Ever since I was a kid I was busy making stuff and when I was introduced to computers at 6 years old, it turned into a passion for creating stuff in whichever form possible. Now I did not really feel like going to art school because I thought I could learn things myself and thought the art world had a hugely pretentious side to it that I quite disliked. To achieve some objectivity, what about studying the direct opposite of art and get both sides of the picture? And then decide where I stood? What was the opposite of art? Business.
Studying business at university made me realize that I love capitalism but strongly dislike corporations. Not for the typical lefty “they’re taking our money” argument. But because they’re simply not effective most of the times in creating individual happiness for its employees nor for its customers. The environment of profit maximization (1) sucks its employees dry of any creativity or individual culture (since it’s not about quality of work, but what is most profitable); (2) breeds its employees into specialists whose task-responsibility is minimized and proceduralized to secure the replacement of its employees and with that kills the ability for employees to combine different skills, associate and innovate; (3) sucks ordinary people into becoming customers, that then repeatedly spend their money becoming part of a consumerist culture that is centered around the act of purchasing and collecting material goods. The most ironic part of this may be that the employees that fall victim to this process and produce the goods are usually also the customers that consume most of the same goods.
Now, I love capitalism, I love international trade, I love working. But in those systems there should be area for happiness maximization for everyone right? Not in an idealistic way, but in a highly practical way. Shouldn’t you buy stuff you really actually intrinsically like? Not because everyone else has it or because it’s been advertised in your face 62 times? Shouldn’t you do stuff you really actually intrinsically like? Not because financial-, family-, peer- and society- pressure forces you into it? Shouldn’t you at least strive to only do things because you directly want or like them? Why do investment bankers slave themselves off for 10 years giving up arguably one of the best times of their personal lives (25 to 35 years old) to secure a financial future often without any affection for the job? The worst part is that this is nothing new, it’s been written so many times, but you get called a hippie if you bring it up. People laugh in your face.
I actually believe everyone in their heart does want everyone to be happy, but then they come across a stack of money and the whole thing goes to shit because they think they can buy their way to happiness. But that’s a fallacy. It never worked for anyone. Happiness is in the now, in the current moment. Are you happy now? This whole thing just doesn’t seem right to me and I chose not to associate myself with it. So that means no job, creating my own job, in a lifestyle based on happiness and owning only the minimum required amount of stuff.
With the internet, a huge area of opportunity has born for individuals to shape their own life to fit this mindset. By leveraging their own talents (whatever those may be) people can now actually build a stable income. If you’re good at making cupcakes, sell them online, there’s enough people that like them and are willing to pay for it. If you’re a writer, write your book, set up a website and sell it online. If you make music, upload it to YouTube and you can build a steady income from the advertising.
But you can’t code or you’re not apt at computers? That’s just an excuse. It’s never been as easy to publish and sell your work online as today. You can figure it out.
P.S. I'm writing a book on bootstrapping startups called MAKE, which you can pre-order now. And I'm now on Instagram and Twitter too if you'd like to follow more of my adventures. I don't use email so tweet me your questions.
Happiness maximization vs. profit maximization