Software automation is happiness

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Software automation is happiness. That is the epiphany I had while reading James O’Toole’s book, Creating the Good Life. What!? “It can’t be true,” you say? Well, read on, and then tell me whether you agree or disagree…

Most people think of happiness as the emotion of “feeling good,” but for Aristotle, happiness is an activity: “something like the deep sense of satisfaction one gets when one grows as a human being.” He goes on to say that “when we are engaged in good work — studying, learning, creating, analyzing, inventing, teaching, solving problems, researching…we are not engaged in work at all. These activities are, in fact, leisure.

Wow. All those activities are, in fact, things we as software test automation engineers do, day in and day out. To my way of thinking, there is a simple test one can perform to determine what happiness is. It is a test which has led me to believe that, for me, software automation is happiness.

The questions to ask yourself are: “When am I truly in the zone? How can I get there more often? How can I organize my life so I can stay in the zone as I grow older?” The answer to all those questions is, for me, working with technology in general, and software automation in particular. What other career out there requires so high a level of continual learning? Fortunately, that need will continue–no matter how old I get.

I also feel like I’m “in the zone” when I’m either coding, or brainstorming ways to solve a tough automation issue. Often, I find myself losing track of time, which proves to me that the work I do is actually not work, but rather a form of contemplation, which is the highest good and thus, true happiness. An essential part of the good life. An added benefit is that I believe Aristotle would have said that software automation is a noble activity in that it frees up other individuals — manual testers, for instance — to focus on more creative acts like exploratory testing. Aristotle wrote that “in an ideal society, work that is routine, dull or repetitive will be done by machines and with remarkable prescience,” and predicted that “bad work in the future will be automated.

So — the moral of the story is: throw on your togas, fire up Quick Test Pro, Ruby (or what ever your automation tool-of-choice is), and start enjoying the good life!

All text in italics taken from Creating the Good Life — Applying Aristotle Wisdom to Find Meaning and Happiness by James O’Toole

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