0-60 or What Would You Take With You? Part 1 of 4
‘Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.’
– C.S. Lewis
Fancy trying a few thought experiments, the objective of which is to work out what’s most important to you, given a specific set of circumstances?
Let’s say you come back from work to find that your house is burning down.
You can make one trip into the burning building and save whatever really matters to you. You dash in to rescue your partner, mother-in-law, kids, pets (maybe not necessarily in that order), and if fortune favours you, grab your mobile phone and some money.
With this, and assuming there’s no serious injury to anybody, you can start to rebuild your life. The people and things that are truly important have been saved, and with your mobile (which contains all your key data and financial contacts) you can negotiate with your insurers and arrange a hotel or other temporary accommodation whilst everything is resolved.
What will your overall view of the situation be, once you’ve got over the shock and felt elated to be alive and to have got out in one piece (you might even have a TV crew interviewing you as the ‘hero’ of the moment)?
Will you collapse in grief at having lost all that ‘stuff’ or will you perceive an opportunity to revitalize your life with new things and experiences?
You may actually be pleased at the loss of some things that you realise were nothing more than clutter that you’d invested some modicum of sentiment in. That hat stand from your maiden aunt that you could happily have thrown on last November’s bonfire, the only thing stopping you was that you feared being written out of her will, for example.
Say you lost around ninety five percent of your belongings, how many of them would you bother to replace? What value does what you own add to your life? Note – this also applies to the people you know and sometimes feel that you have to put up with.
But you could see that train of thought coming, right?
What if you never really liked the house and all that stuff anyway – what have you lost and more importantly, what could you potentially gain? Note – this assumes that you aren’t a pyromaniac and didn’t burn the house down in the first instance.
You’ve crossed a drugs baron or mafia don by testifying against them and are soon to find yourself living in a small town in Ohio under witness protection. There’s a tasty price on your head, which you find somewhat flattering during those moments of the day that are not consumed by sheer existential terror and dashing to the toilet.
You have five minutes before the bad mofos turn up with shotguns and assault rifles. So you’ve got to fill a suitcase of essentials, and then the FBI will whisk you to a secret location where, fate willing, you won’t wake up in the morning to find a horse’s head on your blood drenched pillow.
What would you take?
The same principle would apply if you won a round the world trip but could only take hand luggage and have a few minutes to pack.
Exercises like these are entertaining and for some people inspiring, because they encourage you to concentrate on what’s essential to you, thus providing a degree of clarity and lucidity.
If you walk around your domicile, you’ll most likely find a number of things that have outlived their use, or, even more regrettably, haven’t been used at all. You may or may not like these things, or possibly haven’t thought about them as they’ve been there for a while and you’re used to them.
They represent an opportunity cost.
They’ve devalued since you bought them and may be worth nothing now (or just a fraction of what you paid), so you get irked by thinking about what else you could have done with the money.
It’s the same with people.