I just left this comment on Krauser’s newest post. In it he talks about how happiness is the top priority in life, and that the best way to achieve this is through seeking medium term goals. He also talks about not getting chained down by the responsibilities that come with being an authority over others.
Ya, being happy is the top priority. That’s always good to be aware of.
Medium term happiness might seem like a reasonable balance between taking care of your present self and your future self, but will your far future self feel short shrifted? Maybe yes, maybe no. Good memories of good times are valuable. Young people are famous for discounting the needs of their older self. The Who sang “hope I die before I get old”, and kids in my highschool at the time didn’t care if smoking killed them, because they couldn’t value their fuddy-duddy older selves.
Is a wicked hang over worth it the morning after? Depends who you ask. The night before it was worth it. The morning after it wasn’t.
Old people famously have outrageous and unforeseeable health care costs, and then their quality of life is tied in closely to their retirement income. Once you are old enough to have those costs, will it have been worth it to think about long term happiness? Again, worth it to who? No, it will not be worth it to your younger self – he cares about short and medium term happiness.
I forget who it was who first noticed that it’s impossible to opt out of the sexual marketplace. Maybe it was Roissy. Roissy noticed that although we may proclaim ourselves as grass eaters and proclaim ourselves as Free with a capital F of all the burdens of external female validation, and Free of having to chase after pussy, and therefore Free to have Free time to do other things, that there was and could never be escape from the sexual marketplace. No escape from the socio sexual hierarchy. No escape from our own internal built in human condition of desire, and no escape from how other people view our place on the totem pole.
I think it’s the same for the notion of being Sigma. I’ve been about as sigma as they come, I suppose, most of my life. I make my own rules, go my own way, at times to the extreme of neglecting to cut my hair or wear decent clothes. I was a late bloomer to even notice all the dominance plays for power that are constantly going on in most social dramas, such as Mad Men. Those social games never interested me and I thought they were for stupid people or people trapped within conventions or people trapped inside jobs that they didn’t have the wherewithal to get out of.
But now I see it the same way as the socio-sexual hierarchy. There is no escaping it. Sigma is an illusion.
We are judged by others, and pretending or willfully believing that it doesn’t matter does not lessen the advantages of being higher up on the pole.
It’s true that there are also disadvantages. If there were not then most people would not seem so eager to follow, and the world would look a lot more like Lucky Thomson’s dog eat dog world full of every man for himself gangsterish positioning. Most people take less risks, and are more docile, and many can get by barely even noticing the rat race.
I used to laud the virtue of being a slacker, and despised the notion of a suit. Free time was my most valuable possession. I was low on the financial totem pole at 40, and that hurt my prospects with women, but I still did well above average with no end in sight. By then I’d spent a few years managing a staff of 12, and a few years after that working mostly on my own, and was happy to no longer have the burden of responsibility of making payroll.
But since then I’ve regrouped and rearranged and repositioned myself. My staff are no longer a burden, any more than a hammer is a burden. They aren’t a burden because I’m not overextended. And instead of being trapped by the business monster that I created, I now enjoy work, and choose to do it. I’m no more trapped by my work than a painter is trapped by the canvas that he put in front of himself.
Last time I had a staff of 12, it had little benefit to me other than money. This time I’ve carefully chosen my businesses to work towards giving me social proof and social access to young hotties. The businesses are pipelines, as well as very enjoyable hobbies. They have brought me close friendships with many cool guys, who came out to live here as interns. The integration of personal interest, future interest, financial interest, and social interest is complete.
And in the process I’m more aware of the social hierarchy that I once thought was so utterly beside the point. It’s not beside the point once you get advantage from it. When people come to visit me at my shop-house in Java, they have to climb four flights of stairs to get to my room. It’s a 30 meter long building and the floors below are filled with cool machines and kowtowing underlings. And I built a garden on the roof and added two more floors out of bamboo just for fun, for a total of 7 floors. This has a psychological impact on people. The compound of bungalows under construction in Bali will be equally impressive, and the planned attractions will bring in a steady stream of impressionable wide young eyes . This not only has a psychological impact, but is a pipeline and a growing network.
Guys who are not well positioned might start to get squirmy about this, and start to put their fingers in their ears and scream La La La La YOU DON’T NEED MONEY TO GET HOT GIRLS. Which is exactly like a go-your-own-way grass eater saying that you don’t need women to be happy. There is no escaping the fact that social hierarchy has an influence on how people treat you. When you are are relatively high up compared to those around you, through whatever the local measurements of status are, then people will treat you differently and you’ll notice the difference.
Only lately have I started to get a taste for it. It never mattered to me before, because I never knew the value of it before, because I never had the value of it before.
The back of my head is nearly all bald now, and my temples are grey. It’s much worse than two years ago. My face gets wrinklier every year. As do my drooping balls. But my tastes in girls are the same, and I still want and still date teenagers and young twenty somethings. I know that this is a concept that will not get past the fingers in the ears, but it’s a simple fact of life that money and status and power are sexually attractive, in more than a comfort and security way, plus also a comfort and security way. And this is a very welcome advantage for old men.
So medium term happiness is great, for you now. But there will be a different man in the future who will benefit from ample money.
And being sigma is good for you now. But you also might become a different man who becomes accustomed to being perceived of as high status, and becomes accustomed to the benefits that come with it.
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Grass eaters are free from pussy. Hippies are free from corporate chains and petty concerns about material possessions. But nobody is free. We are socially enmeshed beings, and we can never be free from that without being dead. Whether we care about validation has nothing to do with the benefits and costs of our relative social positioning. It takes money to be free, otherwise you won’t be free from hunger and deprivation, nor have the freedom to pay for a chosen lifestyle.
I’ve lived hand to mouth and been happy and enjoyed it. There is no one magic answer for what is a good life. I’m just saying that money matters more, the older we get, and as we get older we start to lose energy and focus and eventually peter out and want to retire.
If the long term is not included in notions about happiness, then you are having a generation gap with yourself, and are close to hoping that you die before you get old.