Self-control! Power over mind and happiness

“You have power over your mind.” Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor, worte in Meditation.

Sir Michael Marmot, an Epidemiology & Public Health professor at UCL in London, agrees. Marmot’s research focuses on how social environment affects disease rates. In his book, The Status Syndrome, he argues that the higher one’s socioeconomic condition is, the better his health.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Well, not exactly ‘Eureka!’ But, Marmot goes further and attributes stress to the lack of control – the lack of control of one’s fateCertainly “I choose to clean my room because I want to,” is much better than “I have to clean my room because I am forced to.” Having control means we are responsible for our actions, which is wonderful because it means we are capable of changing our destiny. Being in control equates using our heads for problem solving. 

Following Marmot’s argument, is it possible to suggest that if a person chooses to be something, he will be happier regardless of his socioeconomic condition? Is a poor artist by choice healthier than a poor artist by force? Does our artist-by-choice have less stress?

Two musicians, one based in Brooklyn and the other in Lower East Side, whom I interviewed, believe that while it is helpful to do something you are passionate about, it is also mighty important to make enough money to support that passion.

Alex Gabriel McKanze 
Born and raised in the Paris suburbs, McKanze is a freelance tour guide for Great New York Tours. He has refused several offers to make him manager-this or supervisor-that from his agency. The 22-year-old musician sees being a tour guy as job that gives him enough income and flexibility to devote to Gypsy jazz.

I work, if I make money, I make music. As long as I am in my twenties, I don’t see why I need to get serious with a job that I don’t really want.

Tom Clark 
The 48-year-old musician has been in the New York music scene since the late ’80s. In addition to performing with his band, the “High Action Boys,” Clark works as a bartender. He admits he didn’t come to New York to pour alcohol, but the job gave him a steady income.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Tom Clark,

I don’t know so much as a broke and happy musician. I’d say many musicians don’t pay their rent with their music, they have second jobs. I don’t think it’s a good idea to be too broke.


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