Life Advice:

Life Advice

What life lessons are counter-intuitive or go against common sense or wisdom?

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For example, being loud and obnoxious is surprisingly useful / effective most of the time.

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Yishan Wongsexual awkwardness is a weapon

Here’s one that goes against a lot of conventional wisdom:

Money CAN buy happiness.

It’s often said that money can’t buy happiness, but this is not true.  It’s merely true that:

  1. Chasing more and more money is not a route to happiness.  You shouldn’t try specifically to acquire more money in the hopes that it will make you happy but rather, once you have money, think carefully about how you can use it to increase your happiness.
  2. Using money to buy the wrong things (often: things which are popular, things which other people desire, things which require much manual upkeep or worry – see #3) does not result in happiness.
  3. People often use money to buy things which they then spend time worrying about, rather than purchasing things which allow them to worry less.


Rather, one should view money merely as a medium by which you exchange your own effort for products and services which you truly want and which make you happier.  As you get on in life, you will eventually begin to make more money (while you are young, learn to enjoy the parts of life which do not require money – e.g. building relationships).  Focus on spending this money in ways that improve your happiness and reduce your stress levels, and be cautious about using it to buy things that other people say you “should” buy.

Here are some ways which may be specific to me, but could also apply broadly.  You shouldn’t try to apply all of them; it’s just that when you come into some money, try doing one or two of them as they appeal to you:

  1. Buy a nice bed.  Buy a very nice mattress and high-thread-count sheets.  You will need to test out a variety of mattresses to find the one that fits you best but if you find the right one, it will greatly enhance the quality of your sleep, and subsequently, your waking life.  You spend 33% of your life here as well and a mattress and sheets are often used for many years, so it is financially sensible to optimize in this area.
  2. Improve your commute by living closer to work.  Studies on happiness indicate that people are least happy when commuting.  The best way to optimize this is to commute as little as possible.  This may mean spending more money to rent or buy a place closer to your place of business (assuming you don’t already work from home), where rents are often higher.  In my life, I have consistently paid higher rents in order to live close to where I work and it has always been worth every penny – not only in time saved (which is straight-up savings), but in eliminating commuting fatigue, dodging traffic frustration, reducing the impact of scheduling glitches, etc.  If you live close enough to walk a few blocks to work, this is usually ideal.
  3. Improve your commute by buying a nice car.  If you must commute, spend the money on buying the right car for you.  This might not be a fancy sports car or a luxury sedan, but it should be a car that is pleasantly suited to your personal style, whether that means an exciting drive, a pleasant interior, a premium sound system, a convertible, or something else.  There are a great variety of cars designed for different demographics and personalities, so explore outside your habitual brand (you might have started life, as many do, with an econobox sedan) and see if there’s something that fits you more personally.  Again: avoid popular sentiment.
  4. Fix your computing experience.  If you are on Quora, you probably spend a lot of time on the computer.  If it’s slow or you have a frustrating problem that you’ve “learned to live with,” get this problem fixed.  People often underestimate the importance of their holistic user experience on a computer.  Personally, I recommend getting a Mac, but this is not for everyone.  Either way, if there is a way you can spend money to eliminate glitches in your everyday computing experience, do it.  Maybe you need to get a new laptop but have convinced yourself that it would be a frivolous expenditure – after all, the old one works “well enough.”  No, it doesn’t.  You use it for hours a day and it should be a perfect machine for you.  Get it fixed or get a new one – you can always give away or sell the old one at a steep discount to someone else who will be overjoyed to have it.  It will get rid of little stressors and allow you to concentrate your mind more fully on the 
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