Whether we like it or not, or are conscious of it or not, we are executing trades at every moment of decision.
To cook and consume food:
We trade money and time, in exchange, for energy and sustenance.
We trade energy and time, in exchange, for money and purpose.
We trade attention and time, in exchange, for love and connection.
We trade money and time, in exchange, for growth and intellectual fuel.
We trade commitment and time, in exchange, for physical strength, endurance and longevity.
A trade is an exchange, not a sacrifice. An exchange of value for value, you receive what you really want for what you are willing to surrender.
There can never be an objective, universal definition of what constitutes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ trade, since it depends on each individual trader’s stack of values, but there must exist the underlying activity of an exchange of things that could be considered valuable.
Perhaps, trading is what we are also engaging in when deciding something as simple as getting up and out of bed in the morning.
Why should I get out of bed?
Because I have got a full, human day to fulfill and make the most of. I am willing to abandon the creature comforts that currently envelop me in exchange.
Why should I work?
Because I am willing to trade short term gratification for future, long term prosperity.
Why should I live?
Because I am willing to fight for the privilege of being something than to surrender into being nothing at all.
“Staving off death is a thing that you have to work at. Left to itself — and that is what it is when it dies — the body tends to revert to a state of equilibrium with its environment… Our bodies, for instance, are usually hotter than our surroundings, and in cold climates they have to work hard to maintain the differential. When we die the work stops, the temperature differential starts to disappear, and we end up the same temperature as our surroundings… if living things didn’t work actively to prevent it, they would eventually merge into their surroundings, and cease to exist as autonomous beings. That is what happens when they die.”
— a quote from Richard Dawkins, discovered through reading Jeff Bezos’ final Letter to Shareholders.