Quality As a Way of Life

Recently I have gotten immensely fascinated with a guy named Josh Waitzkin. He is the author of The Art of Learning, world champion in chess and tai chi and a high level Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner.

He has been on two episodes of the Tim Ferriss podcast now, so check those out, if you want to learn more about him.

One of the things he talks a lot about is a concept called “quality as a way of life”. What I personally translate this into is: the pursuit of perfection in everything that you do.

Obviously, it is impossible to do everything in life perfectly, but it is never too late to try and reach for this impossible goal.

This is not about making perfection the criteria for contentment, or even the criteria for anything actually. It is just about having an internal compass, and a healthy set of habits, that will guide you onto the right path at all times.

I love this idea, and I will start incorporating into my life today.

 

If you also want to try this, it will imply two things for you:

You must be mindful. You cannot rush perfection. You cannot fake quality. You must be fully present at all times, and completely aware of what you are doing right now. This makes the concept very closely related to mindfulness.

You must be an essentialist. You cannot take on too many projects or obligations. You must stay focused on only a few things, otherwise, you risk spreading yourself too thin, and you cannot do anything perfectly this way. (Read the book Essentialism for more)  

So to live the life of quality, you must combine mindfulness and essentialism/minimalism – it is no wonder I feel intrigued!

 

The exercise is, to constantly stop in whatever you do, and remind yourself about doing it with quality, until it becomes a habit.

Take your time, take your breaks, think about what it is you are doing right now – how can you do it better? Do you even have to do the thing you are doing?

If something is worth doing, do it with quality.

Be selective and be critical.

 

Breathe with quality.

Talk to your partner with quality.

Work with quality.

Walk with quality.

Read your book with quality.

 

I have always been a quantity over quality kind of guy.

My mantra has been “if it is good enough, I am done”.

Now, I am striving towards a new mantra, that will flip this on its head: “I am not done until its perfect”.

But I am also not going to focus on anything unimportant from now on – I won’t have time for that.

 

What do you guys think?

Would you join me in living this life of quality?

 

Further reading recommendations about the subject:

–        The Power of Less

–        The One Thing

A Life of Luxury Isn’t Worth It

Two of my favorite philosophers – Seneca and Epicurus – said it around 2000 years ago:

A life on the hunt for wealth and luxury is poorly spend.

Epicurus was the originator of the commune. He would advise people to move in together with the people they loved, work for a few hours a day, just to get their bare necessities and enjoy lots of leisure time and creative endeavors.

This idea has really resonated with me the last couple of years.

When you make the simple calculation for how much time you need to give up to pay for luxury items, say a new  BMW, you really see it this from a sobering perspective.

 

In Denmark, where I come from:

  • A new nice BMW might cost you 1 MIO DKK (all taxes included)
  • A fairly standard hourly wage, after tax is 100 DKK, but let’s say you are a high-earner and get double = 200 DKK
  • The standard working week here is 37 hours, but let’s say you are willing to dedicate your life to paying for the BMW and work double = 74 hours

This means you would have to give up:

1.000.000/200/74/52 = 1.3 years

No vacation, no holiday. And this is assuming, you pay for the car in cash – which nobody does.

Are you willing to give up more than a year of your relatively short life, just to be able to drive a nice car, that most likely, will be MUCH less exciting to you in 5-10 years?

And if you want to lead a life of luxury in general, we haven’t even begun talking about the fancy house, the boat or vacation home.

 

Obviously, I can’t say anything bad about people who loves their job, earns a nice salary and spends it on things they enjoy, like a nice car.

However, if luxury and wealth have become the primary goal of one’s life, and work is seen as tedious and as a pain, I have to assume you are getting a bad deal in the end. The amount of time you need to give up is simply too high for it to be worth it.

Rather accept what you’ve already got, and learn to be happy where you are. Do work you are passionate about, and if that allows for a more spendy lifestyle, fine! Just never let it be the reason for why you do anything.

To myself.