Is Liking What We Get A Resignation To Life Or The Key To Contentment?

My favorite writer Doris Lessing once wrote: We learn to like what we get.  Seven simple words so accurately describe our current state of affair, in so many different dimensions.  But yet when I shared this revelation with a friend, her immediate response was: That’s called resignation to life.  Such is the beauty of literature.  It means different things to different people.

At times I ponder, if I am to hold firm to what I believe as a baseline to my quality of life and refuse to make compromises, is this a good virtue?  Or am I being inflexible?  After all, many people around me have been putting up with what they see as their accepted daily routines, what I may see as life could have been better and does not have to be this way.

Traditional wisdom tells us that there are things we cannot change, or cost too much to change.  To that extend, I often accept what comes my way, for the time being, and at the back of my mind dream of what better life could be like.  Who knows?  Doors of opportunity may open in the future if I have some ideas on what these doors may look like in the first place.

Once again, I have to relocate to a new office location.  And I think I have good reasons to dislike this recent change.  One may observe that this is a classic case of resistance to change.  For someone who has in the span of three years reported to seven different direct bosses, relocated three times – four if you count being stuffed inside a small meeting room for months as one location – I am not that resistance to change.

Yet, a part of me wishes things to stay as they are used to be.  Another part of me is aware that what I am now having is not ideal.  Maybe that is why change is hard.  Because we learn to like what we get.

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Given a choice, I would want to work where Cynthia works.  It saves on traveling time for I prefer to drop her off in the morning and pick her up in the evening – regardless of where our workplaces are – by car.  Time is precious.  Any added minute to the daily traveling time is, in my opinion, a waste of time.

Last year, I was relocated to a different part of town, away from the central business district.  The distance was still manageable, though not desirable.  As I settled down in my new area, I began to enjoy the surrounding environment.  The national library is nearby, eating places are not as crowded, and there are shopping malls and cinemas close to my office building.

This year, there is another relocation, somewhere far away from the central business district.  Very far indeed.

If you were to ask me today: Would you choose a job that requires you to travel to a place near to the airport every working day?  The answer is a straight no.  But I learn to like – or I think I like – what I do daily.  Besides, bonus payout will be in March, my share options will be matured in September, I am not going anywhere in the near future, am I?

Am I?

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One morning, I drove to my new office sorting out the car park application while familiarizing myself with the area, I could not help but to admire the smooth traffic to work, the blue sky and the green field and the sound of serenity – of the fountains and of the breeze.  There were hardly anybody walking on the streets, hardly any car drove by.  One man walked pass me with a cup of coffee and I had the urge to stop him and ask where he got it from in this remote area.  And suddenly it hit me: Why do people put up with the stress of working in the central business district?  The noise, the crowd, the pollution, and more.  Why do I put up with the traffic jam on the CTE highway every day?

One afternoon, as I drove out of my home, I looked at the office buildings nearby, I could not help but ask: How about working somewhere near where I live for a change?  Maybe I should visualize that as one of my doors of opportunity.

I mean, why not?

16 thoughts on “Is Liking What We Get A Resignation To Life Or The Key To Contentment?”

  1. Some reflections that I realised over the last few weeks while formulating the new year resolution:

    1. Consider life as a complete package – work, relationship, friends, personal achievement
    2. You cannot change the circumstances, but you attitude can change the way you respond to the circumstances.

    1. AY – It is true. We have to consider life as a complete package. For the fact that all these activities share the same vital resource of ours – our time. If we harmonize these aspects, we cut down on time wastage and harvest more from our 24 hours a day.

      Right attitude helps to deal with things that we cannot change, for now. To the least, we don’t waste energy that could have been deployed to building a better future – that holistic package like you said.

  2. another great post which sits well with me.

    I used to think like your friend – I refused to “resign” to life.
    After that, I straddled a bit.
    Depending on the situation, I will fight for what I strongly feel for or just “resign” to what I have.
    Maybe I am getting lazy – I find it painful and time consuming.

    I am also dealing with changes in work environment.
    While it is like travelling to client’s place previously, I now grapple with taking a bus / shuttle out for lunch (if I want more variety), and being far from my lunch time kakis……

    Looking at things holistically, I am, in general, happier 🙂
    So I shall just top up my EZ Link card and try to make more friends around this area 🙂

    And your new work place is near my house! pop by for tea sometime! heh!!!

    1. G – I am happy to hear that you are happier, holistically speaking! You have brought out a good point – consistent what some of my good friends have said – we have to look into all aspects and evaluate if this is worth it.

      I can certainly pop by your house for tea some time! But the question is: Will you be there? Ha ha ha. Oh well, maybe I will just have a date with your cat instead 🙂

      1. you raised an excellent point! i am still in office now!
        it’s busy season for me and i think my company is very smart! they put a gym in the office, i go jog, come back and feel more refreshed to work!!!

        ok maybe jellybean will have to entertain you for a while 🙂

        1. G – That sounds like one of our offices in India. The gym, the cafeteria, anything you can think of are inside the office. And guess what? All these facilities are open 24 hours a day!

          Ah, Jellybean. Yes. I thought we have talked about some photo sessions with Jellybean.

  3. Once in a while, we all get into this quagmire of questioning, asking ourselves if the path we chose was the right one compared to other alternatives.

    I have been working in the same organisation for coming to 7 years already, and I do know what it means to feel that 7 year itch. Fortunately, my boss has given me a new lease of life in a new job which helps to stretch my abilities in new areas as I serve my bond of 3 years after my studies. However, I do ask myself lots of “What If” questions too.

    Location is a funny thing. While the longer times spent commuting may be deemed a chore by some, it may also be an opportunity for reflection and unwinding as you drive home. I used to work in Pasir Ris which is not far from where you are working at now, and live in the Southern part of Singapore so I can empathise with you.

    1. Walter – 7 years?! That seems like a long time. So, with the 3 years bond, that would total up to 10 years! It is good to hear that you are given a new job within the organization and to get challenged in a new way. I envy you!

      You are right about the time for reflection. I have over the past done my share of traveling related to work. I still remember back in Mauritius, I had to drive 70 km every morning from my home to my work place – one way. Compares to the 17 km I travel now is really nothing. Then again, driving in Mauritius I must say is a lot more pleasurable then driving in Singapore … ha ha ha … scenic-wise and cost-wise.

      Anyway, we shall catch up! 🙂

  4. I am one who does not enjoy working in the CBD area. Not that I have worked there before, but the thought of People, People and People scares me. Will there be station #4 in the West? Hope not. At least, the air in the East is much cleaner and fresher. Don’t get lost in that “Bermuda Triangle”! It looks like a triangle where you live, where you and Cynthia works. ;p

    “We learn to like what we get” true… but familiarity breeds contempt, is it not? I am also one who gets uncomfortable in a comfort zone. Bleh! Looks like there is weirder one out here.

    1. Tigerfish – You know, the funny thing is, now that I am a bit away from the city (and soon I will be very away from the city), the CBD does look more and more scary to me. I mean, there are really A LOT of people working in one small area. I have only been to the Changi Business Park once and the air does seem to be cleaner and fresher there, like you said.

      I think most of us are happy in a comfort zone while at the same time feel restless in a comfort zone. Some take the initiative to get out of it and try something different. Some have to take the change as it comes. Either way, we know that change is constant, eh?

  5. WOO I like to work at the CBD area (actually as long as I will be happy when there is a mall, a swimming pool and an mrt station preferably). Sometimes seeing everyone go to work motivates me as well. And even if I work outside of CBD area, maybe the travelling time (by public transport) is still the same.

    But I dont mind working elsewhere (say an island/holiday resort etc) haha!

    1. Si Ying – Wow, seeing everyone go to work motivates you? I guess this is a good attitude. Yes, I remember you talk about a business in a holiday resort 🙂 Live your dreams!

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