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Do people now use money (and the things that money can buy) to measure success instead of using more meaningful ways? What other ways are there to measure a fulfilling life?

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  Nowadays, with the advent of reality shows like “The Apprentice” and “Survivor”, success is often measured by the attainment of a six figure salary or by winning one million dollars. Yet, if one stops to ask a fireman, a painter or an air hostess what constitutes success for them, they may well give you an answer entirely different from what winners of the above reality programs would put forth.

During the aftermath of September 11th, our television sets and newspapers were inundated with heartfelt interviews of emergency rescue workers, firemen and the police. Many of these people said they were inspired to choose their vocations because they wanted to help people. Such jobs often involve training, hard work and physical danger. Firemen deal with the hazards of collapsing buildings and raging fires while some inner city policemen work in crime ridden neighbourhoods. The fact that such people are willing to risk their lives indicates that some vocational passion is an inherent inspiration. Furthermore, the income they earn relative to the risks is not that high but for such people, the rewards of helping people and saving lives are immeasurable.

In addition, there are artists and performers who do not earn much but who love the opportunity of self-expression and the opportunity to affect the mindset of their audience members. For painters such as the Dadaists, being able to criticize the authoritarian excesses of the Weimar government and also to challenge what people’s concept of art were rewards enough. Yet only a handful of them gained notoriety and riches. By the same token, street performers and stand-up comedians spend hours honing their craft. Again, not all of them will be discovered or given television contracts, but they still persists in such careers. For many, the joy of self expression and having an audience to perform for is more than enough.

Lastly, there are also people who have a wanderlust fuelled by the need to immerse themselves in different experiences. They often work to see other countries and to experience overseas living. For example, many flight attendants claim that their curiosity about other countries made them apply for travel related work. Then, there are overseas English tutors who like to live in other countries for an extended time just to experience working in another culture. Again, many of these jobs do not pay that highly but people love them as their work allows them to see the world, meet new people and face new experiences.

In conclusion, it’s undeniable that money motivates people in their job selections. However, people also work to fulfill their humanitarian notions and wanderlust, as well as for self-expression. If it were true that money was the only factor that made the world go round, then we would see less evidence of firefighters, artists and overseas teachers. If that were the case, the world would be less humane and a duller place for it.)

 
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