Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Leaving A Legacy and Deferring Gratification

Ludwig Sondstrom has a post on his Start Gaining Momentum blog about why you should want to leave a legacy. I don't think that's the most important part though.

In my experience, when people who preach that others should “live now and not put off happiness” they  call “happiness”  what I call instant gratification. And, as a general principle, delaying instant gratification is actually preferable to engaging in too much instant gratification.

The discussion on happiness is what I find the best part.

I read a book several years ago called "The Lost Virtue of Happiness" by J.P. Moreland. In it, he discusses much the same thing. The classical definition of happiness is not the way most people define it. Today happiness is associated with instant gratification. That's something we need once in a while, but experiencing it all the time is a bad thing. It kills discipline and can ruin your life.

True, classical happiness is attained through years of delayed gratification and often hard work and discipline. Any skill or subject area expertise is developed through the same method. I can claim to be an expert in Information Technology, because I've put the time and work into it. Aaron Cleary can claim to be an economist because he's spent the time developing his knowledge of the subject. I can claim to be an amateur economist, as I'm studying the subject, but I still have a long way to go.

The Declaration of Independence lists among the unalienable rights of man the ...right to pursue happiness. They didn't put "the right to life, liberty, and happiness" because there is no guarantee of actually being happy. The instant gratification happiness is fleeting. The more you get, the more you need to maintain your level or to return to your level. 

While I was drafting this post, Matt Forney published a post about "You're only as good as your final act". He writes about people who once did great things, but died at the bottom of their reputations. Elvis, for one, once known for great music died on the crapper too drugged out to string a coherent sentence together.
 Everyone knows that idiotic cliche “Live your life like you’re going to die tomorrow.” The popular conception is that you should immediately book the red eye to Medellin, scooter your way to the nearest brothel and do lines of coke off of whores’ asses until your left ventricle explodes. What the line really means that you should determine if how you’re living your life now is how you want people to remember you when you’re dead.
Wise words.

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