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Neither is Better


I believe it was in Ray Dalio’s book, Principles, that roughly said and loosely quoted, “Some people want to change the world while others just want to savor it.  Neither is better.”  As a father, I find myself battling with this all the time.  When I see my kids doing more savoring that changing, I tend to become frustrated.  I suspect there are many parents that can relate.  But it’s not just us parents that experience this.  We can experience this when we expect our friends or other relatives to do things a certain way, challenging them when they are taking the easy road in life and not striving to improve.  Ray Dalio says, “Neither is better.”

“You’ll Never Have Anything”

Have you ever seen someone who spends money faster than they get it?  Are you that type of spender?  Someone who is more money conscious may look at you with chagrin.  They will say you are doing “wrong” and that “You’ll never have anything.”  But, if we step back from it, are they really wrong?  If the person is happy and enjoying life, by spending all of their money, are they truly wrong?  I mean, maybe we are wrong for saving and investing constantly?  Maybe the spenders have something that we don’t.  Maybe they are thinking, “You’ll never really enjoy life.”

The Suit vs. The Homeless Guy

I always like to tell the story of the business man, dressed in his expensive suit, on his cell phone conducting business as he walks down the streets of New York City.  He passes a homeless guy living in a cardboard box.  He looks at the homeless guy and thinks, “Poor guy.  What a crappy way to live.  He doesn’t have anything.  I have everything I need.  Too bad he can’t be like me.”  

The homeless guy looks up and sees the business man walking down the street.  He thinks to himself, “Poor guy.  He looks stressed out on the phone, more concerned with his call than this beautiful day.  He probably has to run from one meeting and one phone call to the next, never getting a chance to enjoy life.  Too bad he can’t be like me.”  

Who is right and who is wrong?

Who is living “right?”  Well, I don’t think there is a “right” or “wrong,” though we have been taught there is.  We have been taught that we have to work hard to be successful in life and have the things we want.  This is the “right” way to live.  So, we try to push our ambitions on others.  We know what is “right” so do it “like us” and you will be successful.  The problem comes in when we hold our loved ones and friends according to what we believe is the “right” way to do things.  We tend to push our ambitions on them and at times to the detriment of our relationships.

It’s Okay To Savor The World

I believe I agree with Mr. Dalio.  I don’t believe it is fair to hold people to a certain way to live their lives.  Now, I do have my faith and my beliefs around that, but when it comes to how we enjoy our lives, we all have to answer to ourselves and our Higher Power.  I am suggesting that we should not look down on our family and friends for the choices that they make which we don’t agree with.  Perhaps they are savoring the world, not necessarily trying to change it.  And that is okay.  They have every right to live their lives the way they want to live them, within the boundaries of the law, so why should we push them one way or the other?  Who is “right?”

Final Thoughts

My point here is that there really isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to enjoy our lives.  It all comes down to if we are happy or not.  Happiness is heavily affected by our relationships.  When we push our ambitions and thoughts on our family and friends, we may actually be pushing them away.  It’s true that we can provide guidance, when asked, and we have a duty to our kids to do that.  But if the person is capable of making their own decisions and are happy with the outcome, we should not push our agenda on to them.

We need to support our family and friends and help only when asked?  It’s not that we should stress why we are “right” with what we are doing, but that we can provide guidance if needed.  When asked, you can explain why you do something a certain way and how it has helped you.  Be supportive of your family and friends.  Don’t judge their decisions as “right” or “wrong.”

Some people want to change the world and some would rather savor it.  It’s true that one is not better than the other.  So show support and love if you want your relationships to blossom and grow.  We all have the right to live our lives in the pursuit of happiness.  Who is to say what is the “right” or “wrong” way of doing that?

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