This is the 75th edition of our guest post series called 10 Questions. It also will be one of the last. Everything must come to an end and 10 Questions will say ‘”Good bye!” near the end of 2016. If you’ve already sent me your answers or told me that you’re going to be doing so, don’t worry; I’m still going to publish you.
Today’s 10 Questions comes from the Happy Philosopher (HP). HP’s answers are pretty great, so I’m going to abandon my practice of attempting a witty introduction and let you get right into it. Take it away HP!
Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
My blog is a download of my brain to the internet, with an attempt to share my best ideas, random thoughts and the occasional experiment or two. My blog is about happiness and freedom and how to get there. It is great because…I’m awesome, and who wouldn’t want to peek behind the curtain and see what goes on in my brain…actually come to think of it this probably includes a lot of people.
Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
When we go through a tough time in our lives we feel very alone. We don’t think anyone can possibly be going through the same thing, but this is simply not true. Reading blogs was one of the main tools I used to figure out what path I would take when I was burnt out. Now these blogs I read may not have changed TheWorld™ but they changed MY world completely. I’m now going to change other people’s worlds by inspiring them with my ideas and stories.
What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?
I promised myself that no matter what I would post 52 ‘quality’ articles in my first year of blogging. One decent post per week and then I would reassess where I was. That’s short term.
Long term my goal is to have fun and maybe help people as a side effect. I did a couple of podcasts here and here which were really fun. I may start my own podcast, write a book, consult, speak, etc. I don’t know, as long as it is fun I will consider it.
What post are you most proud of and why?
The post I am most proud of is actually an article that I published off my blog. It is a very personal piece of writing about a good friend from medical school lost to suicide. As far as a post from my blog, this is a tough one. Maybe it’s recency bias, but I like my post Why We Ignore the Important Things in Life. Many times we just don’t see the things that really matter in life because they are unseen. Instead we focus on tangible, but ultimately much less relevant to our happiness and fulfillment.
Do you enjoy writing?
Yes, I enjoy it in the same way I enjoy difficult exercise. Sometimes it is unpleasant and maddening, but it expands my mind and helps me think deeper about issues and clarify my thoughts. It is very satisfying to hit that publish button, although at first it was absolutely terrifying. I think everyone should write, even if it is only to themselves and never published.
Writing makes me better at life.
1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?
When I was going through burnout from my career several years ago I did have early retirement dreams. It was my first instinct. Work hard and fast and get out. As my thought process has evolved though, I have come to hate the word retire because it is so emotionally loaded and ambiguous. I have financial independence and freedom dreams. I want work to be 100% optional. That is different than retiring. I will be free to ‘retire’ somewhere around 45 at my current insanely extravagant lifestyle (although probably considered deprivation by some of my peers), but I don’t know if I will. I first have to come to terms with the psychological cost of walking away from a career that I put so much time and work into. This will definitely be a topic for future blog posts.
If blogging isn’t your full-time gig, what is?
I’m a radiologist, which is a physician who sits in a dark room all day and looks at images (x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, mammograms, etc.). Occasionally I stumble out of the room squinting at the bright lights and go biopsy something or jab someone with a needle. Actually this is not even a full time gig as I am currently working half time. I am also a full-time dad, husband and philosopher so I’m kind of busy.
When you are 90 and look back on your life, what do you hope you have accomplished?
That’s a deep question and my answer will probably be different than most. I don’t feel I need to accomplish anything in the traditional way people think of accomplishments. I embrace my insignificance in this universe knowing that what I do probably doesn’t matter. Striving and grasping at things is the root of suffering, and we should all simply try to live a content life. Live simply, embrace happiness, and be kind. I guess you could say I hope to accomplish convincing others not to worry too much about accomplishing things.
How do you handle people with different views on money, ie spendy people?
I handle then as I would handle anyone, if spending time with them makes me happy I keep doing it. If they subtract happiness from my life I declutter them. I have many friends that spend much more than I do and many that spend much less, and I love them all. In fact I would probably be considered spendy by many people, and I try to be mindful that I may subconsciously pressure people to spend more than they otherwise would just by being around me! I have become very upfront and honest about my values so people know where I stand with respect to money, so it just isn’t usually an issue.
Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?
Great question! I think we tend to ignore how our upbringing influences our habits and attitudes towards money. I grew up middle class. We had enough and I never felt deprived of anything, but there was not money to just be thrown around. I had plenty of stuff, but it wasn’t the top of the line coolest stuff. I was vaguely aware of this. There were times of mild and chronic financial stress. I knew money was tight so instinctively I didn’t really ask for much. I started mowing lawns and shoveling snow as early as I could for extra spending money. I think my childhood experiences made me naturally frugal and efficient with my money.
Did your parents teach you about money as a kid? How so?
Not really. I learned from observation. My parents didn’t have a great deal of financial sophistication, but were by no means terrible with money either. I guess they were about average. My grandfather was quite frugal (some may also call him cheap) and I considered him quite rich (he had a Cadillac after all!). I quickly made the association between his frugality and the fact that he had a high degree of financial freedom, and I think this influenced me as much or more than my parents.
What is your favorite style of beer – and what is your favorite beer in that style?
I tend to like the porters and stouts, but this can change with my mood. Sadly one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted I can’t remember the name of the brewery. It was a chocolate stout brewed somewhere in Colorado, which includes a lot of beers. I’m thinking a month long road trip is in order where I can drive around the state and sample them all to try and determine which one it was.
We notice a lot of frugal people are into board games – what is your favorite?
I love board games! My all-time favorite is Axis and Allies, but this takes so darn long to finish I haven’t really played it in many years. A really fun, fast and chaotic game I recently learned is called Small World by a company called Days of Wonder.
What is the best thing you’ve read lately?
I recently read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi which is the best thing I’ve read this year. It is about a young neurosurgeon’s reflection on being diagnosed with terminal cancer while he was still in training. It is beautifully written and layered with rich philosophy.
What do you do for exercise?
The backbone of my exercise these days is from daily vigorous walking which serves as exercise, meditation and reflection all at once. I do a few pushups, kettlebell swings and yoga now and then for strength and flexibility. I also ride my bike often when the weather is nice. I occasionally run, but only when getting ready for races or being chased by wildlife like yellow jackets and grizzly bears. I’m currently training for my next race primarily by playing video games. As I age I’m realizing that mobility and flexibility play a huge role in physical well-being so my current project is to transform my robot like stiff body into a supple ninja gymnast. You’re welcome for that image.
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