This is a geeky post. But I think it’s very important because it covers the big fundamental question of “how should I live?”
The three most valuable resources you have are: time, energy and health.
Time is the biggest constraint. Once you’ve spent that, it’s gone.
No matter how rich you are, there is no way you can get more of it (it is possible to eek out a few years at the end through medicine, but generally that’s very expensive and the quality of that life is limited).
Then there’s energy. I would see this as motivation, zest for life or creativity. It’s kind of an inner force that we’re all born with.
Then there’s health. By this I mean – physical health, muscle, mental health, general wellbeing.
It’s very easy to lose health through worries, stress and other things in the modern world. And it’s very difficult and expensive to fix medical problems.
With health, prevention is better than a cure.
Now what gets me angry and frustrated is as a society I feel we fundamentally misinvest these resources. In other words, we’re doing the wrong thing with the most valuable things we have.
We optimise the world for maximum profits and stock market valuation “wealth” – rather than the real wealth like happiness, health, time with family and friends and time for hobbies and play.
I’m hyper-critical of many workplaces, schools and society as a whole because
- They make people spend a lot of time doing busywork (training you to pass tests, having endless meetings, looking good rather than creating value for the end user)
- They insist on you being there for fixed hours, regardless of your productivity. You’re not usually rewarded for working quickly effectively. If you finish your tasks, you’ll get more tasks.
- Marketers in many industries exploit your emotional vulnerabilities and fears to sell you things you don’t really need.
- They (generally) crush creativity, individuality and divergent thinking. Sapping energy, ideas and freedom.
- It takes many of the best years of your life cramming you into a fluorescent-lit box.
- Encourage you to take on huge debts (e.g. mortgage). So that leaving your job is extremely difficult or stressful.Thus leaving you exploitable, stressed and worn out… destroying your physical health and sanity.
- It exploits the most insecure, smart young people for 120 hour work weeks.
The total affect is the majority of the Western World is worn out, just trying to keep their head above water.
Beyond a very low threshold (enough for housing, warmth, food, transport, clothing), money has diminishing returns on happiness.
If we started valuing real wealth more than “money wealth” then we will become a more honest, connected, sane society. We’d all be happier and healthier.
And it starts on a personal level where we ask “am I spending my time and energy well? Am I looking after my health?”
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks at this point. It’s just important that you’re honest with yourself.
Sorry that sounds very preachy and all-knowy. I sound like a complete nob.
I guess it’s weird to talk about the most important things. It can bring up uncomfortable feelings and that most toxic of emotions: regret and self-loathing, for some people.
It’s not very sporting or British to talk about feeling bad.
I suppose what I sense is that there’s this huge toxicity underlying many of the institutions and cultural norms of the western world. I feel nobody else sees it, or wants to do anything about it. Addressing it makes everyone confront themselves and that can lead to all kinds of breakdowns, meltdowns, whatever.
The good news is what I’ve seen in a few people is that after some kind of breakdown, they start unraveling the huge spaghetti of beliefs that aren’t true for them. Then they enter a more centered, truthful, satisfied period. Then eventually they become very strong and blossom.
Ultimately – the world is moving to a point where individuals are becoming stronger and more empowered than those who profit from controlling us.
That means the future is bright and interesting for all of us.