The Real Reason Why You Should Focus on Leaving a Legacy

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The Real Reason Why You Should Leave a Legacy2There comes a time in your life when you start thinking about what you will leave behind after you die. What will be your legacy? How will you be recorded into the annals of history?

“Enlightened” people will tell you to that it’s a pipe dream. That it’s a devious scheme devised by your ego to overcompensate for a purposeless life. Is it so?

Evolutionary Reasons Why You Should Leave a Legacy

In a hundred years from now
Everyone who’s living on this planet will be dead
So it’s inconsequential really
All the shit that you talk
All the bullshit that you stand for
It’s more important what, what you’re ready to build
What you’re ready to pass down to your children
What you’re ready to create
You better fuckin’ remember that
When you challenge a motherfucker like me
Remember, I’m the dominant species

–Immortal Technique

(This is the intro of a song called Dominant Species. I listen to this often in the gym to link it with powerful emotions.)

The notion of wanting to leave behind something that is greater than you when you die is a very alluring.

Many people buy into it for the “wrong” – inaccurate – reasons. They buy into it because it sounds cool. And it does sound very cool. Who wouldn’t want to create something that stands the test of time?

But, those people don’t consider why it might be a good/bad idea to think about leaving behind a legacy.

Let’s look into some common information on the topic.

A lot of people speak of the importance of creating something of your own:

–They speak of finding an original way to produce value and building a long-lasting business based on it.

–They speak of gaining muscle and crafting the body to reflect one’s inner strength.

–They speak of creating art that will forever communicate to people on a universal level.

In short, they speak of leaving behind a legacy that goes beyond the present moment.

There are many people who are attracted to this philosophy. Especially men.

Why?

Simple, because it’s in our DNA.

Show me a man who’s not focused on any of these three things and I’ll show you a thoroughly unhappy and confused man.

Such a man goes against the genetic wisdom built into his body through millions of years of trial and error. Genetic wisdom achieved through a process of evolutionary trial and error where the ultimate arbiter of “right” and “wrong” has been death. Not reprimands from society, authorities, or peer pressure, but death.

A man who obeys man-made rules imposed on him by someone else but neglects the wisdom of his DNA is a fool. After all, those rules were most likely created for the purpose of giving power to its creators over other men.

Societal rules are arbitrary, they come and go. This year it’s acceptable to do so-and-so, the next year it’s not.

Genetic rules are not like that.

Is it then strange that such a man will suffer greatly throughout his life?

Why You Shouldn’t Focus on Leaving a Legacy

The following quote by Marcus Aurelius sums up why you shouldn’t:

Throwing away then all things, hold to these only which are few; and besides bear in mind that every man lives only this present time, which is an indivisible point, and that all the rest of his life is either past or it is uncertain. Short then is the time which every man lives, and small the nook of the earth where he lives; and short too the longest posthumous fame, and even this only continued by a succession of poor human beings, who will very soon die, and who know not even themselves, much less him who died long ago.

— Marcus Aurelius

Many other people have said similar things. The logic goes something like:

“You have one life. Don’t waste it deferring happiness. Don’t postpone living. Don’t seek to impress others. Just live and enjoy your life.”

That statement is hard to argue with or refute, because it’s too general.

But, if we deconstruct that statement piece by piece and make it more specific, we find that:

“You have one life.

–Most likely. I can’t prove otherwise.

“Don’t waste it deferring happiness.”

— Define happiness.

I define happiness as the state in which you experience an abundance of positive hormones and neurotransmitters. How this state is achieved is arbitrary and different between people.

In my experience, when people who preach that others should “live now and not put off happiness” what they call “happiness  is what I call instant gratification. And, as a general principle, delaying instant gratification is actually preferable to engaging in too much instant gratification.

Why?

Because delaying gratification will build discipline, keep you sharp, and allow you to enjoy life more.

How?

By making sure that you avoid raising your threshold for stimulation excessively. (This makes your brain require less external stimulation to feel “happy”.) Meditation is a good example.

What does that mean?

That you shouldn’t mess up your brain – E.G your dopaminergic pathways – by engaging in frequent:

  • Multitasking.
  • Candy eating (sugar) or drug use.
  • Masturbating.
  • Watching TV, movies, or playing video games.
  • Scanning news sites or social media sites for updates.
  • And various other ways of getting your stimulation quickly without having to do anything to deserve it.

If you do these things excessively, especially the multitasking, you’ll be. . .

. . . Actually, you’ll be normal. And that’s the scary thing!

Seriously though, you’ll find it a lot harder to concentrate because your miserable brain is always craving stimulation and doesn’t want to do just one thing at a time. For a person with a brain in this condition meditation is torture.

The punchline:

By focusing on a goal and delaying instant gratification your brain will start producing dopamine, which in turn makes you feel strong, curious, and focused. How strongly you experience the reward of delaying gratification depends on a number of things.

We have now — already — squashed the generalized argument that we started with.

But let’s kick the corpse of that argument around a bit more, for amusement.

“Don’t try to impress others.”

–True, it’s usually a waste of time. But the error in this argument is the assumption that wanting to leave a legacy is only for show. That it’s something you do to impress other people or make up for some insecurities you may have.

It doesn’t strike the person making the argument that you’d want to leave a legacy for your own sake — simply because there’s nothing more brilliant that you can think of accomplishing with your life.

Now let’s put the nail in the coffin.

“Just live and enjoy your life…”

–Again, it’s a matter of definition. Different people enjoy different things.

To “just live your life” is easier said than done.

Intelligent people can’t turn off their brains and “just live”.

There are only two types of people who can do that: stupid people and skilled meditators. And while I would consider myself a skilled meditator, I’ve got more important things to do than to sit around in “bliss” all day.

I have “just lived my life”.

I’ve done YES-man challenges. I’ve made decisions by rolling a dice and by flipping a coin. I’ve done spontaneous and crazy things. I know from experience that it puts you into a temporary adventure mode. And I do think it’s good practice for the PFC to engage in from time to time, because it breaks you out of your regular routine.

But, I don’t think it’s a smart thing to do for extended periods of time. When I’ve done it, I’ve quickly felt aimless, empty, and bored. I’ve felt like I’m wasting my potential on trivial and non-productive tasks.

Of course, there’s no point in telling stupid people that. They will just say:

Duuude, don’t think so much. Just, like, enjoy life, you know what I’m sayin’?

But I disagree. The unexamined life isn’t worth living.

An active brain will keep inquiring until there are no more questions to be answered.

The superior man thrives by thinking. Not by dumbing himself down through excessive stimulation and lowering the capacity of his foremost tool — his brain.

That Means You Should Focus on Leaving a Legacy

You should:

  • Think about leaving a legacy of greatness. What will you build? What will you contribute? Who will prosper from it? The more you think about your legacy, and the more mental energy you devote to its creation, the more detailed your vision is, the more motivation you will be able to draw from it.
  • Delay gratification.  Because it will increase your dopamine levels and make you feel better. The more you do it and the stronger your willpower becomes. It’s like a muscle. Go on a 2-day fast.
  • Live as if you were to live for several hundred years. Plan ahead. Don’t let time become a mental restriction or impediment to formulating important long-term plans. Because you may actually live to be several hundred years old given the advances of science. But probably only the richest people will be able to afford it.

Motivation is a scarce resource of immense value. Therefore, as a pragmatic person, you should focus on leaving your legacy.  You should use it as a mental tool. It will eventually become like an engine from which you can refuel motivation.

Will you focus on leaving a legacy?

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Comments

  1. Alexander Skafte says:

    Another high quality post which I really enjoyed reading. From you little list, all I really have left to eliminate is multitasking; I’m wasting too much time on doing inefficient reading on the internet (which you wrote about in How Successful People Read Online). I would guess I have a rather severe internet addiction which I really need to get rid of.

    I’m gonna go back to summarizing a couple chapters from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people now. :)

    • I agree. Good read!

      Keep up the smashing of cliches & status quo thinking.

    • Alexander,
      We all have an addiction to the Internet, it becomes a matter of how well it can be channeled.

      Nice on the book summary. I will do the same in 5 min about a book on copywriting.

      • Alexander Skafte says:

        I guess that is true.

        I’m a little more than halfway through the book at the moment. The 7 Habits is the only book I’ve taken notes from seriously, and I notice that the degree to which I can recall the content is considerably higher than when I don’t take notes. Taking notes really is an amazing way of internalizing information to be used in the daily life. It was you who got me started on that, so thank you!

    • This post is very good.

    • Alex:
      Awesome. It made a huge difference in my life when I started doing it like a fanatic.

      Leo:
      Thanks.

      Mike:
      Thank you.

    • Hi Alexander,

      I too used to have this problem (reading too much stuff on the internet). Do you want to know how I beat the habit? I started taking action on all the useful information I consumed instead of looking for more stuff to read. Once you take action you simply will not have the time to be distracted and overwhelmed by the copious amounts of information that bombard us daily. I hope this helps!

      Sincerely,
      Top Dog

  2. Abgrund says:

    The best motivation to leave a legacy is regular contemplation of one’s own death.

  3. Ludvig,

    Your post reminds me of the James Dean quote: “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

  4. Walt @ Found Success says:

    I like the idea of leaving a legacy behind me but to be quite honest I’m quite skeptic about the next generations that humankind will have – it’s as if humans have peaked and are only going down hill.. much like Einstein predicted about technology and human communication.

    PS! Got to love Immortal Technique, also.

    Walt

    • Walt,

      ” it’s as if humans have peaked and are only going down hill.”

      — We shall see. I believe that things will get increasingly “unfair” as most people get increasingly dumbed-down during the next 50 years. It’s just going to get easier for people to plug themselves into a constant stream of stimulation, while ruining their brain and body, until homeostasis gets too strong in comparison to willpower. And then people will be in the mercy of their brains, and of those few who use their brains.

  5. DamienXIV says:

    I take it you fancy yourself a philosopher, well I do too.

    You have obviously read Marcus Aurelius as seen in your last article and your ebook… But if you’ve REALLY read him then you should also know that he says that it is no better to live for 5 years or 5000 years.

    • Hey DamienXIV,

      Yes.

      But it seems you’ve missed the point of the article. My point was that conditioning yourself into thinking about your legacy will make you more motivated and mentally resourceful.

      Whether it’s better to live for 5 or 5000 years is irrelevant because it’s a matter of opinion. I’d rather work hard and live a cool life accomplishing great things, than I’d like to be some dude who sits around thinking about the meaningless of life.

  6. Marcellus says:

    Yo loving the quote from Tech! He’s one of the few real niggaz still on a high level in the rap industry. You listen to rap?

    I like the ideas here, It’s powerful shit. What you say abot weak men is true. They only live to do drugs and rob. Not to create and build…

    I dont know what MY legacy’s gonna be, but I know it’ll be dope as fuck. Just as everything else I will do. I try to live a life with high standards, you know, and only accept victory and never ever defeat so that I make it big time one day!

    • Marcellus says:

      Oh yeah and when you focus on abundance you cant lose.

      In my home country water represents abundance. So I be trying to surround myself with water often during the day.

    • Marcellus,

      Yes I listen to rap. Especially when I was younger. Now I listen to all sorts of music, but mostly ambient music (trance). Because I find it’s more conducive to reading or working out.

      Keep surrounding yourself with water and let me know how it goes ;)

  7. I found this article a bit incoherent, it’s not in your hyper-focused style Ludvig.
    Generally I don’t care about legacy. I don’t care what the people in the next century will think of me, in the same manner as I don’t care what the guy on the next street is thinking about me.
    I believe in the existance after death and the reward proportional or even expotential to who you are.
    I cannot articulate the sensation very clearly, but I feel that time is the crucial factor in developing oneself.
    I believe that the time I am given here is to be put in such an use, that will make me grow.
    So the only justification of thinking about the legacy for me is that it will make me expand beyond myself.

    • Michal,

      “I found this article a bit incoherent, it’s not in your hyper-focused style”

      — Would it be possible to point out some examples or is it just an overall feeling?

      “I believe in the existance after death and the reward proportional or even expotential to who you are.”

      — I also believe in a law of compensation.

      “So the only justification of thinking about the legacy for me is that it will make me expand beyond myself.”

      — Good enough!

    • Mostly agree with you here, Michal, especially your last sentence.

      I don’t care much about leaving a legacy, in the sense that I don’t care about what people think of me. What I do know is that I choose to believe in a God (don’t know what kind) that gave me an unlimited potential to become great. Great does not necessarily mean “changing the world,” it could just mean raising awesome kids and being a great dad. And to me, it would be a waste, or even a sin as Sebastian puts it, to not develop and make full use of this potential to make a difference.

      That being said, I would focus on “leaving a legacy,” if that’s what drives me. And it sure does.

      Great post again, Ludvig. Really though-provoking, I like it! Never heard anyone question what all this really means before so I appreciate you taking the time to write about it.

      • Jeremy,

        Thanks for the reading and for the kind words. I think about this these kinds of questions often.

        “it would be a waste, or even a sin as Sebastian puts it, to not develop and make full use of this potential to make a difference.”

        — Makes me think of something Einstein said:
        “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.”

        Great quote.

  8. I like how you’ve picked apart the quote so well and laid it bare. The analysis you’ve touched on some good points across.

    Instant gratification as you’ve put it, sadly, is how many people openly encourage other lives to live by. This whole #yolo movement stems to popularise instant gratification.

    However, the consensus to build a legacy ,seems to forever be a confusing language for most people that have subscribed to a life of chasing their next dopamine rush.

    • Thanks Hugo.

      Holy shit, yes. The people who yell “YOLOOOO!” are disgusting.

      “the consensus to build a legacy ,seems to forever be a confusing language for most people that have subscribed to a life of chasing their next dopamine rush.”

      — I would guess that:
      1) They haven’t thought about it.
      2) They have thought about it but don’t believe in their own potential to do or produce anything of lasting value. (Low self-esteem).
      3) They don’t enjoy long-term thinking and believe in all the stuff of the general statement I gave above.

      • If they’re bellowing “YOLO” and their frantically stumbling to a greater vision than themselves, I’ll pay homage to that.

        However, if you’re doing this while staring down at 7 shots just to grab the attention of people who clearly arn’t worth it, then may God have mercy on your soul, when you’re feebly clutching the toilet bowl.

        #1 and #2 is probably the main factors why folks are trudging through their decades.

      • Yes. Probably.

    • YOLO is good. But the people shouting them are dumb, heh.

  9. Well written again Ludvig.

    I can say I too have made decisions on the roll of a dice. I have literally flown to Australia with my friend on the roll of a dice to start our lives anew. It was great fun and we spent 6 months traveling that vast and wild continent. But I also can relate to what you’re saying about feeling aimless and unhappy. I have gone backpacking more than once in my life, and while the stimulation is fantastic, I’ve learned it needs to be balanced with an actual life too.

    It wasn’t until I settled into a career that will allow me to advance, started a business and began strength training that i really felt a sense of purpose (ironically i spent the first ten years of my adult life trying to avoid this fate). Of course I’m all too aware that at any minute USA vs RUSSIA could go down, and everything I have built will be reduced to rubble, but that doesn’t matter. Imagine if those who had built Rome had thought “ah what’s the use, we won’t be around long anyway?” – we would be robbed of one of the most beautiful cities on earth and a source of pleasure to millions each year!

    I like this post and it has reminded me of what I’m doing. I’ll keep building, and hand all I build to my children when they arrive!

    • G-Freedom,

      “I have literally flown to Australia with my friend on the roll of a dice to start our lives anew”

      –Whoa. That’s crazy.

      “I have gone backpacking more than once in my life, and while the stimulation is fantastic, I’ve learned it needs to be balanced with an actual life too”

      — Right. I think most (young) people think that temporarily escaping will somehow change their lives. It might yield some deep answers to certain life questions, but probably not.

      What will have changed when they come home? Nothing much. They’ll (likely) be in an even worse position than when they begun, because now they have less money and some of their close friends have moved away. And now they’re stuck working a job they don’t like. That time could’ve been better invested in personal education or building something.

      “Imagine if those who had built Rome had thought “ah what’s the use, we won’t be around long anyway?””

      — Exactly.
      The brain won’t put it in more effort than what it deems necessary. Most people don’t understand this, and as a result they don’t understand the importance of raising their personal standards of what MUST be done. They think they could do it if they felt like it, but they never will. It’s the fallacy of coulda-woulda-shoulda.

      PS: your blog isn’t working (or the link isn’t).

  10. I agree with this from the comments above,

    “I believe in the existance after death and the reward proportional or even expotential to who you are.”

    I relate to this a lot,

    “An active brain will keep inquiring until there are no more questions to be answered.”

    I’ve gone crazy over that…

    I do what I do because “God” gave me a gift and to not give it my absolute best will be the biggest “sin” there is.

    • “I’ve gone crazy over that…”

      — It used to drive me crazy too when I was younger. I used to hate it.
      Ironically, it is now my passion. I love to think. I can sit for hours on end thinking.

      I think it was when I first learned to meditate (and shut off my thoughts on command) that I began to appreciate the rich process of thinking. Because now I knew it was a choice. Before it was compulsion.

  11. There’s nothing quite as horrible as the concept of normality. I remember wanting to “fit in” and “be normal” when I was a kid, but oh goddd. Please no. I failed in overcoming my TV addiction when I tried to substitute it with reading books. But then I tried watching speeches and debates and it was quite effortless. I’m a pretty ear focused person, very sensitive to sounds and such (traffic gives me a headache) and I always was an auditory learner. Is there any way to get audio books on a budget? Is listening to classical or instrumental music as I read considered multi-tasking? I think I could make that work.

    I’ve been trying to build more structure into my daily life, and this is a good reminder to try my pomodoro experiment where I earn points to do something for leisure, and can only do something “fun” if I have enough points. I also need to discover my “peak” during the day so I can structure it properly.

    Since I built a habit of unrestrained gratification for 20 years (more along the lines of TV and Games not constant masturbation) I have a particularly hard time breaking out of it, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. People think of indulging in entertainment almost like a virtue these days. It’s weird how it’s becoming acceptable to waste away without ever aspiring to do anything.

    • I see this wasting away as a bio-product of the nilhism inherent in our culture. People have largely given up on God, hope and purpose, so they just try to do what they can to make the time pass as painlessly as possible. I myself don’t believe in God either, but this for some reasons motivates me in the opposite direction – I feel that if i only have this one miraculous life, I’m going to see what the heck i can make of it!

      • Some religious people are even more nihilistic with their whole “rapture” deal though. They can’t wait for the world to end so they can go to their precious paradise. But I’m with you.. only have one chance so better make the most of it!

    • Great comment, Ragnar!

      “Is there any way to get audio books on a budget? ”

      — Try PirateBay. They have a ton of audio book torrents.

      “s listening to classical or instrumental music as I read considered multi-tasking? I think I could make that work. ”

      — No way to know except through experimentation. Try with and without. See what yields better concentration and positive feelings. For me it’s different from day to day…

      “People think of indulging in entertainment almost like a virtue these days”

      — Yeah. It’s the glue used to keep confused people together. It’s pathetic.

      Good luck on your trip and on the positive habits!

  12. People with active brains always thinking do not “Just Live”. I know for me i have always found it hard to shut off my brain as i’m very curious of the things around me. This has been a part of me since i was a child and still to this day i still ask questions, How does it work? and What If’s?
    I believe that we all should leave a legacy behind after we become history. We spend your life doing nothing except living? I tried it at one time and found it extremely boring! A boring life is an unhappy life to me! Anyone can “Just Live” their lives but it takes a person who think’s his life is worth more to build his or her own legacy!
    My goal is to produce content and put it out there for the whole world to see! Who knows like Van Gogh maybe i could become famous for it after i die but until then i will keep writing as it makes me happy and calm.

    Ludvig as always you write the best posts! Where do you get your ideas?

    • Jose,

      ” it takes a person who think’s his life is worth more to build his or her own legacy!”

      — I agree. It’s a product of positive self-esteem.

      “like Van Gogh maybe i could become famous for it after i die ”

      — Let’s hope things go better for you while you still live. So that you don’t become a burden to your brother (if you have one), like van Gogh.
      :)

      “Ludvig as always you write the best posts! Where do you get your ideas?”

      — Thank you, Jose. I read, write, and think a lot.

      My creative process is one of quantity over quality. I have hundreds (thousands?) of topics and scribbles in my commonplace. I then select from one of them that I feel like writing more in-depth about.

      I guess I have at least 10-30 topics working in my subconscious at all times. Eventually I can “feel” when I’m ready to develop it further.

  13. I used to rely a lot on instant gratification, and while that made me happy for a short while, I was sad most of the time and felt that something was missing. As soon as I started building my body and later on building my website, I became much happier.

    Victor Pride from boldanddetermined.com wrote a great article aswell on the importance of building as a man: http://boldanddetermined.com/2012/01/28/why-you-should-be-a-builder/

  14. darryll says:

    Inspiring shit, mate.
    Bookmarked.

  15. Swordfish says:

    I am probably one of the younger readers on SGM I am just 16.

    This stuff is just way over the head of people my age as you probably know. What I am trying to get at and ask anyone (Ludvig especially ) is what you would do if you were my age and wanted to become more confident and mentally strong?

    • Heathenwinds says:

      I’m 14 and while I’m no Tony Robbins or Napoleon Hill I can tell you what’s worked(in my experience)

      – Not going by what friends do. Regular people are stupid; regular teenagers are so much more stupid and incapable of making good decisions. Don’t be a regular person please.

      – Meditate. If you’re anything like me and you’re even moderately intelligent, you’re brain is gonna be going 100 mph constantly yet never produce anything useful. I’ve been keeping up a simple ~20 minutes a day meditation practice with plans to increase gradually and it’s helped me immensely.

      – Lifting weights. Beyond the obvious physical benefits, I’ve found that I’m just so much more relaxed, focused, and assertive since I started lifting. If you don’t do this already I’d recommend that you start as soon as you can.

      – Reading. I’ve always been a reader, but initially I read mainly degenerate adventure books and cringe-level political stuff. As a wise man once said, “that’s stupid.” Read books to solve a problem or read books to help you learn something, but never read anything that doesn’t stimulate you intellectually.

    • Swordfish,
      I think Heathenwinds pretty much said it. I think it’s very rare for people your age to think about these things.

      Note 1: Peer pressure is a lot more powerful the younger you are. Probably at its height around your age.

      Note 2: I tried meditating (I wasn’t consistent) when I was like 16-18 and it was almost impossible. I was too addicted to stimulation– multitasking and videogames etc..

      It’ll be cool to see where you guys are at when you are 20+ if you start living in a conscious way from such an early age. Because the process is very cumulative.

      • Swordfish says:

        Thanks gor the great answers Ludvig and Heathenwind!

        Cant believe your just 14 Heathenwind… Im gonna follow you’re advice.

        Ludvig Im gonna choose an education programme now in high school for next year. what did you study??

      • Heathenwinds says:

        What do you mean by “because the process is very cumulative”?

  16. Another excellent post Ludvig, I’m glad I stuck around. I guess instant gratification is something we’ve all probably been through once in our lives — isn’t it part of growing up to want something immediately? I was like that once, doing a lot of things at once just because it gives me a temporary high. It wasn’t until recently that I started slowing things down, taking it one step at a time and enjoying the ride because happiness should be a journey.

    Nonetheless great post, great reminder for myself and great response from your readers. :)

  17. I really enjoyed this one. I agree about the “leaving” your legacy, and planing.
    The thing is; I’m not sure the next generation would be able to make the technological leap we are currently making. Why? Because earth is depleted from all extractible resources that put us here in the first place.

  18. Great article Ludvig,

    My thoughts on leaving a legacy is pretty controversial and a lot of people will disagree with it.

    But I think the only form of legacy you could leave behind that is entirely in your control is the things you build that doesn’t involve kids or offspring.

    When you have kids, you simply have no clue how they will grow, the attitude they will develop or the person they will grow to become. In short, they will either become an asset to your genetic legacy or a liability.

    Some would argue that its a liability due to not being in line with your personal set of beliefs and ideas and that its not really a liability.

    But I really am starting to believe that the things that don’t involve your genes is the most valuable things to leave behind.

    Here are some examples:

    – Your knowledge
    – Your experiences
    – Your expertise
    – Your value
    – Your positive influence to other people
    – Your ability to change people’s lives

    All of this stuff isn’t something you create, but something you acquire through years of experience and life lessons that is very hard to pass on to your offspring.

  19. First time commenting on your blog, Ludwig. Well, this article really kills it in terms of the question asked. Another question that arises through this article is – “What is my purpose in life”?

    I guess many people(including me) have thought about living both the extremes (living an ordinary life and living an extra-ordinary/famous life).

    At the age of around 14 (or whenever I started being aware of my self) I started thinking about doing something big in life (I had decided that I will not live a nobody’s life). I am 24 now and in the last 9-10 years I have swung several times to the other end as well. Sometimes, I would just say to myself – Nah, I don’t want to be egoistic, I don’t wanna live to impress others. I’ll just be an ordinary human being and live live peacefully with my family.

    This kind of shift usually happens when 1. You fall in what is called “love”, so you just wanna be with your partner and do nothing else. 2. or when you dig too deep into the conscious aspects of life -for example- you start thinking like a pure saint, denouncing all materialistic things.

    So there is always going to be a trade-off between stimulation and discipline. Balancing the two in your life is very essential. Something like – achieving a big goal in your life can also be used as a stimulation. With each small success towards your goal, you’ll get instant gratification, but each of those small successes will come with discipline.

    • One thing though, Love and “achieving” can co-exist on the same plane, since they are not antinomic.
      “Doing something” to me means “what kind of empowerment should I run after if I want to keep living deeply”.
      Denouncing can be seen as a cause for sure, but materialistic life as we call it is also the apanage of the 1% of this planet. Some being aware, environment-conscious. And this very same material can be used to either succeed within this system; or outside of it. In both cases, values you attach somewhere is simply your own personal construct; and when it comes to achieving something, arise from your own depth; then these notions are no longer attached to any object. Freedom of being shall remain the greatest strength :-)

    • Hey Indiansucker,

      “there is always going to be a trade-off between stimulation and discipline”

      — Yeah. I think the key is to combine the two. (For example, when I read, workout, or meditate, I find that is an end in itself). And it also makes me better. So there is no tradeoff there. But naturally, there’s going to be tradeoffs. And that’s when you always must ask yourself: “will I pay the price?”

  20. Interesting straw-man argument built up and then trashed by the writer.
    The reason it’s no use to try to “build a legacy” is because that legacy does nothing for you. No matter what, you’ll be dead.
    The real challenge in life is to truly come to grips with the fact that everything you do is utterly meaningless and soon you’ll be gone forever. That’s a difficult feat to achieve.

  21. Great post!

    I agree with you on every point. Leaving a legacy is fundamental to pretty much every living organism from the single-celled variety to us. It’s true that only humans are complex enough to speculate on different ways to fulfil this urge (whereas every other creature seeks it through reproduction), but it’s still the same urge. If you’re alive, you want to leave something of yourself behind when you die – it’s nature’s oldest game.

    My main weakness when it comes to achieving the goals I’m interested in is multi-tasking. Which is frustrating as the ability to remain singularly focused on one aim used to be one of my biggest strengths. I think the older we get, and the more our responsibilities multiply and change, the more necessary it is to become intentional about feeding our strengths. They tend to be the part of ourselves we take most for granted, and so the part most susceptible to neglect when new pressures and challenges arrive.

    Learning to maintain focus, remain disciplined, avoid complacency and keep upskilling (keep seeking to grow and evolve), contribute massively to whether we’re able to leave a legacy, and thereby live a satisfying life.

    Easier said than done, of course. But then that’s why we read blogs like this one. ;-)

    • Micah thanks for the insightful comment!

      What you’re saying about multitasking is interesting. I think the problem for most people growing up nowadays is inherent in the use of smartphones, Youtubing, computers, music, videogames, etc… Growing up constantly plugged into stimulation, and seeing everyone else doing the same thing — making it seem normal.

      So it’s refreshing to hear you provide a different explanation: ” I think the older we get, and the more our responsibilities multiply and change, the more necessary it is to become intentional about feeding our strengths”

  22. Damn, you beat me to what I was going to say. When I started reading this, I already had some thoughts on Marcus Aurelius floating in my head since this is stuff that he talked about a lot in Meditations. But you talked extensively about his thoughts on the subject.

    I love Meditations, but I thought his continuous arguments over not leaving a legacy was a little off. I’ve always taken the other viewpoint. We should be trying to leave a legacy. Yes, it’s true that no one lives forever and that everything we do will eventually fade away. But so what? All we have is the time we have – I’m making memories right now.

    This post reminds me a little of absurdist arguments. Take Albert Camus for instance. In the Myth of Sisyphus, he said that all life is absurd. It serves no purpose at all and trying to find the meaning of life is pointless. Yet at the same time, he argues that you can still find personal meaning – one that fulfills your needs to a meaningful life. Instead of seeing life as empty and not something worthwhile, we should all be doing everything we can to make them great – I think that’s my personal meaning I’ve found in life.

    • Steve,

      Great minds think alike, eh?

      If you write a post about it, please tell me about it. I’d love to read.

      “I love Meditations, but I thought his continuous arguments over not leaving a legacy was a little off.”

      — Exactly my opinion.

      Regarding the Tale of Sisyphus & making things meaningful: I think it all has to do with mental focus/concentration. Or what some people refer to as presence.

  23. Wow. Hello, I’m a first time reader, commenter on this age-old post. A college student, I see the points that you’ve made new about the topic of leaving a legacy and that was really thought-provoking. That hasn’t happened in a long time. Thank you. Can I cite your ideas in a presentation soon?

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