Free flights and free cars and free food and free phone plans and free housing are all well and good…but it’s important to remember that the game is a means to an end, and not an end in of itself.
Sometimes, opening the floodgates to this kind of lifestyle, seeing the hidden opportunities to benefit behind every crevice, threatens to consume us. We get caught in the game, and the game becomes the raison d’être. We spend all our time scouring for hidden hacks and secrets, and sometimes – often – jump on things we don’t need just because it’s a hack, and it feels good to take ‘advantage’ of it. I’ve certainly been there.
We also quickly normalize. We get first class flights, fancy five star hotel rooms…and we complain when the lounge is closed, when the food is sub-par, when we find ourself in the middle seat on an airplane.
We forget the fact that we are 30,000 feet in the air, flying halfway around the world in the same time it would have once taken us to walk halfway across our hometown.
We complain about our cramped quarters, the inconsiderate fellow passenger who has reclined their seat into our face.
We forget to be thankful that we aren’t perishing of scurvy on board a sea vessel that could find itself sinking in the middle of the ocean at any minute.
There’s no point to improving the quality of our lives if we just end up taking every new thing we get for granted. We aren’t hacking anything, winning at anything, if that’s the case. We just find ourself running a little faster on the hedonic treadmill – good job.
When I first received the Thiel Fellowship grant, I blew through $30k in ~6 months. I quickly learned after that how to better manage my money. I’ve been getting even better since then.
And somewhere along that path, I realized just how grateful I was to have learned how to manage my money before *really* making money. The worst thing that could probably happen to someone, financially, is to make a huge sum of money before realizing how to spend it. And then we rapidly level up on our hedonistic treadmill, blow all of it, and have a long, hard, regretful fall at the end.
Same with anything else in life – not just money. If you’re going to be learning these hacks, and getting all of the incredible things life is willing to provide you with here, I have just one request: appreciate it. Spend a day and reflect on just how much you have to be grateful for in your life, and just how little more you truly need.
And then? Go ahead. Level up. Enjoy.