How do you know if you’re living your life right? Is there a standard for that sort of thing?
I came up with a little graph of what I think a well-lived life looks like. The idea here is that we are born 100% selfish, as babies. But if we manage our lives well, our selfishness declines continuously until death. Death is the ultimate lack of selfishness.
I came to this idea by observing the natural evolution in my own selfishness over the years. In my twenties I would have chewed through a hundred not-yet-dead bodies to get to the top of the pile. In my fifties, I make most of my decisions based on how I can be useful to others.
I’m not awesome; I’m just rich and healthy. I have everything I need, and that doesn’t seem likely to change soon, so my natural human inclination is to look around and see how I can be useful.
My entire philosophy is two words: Be useful
When you are young, the most useful thing you can do is focus on your own health, happiness, and education. The world wants you to be selfish until you don’t need to be that way. That’s what keeps the system going. But if you maintain a high level of selfishness all of your life, your friends and family might only be pretending to like you.
My proposition is that you can only experience meaning in life when your selfishness trend is downward, or you are doing something (such as learning new skills) to make that happen. Life is complicated and messy, and that makes it hard to keep score. But if your selfishness levels have plateaued, you might want to consider a new plan.