In Praise of an Anti-Optimized Life

Obsession with optimizing your life will ruin your life:

A practical idea:

Don’t seek to "optimize" your life. Just focus on living, right now!

I think if we didn’t always seek to live the most ‘optimized’ lifestyle, we would be a lot happier and more productive as well!

Where does ‘optimization’ come from?

I think the notion of optimization is quite vulgar– it comes from the utilitarian philosophy which underlies almost all western thinking (Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Benjamin Franklin).

The idea is this:

If we want to be ‘happier’, we need to be richer. And to become richer, we need to optimize our schedule and time, to squeeze out the maximal productivity out of every moment of our day.

But this is the problem with this thinking:

  1. We think that us humans are the same as mechanical objects. We start to value our self-value only via how productive we are. This leads us to self-quantifying ourselves; evaluating our own self-worth via numbers (vulgar notion).
  2. We become more focused on ‘optimizing’ (making more efficient) our lives instead of actually improving our lives.
  3. Thinking too much about optimization paralyzes us. We delay our personal happiness. We don’t live in the present moment. We don’t act; we think of acting and living tomorrow– not now!

Ain’t nothing perfect

There will never be a perfect anything.

No perfect opportunity for you to make photos, no perfect tool, no perfect partner, no perfect lifestyle, no perfect time to drink coffee, no perfect aesthetic, no perfect place to live — no perfect anything!

Where does the notion of “perfect” even come from? The great tyrant Plato, who believed in “perfect forms”. The philosophy of Plato has tyrannized most of modern thought (fortunately the philosophy of Zen-Taoism is a good antidote, as well as reading presocratic philosophers like Heraclitus).

What does an anti-optimized lifestyle look like?

It means:

  • Wake up whenever you want, sleep whenever you want. Living without an alarm clock, or without a watch (the ultimate luxury is to not care what time, date, or day of the week it is).
  • Listen to your body: Don’t force yourself to do something because it follows your schedule or plan; treat everyday as a new day (carte blanche, tabula rasa).
  • Love randomness, chaos, and unpredictability: When things in your day go contrary to what you expected, enjoy it! Enjoy the flow of your day— realize that life is more fun when it is random!
  • More feelings of self confidence, freedom, and control of yourself and your day— and ultimately more control over your own life!

Follow your gut

To live a better life, treat every moment as different, and just follow your gut.

No plans, no schedules, no rigid rules.

Go to the gym whenever, drink coffee whenever, and don’t delay your personal happiness into the unknown and uncertain future.

Just focus on creating

Satisfice with the tools you already own right now, and just focus on creation!

With business and marketing, don’t worry about what time is “optimal” to send things out or publish. Just do it before today ends.

Memento Mori

This means, live everyday like it were your last. Treat every moment of the day like it were your last.