YOUTH IN FOCUS: I graduated from college two years ago. I cannot find a job and I am feeling depressed and worthless. I sleep until noon and my family looks down on me and barely speaks to me. What can I do?

Unemployed, Thimphu 

Well, I empathise with your situation. However, I feel that it is not fully true that you cannot find a job. Actually, there are plenty of employment opportunities in Thimphu, but I’m guessing that you don’t want to take a job that you consider too low for a graduate. Therefore, rather than feeling depressed and worthless, it might be a good idea to explore why you consider certain jobs lower than others.

In reality, any work that doesn’t harm others is a worthy job and we should never think that anything is below us. Furthermore, I suggest that you do not take things so seriously, but instead think of life as a great learning experience – a means to develop wisdom and open your mind.

Actually, you are not alone in your predicament and I find that many don’t want to do jobs such as being a waiter or a kitchen helper because they fear that their friends will laugh at them. You should ask yourself, “so what”?  Actually, working in a kitchen and in dining can be really fun. You can learn so many things and meet new people. When you always look over your shoulder to see whether your friends approve of your job, you confine yourself to a self-imposed prison and will never be free. Instead, you should have your own confidence and not be pulled this way and that by other people’s old fashioned prejudices. Basically, if you are not harming others, then earning your own living and contributing to your family should be a reason for pride, not shame.

Furthermore, you should investigate why you have a problem chopping vegetables or serving coffee? Are these activities really lower than serving someone in an office or is it that you have created your own false discrimination. Seriously, ask yourself why is passing someone a cup of coffee inferior to passing them a document? What is the difference?

Now, if you really want to make your activities cool, do them mindfully. Take preparing a meal in a restaurant as an example. Don’t think of it as a chore, but aim to do it beautifully and perfectly. Have a wish that whoever eats the meal will be happy.

Actually, being mindful can transform your entire day, not only your work. Rather than waiting for the world to inspire you, inspire yourself. Get up early and go for a long walk or a cycle ride. Don’t do this a duty, however, but as a means to wake up your mind. If you walk through the town or along the river, be aware of what you see, hear and feel. You will experience the coolness of the breeze against your face. You will notice trees and plants that you never saw before and you will see the light playing on the river. Basically, by keeping your mind in the moment, you will find the magic in small things. And, as small things are always available, you will always be inspired.

Also, when you feel miserable, remind yourself of all the good things in your life. You have a bed, a roof over your head, family, food, and clothing. Consider how many people in the world do not have these things – youth in Syria who are living in a nameless refugee camp or homeless people living on the cold streets of a dangerous city. Think of people who live with domestic violence everyday of their lives. Actually, you have a lot to be grateful for. Remind yourself of this. In reality, it is all too easy to forget how fortunate we are and to take things for granted.

Perhaps you should stick this Dalai Lama quote above your bed so that you read it as soon as you wake up:  “Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others.”

In short, I suggest that you take any job that does not harm others. The discipline will help raise your spirits and you can slowly look for a more permanent job. Otherwise, you can apply to go overseas through the MoLHR. In reality, though, it is not the job that will bring you contentment, but the way you approach it. So, rather than feeling depressed about your situation, aim to be more curious about life and don’t take things so seriously.

Shenphen Zangpo was born in Swansea, UK, but spent more than 28 years practicing and studying Buddhism in Taiwan and Japan. Currently, he works with the youth and substance abusers in Bhutan, teaching meditation and organising drug outreach programmes.

Email to for any queries


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