I'm a serial hobbyist at heart. For me, your indulgence in the things I would do without command, is the ultimate compensation.
I believe that the ultimate spoil of life is the unencumbered ability to do what you love.
We need meaning to make living life worth the while. In our society, we've misconstrued this to mean repetitive tasks and compulsive productivity.
I've gathered more meaning watching birds in formation, and taking long walks than I have ever had answering countless emails. Shouldn't ' meaning' imply adding value? And doesn't everyone have some value to add to society?
What has evoked this line of query in me, is the pending crisis of the great pandemic. It has elucidated the fact that the fabric of community remains woven. People are inherently visionaries, creators, and lovers. A friend of mine has used this period to pick up cooking and learned to create websites, another friend creates masks that passes the highest industry standard of safety, yet another has created beautiful pieces of artwork that is delightful to witness. These are all valuable tasks that they have picked up, because they enjoy doing it. By virtue of the fact that they have done this, the quality of my life has improved. They have added value to me and they felt good doing it. It's a win-win affair. This must be 'meaning'
If a better world is to germinate after this period of darkness, we ought to have a vision of an utopia well harvested. This is precisely why I am so motivated to start a dialogue with everyday people to investigate what kind of ideal they would like to see come to fruition.
I had one such conversation with an economist who could critique my own ideals through an economic lens. Economists are skeptics by nature, so it was a good exercise to test the practicality of my ideas. I was fortunate to have a free spirited, businessperson and artist join our conversation as well.
I cannot fully attest that the path to attain a better world became immediately apparent. However, people acknowledge that there is a better life to be had, and that they are willing to work for it. My conversation with the aforementioned women made the path forward a bit clearer. I have assembled a list of exercises that will plow us forward in our inquiry. These are very simple exercises that are sure to point us in the right direction.
1. Take your work vacation days
You add so much value to society when you have time that is not spoken for. It's good for your physical and mental health. It also boosts your creativity, which adds value to all of our lives. Take those vacation days.
2. Read up on Personal Finance
Danushka, the economist I spoke with, says personal finance is a very interesting subject matter. Her assertion must be true. Wouldn't it be delightful to learn about how to be financially sound, and experiment with those ideas concurrently?
3. Don't Forget Exercise 1
How can you read up on personal finance if you don't have some time at your disposal.
4. Be sure to get some sun:
Sitting behind a desk all day seems at odds for a species with 360 joints; all prime for movement. Exercise 4 says to move around, and connect with your surroundings.
5. Have a Diverse Portfolio
Having an investment portfolio that is well diversified brings you the greatest return at a lower risk. Exercise 5 is certified by an economist as a robust way to safeguard your assets.
6. Know a Neighbor.
Is the world truly globalized if you don't know your neighbor across the street?
This exercise tells us to meet someone, and learn about them. Know what they do and what their specialties are. In a closed ecosystem someones needs are bound to be met by someone's specialty. Wouldn't your neighbor be the first person you would recommend to this person? And wouldn't she compensate you for your recommendation by inviting you for drinks over a football game? This exercise will also resurrect the intermingling of singles. Our generation is hooking up less than the previous one. It should be an eerie thought that our parents had more sex than us.
7. Talk about money.
Money has been made sacred in our society. Asking someone how much they make or how much their new car costs is very provocative. This stigma is completely unnecessary and has been found to be a culprit of pay discrepancies amongst workers. Let's adopt a more secular attitude towards this resource.
8. Support small business
This follows from exercise 6. Support the local business who meet your needs. Besides the money that you give to support them, the mutual appreciation is invaluable. The symbiotic relationship between someone who has needs and the provider of that need is poetic.
As a gym owner myself, the pinnacle of my day is usually a class well conducted. It's a fantastic social exercise. I'm always googly-eyed when I see my customers and their support is the ultimate compliment.
9. save. Save. SAVE!!!
The things you don't have to worry about contribute greatly to your happiness. When you have a good cushion of savings, you are well buffered against the uncertainties of the future. In a pandemic like this, people with ample savings have a little less difficult time sleeping at night. To practice exercise 9, put aside $20 the moment you read this.......waiting....... done yet? Alright, proceed to exercise 10.
Please participate in the steps I have laid above. It's good for you. It's good for the people around you and it marches us on to a world that is better than the one we inherited.
Thank you for your participation. To conclude, I leave you with two quotes to ponder over:
Only a crisis, actual or perceived produces real change… When that crisis occurs the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”
— Milton Friedman
There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen” — Vladimir Len