I don’t know anyone who wishes to be unhappy; do you? I know many people (me included) who, against all wisdom and common sense, make choices that lead to unhappiness, but that’s not what they had set out to be.
Everyone wants to be happy. If you ask people what they want out of life, most will tell you that they want to be happy. But what makes a happy life? What is happiness, anyway? These questions are as old as the Himalayas, of course, and people have been pondering them for ages.
The founding fathers of the United States of America considered happiness so vital to the type of life they wanted for their people that they included the pursuit of happiness as an “unalienable right”, together with life and liberty. However, the US Declaration of Independence only guarantees the freedom to pursue happiness; it does not guarantee happiness itself. You have the right to chase happiness; actually catching it us upon you. Continue reading “What is happiness?”
What do I do with my life after my PhD?
This is the question that keeps me up at night. I don’t know what the right path is.
Of course, it also means that I have options. I should be grateful. Keith didn’t have options when he joined his law firm at the peak of the recession in 2008 as a paralegal in a boutique law firm that specialised in intellectual property.
I could go the traditional route: become a post-doc for 2-3 years and keep my nose to the grindstone doing research, publishing papers and competing against tremendous odds for that tenure-track assistant professorship that will guarantee 7 more years (at the very least) of 17 hour days with few holidays in an attempt to get tenure.
I could join a big law firm as a technical specialist in their intellectual property department and eventually pass the patent bar to do the same job Keith does (and the same horrible hours) at a higher starting salary than what Keith makes 3.5 years in. Continue reading “Decisions, Decisions…Path after PhD”
I woke up before sunrise this morning. It was cool and there was a nice breeze so I opened all our windows wide to allow air to circulate through the apartment.
There we sat, I, sipping my tea and K, his coffee. The cats joined us, settling down on the window sill behind. Kaiserin’s eyes darted this way and that in excitement as she lusted after the birds on the other side of the screen beyond her reach. Fluff-ball Baxter sat with his front paws extended, face facing the cool air. He blinked slowly as the breeze blew into his face. I put my ear against his belly and heard the steady, low rumble of him purring.
How content the cats looked. How little it took to make them happy: a breeze, some birds, a place to sit, their people nearby. Sometimes I feel everything I need to know about leading a happy, contented life I can learn from my cats. Continue reading “Happiness: Lessons from my Cats”