What If We All Died at 60?

Food for Thought

I was watching a documentary about an old couple worrying about their health and finance, and I thought, “Wouldn’t life be better if we all had to die at 60?” Imagine a culture where life is assumed to have a fixed duration. It may sound morbid, but it has many advantages.

Not knowing when something ends is a major cause of our anxiety, like the current pandemic. Planning your life becomes hard. You wouldn’t want to attend a theater performance if you didn’t know how long it is.

Even if you have many millions saved for your retirement, not knowing how long you will live would make it irrelevant. If you have money, you’d feel obligated to spend it on the most advanced treatments available, whether they are covered by your insurance or not. The richer you are, the higher your expectation would be, so your anxiety would not ease.

If we knew we would die at 60, planning would be much simpler. We wouldn’t have to save for retirement; we can work less and enjoy life more. Even if you love your work, you can take projects you enjoy more and turn down those you don’t regardless of the pay. In other words, our desire to live longer degrades our quality of life. It’s a trade-off. If living longer has no net gain, why do we desire it? I think it’s a delay tactic like procrastination.

This year, the IRS extended the deadline for filing taxes. Let’s be real; most of us do not need more time to do our taxes. We just have to dedicate a day to do it. There is nothing to be gained by extending the deadline. An extension of anxiety will inevitably follow the temporary sense of relief.

The problem with procrastination isn’t that YouTube is filled with crap. What we do when we procrastinate is not actually what we want to do. If you absolutely love the YouTube videos you are watching, there is no problem. Procrastination is what we do when we have to distract ourselves from our anxieties. What works for that purpose has specific criteria that are not desirable for us.

Even if the IRS can extend our lives, our anxieties would not go away, especially if the deadline is unknown. The IRS would just be giving us more time to procrastinate.