Dr. Ben and the meaningful life
Leestijd: 3 min.

Dr. Ben and the meaningful life

Alicia went to the FEM Knowledge tour and heard Dr. Tiggelaar explain how she should live her life. She was impressed.

Last week I visited an event called FEM Knowledge Tour. It was held at the auditorium of Arnhem Business School. The overall theme was about happiness at work. Guest speaker Dr. Ben Tiggelaar explained to the audience what it means to be happy while working.

Take a year off
In the presentation, Dr. Ben indicated that one of the tough problems nowadays is how to find a job that suits one’s personality. Talking about his childhood he said that when he was young, he found out that planning careers was not something that needed to be done. Until he heard about people working in Amsterdam who made a lot of money, he believed it was time to build a life, to do something new.
He told us that his daughter Maria had taken a “gap year” between high school and college in order to find out what she wanted to do in the future. Dr. Ben really appreciated her decision and decided that the whole family would join her in that “in between year” in Boston.

Uncertainty at the job market
Dr Ben mentioned four problems concerning working amongst people, and I remember clearly one of them was relating the uncertainty at the job market as everything is changing so fast. Dr. Ben also explained theories about 3 dimensions of happiness from psychologist Martin Seligman, including the pleasant life, the good life and the meaningful life. According to him a pleasant life means enjoying oneself, a good life is the opportunity to use one’s strengths or talents during work; a meaningful life is becoming part of something bigger.

Honesty and respect
There was one point I found so true during his speech about the pleasant work: it was the effect of positive/negative emotion during work. He believed employees want honesty and respect, and in order to build a long-lasting relationship with the employees, employers should bring more positive emotion to their work. For instance, a good manager should have ‘one on one meetings’ at least every 3 months, asking the employees: ‘How are things going?’.

Wrapping up the speech, Dr. Ben revealed 5 things that people usually regret:

  • 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 had the courage to express my feeling
  • I wish I could stay in touch with my friends
  • I wish I had let myself be happier

After that he gave some tips about how to design a life yourself:

  • Starting with what works
  • More ideas are better
  • Using your intuition: when you imagine you’re the director, you’ll see things differently
  • There’s no such thing as ‘a mistake’, you have to go through a lot of mistakes to see how things work.

How will my working life be?

It was such a wonderful and meaningful session, in my opinion. I’ve never experienced working in a company before, so it is difficult for me to imagine how my life will be when I am finally working. It will indeed be challenging, but thanks to this speech from Dr. Ben, I believe I will find my way to always be happy and choose a job that suits me best.


Alicia Nguyen is a Communication Student at Arnhem Business School.