Even though the idea of just living day by day and just enjoying yourself sounds great it is not that easy in practice. You can’t live without regard of the future and really live the life of your dreams. To do what you want you need to be able to do so. This will require certain skills and know-how which take time and effort to acquire. We need to use our time today to develop ourselves so that tomorrow we can do what we could not do yet today.
Bigger goals take time to work towards; they aren’t achieved in a day. Plus it’s hard to do whatever you want if you are stuck at a job for 40 hours a week and out of energy by the time you get home at the end of the day.
The whole idea behind living day by day revolves around the freedom to do what you want and live a fulfilling life. It’s a nice ideal and one that can be realized. We can do what we want with our lives, but we will need to put in time, effort, and planning to do so.
It’s about the timing. You can do it, but not if you start with it. If you do so you are severely limited in the choices you can make. Yes you can live day by day as a student but you won’t be one forever. By the time you graduate you’ll need to pay your rent or mortgage. You can do so with a full time job you can tolerate as well but you only have a limited amount of money and time to play with.
In order to achieve your dreams you need to acquire the required skills and know-how. If you just go on from day to day without any thought for the future you’ll never get to a point where you are able to do what you really want to do with your life.
In order to really be free to do what we want to do with our lives we have to set our goals and overcome the challenges. The more we study and train, the more obstacles we conquer, and the stronger we get, the more freedom we gain.
There are at least two different ways you can save a life. The first is the obvious one where you save someone from physically dying. When you prevent someone from dying you postpone the inevitable. You give the person extra time, which is the stuff life is made of.
The second way to save a life isn’t so much about giving the person extra time, but about making sure the person gets the most out of the time he or she has. A 90 year old can still have wasted away his or her life by spending it doing things he or she wasn’t passionate about.
So how do you save someone (including yourself) from wasting his or her life away? You can save someone’s life by helping him or her find a purpose, a life goal, and the courage to pursue it.
In order to be able to save the lives of others you first have to save yours. Find your calling, do something meaningful and fulfilling with your life. By chasing your dreams you lead by example, nudging others to follow your lead. This is the great thing; you don’t have to sacrifice your own dreams and happiness in order to help others. You just make sure you get the most out of your life (which is already one life saved plus it will benefit others as well) and give the people around you advise when they ask for it.
Actually, it would not make sense to sacrifice your own well being for the sake of others. Be the change you want to see in the world as Gandhi said. Imagine what would happen if everyone would follow your example. If everyone would sacrifice their own dreams and ambitions for the sake of others the world would be a dark and depressing place.
If instead people would start pursuing their dreams and cheering each other on a different picture would appear. People would constantly push themselves to grow in order to achieve their goals and motivate others to do the same. Constantly learning new things and gaining a better understanding of the world around them and themselves. I’m well aware this is an utopian picture but you can influence your environment to come close to this by being picky who you spend your the majority of your time with adhering to the rule of five.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Getting the most out of your short time here on earth requires hard work and you’ll have to overcome many challenges. However, every time you overcome a challenge you become stronger and get closer to your goals and life is going to be full of challenges anyway. In the meanwhile you’re setting a great example for the people around you.
So set your goals high and realize your dreams. It might not be easy but it is well worth it.
Chasing your dreams and goals isn’t just beneficial for you as an individual. Not chasing your dreams can have a bad side effect on society, even the clearly selfish ones like wanting to become rich. Let’s take a quick look at the downsides to society of you not becoming a multimillionaire.
Forget about your own interest. If you don’t study and try hard to become a multimillionaire the obvious downside is you not being able to enjoy that money and donate loads to your favorite charities, but what are you denying society by doing so?
- Tax money that could be spent on social welfare and education.
If you want to keep a few million euros of your labor to yourself you’ll need to make a whole lot more because of all the taxes you pay along the way. Tax rates differ but you can roughly assume that for every million you don’t make the tax office misses out on one million as well.
- Benefit to the economy:
In order to make those millions legally you need to create value to society. You need to offer some kind of solution that people are willing to pay money for. Not pursuing those millions also implies not creating that value. Then there are all the jobs you didn’t create, not only directly employed by you but indirectly through your suppliers etc.
So here you have it. The government is missing out on tax money that could be used for the benefit of your fellow citizens and society misses out on the value you could have created. This doesn’t imply we should all try to become millionaires of course, but we should not feel bad about it either if we want to do so. This is just an example how even chasing obviously self-centered goals can be beneficial for others as well.
When we solve the problems that stand in the way between us and our dreams, we do not only do ourselves a favor. The problems you face are often the same problems that others face. The solutions you’ve found will be useful for them too. The world benefits from the fruits of your undertaking. When you set out to achieve greatness the world can feast off the products of your labor in the form of the books you wrote, music you created, lessons you’ve learned or the inventions you introduced. It’s a win-win situation. Both you and society benefit.
By staying small and forfeiting your dreams you aren’t doing anyone a favor. You are only setting a bad example and robbing yourself of an interesting worthwhile life.
At school, some fellow students gave a presentation in which they discussed a questionable company of which the CEO was accused of being a cult leader and only employing cult members. The personnel for the company allegedly worked almost 80 hours a week for this person for a minimum wage without much complaining (except for the people who quit the cult/company). I wondered how this CEO got his people to sacrifice their time and energy to work so much unpaid overtime. Why do people choose to join such a “company”? I later realized that this company/ cult clearly gave these people something in return which they valued higher than mere money or even their precious time and energy. Something that all people deep down crave for, and is the driving motivation behind the choices people make and what they do. Joining this group gave them something to dedicate their life to. It gave them a purpose.
Life itself is without any meaning, however this doesn’t mean life has to be meaningless. We humans give meaning to actions and things. The definition of meaningful is something that serves a desirable goal/ purpose. We often lack the motivation to do certain things because we don’t see the point in it, it lacks a desirable goal. The same goes for life; a meaningful life is a life with a desirable goal/ purpose. This ability to give meaning to actions is both a blessing as a curse. By finding a worthwhile higher life goal we can achieve great things, however it is also a serious security hazard in our system.
All people want to live meaningful lives deep down. No one likes to waste away their lives, especially since this is the only one we have. We are hardwired to find and pursue a higher life goal. However as long as we haven’t filled in this slot ourselves by choosing our own goals we are open to being hijacked. People crave this gap to be filled, when this gap is not filled by a person’s own ambitions and dreams it is easy for others to offer to fill it. They offer people a purpose; this is how cults can get people to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the cult leader. By hijacking the “Life goal/purpose slot” in a person’s mind, people with bad intentions can hijack their lives by getting them to sacrifice their time and energy and in some cases even wealth for the sake of the cult leader’s goal. Cult leaders don’t even have to force people, people make these decisions themselves because their choices are guided by the higher goal that makes life meaningful.
So how do we protect ourselves from this happening to us? It is really simple; make sure you are the one who fills the gap. Put your priorities straight and find out what dreams and goals you want to achieve so your choices and actions are in the benefit of you. Make sure you are the one who controls your life. This purpose is the ultimate control center. If you don’t take control over it, other people can do it.
To quickly come back to the ethical part of this all. Is it really this bad that this CEO got his people to work 80 hours a week for a minimum wage? It depends, he is fulfilling a deep craving in those people and it gives them some sense of self-worth and being productive, making them feel they are not wasting their lives away. However, it is bad to use these mechanics to your advantage at the costs of those you control in this way. By keeping this gap filled you prevent people from filling it with their own goals and you get them to sacrifice their precious lives. This is in my opinion unethical. The same goes for getting people to fill the gap with serving some higher being which may or may not exist.
To conclude: Make sure that no one can hijack your life by finding your own higher goals to pursue.
In this blog I have stressed the importance of goals quite a bit. As a reader you might wonder what the goals and dreams are that drive the person behind these articles.
In my post It’s not over until you give up or you are dead I highlighted one of them: Studying abroad, which has been one of my goals since forever. Now I’m approaching the completion of this goal. Another list item I have been able to cross of is writing a book: The Art of Positive Laziness.
Currently I have a bunch of goals which I’m working towards. Since it’s as much about the journey as the destination I’ve set the bar quite high. This ensures that getting there will keep me busy for a while as well as forcing me to keep developing myself to eventually reach them.
Instead of having just a bucket-list I have two separate lists. One which I simply call “The List” consists of my big overarching goals. Next to that I have a bucket-list with various other things I’d like to do one day.
Studying abroad and writing a book are the first items on “The List” which I have so far been able to cross off. Some of the other items on the list are the following:
1. Create my personal philosophic framework of life (the articles on this blog are part of the journey towards this.)
2. Create something that +1 million people use. (and become a millionaire as a result)
3. See the earth from outer space as a space tourist.
These are some of the bigger goals. They might look far fetched and they are certainly out of reach for me now. But as long as I keep developing myself I can get one step closer each day. Since life is just a game anyway, one where we have to make our existence meaningful, we might as well aim for the stars and see how much we can get out of it.
For me life is one big experiment to see how far I can get. Even if I don’t achieve all my goals at least I won’t have to ask myself what if I had only … At least I will have given it a serious try.
Running away from our responsibilities and reality by switching of our minds, either by resorting to drugs and alcohol or by just doing what you’re told and not think too much, is a curious phenomena.
For a long time in history this behavior made sense. If you were slaving away as a factory worker in the 19th century, just making enough to survive, you had good reasons to want to forget about the harsh reality. Especially if your only alternative to carrying on this though life is starvation. Even now, if you don’t live the kind of life you really want to, it makes intuitive sense to try to forget about it.
However, nowadays we have a choice. When we run away from responsibility we give away control. The more we avoid it the less control over our lives we have. In effect it ensures we stay in the situation we try to forget about.
Only by facing reality head on, and using our minds to take full responsibility, we can actually do something about our situation. Instead of trying to forget about our every day lives we can take steps towards creating a life we don’t have to flee from.
Our destiny is in our hands, as long as we take full responsibility of our lives. If we don’t we place our lives are in the hands of fate. This is not living, it’s merely existing. Surviving.
You work for the weekend, where you party and drink to forget about your week to do it all over again the week after. One day you’ll wake up and wonder where the last 40 years have gone. Is this really the best you can do? Of course not.
There are so many great things to experience in life. Why numb your consciousnesses and dull it? Why give up the chance to create the life of your dreams? Yes it’s hard work. But what’s the alternative? Spending your days working at a job that’s acceptable but not great? Looking forward to that week of vacation where you forget about the rest of the year? Why not try to create a life you don’t want to forget about?
Being intelligent is not the same as being smart. Intelligence refers to your capability to process concepts and information. Being intelligent helps with being smart since you learn more quickly. However, just having a good set of brains doesn’t say much about the content. We need to put in the effort to acquire the knowledge and fill our minds.Someone could have an IQ of 130 but not know much about the world at all. In this case the person might be intelligent but not very smart (yet).
Just as being intelligent doesn’t necessarily means we are smart, being smart doesn’t imply being wise. Being smart is about knowing how things work and understanding how things relate. It’s also about knowing what you should do in a given situation. Wisdom is about doing what you should be doing. It’s about acting on the knowledge. Being smart is required to be wise but it isn’t enough. Just because you know what you should be doing does not imply you do that by default.
Just like we have to put in the effort to get smarter, so we need to put in the effort to act on our knowledge in order to become wiser. It’s often not easy. We usually know pretty well what we should be doing. However, acting on it is usually quite hard. Things like fear or peer pressure often lead us to act against our better judgement, sabotaging our dreams in the process.
It’s the ability to act per default on that what you know you should be doing that makes the difference between those who seem to achieve whatever they set their minds to and the rest who just get by.
Being intelligent and smart can even work against us in our quest to become wiser. I don’t mean we should avoid getting smarter of course, we first need to know enough to realize what we should be doing before we can act on it. But, as a clever person you are also better at coming up with logically sounding excuses not to do things.
This is where the effort comes into play. We need to make sure not to fool ourselves. We should be aware of our line of thinking and how we act. In the end it is us who benefit from acting more wisely and us who suffer the consequences when we don’t. In order to become effective at achieving the goals we’ve set for ourselves, to be able to realize our dreams, we need to become wiser. This will require being a bit harsh on ourselves from time to time as well as overcoming some of our fears. This isn’t always pleasant in the moment but discomfort is not something we should avoid at the cost of sacrificing our dreams.