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A Life You Love Living

What’s the point of prolonging a life you’re not enjoying? Existing isn’t the same as living.

I got this quote from a YouTube channel I follow. In its proper context, the author is making an argument for why he made drastic changes to his lifestyle. Going from a desk jockey to a digital nomad.

Now that I’m back from my awesome vacation, I thought I’d write a fluffy life-post. I got a chance to travel around Valencia and Ibiza and hung out with my buddy for 11 days. The rest was well-needed after a stretch of hard work.

Modern lifestyles are a product of certain illusions which are fed to us by marketers. These illusions are heavily beaten into us by our parents and traditional education. Which is why so many of us grow up living very similar lifestyles.

To broadly generalize, our unique spin on life is the vacation destinations we choose or the color of our iPhone.

1. Safety Nets

The safety nets we think we have are probably the biggest illusions of all. We believe that if we follow the crowd, if we do what we’re told, we’ll be safe.

That can really fuck with people. They will do things with the best of intentions. They will work their ass off or put off living for 5 decades in order to enjoy their golden years – and as doctors we’ve all seen those twists of fates in our patients.

From natural disasters to economic collapse to epidemics of disease, there are hundreds of potential variables which can disrupt your safety net. So it’s less important to build more and more of them. Instead, it’s better to accept that you will have to deal with adversity at some point, knowing that you’re going to come out unscathed.

2. Perceived Danger

Mainstream media is incredibly effective at instilling fear. Why? Because everyone is too busy working, spending, and saving to realize what’s really going on in the world.

Parents raise their kids thinking that if they don’t have a particular education or live in a particular neighborhood, they are placing themselves in danger. Some of those parents are living miserable lives, hating 80% of their day, divorced, and counting down their days to some unknown point in the future.

Whenever you share a new venture with a friend or family member, pay attention to their first response, it will almost always be an expressed fear about what you’re doing. If what you’re doing is different from what they’re doing, such as moving onto a sailboat and sailing all over the world, you’re the one who is living dangerously.

3. Health

Some will smoke all of their lives and never get cancer. Others will get pancreatic cancer at age 45. The illusion that you’re somehow able to control your health destiny is what sells a lot of medications. It’s what makes healthcare so expensive.

The slice of chocolate cake or that bottle of wine isn’t going to change your health. Skipping a gym day or sleeping in an extra 2 hours won’t cause diabetes. Live a little, and fuck the fear mongering marketers.

4. Longevity

Living for the future is an easy sell when you think about the promise of investments, mortgages, medications, and playing the lottery. Give up something now for the potential of something far better and bigger in the future.

The longevity fetish in the US is fed by the idea that there is something better waiting in the future. Or wanting to have more time in the future to do things you’re not doing now.

5. Wealth

If you ask most medical professionals what their definition of wealth is, many will have a clear 7-figure number in mind. This number will invariably be in the $5m range for men and about half of that for women.

The corporations, the banks, the governments, and retailers all stand to win by making us wage slaves. By forcing us to follow a specific lifestyle and save our money so that we can spend it desperately during our frail years.

You’re either wealthy living in a 5-br house on pill hill, with 2 luxury cars, a spouse and kids, working a 60-hour job, and trying to squeeze in the occasional vacation. Or you’re wealthy spending time with friends, working 15 hours a week, and living wherever you want, whenever you want.

6. Success

I thought success is working the hardest at my assigned job. Excelling past my colleagues and somehow distinguishing myself from my peers with my achievements.

Now my definition of success is lifestyle based, rather than career based. I can be location-independent and spend it with the people I care about; which isn’t exactly easy because some of the people I care about are caught up in the same rat race I escaped from.

I would rather grow my own fruits and vegetables and live another 5 years doing all the things I love than live another 45 enslaved to a grueling career or stuck in a polluted city full of traffic.

The Substance of Life

I’m not ignoring the obvious, such as living a life in which you also feel secure and productive. Even if you’ve figured out that the mainstream dream is bullshit, you’re not going to stop brushing your teeth or race your motorcycle in the rain.

But if you are miserable jumping from case to case in the OR or from exam room to exam room, why stick around? Get the fuck out and don’t worry about the consequences. What, you think people in the world have only made money from practicing medicine?

The substance of life is living it. If you think that you’ll avoid cancer, death, or poverty because you’re not smoking, not skydiving, and are a solid employee, you’re delusional.

Live dirt cheap and you’ll be able to live wherever you want and however you want. A lot of frears disappear when you can make it on $900/month.

I am literally living in Santiago de Compostela but I was barely existing in San Diego. Not that you can’t live a great life and love what you’re doing in an expensive city like SD. But you have to be able to live your own unique life while disregarding all external influences.

12 replies on “A Life You Love Living”

So much truth in this post.
Unfortunally most will not change their situation like working with job conditions they hate, waiting till they retire to „enjoy life“ and do what they truly want to do.

The biggest reason for this is human lazyness, fear, the credos of their parents generation, mindset and not knowing about alternatives.

This is important for you because you haven’t entrenched yourself into a career. Take risks and try out different things until you find something you enjoy. Remember, you can always fall back on the status quo – you can ALWAYS do what everyone else is doing. Even my white coat criminal ass can go get a job pushing meds in a clinic full-time and make a ton of money. But what will I lose if I try my hand at all these other things? A few hundred thousand dollars? What will that money be worth to me at age 60, 70, 90? I’m not an ageist – I am 41 and very content at this age. I don’t think 50 or 60 is old … but time and youth have a certain relationship and spending time is more valuable than spending dollars. I’m waiting to be proven wrong – no arguments against it so far.

Great reading here. We invest so much time into our professional careers and we are good about telling our patients what they need to do be happy and healthy. But we are doing exactly opposite as we need to fulfill expectations from society and our own to have material things while being miserable and unhappy.
There are options however for all of us and taking control of our lives, rather than someone else controlling it, is life changing.

It’s a shame that there are entities which even want to control our lives. I’m not sure why that is – maybe there is a perverse incentive to do so. I agree with you, freedom is an incredible feeling and it’s one of the few things worth fighting for to protect. We might feel a little more secure when others are telling us what to do, as in, when there are external controls. But over a long enough time it becomes miserable existence.

Loving all your latest posts. Good on your for finding an urgent care that appreciates you and that you enjoy, and for not giving up. Listening to you (and Niki) always inspires me to live life and take more risks, and I hope to have the courage to quit my permagig in a few months.

Thanks for your wit, intelligence, insights, and being a complete iconoclast. The world needs more people like YOU.

I hope that when you’re ready to quit, you do it with a solid strategy in mind. Even without a strategy, there is always work for anyone who is willing to work hard to offer value. But some foresight and planning can also go a long way. Those aren’t my strengths, I’m much more in zone when I make decisions on the fly and create a bit of a shitstorm – a sort of fire that I then get to put out.

Quitting your career cold-turkey can be tough as I’ve written about in the past. There are many factors to consider which I’ve also written about. I don’t know your personal situation but I’m mostly referring to making sure that you are ready to transition into whatever is next for you. Not trying to be vague, just dunno whatcha got planned.

You are right. My current plan is to do…nothing. Which I realize isn’t a great plan. I’m decently stable financially (paid off house, seven figures of savings). It’s hard to plan ahead when you are completely burned out, I guess.

One of the best things to do is to do nothing and get back to zero. You’ll still take care of your home, make food, go for walks, hang out with friends, read books or do whatever else you’re interested in. But just not trying to accomplish “the next thing” and just enjoying however things are for a while, that can be a great way to reset. Agreed, planning anything when you’re burned out is likely going to be futile. Some worry what they’re gonna do with all of their free time … easy, what did you do with your free time a a kid, go back to that.

Your posts are eye opening, I’m so happy I found your blog because you changed my life! I never thought one day I’ll get the courage to resign from my institution. It was just unthinkable! Now I feel like i woke up from a coma! I have worked my ass off for 9 years for the same employer, took a-lot of emotional abuse, sacrificing my personal life and well being, but never felt valued or appreciated. I’m switching to a different practice model, but going in with an open mind, thanks to your genuine advice. I will be looking at things from a different perspective. I feel alive! Dr. Mo , I’m forever grateful 😉

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