While watching Billions the other night, Bobby Axelrod was in a scene with an employee called Taylor where he says,  “the moral of the story is you’ve got one life, so do it all!”.

It’s a sentiment I’ve heard time and time again in different ways; “live life to the fullest”, “you’re not here for a long time, you’re here for a good time” etc.  My heart believes it entirely, but to be honest, my head screams a different message.

Life is for living, certainly. We all want to be happy, and to a certain extent, happiness lies in the things we accumulate & the experiences we have. Indeed New York Times columnist and author Ron Lieber believes that we should teach our kids to spend their money on experiences rather than things.

But if we were to take Bobby Axelrod’s advice and run with it, how long would the happiness last? Until the money runs out perhaps? Not a problem for a billionaire like Bobby, but as financial literacy month draws to a close for another year, I’m struck by a thought – if “life is for living, so do it all” was everyones attitude, how would that change the world?

If my family chose that path:

  • I’d close my laptop, sell the house and move to a quite, warm, village beside the sea with nothing but my family and an easel;
  • My husband would spend his weekends training to conquer Mont Ventoux and his days coaching little league baseball (at a school on the coast I’d hope); and,
  • Our kids would separately choose to swim daily, seek out every sparkly shoe ever made, and play football 24/7, whilst mom ran point on a diet of spaghetti Bolognese and Fanta orange.

All lovely ideas … for a moment, a day or perhaps a year. But we would all need something else before long and I’d be willing to bet it wouldn’t be something hedonistic or self satisfying, it would be something that required labour of the body and mind. Not because we’ve no more dreams to fulfil, but because truly living life to the full, means living it in recognition of the need for balance, the need for both Ying and Yang. It means barrelling through the tough and boring times, so that we can truly recognise, appreciate and enjoy the great times.

Over the Spring break, I’ve been thinking a lot about achieving balance because the kids are perfectly content to play outside one minute, and the next they’re begging me to entertain them, feed them or bring them somewhere! After yet another conversation with my youngest about her cracker craving, I found myself explaining the law of diminishing returns to her.

The ‘law of diminishing returns’ is an economic term and I have to admit, it’s the only thing I remember from my college economics class. If you want an “official” explanation of the term, head here, but for all us mere mortals, it basically means that the more you have of something, the less you enjoy it.  Put simply, hand a child an ice cream cone and they’re happy but follow that cone with another, then another then another…then they get sick of ice cream very soon (both figuratively and literally I image!).

It really seems to have caught on in our house! The kids have gone from asking “the law of what?”, to including it in their own conversations, e.g. “I won’t watch another episode of Once tonight, it’s a diminishing return”.

It’s a tongue in cheek comment from our 10 year old – but I love it!

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