When I’m looking on message forums, I see a lot of responses to helpful financial or other advice that go along the lines of, “Well, that’s fine, but I could die tomorrow, or I could do all of these things to stay healthy yet end up with cancer.” It’s usually some variant of, “Life isn’t fair, someone will always do better than me, so why even try?” or some other similar financial excuse. This is people tapping in to the universal truth that sometimes life just makes no sense at all.
We’ve all got stories to tell about the guy who drank six vodkas a day and lived to be 105, the person who never saved a dime and miraculously won the lottery, or the elite athlete who got cancer at age twenty-six and died way too young. We all know stories about people who did everything right and still got screwed over by Fate, or those who did everything wrong and got kissed by Fate. We see things like this happen and it becomes tempting to throw our hands up in the air and say, “That’s it. I have and equal chance of things working out whether I try to do everything right nor not, so I might as well not even try and just live with however it turns out.”
While this attitude is understandable, it’s also a cop out. It’s true that things often don’t make sense. But it makes even less sense to live your life assuming that either all of the bad things will happen to you no matter what you do, or that all of the good things will happen to you if you never do anything. Despite the fact that it seems like these incredible stories are the norm, they’re really the exception. For every person who spends all their money and yet somehow wins the lottery, there are plenty more who spent all their money and ended up destitute. For every person who does everything right physically and still gets cancer, there are plenty more who end up living long lives.
It makes far more sense to live your life assuming that life will make sense. It makes sense to do everything you can to stay healthy. It makes sense to make a long-term financial plan and save money for your golden years. It makes sense to live and prepare like you will have a long and healthy life. If it ends up happening (and the odds are decent that it will) and you’ve blown all your money, you’ll have to live your golden years in poverty. If you never try to stay healthy, figuring that you’ve got an equal chance of dying regardless, you may fulfill the prophecy and die young. That or you’ll live to a ripe old age but be so miserable that you’ll wish you’d died years ago.
Sometimes life doesn’t make sense and it’s not fair. But you can’t live life assuming that you don’t need to try to make things better. You have to act like things will make sense, that the likely outcome is what will occur. You need to plan for the worst case, of course. You don’t want to leave yourself vulnerable by not having good insurance, for example, but you don’t want to bury yourself in fear that the worst will always happen. Similarly, you want to act like the good things will happen; that if you work hard to be healthy or wealthy, it will happen. Otherwise you run the risk of bringing the worst case to your doorstep. So don’t brush off advice with the, “It’s not fair,” excuse. It may not be, but the chances are good that it will be.
(Photo courtesy of Xuoan’s Dailies)