Better Off

What if you were given the choice between a happier life or a financially richer one. If you had to struggle with the answer for even a moment, I already know something about you.

I am writing this in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election. I’ve noticed some recurring themes to our national conversations that only happen during presidential elections.

One of those themes is the question, “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?” Did you know that most people answer that question without considering anything but quantifiable factors like disposable income or net worth. 

But is “better off” really a numbers question? Why do so many of us shift into a number mindset when the question also invites a deeper meaning? It seems we’ve been taught to glorify logic over all other processes for understanding. Most don’t even know there are other processes. When logic is the lens through which we see the world and our lives, every question becomes a math problem. 

But the quality of your life is not a math problem or any version of a “correct” answer, it is an experience only. And, logic was never designed to be a lens through which to see the world. It was designed to aid in the task of survival. For that task, logic is a pretty great tool. It’s clear that when survival is on the line, success dictates a correct answer.

Those who misuse logic as a way to value life are the ones who make a list of pros and cons as a way to determine if they should marry someone. It sounds almost funny when it’s someone else who is misusing logic, but we’ve all been at least tempted to engage logic for what should be questions of choice. Far too many of us don’t know there is a difference between a calculation and a choice.

Logic-centric people are easy targets for personal agendas; like politics, or sales pitches. Controlling the behavior of others by encouraging a logical train of thought is the method of every marketing campaign. If we are analyzing data instead of honoring our lives, we are easily manipulated by “new information”. When you value the quality of your experience above all, no one can take that away from you.

What if you were given the choice between a happier life or a financially richer one? If you had to struggle with the answer for even a moment, I already know that you struggle with being happy. And, your reliance on logic for guidance is the reason for that struggle.

You can always opt out of the struggle by the deliberate choice to reject reasonable and true information, and instead embrace a satisfying and real experience. When the subject is the quality of your life, there is no other value but that. You cannot do both because information and experience are mutually exclusive. That means you not only can choose, it means that you must choose.

Here’s the irony in the original question: if you consider a quantifiable value like money to be a measure of “better off”, the answer is always no. If, instead, you consider relationships, how easily you move through your day, how eager you are for the future, and how generally satisfying your life is, then the answer is yes. And it is the reward for an intent to honor the true value of life; your life. And, that’s all “better” ever is.

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