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Want to Be Happy? Think Like an Old Person (2017) (nytimes.com)
313 points by seventyhorses 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 170 comments



Some thoughts from someone who recently became an "old" person. Around turning 50 I suddenly realized that my life will probably be always somewhat similar to what it is now. The big ambitions and dreams are gone so I don't feel that much pressure to achieve anymore. Also at that age the options to change one's life are pretty limited compared to being in your 20s. Which makes me much more content compared to when I was younger. I have also accepted that I will die some day.

I don't think younger people should adopt that mindset necessarily. It's good to have ambition while you are young but maybe you shouldn't listen too much to other people. In the end being young is hard. There are so many options for living your life but there is no way to tell which one will be right for you. So there is a lot of luck involved. Some people pick the right path. Many don't.


> Also at that age the options to change one's life are pretty limited compared to being in your 20s.

A second cousin of mine in his 40s, 50s works at a factory. He did a classics course through the Open University. He still works at the factory, because he likes the work, but he was more than able to do the course, and he felt that he was more prepared for the coursework at that age than if he had done it earlier.

For most people, the options are still there, you're just less likely to see them as an option. Never underestimate your potential later in life. As long as you maintain your levels of exercise and take care of your body, you are on average just as capable to change careers as you were when you were twenty.

As a secondary source, there was recently an Ask Hacker News thread of people who had started their programming careers in their fifties, I sadly cannot find the like :c


" you are on average just as capable to change careers as you were when you were twenty."

Maybe you are capable but the job market is much less welcoming in your 50s compared to being in your 20s especially if you are trying to get into something new. You certainly can learn new things though. No doubt.


The job market is never very welcoming there is always going to be a lot of competition, either from peers or from abroad.

I stopped being employable somewhere in my early 20's and I still think that is the best thing that happened to me. It made me think of life not in terms of jobs but in terms of capabilities. You can learn new things and you can pick up new marketable skills and change careers. I did it when I was 42, I see no reason why it could not be done at 50 or older. In fact I know a couple of nice examples of people older than 50 that made radical (and lucrative) career changes.

It's really up to you, your appetite for risk and how much energy you can muster. At 50+ you probably have an advantage over 20 year olds trying to do the same except for the energy factor.


I transitioned from technical recruiting to software development at age 40.


Can you be more specific what this change was?


I used to be a programmer, decided after burning out that I did not feel like chasing tech stacks for the next two decades and recycled my knowledge to set up a service for venture capital. I've been doing this for a decade now and it is slowly taking off. In a nutshell, me and my little band of friends help VCs to evaluate the companies they have the option to invest in. Our 'work product' is a report, which it takes about a week to put together.

There were many other options to choose from this one I had a bit of a taste from by accident and I decided to see where it would lead. In the meantime I'm firing off all kinds of crazy projects whenever I have some spare time (less so every year due to the service company doubling in size year over year for the last 5 years or so).

It makes good money too, and the customers I have are a lot more appreciative than any of the start-ups (b2c) customers that I had. Also there is enough time left over for a life rather than to be in the rat race all the time. All in all it suits me well, I should have probably done it earlier but apparently I had to run into the wall first before I got the message. I still code, but only when it suits me and I have fun doing it.


Do you have website describing this work? I poked around a bit and found your blog, but not one specifically describing your work for VCs.

--A fellow techie that has done a wide variety of freelancing and consulting the past decade or so; your transition comment caught my eye...


Yes, but I don't like to advertise on HN. If you want you can mail me.

There are two articles on the blog regarding this:

https://jacquesmattheij.com/due-diligence-survival-guide

https://jacquesmattheij.com/due-diligence-survival-guide-par...

Those are already more than 6 years old but they aged quite well.


Good articles. If you're someone who is not selling a business but simply running a project your "Some Tips" can be useful to smaller scale projects that have run into trouble. Replace "business" and "company" with "project". Replace "due diligence" with "someone higher up is suddenly interested in what's actually going on":

>Know your business (from a legal, technical and financial point of view)

>If there is bad news get it out of the way as soon as possible, well before the due diligence process starts

>Be truthful and honest

>Don’t fall into the trap of ‘dressing up’ the company, it will come back to bite you during due diligence

>Make sure that those that talk to the people doing due diligence know their stuff to avoid miscommunication

It's surprising to me how few projects - even ones going well - can meet these criteria with a high degree of fidelity.


I think there is always a market for someone with demonstrated competency an an in-demand skill.

I've never had a problem getting a job in tech. Last time I was hired was in my late 40s; I'm now early 50s.

I don't work the 50, 60 hour weeks that I used to when I was younger. So if that is what someone is looking for in a candidate I can see why an older person might get passed over.

But I accomplish more in 20 hours now than I did in 60 hours when I was 25.

The kind of jobs I would want, would not hesitate to hire a 50 year old. At least in my experience.


You’d be surprised how many companies choose “culture fit” over skills.


I'm almost 40, and I have problems with getting through the recruiters wall. They usually tell me two things: "the company is looking for someone more culturally fit (younger)" or "you are almost 40, and you still are not at manager". The thing is I want to be a programmer :)

So looking for a job is harder, but when I finally get one, it's funny to work with those young people, who usually have no idea of many things. Example from this week: when you connect to 127.0.0.1 from your machine, it's not connecting you to the testing server.

I think that if you are "old" and you are looking for a job, just don't give up, and ignore all those "young" companies.

Btw, I was always wondering what they will do in 10 years, when all those "young" people will be "too old for them to hire". Will they fire them?


Nope all those young guys after 2 years will move somewhere else for better salary. Then they will recruit new young ones.

Seems like long term employees are burden. They get old, sick, know their rights. Maybe even start having demands and don't just leave when those are not met making them grumpy.


> Nope all those young guys after 2 years will move somewhere else for better salary. Then they will recruit new young ones.

Which tells you about how well the code is maintained, at the very least.


It bothers me that so many otherwise intelligent managers will opt for cheaper labor with higher turnover and oftentimes worse efficiency.... to save money. I just don’t understand how all the micro-inefficiencies or lack of experience can be made up for with maybe another 10 - 15 hours / week. Maybe if a lot of your technical problems are due to nobody young or old having deep knowledge (read: new language and platform) but we all know that new stuff doesn’t skip a generation of knowledge - it’s built on the foundations of what works previously and tries to throw away what is not relevant anymore.

I can understand hiring simply smarter people though in lieu of experience. It’s just that so many things I’ve lost efficiency on would not have been improved with mere smarts, so only raw, direct experience could ever get past it.


I've seen a pattern that makes this self-fulfilling. The normal mix of junior/mid/seniors, plus the rush to market, creates a ton of paralyzing tech debt. Then the tech debt itself levels the playing field, so that the seniors actually are only marginally more productive than the juniors.


Worse, senior folks have to mentor new folks because they are the experts. Then they have to fix the horrible snafus because only they can. They stop do interesting development entirely as these other duties take over their lives. Then there's turnover and they do it all again until they burn out and leave. Leaving only junior folks and a dumpster fire.

And don't get started on how 'agile' fuels this! In a constant panic mode, there's only ever sprints for small fixes and isolated features. Never time to address what's really wrong in a systematic way. So the flames burn higher...


This is one of the reasons why I pretty much moved to only writing code at home as a hobby as I’ve aged. In “professional” programming it’s always this insane race to puke out as many half working features as fast as possible no matter what the code ends up looking like. The craftsmanship is gone. The focus on quality and correctness is gone. The opportunity to refactor or redo at will is missing. On my hobby projects, I can take my time. I can have 100% test coverage if I want. I can compile cleanly with -Wpedantic if I want. I can move whole modules around if I think it’s best. No need to deal with forced collaboration, change control bureaucracy, or the constant drumbeat of ship ship ship!

The current hiring preferences out there are a perfect fit for the industry’s insane “ship crap as fast as possible” product preferences.


I've done exactly the same, for exactly the same reasons. Now I love programming again.


My antidote to this has been to craft a reputation for doing high quality work with good documentation. I don't let myself get pushed around now with this crap. If I want to spend more time on a feature, because of refactoring, writing some tests or whatever, I just do it. I don't pay attention to the sprint deadline but focus on quality work. I often miss the sprint deadline and make no effort to rush like the rest seem to do.

The result has worked out really well. Managers have quit hassling me about time and I get given the more complex and interesting work. People know I work hard and care about what I produce, if they have to wait they have to wait. I don't ask permission to write the tests I want, or spend a couple of days refactoring if that needs done.

Basically I am the professional coder, not the project managers, so I don't let them dictate how the software gets made. You just need to make sure you don't take it too far and too gratuitous refactoring work. Your reputation is critical for this approach to work.


ams6110 , can you please list those companies/organizations, which in your opinion, do not hesitate to hire older techies? As others pointed out your experience is an exception than a norm.


Whole Foods is one company with a fair amount of older people. Experience seems to have some value there. Our biggest problem currently is finding people who actually have real experience doing the things we need to do. Recruiters provide plenty of resumes, but there isn’t any real meat there.


Trying to get a traditional employer to hire you is a radically different proposition than entrepreneurship -- which holds vastly more appeal for older people, who are possibly wiser, and probably more financially secure, than their younger selves.


> As a secondary source, there was recently an Ask Hacker News thread of people who had started their programming careers in their fifties, I sadly cannot find the like :c

At first I though you might be mentioning the “thank you” post[1], but that developer is in their thirties. A bit of searching led me to another post[2], but from 2015, so it may not be the same you were thinking about.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16640599

[2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9497721


My father did his BA at 70 from the Open University. Up to that point I think he was simply too restless to settle down to study.


I recently turned 49. I honestly don't feel any less ambition than I ever have.

Every day I wake up and feel like I'm just getting started on most things.

I'm enjoying coding as much as I always have. I want to build a succesfull business just like I always have. I pretty much feel exactly the same as I did wen I was in my 30s.

I guess the one difference is a large part of my ambitions these days is about helping other people, when I was younger it was all about me.


Regardless of what you might think of their “food” or business ethics one aspect of the history of McDonalds I always found interesting is that Ray Kroc started the his version of the company when he was 64.

I always found that inspirational. That at that age he still had the ambition and energy to do that.

At the very least it stands as evidence that you can still work productively or change your life at any age if you want to.


The history of KFC is similarly inspiring.

Colonel Sanders franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken for the first time when he was 62 expanded the company enormously over the following twelve years and and after selling it worked for it another 16 years.


Wallace Stevens was an insurance executive who didn't become a poet until much later in life:

> Stevens was financially independent as an insurance executive earning by the mid-1930s "$20,000 a year, equivalent to about $350,000 today (2016).

> By late February of 1947 with Stevens approaching 67 years of age, it became apparent that Stevens had completed the most productive ten years of his life in writing poetry.


Dave Cutler got a call from Bill Gates to build a next generation OS when he was 47! Circa 1988-89.


Things always take me a long time to do and I am cautious. So I'm hoping I'm still productive long into my 60s and 70s.


I don't agree with the proposition that you should give up ambition or hope of changing the world just because you get older.

One of my childhood heroes was Plutarch's Timoleon, a famous Corinthian general who decisively defeated the Carthaginians in Sicily in 339 BC and freed the Greek cities of that region from their tyrants. [0] He was over 70 when he did so. By Plutarch's account at least he accomplished little of note before embarking on the campaign in Sicily but at that point turned out to be an outstanding strategist as well as politician.

We live a long time. I have 12 years to go before reaching 70 and still hope to live up to Timoleon's example.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timoleon


I agree completely. My aunt, well my great aunt actually, is 93. She is literally more active than me! She goes bowling, still, drives, volunteers, goes to church, and visits family and friends often. She is still very with it mentally, but I will admit after 90 she has declined mentally a bit.

My point is, this woman has touched a lot of people's lives within her 'old' age. She helped my family out a lot at one point. She's spent decades volunteering. She's been there for a lot of people and IMO helped to make the world a slightly better place in her own way.

It's never too late.


Look at Chomsky. When my grandparents where young, he was there, doing stuff. Today I am slowly turning old and he's still there doing stuff.


Italians of the 1500s must have felt the same way about Michangelo. He redesigned the dome of St. Peters when he was in his 70s.


50 is not old (it's not even "old").


It's old enough to realize that I am not young anymore :-)


Man, I feel the same as you at thirty. And honestly I've never been better.


Please don't think of yourself as old at thirty. I felt like that at that age but the world is still wide open. Yin are just getting started.


Please don't think of yourself as old at fifty :)!


I'm past 50. I think it's kind of getting old. My hair (what there is left of it) is getting gray, my skin is not as supple, that sort of thing. It doesn't bother me. But, I still feel like "me" and not really any different from when I was 25.


You must be old to say this. It's not that old, but it still is.


I’ve thought (and said) that since I was about 18 ;)


The best way to not feel old is hang around people who are older.


Uh... no.

The best way to not feel old is to spend time with people you connect with, and who don't feel old themselves. There's nothing that's aging you more rapidly than a group of people who drag you down.


It was a joke. Great life coaching though.


>I have also accepted that I will die one day

How? I'm only 27 but every time I try to tackle this problem raw panic prevents any reasonable thinking.

I've instead adopted a "when it happens I won't know" mindset and continue to work towards extracting maximum enjoyment from life.


I'm 29 and comfortable with the thought of dying. Not looking forward to it, but not frightened either. The "how" is just like anything else, practice. Since you can only die once, you have to rely on the deaths of others you care about to help you over your fear.

When I was in third grade, one of my brothers was murdered. I felt all the panic of mortality, and intense, visceral grief -- etc that you might imagine. A few years after that, a cousin was stabbed to death. I didn't know him much, and I figured that was the reason why his funeral felt much easier.

My grandmother died in 2007, she was the sweetest lady you'd ever meet. It was even "easier" than the cousin's funeral.

In 2009, an uncle died. In 2010, an aunt. Another aunt died in 2013.

Another one of my brothers always used to say that he never wanted a funeral. When he died October 2016, some family threw him a funeral anyways. I felt like I was doing his memory a solid by not going. At an earlier stage in my life, when I was more self important -- I would have been livid at the family who threw a funeral for someone who didn't want one in life. Now I know stuff like that just doesn't matter.

The pain of losing a loved one has changed from an acute stabbing sensation in my kidneys to somber waves that roll over me, then recede. Getting better at coping with the deaths of those you love helps you come to terms with your own mortality.

Basically, don't worry about it.


>Basically, don't worry about it.

Mark Twain said, “Annihilation has no terrors for me, because I have already tried it before I was born — a hundred million years — and I have suffered more in an hour, in this life, than I remember to have suffered in the whole hundred million years put together.”


Yeah, experiencing a lot of "little deaths" makes it easier. These can be the death of a relative, a near-death experience, or a serious trauma that means you will never realize your previous dreams (e.g. a football player losing his legs). Your ego starts to dissolve, and you become less caught up in your ambitions. You accept that what feels like unending potential does in fact end.


To add a little levity to a serious discussion, "little deaths" in French are quite a different subject. :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_petite_mort


> Now I know stuff like that just doesn't matter.

When we're young, we're preoccupied with if something is right, or wrong - but there is a third answer to this question; "it doesn't matter"


Seems like you're preaching nihilism and that kind of emptiness doesn't seem like any way to live life for me.


It matters for the big things, but not for "stupid bullshit" as my dear wife calls it. Obviously there are things where principles and correctness are important; but what are they? It seems that we should prune the set of important things down to the minimum needed, so that we are not paralyzed by unimportance.


This is the key here, and really the point I was trying to make.


You might once it starts becoming more statistically probable.


Probably not. I rolled my truck a few years ago, and my numbness persisted even while windshields were shattering and up became down, then up and then down over and over again. I wondered if I was going to die, and just surrendered myself to physics.

If I ever fall feet first into a wood-chipper, I'll probably panic and try to find a way out. The instinct to survive is still there. The existential dread is just gone.


Yes, well those are statistical anomalies. Once you get to a point where in a perfect scenario, you may only have 40 years at best, or 25 years normally, that weighs on your mind and actions. Not to mention, those last 20 years aren't nearly as good from a health/pains perspective as the first or middle 20. "Probable" that I used isn't a good word, more like "inevitable."

When you get a certain age, you know you will be dead in the time it took you to be born and graduate from college. Your window is rapidly closing. What are you going to do with the last 20-40 years? You might not be able to do much because you are stuck working, making someone else rich. You may very well be bound to that job because of health care costs.

When you are young, you may realize this will eventually happen, but you won't really understand it until you are in that situation. It's some heavy shit. People thinking about this sort of thing is probably why humans invented religion and spirituality.


From my own experience and what I have observed in others people start worrying less about death once they know it's getting closer.


UNDER the wide and starry sky

  Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,

  And I laid me down with a will.
- Robert Louis Stevenson. 1850–1894


The great thing about death is that you won’t experience it. You’ve never experienced non-existence before and you never will. Being dead is just not something you’ll ever have to deal with.

This won’t be a popular view here, but lately I’ve begun to think that consciousness isn’t the kind of thing that can end. I used to think death was just inconceivable, but now I wonder if it’s fundamentally incoherent. I think one could make a phenomenological argument for the immortality of the pure self/ego (Husserl said some interesting things about this), but I won’t get into that here.

Either way, don’t worry about things you will never experience. :)


With respect, I disagree.

You won’t experience what happens after you die, but you will certainly experience the process of dying.

Being dead doesn’t scare me. But the concept of the process of dying scares the crap out of me.


Yes. You can't "be" dead, because to be dead means not to be.

If to "be" is to be conscious, then you can't "be" unconscious.


How about the following:

When you die, there is nothing afterwards. We keep picturing this dark void, or ourselves floating in outer space, watching longingly as the world keeps going without us. We wonder what people will think of us. We wonder if it was worth it. We worry if we'll feel regret.

None of that happens--at least for some people. You can think of it like you just go to sleep, but no dreams. Just pure nothingness, and no sense of time, not sense of anything. You can imbdue this moment with terror if you want, but you can just as easily think of it as peace, final, eternal, lasting peace. Release from the struggle of book reports, bills, shouting matches, the constant biological drives, unsatisfactory lunch meat, the whole mofo.

Now, you can build it up to whatever you want. You can just as easily build it up to a moment of eternal terror when you regret the entire past and the lack of a future, and live forever in your worst moments being amplified and stretched to fill the universe.

There's actually no way of knowing which it is. But you get to choose how you think about it during your life. A life filled with dread and fear of this last moment is going to be sour, whereas a life filled with a slightly curious trust that everything will be fine will be much more enjoyable.

Death is such an intrinsic part of life that it makes no sense that it'd be a horror. It'd be a cosmic joke on all of us if it were. Knowing one person that has died well--old, without regrets, satisfied with loved ones, and not in pain is an existence proof that it doesn't have to be this way.

Personally I want to try to live one of those lives that ends in peace and without regretting or hating at the end, just a lot of nice memories coming back as my brain winds down and releases one monster rush of endorphins.


There's something appealing about the idea that one's soul, or life force, takes some other form after death. Or that your life force is reincarnated, but with no memory of its prior life. I don't know how that would happen or if it's true, but the other thing I think is that the experience after your life ends, is the same as before you were born.

I don't really fear death. I'd rather my death not be painful, but I'll take what comes. It's part of the experience of living.


If, as the scientists say, space and time are one, we will certainly never be gone from spacetime. (' 'The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line ...')

As for what exists once the body is gone ... one planet at a time!


Nice piece, amused you somehow conspired to get "unsatisfactory lunch meat" into such a deep and meaningful thought sequence.


I want to go out like Huxley. Endorphins and LSD...


That's even sadder....


"How? I'm only 27 but every time I try to tackle this problem raw panic prevents any reasonable thinking."

I think it comes pretty naturally. At some point you realize that your body has seen its best days and goes downhill. I used to do a lot of sport and it took me a while in my 40s to get used to the thought that I simply can't do things anymore like in my 20s. Now I try to maintain what I have but I know I can only slow down the decline. And this is OK.


welp

if you're scared of death (and honestly i can't say that i ever have been to the point where i couldn't think deeply about it) just think of things in this objectively correct way: you've already been dead for the majority of the history of the universe, and it really wasn't so bad.

tell me, what was your life like in the year 14?

you have no recollection of it, obviously. it was oblivion; the idea of you did not even exist yet. you felt nothing. it's exactly the same situation as your life in the year 2952.

you already know how it feels. it is, in fact, the sensation that you have "experienced" infinitely more than any other. life tricks us into thinking that its sensations are the only thing, and it's nice to play along. but eventually you'll return to the peace of the familiar.

PS: while i haven't had the chance to dabble, i hear that many people find taking magic mushrooms and experiencing ego death is a good way to shed your fear.


Shit happens. One day you’ll be dead. Your grandparents will die if they haven’t yet, your parents too. Maybe you will love to see your siblings die, almost certainly your friends. If you don’t see your love die, they’ll see it happen to you, or you’ll never have one. Even if humanity beats aging before old age gets us and we have beautiful young healthy bodies some day there’ll be a freak accident and a car will drop on you and you’ll be dead because your brain will be all over the place. One day the last star will go out. Entropy wins in the end.

Deyr fé, deyja frændur, deyr sjálfur ið sama; en orðstír deyr aldregi hveim er sér góðan getur."

Cattle die, kinsmen die you yourself die; One thing now that never dies the fame of a dead man’s deeds.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism

Eventually you get used to the thought and it stops being scary.

Being busy helps, so you don't have time to think about it.

And have faith that (natural) death is a slippery slope --as you age you'll lose the mental faculties to fear death, and you're physical pain will increase until you welcome death or morphine. Since you won't fear it then, there's no need to fear it now. Just go enjoy.


> The big ambitions and dreams are gone so I don't feel that much pressure to achieve anymore. Also at that age the options to change one's life are pretty limited compared to being in your 20s.

I would like to respectfully disagree. While I am not "old", I'm on my way. I am actually super on-board with simply removing a desire to achieve, and it has made me much happier. But I'm achieving all sorts of things anyways.

The second part of this is the assertion that options to change decrease with age. I have found exactly the opposite. As I gain more experience, build a solid chest towards an exceptionally early financial independence, and go out to find more like-minded but different people I tend to feel like options to change and expand my life start exploding in a way that requires picking and choosing more and more carefully between different things.

What do you think about the reduction of "ambition" as a helpful thing being replaced with a calm but strong "passion" as a potentially more positive alternative?


This is a downright depressing read.

You probably have more talent and money than any previous time in your life, yet you're ready to watch the sun set and don't have any reason to dream and your drive is gone?

Is there not a dozen things on your "bucket list" that still need checked off?

Sounds like you're more comfortable then you've ever been, but does your comfort translate into true happiness?


I am 41, and have recently been coming to terms with the fact that my relentless drive to pursue big dreams has been one of the chief obstacles to my own happiness, in part because it has encouraged me to devalue comfort and everyday desires. In fact, failing to build in a foundation of comfortable enjoyment has been a significant impediment to accomplishing those big dreams, because the resulting build-boom-crash-regroup cycle has limited my ability to apply energy consistently.

Life is mostly random; you don't get to control as much of it as your analytical brain might like to believe.


Funny, I'm 40 and I'm the opposite: I value comfort and everyday desires too much, and that competes with the drive to pursue big dreams. I feel like if that drive was stronger I'd accomplish so much more, and would be more happy as a result.


Balance in all things, I suppose. It seems to me now that looking for happiness in accomplishment is a bad gamble, because life is not predictable enough. You can't make success happen just by working at it; you have to be in the right place at the right time with the right idea, you have to encounter none of the many outside factors which might derail you, and it's only in hindsight that you get to find out whether you ever had any real hope of success.

Your project will probably fail, because most projects fail, so if you are deferring present happiness in order to invest in the hope of future success, you are probably going to be less happy overall. Success feels good, to be sure - but then what? Another project, which will probably fail. So I think it's important to find a way to live a happy life whether you are trying to accomplish anything or not, and then the occasional success can be a bonus when it happens.


I disagree. I don't see why you always have to do more to be happy. What more do you know about happiness than this guy? If he's satisfied with his life, that sounds pretty close to happiness me


As citizens of earth, we should never stop dreaming and having huge ambitions. We're on the shoulders of people that dreamed of having things better.

We're programmed by modern society to be consumers and not producers. Surely there is more happiness in waking up each day and working toward fulfilling your dreams?


This seems like a young persons fallacy. Why would consumerism be the only reason to drop ambitions? How about acceptance and finding peace? Growing into yourself and seeing your role differently?

I study a lot and perform well at work, but nowadays I would absolutely say it's not from ambition. Instead, it's from me enjoying to play that character in the game of life.

If modern society taught us a fallacy, it is to consider being content as something bad when, in fact, I can think of no better goal to die, and live, happy. Taking the road via accomplishments to get there is not necessarily the most likely way to get there.


> This seems like a young persons fallacy

Yes, and I think there's a lot of value in naiveté especially when pursuing immensely challenging opportunities. I just don't see how you can get out of bed otherwise because most important things are really hard to do.


> I just don't see how you can get out of bed otherwise because most important things are really hard to do.

I am curious as to what it is that you consider so important (and really hard to do)? Most things I see people rushing to do, are not actually important. Perhaps they are important to that person in particular, but such an importance is manufactured and should, if anything, be avoided.

I get out of bed mostly because there are fun and interesting activities available that are more entertaining than lying in bed. I'm not anywhere near anything that's actually important.


Shouldn't something at the very least be important enough to you for you to pursue it? You then project how many people would be impacted by your work and prioritize what to pursue first.

Also, another way to look at it is to empathise with other people's daily challenges and use your skills to come up with a solution that makes their lives easier and at the same time makes you richer because you take a little compensation from a whole lot of people.

Edit:

> I'm not anywhere near anything that's actually important.

If you're getting paid, you're likely doing something important. People do tend to like to hold on to their money.


I think that's what I am trying to say: I don't see anything worth it for me to pursue. Which is why I am curious what it is that you think is so important that you think it's worth pursuing, because I see nothing of the sort.

> If you're getting paid, you're likely doing something important. People do tend to like to hold on to their money.

No, just no. You are committing the error of putting too much faith in the ability of the economic system to capture value. The economic system does not capture value well. All it does is measure scarcity vs desire.

Online casino developers are basically doing harmful work and can be paid quite well.

Social workers, paramedics, etc., and other groups of people doing legitimately important work are paid little, and mothers are paid none.

According to the current economic system of value, oxygen is worthless, as well.

I thought this was honestly obvious and I'm alarmed at your implication that the system's conception of value can be at all used to measure importance. The system surely measures something, but it isn't that.


I'm not sure that there is. Naivete can be useful, and that's the narrative that goes around the tech world a lot, but so does experience with the challenge, the ability to deal with huge changes or crushing failures. I'm not sure if a naive "chasing your dreams" is more or less useful than any other advantage, and I'm not sure that there is data to show one or the other.


As citizens of Earth, our responsibility is to retain the stability of the system or to positively grow the system. Ambitions are often completely in the way of that. Many ambitious projects resulted in colossal damage to the environment or other people. I do not believe that "citizens of Earth" and "huge ambitions" really even belong in the same sentence, as a person with huge ambitions is focused on the short-term progress of the individual, and not the Earth they are a citizen of.

Being happy from fulfilling your dreams only works if your dreams are fulfillable. If they're not, you might very well end up rather unhappy. Happiness in this sense often comes down to a balance between legitimately required things, and managing expectations. Ambition, or large dreams, hardly seem required for happiness, and I'm inclined to say are actually detrimental to it.

Happiness and success should really be kept separate, and both be ends to themselves. A given person deserves their happiness, and useful projects should be completed because they're useful. Deriving happiness from completing a project means you have now made the project all about you, and from here comes corruption, such as continuing a project that has lost its usefulness, taking advantage of other people, or manipulating p-values.


We are also programmed to be producers, but in a way that favors the current economic model. The idea that you absolutely have to make your mark on the world or that people with "normal", boring lives are somehow worth less is quite prevalent and linked to the industrial revolution and modern culture.

I don't mean to discourage you from your own goals, but it's worth considering that as people age, they tend to see glory and distancing themselves from others through social status as less important in comparison to maintaining a social network and a family and even simply enjoying what you already have.


There is plenty of stuff I want to do but I don't feel the pressure to prove anything. To me that's true freedom.


Fair enough. But I imagine you have an incredible amount of talent at this point in your life, there has to be some urgency to use it before you really do become "old."

I would consider 50 to be probably the most productive period of time in someone's life. They finally have enough experience and knowledge to do some pretty amazing things.

Doctors, artist, musicians, programmers? are just getting onto the highway of what's possible in life.

I should hope your brain has this sense of urgency that "you've made it" and now is your time to REALLY do something cool with your life because you've managed to do so much already.

Cheers


For an archetype of the anti-sentiment to your post, I highly recommend the autobiography of Donald Keene, renown translator of Japanese literature: Chronicles of my Life: An American in the Heart of Japan [0]. He never stops working on the next project, biting off the next book. It's an inspiring life of rich and endless output, lived in such a gentle (almost heartbreaking) way.

[0] https://amzn.to/2GZk0Am


There's a difference between never stop working and living as if you would never die or having to invent a new life.

As a young person you probably still have to find out who you really are and you tend to see time to live as an unlimited resource.


> Some people pick the right path. Many don't.

Is there really a right or wrong path to take? I thought one thing that happens as you get older is you realize there was never a right or wrong path to be taken. But, what do I know, I'm still young.


I wonder how much of it is caused by having the freedom to decide how to spend your own time.

I had the opportunity to spend a couple of months off between jobs a few years back and I’ve never been happier. It was gone within a day of starting my new job. I like what I do for a living, but not nearly as much as I like freedom. Spending most of your life in dayprison sucks the joy out of your life.


I think 3 months is the expiration for unemployed meanderings to be fun. I quit my last job to pursue a side project full time and it went from every day being bliss to every day having a film of meaninglessness over it. Humans are social creatures, and it is strange how important just having other people who care about what you are doing is to making it seem important in your own mind. I am debating finding a co-founder just so they can look at it sometimes and be like 'yeah seems good' :/.


> I think 3 months is the expiration for unemployed meanderings to be fun.

I’ve spent longer periods of time doing fuck all earlier in life (college) and it was awesome. I could just hang around the house for the rest of my life and not get bored one bit.

> Humans are social creatures

While that may be true for the majority of people, it doesn’t apply to me. Being around humans makes me miserable. I like the idea of socializing, I see people having fun at social activities and that makes me want to spend time around people. But every time I do it’s just soooo boring. All I can think of is how I’d rather be at home, alone.


I am pretty much like this. I still enjoy socializing with people, but I'm happy as hell when I have loads of free time to work on what I want, when I want, for as long as I want. I could live a thousand years without a schedule and never get bored.


You need :+1: as a service. You post something, anything, and get a :+1: to assure you your life has meaning. ;)

More seriously, I once read a suggestion to have a performance partner who you chat with weekly, exchange goals, hold each other accountable, share ideas, etc. Someone who is not necessarily a close friend, but more of a business acquaintance. Anyone ever tried this?


I've led masterminds with fellow business owners where we virtually met every two weeks and discusssed whether we met our two week goals. It was great for me because I would freak out and go, oh shit, I can't go to this meeting with nothing to show and sometimes I would hustle in the last couple of days to get shit done.

What I saw a lot of people including myself struggle with though is how to set reasonable goals and stay focused. I saw a lot of people switch from project to project when they had a setback or due to shiny object syndrome. So I think accountability is also great for helping you focus and recognize when you're not staying on task.

Something that has helped me a lot is focusing on 3 projects at a time MAX in differing priorities and not starting anything new until I compete projects and make space. It's given me a mindset change of "will I be able to do this" to "I can't do anything until I get this done so let's get this shit out of the way."


> I think 3 months is the expiration for unemployed meanderings to be fun.

I quit my job and lived frugally on savings for 2 years. Loved every minute of it and if not for needing money/healthcare, I’d never work again.

Just watching tv, reading, exercising, sitting around.


Everyone's different. I've had many 2+ year gaps during which I made what I wanted to make. I haven't gone to a regular job since 2015, and it's still bliss. I've accomplished far more of what I want to, and learned so much. I'll probably take a short contract soon, but only if I think it's going to be interesting and enjoyable. I wouldn't mind living like this until I retire, after which I hope to keep making things.


May I ask about your living situation and how you maintain it without regular employment? That does sound blissful, and I'm curious how you fit the rest of your life around it.


Programmer's wages + maximum frugality. I've lived in a variety of mostly rural locations, always with roommates. I believe the main obstacles are psychological. For example I had to learn how to actually not spend, and how not to feel insecure about having a net worth of approximately zero.


I have a similar but not exact conclusion. I'm jobless, long term. I have a diploma and enough brain capacity to get a good paying job. For reasons I stopped. I went to pursue lots of things, with some success (I managed to crack stuff that I couldn't for years outside of school, group and help). And at that point, I'd serve coffee with pleasure.

It's not really that I need people to care about my things, more like I value a lot more sharing/helping people. And tech/science very rarely do so directly. Maybe it's an age thing. At one point you don't want to satisfy your ego, but take care of others (while earning a living).

Also, I have enough parts and ideas to have 10 companies. But as you say, to be fulfilling it would require partners in venture.


Even if it's not a co-founder, you need to surround yourself with like-minded people. I started my business at 23 and all my friends had corporate jobs. Social isolation sucks when you're no longer part of the tribe because you decided to go out and do your own thing.

First thing I realized was that I really had no idea what I was doing- so I found mentors by going to conferences related to my work. It was amazing, meeting hundreds of people like me, passionate about building their busineses. I also found people who were going through the same thing in startup networks, mine was an incubator I graduated from.

Find people who do what you do, who are better than you, inspire you, and who will lift you up! It is night and day when you have a support network as an entrepreneur.


Yep, I agree 100%

A few years ago I quit my Software Engineering job to drive from Alaska to Argentina, absolutely loved every minute.

After a few more years of work behind a desk to save money, I have again quit and I'm now driving around Africa. It's already been over 18 months, probably something like 12 to go. [1]

It's so freeing and rewarding to do exactly what I want each and every day. Freedom is so much more important than money for me.

I feel so passionately about doing this with my life and teaching others how I did it that I wrote an eBook on how I do it, called "Work Less to Live Your Dreams" [2]

[1] http://instagram.com/theroadchoseme

[2] https://amzn.to/2IywUT0


I had the same exact thing happen to me, 100% yes.

I had a severance package, savings, and unemployment. So I went 5 months without a job and it was amazing. Never in my adult life have I had so much energy than during that time.

That really got me into FI/RE (financial independence / early retirement) and I've seen been working towards early retirement since.


Yes! This! I don't understand why so many talented people in software simply accept the yoke. So much more to say about this but saving it for a long-form post.


I couldn't agree more. For me, happiness begins when I can finally feel like I own my time.


It depends on if you gain that 'freedom' by choice or not. The latter, if especially unexpected, can be troublesome. Even more so if you have those that depend on you.


I had a similar sense when I was freelance consulting, but man having to chase people for payment every month sucks.


Finding better clients and projects beats hell out of returning to standard employee status. (IMHO, and IME.)


I think this one factor alone probably accounts for most of the happiness described here. It sucks slaving away when you don't really have an option but to work. No matter the job, it's still a job. I'd be happy as hell too if I didn't have to work jobs I hate (pretty much all of them).


This article isn't really a good candidate for a list of "things you can learn from older people".

First, the study it cites is at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3332527/. The study has a few problems insofar as the way the article wants to use it. The study covered several hundred individuals ranging in age from 18 to 94; the median age of the participants was about 55, but the study doesn't specify how many people were aged 80 or older; the study self-selected for people "who reported that their health was 'as good or better than most people their age'"; and, the trend analysis in the study displays a negative slope after age 70 for "positive emotional experience".

So, as long as you limit your sample to people aged 50 to 70 who are in better than average health, sure, maybe you can write an article that older people are happier. Also, make sure you use pictures of people much older than 70, and talk about a handful of individuals you used as case studies.

Missing from the author's case studies is my grandfather, turning 90 soon, who in his younger years was always very physically active and healthy, who was well-read as an orphan and supported the civil rights movement long before there was even a movement, who raised three daughters and lived long enough to see two of them die and the third fall to a painkiller addiction, who was married to and loved the same woman for almost 60 years before losing her, too. He spends his days and his nights in a recliner. Most of his mind still works but his body has mostly failed him. He can't go for a walk or enjoy the sunshine. He relies on phone calls and visits from his grandkids to break up the miserable monotony of his remaining days. He talks longingly and sincerely of "the Oregon needle", and is disappointed every time he recovers from a bout of pneumonia.

One of the things I've learned from him is that dying is okay. Just try to live really well first.


Having a miserable life is miserable indeed. Older people have less power to change their lives. He could do better though -- living with neighbors in an apartment building, and living closer to family. Of course it's hard to make that change later in life if you don't plan ahead. And frankly, the bad old age you describe is a very small portion of his life, preceded by a decent old age.


Ok, I'm at a loss... "the Oregon needle"?

*edit - I'm guessing assisted suicide


Yep. Oregon refers to this as the "Death with Dignity Act".


If we have a support network, we can recover from grief - it sounds like he's waiting to die, because he out-lived his support network.


Ehh. I'd be reluctant to say that he's ever had much of a support network, and he's always had the sort of personality that would reject such a thing anyway -- a consequence of growing up rough and mostly alone.

I think he'd also say there's no recovering from the grief of losing his wife of 60 years. I can't even imagine being with someone that long, and at my age, likely will never have the opportunity to try.

I think more fundamentally -- and something that should be a part of more conversations about mortality -- he's outlived his ability to enjoy living.

One danger of articles like this one is that they can make old age seem not so bad (not that that was its intention, just a side effect). But, I've always had an affinity for older people, and I really don't think very many of them enjoy being elderly. It's a cruel way to spend our last years, if we're lucky enough to make it that far.

In the end, it's the experiences we had while young that we rely on to pass the days: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ

This is good too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bktozJWbLQg


Most old people I know are either semi depressed, or not very happy (say slightly the middle point).

I also very very very often look a children. I know it's probably near impossible to recapture a virgin mind and its fresh experience of everything. But there's a musicality, in a physics lingo, a superb low impedance to their behavior. They just flow. And it speaks to me. After long periods of getting stuck in loops of browse/todolist/procrastinate. I find the idea of catching my own desires, no matter what, and just get moving; often by starting the motion, energy and happiness make a blip on the radar.


Sometimes this is captured in the "mindfulness" philosophy - opening your eyes.


I didn't interpret that term this way. It feels more passive but wider perception of the world and not necessarily to act on your own desire over said world.


I had the opposite experience. After growing up an anxious and timid child, it's only in my mid-twenties that I started to develop this child-like flow.


This is true, age will correct and smoothen things


I've been reading Leland's book, Happiness is a Choice You Make, the past couple weeks. I'm about half-way through it and totally recommend it. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073P1HP8P/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?...

I've been insanely fortunate to have things align for me such that I was able to recruit my 93-year-old grandpa to be my unofficial happiness mentor about 18 months ago. What started as just errands morphed into going on adventures and a constant stream of wisdom. I've been on what feels like an unusual journey (not many of my friends hang out with a 90+ year-old every couple weeks). Leland's book has been helpful in understanding how special it's been. I wrote a longer piece about my journey with my grandpa this week. https://nanagram.co/blog/on-happiness-from-tirrell-cook


Great post and pictures. Thank you!


I'm 52 and completely and utterly lost. None of my early goals (wife, kids, close friends, personal company) have been reached. I have no hangout buddies, no really close friends, no SO. Sometimes in the last 10 years my interests dried up. Since my teens I wanted to have a company in a certain industry and that industry changed and holds almost no interest now. I've no idea how to get my groove back. I still mostly enjoy programming but I hate feeling like life is happening while I stare at a screen even though I keep staring.

People tell me to get out and I do, tried surfing for example, didn't really appeal to me. Tried dancing, same. Did lots of traveling but it's not so fun alone for a 50 yr old guy.

I mostly feel now it's partly about luck as well. Meeting the right people, having the right support groups is invaluable. Pretty much everyone I meet that I might work with though is just looking for cheap labor as "I have this idea, you're an engineer, how about you do all the work for free and I'll take all the money if we make any" or at least that's how it feels.

As for as whether or not 52 is old sure it's not as old as 70 or 90 but ... society in general labels me as old. Various forms require an age listed and 45+ or 50+ is the last group. HN tells me I'd have trouble being hired. Not yet my experience but certainly on my mind. Going to almost any bar, club, meetup, hackathon and I'm the oldest one there.

I don't feel I've lost my ambition. If I had then maybe I'd be content. Rather I just lost direction and belonging.


I'm too young to be giving you advice, but if according to what you have written 1) you have few responsibilities to others 2) little satisfaction in your current life (not much to lose) and 3) you're still healthy, then you are logically in a position to take risks and maybe do something wholly out of your comfort zone, or at least take the time to do some radical thinking about your existence and what you really value.


Wholly agree with above sentiment and advice. I'm in my sixties, which amazes me daily, as other than some recognition of slowing down physically I don't have a clear sense of being young or old. I'm also about to start looking for work again, about which I feel less dread than I anticipated, mostly due to reasons others have given: less anxiety about the future as more water passes under the bridge. But to the original point, as you said, one definitely shouldn't be afraid of venturing outside one's comfort zone ... or if too self-controlled, consider deliberately placing oneself in a situation you can't strictly control. Otherwise one continues to plow the same rut until the end, simply because it's the one you're in.


Not knowing what to do is a tricky problem, and lots of people seem to be suffering from it at the moment. The negative side of middle age is knowing the bad effects of things like new technologies, so finding it harder to get excited about them.

I think we've destroyed lots of the support structures that at other times would have helped. So yes, first of all - it's not necessarily just you, the environment is involved too.

I think there's a wise route out, and people do get there. I don't know what it is. Some things that might help in case you haven't tried:

1. Psycotherapy. Even if you don't have clinical depression, this can still be valuable. Look for a practice (better than a single person as they're vetted, can find the best person for you, and mentor each other) and words like "integrative therapy" and "transactional analysis". It can be expensive. I've a friend who goes for a few months every two years even if mentally well, as it helps. Like a very emotionally aware life coach.

2. Life changes. Things like meditation are so popular to almost be a cliche, but I think they can help. If you're more philosophical maybe things like https://meaningness.com/ will inspire more than more hippy materials. Getting just a bit healthier, sounder sleep, improved diet but do so in a simple way by following someone non-obsessive, non-fadish - I recommend podcast and books by https://drchatterjee.com/

Good luck! You're not alone.


I feel for you, this could happen to anyone, I admire your honesty posting this and sharing.

All I can suggest is that you look at how you can help some people or causes you care about - I don't know what those would be... sick kids, kids in distress, animals, old people, culture, education, the environment, but something that matters to you. Perhaps this won't work, but at the worst I can't imagine it would be any less than neutral.


Acts 20:35 - "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’


Giving is exactly what turned one blogger's bipolar struggles into something manageble [1]:

"I felt trapped, waiting for the descent, wondering how steep, prepared somewhat for its arrival because it had never not come. Now, though, here was a PhD telling me the altruistic acts Buy Nothing Bainbridge enabled me to perform spurred production of chemicals that actually helped heal my misfiring synapses."

Sometimes science and religion do converge around the same truth. Some form of meaningful (to the recipient) giving is one path that would restore the "lost direction and belonging" mentioned in the top parent.

[1] https://buynothingproject.org/2013/12/23/my-buy-nothing-expe...


My personal belief is hang with kids. I'm 56 and I dread the day that my kids are out of the house (and it's coming).

My kid keep me young, keep me learning. I used to coach high school hockey, that was a blast.

Want to be happy? Don't get old. Want to not get old? Hang with kids.

There was some interview with a tailor in HK I think, he was pushing 100 and still working. He credited kids, he said they kept him young and interested.


We got a hiking club in local university. One of it's founders, a dude in his 80s (I think..) is still coming to easier hikes. Not only coming, he frequently leads those hikes. People frequently ask him how long will he do this. His response is "I don't know. What I know is, once I stop hanging out with young people, I'll get old and die".


Have you considered becoming a foster parent? It's short term if you want to dip your tow in, and there are plenty of opportunities to adopt if you really connect with one of the children. Especially as someone in tech, you could really make a difference in a child's life by setting them up with marketable skills and connections.


I have 6 kids. They are all still young, but I am hoping that when they start to leave the nest, there won't be too big of a gap before grandchildren start to come. Something to look forward to. :)


There is an endless supply of kids everywhere -- volunteer at school, college, library, or church


>Older people report higher levels of contentment or well-being than teenagers and young adults.

Does this confuse anyone? What old person is told by others when to awake, what to wear, what to say, who to talk to, when to get through the metal detector, how to act in front of the pervasive cameras in every hallway and every room, watched over like a hawk for any infraction, kept away from friends and where every joke is taken out of context in the most negative interpretation possible and used to persecute and judge them, always with the expectation that a criminal and malign intent is at heart?

Here's a little experiment. Take any article about adolescents, teenagers, young adults, millenials, etc... and pretend they were saying those things about a race. Or gender. Just replace the age category with one you're not comfortable being bigoted over. See how the claims stack up and how familiar they sound. The young are a persecuted minority group. Who would expect them to be content?

Overall I like the article though it was a bit predictable. Taoism by a different name, but yes, it works. In a storm, the stiff branch breaks while the supple, flexible one survives. A stream flows around and through anything placed in its path but can wear away mountains. Each day, you must find enough food to eat and water to drink to stay alive. You need shelter from dangerous weather (depending on your location). Everything else is gravy. Everything.


In many contexts it is not the young but the old who are discriminated against.


The old and the young have this in common.

When you're young, no one cares about what you think, or what you have to say, when you're old, no one is paying attention anymore.


Now think about how much better being old would be given the medical technology to repair the causes of frailty, functional decline, and age related disease.


The medicalisation of my death is the thing I fear the most.


The thinking expressed echoes many of the themes from my reading of Stoicism, chiefly * learning to appreciate what you have rather than chase something you don't have in the vain hope that it will give you satisfaction. * coming to terms with the fact that there are things you have no control over and not worry about them.

(If you are unfamiliar with Stoicism and would like to learn more, the blog archive at http://modernstoicism.com/ has a lot of content. I also liked William Irvine's "A guide to the good life" (https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...).


This is a beautiful article, and made me smile. I was greatly inspired by the subjects’ attitudes. However it seems this tiny sample of people are happy in spite of their old age, and not necessarily because of it.

What I got from the piece was: if you want to be happy, have a caring circle of friends, family who visit you once a week, a supportive lover, and impactful projects your are passionate about. These folks live quite excellent lives (health issues notwithstanding) compared to anyone of any age. Age has certainly given them more perspective, but I think it’s secondary here.


Two of my favorite insights about aging come from the unlikely sources of Star Trek episodes. In the series finally of Voyager, the older and younger Captain Janeway meet face to face. After overcoming their initial distrust, they come to realize that each has something to learn from the other, and when they team up they're unbeatable even by the Borg queen. I can take something away from that when writing about work I've done in the past, which is like collaborating with my younger self. His job is to have the bold ideas, mine is to correct the errors and omissions, and neither of us is much use without the other. The other insight comes from an episode of TNG when a dying Captain Picard is given the chance by Q to relive an incident from his youth that he regrets. Fully expecting to put everything right because of his accumulated wisdom and experience, he succeeds only in alienating his young friends and setting the rest of his life on a course of mediocrity. Aside from the similar theme of the older self underestimating the younger one, that story makes me look at all the dumbass things I did when I was young in a different light. A lot of them were due to having too big of an ego, but some measure of that same personality characteristic was also an essential prerequisite to doing anything worthwhile.


I personally think that happiness is overrated. To me it is just a way of rewarding my brain for doing something good like achieving a goal. but I don’t want that reward to become a goal itself


*Think like a happy person.


I recently turned 40 so I’m thinking about old people stuff. But I know it’s not too late to reinvent yourself.

Despite years of chronic fatigue (hence my username) I decided to start a manufacturing business and go after all those dreams I had as a kid but never knew how to get to.

Reinvent yourself. It’s never too late. Some of your best years may lie ahead.


"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome." -Isaac Asimov


Want to be happy ? Don’t listen to all of these self help charlatans .


Seems... Pretty dismissive.

How can a miserably depressed closed system find a solution without exploring outside of themselves?


I am being dismissive but I'm mainly talking about the racket that creates these self help headlines and news stories promoting a book and disappearing a few months after once everyone really associates it with a result close to a placebo.

Thinking outside of yourself and trying to be happy are things that you have to realize for yourself and self help stories like these don't do much in the grand scheme of things. I just practice mindful meditation or do something relaxing. I think its sick making people believe in some kind of false hope that you get from these self help phonies.


How did you learn about mindful meditation? I agree that there's a lot of noise in the self-help space, but I've found at least 5 books that I consider "must-reads" in terms of figuring life out. Maybe because I was raised by parents that were relatively poor/uneducated/young, but sometimes the best way to get this information is be taught it through a book.


A girl I had a crush on talked about it because she was a psych major. Also, my iWatch does breathing exercises I use for meditation. I tried to use headspace but it didn't work.


Please share your list of "must-reads".


Hallucinogens, exercise and meditation got me to a point where I could finally appreciate beauty outside of myself.


The linked story is quite heartwarming. I don't know how you could make a comment like this having read it.


"Another five or six books were almost ready, and a couple of films still needed finishing. After that, he said, “I’d like to travel.”"

I'm doing my travelling and going to concerts while I'm young.

The quote from Jonas made me think to look for books written by old people. Is there a database where I can easily compare the publication date of a book and the date of birth/death of the author?

Surely the data must be available, because the date of the author's death is important for copyright issues.



"You are a product of your environment" --Clement Stone

You'll be depressed/unhappy when your environment doesn't foster creativity/self-actualization in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs


Because they don't have to work.


Selection bias?


So, to be happy, we should take a lot of vitamins? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16771044


I watch my girlfriend's daughter (tween) as well as those in the local community and wonder if there is still such a thing as "ambition". There is obvious cognitive ability, but attention span and retention is quite lacking. An old friend who has two young daughters and is on top of things, described a lot of the young culture as having "a 4 second train of thought" because of constantly on.

I personally don't see the younger generation, without some large impact, able to step back from their need for immediate response, lack of attention to detail, etc.


“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

Socrates.


I'm sure every generation has said this.


Tell me what generation had high twitch games and 4" screens in their hands 24 hours a day?


I don't know of such a generation.




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