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Success In Life: How Do You Measure It?

Stashed in: #lifehacks, #happiness, Time, #success, Life, Relationships, Money!, Attention, @timoreilly, @bakadesuyo, Awesome, Meaning of Life, Ethics, Kaizen, The Internet is my religion., Happiness, RTFM!, Life Hacks, Happiness

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Holy cow, really?!

Remember the Game of Life? It’s one of the most popular board games ever. You won if you ended the game with the most money.

Here’s the interesting thing you probably don’t know: The game wasn’t always about money.

The original version was about vice, virtue and happiness. But when it was re-released in 1960 it was about cash.

When Milton Bradley (the man) first created it, he saw the game as a tool to teach children about ethics.

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Life is about RELATIONSHIPS.

We all need money.

And if you spend it the right way, it does increase happiness.

But research shows money doesn’t buy meaning in life.

And when old people are surveyed (people who have almost completed “the game of life”) they never use money as their scoring system.

If there’s something many agree is a good measure, it’s probably relationships.

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Here’s one metric that’s for certain. 

You only have about 30,000 days, roughly, to play this real game of life.

If you're lucky.

Which made me search for Geege's video about jellybeans.


For Eric Barker, Tim O’Reilly may have said it best:

Some of you may succeed, and some of you may fail. I want to remind you that financial success is not the only goal or the only measure of success. It’s easy to get caught up in the heady buzz of making money. You should regard money as fuel for what you really want to do, not as a goal in and of itself. Money is like gas in the car — you need to pay attention or you’ll end up on the side of the road — but a well-lived life is not a tour of gas stations!

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I think one of the challenges we have to overcome before drawing any conclusions about measuring success in life is resolving the conflation of "meaning" and "value" in experience.  These are not the same things.

1. Everything has "meaning". As individuals we create meaning throughout our lives.  Meaning is a felt sense, something we subjectively ascribe to our expression or reception of life depending upon our own unique biases and choices about any experience we have.  We are the sole arbiters of meaning in our lives.

2. We can ascribe meaning to anything, but not everything has "value".  It takes others to determine value, regardless how meaningful something may be to us.  The valuing of anything is always a social act--it takes at least two people to make an exchange and within that exchange is where value becomes "discovered" or "revealed".  Value is always an objectively measurable and verifiable presence, often tangible in terms of whatever is exchanged.  This quality is true regardless how one or another might feel about any exchange or "valuation".  But being objective doesn't mean that value is necessarily absolute or fixed--"value" always varies depending upon social interest and participation.

For example:

My childhood family home is likely highly meaningful to me.  I ascribe an emotional level of experience to it that you and all others will never have.  We can also likely come to agree upon the value of my house, even though you and others have vastly different personal feelings about its "meaning", except our shared willingness to make an exchange.  The value of my house, if we transact, is whatever we agree to exchange for it at the time, whether that's dollars, yen, country club memberships, bushels of corn or whatever.

I would suggest the following as true:

The VALUE of anything is always observable and fungible--even if we value it as priceless: even life is cheaper in some places and more expensive in others.  If you're wise about where you choose to live and who you wish to live around, you could increase the value of your life.  Hopefully you have choice and if needed can immediately leave a war zone, domestic violence situation or grad school and move on to more productive settings and pursuits.

The MEANING of anything is, as yet, unavailable to us as an external, socially observable or fungible quality.  Similarly, if your life is not meaningful enough for you, then get to work--the meaning you get out of your life is entirely in your own hands and of your own making.  Or not.  Especially if you choose to hitch the meaning of your life to the objective valuation of it by others... whatever works is cool.

Now as to measuring success in life, I have no idea about this for others.  I do have a clue as to what that means for me...

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