It is better to earn a high salary or be happy?

June 18 2015

This is one of the questions I ask students as part of a broader English speaking exercise. “Do you think it is better to earn a high salary or be happy in your job?”

A pause always follows and eyes dart around the room before landing on empty notebooks. I give students a few moments to process before we begin.

Many friends and colleagues in America are on the quest to find work that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of pay. My own answer is obvious by the lifestyle I’ve chosen. However, for eight out of ten of my students here in Nepal, the answer is a different one. “It is better to earn a high salary.”

Various reasons follow; respect in community, less worry, the ability to travel, family responsibilities. As one student answered, “I come from poor family, and I need to take care of them.”

Which has me thinking, is job satisfaction a luxury problem?

How fortunate are we who get to choose our work! And to those who have learned how to build their own course, through freelancing and entrepreneurship, how grateful we must be for the opportunity to play by our own rules!

It is our responsibility to make sure everyone can answer this question individually, not from a place of need and necessity, but from a place of passion and thoughtful consideration. Our schools need to be filled with teachers who show students how to find the loopholes.

If you’re interested in supporting this kind of leadership and education in Nepal, kindly do so here.