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How do you determine which values to live by?

Hi Sebastian,

Found your blog a while ago via HN; you seem like someone who has either though these questions through carefully, or would like to.

You mention "good" a lot in your writing, and allude to values which you ostensibly find good. How do you determine which values are the ones to live your life by, and having determined them, at least in part, are they set for life? If not, does changing them devalue them?

Unless you base your values on those of some specific culture or society, you are picking and choosing anyway. Why not just become a complete hedonist? Even if you delay gratification, you are still a hedonist if what you do is for yourself. And if not for yourself, for whom?

Staying consistent and meaningful in any sort of value system other than hedonism seems impossible. The sole value you might take could be happiness–"whatever makes me happy is good"–and the only problems you might have would be balancing short-term satisfaction and long-term satisfaction. That is unsatisfying to me from a philosophical angle, and a pragmatic one: because it's not how society likes us to think, it is harder to get along with the rest of the tribe.

Is the grass greener on the other side?

On On Reading and Living

I've flirted with the idea... "I never knew it would be this hard. Maybe that other business is easier. I'll be more successful there."

Flirted, but never really considered.

Good reminder.

Quote from: The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College About How to Be Successful

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