Having read an article from James Clear about our “present and future self” and how we have to give up today for tomorrow I began to wonder.
Does it really make sense to give up a good doughnut on a hungry evening, the fresh draft beer on a hot summer day for something unknown and distant?
I can clearly recall one of my favourite songs from my teen ages: “I don’t need a car or a house / Everything I have is what you can see on me / The only point is that you do it right / I don’t want anything else life / just / One more sip from the alcohol / One more puff from my own pipe / One more bite from this bread / One more day from this life” (it sounds better in Hungarian)
You guessed it right: this isn’t the song that will make you do your morning exercise, voluntary lifelong learning or the one that will help you through the difficult times on your way towards your first million dollars.
Still, this song (whose message I still love) has made me a way more successful person. It was part of the process that made me not being afraid any more, made me more outgoing, inspired to challenge myself, be creative and not to give in. It taught me that we needed very little for life. It helped me move away from home and live on less than 1 USD/day and to embark on a 37 day bicycle trip the same year. It has helped me going down to the basics and not to worry. It has taught me a lot how not to be unsuccessful.
One of the big twists of being a human is that all we are is “[…] a possibility to become something [one] want[s] to be” (Ortega y Gasset). Now, let me introduce you two characters:
Tyler here primarily lives for himself. His dilemma tonight is – if I get drunk I’ll get farther from the promotion I’m longing for but what-the-heck, I might not even live long enough to get there. Carpe diem, seize the day, grab the beer!
Sarah, on the other hand, lives primarily for others.
Her dilemma isn’t a dilemma. She certainly follows James Clear’s (and probably all successful self-development writers’) advice to get rid of instant gratification (the monkey) and focus on the future. Having more control over herself will have a great effect on the outer world (including her partner, children, family, nation, all humanity, etc.) There is no real incentive in getting drunk for her.
But you’re probably neither Tyler, nor Sarah but you are somewhere in the middle. Should you really self-develop, study and exercise – all these extremely unnatural voluntary activities when you could just go on your way looking for easy one-night stands, drugs, freedom and just a way of living / enjoying yourself?
Should I get drunk tonight? Should I eat the cake that I know I shouldn’t?
Think about who you are and who you want to be.
Are you Tyler? Then have your beer, cake and enjoy yourself tonight. Don’t yourself too badly and hurt no one else.
Or are you Sarah – or want to be Sarah? If yes, you want to create value. You are a creator, you are a disciplined, long-term thinker. Go to sleep.
I’ve read somewhere that
– good writers describe the world as it is,
– while bad writers describe it as they’d like it to be.
I’d like us to live a life where we become better and better constantly from day 1 to day last. But I try not to be a bad writer.
I think our nature looks much more like living for ourselves for some time, trying to become someone – and in a good scenario we turn towards others. I’ve had the beers and the cakes for more than 10 years. If I had missed them I would have less potential to be a writer, a partner and a donor.
Think about where you stand. And have a good night or cheers! 😉