Todd William

Priorities: Thoughts on Human Welfare

It is human nature that we all desire to be happy. We go about it in many ways, but no one would argue that being unhappy is desirable. It follows then that we’d want to focus on the things that make us the happiest. Regrettably many lives are prioritized quite differently.

A significant portion of society rushes around in dire need trying to keep life moving along. Not everyone lives this way. There are those who know little of this desperation, who soak up life like a sponge taking immense pleasure in the journey. The difference lies in the emphasis that is given to priorities, specifically the things deemed most important to happiness instead of the moment.

Time

As we grow older we discover that among all things valuable, the limited time we have on earth is one of the most precious. Happiness is achieved by not wasting a moment of it. Time is the great equalizer among all walks of life as it can never be bargained for. No matter how successful, rich, popular or well liked we are, our days are filled with the same twenty-four hours as everyone else. Time, once lost, cannot be recovered. We can get more money, repair old friendships, restore lost credit, but time not spent well is precious time wasted.

When we are young time seems almost infinite, in big enough supply to ensure that we have all the days we will ever need to accomplish everything we hope to do. But our time is limited even if we don’t accept it, and if we don’t value every moment, we will inevitably look back only wishing we had more.

Some people talk of “killing time” as though it was a hindrance. What a terrible thought. If we value our time so little that we’d rather lose it than enjoy it then we really need to reevaluate how we are spending our days.

Life is the accumulation of all our moments, not just the big ones. How many of us would pay considerably for a chance to just to relive even five seconds of some moment in our past? What sense does it make to take the present moments for granted, passed over as though they were nothing more than a build up to something bigger? We won’t get the chance to experience the same time over again, so we need to consider what we may be missing by letting it carelessly slip by.

It is inevitable that everyone must spend some of their life sacrificing time to secure a future or help those around them. But we must consider carefully how we dole out our available time. What is the full cost of our next major purchase? Will any of the things we are focused on now even matter in a few years?

Experience

No matter how well a meal is prepared, it has little value if it’s never eaten. Yet how many of us spend the bulk of our lives preparing for a meal we only hope to eat? Preparation and material goals have their roles, but we must put aside some room for life experience and the things that build memories or we risk producing a rather mediocre existence.

Do we value possessions more than substance? When we compare a good distant memory to something we purchased long ago, the value of each becomes apparent. Good memories grow fonder with time whereas the things we acquire lose their excitement. Yet many people will focus a large part of life only working towards material possessions. There are certainly times when we need to save for tangible items that improve the quality of our lives, but no one wants a life made of up of only a series of remodeled kitchens.

What we experience is the substance of our past and few happy people have their purchases listed among their life’s highlights. It is important to take the time to make those memories by ensuring that life experience is among our top priorities.

We have only a single life to spend. Happiness is all around us and doesn’t cost a thing if we are willing to treat our entire life as an adventure. But this doesn't happen if we prioritize trying to get “things”.


People

What is achievement if it cannot be shared? What is fun if it’s accompanied only by solitude? Whether we succeed or fail, laugh or cry, with the right attitude we always have an unlimited source of happiness to be found from the genuine relationships with other people. Happiness begins internally but is amplified when shared with those we care about. We must be asking whether we give proper emphasis to those we care about. Do we make them a priority in our lives the way they should be?

It is difficult to quantify the value of friendship and love as neither can be simply acquired. It is easy to recognize the value of each. No matter what we find in life, few things will ever be as important as the people closest to us. It is unfortunately a poor human habit to take people for granted.

Who among any of us is not guilty of having made a priority out of far less important things than those who we care most about? We should not need a reminder to love those who mean the most to us but it’s far too common to find things like work, money, and an assortment of items that take on more importance than relationships.

Failing to see how detrimental prioritizing the wrong things can be is excruciatingly short sighted. There are simply too many relationships broken apart because the needs of the day are made to take on a higher priority than the needs of the relationship. With love as a priority, how could things like money and petty disagreements ever compete?

True love would have one go to the ends of the earth to ensure the other’s happiness. If we want this in return we must offer it first and show it in our actions by keeping our friends and family a top priority. At times, we may have to swallow our pride and set other needs aside, but the payoff is far greater. If we achieved everything but had no one who cared we might still find life to be lonely and shallow. Yet if we lost everything but still had our friends and loved ones around, we’d manage just fine and even find good reasons to be very happy.

People won’t always wait around for us to figure out our priorities. It’s unreasonable to expect love and friendship in return without first showing it with what we choose to prioritize. Do our actions show that we prioritize those we care about? There are no substitutes for genuine love and friendship. If the only ingredient in happiness was the love of another we’d still be lucky. The choice to put those we care about most at the top of our priorities is critical to our ultimate happiness.

Many things will matter, but surely not everything. Never forget to assess your priorities.
Read More
Todd William

Inspiration from Larry Winget



Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don't have a plan.
Read More
Todd William

Inspiration from Ray Dalio

Imagine that in order to have a great life you have to cross a dangerous jungle. You can stay safe where you are and have an ordinary life, or you can risk crossing the jungle to have a terrific life. How would you approach that choice? Take a moment to think about it because it is the sort of choice that, in one form or another, we all have to make.
Read More
Todd William

Four Powerful Paragraphs of Optimism from Vitaliy Katsenelson

When I step back and look at the past 100 years, I’m reassured by all the things that the U.S. and global economies survived: pandemics that wiped out a percentage of the global population, two “hot” world wars and a cold war, the disintegration of a superpower, plenty of other wars, a few nuclear plant meltdowns, economic collapses, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, stock market crashes, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a slew of other bad things. Somehow our economy (and economies that were affected a lot more than ours) got through those things. Our will to survive is so much stronger than any adversity.
Read More
Todd William

A Brief Thought Experiment ~ Pixels of Life


​A greyscale image has a byte of storage for every pixel, so every pixel can range in value from 0 (being completely black) to 255 (being completely white), totally 256 values. In a square photo that is 256 pixels tall by 256 pixels wide, there are a total of 65,536 pixels (256 x 256). Since each individual pixel can have one of 256 different values, the total number of possible combinations of images in this photo is 256^65536. The possible images therefore range from all black, to all white, with every other combination in between.
Read More
Todd William

Ralph Waldo Emerson's 10 Most Inspiring Quotes

"Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
Read More
Todd William

A Brief Thought Experiment ~ Technology & Jobs

What if there were no longer enough jobs to support society?

One of the big fears of technological advancement is the displacement of workers. If humans create machines capable of replacing most jobs, a lot of people will end up out of work.

Yet history has shown that employment is not a zero sum game. Technology can displace a massive number of workers while simultaneously producing new opportunities. Less than 200 years ago over 80% of the employable population held jobs in agriculture. Thanks to technology and a lot of human ingenuity, that number has been reduced to well under 5%..

The Value of Efficiency

This is a good thing, not because displacing workers is favorable, but because making any process more efficient is a win for society. It is this reason why you can walk into a grocery market with a few bucks in hand and find more than enough options to feed yourself for the day. 

But we forget, because we're not after mere nourishment ~ that's beneath most of us. We buy items based on flavor, and thus, a few bucks doesn't cut it. 

Consider what it would take for you to produce some of the meals you regularly eat on a farm of your own

How many hours (more likely days) would it take for you to produce even a crappy version of eggs, bacon, toast, and orange juice. 

Make no mistake, technology will replace jobs. This is something that has continually occurred for centuries, and history has proven that not only should you be happy about it, but that you overlook how grateful you ought to be. 

Why? Because technology makes things more efficient, and that efficiency vastly improves the average quality of life for everyone, even those that lose jobs in the short term. 

What if it's Different This Time?

As the saying goes, past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. What if technology really does eliminate the need for enough jobs for everyone. Suppose we're all fighting for a much smaller portion of working hours. What then? 

Perhaps we're not asking the right questions. 

If you knew that you'd earn a little less money in the future, but you'd only have to work 50% as much, would that necessarily be so problematic? 

Stretch it out a little further. If you knew that you could maintain close to the same quality of life while having to work only 1 hour a week instead of 40, wouldn't you jump at the chance? 

Maybe the right question should be what we're aiming for as a society.

Why is Employment even the Goal?

The folly is trying to measure everything by a static definition of what is "good". If your income dropped 10% but everything you buy gets 20% cheaper, this is a good thing - but not if you judge by income alone. 

Until the early 1900s, the 8 hour workday was not the norm. The average workers put in 12-14 hour days to make ends meet, and often worked 6 or 7 days of the week. 

You're asked to do a lot less today just to be average. 

But let's be honest. You don't compare yourself to people in history, you compare to those around you, so these benefits go completely unseen.

Objectives

Our standards change with the technology we build. Why is working an 8 hour/day job so vital? 

We're so obsessed with trying to ensure that everyone can find employment that maybe we're shortchanging ourselves. What's really important in the big picture? 

The most important thing is time. We want as much time as possible to do the things we love doing. 

Maybe we should be aiming to maintain the same quality of life by having everyone work 4 hours a day, or even less. That seems to be a much better goal than ensuring everyone is working 40 hours a week. 

But that would require embracing technology in lieu of the possibly of job losses, something not everyone is ready to do.  

Are you?
Read More