The Argument Against Life Optimization
Many people are looking for automation everywhere in life, from apps to excel sheets and everything in between. The perfect clothes, the perfect workout, the perfect (fill in the blank) are all at our fingertips.
Everyone wants things streamlined and done for them. Where’s the joy in working hard towards a goal? If everything was handed to me, I wouldn’t know what I know now. I wouldn’t have the same appreciation for my success as I do.
I’ve always tried to make my life better out of pure curiosity. I am constantly curious about how I can improve my current situation. However, as a thought experiment, I wondered what my life would look like without trying to optimize every single facet of my life.
Are we really even satisfied if we are continually trying to optimize everything? There is never a moment that we actually stop to appreciate life in the present moment. We are always searching for ways to make our life better in some way shape or form.
What are you going to do when everything is optimized? Sit back relax and… do what? Isn’t life supposed to be about growing as humans? Now I’m not saying there is something wrong with having life set on “easy” mode, but we wouldn’t be where we are today without having to struggle through a few obstacles in life.
Imagine for a second that none of those obstacles ever existed. Would you feel the same about your accomplishments if they were just handed to you? Probably not.
Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of times I say, “There’s got to be a better way to do this!” That’s how most businesses are started. From frustration of a certain way of doing things, an individual finds a better way of going through daily life.
There are too many “life hacks” out there to count. There are websites devoted to these life hacks, DIYs ( or like I like to call some of them D.I.”Why’s”), YouTube channels specifically addressing life optimization, etc.
What if you followed every single one of these “life hacks” out there? Wouldn’t you have the best life imaginable?
My guess is probably not. You’d start to see diminishing returns on every life hack you complete. You’d have to start working towards all of these hacks and life optimization strategies. Instead of living life on your own terms, you’d be living for a checklist.
What You Can Do Instead
Instead of optimizing your life in every way shape or form, why not put yourself in uncomfortable situations? This will force you to grow as a person.
When we travel, L and I like to put each other in situations where we are forced out of our comfort zone. I am introverted and like to just observe people. L decided that she would pressure me to talk to one of the people I was observing.
I distinctly remember being in Amsterdam drinking a Heineken at a local pub, observing this couple with another elderly woman. I kept thinking, “What’s her story? Where is her husband? Did he pass away? Could he not make it out today? Are they relatives? Life-long friends? Why does she remind me so much of my grandmother?” You get the idea.
L noticed me observing and said to me, “I challenge you to go start a conversation with them.” After a bit of resistance, I did just that. I told the lady she reminded me of my own grandmother in the States. She replied back saying her granddaughter is going to college in Kansas. (The friend who was with L and I at the time also went to college in Kansas. I hate to be cliche but it really is a small world!) We started chatting for a few more minutes before saying our goodbyes.
What this taught me was to step out of my comfort zone. If I hadn’t put myself in an uncomfortable situation to grow as a person, I would have never talked to that lady and never had the courage to do it again in the future. Now, every time I drink or see a Heineken, I think of that moment.
What if some of these frustrations in life aren’t meant to be fixed? What if they are there to teach us a lesson? Stop and think next time you’re looking for a hack to make your life easier. Do you really want the easy way out? Or do you want to struggle through for a little bit and learn something from it?
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