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Why Are Engineers So Dissatisfied?

Engineers often think in terms of extremes in order to add perspective to a problem. So I will engage in some extreme thinking here to help understand why engineers are by and large a very dissatisfied group of people.

The first extreme is to think of a person who is happy with everything around them. While the happy person may be easy to be around, such a person has little pressure to improve things because nothing seems to need improving. They are happy.

The second extreme is to think of the person who is unhappy with everything around them. Such a person is usually not very fun to be around and, if they are vocal about their unhappiness, they are often considered to be a complainer. This person is never satisfied.

I find dissatisfaction to be essential to my professional and personal life. The key for me is to keep just the right amount of dissatisfaction. Because I am dissatisfied with just about everything. My list is thus very long but I will give a few examples both professional and personal.

  • Time I spend keeping up on current events in the engineering and business world - I do not read nearly as many magazines as I would like
  • My workspace - as much as I want to keep it tidy I rarely feel like I have time to do it
  • Time spent connecting with local business contacts and other staff at my company - while I love the idea of going out to lunch with such people I do it much less than I would like
  • Exercise - I do it a lot more than the average person but am dissatisfied when my busy schedule means I have to skip that gym visit or hike on Pikes Peak too often

I have read that great inventions are correlated with distance from the Equator. Thus those who live nearer the Equator have better weather and more resources and thus tend to be happier - with less need to invent things. Those farther from the Equator deal with harsher climates and thus the need to invent is greater.

We as engineers have chosen a profession which at its core involves creating and producing products that solve people's problems. We have to see and, to some degree, experience dissatisfaction in order to be successful. The key to success in my opinion is to find a way to be happy and dissatisfied at the same time. To be happy with life but still always striving to make things better.

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Comments 1

Guest - Daisy on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 04:59

thought provoking!

thought provoking!
Wednesday, 07 December 2022
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