Challenges to Having a Good Life

Work is regarded as one of the central challenges to having a good life.

In a thought-provoking article, Crawford (2009) discusses the types of various jobs he had experienced and the impact they had on his feelings about the quality of his life. The author tells his academic story emphasizing that such a path is the dream of the majority of the modern young people. However, the author heavily criticizes his office job, when he worked as the abstract writer. He claims that the task of writing the summaries additionally to the abstracts provided by the article’s author with the only aim to create some visibility of the added value, devalue the knowledge itself. Crawford (2009) writes that he felt distanced from the “walking wounded, a knowledge worker,” because contrary to these office workers, who usually do not see the results of their work on any given day, the author was happy to have the experience of working as a mechanic, repairing motorcycles. He underlines that despite the low prestige of manual work, the profession of a mechanic requires specific cognitive abilities. Comparing these two types of jobs the author emphasizes that the main characteristics of these jobs were their usefulness and the ability to apply numerous skills and capabilities.

Crawford’s story clearly describes how some jobs hinder human flourishing. Kraut (2007) argues that the human being flourishes when he/she “grows, matures, makes full use of the potentialities, capacities, and faculties that (under favorable conditions) he/she naturally has at an early stage of his/her existence” (p. 131). Kraut claims that in order for the job to be good for a person, it must involve practicing and improving physical, cognitive, sensory, affective and social powers. Working as the abstract writer, Crawford suffers emotionally as he realizes the uselessness of his work (affective power) as well as feels the lack of sensory exercises. While working as a mechanic, he developed his critical thinking skills as the cognitive power of another kind compared to the office worker, as well as practiced sensory, physical, affective (the feeling of satisfaction to see the practical results of his work) powers and social power.

Those adults who lack social skills may certainly find a root cause in their upbringing, starting from the kindergarten. In her article, Strauss (2015) discusses a crucially important topic: children stop playing. The parents obsessed with the desire to enrich the life of their children, to prepare them for the school and to make their intellectual level superior, forget that play is the central element for developing other critical skills. Strauss (2015) reports that in such cases, even if the child is more advanced in the cognitive skills, he/she lacks elementary social skills and sensory experiences. These children become easily frustrated, have poor problem-solving skills, lower attention, they are clumsy and frequently cannot control their emotions. As the outcome, the parents again interfere with the best intentions, but in the wrong direction: they spend time and money to teach children how to “sit still,” the quality that is not attributive to young children.

Indeed, the parents try to prepare their children for the tough competition that their offspring will face in the business world. One of the human powers discussed by Kraut is disproportionally developed. This is the cognitive power of a human being. While attending early development classes, numerous art and music lessons, as well as other variety of activities aimed to boost the intellectual level of the child, modern children do not have the ability to interact with the external world. Thus, sensory, physical, social and affective powers suffer. Through a play a child studies the societal roles, experiences the power of influence and the rules of cooperation in a team. Moreover, the physical activity, which is critical to the future well-being, is minimized to suppress the natural desire of the child to be active. The key recommendation that Strauss (2015) gives is to prioritize a free play by children and to give them the chance to flourish in the adult life by exercising all powers of human beings since childhood.

With the rapid changes in the business setting, the moral principles of a business conduct should be considered closely. One of them is described by Camenisch (1981). The author argues that the businesses must be evaluated through the lenses of the impact that their outcomes (products and services) have on the human flourishing. If the products or services produced by the business enhance human condition, thus contributing to the human flourishing, then such a business is considered as a morally good enterprise. If it does not contribute to the enhancement of human condition, it can be perceived as a morally questionable company. If the business obstructs human flourishing, this means it is involved into the immoral activities. Societies support and sustain businesses not because of the profit-making for the narrow circle of shareholders, but because the raw materials, transformed into the goods and services, add value to the human well-being.

One of the examples of the good services that contribute to the human flourishing is dance classes. By attending a dance class, a person enhances numerous human powers. Dance is not only the physical activity. This is the way how the person can exercise sensory, emotional and social skills. While having the ability to switch from the mental work in the office, to enjoy the music rhythms and physical activity, to communicate with the different people representing different classes of the society, the person grows as he/she exercises a variety of human powers.

Bill West

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