The Importance Of Doing What Defines You

Introduction (Via Zdziarski)

A friend of mine was going on about really knowing people; “people… are not defined by what they do”, he said. The point he was making was not to judge people by the cover of what they do in life. But the deeper point, that he may not have even realized, was the tragedy in the truth of that statement. How tragic it is that we aren’t what we do. It seems to me that, given the finite amount of time we have to live and become, that we spend more of our lives thinking about what we want to do than actually doing it.

I’m not talking about recreation. There are a lot of things we could do, but most of us have a shorter list of things we love to do. These are the things that give us purpose in life; they drive and define who we are, and we’d gladly choose them over the most expensive recreation. People refer to these higher things as passions or callings. I simply call doing the things that give us purpose, “living”. Using the term “living” seems like a misnomer, however, as people usually spend more of their life doing anything but these things. The average person will spend twenty or thirty years of their “life” doing all of the things they don’t want to do in hopes that one day they’ll earn enough money to buy back what they gave up in the first place: the time to live. But time is exactly what we don’t have a lot of. If anything is worth burning our lives out on, wouldn’t it be the things that define us and give our lives purpose?

Favorite Bits (via Zdziarski)

We don’t have any time because we spend most of it earning wealth, and in most cases, generating even more wealth for other people. Paul Graham once wrote about wealth, saying “Children tend to misunderstand wealth. They confuse it with money. They think that there is a fixed amount of it. And they think of it as something that’s distributed … rather than something that has to be created.” He goes on to say that wealth is, in fact, not money, but money is a convenient way of transferring one form of wealth to another. Wealth comes in many forms, including both money and time. Consider that most of the world spends the majority of their time trying to acquire money, viewing it as the key to doing what they want to do. In reality, all they’re doing is spending wealth (in the form of time) only to earn it back in the form of money, so they can then use it to buy back time. Those without the foresight to see this cycle wake up one day only to find that they’re out of time, and without time, the money is meaningless. All of their wealth was squandered trying to acquire the wealth they already had.

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About Miguel Barbosa

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16. February 2010 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Wisdom Seeking | Leave a comment

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