True happiness is hard to find, even when you “have it all.” So if you find it in a simple, subjectively unimpressive life, what’s so wrong with that?
That’s the question a man on Reddit is asking after frequently being made to feel like his choices aren’t good enough.
He feels ashamed because he doesn’t want a career and likes working at Walmart.
Any therapist will tell you that at least one client has told them they aren’t sure they’ll ever find happiness and fulfillment in their lives, and it often has to do with issues surrounding their jobs.
Especially given the economic forces we’re up against, many of us are feeling it. Our jobs simply eat up entirely too much time, not just out of our days, but out of our lives themselves. And given that working often doesn’t even adequately pay the bills, it’s easy to feel lost and unfulfilled.
Perhaps that is what is motivating one man on Reddit who posted on the site asking advice on how to “stop being ashamed” about the fact that he doesn’t want a career because others frequently judge him for it.
The man works as a cart wrangler at Walmart, which he says is his favorite job he’s had so far.
The man wrote in his post that he’s “nearly 29,” and has been working at Walmart for eight years. He’s done a few other things, but mostly he’s worked as a “cart pusher”— one of the people who goes out to the parking lot, rounds up the carts, and brings them into the store for the rest of us.
Photo: Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock.com
“It’s still the job I most enjoy,” he wrote. But the pressures of getting older and the approach of the big 3 — 0 are weighing on him, as they do on all of us. “Since I’m getting to that age where I should do more, have a career or high-paying job, house, wife, etc., I feel embarrassed,” he said.
But the reasons for that embarrassment are not necessarily what most of us might assume.
He said the ‘stigma’ that others place on his job and the fact he doesn’t want a career makes him feel shame.
“There’s a stigma with Walmart and the like,” he wrote. “Being a lifer [and] content is frowned upon.”
This is true of myriad jobs, of course, even high-paying ones like the trades, which are often considered unsophisticated and beneath those that require a college degree, for instance.
“I’m not a people pleaser and tend to do my best not to care what people think,” he wrote, “but when I see people I know I can’t help but feel shame” because people think his job is “for teens and elderly and I should do more with my life. I’m seen as a failure.”
But he has very different values. “Because of my life outside of work, how I treat people, my family, my hobbies, I don’t see me as a failure,” he explained. “I like my simple life. So why do I care so much? I’m losing sleep over these thoughts.”
There is nothing wrong with lacking ambition and centering your life around more meaningful things.
Australian nurse Bronnie Ware spent much of her career working in palliative care tending to people in the final 12 weeks of their lives, an experience she compiled in her landmark book “The Five Regrets of the Dying.”
In it, she shared the things her patients most frequently said they would do differently in their lives if they had the chance:
- “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
- “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
- “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
- “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
- “I wish I had let myself be happier.”
The five regrets she shared are so oft-repeated they’ve come to border on clichés, but there’s a very good reason for that: They speak directly to the comparison culture in which we all live and which directs the unfulfilling paths so many of us end up following.
And we have plenty of data to prove that it’s hurting us. In 2022, Gallup’s yearly study of unhappiness revealed startling findings: People were unhappier than they’d ever been before, with 40% of people reporting they experienced a lot of worry and stress and more than one in four regularly felt sadness and anger.
This man is a perfect example of doing things differently. He chose the life he wanted instead of the life he’s “supposed” to live; letting “good enough” be, well, good enough; and prioritizing the things that actually bring his life meaning.
Photo: Nejron Photo / Shutterstock.com
And as several Reddit commenters put it, by liking his “simple life,” he’s doing far better than all too many of us. “Working at Walmart is nothing to be embarrassed about,” one person wrote. “If you don’t hate going to work, you are ahead in the game of life.” We have plenty of data bearing that out, too.
The things he listed as priorities — “how I treat people, my family, my hobbies” — are ultimately what make us happy anyway. The pressure to trade them for “more” is a social construct, largely fueled by capitalism, that none of us would likely pick if given the choice. That’s something all of us would do well to consider.
John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.