You don’t control the outcomes of your life, principles do.
Benjamin Hardy says that our lives are governed by objective principles: if you drop a book, gravity will ensure it hits the ground. You controlled that action, but the outcome was the result of how it interacted with the outside world.
The examples he offers are eye-opening:
Given the choice, which would you rather have: $1,000,000 in your pocket right now or a penny that doubles in value for 31 days?
Most people would choose the million. However, the doubling penny actually ends up being $10.7 million dollars. Yet, the majority of the growth happens at the very end, and most people aren’t patient enough for the big return. The live for the moment culture of today stops people from investing.
It is small, even undetectable, habits that accumulate and create the quality and legacy of our lives.
The big things are just the small things done repeatedly.
When we talk about “living for the moment,” we’re usually referring to acting on our immediate desires, rather than consciously choosing for each moment of our lives to serve some kind of purpose, add to some kind of objective.
Freedom is not the ability to act on any given impulse, it is the ability to choose what you want to act on, and why. It is not the absence of commitments, values, or discipline, it is the ability to choose them at will.
The truest love is not how you feel, but how you act. If you want a “soulmate” relationship, think of it not as something you find, but a person you choose and then grow with over time. If you want to find your purpose, think of it as whatever you are good enough to keep doing, until you leave a legacy — then it is your calling.
It is not in premeditation that we decide what the big, important parts of our lives are, it is doing. Particularly, what we do over and over again. Doing defines our lives, our characters, our relationships—everything.
Everything that matters happens in small, repeated actions, and small actions are made up of moments. Which is why instead of living for the desires of “the moment,” you should live for the work of your legacy.
Your legacy is what you will be remembered by — what kind of person you were, and what you did while you were here. Developing this requires you to be present. It requires you to choose. It requires you to use each of your moments, rather than wash them away with a rush.
There is a deeper, more profound peace that comes from working toward building a part of yourself in the world, rather than building your life around catering to your senses’ immediate desires. It will be equally taxing, frustrating, gratifying, joyful, exhausting—but at the end you’re left with something greater than yourself, and that is the point. Everything is hard, only some things are worth it.