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Chance and Reason

  • "Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances. "
  • ~ Bruce Fairchild Barton, American advertising executive, 1886 – 1967
  • "Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world. "
  • ~ George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, 1856 – 1950
  • "Life is not holding a good hand; life is playing a poor hand well. "
  • ~ Danish proverb

Insane World

Success seems to be as much a matter of luck as of character. A lucky number drawn in a lottery, and instantly, the winner is rich. A chance opportunity, and suddenly someone’s career takes off. Insane jury verdicts seem like lotteries and wrongly result in great wealth for some, great loss for others, freedom for some, and imprisonment for others. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time leads to injury or death from accident or the whim of some deranged terrorist.

Living Sanely

Luck or chance plays a large role in life, but no role in how you should live your life. You can live sanely, even in an insane world. The key is to focus on your own actions, over which you have great control. Regard other people, and the world in general, as something completely separate from yourself: part of nature that you accept as is, in the same way you accept the fact that the sun rises and the winds blow.

Reason should be your guiding force, but if you expect reason from others you will be sorely disappointed, and you will waste much time in despair. Make the most rational decisions possible, taking into account those factors that are predictable, and knowing that there may be factors outside of your control. Realize that you can control your own actions, but not the actions of others.

Part of living sanely is choosing not to do things, like playing the lottery, that completely depend on chance or luck. While it’s true that lotteries have “winners,” the vast majority of players lose, and overall, lotteries are a poor investment. In other words, for the rational investor, the expected return is negative. More importantly:

• Sanity requires a consistent reliance on reason, rather than occasional blind faith in luck. Like ethics, reason is not a matter of whim or convenience; it must be in constant use to work.

• Sane people don’t want to succeed through luck or chance; they want to succeed by creating value.· In terms of keeping score with yourself, money won through chance has no value.

Never confuse irrational gambling with calculated risk-taking. Almost every aspect of life involves risk — from falling in love to buying a house to running a business. The sane way of dealing with risk is to carefully calculate the risks and rewards and then to use your best judgment.

You will often make the wrong decision, but on balance, decisions made in this way will guide your life in the best direction.You may fail due to unforeseeable events or errors of your best judgment. Success matters very much, but it is a desired out-come of rational decisions, rather than something one actually controls.


On making rational decisions for yourself,while not expecting reason from others.

Read Our Forum for Living Sanely In An Insane World

Chapter 27 of 35

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