Nassim Taleb is one of my favourite authors, and his book Antifragile is one of the best books I have read.
One of the book’s chapters that interests me particularly is titled ‘Via Negativa.’ Here, Taleb argues that the solution to many problems in life is by removing things, not adding things. Like, avoiding the doctor for minor illnesses or removing certain food from one’s diet to improve health. Taleb writes –
I would add that, in my own experience, a considerable jump in my personal health has been achieved by removing offensive irritants: the morning newspapers, the boss, the daily commute, air-conditioning, television, emails from documentary filmmakers, economic forecasts, news about the stock market, gym “strength training” machines, and many more.
He then adds –
If true wealth consists in worriless sleeping, clear conscience, reciprocal gratitude, absence of envy, good appetite, muscle strength, physical energy, frequent laughs, no meals alone, no gym class, some physical labor (or hobby), good bowel movements, no meeting rooms, and periodic surprises, then it is largely subtractive.
Taleb’s latest list defining ‘true wealth,’ as he shared on Twitter, stands below –
- Worriless sleeping
- Clear conscience
- Reciprocal gratitude
- Absence of envy
- Muscle strength
- Frequent laughs
- No meals alone
- No gym classes
- Good digestive functions
- No meeting rooms
- Periodic surprises
- Foamy coffee
- Crusty bread
- Ability to nap
- Access to a hammock
Looking back at my life over the past few years, via negativa is one of the most critical lessons I have learned and practiced, and that has helped me simplify life considerably and brought me tremendous peace.
Right from subtracting the monthly paycheque, office politics, blame game, daily commute, sugar, refined carbs, news, debt, toxic people, worried sleeping, self-doubt, the need to be liked, victim’s mentality, fear of failure, perfectionism, multitasking, the need to control everything, and saying yes often…it seems this journey has brought me a really long way.
Life feels good, and there are no regrets.
By the way, I could check everything from Taleb’s list, except muscle strength (working on that) and access to a hammock.
What about you? What is in the list that remains getting checked for you?
Anything else that you would want to add to your true wealth list?
Share in the Comments section of this post to let me know. I’m all ears.
Anuj Gupta says
We live in a society where it is implied that we have to be the chosen one but reality is we can choose ourselves . E.g Only 1-2 % of the world population has the wealth as described by Taleb and mentioned in your article .
MANISH GVALANI says
No meeting rooms – need to get to a place where I could say NO to unproductive meetings and toxic meeting rooms..
Keep dealing with envy.. Getting better at the game though..
Stop living to please others. Start living for yourself. Realise that one’s self-esteem is not dependant on external approvals.
These are remarkably simple guidelines that everyone knows. But find hard to follow.