Let’s say you can live for 100 years, that is 3,155,760,000 seconds for you to spend. We spend about a third of it resting so that leads to 2,103,840,000 seconds left for us to spend. Let’s say we work 40 hours a week for 50 years of our lives, that leaves us with 1,728,154,261 seconds. Let’s imagine we spend another 1/3 of our time attending to our responsibilities (e.g. child rearing, chores, education, etc.), that leaves us with 676,234,272 seconds, that’s only a little over 20% of our entirely life for free time (~21.42%). Time is precious, so we should spend it carefully. As for me, I do not worry about such things because I make sure that every single second of my life is well spent. But sometimes I do have doubts about whether I am wasting my time, so I have some tips to overcome the fear and maximise your happiness.
Happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death. Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. A morality that dares to tell you to find happiness in the renunciation of your happiness—to value the failure of your values—is an insolent negation of morality. A doctrine that gives you, as an ideal, the role of a sacrificial animal seeking slaughter on the altars of others, is giving you death as your standard. By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.
But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive in any random manner, but will perish unless he lives as his nature requires, so he is free to seek his happiness in any mindless fraud, but the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man. The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.
– Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
- Find a balance of productivity and leisure
You know the saying “Find a job you love so you never have to work again”? Productivity is one of the Objectivist virtues, Hank Rearden symbolised this virtue by beginning his career at a young age, his work provided him with the greatest pleasure therefore it is also leisure for him to continue producing Rearden metal. Dagny Taggart also presented the same enthusiasm when she noticed the potential to construction a transportation network using her engineering knowledge at Galt’s Gulch. Not all of us will be as lucky as Hank or Dagny but it doesn’t mean we will not get any leisure time to do the things we love to do. The strikers all took up roles below their talent though they don’t mind it as long as they are shrugging. The trick is finding a balance where you can be the happiest without letting your commitments overwhelm you.
I like my part time job, I have great colleagues, a flexible schedule and enjoyable tasks to do. I give my 120% for the job but I know ultimately I can strive for something better, that doesn’t mean I do not find pleasure in my work, though I wouldn’t go out of my way to be “productive”. The balance of education, employment and leisure can be stressful at times but it is well balanced because I can manage my time well.
- Knowing your limit
We only have one life to live in this universe, with our peak potential lasting for about 30 years. We can’t possibly obtain all the knowledge in this world unless we are some polymaths, but even polymaths have limits. Whatever your goal is in life, you need to acknowledge that you might not always succeed. The more goals you make the lower the chances for them to all succeed, you are probably not going to be simultaneously the best baseball player and an astronaut at the same time. The axiom is this: Existence exists.
For instance, one of my goals to achieve in this life is to watch every single movie (excluding Indian films) there is. But the goal is unrealistic as there will always be newer ones being released, instead I modified it to watching as many movies that I find enjoyable as possible. If a film is so bad that I couldn’t bear to watch, why torture myself for doing so? (Unless it’s Mystery Science Theatre 3000) I am not going to read books on the topics of Iberian History, Gynaecology, Sanskrit or some broken Hellenistic vases. They have no value to me and to bring myself to study them would be against the ethics of liberty.
- No Regrets
All your actions are of your own volition, the consequences are yours to bear. Remember you are an end to your own self, the morality teaches us that it is moral to pursue our rational self interest, if you spend time wasting your life away on escaping the reality then it is immoral, but you have made that decision so do not regret it. There is always time to start over, it’s never too late to start enjoying your life.
The ability to weigh in all the pros and cons consciously is simply untrue, spend some time to figure out what you really enjoy/are good at and work on them. If your true passion is painting then focus on becoming a good painter if you are truly good at it, otherwise incorporate it into your routines if it will just be a hobby. Don’t become Peter Keating who took his mother’s advice to become an architect because it can provide him with prospect and fame, do it for yourself.
Remember, we are all heroic beings, there is no greater achievement in life than to be the utmost happy for your existence, even if there are obstacles along the way, there is nothing you cannot overcome with an optimistic attitude.