One simple rule for living an awesome life (Witnessing)

If I had a fortune I would gamble it on the ones I was trying to help. I would set up a center totally designed to discovering ones creative medium. It might be in the arts, or crafts or science, even business but I believe we all have a creative side if it can be unleashed.

I don’t have the courage or the wealth to quit my job and follow an abstract dream either. Maybe if I had a significant other to back me up, I could take the chance. But I’m too risk averse to drastically change my life. I feel lucky to have stumbled across the relatively comfortable existence I have now. I don’t want want to muck it up.

However, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can live true to yourself and still work a regular nine-to-five. A nine-to-five is what? Eight hours of the day? You’ve still got 16 hours left to do something you really want to do. Something that makes you feel purposeful and needed and completely authentic. You just have to find it.

Personally, I think having a job makes me appreciate living more. It makes me cognizant of how precious time is. If I had copious amounts of free time, I would waste most of it on the Straight Dope and laughing at funny cat videos. So having a limited amount of it keeps me focused on living intentionally and doing rather than thinking.

I have this secret dream that a research team somewhere is looking to study brains and mine has just the right amount of quirky they are looking. They would set me up in a nice furnished room and poke and prod me until all their brainy questions were answered. I would sacrifice my middle-class comforts and maybe even my life if I thought I could further scientific understanding.

I know this is asking a lot, but would it kill you to tell us where you live?

(And yes, this issue is my new “calling.”)

This sort of thing is something I’ve given a lot of thought to, there are a few things that have to go along with a lot of this, much of which Wesley touched on upthread.

There are things that have to get done that are the sorts of jobs that no one, or at least not enough people, actually want to do. Someone has to clean toilets, flip burgers, pick produce, etc. However, over time, decades and centuries, the menial jobs start to disappear. The US used to have a majority of our population as farmers, but these days it’s a tiny fraction of what it used to be, yet we produce more food than we ever have. This is due to advances in technology, process, infrastructure, etc. I think it’s reasonable to believe that this sort of trend will likely continue, with greater automation, and fewer people will have to do those jobs, hopefully to the point where only those who really want to do it are all we need to do it.

Another problem is the reality and the resources. To the OP specifically, it’s fantastic that you have your wife able to support you in your endeavors, but with how our society is currently working, for those lacking in funds, for those who don’t have the kind of support, that just isn’t reasonably doable. There’s certainly work that I would love to do that would make a substantial difference, but short of a miracle, I won’t be able to quit my job and pursue those ends full time for years, if ever before my retirement. However, I do still find time to fit those sorts of things in when I can, and I try to find ways to get those ends in at work as much as possible too.

So, to this end, it seems to me, really, that the best thing we can do to change the world for the beter, is make it easier for people to do exactly that. If we pursue automation technologies so we need fewer menial jobs freeing people to do other pursuits, that’ll help accelerate improving the world. If we can find ways to make even the jobs that we have to do and use that time and those resources to improve the world, give resources, automate, or whatever, we can do more to improve the world. And that’s how I get what job satisfaction I do out of what I do, because the more effectively I, and those around me, can work, the more we can get done and the more I and others have time to follow our other pursuits.

But beyond that, it seems to me that “make the world a better place” is very subjective and so, really, I’d suggest we take a bit more of an expansive look at the idea. Really, I think it’s as simple as pursuing your passions. Not surprisingly, even if a lot of people don’t realize it, helping others and improving your environment and the world are things that I think most people find joy in. And it is the sort of thing that you can also find joy in even in menial jobs, like working in retail, enjoying your coworkers, making people’s experiences better and spreading joy not only makes the experience better but does help make the world better in a small way.

And even for things that don’t have a direct tie to making the world better in the traditional sense like providing relief effort for disasters, charity, research for diseases, etc. pretty much anything that most people would really be passionate about will do something to make the world better. Working in the arts brings joy and has a way of tying people together in a way that really nothing else can. Construction provides infrastructure that gives people places to live, better transportation, and provides the necessary parts for everything else to work toward a better world. Even jobs a lot of people look down on, like lawyers, can do a lot of great work to protect innocent people, uphold social ideals, overturn unjust laws, etc. In fact, it really seems to me that as long as someone is working for reasons beyond just the love of money and having more stuff, they’ll probably be happier for it.

I liked your post, something I would like to add is that establishing our identitities in society today is becomming more difficult. Often times the things we have become passionate about help to define us as they are a source of validation we tend to thrive on to some degree. If we lived in a village of 150 people finding an area we are particularly good at and appreciated for is not so difficult. Now we are competing at some level with everyone on the planet. The tendency to select endeavors that are more subjective rather than quantitative becomes more attractive and would lean more toward art. Being available to critique and encourage others in thier endeavors is another way I feel we can make the world a better place. Once a person has established thier identities they seem to operate on a higher level from that point on.

While I certainly agree with your assessment of the Jewish race, is your plan to turn the world into New York’s West Village?

That’s the beauty of it…

Where were you in March of '03? :smiley:

No my JOB was about making the world a better place (I was a high ranking politician), it was all the awful people I had to spend time with (hint; not the ones we were serving) that turned me off it. It was just not an enviroment I wanted to spend time in. So I quit and started my own business.

After that I’ve been doing all the good stuff, only without pay and without having the put up with the BS. Quitting that job was in forum terms like going from “The Pit” to a mix of Great Debates and General Questions.

My end goal is to build sustainable homes for the poor in Africa, and I am taking my first stumbling steps in that direction now. And even though it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to accomplish, it also feels like the easiest in a way.

For me it is a fail safe method. If the people I love are happy, I am happy. So for me the secret formula is:

  1. Make family happy
  2. Make everyone else happy
  3. Profit (ie: you become happy)

People like Bill Gates have realised this. I just figured I’d skip the “get rich” part and get straight to the “do good” part once I had enough money to sustain life. I’m basically cheating in the evolution game towards happiness.

Through my company I am trying to develop a new form of super sustainable home. On the side I am running a few charity projects and working on some political reform suggestions etc. You could say that my area of intrest is creating healthy and sustainable living enviroments and making a higher quality of life available to people through innovation.

A town about 100 miles south of Stockholm, in Sweden.

I like it. It helps to find family and friends whom you like enough so that their happiness does make you happy. So, a possible corollary to this is: surround yourself with good people.

If not careful, you may have found yourself an Epicurean! (The actual teachings of Epicurus, not the dumbed-down parody that many take. Epicurus was light-years ahead of “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.”)

While we’re witnessing: The Secret of Life.

The Secret of Life is to move assertively, but interact defensively. Move forward, put yourself right there in the middle of things…and then let them come to you. Advertise, then provide service.

In WWII, both sides had “Tank Destroyers,” lightly armed vehicles with very heavy guns. The U.S. tried to use them as tanks…and got shot to bits. The Germans knew the proper use: move forward until contact with the enemy, then back into a shielded location and shoot at them as they come toward you. Move aggressively, fight defensively.

A stranger came to a meeting of a social club, on the night that happened to be election night. She nominated herself for President. Everyone was astonished at the effrontery. Her first meeting, and she’s running for President? But when it came time to give her speech, she said, “Oh, I’m not really running. Don’t anyone vote for me. I just thought, this way, everyone would remember my name!” Instantly, everyone relaxed and were friendly and receptive. Move assertively, interact defensively.

The Secret of Life.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but technically isn’t that the same thing Adolph Hitler wanted to do? Isn’t what the Taliban wants? The Ku Klux Klan? Wanting to make the world a better place is the 2nd most common precursor to poor behavior from a person, right after “I just want to be happy/loved?”

Are you using 3D printing? I have heard that could be a big boon to affordable housing.

I used to think I knew how to make the world a better place. I am much less sure now. I now settle for giving myself credit when something I try to do for someone else doesn’t turn into a complete disaster.

I think this is a good guiding principle, but I think it’s too broad. I tend to subscribe to Don Miguel Ruiz 4 agreements.

  1. Be impeccable with your word.

  2. Don’t take anything personally

  3. Don’t make assumptions

  4. Always do your best.

Good stuff, right there.

So, what do you do to make enough money to love on?

To be frank, it sounds like the secret to happiness is marrying someone who is willing to support you while you chase your dreams.

Really, this is pretty much straight out of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: your wife provides for your basic needs, so you can spend all your time on Self-actualisation. Unsurprisingly, this makes you happy.

It’s not a bad idea or anything: more people should go for that kind of fulfillment. But getting into a position where you can spend all your time doing that is neither simple nor easy.

Seriously. The OP sounds like some of these investment banker / lawyer / consultant types I know who all of a sudden in their 40s or 50s, suddenly have some sort of Jerry McGuire epiphany and retire to go raise llamas upstate or whatever the fuck. After a lifetime of working (and demanding others to work) crazy hours, they’ve made their money and now all of a sudden “money doesn’t matter”.

Or worse, he sounds like one of their trophy wives who spend all their time “self actualizing” with volunteer work or vanity businesses subsidized by their husband.