even skip school because they see it as boring and unnecessary. However, going to school is incredibly important for your career, future education you may wish to pursue, and social and communication skills.
Teenagers are forever being told that they need a good education so that their can have the career they want, but many do not listen. However, it is important to remember that your schooling, no matter how long it may feel, lasts for a just a few short years compared to the rest of your life ahead of you. Therefore, it is better to sacrifice a little bit of fun now so that you can find happiness in later life, as you will be happier if you can do a job that you enjoy and afford to do the things you want.
Integrally linked to your career is the fact that you will only be able to achieve a higher level of education later on if you work hard in school now. Although at the age of fourteen and fifteen many young people may not think they want to go to college or university, you don’t know how this may change as you get older. And with unemployment among young people in the USA at its highest since the early 1960’s, you may find that you need a college degree to secure a good job because there is so much competition for so few jobs. Many people also decide that they want to study further when they get a bit older, perhaps after they have got married and had children, sometimes because they want a career change as they are not happy, or just to prove to themselves and others that they can do it. Those that don’t succeed in compulsory education will not have the opportunity to even start many courses because there will be plenty of better-qualified candidates that also want a place.
Finally, school is the place where you learn a great deal of very important life skills. From communicating and empathizing with people of both genders and different ages, to listening to instructions and following orders, and developing leadership skills. It is not a coincidence that there is a negative correlation between criminal offences and level of education, in all races, ages and genders all over the world, and one of the main reasons for this is that the lessons that are learnt in school are so much more than just academic. So, although most of us only consider our career when we think about what school may do for us, the life skills we learn are equally important.
Happiness and the Good Life
January 24, 2013
Living for a worthwhile end.
At the end of our lives, we all want to be able to feel as though the life that we lived on earth was a good and happy one. This seems like the ultimate goal that we strive for every day. However, the question arises as to how we can meet this goal by the way that we live our daily lives. If you were to ask random people on the street how they live a good and happy life, each person would give you a different answer. This is because everyone has a different perspective of what is important to make this life a good and happy life, and everyone has the control to make this life possible. What would I say if someone asked me how I plan to live a good and happy life? Personally, my answer would be that living a good and happy life would be living virtuously and living a meaningful life through my passion for helping others through nursing and also through my faith.
There are many people that have studied these aspects of what a good and happy life would look like and have different views on what really defines what it means to live in a virtuous and meaningful way. According to the Stoics, their idea of virtue was moral goodness, doing what is right, just, honorable and wise, but I believe that being virtuous goes beyond being morally perfect. So, what does being virtuous actually mean to me? Being virtuous means consciously striving to do what is right, and learning from our mistakes, and continually growing to be a better person. In Joel Kupperman’s book, Six Myths About the Good Life, there is a quote that reads “There has to be a learning process; part of this inevitable will involve moral decisions, made by someone who is still inexperienced and who may be under pressure.” (Kupperman p. 123) I believe that making mistakes is part of our human nature, but that does not mean that we cannot be virtuous people. We can still live a virtuous life by learning from the mistakes that we have made.
So, how does this view of virtue ensure that I live a good and happy life? Living a virtuous life require us to do what is right, and feel good about those decisions that we have made. It is important to learn from our mistakes, because in return, we will grow as people, and hopefully not continue to make those same mistakes. A life full of doing bad things, will only leave us with a life full of regrets at the end, but living virtuously will prevent us from living a life of regrets and in return will ensure a good life. Someone might disagree by saying that virtue is not important because anyone could live a good and happy life by doing bad things and stomping on the people around them for their own good. But, what is this person going to think at the end of their lives? What good did they do here on earth? That person would not look back at their lives as a good life and would ultimately not end up happy with it. Yes, I am sure this person was happy at certain points throughout their life, but the ultimate goal here is to end up with a good and happy life. A good and happy life means doing good things, and feeling joy through those good things that we have done. Aristotle believes that the most pleasant life, and presumably the happiest, is a life of virtuous or excellent activity. (Haybron p. 48) This means that a life of just doing good acts is just a part of the big picture. Doing good and also living a life full of meaningful and worthwhile activities is the key to a good and happy life. This leads into my second aspect of a good and happy life, which is living a meaningful life.
How does one live a meaningful life? I believe that living a meaningful life means living beyond yourself, working towards something that has value to you and also to other people, and doing something that is worthwhile in the end. It means not just existing on this earth, but living a life that you would be willing to live over again. A quote from Haybron’s book reads “Any life devoted to worthwhile ends is meaningful.” (Haybron p. 69) This means that doing something that will have worthwhile end results for not only you but the people around you is doing something meaningful. How does living this meaningful life make our lives good and happy lives? Living a meaningful life is ultimately living an emotionally fulfilling life. We will find pride and happiness in doing things that are valuable and meaningful to us, and will ultimately lead to a good and happy life. Haybron goes as far to say that “The full measure of happiness requires that we connect, in our lives, with what seems to us to matter.” (Haybron p. 68) This means that we will not even experience our full potential happiness if we do not engage in meaningful activities.
So, if a key part of a good and happy life is just doing something that is meaningful, then someone may argue that any useless activity that someone finds meaningful will lead to a good life. For example, someone who sits on the bathroom floor counting tiles because that is something that they find very meaningful and valuable, would not be viewed as someone who is living a good and happy life to most people. This concept of doing meaningful things then must go farther than just doing things that are meaningful to us personally. This is where Haybron talks about finding something that is not only valuable to oneself but also other people. A quote from his book reads, “The most meaningful lives will combine subjective and objective meaning: appreciative engagement with what genuinely matters.” The most meaningful life then must mean engaging in activities that have an equal balance between personal meaning and also meaning to others. Through my 20 years of age, I discovered what this meaning is for me.
I plan to live a meaningful life by helping others through my nursing practices and also through my faith. Helping others and making a difference in their lives through the nursing skills that I have acquired, and also the knowledge that I share about my faith, is my passion in life. According the studies done my Mihaly Csikszentmehalyi people find the most pride and joy in doing activities that they can get caught up in. He refers to them as flow experiences, and explains that these flow experiences are important to our happiness. (Kupperman p. 4-6) I completely agree with what this stands for. I find that my true happiness comes from when I am engaged in situations of helping other people; not only physically but also spiritually. The feeling that I receive by giving others a better life, is a feeling of happiness that I do not find in anything else I do. I could not fill my life with enough pleasures, relationships, or belongings to ever feel as though I would be living as good and happy of a life as I plan on living, without living out my mission and passion for helping others physically and spiritually.
Although this is my plan to secure a good and happy life, this may not be applicable for everyone, but living a good and happy life is most definitely achievable. Like it states in our constitution, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This does not entail that our happiness is given to us, but rather it is something that we have the freedom to strive for, and find the things that will ensure us this good and happy life. In regards to my own life, I find this attainable by living virtuously and by living a meaningful life through my passion for helping others through nursing and also through my faith. By living in such a way, I can live happily knowing that I am doing good and making a difference in people’s lives that will end in something that was worthwhile. Drawing from other readings and other’s opinions, I have been reassured that it is possible to live a good and happy life through just these two aspects of virtue and meaning. I plan to live in this way in hopes that when my life comes to an end I can believe that it was a good and happy life.
Haybron, D. (April, 13 12). Happiness: A short introduction. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/a/otterbein.edu/document/d/18Hw-5QFz8C_chGfu9bA_uLVrTtxpLeI57lVB4LSLj_U/edit
Kupperman, J. (2006). Six myths about the good life: Thinking about what has value. Indianapolis : Hacket Publishing Company.