A lot of people attribute their failures in life to things out of their control: their height, their skin color, their parents, the country they were born in, etc.
You will hear people say things like:
- I can’t get any women because I’m short. Life is much easier for taller men.
- I’m broke and oppressed because I’m black or from a lower caste.
- If was born in X country, I would have started a business and been so successful. My life sucks because I’m in Y country.
It’s true that these factors do play a major role in your life experience, and only a fool would argue that they don’t.
What’s also true is that life is a lot like poker. You cannot control the hand you get, but you can play your cards (whatever they are) well, and end up on top over time (this is why the same few people repeatedly end up at the top).
This article, however, is not about telling you to do what you can with with you have. This article is about letting you decide if the cards you’re dealt are good or bad.
The way you do that is by determining if you’d like to play something called the ovarian lottery.
What is the Ovarian Lottery?
The “Ovarian Lottery” is a thought experiment made popular by Warren Buffet.
Here is the thought experiment:
Imagine that you have the option to be born again into the world, but you don’t get to choose the mother.
You could be born to any woman across the world i.e. you do not get to decide anything like your race, sex, parents, nationality, etc. – you only get to choose whether you would like to play the lottery, or keep your current life.
If you play the lottery, you do not know whether you are going to be:
- Indian, white, black, chinese, or any other ethnicity
- Male or female
- Tall, short, average height, or have something like dwarfism
- Intelligent, average, stupid, or even retarded
- Able bodied, or physically or mentally disabled
- Born in countries like India, USA, Europe, or born in countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, and Sudan
- Born to rich parents, middle class parents, or poor parents
- Born to a normal family or born to a single mother
- Born to a loving family or born to a dysfunctional family
- Born to the richest people in the world and live a life of leisure or be born a slave in Africa
- You could be aborted or die during childbirth
- You might get to go to school or you could be forced to be a child beggar in an Asian city
It could be anything – your future is uniformly distributed over the expecting mothers of the world.
Would You Take The Ovarian Lottery?
If I had to guess, I would say that most of you – people with a computer, an internet connection, the ability to read and speak English, and smart enough to be reading this website – are unlikely to want to take the ovarian lottery.
If so, then you yourself think that whatever shortcomings you have with your life are not so major that you think your life experience is “below the median”.
After all, if you thought you were below the median, you would have taken the lottery, because your chances of getting something better were higher.
In that case, you shouldn’t be complaining about what god didn’t give you – because clearly, the overall deal you did get is quite good!
Have some perspective. The cards you were dealt are outright better than those dealt to 50% of humanity.
You are complaining about your life because you think the grass is greener on the other side, but that’s only because you’re focusing too much on the certain sections of the grass, instead of looking at the bigger picture.
So you’re short? So what? Go do what you want and what you must regardless.
Broke? Find a way to fix that. Start a business, make some money. The internet is a great neutralizer – it doesn’t care if you’re black, white, green, rich, poor, tall, short – if you can add value, you will make money.
Wished you were born in a different country? Either adapt or find a way to move.
Stop complaining. People with worse cards than you have made it.
You can too.
– Harsh Strongman