Low vs High Time Preference
What does it mean to have a low time preference? To put it simply it means you have surpassed the need for instant gratification and you are focused on a possible future self.
I say possible future self, as tomorrow (obviously) isn't guaranteed, if social media in 2020 has shown us anything its that the world can be a scary and divided place (ANTIFA, BLM, Trump/Biden, COVID-19, Riots in the streets, racial tensions, Geopolitics etc etc)
I’m from Australia and from the looks of it online, especially in the United States things are pretty messed up. Things aren’t much better closer to home though, with Victoria (a state of Australia just South of where I live) practically becoming a totalitarian police state overnight.
So what has all this got to do with time preference?
In times like this it would be easy for some to become despondent and lose interest in building for the future, a high time preference here would display itself in numerous ways, think drug and alcohol use, porn addiction, eating unnatural and highly palatable (Fiat) food, buying things you don’t need online, arguing with people on social media, not exercising your body or your mind, illicit affairs etc etc you get the idea.
I REFUSE TO LIVE WITH A HIGH TIME PREFERENCE
Been there, done that.
The odds of me living another year are greater than not.
Im 34 and according to 2017 data from the General Record of Incidence of Mortality (GRIM)
The chance of me dying this year are 0.08%, then in the next 5 years it jumps up to 0.11%.
Why then are so many people (especially Millennials) living just for the next dopamine hit and not seriously devoting themselves to not only achieving something meaningful with their life but also planning for the years to come?
As in the quote above, the time will pass either way.
Whether you put that time to good use by eating well, lifting weights, learning a new skill, investing, getting rid of bad habits etc or squander the time by drinking, smoking, scrolling, porn, eating junk, watching TV yada yada yada, one day in the near future there you will be, the product of all of your previous actions.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” — Buddha
At first glance the above quote may seem kind of out of place in this article but think about it for a minute. If all we have is the present moment and in that present moment, we are the culmination of all that we have done, achieved and experienced than wouldn’t it make sense to make low time preference decisions? Even thought those same decisions are predominantly focused on the future, the time will pass anyway (unless you die) and there you will be.
Who will feel better in that present moment?
The one who ate healthy, lifted, invested, learned new skills (Low time preference)
Or the one who drank, snorted, scrolled, partied, and wasted money? (High time preference)
I think it is obvious.
Now I’m going to get of my high horse for a minute, I’m not saying that it will initially be easy, I’ve lived a high time preference life of drinking, nicotine, porn, blowing money on ridiculous muscle cars and more. The modern world is set up in a way to skew our choices to favour High time preference thinking and actions.
Modern life is all about instant gratification.
Netflix, Amazon Prime, Internet porn, fast food, Afterpay, credit cards, drinking culture, psychotropic meds, you get the idea.
I remember when if you wanted to buy a big ticket item, say a Super Nintendo in the early 90’s that you either saved up in cash or you placed the item on “Lay-by” and made regular payments until you paid the item off! This concept alone must be so foreign to Gen Z’s (those born between 1996 & 2015)
Why save for an item when you can put it on your credit card? Or better yet Afterpay?
Now I am not saying that there is anything inherently wrong with using credit or Afterpay, these are merely tools and if used wisely can be a good thing. The trouble that I see is people buying stuff they don’t need with money that they don’t have to impress people that they don’t even like (yeah, I stole that quote from someone) This behaviour, in my opinion is a contributor to the mental health issues that we are seeing now all over the western world (depression, suicide etc)
So, what is the solution?
Having a low time preference.
OK mate, how?
Well its pretty simple, simple enough for some dot points.
· Buy Bitcoin (Hardest money known to man)
· Train Jiu-jitsu (ever killed a man with your bare hands? Nah, Me neither, but I prob could)
· Lift weights (Bro science > Fiat science)
· Quit fiat food (low quality super processed junk)
· Quit drinking alcohol (alcohol is not cool, we have been lied to)
· Quit porn (trust me, just trust me)
· Quit watching mainstream TV
This is by no means an exhaustive list but basically what I follow myself and have found benefit in my own life.
Thanks for reading.