Marty Nemko thinks that the answer is productivity. As he points out in his latest book What’s The Big Idea: Reinventions for a Better America: “the extent to which you have left the world better is, in my view, the most valid criterion for assessing whether you’ve lived a worthwhile life.”
Instead of filling our lives with things that might make us happy in the moment like video games, movies, tasty foods, fancy clothes, vacations, or a nice car, he recommends that we live life by using The Meter. The idea is simple yet powerful:
Selling drugs to kids would register a -10.
Playing a video game would register a 0.
Working to cure a disease would register a +10.
Marty thinks we should live our lives by always asking ourselves how our next activity would register on the meter.
I think that just about everyone will be unable to register a +10 or even a positive number on the meter with every block of time they have, no matter how hardworking or well-meaning they are. However, I do see the value of repeatedly considering whether our next actions will add to, take away, or do nothing for society. I also can see how productivity directed at making the world a better place might lead to genuine personal happiness and fulfillment.
What do you think?
© 2013 by Jonathan Wai