Life is a Pareto Frontier.

Pretend for a moment that experience can be measured with only two metrics, Excitement and Safety, assuming that an increase in either is a good thing. Every experience we have can now be given one score for excitement, one score for safety and then be plotted on a graph as below.

Three experiences are labelled, A — Boxing, B — Doing the Cryptic Crossword, C — Being left alone in the middle of the desert with no food.

From plotting this graph, I can say with some certainty that C is a sub-optimal experience. Regardless of my particular preference of adrenaline over security, option C is more dangerous and less exciting that many other options.

However, to decide between boxing and the crossword is more difficult, it is easy to make the argument that although far more dangerous, boxing is much more exciting than the crossword. We can draw a “Skyline” between all the experiences for which you could make a similar argument. Everything below that line should be dismissed. Both A and B are safer and more exciting that C, so C is no longer worth considering. Get rid of it. In engineering, anything on the line is said to be “Pareto Efficient”.

The clear plus side of this is that we cast away many options. The downside is the realisation that of the remaining options, it is impossible to increase one metric, without decreasing the other. I can now only increase excitement by sacrificing safety and vice versa.

Life is a series of such decisions, if you are somewhere on the line, you are doing pretty well, and in all likelihood further analysis of the situation will be an inefficient use of time, and probably detrimental.

Get rid of the obviously bad options, pick one of the remaining options and proceed forward, knowing and accepting that one of the options you didn’t pick may have well worked out better in some respects, but would certainly have been worse in others.

I like philosophy alot, I’m studying for a Masters in Political Theory, researching our relationship with work. www.theaphoristmanifesto.com

I like philosophy alot, I’m studying for a Masters in Political Theory, researching our relationship with work. www.theaphoristmanifesto.com