Work can be a route to creativity, excitement and purpose. Nevertheless, many of us end up confused, discouraged and beaten by our working lives. The temptation is often just to blame ourselves, and to feel privately ashamed and guilty. However, as this book lucidly explains, there is a range of well-embedded and intriguing reasons why work proves demoralising, including the evolution of modern work, the role of technology and the mechanics of the economy.
This surprisingly cheering book offers us an invigorating perspective over our working livesand what we might do at times when our work challenges us almost unbearably.
About the Author
The School of Life is a rapidly growing global brand, with over 6 million YouTube subscribers, 351,000 Facebook followers, 218,000 Instagram followers and 163,000 Twitter followers.
The School of Life Press brings together the thinking and ideas of the School of Life creative team under the direction of series editor, Alain de Botton. Their books share a coherent, curated message that speaks with one voice: calm, reassuring, and sane.
Read an Excerpt
There is no more common emotion to feel around work than that we have failed. We have failed because we have made less money than we hoped; because we have been sidelined in our organisation; because many of our acquaintances have triumphed; because our schemes have remained on the drawing board; because we have been constantly anxious and, for long stretches, tired and bored.
We tend to meet our sorrows personally. We believe that our failures are tightly bound up with our own character and choices. But the suggestion here is that the single greatest cause of our professional failure lies in an area that self-aware, moderate and modest people are instinctively loath to blame: the system we live within. Whatever our natural hesitancy, it seems we deserve to recast at least some of the explanations for our woes away from intimate experience and towards large-scale historical and economic forces. Although on a daily basis we are enmeshed in problems (inadequacies, desires and panics) that feel as if they must be our responsibility alone, the real causes may lie far beyond ourselves, in the greater, grander currents of history: in the way our industries are structured, our values are determined, and our assumptions generated. For a long time now, capitalism has been a confirmedly tricky system in which to retain equilibrium, make peace with ourselves, find fulfilment in our work - and cope. It's not quite our fault if, rather too often, we feel like losers.
This isn't to make a particular dig at capitalism, or to suggest that there may be easier alternatives at hand. Every economy that has ever existed has been bound up with multiple sorrows. Organising an equitable system of incentives, goads and rewards is as yet beyond us. We should be allowed to level criticisms, not in the name of arguing for an alternative utopia, but in order to depersonalise our sense of failure.
Table of ContentsIntroduction