Life & Thoughts

The Life Balance

Life is Short

When I was a kid I used to wonder about this. Is life actually short, or are we really complaining about its finiteness? Would we be just as likely to feel life was short if we lived 10 times as long? From Paul Graham

“Is life actually short?” The question initiated by Paul Graham is rather ordinary. To make sure that I can attain the answer to the question, my intention is to make reference to the website entitled Life Expectancy for Hong Kong, stating we lived 81.2 years in average for males, so by looking into this data, it’s not really convincing that life is in fact short. As this amount of time is already enough for us experiencing different emotions, making different sort of memories and feeling that we are changing in either physically or psychologically. How can we understand the statement ‘Life is Short’?

Notice that ‘Short’ itself is a word for comparison and with relativity, then what it is comparing to? Easy enough, it compares to our human ambition and  goal. A survey interrogated 100 old people who are facing close to the last breath to reflect their biggest regret, with nearly all of them saying they regretted not the blunders they did, but the plans they didn’t do. Imagine yourself obsessed with a hard choice, you would always think of the outcomes whenever you made, because you really desire to gain the most benefits in either situations, but after you made the wrong choice, you might feel disappointed because you knew (or just think) another situation would have better benefits than the one you made. So when you didn’t do things that you want to, like writing a novel, maybe it’s because you are too busy, you would (or even must) regret it because you think writing a novel may win  a surprising amount of money. Hence you would make a lovely 3rd Conditionals,”If I had lived more ten years, I would have written a novel.”, So Life is Short, due to the  fact that we have lots of desirous goals, where our life time can’t satisfy and fulfill them.

In here I want to point out another big bullet-point about why life is short for the main discussion. Actually it’s not matter the whole life, but a specify time interval. Busy parents may have this experience, where they only get 52 weekends with their 2-year-old. Time flies, and they became grown-ups. And they should have prepared to say goodbye to them after. The whole life time isn’t short, but short enough to being cut into several short intervals, and that’s why you think Life is short.

And, similar cases happen to me.

Secondary School is already gone half, but I feel like I’ve wasted time. It’s have a rule of thumb. Just compare yourself with Harry Potter six years in Hogwarts. Have you gone as far as the writing of J.K.Rowling? Probably very hard as the writer J.K. Rowling literally planned the story! Nevertheless, I still think I can do more work then the normal circumstances, everyone have goals in any time, and same holds for me.

Time Saving

So a person posted the question of how to balance between homework, extra-circulars and the work he want to finish (the same goal as mine, getting a place of a national math team to participate an international Mathematics competition), and then several asked him to use Chrome productivity extensions, staying focused to do something… And a big guy shown up, and said:

This is really impressive, just saying. ;) From Evan Chen.

I have the same view as Evan Chen. We have too focused in some “local changes”, actually lots of books telling us to save time from when you are waiting for a bus, do others thing instead relax and have a coffee, but is it really useful? Nope. This sort of action may worsen your status eventually. It’s because it’s actually dozens of small 5 minutes of time. How about “global changes”? There are many examples of extra-circulars and classes that aren’t adding values for your life relative to time cost. Aggressively dropping them will spare you a big piece of chocolate cake. Most people don’t spend time thinking about exactly what’s important to them. The recommendation is to tear up the default schedule of high school and replace the valuable things that you think. The bad side of this action is you actually may get worse grade than when you are following that default schedule, but this is extreme useful for top talented students. More importantly, there are lots of things you can’t simply learned from schooling.


The question is, sadly, I would add is you simply can’t get things done only by local changes and global changes, so a valid and tempting option is procrastinating them. I would quote Paul Graham’s essay ‘Good and Bad Procrastination’:

Most people who write about procrastination write about how to cure it. But this is, strictly speaking, impossible. There are an infinite number of things you could be doing. No matter what you work on, you’re not working on everything else. So the question is not how to avoid procrastination, but how to procrastinate well.

Simply speaking, Do big stuff, don’t do things that won’t appear in your obituary, such as clearing up your backyard, writing thank you notes. They are way too effective eating your precise chocolate cake, and you would very sure that, almost you can make up any different excuse in any time.  The result is, no real work done, and nothing written on your obituary, so sad.

The main reason why people tends to focus on small problems rather than the big goal, I experienced that wholeheartedly, I have been working on a really big, actually the biggest achievement I can get in secondary school, and I have worked on it for three years, and now I turned my head onto, I found I actually lost lots of things I can simply get in secondary school, better grades, more friends, more happiness, and I said:

Success is not a thing that you gain, but the thing that you are so willing to have an equal to equal exchange.

The major problem is, you can work harder than everyone else, do everything right, and just receive a failure, and that’s why it worth doing it. That’s why small things are really tempting, you just finish it within a day or two, and you get a nice feeling of accomplishment of it. Anyone can work hard if reward is certain, but in real life this is simply not the case. It’s just about fear of the waste of time.

The title Life Balance is the point, it’s actually you to determine how you play the role in the stage, which you can only perform once.



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