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> It's part primal - fear of insecurity and belonging to a social structure - part ego - accomplishment as confirmation of existence and your salary as a concrete number to compare favorably to others - and part culture and habit.

You forget a big part I think: planning for your future. You don't know if you'll have a job 10 years from now. If you have kids you know you need a bunch of cash to make sure they get a reasonable education down the road. Of course you'll feel the pressure to prepare for such eventualities. Not everyone is "living in the moment".




> Not everyone is "living in the moment"

Nor is everyone obsessed with being winners, of the moral high ground as in this case.

Sure working your ass off 80h/w will make you a penny or two more but you may die in the process and will have to sacrifice something to make time.

My father passed away with 200+ days of unspent holiday, and I cannot remember a moment with him. I for sure won’t make the same mistake


I'm sorry to hear that, and you make a really good point. A family friend was an engineer at Boeing and worked his whole life there, never taking time off or doing much outside work. He got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer six months after he retired and spent the last few months of his life in hospice care. Everyone knows they won't live forever but the conscious mind doesn't seem to be able to grasp the concept of reality without itself present. In many ways you are your own universe and that universe has a finite existence. It's important to approach life satisfaction in the same way you plan for retirement; if you ignore it, it won't happen.


  ... You forget a big part I think: planning for your future. ...
What I find remarkable is that in Thailand the people on the country-side generally seem to not think too much about the future. My Thai girlfriend sometimes tells me I should think less about the future, same like the Thai people do. She tells me sometimes I think too much about the future. The Thai people don't care too much about saving up for a pension either, probably because they expect their children to provide for their old age.

Perhaps this view of life has some roots in the Buddhist religion as well.

I do think if I would choose to stay in Europe it would be very hard for me to live in the moment, but I think in Thailand it should be possible. The problem is here you have to pay a lot of taxes, can make little savings and pretty much have to work 40 hours a week to have some disposable income, this is especially true if you have a wife, children, etc... As a software developer it should be easy, when staying in Thailand, to just work perhaps 25 hours a week and have enough income for a very easy, worry-free life.


Not worrying about the future works fantastically until the future becomes the present and you are woefully unprepared. I am all for living in the present and enjoying what you have, but you don't want to just pretend the future isn't coming. It is.


It depends on the culture, you can be a lot more relaxed about the future if you have the safety net of a large family or generous state to rely on.


> expect their children to provide for their old age. ..Perhaps this view of life has some roots in the Buddhist religion as well.

That has nothing to do with Buddhism, it's because developing countries dont have govt provided social security so old people have to depend on their kids for support.


I believe he was referring to the general living-in-the-present attitude rather than the supported-by-your-child part.


Theravada Buddhism (as it is practiced) very much tells children to honor and care for their parents. And to respond with compassion to beggars and even stray animals. And to attend to the moment.

But suffering tends to be sharper in poorer countries and some people find it stressful to be around so much less hidden suffering than a richer country where the poorer people are invisible.


This has nothing to do with Buddhism. It is found in about any ancient religion out there, because it's very much in the natural order of things in human societies. Here's what you can find in the Bible (and I am pretty sure there are more):

> “The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much....But those who won't care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8)


There are lots of cultures (national and sub-national) where people don't think about the future.

Migration flows are always away from those cultures, and towards cultures where people do think about the future.

The thing is, everybody likes to dream about the care-free life, but nobody wants to experience the inevitable ultimate results of that: poverty, crime, underachievement (e.g. never accomplishing anything on a long time horizon), and powerlessness at the hands of people who planned.

Never forget the little red hen [1].

[1] http://www.enchantedlearning.com/stories/fairytale/littlered...


>> but nobody wants to experience the inevitable ultimate results of that: poverty, crime, underachievement

I grew up in a diverse community in Brooklyn NY. There were marked differences in ambition amongst cultures. BUT Not all lack of ambition is negative as I personally witnessed. It may be negative at a society-level, but I witnessed very happy people. Parents who played soccer with their children daily. Parents who were always present at dinner. People who lived paycheck to paycheck, but were happy. Obviously, this is NY, so there are some safety nets for two-sigma cases (medicaid, housing support.)

Remember that ambition often comes with a cost (I worked 10+yrs on Wall Street, most high achievers I worked with rarely made it home for dinner with kids.) So many people I worked with were miserable.


> There are lots of cultures (national and sub-national) where people don't think about the future.

> Migration flows are always away from those cultures, and towards cultures where people do think about the future.

Source? How exactly is the amount of "thinking about the future" determined?


> There are lots of cultures (national and sub-national) where people don't think about the future.

Name three.


"Fear of insecurity" was mentioned, and quoted by you.


It's not just fear of insecurity. I mentioned planning for your kids' future, which is not about insecurity at all.


The fear that your kid will be a failure if you don't have money so send her to MIT is pure insecurity.

It's better to work 40 hours, follow and help her in school than work 80h and be the stranger that throws money over a wall to send her away from home under the guise of "it is good for you, trust me".


Sorry, but that's your prerogative. I haven't seen my dad much when I was a kid because he was working his ass off to provide for his family, and help us get in better schools than my family could not afford otherwise.

If you can afford to live in luxury with only 40h a week, then it's great, but don't assume that everyone can do it without trade-offs. And if that trade-off is your kid not getting the best chances in education down the road, then it's worth thinking about it twice, if you do love your kids.




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