I Hate My Life (Is the Philippines the Cure?
(Updated 10 Jul 2020)
If you’re like most people, you probably have a long list of things you’d do differently if you had a second shot at life.
Maybe, considering our main topic here, you’d be thinking about moving to the Philippines and starting over again. Many people tell me how they hate their life and “if only” they could afford to move to the Philippines their lives would improve greatly.
But Warren Buffett? Not so much.
“This will sound disgusting,” the Berkshire Hathaway CEO joked, “but the only thing would be to select a gene pool where people lived to 120 or something where I came from.”
While Buffett’s answer might sound simple at first, the rest of his response revealed that his personal philosophy about happiness has very little to do with longevity.
In fact, if he was given the option to go back and live life “all over again,” he probably wouldn’t take it.
Buffett is best suited for the society he’s in now
The Oracle of Omaha took great care in laying out a scenario to illustrate how “extraordinarily lucky” he already feels today.
He told the audience to imagine a barrel with roughly 5.8 billions of balls — one for everybody in the world. Each ball will determine important factors (e.g., your birthplace, IQ level, gender, ethnicity, skills, parents) in your “new life.”
“If you could put your ball back into the barrel, and they took out 100 balls at random — and you had to from pick one of those, would you put your ball back in?” he asked.
In addition to not knowing which ball you’ll get, there’s another catch: “Of those 100 balls, five of them will be American. So if you want to be in this country, you’ll only have five balls to choose from,” Buffett explained. “Half of them will be women and half men. Half of them will be below average in intelligence and half above average in intelligence.”
He asked the students again: Do you still want to risk taking a second shot at life?
“Most of you won’t want to put your ball back,” he said. “So what you’re really saying is, ’I’m the luckiest 1% of the world right now, sitting in this room — the top 1% of the world.”
And that’s exactly how Buffett feels. “I’m lucky to be born where I was because it was 50 to one in the United States when I was born. I’ve been lucky to be wired in a way that, in a market economy, pays off like crazy for me,” he said.
You don’t need ‘luck’ to be happy
Buffett acknowledged that not everyone is as lucky as he is because it all depends on the system that one is born into.
”[Bill] Gates says that if I’d been born three million years ago, I would’ve been some animal’s lunch. He says, ‘You can’t run very fast, you can’t climb trees, you can’t do anything. You’d just be chewed up the first day,’” said Buffett.
He closed the lecture by encouraging everyone to think about happiness from a more practical standpoint: None of us can live life all over again, but we can increase our overall happiness by choosing to make changes in our career, goals, finances, health and relationships.
“The way to do it is to play out the game and do something you enjoy all your life,” he said. “Be associated with people you like. I only work with people I like. If I could make $100 million dollars with a guy who causes my stomach to churn, I’d say no.”
He continued: “I urge you to work in jobs you love. You’re out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don’t like because you think it’ll look good on your resume.”
Do what you love. It sounds easy when you’re one of the world’s richest people, but to be fair, Buffett was already doing what he loves long before he became successful.
Your Happiness Does Not Depend Upon Your Zip Code
Many of you reading this are here because you know that I live full time in the Philippines. You know I am happy here, and you know I live here way, way cheaper than I would be living in the USA.
Note: I have written many, many times about my costs of living here in the Philippines. I should perhaps write again, but I won’t. It bores me and I get sick of people who want to argue with me about what I report in spending. The cost of living here in the Philippines, on average is at least 43% cheaper than in any small city in the USA.
Here’s a great, brand new article from a blogging colleague who took the time to do a head-to-head comparison if you are interested in details. Should Foreigners Live in the Philippines
I live here with way, way fewer hassles to my life than in the USA also. I dd not move here to live cheap, I moved here to live better.
But What If You Can’t Move?
Then look at Warren’s last few lines of advice. Stop working with people you hate. Stop working at a soul-sucking job which you hate. Don’t work at a job you hate!
One place you can look for alternatives is on my “Retired Pay” site, even if you are not yet ready for retirement.
Don’t fixate on the things you can not do … we all have things we can not do. Find the things you can do which reward you with good feelings, even if not with good money. And remember that moving will not ake you happy if you are not currently happy with yourself where you are now.
As Abe Lincoln once said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
I Hate My Life (Is the Philippines the Cure?