Life is meant to be pleasurable. Life is meant to be fun. Life is meant to be enjoyable. But sometimes it is easy to forget that. It is too easy to get caught up in the rat race, using bullshit phrases like “time poor” as excuses for inertia, and just plugging away in a boring and monotonous life in the hope that we can get to the fun stuff later.Read More
Relationships play an important part in our lives but they are tricky to get right. According to most popular relationship guidance the keys to successful relationships are said to be things like good communication, being honest about your feelings, being affectionate often, showing gratitude, and so on. But I feel these items are missing the point. Don't get me wrong, they are great ways to maintain a strong relationship but they are merely subsets, or derivatives, of a more important relationship requirement: that each person in the relationship is living their own individual lives to their full potential. How we live our life as an individual defines how we live our life as part of a relationship. If we are not true to ourselves, not living our lives to our full individual potential, then how could we fully commit ourselves to building a successful and wonderful relationship? It's not possible. The effort that each person brings into a relationship is directly related to the effort they put in to themselves as an individual.
A wise woman (my mum) once said...
If you are not living to your whole individual potential, then you can never be the full half of a relationship
People that are willing to accept underachieving, mediocrity, or are just happy to be "above average" will get that exact same level of quality in their relationships. Why? Because they will think that to contribute (and receive) "above average" is all they need for their relationships.
Relationships require sacrifices
Being in a relationship requires effort. A lot of effort actually. Ignoring all the nice thing about relationships (romance, passion, etc) relationships are really just the union of two people (unless you're a polygamist) that can function as a single unit to work towards common goals. That sounds a bit cold but stay with me, I'm making a point here. :P
Relationships provide us with many benefits including pooling resources (e.g. money, house, cars), sharing experiences (e.g. travel, new activities), and bringing happiness through emotional connection. But all this requires a concerted effort because sometimes the decisions made as a functioning couple may actually be in opposition to the desires of one of the individuals. This is what most relationship experts call making a sacrifice.
Sacrifices are very important in a relationship. Being part of a relationships requires an individual to consider the needs and thoughts of the other person, and sometimes even place those ahead of their own. That is, there are times when an individual must make a sacrifice for the sake of improving/helping the relationship or the other person.
But, and here's the catch, a person who is not fully living their own life as an individual will be less likely to choose to make a sacrifice. A person that feels like they are "missing out" in their life, that they have not achieved everything they want, or that their life has been wasted, is not someone who will willingly make a sacrifice.
It is only when you are truly happy being alone that you can become selfless and dedicate yourself fully to someone else.
Live your own life
What exactly does "living your own life" mean and why is it so important? Put simply, every second of our lives is spent with ourselves, living in our own minds. We cannot take a break from it, we cannot go live someone else's life, and we cannot simply shut it off if we don't like what is happening. It's our life and we have to live it 24/7.
No relationship that we start will ever come close to this level of time in our lives. Even if we managed to spend every single second with our partner we will still not ever be as fully immersed in the relationship frame of mind in comparison to the individual frame of mind. Our brains are wired to think as an individual and it is only through a conscious decision that we move into the relationship frame of thinking, but even so it is still our individual mind that was activated first and had to make that choice.
As such the attitude we take to our life as an individual is what shapes everything else around us. The way we choose to live, think, and behave as an individual pervades our entire life. As previously mentioned, every second of our life we are living as an individual, therefore every second of our life is determined by how we treat ourselves as an individual. If we do not respect ourselves, or cannot be honest with ourselves, then it is impossible to expect anything else from our life. This includes our work, our family and our relationships.
If you are not fully living your life to your maximum potential then you can never fully contribute to a relationship.
An Example (using Maths!)
Most health relationships function with a roughly 50:50 split of contribution between the two people involved. Let's consider an example relationship with a fictitious couple where the two people have a pretty decent life - they both work in respected professions, both have good incomes, maybe they have some children, a few close friends, they've ticked a few things of their bucket lists, and they are relatively content with their life. But contentment is not necessarily happiness is it?
Looking a bit deeper it is obvious that both are not operating to their full individual capacity. For whatever reasons they are coasting through life, content with being "above average". For this example we'll say that they are both only functioning to 50% of their true individual capability.
Doing the simple math, it becomes obvious that the maximum each person can contribute to the relationship is 25% (50% effort x 50% contribution = 25%) and when combined that only comes to a grand total of 50% effort for their entire relationship. That means their happy little life together will only ever reach half of it's maximum potential. Their relationship may be good now, but it has the potential to be so much better if they just put a bit more effort into their own individual happiness.
This example might seem overly simple but it was done that way for a reason. Because it is actually this simple! If each person is only bothering to achieve 50% compared to their actual ability then they will put the same (or less) effort into their relationships, and the result will always be a relationship that is just good instead of being the wonderful and exciting adventure that it should be.
How to fix it
The answer should have struck you by now, but I'll spell it out just in case. If you are not living your life to your full potential, not chasing your dreams, and not being 100% honest to yourself then you are sabotaging your life and ruining your relationships.
If this sounds like you then you need to start making some positive changes in your life. Find what excites you in life, be honest at all times, try new things, and never give up on your dreams. Do not settle for "above average". Do not lower your standards to accept what is nearby and common, but rather set your goals higher and see what steps up to meet those lofty heights.
I am a bit of a maths nerd and data geek, as well as wannabe professional gambler, and I have come to realise that there are many parallels between the mathematics of gambling theory and life. The basic theories that any serious punter uses to determine their gambling actions can similarly be applied to life. And just like how knowledge and skill can be the difference between winning and losing your wagers, they can also be the difference between a positive and negative life.
My Gambling Background
Before I delve into the mathematical theory of gambling I will share my experiences in gambling to give you a better understand of where I coming from.
Firstly, for many people the word gambling will have negative connotations. They associate it with problem gamblers who pour their hard-earned money into useless gambling games, often with no procedure in place, and generally end up in debt and cause massive problems in their lives. That's not me.
My gambling is not any riskier than stock trading, forex trading, or any other form of investment. What do these people do when making decisions? They gather data, analyse it, determine the likelihood of certain events occurring, and then invest their money accordingly. That is exactly what I do but for sports instead. The game is no different, in fact it is probably better because I actually know about sports, whereas I wouldn't know how to tell one stock from another.
But I am not here to discuss the pros and cons of gambling. I am just demonstrating that I actually know a fair bit about this stuff and I have had enough experience over the past few years to realise how closely related gambling theory is to my belief system for how to live life
The key concept to understand is mathematical expectation which, to put simply, is the amount that you can expect to win or lose per bet. It is easy to calculate - just multiply the each possible gain or loss by the probability of those outcomes and sum the results. Still confused? Let's look at a simple example: the coin toss.
If we were betting on an unbiased coin toss we could assume that the result would be 50% heads and 50% tails. If I were betting $1 each time for the possibility of winning an extra $1 if I was correct then the expectation of this situation would be calculated as:
(0.5 x 1) + (0.5 x -1) = 0
Therefore the expectation of this action is that I would break even over the long term. There is no advantage to either player. However, if you were feeling generous and decided to offer me a $2 win each time I was correct then my expectation for this event would be:
(0.5 x 2) + (0.5 x -1) = + 0.5
This is known as a positive expectation and if we were to play the game 100 times I could expect to win $50. The opposite of positive expectation is a negative expectation - where the long term result of the game is expected to result in a loss. In the coin toss example this would happen if I were wagering more than the payoff for winning. For example if I bet my $1 each time but was only winning $0.50 my expectation would be:
(0.5 x 0.5) + (0.5 x -1) = - 0.25
If I were to play this game 100 times I would expect to lose $25.
That is mathematical expectation at its simplest level. The three examples above illustrate what neutral, positive, and negative mathematical expectation looks like and how they work long-term.
How Mathematical Expectation Applies to Life
Hopefully you now understand the basics of mathematical expectation, the foundation of professional gambling, because it is actually applied everywhere in our lives. Just like every betting action has an expectation applied to it, so does every action in our life. Every decisions we make contributes to our overall expectation of life, which can be neutral, positive, or negative.
Just like the gambler who bets on an event with a negative expectation can expect to lose money long-term, you can expect a negative effect on your life over the long-term if you perform actions with negative expectations.
But what are negative expectation actions in life? I say it is anything that does not contribute positively to your life and the life of those around you. That is, anything negative.
Have you ever been rude, mean, or inconsiderate to someone? Or have you every spent your time stressing and worrying over small things? Or have you ever purposefully taken advantage of someone or something? These are examples of actions we perform in life that have a negative expectation. Our lives are poorer because of these negative actions and the long-term result is a negative and unhappy life.
Luckily positive actions have the opposite result. Any positive action you perform has a positive expectation for your life. By being kind, loving, and caring towards yourself and others you will develop a life with a positive expectation. A life where only positive outcomes are expected.
Perform Positive Expectation Actions Only
If you had to gamble for your life would you choose to place bets with a negative expectation? Would you choose these bets where you would expect to lose? No, you wouldn't but this is exactly what you do with your actions every day of your life.
Every negative thought and every negative action in your life brings with it a negative expectation. So why continue to be negative? Focus your energy on positive actions that yield a positive result for your life. Be kind, donate, listen, help, and above all love yourself and others.
Make a series of small positive actions and your life will become ultimately positive.