How do you live your life?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
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dwade1109
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How do you live your life?

Post by dwade1109 »

As a younger member of this community I get the privilege of partaking in the financial wisdom of the more 'mature' :mrgreen: bogleheads.

It would be a great to get the experienced insight of those same people on life in general.

Specifically, how do you decide what is important in your life? I see attendings 20-30 years older than me working their tails off, attending meetings, pioneering their fields but never at home with their families, who seem to give them the most joy. Are they going to regret that?

On the other hand, Ben Carson, a hero of mine, talks of pushing oneself to the maximum and being the best one can be at work. Steve Jobs in his Stanfordcommencement speech seemed to express no regrets about the time he spent at work. One needs to invest time to become great at your craft. Yet at the same time Dr. Carson cut his hours back after being diagnosed with prostate cancer to spend more time with his family. Would he change how he lived his life in his younger years with his newfound experience facing mortality?

I am not the most articulate, but I guess what I am getting at is what has your life experience shown regarding what is truly important. Is it leaving a legacy in terms of your work or charity? Is it creating memories with the ones you love? Some days I feel like I need to invest so much to be great at what I do but then as days go by and time keeps going I start wondering whether I am chasing something at the expense of things I would remember more fondly in 30 or 40 years.

What say you? Should one really live each day as his or her last? Can one do that and be great?
FafnerMorell
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by FafnerMorell »

The phrase "Live each day like it's your last" rubs me the wrong way since if folks did that, there would be absolutely no planning (heck, if you're going to die tomorrow, why go to school/work/save any money/etc). But there's definitely a balance - you can't completely control the future, and focusing exclusively on the long run can lead to a lot of nasty surprises.

For myself, once I had kids, I cut back a bit at work and avoided work assignments that would require extensive travel. But there's still a lot that can be done to pursue your career while still giving your family priority. And I figure as the kids grow older and more independent, there will be time to focus more on work once again. With work, I'd be a bit skeptical of any short-term project presented as "legacy" - generally, individual things come & go and are quickly forgotten - it's more the journey than any one step along the way that matters.
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investor.saver1
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by investor.saver1 »

Life Priorities:
1. God
2. Family
3. Work

We only get so many days. The key to a fulfilling life is to allocate each hour of each day in the way that brings the greatest life satisfaction. For me, the priorities that bring the most satisfaction are ordered above. When the order gets changed, I find life very much less satisfying.
Investor.Saver1 | | Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
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robby152
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by robby152 »

Your last question about being great is an interesting one. I think that greatness is something that the media and others will try to define for you, but only you can define for yourself. It comes back to the classic tombstone question - what you want written on your tombstone? Is it a big business impact (i.e. Steve Jobs)? Then work your tail off. Is it to raise a healthy family and to be the best father/mother/husband/wife you can be? Then maybe working 60+ hours a week isn't for you. For me, I set priorities in my life, and work/business impact/changing the world comes second to loving my family well. I actually think that loving the person next to you is the fastest way to make a huge impact. But, I don't think that they are necessarily mutually exclusive (work vs family). I just think that it is critical to define success for yourself and set priorities with corresponding boundaries.
ahndrostalgan
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by ahndrostalgan »

1. Save a good amount. No set percentages--always kept 10% number in mind, however. As my career took off, and my compensation went up drastically, we kept same basic standard of living and saved the bulk of my pay increases.

2. Try and keep an eye on saving too much and worrying too much about spending. Really try and pay yourself first (saving) then don't sweat the vacations, Barnes & Noble sprees, the kids' club fees, etc. Too much stress if you start thinking of saving when you go to Starbucks.

3. Don't try and keep up with Joneses. I got so busy that our family didn't have time to buy a bigger house and nicer cars when I began earning money to do so, and by the time we looked up, we realized we were doing fine as is. We also began to see how people will treat you differently once they know you have money, and decided "stealth wealth" was a prudent course.

4. Don't neglect your spouse and family. This should probably be first, second, fourth, and fifth on the list. I made plenty of money over recent years, but there have been many times where I would happily trade all of it for a more solid marriage and being closer to kids. I am slowing down my career as a deliberate choice accordingly. Money helps to avoid some sources of stress and unhappiness, but it doesn't make you happy in and of itself, and it is nowhere close to love and health on the importance scale.
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Riprap
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Riprap »

Reading this book might be helpful.

"A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy "
http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-A ... 457&sr=1-1
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cinghiale
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by cinghiale »

If I have discovered any secrets (beyond marrying the right person), it can be summed up as:

Read Nothing has helped me define what life is about and determine a fulfilling course of action than reading broadly and deeply. I read across disciplines, and am always on the lookout for challenging and intriguing essays and books. (By the way, I've picked up some great suggestions from the multiple "reading" threads in this forum.) Reading brings the world to you, and lets you in on the thoughts and perspectives of people who you can or will never meet. Read, listen to audio books in your car, and develop a reading list for future reading. To make time, swear off television. In a month or two, you will forget it exists. For inspiration, read Steve Leveen's The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life.

Travel Cross cultures. Try to get out of this country for months instead of weeks. Get outside the box and see how other people-- with completely different priorities, ethics, and perspectives than yours-- live happy and fulfilling lives. Travel is one of the few ways you can step outside your own perspective and look back in on it. Read Alain de Botton's The Art of Travel if you have never cought the travel bug. And, be sure to travel "outside the bubble" of prepackaged tours and English language locales.

Converse This is a tough one in American culture. Find people who value and relish a good conversation. A book circle, perhaps? Develop relationships with people who are open to and curious about the new and different, and not annoyed or threatened by it. We speak this remarkably rich, varied, and "live" language, and so few people around us make any use of it. The art of conversation is an endangered activity. Again, finding others who have killed their television set (and therefore have interests beyond professional sports, reality shows, and soap operas) is a good start. As your question asserts, there are many out there who have walked the walk and have gained some wisdom about how to live life. Nothing unlocks that wisdom like a deep and engaged conversation.

I suggest that these three paths/activities will help you answer the big question for yourself.
"We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are." Anais Nin | | "Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." George Orwell
yobria
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by yobria »

Life's short, so do what makes you happy. If that's work, do that. If that's raising kids, do that. If that's being financially free, do that. It takes time to figure that out, though. Society may tell you to go to church, get married, and watch football. But being single, watching hockey, and sleeping in on Sunday may make you happier. Life's full of trade-offs. You probably can't live as a Buddhist monk and drive a Ferrari. So make some trade-offs. As Steve Jobs said, essentially - follow your dreams.

Nick
Balance
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Balance »

I have been thinking about this topic for the last couple of years. I agree that life is short and we should live each day to the fullest. At the same time I try to do the best I can possibly do at my own job. I now question every purchase I make which I think is a good thing.

I read this great book called "Your Money or Your life". http://www.amazon.com/Your-Money-Life-T ... 130&sr=8-1 The author talks about your life energy as being finite and how we should look into our purchases and how they relate to the stress and life energy used up to buy them. It really helps put things in perspective.

I have also been reading a lot of early retirement blogs. Particularly of interest to me is Mr. Money Moustache. He retired very young, (in his early 30's) but still lives the exact same life he has always been living with no regrets. He has a wife and child as well and talks about how he makes it work, without having to struggle financially.
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/
Sam I Am
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Sam I Am »

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Harold
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Harold »

This is a topic for an entire book or field of study, but here are a few of my observations:

Most people have no idea what they truly enjoy, and no idea how to truly love and care for other people. Without an understanding of those things, life is just muddled through (at best, and destroys the lives of other people at worst).

People will offer absolute concepts (such as family) as essential elements. But family, for example, can be exhilarating if there are meaningful connections with genuine love and caring, destructive if family members selfishly use each other, or more likely indifferent as large amounts of time and life are frittered away. Same for religion or many other absolutes. Each is complex, and what may be mostly good for one person may be mostly bad for another depending on the situation. Near impossible to judge for someone else in an absolute sense looking from the outside.

How to find true enjoyment takes an open positive outlook, reflection, willingness to ignore societal and other influences, continued learning, the ability to recognize the fleeting moments of happiness when they occur, the ability to recognize that thing you never thought you would enjoy but just spent five hours on and it felt like five minutes, and so on. If you can truly make a connection with yourself in a way that helps other people and provides money for you to live, you may have reached temporal nirvana. If not, well you start with the tradeoffs.

How to set our own selves aside and truly love and care for others is one of those simple things that most find exceedingly difficult. Perhaps it’s because self-interest underlies most of who we are as humans. As primates we do, however, have an inborn recognition that it is in our self-interest to have a healthy family/societal structure. The more we build on that and truly make thinking deeply about others part of our everyday lives, the better off we’ll all be.

Good luck!
MCM 2008
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by MCM 2008 »

A couple of years ago, while searching for meaning in my first deployment to a combat zone, I realized that I did not believe in any type of afterlife, and that I should not live my life as though I did.

That changed my perspective on most things.

I also realized that, in the grand scheme of things, most of what we do doesn't matter to the world; and in a hundred years probably no one will remember it anyway. You may as well do what makes you happy instead of getting all wired up about things that ultimately don't matter.
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DiscoBunny1979
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by DiscoBunny1979 »

Besides a belief in God, the only thing that matters in life is one's health. Without health you cannot do much of anything, not be there for family, invent things, or be capable enough to even pray to God. That said, what I have found is to be thankful for what I do have, but also be thankful for what I don't have. I don't have some things, not because I don't have the money to buy them . . . but because they aren't necessary in my life to be happy and fulfllled. You can't take luxury items with you to the great beyond, but while on earth they certainly can make life here more comfortable. But the natural things that are here . . . those great mountains, flowers, plants, animals, oceans, are those things most important to appreciate, rather than articifically created universes - like the Internet or Facebook. The "live each day as it's your last" is not to suggest today could be the last (although that is a possibility) but means to me to find meaning in each and every day, not leaving something unfinished that should have been before your passing. If there's something to say to your spouse or relative, then say it today, not tomorrow. If there's an unfinished project needing your attention, do it today, not tomorrow. If there's some health issue needing surgery - have it today and don't put it off for another day just because your uncomfortable with surgery. That's what I interpret the "life as if today is your last" means. In other words, live your life with intention, that each thing you do has meaning for yourself or whoever you encounter....paying it forward with kind words and actions.
camden
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by camden »

I have found that there is little that provides as much real satisfaction as helping others when you are under no compulsion to do so, particularly if your help comes as an unexpected surprise to the recipient. As Shakespeare said in describing the "quality of mercy", it "blesseth him that gives as him that takes".
Patchy Groundfog
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Patchy Groundfog »

To me, "Live like you were dying" doesn't mean going skydiving and spending all your income every year. It means being present in every moment of your life, whether you're handling the daily routine at work or sitting on the sofa with the baby sleeping on your chest. People who've been diagnosed with a terminal illness always say, "Every day is a gift." Well, that's true for all of us, at every stage of life. Surely it's a sin, if only against yourself, to spoil that gift with worry and discontent.

However you divide your time between family and work, if you can be completely there wherever you are, you've found the balance.

Figured this out a little late, in my fifties.
The best things in life aren't things.
DidItMyWay
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by DidItMyWay »

robby152 wrote:Your last question about being great is an interesting one. I think that greatness is something that the media and others will try to define for you, but only you can define for yourself. It comes back to the classic tombstone question - what you want written on your tombstone? Is it a big business impact (i.e. Steve Jobs)? Then work your tail off. Is it to raise a healthy family and to be the best father/mother/husband/wife you can be? Then maybe working 60+ hours a week isn't for you. For me, I set priorities in my life, and work/business impact/changing the world comes second to loving my family well. I actually think that loving the person next to you is the fastest way to make a huge impact. But, I don't think that they are necessarily mutually exclusive (work vs family). I just think that it is critical to define success for yourself and set priorities with corresponding boundaries.
Great post. I totally agree.
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praxis
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by praxis »

As I think how to answer this question, I've appreciated many contributions in this thread, including: "Living each day as if it was your last is not the same as living each day to the fullest" and "There is always a middle way, or a balance or a trade-off".

I haven't found "the most important thing in life", but spending time helping others develops compassion. I also read "Your Money or Your Life" 18 years ago and it woke me up to realize how much of my life energy it cost to earn the money to purchase an item and helped me value that item on my own terms. That might have been an early Bogelhead lesson for me.

Life is too complex to condense into one piece of advice. Each stage we live provides more chances to discover our own path to happiness. Good habits, like fitness, open-minded learning, a friendly conversation style, balanced time in the important areas of your life, form a foundation for a happy, fulfilling life. Define your personal values and then live up to them. They might include: honor, honesty, integrity, humility or fairness. Then you can ask, when faced with any life decision, if your choice honors your values or not. Steven Covey taught that lesson.

Try to write a personal mission statement. Here's one I read once that inspired me to write my own: "To live consciously and courageously, to resonate with love and compassion, to awaken the great spirits within others, and to leave this world in peace."
MWCA
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by MWCA »

Learn from the past but don't live in it. It took me awhile to figure that out.
We are all worms. But I believe that I am a glow-worm.
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greenspam
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by greenspam »

my tombstone (hopefully far in the future :sharebeer ) generally reflecting my 'life priorities':

He was a...
proud father,
faithful husband,
loyal friend,
charitable man,
good ballplayer,
solid guitarist,
lousy vocalist, :oops:
political activist,
professor by trade.

R. I. P.
as always, | peace, | greenie.
epilnk
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by epilnk »

DiscoBunny1979 wrote:Besides a belief in God, the only thing that matters in life is one's health.
And yet it is possible to be an atheist with serious health challenges, yet live a rich, happy, rewarding life. Go figure.
epilnk
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by epilnk »

yobria wrote:Life's short, so do what makes you happy. If that's work, do that. If that's raising kids, do that. If that's being financially free, do that. It takes time to figure that out, though. Society may tell you to go to church, get married, and watch football. But being single, watching hockey, and sleeping in on Sunday may make you happier. Life's full of trade-offs. You probably can't live as a Buddhist monk and drive a Ferrari. So make some trade-offs. As Steve Jobs said, essentially - follow your dreams.

Nick
+1
marylandcrab
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by marylandcrab »

I think something that helped me was "good enough". Nothing will ever be perfect, but at some point you have to accept there will always be someone smarter, richer, etc. How many Steve Jobs are there out there anyway? One. His passion and goals are not mine. And that's okay.

I got lucky and married a great man, who is my best friend and whom I prefer to spend time with above everyone else. He's smart, makes me laugh, we have similar goals, we can just spend all our time together and never run out of things to say. We intellectually challenge each other and he makes me a better person. We work together, raise kids together and spend way more time together than anyone else I've ever met.

I am also not competitive with anyone or anything else. I just want the best for me, my family, the people I love, then the rest of everyone else out there. Someone else being happy and successful doesn't threaten me.

I figured out early on relationships were most important to me, but I also need an intellectual challenge. We set our standard from the get go that neither of us would travel much for work. My background was having a dad who never, ever missed a single game, show or event of mine. Never. Even when I came in last in a track meet, or had only one number in a 3 hour dance recital. We have chosen to carry that with our kids. We have never missed a school play, field hockey/basketball/lacrosse/baseball game. If two play at the same time we simply divide and conquer.

We run a pretty darn successful business and that happened for many reasons, but mostly because we are a great team, and our strengths and weaknesses complement each other. Not perfect, but we are now a leader in our specific industry, and we go against fortune 500 companies on a daily basis and win. We hold ourselves to high standards that we set for ourselves.

I choose joy. My husband is one of the most optimistic people you'd ever meet. He just believes things will work out well or at least for the best. I try not to surround myself with too much negativity. People who choose chaos are a drain on you. I'm a planner and an organizer. I don't take anything for granted. We live below our income and save as much as possible. However, we use that savings on occasion for something that is important to us.

I guess what I'm saying is balance. You need to be personally fulfilled, professionally, give to others, receive from others, open your mind to different ways of life, be a good steward with your money and not judge things that are different as bad.
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cinghiale
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by cinghiale »

"We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are." Anais Nin | | "Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." George Orwell
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Hawkeye5
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Hawkeye5 »

Roles and Goals.

Only you can determine goals. Then you must commit to playing the roles that will be necessary to accomplish the goals.

If the goals change, the roles also change. Too many goals may create conflicting roles. Like investing, keep it simple, write it down, stay the course, modify as necessary.
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HomerJ
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by HomerJ »

Patchy Groundfog wrote:To me, "Live like you were dying" doesn't mean going skydiving and spending all your income every year. It means being present in every moment of your life, whether you're handling the daily routine at work or sitting on the sofa with the baby sleeping on your chest. People who've been diagnosed with a terminal illness always say, "Every day is a gift." Well, that's true for all of us, at every stage of life. Surely it's a sin, if only against yourself, to spoil that gift with worry and discontent.

However you divide your time between family and work, if you can be completely there wherever you are, you've found the balance.

Figured this out a little late, in my fifties.

I have my favorite quote on the wall in my office.

"I have the happiness of the passing moment".
Keim
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Keim »

At 39 I rather doubt I am among the "more mature bogleheads" you are refering to. But I may have a somewhat unique perspective.

I have a congenital heart defect. I have always known about it, and until about 9 years ago it presented no difficulties. A few months after the birth of my first daughter I noticed shortness of breath. After several tests I got a call from the Doc "You have less than a year to live." Thankfully he followed it with "unless you have the following procedure done." The procedure obviously worked, but caused other problems. I've had catheterization procedures twice since then. The most recent was 1 month ago.

I think childbirth will cause anyone to reanalyze their priorities. Childbirth and a potentially fatal medical issue in one year? That causes deep introspection.

I asked myself the questions you are asking. Thought about it alot. I realized family was my top priority. Enjoying life was second (I equate this with learning and volunteering). Work didn't rate-it was simply a means to provide for one and two. Based on those thoughts I made immediate changes in my life.

I gained an interest in finance. I'd always been a saver, but never a tracker. I realized my time was limited, and wanted to make sure my family was well provided for. That is where this board has come in-I learned all about indexing, started seriously budgeting, etc.

Paradoxically I slowed down at work-finding a job that allowed me more time with the family (I have been lucky to have a supportive wife in this endeavor). I try to spend as much quality time with the family as possible. I also learned to take time for myself. I have picked up some new hobbies: brewing beer, building electronics, and have a "toy" car I tinker with. I am currently trying to learn how to cook. I want to always be learning.

I also decided to give back to my community. To do this Ivolunteer with the Boy Scouts, and am president of the board of our local homeless shelter.

You specifically ask about the importance of leaving a legacy with work, charity and loved ones. You can't do everything well. I think you need to choose where you want your legacy to be, and focus there. I choose to leave my legacy with the family.

You also specifically ask how to decide what are the most important things in life. That is easy to answer in theory, and really tough to answer in reality. You start by asking yourself what you simply can not do without. Those are the important things! Then follow that line of thinking to see where it takes you.

Well, thats about enough philosophizing from me. I look forward to reading others thoughts.
dwade1109 wrote:As a younger member of this community I get the privilege of partaking in the financial wisdom of the more 'mature' :mrgreen: bogleheads.

It would be a great to get the experienced insight of those same people on life in general.

Specifically, how do you decide what is important in your life? I see attendings 20-30 years older than me working their tails off, attending meetings, pioneering their fields but never at home with their families, who seem to give them the most joy. Are they going to regret that?

On the other hand, Ben Carson, a hero of mine, talks of pushing oneself to the maximum and being the best one can be at work. Steve Jobs in his Stanfordcommencement speech seemed to express no regrets about the time he spent at work. One needs to invest time to become great at your craft. Yet at the same time Dr. Carson cut his hours back after being diagnosed with prostate cancer to spend more time with his family. Would he change how he lived his life in his younger years with his newfound experience facing mortality?

I am not the most articulate, but I guess what I am getting at is what has your life experience shown regarding what is truly important. Is it leaving a legacy in terms of your work or charity? Is it creating memories with the ones you love? Some days I feel like I need to invest so much to be great at what I do but then as days go by and time keeps going I start wondering whether I am chasing something at the expense of things I would remember more fondly in 30 or 40 years.

What say you? Should one really live each day as his or her last? Can one do that and be great?
neverknow
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by neverknow »

Keim wrote:You also specifically ask how to decide what are the most important things in life. That is easy to answer in theory, and really tough to answer in reality. You start by asking yourself what you simply can not do without. Those are the important things! Then follow that line of thinking to see where it takes you.
This is pretty close to what I might say, also. Beats me, how people decide. You do more of what's important, and less of what's not important - and that's how you find out what's important to you. Turns out, having the time, the freedom, the good health, and the location - to be able to go for a walk ... is the most important thing for me. Everything else I have done in life has supported this self interested pleasure. And these are words from an older adult (now retired). Not a very grand dream or accomplishment, huh? Sure makes me happy, though.
neverknow
snyder66
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by snyder66 »

It's not always that easy to "Live your dreams" Not everyone is as fortunate to even know what their dreams are and to act on them and then have the money to pursue that dream. The most important thing in my life is my family. I have watched to many family members pass away before my eyes, way before their time. That really had a profound affect on my outlook in life. If I can raise 3 healthy well-adjusted children, them, I have succeeded in this life. Whatever else I conquer, that's just gravy...I wish you well. The more you experience in t life, the easier this decision will be for you.
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Midpack
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Midpack »

Patchy Groundfog wrote:To me, "Live like you were dying" doesn't mean going skydiving and spending all your income every year. It means being present in every moment of your life, whether you're handling the daily routine at work or sitting on the sofa with the baby sleeping on your chest. People who've been diagnosed with a terminal illness always say, "Every day is a gift." Well, that's true for all of us, at every stage of life. Surely it's a sin, if only against yourself, to spoil that gift with worry and discontent.

However you divide your time between family and work, if you can be completely there wherever you are, you've found the balance.

Figured this out a little late, in my fifties.
This is the POV that most resonates with me too at age 57. Being present as much as possible is key. Learn lessons from your mistakes as they happen, but don't dwell on the past, you can't change it. And only spend time in the future to the extent necessary to plan for and achieve your goals, no more. Don't live your life thinking about how it will be one day in the future, you miss the present when you do. I also agree with the 'the most important things in life aren't things adage.' I was almost 40 before I really stopped pursuing 'stuff.' Wish I'd figured it out sooner.

The most influential non-financial books for me have been Your Money or Your Life, The Millionaire Next Door and A New Earth.
You only live once...
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ladders11
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by ladders11 »

I think we are all familiar with the expression "keeping up with the Joneses". I would like to offer the suggestion that "keeping up with the Jobses" is also something to watch for. We all would love the perfect job at a great company making an impact on the world, but this is simply impossible for everyone to have. Some, like Steve Jobs, come along at the right time in the right place and they have the genes, the skills and the determination to make something like Apple Computer happen. Choosing a career that you have a passion for is helpful provided that it follows your natural skills and abilities, but we clearly need to consider money and the availability of employment. We also need to consider that most of us won't be able to find autonomy, intellectual challenge, and rewards for good performance at work: instead, we'll be bogged down by bosses with different motivations, be saddled with dopey low level tasks, and unrecognized for our talents or extra efforts. After all, if we didn't do our jobs, someone else would - and they'd probably come pretty close to doing the exact same thing. Life is just not long enough for us all to get to where we've maximized our abilities and achieved something great.

Plus, being an entrepreneur like Steve Jobs is a risky endeavor that usually ends badly. I have seen enough small businesses end in tears, anger and/or misery. These of the regular sort of business like restaurants, flower shops or clothing stores. It is ever worse for inventors, most of whom never get a product off the ground. A tiny percentage will find venture capital and then most of those will fail.

My question is really would he have been happy as a failed inventor. If he were a divorced, broke man living paycheck-to-paycheck as an electrician while he fills his garage with inventions and tries to get things going but they never do.

I wonder if we simply understate the degree to which our outcomes in various facets of life are not up to us.

As with a career, it is common for people to set their heart on building and maintaining a certain family dynamic or to set certain expectations for their children. Is satisfaction of this not unlikely? As children grow into adults, it is certain that they will be interested in some things that parents dislike, and they will go off in their own directions. Are we imposing on our kids when we base our own goals on their status? Aren't there often negative consequences to this? It is probably a rare soul who can remain relevant as a family advisor without imposing at all.

My question for the family man is would they be happy with a broken family. If your family is happy, would they be happy living in a trailer, or living in an igloo? Would you be happy if your son had become addicted to drugs through no fault of your own?

Like with our careers, many of us will wind up unable to overcome obstacles in our family life that we did not create. We aren't always gifted with an ability to rescue the situation and achieve a certain result.

As opposed to these career and family goals, it is much more likely to result in happiness if we get enough rest, eat well, exercise and do the things we enjoy. If you have money in the bank, a roof over your head, and a significant other you are doing what can be done and can consider your life well lived. Be good to your family and try to find a good job - but don't forget to take care of yourself and don't run yourself ragged with unobtainable goals.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by LazyNihilist »

The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must -Thucydides
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by LazyNihilist »

Walt in AZ wrote:Reading this book might be helpful.

"A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy "
http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-A ... 457&sr=1-1

I haven't read a book in years :oops: . I blame you for suggesting this book, now that I have ordered it on Amazon. :lol:
The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must -Thucydides
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by staythecourse »

Kudos to the OP as this may be the most interesting single thread on this website.

My advice is simple: Find what makes you happy, do it, and don't take it for granted too much.

That works for you loved one, your kids, your extended family, and your job.

As great as Steve Jobs is and his mark on the world is an impressive one I find it sad that he had to write a stupid book so his children can remember him. That is pathetic.

Good luck.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by LazyNihilist »

cinghiale wrote: Read Nothing has helped me define what life is about and determine a fulfilling course of action than reading broadly and deeply. I read across disciplines, and am always on the lookout for challenging and intriguing essays and books. (By the way, I've picked up some great suggestions from the multiple "reading" threads in this forum.) Reading brings the world to you, and lets you in on the thoughts and perspectives of people who you can or will never meet. Read, listen to audio books in your car, and develop a reading list for future reading. To make time, swear off television. In a month or two, you will forget it exists. For inspiration, read Steve Leveen's The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life.
Thanks for this. I used to read a lot 10 years back. Now I don't read any books. Just internet websites and forums. (I am spending too much time @ bogleheads.org :shock: ).
I just ordered a few books, hopefully I will get back into the reading habit.

The biggest obstacle for me is watching sports on TV. I just am unable to switch that off. I turn on to see the 'score', and continue watching. It's too tempting. Not sure how to get off that addiction :confused
The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must -Thucydides
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by staustin »

wow, there is seriously some outstanding comments and advice contained in this thread! Amazing stuff, and of course, I completely agree.

I'd only add that that the pursuit of material things is a worthless pursuit. The more you have the more you realize this very fact. The joy of life.... is life! Alan Watts said very brilliantly "make sure to listen to the entire symphony and not just the end.. it's beautiful and worth your attention" (or something to this effect). Life is lived in relationship...
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by dwade1109 »

What amazing replies, wow. This far exceeded my expectations. Thank you to everyone for their advice.

I guess I have to figure it out for myself. In a way I am more confused than I was before. Or perhaps not more confused but just more aware of how muddled in mind my priorities in life are. It's hard to think about balance when I am training at an top-notch academic institution full of Type A personalities.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by happytrades »

It is this simple. What would you do even if it failed and still be glad you did it?

Life is arbitrary, irrational and unfair. Don't depend on things outside your control to make you happy.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Rajsx »

Specifically, how do you decide what is important in your life? I see attendings 20-30 years older than me working their tails off, attending meetings, pioneering their fields but never at home with their families, who seem to give them the most joy. Are they going to regret that?
________________________________________________________________

From your post, I presume either you are a Med Student or a Resident, so that I could understand at what stage of life you are at.

I was there where you are now, yes I too use to see attendings working their tails off, then one day I became the attending. I was in the rat race, making myself available & vying for that extra consult from a primary doc. After 10 yrs of rampant earnings, stress full nights on call & waiting for the free weekend to crash dog tired, I was unable to get myself interested in any family activities with wife & kids, I would usually take a medical Journal or some such on the family outings. Socializing usually also involved other doctor families & ended up talking hospital politics or wall street. Yes, I was in the thick of things.

My wife was friends with the people in the neighborhood, people in her book club & parents of our kids friends, mostly non medical crowd. On her insistence I started attending those kinds of get togethers & to my utter surprise I seemed to enjoy the little pleasantries, regular every day talk with mostly non medical folks. Soon I was looking forward to see these folks & started realizing the law of diminishing returns. That is when, I realized what is essential in life. Once the basic needs of food, a decent house, kids education & some savings etc are met, any more extra money was just fluff, i.e.. money with no function.

You will make a good living soon, seek moderation in work & play, take care of your patients & come home on most nights by supper time to have the meal with wife & kids. That time is precious, kids grow up fast & soon leave home for college like mine did. Remember the law of diminishing returns, I wish I had realized that earlier in life.
We do not stop laughing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop laughing !!
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by jh »

.....
Last edited by jh on Fri May 04, 2012 10:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by VictoriaF »

I tend to be influenced by good biographies. I read the biography of Marie Curie when I was fifteen, and I thought I would give anything for getting a Nobel Prize. Much later I read the biography of Richard Feynman, also a Nobel Prize winner, and I wanted to be as playful and curious as him (and as accomplished). When I read about highly disciplined people, I want to be like them. When I read about people who have succeed in surprising ways, I want to have my own surprising success.

My resolutions tend to subside with time, but the residuals remain. One of these days I will discipline myself and start working on my first Nobel :-).

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by traineeinvestor »

It's your life and may or may not be the only one you get.

Here's a few random thoughts that work for me:

1. "Perhaps a man dies when his brain stops, when he loses the power to take in a new idea" - George Orwell

I want to keep learning new things (which includes having new mental and emotional experiences) and make a conscious effort to push myself away from set mental routines, to experience the new and challenge the old. Reading a wide range of material (including works that, quite frankly, I don't enjoy) helps keep me mentally sharp as well as providing a sense of fulfillment. Currently working my way through some rather daunting serious literature as a change from my usual diet of non-fiction and comparatively lightweight pulp fiction.

2. "There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes" - Dr Who

It took me a long time to learn that not everything that happens in lfe has to be taken seriously. The ability to shrug off unpleasantness and disappointment came relatively late in life but the benefits have been considerable - primarily reduced stress and the ability to focus on the things that do matter (like family, friends and health).

3. "Time is a finite commodity" - lots of people

I have no idea when my time will run out, but I don't want to reach the end and look back lamenting a life of unfilfilled aspirations. I've no doubt that I'll regret the things I didn't do far more than anything I may have actually done. I've worked out what's important to me both in terms of day to day living (being around while my children grow up is high on the list) and what I would loosely call personal achievements. Some require a continuous commitment. Some get progressively harder as we age. After we had children, I cut back my working hours so I could spend more time with them (I expected my income to fall as a result but it actually went up). I've signed up with three friends for a 100km cross country hike next month (not something I expect to be able to do later in life). Assuming we get to the finish, we'll either have had a great bonding session or we'll never talk to each other again.

4. "Accumulate experiences, not stuff" - sentiment expressed by many in different ways

Life is not about "he who dies with the most toys wins". The Pharaohs took this to extremes and essentially spent much of their lives planning the biggest funeral possible. Like many others, I've found that experiences provide higher and longer lasting satisfaction than toys. This isn't to decry material posessions where they serve a purpose and/or provide satisfaction that goes beyond the mere pleasure of acquisition. I love my Kindle and iPad and consider them money well spent (I get far more reading done) but a Ferrari would be wasted on me. As an aside, decluttering my living spaces (office and home) is no only a great way to destress but throwing out (or donating) things we no longer need really reminds me just how much we waste. On a more altrusitic note, giving to others (time, money and goods) is one of life's great experiences (just looking at it from a purely selfish perspective).

5. "You fear the world too much" - Charles Dickens

A lot of bad things can happen in life. Some of them probably will. At least one is guaranteed to happen. Spending too much time worrying about the possibility of adverse events can be as damaging as the events themselves. I'll prepare for them where appropriate, but won't spend my life sweating things that may not come to pass or things that I cannot avoid - there are more satisfying and enjoyable ways to spend my time.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by natureexplorer »

I have memories - but only a fool stores his past in the future. ~David Gerrold
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by market timer »

I'll make an analogy to chess. When playing against an evenly-matched opponent, if I try to create an advantage out of nothing, I'll usually blunder or miss my opponent's plans. If instead I react to my opponent, try to understand his intention, wait for a slight opportunity, then capitalize on that weakness, I'll win. So it has been in life. When I try to create something out of nothing, as exemplified by Mortgage Your Retirement, I blunder away my advantage. When I wait for opportunity, stay liquid, listen to what I need to provide, and execute, then success comes easily.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by lightheir »

I find that it's best to always try and be the absolute best that you can be in your field / occupation as well as hobbies. The process of becoming a master in your job, side interests, relationships, will be all the reward you will need. Some people see it as being a workaholic, but when you're doing it correctly, there's great meaning and joy in the act of pushing past your limits and really accomplishing things of significant, lasting value. To me, finding this level of expertise and achivement is far greater than any financial or recreational happiness I could achieve.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by Ozonewanderer »

dwade1109 wrote:What amazing replies, wow. This far exceeded my expectations. Thank you to everyone for their advice.

I guess I have to figure it out for myself. In a way I am more confused than I was before. Or perhaps not more confused but just more aware of how muddled in mind my priorities in life are. It's hard to think about balance when I am training at an top-notch academic institution full of Type A personalities.
Given the situation you are in, and presuming you possess special talents and a hard work discipline that got you there, I think you should take advantage of all that you have in your favor and pursue your passion with great intensity in your "youth." Many of the best in history across all disciplines - science, arts, business, leadership - achieve their some of their greatest accomplishments while relatively young.

I have no doubt that after several years of hard work you will produce and enjoy various forms of "success." But you will come to a point where you can reflect if the path of success is still on an upward trajectory and, if so, are the rewards sufficiently satisfying enough for you to continue to remain singularly focused. When you clearly have so much potential, and if you never really gave it your best, you may live with a sense of underachievement. However if you really tried and for whatever reason you were not able to achive your goal, you will be able to live with the satisfaction that you tried. Then depending on where you are and how you feel about things you can make adjustments to your life.

Life does not move forward in a uniform motion. Their are stages to life (these stages are my opinion, but you could read Passages by Gail Sheehy for a more studied viewpoint). From age 1-24 you learn life's basics like how to walk, talk, go the bathroom, and the three R's at growing levels of complexity. From age 25-48 you are applying what you've learned, and it is in this period where some achieve their greatest successes in business, academia, sports or arts. This period is also extremely important for learning how to live and work with others - with both wins and the pains of losses. Witness the 50% divorce rate in this country. It would be wise to devote significant effort to developing these soft skills of intepersonal relationships.

From age 49-72 you can reflect. Are you happy or at least satisfied with life? Do you have the relationships with your family that you'd like? Are their things you would like to do but don't have time to? In what areas can you improve and what would you like to cut out? And on and on. There are some things you will undoubtedly be proud of and some things you don't like to see in your mirror. The good news is that you can make adjustments and that you still have the energy to do so. After age 73 if you're smart, and I'm sure you are, you will mostly be doing the things you like but at probably a slower more relaxed pace. It's reward time.

So I cannot directly answer your question of how to decide what is important in life. But I hope I give a perspective that shows you have some time to find out for yourself and make adjustments along the way.

But I like simple rules myself so I will offer some of my favorites that I believe to be inviolable:
- Treat others the way you would want to be treated.
- Do all things in moderation.
- Don't get addicted to anything (the inability to stop a behaviour that you know is harmful).

You have but one life to live. Go enjoy your great life.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by djw »

Never be afraid to change your mind or your life. I do it all the time. I'm literally doing it as I read this thread and now as I type this post.

I tell people that every morning when you wake up, you have the option to make a significant change in your life. Of course, if I did that every single morning, that would be a touch over the top... but there have been MANY mornings in my life on which I took my own advice and looking back I have few regrets.

Let me cite just two examples out of many. Your list will undoubtedly be completely different. That's what makes life fun.

I began my adult working life by renting an urban apartment with a roommate for exactly 8 years, worked at a good job for a nice company, had some good friends and some good times. Life was seemingly good. My lease expired every June 30. Around April of each and every year, I would start asking myself if this would be the year that I did NOT renew my lease and completely changed my life. The small city, where I had lived since birth, was changing. Beautiful old homes were being torn down and replaced with modern office buildings. Undeveloped fields and woodlands were magically transforming into housing developments and shopping centers. I seriously considered quitting my job and spending six months hiking the Appalachian Trail (I was a very active volunteer hiking club leader on many weekends). I bought all the guidebooks, read the accounts of many others who had done it, but in the end I decided it wasn't the right choice for me.

Then some other things began to change. My mother died. My father sold the family business and retired, moving to northern New England into our weekend ski cabin, where we'd spent MANY happy weekends together as a family. My grandmother died. My two best friends died at age 30 in the crash of a small plane they were co-piloting (in bad weather, late at night, attempting to land at a small airport with the tower closed, their hubris did them in).

One of the final straws was that, purely by chance, there were exactly three, unrelated murders within a short distance of my apartment on the exact same day. Feeling the weight of this last straw on the camel's back, I began immediately making plans to act, procrastinating no longer. By the time June 30 rolled around a few months later, I was packed. I stored most of my stuff in my dad's garage. I loaded the essentials into my VW Rabbit and headed north. I spent the rest of the summer and autumn in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire doing volunteer, then paid work for the Appalachian Mountain Club. I hiked a lot.

When the leaves fall, the AMC shuts down most of their operations. I applied for a job at a nearby ski resort. They said I'd hear from them. Meanwhile, my father offered me the option of moving into the ski cabin with him and applying for a similar job at a nearby ski resort. I did so, was immediately hired, and on my very first day of work was promoted to supervisor. The rest is history. A few years later I got called to jury duty and two years later I married a beautiful, intelligent, loving woman who had been one of my fellow jurors. The judge from the case, who told us he almost NEVER conducts marriage ceremonies, agreed to make an exception in our case. He still tells each new pool of jurors our story.

Just one more anecdote from my life before I tell you to stop reading my story and go write your own.

My wife and I were both the "good, responsible kid" in our respective families. Each of us has now nursed one parent through their final years. In my case, it was my dad who fell down a flight of stairs resulting in a severe brain injury which started him down a slippery slope to his death a few years later. P.S. he also came down with an especially nasty form of Prostate Cancer. So, how did I adjust my life so that I could earn a living AND take him to every doctor appointment, check him into and out of various health care facilities, etc.? I had been a full-time Systems Administrator for a local newspaper. One day I saw a bid notice in the "Legal Notices" section of the classifieds. A nearby school system wanted an independent contractor who would take complete charge of all their computers located in four relatively small schools. I literally dropped what I was doing, lept into my car, and rushed to the town hall. There I obtained a copy of last year's school report which told me exactly how much they'd paid the guy who'd just quit. Within two days I'd submitted my bid for a few dollars less. I'm not sure that ANYONE else even bothered to bid for the job (everyone reads the Help Wanteds... how many folks read the Bid Notices?)

The great thing about the job is that, as an independent contractor, I had near complete control over my own hours. Also, in the IT biz, the very best time to work on people's computers is when they're NOT using them, like the middle of the night and weekends, for examples. I was young enough to still enjoy pulling all-nighters so if I needed to install a software upgrade (like the Bogleheads did recently) I simply showed up just as the school day was ending and stayed straight through until the janitor arrived the next morning.

My wife used a similar trick. After working full-time at a hospital for many years, when her mother needed her, she transferred into a 24-hour-per-week position doing essentially the same type of work. There were many fellow employees on each shift and through careful horse trading she transformed her work schedule into a thing of beauty (at least she saw it that way). Soon, she was working exactly three 16-hour shifts, back-to-back, every two weeks. So, she worked essentially non-stop for three full days, crashed and burned for one day, and spent the next 10 days caring for her mom. Her other two married sisters, neither of whom had any job at all, somehow managed to find the time to cover the four days every two weeks that my wife couldn't be there herself.

Today we're 57 and 55 years old, fully retired, and I'm facing a health crisis of my own. My wife is there for me 100%. In two hours from now, we'll begin a 90-minute drive to my weekly visit with a specialist who I'm confident has figured out exactly what's wrong with my kidneys and has me on an excellent treatment plan to beat it and live another 20 or 30 years. I've finally faced up to the fact that his job would be a lot easier if I'd lose about 50 pounds and I've begun adjusting my diet to meet that goal over the next few months. Life is a little less certain, but even better than ever, in spite of the diagnosis. Who said something like: "there's nothing like the prospect of a hanging in the morning to clear your mind?"

To the OP and all of the other wonderful boglehead posters above, good luck and God bless you!
Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by BL »

VictoriaF wrote:I tend to be influenced by good biographies. I read the biography of Marie Curie when I was fifteen, and I thought I would give anything for getting a Nobel Prize. Much later I read the biography of Richard Feynman, also a Nobel Prize winner, and I wanted to be as playful and curious as him (and as accomplished).Victoria
Amazing, I could have written this as well! Madam Curie and Men against Death did influence my choice of study, but family did come first in my life.
So family, church, volunteering, travel, hobbies, and enjoying the little things in life are important to me in retirement. Having "enough" is enough. Having good health is something to treasure as it can be fleeting.
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by bcboy57 »

....in quiet desperation....
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Re: How do you live your life?

Post by VictoriaF »

lightheir wrote:I find that it's best to always try and be the absolute best that you can be in your field / occupation as well as hobbies. The process of becoming a master in your job, side interests, relationships, will be all the reward you will need. Some people see it as being a workaholic, but when you're doing it correctly, there's great meaning and joy in the act of pushing past your limits and really accomplishing things of significant, lasting value. To me, finding this level of expertise and achivement is far greater than any financial or recreational happiness I could achieve.
I think this is the key. But there are nuances. For example, trying to be the absolute best does not always imply being a winner in some competition. An athlete's achievement is measured in gold medals, but a philosopher's or author's or other thinker's life achievement is not measured, for example, in his book sales. It's better to focus on "the best I can be" than on "the best in the world."

Also, one has to be selective in choosing areas to pursue. Many talented people do not reach their full potential if they spread too thin.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
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Post by Curlyq »

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