Why I Left the Corporate World to Become an Overworked and Underpaid Teacher — and Don’t Regret It
Doing “Meaningful” Work Won’t Solve All Your Problems, But It’s Still Better Than the Alternative
Something helpful I’ve learned is that not only does money alone not make people happy, but too much of it can actually be a hindrance to happiness.
Money Provides Comfort, But Not Contentedness
For almost a decade I worked in communications in the world of corporate finance, where I earned an income that felt like an excessive amount of money for me (about $70,000 a year) as a single person without children, a mortgage, student loans, or even a pet. I had more money than I knew what to do with, and I was surrounded by people who made more. Actually, far more.
I worked with people who were making $100,000, $200,000, or a million dollars a year. They had gorgeous clothes and beautiful sports cars and incredible condos overlooking the Pacific. They ate out every day, drank great wine every night and took tropical vacations several times a year. They literally had the means to acquire anything and everything a normal human being could ever want. They had achieved our society’s idea of success.
These weren’t outwardly miserable people, either — not quite. They were, on the surface, happy and social and fun to talk to and work with.
They read books and did yoga and were able to talk about what was happening in the world in a mostly thoughtful, insightful way. They weren’t all workaholics or people who seemed especially greedy or to only care about their careers or unable to enjoy being alive. For the most part.
But they also weren’t satisfied with what they had: they weren’t content. They had the means to acquire anything that a person like me can imagine ever wanting, but it was never quite enough for them. They had acquired possessions and prestige, but it seemed that the thing that they were seeking — perhaps the thing that they were seeking without knowing it — had eluded them. They were constantly consuming more and more fine and exquisite things and experiences, but they were never full. Never fulfilled.