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True Preferences

To live a better life, only pursue your “true preferences”.

What are “true preferences”?

  1. A true preference is a preference you have in life, dictated by yourself.
  2. A “false” preference is a preference we falsely think we desire but in fact, we get suckered into thinking we prefer this.

For example,

  1. True preference: Things you truly like to do, for mostly “autotelic” reasons (doing things for the sake of it).
  2. False preference: You think these things will make you happy (lots of money, fancy cars, traveling a lot) but in fact, we just get suckered by marketers and advertisers to desire these things.

How to discover your true preferences

You can only discover your true preferences through deep introspection, deep reflection, and through vicious self-experimentation.

Is there a “true” way to live your own life?

True preferences can pertain to:

  1. Foods you like to eat, and beverages you like to drink.
  2. How to earn money
  3. Lifestyle choices: Where to live, what kind of home to live in, how to spend the hours of your day, clothing choices.

Preferences pertain to almost everything in our life. Your preferences will ultimately guide how you live your life, thus discovering your true preferences are of ultimate importance.

Direct yourself.

A lot of us don’t know what our true preferences are, thus we let others decide for us.

This is the worst way to live. You must assert your own opinion, determine your choices and preferences, and have the courage to make decisions which may be “right” or “wrong” ; regardless of the outcome of your decisions, you must stand firmly by them (your actions belong to you).

Ignore the judgments or criticisms of others

If you take a firm stand for what you believe in, and for your own preferences in life, others will criticize you. But perhaps they criticize you for having an opinion because they are secretly ashamed that they know they don’t have their own opinion. Or perhaps they want to simply distract themselves; seeing someone else who owns their own opinion (and self) is damaging to their ego.

Revealed Preferences

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Revealed Preferences (credit to Nassim Taleb in his book, “Skin in the game”) is a notion that you can discover the true preferences of others (or yourself), by paying attention how people act, instead of the words they say.

Talk is cheap. Actions are expensive and true.

For example, ignore anyone who says they “care about the kids” if they don’t personally donate their own time to helping kids or poor communities.

Also, ignore the advice others give you. Instead, just look at how they live their own lives.

Wise skepticism

When you want financial advice from others, don’t ask them for their advice. Just ask them what they have in their portfolio. Also be very wary of a salesman who doesn’t use their own products or services.

You cannot discover your own true preferences without self-experimentation

Never stop experimenting in your own life. Experiment with what foods or drinks you eat. Experiment with different lifestyle choices.

Once you discover what you truly prefer in life, focus on that (and ignore others who tell you that you’re wrong).

You’re more different than others than similar.

Your preferences won’t apply to others, nor should they apply to others.

If you truly believe that you’re different and exceptional, ignore everyone else. Focus on yourself, your own self-development, and your own self-flourishing.