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The rich have this problem too

You'd think that as rich as the people in the world have become, they would naturally have more resources and abilities to create and maintain buffers.

  • Money buffers

  • Time buffers

  • Health buffers

just to name the major ones.

Just look at this amazing chart:


It's an internal problem, not an external one

Of course, this chart focuses on how many have risen out of extreme poverty. And that is notwithstanding the fact that the world population was a bit over one billion in 1820, whereas it was 7.3 billion in 2015. What it doesn't focus on is how rich many of the rest of us "common folk" have become. The king or emperor of 200 years ago would gladly trade places with the average wage earner in any Western country today.

But available resources don't seem to have much to do with buffer. I know some rich Americans and rich Chinese whose money, time, and even health buffers are scant. They have designed their life (maybe by default) to always live near the cliffs. And fairly often, they're having to deal with another breakdown caused by their lack of buffers and "falling over the edge of the cliff."

In contrast I know several friends who make much less money yet their life is rarely upset because they have adequate buffers.

A life with buffers is easy to enjoy and occasions few breakdowns. A life without buffers is stressful and creates recurring upsets, not only for the central character but also for his rescuers ("Mom, I just need a little money until payday on Friday").

What does it take to create and maintain buffers?

Lack of buffers is mostly a Now-Next issue, sometimes compounded by a Oneself-Others issue. Things that seem urgent or comfortable to Now (spending money, over promising, not keeping boundaries, packing your schedule too full, eating poorly) override a valid Next concern to live in a future that has more buffers (stays away from the cliff) and will be more enjoyable.

Types of buffers

Let's examine several types of buffers, which can be considered separately but also are synergistic because they often bleed into each other.

  • Money buffers

  • Time buffers

  • Health buffers

  • Energy buffers

  • Backup buffers

  • Carefulness buffers

  • Relationship buffers

Money buffers

Lack of money buffers affects a majority of people, both rich and poor. It develops most often from Now indulging in borrowing money from our future, instead of lending money to our future. Often it is fueled by an overly optimistic projection of how we will somehow have more discretionary money in our future than we have now. It is also kept in place by the missing habit of keeping an unobscured view of our regular outgo and income. 

For those of us who lack money buffers, we often associate much pleasure with spending money and getting things now. In contrast, those of us who have an adequate money buffer have learned to feel pleasure when we find ways to save money or not spend money.

Time buffers

It's said that those who make a lot of money have no free time and those who have a lot of free time have no free money.

This can be the case, especially if we don't consciously design our life to have both free time and free money.

Regardless, I know a lot of people have both very little free money and free time. They are always borrowing both money and time from the future.

Typically, those of us without time buffers are dominated by Next. Our Next insists that we do more and more. "This needs to be done. I'm behind at that. My boss is always expecting me to do something more. Things are waiting for me. I really must get all these things done today." We fill our life with things we "have to do." We measure ourselves by how much we can get done. We are constantly over promising.

The key to creating and maintaining time buffers is to choose courage to under promise, both to ourselves and to others. Check out the doer and the planner for an important way to create and maintain time buffers.

Health buffers

Many of us consider health insurance (actually it should be called sickness insurance) to be a health buffer. However, this insurance only helps us after we have fallen over the cliff. In fact, it may serve a negative purpose where it makes us feel safer because we know we will be "rescued" if we fall over the cliff.

True health insurance is taking consistent action so as to stay as far away from that cliff as possible. 

This means:

  • Removing worry and stress from your life (see undoing worry and undoing stress).

  • Eating and supplementing for longevity (I eat vegan except for one sardine per day). I am the healthiest 76-year old person I personally know (as of January, 2021).

  • Exercising for health (see Fit in 5-minutes a week).

  • Attitude (life is my playground, everything that happens is a gift for me).

The most important of the health buffers is a robust immune system. I recommend this book: Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body's Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free.

Energy buffers

Energy buffers are closely related to health buffers, but they deserve a separate category.

Assuming you've addressed the health-buffer factors mentioned above, an additional antecedent for having adequate energy is enough rest. I place getting sufficient sleep and feeling rested as a #1 priority in my life, only exceeded by breathing and going to the toilet. I've designed my life so that, not only can I get a good night's rest (usually from 9pm to 4am), but I also take an early afternoon nap starting around 11:30am for about 1.5 hours. I get fresh "mornings" twice a day.


Other factors that contribute my energy are two coffees (one at 4am and one after my nap), hot cocoa drinks with stevia, and occasionally 100mg of modafinil. I mention these, not necessarily as recommendations but just as examples of what I've discovered that works for me. You want to be careful with stimulants because the recovery time may cost more than the benefit time. Also you want to ensure that they pose no long-term damage to your health.

I also use screamingexercise, and doing nothing to recharge myself.

Backup buffers

Do you have sufficient backups for your computer data and phone data? Do you have a hidden or easy-to-get-to backup key if you lock yourself out of the house? Do you have an extra pair of reading glasses to take along on your holiday? Do you have easy access to telephone numbers in case you need repairs done quickly? Do you order ahead for those items you don't want to run out of? 

Carefulness buffers

Do you always wear seat belts? Do you avoid tailgating? Do you climb and descend stairs mindfully? Do you put something away in its right place when you've finished with it? Do you confirm all your appointments with others the day before? Do you create, maintain, and use appropriate reminder systems so that you don't forget something when you need to remember it? (one invaluable app I use for this In this regard, check out running a water-tight ship

Relationship buffers

When a woman I loved deeply said goodbye to me in 1998, I cried everyday for five weeks. Each day I would call up a different friend. I asked each of them, "Please don't try to cheer me up. Please don't give me advice. Just listen to me share with you about my heartbreak and my fear that I will never find a woman again who fits me so well." Because I had enough good friends that I could share openly with, I didn't have to bend the ear of any one friend too much. I had relationship buffers. By the way, after five weeks of crying every day and sharing with my friends, my heart was completely broken and I was open for love again.


Ask yourself, in your relationships with your family members, with your colleagues, with your friends, do you feel you could ask them for help without them feeling taken advantage of?

Another type of relationship buffer is creating and maintaining boundaries with others in which you're taking care of yourself and you're less likely to see yourself as their victim (that is, you end up resenting them or blaming them or feeling defensive with them). Also you say "no" and make requests of others in order to create mutually selfish relationships.

One reason I have a lot of relationship buffer is that I create and maintain my relationships with an attitude of finding ways where my selfishness (long-term and short-term) and their selfishness are complementary. This approach creates a feeling of mutual generosity and good will, which either side can use, if needed.

Adequate buffers (by the way, it's possible to have too much buffer, where the cost of creating the buffer is more than the likely benefits) will come as a natural by-product of creating Now-Next integrity, as well as Oneself-Others integrity. See the NNI toolkit and the OOI toolkit.

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