In one of my (many) posts about optimizing, someone made a comment to the effect of, "What's the point of optimizing everything? Eventually you'll optimize your entire life away and have nothing left to do." That reminded me of what people say when they hear that I'm being cryogenically frozen when I die. Very often they say that they wouldn't want to live forever.
It is very peculiar to me that people would ever want to die, but that's another topic. Even stranger to me is that people somehow believe that the exact right time to die is when they are going to die anyway. Good genes and healthy living, dying at age 95? Perfect. Cancer at 65? Also perfect.
If you would not end your life earlier, and would likely get medical treatment to extend it to a "normal" life expectancy, why would you not also live forever, or at least until you voluntarily died at age 500?
(I should say here that I believe there is only a 5% chance I will actually be preserved and resurrected in the future, so you can save the comments about why it won't work)
The same is true of optimizing. Would you intentionally add hassles to your life to slow you down? If not, do you find it peculiar that your life has exactly the correct amount of hassle in it?
It seems that most people assume defaults are correct for them. I always assume the exact opposite. That's not to say that I don't eventually find that some defaults are correct for me. But usually I find that the reasons a default exists are not consistent with what matters to me. For example, some people say that they'll be bored when they're old or they'll be too sad that everyone they know has died. I am never bored and can't imagine the joy of spending time with those still alive will ever be eclipsed by the sadness of losing people.
It's important to challenge our beliefs constantly. The defaults that society assumes for you are the low hanging fruit. If you're not questioning all of those, then will you ever question the harder things like : Should I quit doing this thing that I really like? Do I need to reinvent myself or part of my life? How have I changed, and how should that change my daily life?
Photo is a crazy act from Mystere in Vegas. It's one of my favorite Cirque du Soleil shows.
Short post today because I'm trying hard to get my next book finished. Way overdue by my own standards.
Disagree, can't wait to debate you in person sometime about this.
Agree that the defaults are not right for all and one should certainly challenge dogma.
But there is such a thing as 'over optimizing'. The decision to optimize is not always the right one.
Sometimes the default is good enough - if you decide that, great!
You are so right! I am 55 and I have so many things I still would like to see and do, and learn. Getting old is wonderful thing as long as you are physically and mentally able to enjoy life.
What a fantastic post. Love it. I think a lot of people out there are stuck and so do not see room for improvement/change.
It's easy to imagine wanting to live "forever" when you are young. After 60-70 years, not so much unless you are terrified of "what comes after." You're going to be amazed at how quickly your quality of life degrades after 60-or-so. At 70, it begins to fall off like a brick.
Unless you are delusion-ally optimistic, your tolerance for stupid will take a hit, too. As US politics has demonstrated in the last year, humans are dumb-as-bricks, as a species. We're suicidal, emotional, delusional, superstitious, and conservative/cowardly. I've lived through Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and, now Trump. Not a one of those characters were smart enough to open doors for themselves; let alone provide some leadership or insight into making the world a better place for future generations. I'm tired of it. I don't want to see what kind of idiot follows Trump and the Trumpanzees. Enough is enough. I've seen my kids grow up to be competent, responsible adults. My grandkids are either on their own or well on the way. I suspect the world is going to become even less stable, more hostile, and even dumber.
You could hope for a Star Trek future where, suddenly, humans wise up and begin to prove we're a sentient race. I've hoped for that since the 60's and, so far, there have been only brief glimpses of that and the Marching Morons have stomped those opportunities out as quickly as they appeared. I wish the best for your future and that of my children and grandchildren, but I've had enough disappointment. It's time for someone else to carry that load.
Tynan, you have totally hit on my feelings here. I want to live a long time. I want to meet new people all the time. I see "old" people younger than me that are retired and do nothing but sit and watch TV. Like you, I am never bored, and can't wait to meet new people, go to new places, read new books! A boring life is certainly what you make it! I don't think we should ever quit doing the things we like, or reinvent ourselves (although maybe that could be a positive thing). Don't we all change day to day anyway, and why not make that change positive. Thank you again for a great post.
Great post. I often tell people that I'm I plan on living until 150 and it's amazing how most people respond with "Why would anyone want to live that long?" and my response to that is why would anyone want to live to 70 or 60 or 50, etc etc... because life is actually pretty awesome if you want it to be.
I find it also bizarre that there is usually an assumption that the older you get the lower quality of life you have and thus it's not worth living. Like most people assume they'll be living in a old age home, bed ridden, and being completely miserable... one of my good friends who I hang out with often is a 72 year old guy who acts my age (mid 30s) and we have a hell of time together.
Ok folks... I'm gonna break it down for you Dr. Phil style today, and talk about happiness.
Now, first of all - I don't see why happiness is always priority number one. "Do whatever makes you happy", they say. "Yeah, but is she HAPPY?". Who says this is the holy grail? Personally, I think giving Tynan presents should be the end goal. "Do whatever makes Tynan get more presents" and "Yeah, but is she giving Tynan presents?" both sound pretty sweet to me.
But we live in a world where happiness is number one. They don't ask if happiness makes you money, but if money makes you happy. So, let's get happy.
One thing that annoys me highly is when people say "I understand." They most certainly do not. This has come up the most in my medical care. They think they know my preferences and wishes, but in fact, they do not. They know my parents wishes and they assume I agree. This is not to say I hate my parents. I love them. I would just like to be a part of the conversation. That's all. Then the question arises, who has the final say? Is it me? my parents? Or maybe my doctor? This is still an open question for me.