Wednesday, July 03, 2019
Debunking the Souffle Life post Financial Independence
There is a particular lifestyle in Singapore that I could not really put my mouth to it - I wanted to christen it "The Souffle Lifestyle". This is the kind of low-impact, low-intensity life folks who pursue financial independence aspire to.
So if the most intense activity you did is was to eat Souffle Pancakes, playing League of Legends and masturbating to Pornhub last weekend, then you might be the kind of the person who enjoys living this kind of life. Messages promoting the Souffle Life is obviously being channelled by many trainers peddling passive income schemes, primary of which involves the keywords "Shake Leg". Other messages include walking along the beach at Bali and bragging about your life of travel and leisure.
This is now low class in my book.
I did not get a lot of headway debunking the Souffle Life until I read an unexpected book by Cal Newport entitled Digital Minimalism which contained a significant component on the FIRE movement. The book introduces the Bennett principle that suggests the opposite of the Souffle Life which I have an experimental name of the Mala Lifestyle.
Bennett proposes that leisure should be strenuous - you get more out of your leisure based on the amount of equivalent exchange of energy. Like a Mala dish that is not only hot and spicy, it is the kind of dish you mix and match to eventually get it perfectly right for yourself.
Digital Minimalism proposes principles to design a life post Financial Independence :
a) Prioritise demanding activity over passive consumption
Leisure should strategised.
My biggest regret for my Australian trip was to follow a tour guide. I wanted to minimise risks and I thought having having an extra person around would be useful if something went wrong since I will be with my kids. A free and easy trip would have given my family more control and we would be able to just focus on a few activities we'd liked.
With free and easy, we would have actually more rest with more intensity. We could just plan one activity each day and beat a hasty retreat once my son gets cranky. From the hotel room, we could have planned the programme for the next day or binge on Australian Dairy products.
b) Use skills to produce valuable things in the physical world
Sadly I'm not particularly good with my hands, but I see myself as a craftsman of ideas that I share behind a pay-wall. Now, almost everyday, to cope with a late breakfast thanks to intermittent fasting, I think of ways to refine my training materials and add more value.
I recommend that the moment you FI, start going through the catalogue of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and just enroll in a crafting course. It may be the most meaningful thing you can do after figuring out how to live on dividend money.
c) Seek activities that require real world, social interactions
I was particularly impressed with this chapter because Cal Newport used board-gaming as an example of a social interaction that is designed to be intense but yet friendly. ( Just don't play Illuminati, Diplomacy or any Game of Thrones board game.)
Dungeons and Dragons serve this purpose quite well for me in the past. These days I see my training program as a long RPG campaign I run for paying customers. ( Who literally collect gold. )
With these three fundamental principles, we are now ready to debunk the Souffle Life and replace it with something a lot better. You have to flush out the continuous engagement with video games and replace it something like joining the Toastmasters and taking a class on book binding.