Things should be done while young

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

If you experience something early, you have memories of it for the rest of your life, which is very long span. If you experience the same experience later, you have less years to hold the memory. So all else being equal, living the good life while young is better than not. Clearly this could backfire if one goes way over their means like over spending, hence the cautious notion of delaying gratification. But generally, its good to have good experiences earlier than later, so long as there is some balance. Reminiscing is incredibly important. It's simple mathematics. Time is finite, so earlier memories last longer. Opinions?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Ryan_m_b
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Memories do not last forever and whilst having formative experiences early can be important because the lessons learnt will be in effect longer there are many other factors that are just as, if not more, important. Trying to reduce complex life decisions to simple mathematics is an exercise in flawed reductionism. For example:

By the logic of "memories for longer time is better" we should all get married to our first girl/boyfriends, regardless of how in love, emotionally mature or psychologically developed we are. And why not throw some kids on top of that as soon as we're fertile to get the most out of having kids by the pure mathematics of life span - current age!

There are many reasons why things should be done early in life to get the most out of them; education, playing outside, parties, travelling, sports etc. These things help mature us, build us as people and capitalise on the fact that when you're young you tend not to have a lot of money but you have a lot of time and good health compared to later. But similarly there are important reasons why a lot of things should only occur if the circumstances are right and you have the right emotional, financial and social grounding to embark on them.

"Life span - Current age" seems like one of those ideas trying to simplify life into something less complicated or scary, but the more you simplify a complex system the more wrong and misleading your model becomes.
 
  • #3
HAYAO
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I would support OP, but simply because my parents were overly strict, and I had very little chance to socialize and enjoy life. As such, I had the worst memories during my latter half of middle school and entire high school. I became quite mentally unstable at the time, often spontaneously doing incomprehensible and irrational actions, including damaging things and myself. When I cut ties with my parents and stopped them from controlling my life, that's when everything almost instantaneously went well. I have grown more confident, mentally stable, self-motivated, mature, social, and more responsible.

Studies say that if you experience social life in youth (including socializing with the opposite sex), you are more likely to live a happy life later on. I think that speaks for itself. But in all seriousness, what matters is if you can enjoy life while being responsible. It doesn't matter if you have an IQ of 40 or 160. If you live a happy and responsible life, that is all it matters. If you can enjoy youth but also be responsible for anything that happens after that, do it.
 
  • #4
Choppy
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This sounds like fuel to feed the stereotype of entitled millennials to me.

"Old" people do more than reflect on the exeperiences they had when they were younger.
 
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  • #5
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This sounds like fuel to feed the stereotype of entitled millennials to me.

"Old" people do more than reflect on the exeperiences they had when they were younger.
It's not about entitlement. It's an argument from simple mathematics.
 
  • #6
symbolipoint
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If you experience something early, you have memories of it for the rest of your life, which is very long span. If you experience the same experience later, you have less years to hold the memory. So all else being equal, living the good life while young is better than not. Clearly this could backfire if one goes way over their means like over spending, hence the cautious notion of delaying gratification. But generally, its good to have good experiences earlier than later, so long as there is some balance. Reminiscing is incredibly important. It's simple mathematics. Time is finite, so earlier memories last longer. Opinions?
What?
 
  • #7
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What?
Time is finite. Good memories formed at an earlier time point will last longer.
 
  • #8
symbolipoint
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Time is finite. Good memories formed at an earlier time point will last longer.
Maybe for memories but more certain for skills and concepts. Individuals who learn music/one or more musical instruments; another language; or try hard to excel in Mathematics; when they are young, are very much more likely to continue to either keep that or improve upon that later in life; or as they continue to get older and develop.
 
  • #9
Ryan_m_b
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It's not about entitlement. It's an argument from simple mathematics.
It's a reductionist argument that fails to take into account the complexity of the subject, prioritising an arbitrary factor (memory life) over all other relevant considerations simply because it is easier to understand.
 
  • #10
symbolipoint
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It's a reductionist argument that fails to take into account the complexity of the subject, prioritising an arbitrary factor (memory life) over all other relevant considerations simply because it is easier to understand.
I do not know what that means. It is probably correct. Learning things when young means you have a background to do/know them later or be able to learn them better or to relearn them later and with less trouble than if not learned when young.
 
  • #11
HAYAO
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I think it all comes down to being reasonable.

You can do nothing but play during youth and have trouble getting a job in the future, but you can also be forced to do too much and be mentally and socially unhealthy. What you learn in youth won't worth anything if you get a mental breakdown in the future. Both of these extremes don't end up well for you; you have to have some healthy and reasonable degree of training during youth. I don't know how common this is in other countries, but Japan...oh please Japanese parents...stop making any more "hikikomori's".

So what matters more is if you are self-motivated and responsible, IMO.
 
  • #12
Ryan_m_b
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I do not know what that means. It is probably correct. Learning things when young means you have a background to do/know them later or be able to learn them better or to relearn them later and with less trouble than if not learned when young.
Reductionism is the practice of trying to understand phenomena by understanding simpler sub-systems. It's a great philosophy and works in many areas, but isn't the best for all. I'm criticising the OPs position for being overly reductionist and trying to create one simple all-encompassing rule for life (see their "it's simple math so must be right" argument).

As I mentioned in my first post it's easy to find plenty of examples that disprove the idea. The OP isn't specifically talking about any aspect of life, they're asserting that it's a universal rule that things done younger are better. While there are things for which that statement is true it is not a universal rule.
 
  • #13
Dr. Courtney
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Now that I'm older, I realize how foolish lots of those purportedly "fun" memory-making things were in my youth.

Further, now that my memory is occasionally fuzzy, I find I appreciate the "fun" things I've done recently more than the "fun" things in my youth (even the fun things that were not foolish or dangerous).

I once brought in the Bruce Springsteen song "Glory Days" and played it for my class right after a young pitcher had pitched his first no hitter. Better to have decades of real satisfying life than a few glory years followed by decades of reminiscing without ongoing experiences, which for me are time with my wife, time with my three children (in college now), and experiences solving new problems, teaching new students to do research, and a few athletic accomplishments.

I won my first fishing tournament at 47, my first rifle match at 50, my first archery tournament at 50, and also my first tennis tournament at 50. I mountain bike 2000 miles a year. Am I suddenly a fierce athlete? No. Everyone else (well, mostly) got fat and sedentary, so the nerdy skinny dude who always stunk at sports is now the best in his age range.
 
  • #14
symbolipoint
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Now that I'm older, I realize how foolish lots of those purportedly "fun" memory-making things were in my youth.

Further, now that my memory is occasionally fuzzy, I find I appreciate the "fun" things I've done recently more than the "fun" things in my youth (even the fun things that were not foolish or dangerous).

I once brought in the Bruce Springsteen song "Glory Days" and played it for my class right after a young pitcher had pitched his first no hitter. Better to have decades of real satisfying life than a few glory years followed by decades of reminiscing without ongoing experiences, which for me are time with my wife, time with my three children (in college now), and experiences solving new problems, teaching new students to do research, and a few athletic accomplishments.

I won my first fishing tournament at 47, my first rifle match at 50, my first archery tournament at 50, and also my first tennis tournament at 50. I mountain bike 2000 miles a year. Am I suddenly a fierce athlete? No. Everyone else (well, mostly) got fat and sedentary, so the nerdy skinny dude who always stunk at sports is now the best in his age range.
That deserves two more "likes".
There is hope for older people. A sense of awareness, maturity, and self-discipline count for something.
 
  • #15
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If you experience something early, you have memories of it for the rest of your life, which is very long span.
Puts me in mind of the Bruce Springsteen song, "Glory Days," in which the people he meets talk of nothing but the good times they had in their "glory days," but have done nothing since.
FallenApple said:
If you experience the same experience later, you have less years to hold the memory.
Yes, and so what? I don't buy your argument, as it seems to assume that just because you have a happy memory in mid-life, that's somehow not as good as a memory from earlier on in your life. Just because a memory goes back to an earlier time doesn't mean that it is higher quality than a more recent memory. One of the activities that I really enjoy is backpacking, which I've been fortunate to be able to do for close to 60 years. My memory of the first trip I did is still fairly vivid, but the trips I've done more recently, say in the past two years, are just as happy. It matters not to me that these newer memories won't last as long as my earliest memories of the same sort of activity.

Edit: I didn't realize I was restating some of the things that @Dr. Courtney said, especially about the Springsteen song, and reliving old memories without making new ones along the way.
FallenApple said:
So all else being equal, living the good life while young is better than not.
Although you pay lip service to exercising some caution in your remarks below, it still seems like you are trying to rationalize immediate gratification. I'm immensely grateful that I didn't spend every nickel I earned while I was working, because now I have a comfortable income to be able to indulge the hobbies and activities I enjoy.
FallenApple said:
Clearly this could backfire if one goes way over their means like over spending, hence the cautious notion of delaying gratification. But generally, its good to have good experiences earlier than later, so long as there is some balance. Reminiscing is incredibly important. It's simple mathematics. Time is finite, so earlier memories last longer. Opinions?
See the Aesop fable, "The Ant and the Grasshopper."
 
  • #16
HAYAO
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As a devil's advocate, I would say that what makes you the person you are is not just about what you are right now, but how you lived. I don't necessarily agree what Dr. Courtney says about good-memories making in youth is foolish. Good memories of the past may not be as important as the memories you are making right now, but it is too important to forget them and treat them as useless things. Good memories are still better than bad memories.


A good memory I have when I was young (in the US), was that I had a Jewish friend and I was invited to Bar Mitzvah. A Japanese going to Bar Mitzvah, how rare is that? Now is that worth anything today? Not really. But should I call that good memory making foolish? Not a tiny bit.
 
  • #17
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As a devil's advocate, I would say that what makes you the person you are is not just about what you are right now, but how you lived. I don't necessarily agree what Dr. Courtney says about good-memories making in youth is foolish. Good memories of the past may not be as important as the memories you are making right now, but it is too important to forget them and treat them as useless things. Good memories are still better than bad memories.
I don't think that's what Dr. Courtney was saying -- that memories made when you're young aren't worth as much. My take was that he was saying that it's better to be doing memorable things all through your life.

A good memory I have when I was young (in the US), was that I had a Jewish friend and I was invited to Bar Mitzvah. A Japanese going to Bar Mitzvah, how rare is that? Now is that worth anything today? Not really. But should I call that good memory making foolish? Not a tiny bit.
Obviously that is a cherished memory for you, so it definitely is worthy. I think you missed the point of Dr. Courtney's reply, which wasn't that the memories made when he was young were foolish, but that some of the things he did were foolish and/or dangerous.
 
  • #18
HAYAO
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I don't think that's what Dr. Courtney was saying -- that memories made when you're young aren't worth as much. My take was that he was saying that it's better to be doing memorable things all through your life.

Obviously that is a cherished memory for you, so it definitely is worthy. I think you missed the point of Dr. Courtney's reply, which wasn't that the memories made when he was young were foolish, but that some of the things he did were foolish and/or dangerous.
Oh okay, my bad...
 
  • #19
pinball1970
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When do real memories start and how reliable are they?

We build on our experiences but can also idealize them and even embellish a little bit.

Without sounding too hippy I think its best to have goals and look forward rather than looking back.
 
  • #20
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Puts me in mind of the Bruce Springsteen song, "Glory Days," in which the people he meets talk of nothing but the good times they had in their "glory days," but have done nothing since.
Yes, and so what? I don't buy your argument, as it seems to assume that just because you have a happy memory in mid-life, that's somehow not as good as a memory from earlier on in your life. Just because a memory goes back to an earlier time doesn't mean that it is higher quality than a more recent memory. One of the activities that I really enjoy is backpacking, which I've been fortunate to be able to do for close to 60 years. My memory of the first trip I did is still fairly vivid, but the trips I've done more recently, say in the past two years, are just as happy. It matters not to me that these newer memories won't last as long as my earliest memories of the same sort of activity.

Edit: I didn't realize I was restating some of the things that @Dr. Courtney said, especially about the Springsteen song, and reliving old memories without making new ones along the way.
Although you pay lip service to exercising some caution in your remarks below, it still seems like you are trying to rationalize immediate gratification. I'm immensely grateful that I didn't spend every nickel I earned while I was working, because now I have a comfortable income to be able to indulge the hobbies and activities I enjoy.
See the Aesop fable, "The Ant and the Grasshopper."

In the Aesop fable, the Grasshopper brought itself to ruin. This is hardly optimization.

The tradeoff doesn't need to be huge. One just needs to do the hard work to earn a high income and then only spend a small portion of it. The income would need to be high enough such that the good life can still be attained only using a small portion. Alternatively, once a good emergency savings fund is established, everything else beyond rent, food, and gas is more or less disposable income.

Delayed gratification doesn't need to be followed to the letter. Eating nothing but $1 Raman and never going out for years on end just builds up bad memories. There needs to be balance.

It's true that having an older memory may not be as high quality as a recent memory. But that argument assumes that the present is all that matters. Memories fade slightly, yes, which is why the recent one is sharper. Yet, it doesn't matter. The present isn't all that matters, but the life as a whole.
 
  • #21
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Memories fade slightly, yes, which is why the recent one is sharper. Yet, it doesn't matter. The present isn't all that matters, but the life as a whole.
Which I think is the argument we have been making.
 
  • #22
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Which I think is the argument we have been making.
Except that argument doesn't work. Recent memories are sharper than older memories. But older memories were also sharp at one point as well. Same thing.
 

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