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A while back someone e-mailed me and asked me how I had so many interesting experiences in my life. I meant to write him back, but couldn’t find the e-mail.
First of all, what constitutes an interesting life? Do we care if OTHER people think it’s interesting? Do we care if WE think it’s interesting? Does it just have to be different?
For me it boils down to having a life that is exciting to live. I get a kick out of knowing that other people are interested in my life, but at the end of the day I’d take personal satisfaction over people thinking I have personal satisfaction.
Every day when I wake up I’m excited about my new day. I know, from experience, that I can’t possibly predict what will happen that day. By the end of the day I may be in another city, I may have met a new best friend, I may have found a new hobby, or I may have completely altered the course of my life.
This feeling of uncertainty isn’t the definition of an interesting life, but it’s a strong indicator of one. Interesting things happen to me with enough frequently that I am not surprised when one comes around.
Another reason my life seems interesting is because most people DON’T have interesting lives. It’s the contrast.
Let’s look at some stats.
The average person works 8 hours a day.
They watch 4.5 hours of TV a day.
They sleep for 7 hours.
Taking a shower and getting dressed is 30 minutes.
An hour for dinner and breakfast combined.
Another hour commuting.
That’s twenty two hours.
This is the AVERAGE American. He doesn’t have TIME for an interesting life.
I work for two hours a day.
I watch 30 minutes of TV/movies per day on average
I eat for two hours.
It takes me half an hour to dress and shower.
I sleep for eight hours.
That’s 13 hours. I have 11 hours each day to fill with interesting things.
Even if the average American HAD 11 hours to fill, most still wouldn’t be interesting. Why? We are conditioned from BIRTH to be boring.
Parents have one mission – to ensure the survival of their children. Not to ensure the outlandish success and happiness of their children, but mere survival.
I had a near perfect childhood. My parents were married, loving, supportive, had enough money to put nutritious food on the table, had reasonable but strict rules, and made their children their top priority. By any metric, I had a fantastic childhood.
However, if I had followed all of my parents’ advice I would lead a boring life. Interesting doesn’t ensure survival – caution does. Unfortunately, caution also prevents an interesting life from unfolding.
Most people reading this don’t follow their parents’ advice anymore. You probably don’t get much advice anymore. However, your parents have drilled into your subconscious that you need to be cautious and careful.
There are three main kinds of risks you need to take. Here they are, in order of importance.
Social risks. Social risks have ZERO cost to them. Go talk to someone new. Say what’s on your mind. A good example is the time that I went and collected on a random bad check. It was awkward and a huge social faux pas, but it was a blast. Even if the end goal is personal satisfaction, think about what will make a good story.
Financial risks. It’s pretty well established that the only way to make money is to risk your own money. Getting a job doesn’t count – it’s not real money. If you’re a smart person (and if you read my blog, you probably are), you will NEVER be broke for a long period of time. There just aren’t any homeless people who are really smart.
Put your money where your mouth is. If you have a great idea, DO IT. I’ve never written about this, but in college I started a hedge fund for my friends and I. We all put all of our money in it, and within a year we lost it all. $26,000. Oh well. I learned a lot, all of my friends are still my friends, and we moved on. I put all my money into the gambling thing (as well as the remainder of my college money), and that turned out to be a hit. If I didn’t take risks I’d still have my $5k from the hedge fund, but I wouldn’t have had the hundreds of thousands from gambling.
The last type of risk you should take are physical risk. I’ve jumped a freight train, climbed a radio tower and several cranes, bought a competition paraglider and tried to fly it with no instruction, gone skydiving (not actually dangerous), gone scuba diving, skiied with sneakers on ice behind a car, and made a swing to go off the roof of my condo building. I broke a little toe once which healed on its own.
Thanks to our parents we GREATLY overestimate our chances of getting hurt. Occasional pain is worth having an interesting life.
Anyway, I’d like to write more but it’s been forever since I posted, so I’m going to slap this puppy up on the blog. If all else fails, think : “What Would Tynan Do?”
If you don’t know… go to the forums and ask me.