Planning for Trouble
“Never live beyond your means,” my father would say. The human calculus that leads folks to impart their own brand of wisdom in their offspring and mentees is beyond me. And I deeply respect folks who have demonstrated the success of their wisdom via life success.
But as I get older and embark on adventures of fatherhood, profession and happiness of my own, I’m finding that repurposing wisdom is far better than blindly following it. For the above quote, I’m finding it difficult to imagine how you can possibly avoid living beyond your means.
In a purely financial sense, that means spending less than you make. Which is a fabulous piece of advice. Money lenders only exist so long as they stand to benefit from an eventual payout. When that payout gets bleak, lenders disappear and you are left owing more than you can pay, which we call bankruptcy. At this point you most assuredly will be living beyond your means. Life will become difficult.
But my realization is this: “With every sip off the fountain of life we’re living beyond our means.” The blessing to be alive is given to us for only a brief time, and while we’re in our mortal coil everything, even our financial security, is only possible through an infinitely complex web of existence that betrays all our best planning.
Briefly, we’re all in this together.
Once we’ve understood that and dispensed with shallow, Rand-ian philosphy of isolationism, we can better address how we express our gratitude for the means of our living. If we can’t reduce our lives to the simple maxim of not living beyond our means, indeed, if our only choice is to live beyond our means, then the only path to a happy, productive life is to show consistent gratitude to those around us.
For me, that means living a stoic lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean emotionless. It means a measured and reasoned response to the difficulties of life. We must acknowledge, like Marcus Aurelius or Epicetus before us, that we only control our response to the events of our lives, and that a negative response rarely provides a positive resolution to an event.
My pledge, as I seek to embrace an honest stoic philosophic life is to respond rationally and positively to the events that happen to me in my life. A big part of fullfilling that pledge is taking part in an activity which is often called “planning for adversity.” Essentially, one meditates on a ficticious worry, considering what a stoic response would be and allowing the negative emotional response to pass by you into oblivion.
I’ve built a tool to help me keep to this goal, as well: Plan for Adversity
My hope and belief is that through stocisim and adversity planning, I will be better able to repay gratitude with more gratitude, improving the social condition of those around me whom I benefit from so much.