Redefining your opinions – from work to life

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We hold a wide spectrum of opinions on life. But what if we’re wrong? What happens when we fail to realize that we’re carried away by the Internet and culture? What if what you want isn’t actually what you want?

To avoid being dragged by modern culture let’s explore five major definitions and interpret them for what they are. Let’s begin with…

1. Money

The three thresholds of money
The three thresholds of money

There’s nothing wrong in making boatloads of money. But if you rely on the equation “more money = more happiness” you’re digging a grave for yourself.

Money is simply a tool, a gateway for freedom. It’s a fundamental part of happiness. There are three thresholds – Essential, Comforting and Luxury. The value of money decreases as the threshold level increases. Achieving the essential threshold brings more happiness than the comforting threshold and it goes on.

When you complain “I wish I had more money”, you’re in fact grumbling for freedom that money provides, not the money in itself. So instead of having more money as a target, look for factors that cut your freedom. If you’re trying to take a vacation, but having a hard time to save money for it, finding what bills are anchoring you down is a better solution rather than aiming to earn more of it.

Money acting as a gateway
Money is a gateway for freedom

Unless you’re gonna address your deeper issues you’ll have financial problems and you’ll keep believing in the illusion of happy life = more money, which gets you nowhere.

Lives of people chasing money
When your definition of happiness is “happy life = more moneySource

Modern definition: Keep chasing money forever

Real definition: Money’s just a key to freedom. Nothing more nothing less.

2. Work

Never in history can you find a guy approaching his last moments on his death bed, wishing for 5 more minutes of life to end up filling spreadsheets in his cabin. In a country like India 9-5’s is just the tip of the iceberg. We can find companies that even accommodate their employees. And the world outside their cabins seems like a dystopia.

How long do we work in our life?

I completely understand that everyone has responsibilities to take care of, bills to pay and asses to wipe every morning. But why do people work the life out of them?

There are two types of work

  1. Boring work
  2. Sadistically boring ones with the mental strain

The first one prioritizes our physique, whereas the other requires our lazy brain. Though the modern equation is “More work = Success” it rarely works the same for the second category of work. Check out the following graphs

Linear productivity
Productivity levels for physically demanding work such as certain jobs in construction, delivery etc…
Source
Diminished productivity
Any work that requires your brain to be alert Ex: Managing teams, any creative work, programming are a few
Source

You can find that the amount of productivity rapidly decreases (the right-sided graph). Your brain functions like a muscle. Beyond a certain point, it’s optimum productivity begins to degrade. Any work beyond that is almost good as bullshit so you’re better of playing video games.

But why do we even work in the first place? Apart from paying our bills, it provides money. And money provides freedom. Which means

We Work for = Money to gain = Freedom We can restate it as We Work for = Freedom

If freedom is the priority, the mere fact of working more hours defeats the whole purpose. Vacations and leisure time exist for a reason. Just as you allocate time for working, allocate time for activities you enjoy doing. Maintain the balance.

Modern definition: Work until your brain tells you 2×2=138

Real definition: You work for the freedom it provides.

3. Entertainment

A decade ago boredom used to be a thing. Remember those days where you sit on your couch fantasizing that you’re on an intergalactic mission to save planet earth using your spaceship(sofa) along with your imaginary army of space pirates. Heck, I used to spend hours creating robots out of building blocks and holding tournaments for them. It was more active, interesting and engaging.

Boredom is classified as an endangered trait according to the new manual of extinct emotions(Yes I made that up) due to the rise of accessible technology. We’ve billions of entertainment options just a thumb away. Even though we feel bored with this huge presence of resources, modern-day entertainment does a good job of hiding it. Right now you’re left in an intermediate state of neither boredom nor enjoyment, but whiling away all the time you’ve.

Boredom is opening that leads you to do more interesting things. For instance, you’re waiting at a clinic for the doctor to arrive, without your phone, bored. You look around for things to entertain you. You find a worried mother pampering her sick 3-year-old, the kid who drills through his nose using his finger like a gold-digger and the receptionist with blushed cheeks staring at her screen of choice. “It sucks to wait right?” the guy beside you asks. A question turns into a conversation and by the time doctor arrives you unwillingly part each other.

When you’re bored and alone, you actively look for sources to entertain you. You solve a puzzle, draw something or play with your building blocks. (What? You don’t play with building blocks? Stop acting so mature and get yourself one)

Boredom and modern entertainment
Playing with toys was more active than the internet

It’s a blessing in disguise. But we never allow boredom to crawl into us. The moment we feel discomfort we turn up our phones and televisions. And most of this is breathtakingly passive. Watching cute cat videos for 3 hours? We (ahem…) you got some serious problems, dude!

The real purpose of entertainment is to relax you and not to drown your brains in dopamine. For instance,

Man’s inability to sit alone in a room is the root cause of all his problems.

Blaise Pascal

Nothing relaxes me like shooting bad guys. Moreover, titles like COD and Battlefield makes me go berserk. And I’ve experimented by playing 6-8 hours/ day to completely abstaining from it. From my experience, I truly enjoyed my gaming time if it was between 1-2 hours. Anything beyond that makes me feel like you’re-a-piece-of-shit-dickhead state. And abstaining from it? I was stressed out the entire time.

There are two phases. The input and output. The more it’s balanced the better your mood is. Both over-consumption and abstaining harms the engine. (brain) Moderation is the key.

Impact of overloading your brain
Your brain is the engine thatgets overloaded when Input > Output

Modern definition: You deserve to be entertained all the time and boredom is a sucker!

Real definition: Make boredom your playmate, she’s more fun than you assume her to be.

4. Consumerism

Stop reading for a moment and look around you. You’re seated in a room squeezed with furniture, electronics and luxury antiques. How many of them serve a real purpose? Take a look at your wardrobe. I bet at least 50% of them would be unworn within the past 6 months.

From clothes to furniture, we live in an era of mindless-consumption. Our products have become style statements. The latest headphone? Wow, that’s cool. The costliest sofa? That’s mine soon. With modern culture, we’re conditioned to think that more is better.

You buy things in the hopes of filling that empty void in your heart. And when you do have all you wanted, you realize that nothing has changed. You’re just the same pathetic old sucker that you used to be. This is called the mid-life crisis.

This could be stopped by adopting minimalism. You don’t even have to be a minimalist (though it helps). Start being intentional about your purchases. If you’re unable to decide whether or not you need something or have the slightest hint of being carried away take 24 hours before purchasing it. Putting yourself through a series of questions like the following

  1. Does buying this product make me excited? (Things serve a necessity and aren’t something to be so excited about)
  2. Do I already have one similar product to what I’m buying?
  3. Am I making the decision by myself or am I carried away by advertisements?

Try to be as mindful with your consumption as possible.

Modern definition: Keep purchasing until you’ve no place for yourself in your house.

Real definition: Your money loves your bank account don’t outcast it to someone else’s.

5. Life

Though this is subjective I bet we all love to enjoy the limited time that we’re given with. To explore places and people, to gain a better understanding of the world and ourselves, to help people and allow them to help us, to acknowledge our mistakes and try our best to avoid them, to be grateful and humble for what we have, to always stay curious as to the 2-year-old kid we once were.

Define what makes you happy and carve an identity based on that.

Wanna change the world or give thousands of dollars to charity? Go do that.

Or do wish you wish to do something mundane? To be the caring wife, lovable father, loving friend, affectionate son or simply a nice guy to the people around you? Go do that.

Paradoxically these boring identities make you even happier than changing the world. Because holding a mundane identity like a caring friend is tangible and can be achieved with a simple phone call to your old friend. They’re more repetitive than changing the world and with the time you enjoy living the life you have with little to no external factors

Stop being a bystander or spectator to your own life, carve your identity. If you don’t pick something for yourself someone else would. Sorry dude that’s how the world works.

Modern definition: Live how society tells you to.

Real definition: Live life your way with humility and openness to your own mistakes.

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