American political scientist and publicist Charles Murray made some notes on how to lead a good life. Simple tips for a happy life.
“The transition from university to adulthood is not an easy time. This is best seen in the example of recent graduates who got their first real job. " A few years ago, American political scientist and publicist Charles Murray, for fun, began writing memos for his young employees on how not to fly out of work. “I ended up finding myself diving into deeper matters: how to lead a good life,” he admits in an essay published in The Wall Street Journal.
“Then I had to come to terms with reality: when it comes to a life of deep, lasting satisfaction, most of the clichés are true. Is it possible to refresh them for a new generation? Here's how I tried to do it,”writes the author and gives readers five tips.
1. Think about early marriage
Graduates are getting married later and later, which is a good thing, Murray said. "Many 22-year-old boys and girls avoid unsuccessful marriage because they enter into relationships with the idea that marriage is out of the question." However, don't write off early marriage.
“If you wait until you turn 30, your marriage is likely to be a merger. If you get married when you are in your early 20s, he is likely to be a startup,”the publicist notes.
There are many arguments in favor of “merger” marriages: spouses enter into them more mature and rarely feel the desire to catch up in their youth after 10 years of family life. “What are the benefits of startup marriages? Murray asks. - First of all, you will have memories of living together at a time when you were still in limbo. It will be fun for you to remember the years when you went from frightened newbies to the realization that you will succeed."
“More importantly, you and your partner will walk this journey together. Whatever happens, you will share this experience. And each of you will know that you would not have become who he is without the other,”the author continues.
“Many merger marriages are successful, but a certain form of symbiosis, in which two people become something more than the sum of individuals, is still more typical for startups,” he says.
2. Learn to recognize your other half
Another true marriage cliché. “Marry someone with tastes and preferences like yours,” is Murray's next piece of advice. These are the tastes that will have to be faced in everyday life. “It's okay if you love ballet and your partner doesn't. Reasonable people can adapt to such differences. But if you don’t like your life partner’s friends, you don’t understand his sense of humor or - what is especially important - you have different ethical motives, break up with him and look for another,”the author of the essay recommends.
The philosopher and historian Jacques Barzoun has identified three basic personal qualities that cause collisions: punctuality, accuracy, and frugality. “Some couples are very happy, living in debt, always being late and stuffing the rest of the pizza under the couch pillow,” he noted. You and your chosen one must be on the same side of the pole, otherwise insoluble contradictions will eventually become a very powerful irritant in marriage.
3. Stop raving about fame and fortune in the end
Most young people are ambitious, hoping to become famous or wealthy, and plan to devote the next decades to achieving those goals. “It should be so,” Murray writes. - I look with suspicion at every talented person in his twenties who doesn't think so. I wish you good luck".
“But let's say that you lived to be 40, you like your job, you found your other half, you are raising a couple of wonderful children, and you understand that you will probably never become rich or famous again. At this point, it is important to replace youthful ambitions with mature understanding,”the publicist notes.
At one time, Murray was immensely impressed by a television interview with producer David Geffen, “Show me a man who believes that money can buy happiness, and I'll show you a man who never had much money,” the billionaire said with a sad smile.
“Fame and fortune help in some way: they cure the preoccupation with ambition. That's all. It's not that much,”the author sums up.
4. Take religion seriously
This is how the educated youth of today perceives religion: they are calm about pious people, but they think that faith is not for them. “Smart people don't believe in that anymore,” Murray sums up their attitude. He thought so himself, until his wife, after the birth of her first child, turned to Quaker. Gradually, he began to attend meetings with his wife, read theological literature, and this is what he discovered: a serious attitude to religion is work. “You cannot grasp the essence of great religions by sitting on the beach, looking at the sunset and waiting for enlightenment,” says the essay. "It can take as much intellectual effort as getting a law degree."
To begin with, the author advises to gradually move away from thoughtless atheism or agnosticism. To do this, it is a good idea to read modern research on cosmology. It will not lead to faith, but it will make you think. He also recommends communicating with deeply religious people. "You will meet people whose intelligence, judgment and critical thinking are as good as your smartest atheist friends, and who, at the same time, believe with alarming certainty that many religious dogmas are based on reality," Murray promises.
5. Review Groundhog Day
“Groundhog Day was made over 20 years ago, but it's still a very smart and funny movie,” Murray writes. “It’s also a great parable that tackles the fundamental issues of virtue and happiness, and is filmed so subtly that you really need to watch it a few times.”
Without slipping into a sermon, the film shows the evolution of the protagonist from a moron into a fully realized personality - "a person who has learned to experience deep, lasting and substantiated satisfaction from life, despite the fact that he has only one day at his disposal."
"The same truth can be discovered by studying Aristotle's Ethics, but revisiting Groundhog Day is much more fun," Murray concludes.
This essay is based on the new book by Charles Murray, The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life, due out April 8