本文编译自 Paul Graham 的博文《Life is short》。 关于时间的讨论,Marc Andreessen 写过如何高效利用时间,巴菲特讨论过复利效应,Paul 从人生的长度去讨论。所有的答案,都在最后一段。

Life is short, as everyone knows. When I was a kid I used to wonder about this. Is life actually short, or are we really complaining about its finiteness? Would we be just as likely to feel life was short if we lived 10 times as long?人生短暂,每个人都知道。当我还是个孩子的时候,我对此心有怀疑。是生命真的很短,还是我们只是抱怨它是有限的?如果能活 10 倍长的时间,我们还一样会觉得人生短暂吗?

Since there didn’t seem any way to answer this question, I stopped wondering about it. Then I had kids. That gave me a way to answer the question, and the answer is that life actually is short.

由于似乎没有任何办法回答这个问题,我不再想这件事。后来,我有了孩子。对这个问题,我有了回答。答案是:人生真的很短。

Having kids showed me how to convert a continuous quantity, time, into discrete quantities. You only get 52 weekends with your 2 year old. If Christmas-as-magic lasts from say ages 3 to 10, you only get to watch your child experience it 8 times. And while it’s impossible to say what is a lot or a little of a continuous quantity like time, 8 is not a lot of something. If you had a handful of 8 peanuts, or a shelf of 8 books to choose from, the quantity would definitely seem limited, no matter what your lifespan was.

有了孩子,让我可以把时间这个连续变量转变为离散量。我和我 2 岁多的孩子一年只有 52 个周末。如果魔法圣诞可以从 3 岁到 10 岁,你只能 8 次看见你的孩子体验它。虽然对时间这个连续变量无法说什么是多什么是少,8 肯定不是很多。换个说法,如果你有 8 个花生或者 8 本书可供选择,这个数量肯定看起来很有限,不管你的寿命是多长。

Ok, so life actually is short. Does it make any difference to know that?

好了,人生其实很短。知道这又能如何不同?

It has for me. It means arguments of the form “Life is too short for x” have great force. It’s not just a figure of speech to say that life is too short for something. It’s not just a synonym for annoying. If you find yourself thinking that life is too short for something, you should try to eliminate it if you can.

对我大不同。这意味着类似 “人生很短,没时间 X” 这样的表述有强大的力量。这不再是演讲的修辞手法。这不再是烦人的代名词。如果你发现自己在想:人生很短没时间 X,你应该尽可能消除它。

When I ask myself what I’ve found life is too short for, the word that pops into my head is “bullshit.” I realize that answer is somewhat tautological. It’s almost the definition of bullshit that it’s the stuff that life is too short for. And yet bullshit does have a distinctive character. There’s something fake about it. It’s the junk food of experience. [1]

当我问自己,人生对什么太短,脑海中跳出来的词是 “扯淡”。我知道答案有点赘述。扯淡的定义里就有人生太短没时间废话的意思。但是,扯淡的确有鲜明的特性。扯淡里面有一些不实的东西。扯淡就像人生经历的垃圾食品。

If you ask yourself what you spend your time on that’s bullshit, you probably already know the answer. Unnecessary meetings, pointless disputes, bureaucracy, posturing, dealing with other people’s mistakes, traffic jams, addictive but unrewarding pastimes.

如果你问自己,你花时间扯淡的都是什么,你可能已经知道了答案。不必要的会议、无谓的争端、官僚作风、故作姿态、应对别人的错误、交通拥堵、让人上瘾但没有回报的消遣。

There are two ways this kind of thing gets into your life: it’s either forced on you or it tricks you. To some extent you have to put up with the bullshit forced on you by circumstances. You need to make money, and making money consists mostly of errands. Indeed, the law of supply and demand insures that: the more rewarding some kind of work is, the cheaper people will do it. It may be that less bullshit is forced on you than you think, though. There has always been a stream of people who opt out of the default grind and go live somewhere where opportunities are fewer in the conventional sense, but life feels more authentic. This could become more common.

这类的东西有两种途径进入你的生活:它要么强加于你,要么诱惑你。在一定程度上,对于环境强加于你的扯淡你不得不忍受。你需要赚钱。赚钱的很大一部分就是干跑腿的杂事。事实上,供需法则决定了:某种工作的回报越大,人们就会越廉价的生产它。但是,能强迫于你的扯淡可能比你想象的要少。总有这样一群人,决定跳出扯淡的折磨,活在传统意义上机会很少的地方,但生活感觉更真实。这会变得越来越普遍。

You can do it on a smaller scale without moving. The amount of time you have to spend on bullshit varies between employers. Most large organizations (and many small ones) are steeped in it. But if you consciously prioritize bullshit avoidance over other factors like money and prestige, you can probably find employers that will waste less of your time.

你其实也可以不用移动就在小范围内做到。你花在扯淡上的时间因雇主而异。大多数大型组织(和许多小的)都沉浸于扯淡。但是,如果你有意识地把避免扯淡的优先级列在其他因素如金钱和荣誉之上,你也许可以找到少浪费你时间的雇主。

If you’re a freelancer or a small company, you can do this at the level of individual customers. If you fire or avoid toxic customers, you can decrease the amount of bullshit in your life by more than you decrease your income.

如果你是一个自由职业者或者一个小公司,你可以在每个客户的层面做到这一点。如果避免不良的客户,可以大大降低扯淡在你生命种所占的时间而不至于太影响收入。

But while some amount of bullshit is inevitably forced on you, the bullshit that sneaks into your life by tricking you is no one’s fault but your own. And yet the bullshit you choose may be harder to eliminate than the bullshit that’s forced on you. Things that lure you into wasting your time on them have to be really good at tricking you. An example that will be familiar to a lot of people is arguing online. When someone contradicts you, they’re in a sense attacking you. Sometimes pretty overtly. Your instinct when attacked is to defend yourself. But like a lot of instincts, this one wasn’t designed for the world we now live in. Counterintuitive as it feels, it’s better most of the time not to defend yourself. Otherwise these people are literally taking your life. [2]

尽管,有一些扯淡是强加于你的,而其他一些则是通过诱惑你偷偷进入你的生活的,这不是别人的过错,而是你自己。然而,你自己选择的扯淡比那些强加于你的更难消除。引诱你浪费时间的这些事一定非常有诱惑力。一个很多人熟悉的例子就是在网上争论。当有人反驳你,他们在一定意义上攻击你。有时候,公然的攻击。你受到攻击时的本能是保护自己。但是,像很多的本能,这不适合我们现在生活的世界。虽然看起来反直觉,大部分时候最好不要为自己辩护。否则,这些人会事实上浪费你的生命。

Arguing online is only incidentally addictive. There are more dangerous things than that. As I’ve written before, one byproduct of technical progress is that things we like tend to become more addictive. Which means we will increasingly have to make a conscious effort to avoid addictions—to stand outside ourselves and ask “is this how I want to be spending my time?”

网上争论只是偶尔上瘾。还有更危险的事情不止于此。正如我之前写的,技术进步的一个副产品是:我们喜欢的事情变得更加容易上瘾(译者:比如看微信朋友圈)。这意味着我们要越来越有意识地努力避免上瘾,跳出来问自己:“这就是我所希望花费自己的时间方式吗?”

As well as avoiding bullshit one should actively seek out things that matter. But different things matter to different people, and most have to learn what matters to them. A few are lucky and realize early on that they love math or taking care of animals or writing, and then figure out a way to spend a lot of time doing it. But most people start out with a life that’s a mix of things that matter and things that don’t, and only gradually learn to distinguish between them.

和避免扯淡同样重要的是,我们应该积极寻找有意义的事情。但不同的事情对不同的人意义不同,大部分人不得不去了解什么对他们是重要的。少数人是幸运的,很早就明白他们喜欢数学或照顾动物或写作,然后想办法花费大量时间在这件事上。但大多数人的人生开始的时候,都是有意义和没意义的事情掺合在一起,只有后来才逐步学会区分它们。

For the young especially, much of this confusion is induced by the artificial situations they find themselves in. In middle school and high school, what the other kids think of you seems the most important thing in the world. But when you ask adults what they got wrong at that age, nearly all say they cared too much what other kids thought of them.

对于年轻人尤其如此,很多这种混乱都是他们所处的人工环境造成的。在初中和高中,其他孩子对你的看法似乎是世界上最重要的事情。但是当你问成年人在那个年龄什么做的不好,几乎所有人都说,他们过于关心其他孩子对他的看法。

One heuristic for distinguishing stuff that matters is to ask yourself whether you’ll care about it in the future. Fake stuff that matters usually has a sharp peak of seeming to matter. That’s how it tricks you. The area under the curve is small, but its shape jabs into your consciousness like a pin.

一个区分事情是否有意义的快捷方法是,问自己你未来你是否会关心它。假装有意义的东西,通常有一个看似重要的尖峰。这就是它能诱惑你的原因。曲线下面积虽小,但它的形状像一个图钉一样刺戳进你的意识。(译者:有意义的事情应该持久,而不是一个尖峰。)

The things that matter aren’t necessarily the ones people would call “important.” Having coffee with a friend matters. You won’t feel later like that was a waste of time.

有意义的事情并不一定是人们所谓的重要的事情。和朋友喝咖啡是有意义的事情。你以后不会觉得这是在浪费时间。

One great thing about having small children is that they make you spend time on things that matter: them. They grab your sleeve as you’re staring at your phone and say “will you play with me?” And odds are that is in fact the bullshit-minimizing option.

有小孩子带来的一个伟大的事情是,他们让你花时间在有意义的事情上:他们。当你正盯着你的电话的时候,他们抓住你的袖子说:“和我一起玩好吗?”。而通常,这是事实上最不浪费时间的选项。

If life is short, we should expect its shortness to take us by surprise. And that is just what tends to happen. You take things for granted, and then they’re gone. You think you can always write that book, or climb that mountain, or whatever, and then you realize the window has closed. The saddest windows close when other people die. Their lives are short too. After my mother died, I wished I’d spent more time with her. I lived as if she’d always be there. And in her typical quiet way she encouraged that illusion. But an illusion it was. I think a lot of people make the same mistake I did.

如果生命是短暂的,我们会期待它短暂的让我们措手不及。这正是趋势。你把一切视为理所当然,然后他们走了。你以为你可以写本书,或爬上那山,或其他什么的,然后你意识到窗口已经关闭。最痛苦的窗户关闭是在别人去世的时候。他们的生命同样很短。我的妈妈去世后,我希望我曾花更多的时间陪她。我当她会一直在那里一样的生活。她也以她特有的安静的方式给我这种幻觉。但是,错觉毕竟是错觉。我想很多人和我犯过同样的错误。

The usual way to avoid being taken by surprise by something is to be consciously aware of it. Back when life was more precarious, people used to be aware of death to a degree that would now seem a bit morbid. I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t seem the right answer to be constantly reminding oneself of the grim reaper hovering at everyone’s shoulder. Perhaps a better solution is to look at the problem from the other end. Cultivate a habit of impatience about the things you most want to do. Don’t wait before climbing that mountain or writing that book or visiting your mother. You don’t need to be constantly reminding yourself why you shouldn’t wait. Just don’t wait.

避免被措手不及的方法是有意识的觉察这一点。以前生活不太稳定的时候,人们对死亡的意识程度,现在看来有点病态。我不知道为什么,但不断提醒自己死神徘徊在每个人的肩膀上不像是一个正确的答案。看待这个问题更好的方法是从另一端,即:对你最想做的事情,培养立即行动的习惯。要爬那座山,或写那本书,或访问你的母亲?不要等待。你并不需要经常提醒自己,为什么不应该等待。立刻行动就好。

I can think of two more things one does when one doesn’t have much of something: try to get more of it, and savor what one has. Both make sense here.

我能想到另外两件事,是人当没有太多的东西的时候会做的:尽量从中获得更多,并且珍惜现有。这两个都有意义。

How you live affects how long you live. Most people could do better. Me among them.

你怎么生活会影响你活多久。大多数人都可以做的更好。我也在此列。

But you can probably get even more effect by paying closer attention to the time you have. It’s easy to let the days rush by. The “flow” that imaginative people love so much has a darker cousin that prevents you from pausing to savor life amid the daily slurry of errands and alarms. One of the most striking things I’ve read was not in a book, but the title of one: James Salter’s Burning the Days.

密切关注你有的时间,你或许可以得到更好的效果。让每天匆匆度过很容易。 富有想象力的人喜欢 “意识流” 这个词,意识流有个魔鬼表弟,他阻止你在每天东奔西跑的空隙停下来细细品味生活。我读过最打动我的一件事不是一本书里的,而是一本书的名字:詹姆斯·索尔特的《燃烧的白昼》。

It is possible to slow time somewhat. I’ve gotten better at it. Kids help. When you have small children, there are a lot of moments so perfect that you can’t help noticing.

让时间慢一点下来是可能的。我已经可以做的不错。谢谢孩子们的帮助。如果你有孩子,有很多瞬间如此完美,你不能不注意到。

It does help too to feel that you’ve squeezed everything out of some experience. The reason I’m sad about my mother is not just that I miss her but that I think of all the things we could have done that we didn’t. My oldest son will be 7 soon. And while I miss the 3 year old version of him, I at least don’t have any regrets over what might have been. We had the best time a daddy and a 3 year old ever had.

如果你能从每段经历获得更多,也会很有帮助。我难过我母亲的原因不只是我想念她,而是我想起我们可以做很多事情但都没有做。我的大儿子快 7 岁了。虽然我怀念他 3 岁时候的版本,但是对于过去,我没有任何遗憾。我们拥有一个爸爸和一个 3 岁的孩子在一起的最好时光。

Relentlessly prune bullshit, don’t wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have. That’s what you do when life is short.

无情的修剪扯淡的事情,对有意义的重要事情不要等待,细细品味你有的时间。生命短暂,这就是你应该做的。

文章来自:36kr

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