On life and its purpose
30.08.2018 Amsterdam, NL
Today my father’s close friend died.
It’s strange to realize, because these things always come unexpected, always as a shock. Such events make you think about what truly matters. The person who dies make those who live reassess their values. And it made me, too.
Ever since I was a young kid, I dreamed of becoming great. Rich, famous, successful — you name it. Just simply, great. Someone like Steve Jobs.
In fact, when I was 10 — my first non-fiction English book was about Steve. And the thought of building a huge company, making a ‘dent in the Universe’ never left me. The thought completely consumed me throughout my teens: how I will build a company, what I will name it, what kind of people will be working there, etc.
Now I start to reassess these ideas, and as time goes by and meaningful events like that happen, I reassess more. And more.
I came to a stunning (well, to me, at least) conclusion that none of this really matters.
But what is the purpose of life, then? Why do we live?
Some people say they want to change the world.
Or how they like it in Silicon Valley: ‘make the world a better place’.
But for the world to change, either something extraordinary has to happen (like the invention of the Internet or blockchain), or a lot of time has to pass.
The first is highly unlikely (how likely is it that you are the next Satoshi Nakamoto?), and you can’t really control that happening. Things like that happen once in a decade, and you can’t really force it.
The latter is more likely, but now you have to ask yourself the real question: ‘Are you really willing to give up your whole life for a slight change in the world?’. Because that’s how much it will take for anything to really change. For the country (not speaking about the world) to change, 20–30 years have to pass, at least. For a human being — that’s a lot of time (1/3 of productive life, huh). For the world? Almost nothing. So are you willing to give up your most precious asset — time — in favor of trying (no guarantees!) to change something?
I know I am not. And most of us aren’t. And that’s OK. So changing the world is not really an option.
But wait, how about becoming rich?
Like, fuck-you-money rich? $100mln+?
First of all, why do you want to spend your life trying to make money for the sake of making money? I mean, making money is easy nowadays — you don’t need a degree, the start-up cost of almost any business is 0, go DO! But if money is your sole motivator:
a) nothing good will probably come out of it
b) you won’t ever be satisfied
On a personal note, I don’t give a shit about money — never did, never will. I care about comfort, about lifestyle and quality, but not money per se. So this option falls out too.
What I came to realize recently is that for me, only 2 things matter in life:
- Living my best life
- Leaving a legacy
That’s it. Nothing else matters, like Metallica sings. Let’s break it down.
Living my best life
Meaning, being the absolute best version of myself, while having fun.
A lot of people get this completely wrong. They think that ‘being the best version of oneself’ means waking up at 4 am (hey, Jocko!), packing schedules with strict gym/yoga/meditation practices and crazy work hours — ‘cuz I can’. I am a recovering workaholic myself and I think that life like that feels like a straightjacket. It’s just not fun!
Our modern culture tends to put work on a pedestal. Those who kill themselves over a startup or a project — are heroes. I read somewhere: ‘if you work more — you just work more. It doesn’t mean you get more done’. And I believe that to be true.
Living you BEST possible life means having fun — first, then everything else. It’s not about doing more, it’s about doing more of what truly matters. It’s not a race.
If you are not having fun, what’s the point?
“Cuz life is not always fun, you dum ass..!” — you might say.
Well, no it is. You haven’t been around for 2 bln years, you won’t be around for 70 bln more, 80–120 years is all you’ve got, what’s the point of proving anything to anyone? None.
Having fun is important, and it involves: eating healthy, being smart, reading good books, having amazing sex, working on great projects, having enough money to finance your life in the best possible way.
You see, money as an end in itself is fucking boring. Money as means to live your best life, as well as making the lives of those around you great — is amazing! That’s what motivates me personally, not some arbitrary out-of-the-clouds bullshit goal like ‘millionaire by 25′ or ’30 under 30 Forbes list’. Fuck that!
Having fun is important.
Leaving a legacy
I know, I know, GaryVee is all over the place with this. But I mean something different.
I recently realized that Shakespeare will be forgotten. Zucks will be forgotten. Steve Jobs will be forgotten. All of these guys did a great job, all of them made a dent in the Universe. But the depth of that dent always relates to the zoom you are looking at.
On a timescale of 1,000 (not talking about 100,000 or 1mln) years nobody is going to give a crap about Apple’s market cap or when the first iPhone came out. We may not even be around as homo sapiens by 2100, according to Ray Kurzweil or Homo Deus book (which I think is completely amazing).
So leaving a legacy is not about being remembered (hey, GaryVee!). It’s about setting example, making an impact on at least 1 person — your own kid, or grandkid. It’s about making a mark through your projects.
You don’t care whether your name will be remembered or featured in history books. It’s more about spreading your ideas, your DNA, your voice, like a virus. And you spread that virus by your thoughts, actions, ideas, projects, businesses, books, articles — literally, by everything you do.
I learned from GaryVee that all best things in life are created by pushing from both extremes. Striving to live your best life while having fun as a human and leaving your legacy by pushing your ideas through your projects is an example of that.
And that’s how I came to view life at 20.
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