Monday, June 04, 2007

How to live

I'm not a fan of any philosophy that tells you how to live, presribes the purposeful life, details the habits that successful people have and so on. Life is too complex and opaque for one path to apply to all. Better to read Shakespeare or Garcia-Marquez or Marcus Aurelius and go on long journeys between many existences than to find truth encapsulated in a few pages by an American with synthesised snake-oil in his pouch.

That said, there are formula that are open-ended enough to be generative and produce complex outcomes. Two of my favourite how-to-live philosophies:

The three circles approach:
1. The first circle: at the centre is what you love to do
2. The second circle: at the centre is what you are good at doing
3. The third circle: at the centre is what you can get material benefits in doing

The idea is to define each of the circles in such a way that all three merge onto each other. Then you will be happy. Thanks M for this one.

The inputs-outputs approach:
We have all manner of inputs in our lives: people, media, sensory stimuli, discourse. We produce all kinds of outputs in consequence: behaviour, speech, texts, influence. The simple idea is to analyse existing inputs and outputs, then work to reduce the number of negative inputs, and increase the number of positive outputs. Thanks D for this one.

The first approach works well for those in search of happiness with a material base. The second approach works well for those in search of happiness with a spiritual base. Of course, they are not mutually exclusive. Taking both models seriously would propel most people to a more fulfiling destiny.

There is much more to say about both models, but this is a blog and so not the best format. But, just like someone teaching you a new scale on a guitar, there is plenty for anyone to go away with and practice, and make discoveries of your own based on these simple open-system formulae for living.


The Pseudo-Independent 10:08 am  

This is interesting and makes some sense. I can see many more people adopting this perspective in the future.
Great post!

Funmi Iyanda 11:09 am  

We know it jeremy but do we do it? l think we were born to die and everything we do unconciously is in fulfilment of that sentence. It is only the things done in enlightned conciousness that can delay, ease or triump over the journey to death. Note how friggin hard those are.

Fred 2:54 am  

Long journeys between many existences... H'm. You sound like you have some snake oil to sell, boyo.

One wonders why anyone would want "complex outcomes" either. I do like the three-circles.

temilade 12:21 pm  

I've always liked your posts, but none has really applied to me like this one did. The three-circles approach practically sorts out a lot of stuff for me. Especially the implied relationship between the first two: You are not necessarily best at that thing you love doing. And what you do best may not be exactly what you'd rather be doing. And then the third: There's no point on the long run doing what you love or what you're best at if it doesn't pay you.
Godd stuff; I'll sure use it.

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