Maximizing Appreciation of Life


Lots of things have combined to help me capture and articulate what I believe is my ultimate life purpose:

I enjoy finding patterns in how people pursue meaning, constructing models for how said meaning works, and then creating, discussing, and sharing possible frameworks for improving it.

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I think the main factors for arriving here were:

  • My study of Stoicism over the last few years

  • My practice of meditation

  • A re-evaluation of what I’ve written about over the last 20 years

  • Lots of thinking and self-reflection

I mean, I had basically captured this many times over the last 10 years or so, in multiple forms, but I’d never said to myself and others that this is what I’m about. So that’s been nice to have that out of the way.

That’s my ultimate mission. It’s a path and a destination all in one.

But over the last week I’ve figured out a central thread that runs throughout, which is the Appreciation of Life.

Again, this also comes from stoicism and meditation and all the other stuff I’ve been studying all these years. But it also comes from the pandemic, where I’ve been forced inside to self-reflect.

But it’s not like we’re in the 1700’s stuck on the side of a mountain in a pandemic. We have streaming music. We have Netflix. We have Zoom. All pandemics being equal, it’s been a pretty great time to be stuck at home.

Somehow, thinking about all of this, I started thinking about practical and tactical ways to spend time that maximize appreciation of life. Here are some that I came up with:

  • Telling your family how much you care for them, and trying to improve their lives

  • Telling your friends how much you care for them, and trying to improve their lives

  • Spending quality time with family (phone and zoom, for now)

  • Spending quality time with friends (phone and zoom, for now)

  • If you think of someone, text them and tell them so

  • Reading great books and sharing what you learn from them, or how they make you feel

  • Watching great shows and sharing how they make you feel, or what you learned from them

  • Watching great movies and sharing how they make you feel, or what you learned from them

  • Look for people who are hurting, and try to help them

  • Notice people who are hurting, and try to help them

  • Listening to great music, and investing in ways to do that better

  • Learning and practicing meditation (Vipassana)

  • Learning about art, finding your favorite stuff, and learning how to make it

  • Cultivating a feeling of gratitude for what you have, at any given moment

At a more shallow and more immersive level, I’ve been thinking a lot about physical sensation. So like audio and video.

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I invested massively in audio in 2020, and I’m doing even more in 2021. I just plan on being in the house for the time being, and even after we have COVID under control I am still going to spend most of my time at home. More cooking. More music. More creation. More exercise. More thinking.

It’s possible to get massive pleasure from music, and from watching shows, and that can be maximized by investing in the various accouterments of the hobby. Speakers, DACs, AMPs, screen, seating, etc. Some of this can turn into materialistic masturbation, of course, so you have to watch the line between that and enhancing an activity by improving your tools.

Like buying new cooking knives, or a new cutting board, when you love to cook. Sometimes the tools are a distraction; other times they’re an enhancement. Shoot for the latter.

Anyway, this sense-enhancement stuff doesn’t have to be expensive electronics. Bedding. Sheets. Mattress. A better pillow. Maybe a bidet toilet seat, or an eye-cover and earplugs for when you sleep.

The point is trying to enhance and appreciate every single thing you do, to the maximum.

Friends, family, sound, light, stories, fiction, learning, laughing, crying, smiling, eating, sleeping.

Maximizing Appreciation.

That’s what I’m on about.

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