Act Like Life Makes Sense

Crypto Ultimatum

We all know that life doesn’t make sense a lot of the time. Random, nonsensical and unfair stuff happens everyday. Healthy, active people get sick and die, or get hit by a bus. A drunk driver wipes out the most cautious driver on the road. The guy who drinks and smokes five packs a day lives to be 102. People who are already rich win the lottery (after buying just one ticket), while those who could really use the money never even win $2 (even after blowing all their money on tickets). A storm wipes out your house but leaves your neighbor’s house, not fifty feet away, perfectly intact. People who want kids can’t have them while other people seem to have “accidents” at a record rate. Evil wins, good loses. Every. Single. Day. 

And that’s just the big stuff. There’s plenty of other nonsensical unfairness in everyday life. You get laid off but your cube mate doesn’t. Your dishwasher breaks down quietly and just stops working while your neighbor’s floods his house. There’s no rhyme or reason in this life that dictates who gets punished or who skates by unscathed. 

And this presents a problem. Some people see this randomness and say, “Life isn’t fair! I might be dead tomorrow! Yolo!” and then go on a spending rampage in an effort to enjoy everything today before they die or get wiped out tomorrow. Others take a fear-based approach and refuse to do anything “extra” in an effort to guard against disaster.

Neither of these is the right approach. Most of the time, you simply have to act like life makes sense. You have to go with the probabilities. While some people do get hit by busses, most people don’t. Some people will smoke and drink and live long lives, but most who engage in those behaviors will not. Most people won’t win the lottery, even if they blow all their savings on tickets. You house probably won’t flood or get wiped out by a storm, but you can’t ignore those expensive possibilities.

If you scream, “Yolo!” and go nuts with your money and health, the odds are that you will pay the price at some point. But if you never do anything at all and hermit inside your house, you miss out on a lot of things life has to offer. You have to strike a balance. If you follow the probabilities, you’re more likely to make sound decisions that mitigate risk, while simultaneously allowing you to live without fear. 

How do you do that? Let’s look at an example. Take the healthy, active, young person who suddenly gets cancer and dies. Okay, first of all, while this is a possibility, it’s statistically a rare occurrence. It probably won’t happen to you at all. But because it remains a possibility, you shouldn’t ignore it, either.

So in this situation, you shouldn’t say, “Heck with it. I’m gonna die so I’m going to spend all my money on travel and fun things. I’m doomed anyway, so let’s skip those routine screenings. Carpe diem!” No, a healthy approach to this scenario is to carry health insurance, set some money aside in the event of the worst case, get your screenings so things can be caught early while they’re treatable, and make sure you have your affairs in order, just in case. Then you can get on with living, knowing you’re prepared for this rare possibility. 

It works in the other direction, as well. You can’t assume that you can get away with risky behavior with no consequences. The odds are that you won’t get cancer and die at a young age, but if you’re smoking, drinking, tanning, or eating terribly, you’re increasing your odds. In that case, you’d better make sure you’re prepared because you’re stacking the deck against yourself. Sure, you might be blessed with indestructible genes, but how certain are you of that? You’re better off acting like risky behavior puts you at risk, because it likely does.  

Here’s another scenario: Most people will never win the lottery, but someone will. The odds say that you will not be the winner, so it doesn’t make sense to throw all your money into the lottery in the hope that you will win. Yes, more tickets = greater odds, but unless you can cover every possible number combination, the odds are still against you winning. In this scenario, you have to act like life makes sense and you will not win. But it can be fun to play, so perhaps you earmark $20 for tickets. You give yourself the hope of winning and a little fun, without long term damage to your financial future. 

One more scenario for thought: Even in the most storm ravaged parts of the country, most people will not lose their homes. They may have a bit of damage, but the worst destruction is usually confined to narrow areas. Does that mean you should assume that you’ll be the lucky one? No, because the possibility exists that you might get unlucky. And that possibility increases if you live near a river, the sea, or an area known for major storms. Do you just throw your hands up and leave it to fate, take your money and go have fun?

No. You act like you probably won’t lose your home, because you probably won’t. So you don’t live in fear of losing all your stuff, or having all your memories obliterated. But you do take steps to protect yourself just in case. You choose a home away from the worst-known disaster areas, and you have an emergency kit prepared in case you need it. You carry adequate insurance to protect your home/stuff in the event of disaster, and you set aside an emergency fund to tide you over if need be. The probabilities say you’ll never need this stuff, but the possibilities exist that you might. 

See where I’m going with this? Life makes sense most of the time, despite the fact that it often feels like it doesn’t. (And if you watch the fear-mongering news, it’s easy to feel like the randomness is more prevalent than it is.) The odds play out like you would expect. However, things that seem totally random and unfair still happen.

The good news is that you don’t have to live in fear of these random events because the odds of them happening to you aren’t great. You shouldn’t live your life in fear of an unlikely worst-case scenario. However, you should remember that the possibility of bad things happening exists and take precautions to stack the deck in your favor. Take care of yourself, make good decisions, and be careful. Then go a step further and add other protections like insurance and emergency funds to help you deal with any random poop that hits your personal fan. 

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