To live the best possible life, perhaps we should strive to live everyday like it were our last– to make every single day perfect in our own eyes:
I don’t think we should think too much about ‘society’– because it is too abstract. Let us rather think about ourselves.
What do YOU desire in life?
- To possess more stuff?
- To become physically stronger?
- To gain more influence and power over other human beings?
- To be more productive in your artwork?
- To possess a bigger or fancier home?
- To have more motivation and inspiration to create more?
- To feel more pleasure, and less pain in your life?
I think one of the best ways to think about our lives is thinking about our own human metabolism. Why? Because:
- Human metabolism dictates that our maximum lifespan is around 120 years (given our physical size, our heartbeat).
- It is evident that sleep is necessary for us. Let us assume that you wake up around 7am, and go to sleep around midnight. That means the average human probably has 15 hours of the day to themselves. So the question is: “How do I want to use those 15 hours of my day? What do I NOT want to do during my waking hours?”
- Unfortunately most of us have ‘day jobs’ which doesn’t give us complete autonomy over those 15 hours of the day. Let us assume that the average human works around 8 hours a day, which means we only have 7 hours of free time everyday. And unfortunately because the average person commutes to work (~1.5 hours a day), has to feed themselves (~1.5 hours a day), and other miscellaneous tasks (1-2 hours a day), the average (American) human probably only has 2-3 hours of free time every day.
- Assuming you’re employed by someone else, what do you want to do with your 2-3 hours of free time (Monday-Friday)? Fortunately you have 30 hours of free time (Saturday+Sunday).
- It seems to live the best possible life, it means to best effectively leverage your free time to the maximum.
How to gain more free time
Before I talk about how to leverage our free time to the maximum, let me think about ways we can gain additional free time in our everyday lives:
- Become self-employed (we can dictate how much or how little to work every day). Thus, we escape the tyranny of the 9-5 office job.
- Say “no” to superfluous obligations, people you don’t want to interact with, or figuring out what you DON’T want to do in your day.
- Wasting less time commuting (either working from home, or living closer to your work place).
- Wasting less time eating (I’ve been able to free up more time by not eating breakfast or lunch; only eating dinner).
- Wasting less time doing maintenance work (benefit of living in a smaller home– less time cleaning, and also the benefit of living in a hotel — not having to cook, clean, or fixing the place). Perhaps if you want more maximal free-time, it is best to NOT own your own home (the upside of renting).
To live the best possible life, strive to MAXIMIZE as much free time as humanly possible in your life.
What do you do once you have free time?
Let us assume now that you’re self-employed, or you’re “retired”. Let us assume that every day, you have 15 hours of your waking hours devoted to yourself, and your own personal needs.
Now — how do you want to live every day?
It takes great skill to know how to use your free time.
The things I do in a day which bring me the most joy:
- Create art
- Workout your body
- Socialize with people (strangers, loved ones)
- Explore new places/go on adventures
- Drink coffee
How do you want to feel during your day?
I cannot speak for you, but I believe ideally we would feel vigorous, confident, and productive throughout the day. We would only work on things which interest us, and we wouldn’t work on things that don’t interest us.
We would do artistic and creative things which excite us, we would strive to create new knowledge, we would aspire to becoming wiser, and we would also want to share this information with others.
Some randomness and chaos is good
To me, a day with 100% precision is not a day worth living. To me, a day is only fun, exciting, and interesting when there is some randomness, chaos, and chance in the day.
I like days when I meet new people and have interesting chats with them. I like days with variation in weather. I like days when I do different workouts at the gym, or days when I see new things and photograph new things.
I feel it is inside our DNA to desire randomness, chance, change, and novelty. I think this is what made us adventurers and conquerers– the desire to acquire more, explore more, and become more. If humans didn’t have the drive and desire for novelty, we would all probably be still eating acorns somewhere in some nondescript cave.
Be flexible with the details
That is generally why I follow this adage from Publilius Syrus:
The gladiator makes his plans once he enters the ring.
Only make your plans for whatever you are going to do once your’e in that environment.
For example, let me say I want to go to a coffee shop. I have no idea what kind of creative work I’m going to work on once I get there. I figure it out once I get there.
Also when I am teaching workshops, I have a general outline for the workshop, but I generally don’t make any concrete plans until I get there– until I meet the students, learn about their needs and desires. This flexibility will allow me to improvise to make a BETTER workshop, because I can make the workshop bespoke to their own needs.
Infinite chaos and randomness is not good
If your daily life had TOO MUCH randomness and chaos, this would obviously be bad. If every morning you woke up in a different bed, in a totally foreign environment. Everyday you would learn how to do basic things, like figuring out where to eat, learning the language, and the local culture.
So obviously SOME consistency to our daily lives are good.
Determine your MUSTS
Thus this is my simple suggestion:
Be strict about the MUSTS of your day (things that you MUST do), and be flexible with the details.
For example let us say that your “must” is to workout everyday. But be flexible what type of workout it may be.
Or let us say that your MUST is to do some creative work. But then the type of creative work (writing, photography, video) can be flexible.
Let us say that you MUST socialize once a day. Be flexible with the people (strangers, friends, family, your partner/kids).
Let us say you MUST learn everyday. Be flexible with the authors, media, or material, or ideas.
Obviously there is no blueprint or formula to living the best possible life. But here are some general ideas:
- If you want to live the best possible life, this is my idea: treat everyday like a mini-lifetime. Strive to make everyday perfect. If you spend everyday with intent and focus, of course your whole lifetime will be great. Treat everyday like you were going to die tonight.
- Figure out your “MUSTS” in a day (self-determined), and then be flexible how to attain these things.
- FREE TIME is 10000x more important than money. Whenever possible, better to have MORE free time and less money. And also, best to TRADE your money for MORE free time. A life of a billionaire with no free time is not a life worth living.
- Figure out how to manage your own human metabolism during the day. Some practical ideas include intermittent fasting (don’t eat breakfast and lunch), doing some intense physical activity (powerlifting), and walking around and getting some sunlight if possible.