There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Understanding ‘Opportunity Cost’ Matters
It means that nothing is ever truly free. To get one thing that we like, we usually have to give up another thing that we like. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another. There is always a price to be paid. If nothing else there is a hidden cost known as opportunity lost. That cost is the foregone opportunity, it implies sacrificing something I could have had for what I chose. This may sound like bad news or cynical until you find out what currency the Universe deals in.
At times, you may think you are getting something for nothing or getting “away” with something, but in the end, that something will end up costing you. For example
- When someone takes you out for lunch and pays for your meal, you’ve still made an investment. You gave your time and energy to be there. You chose that lunch over a variety of other things you could have done. The lunch had a cost, even if the cost was lessened by your friend paying the tab.
- Cheating on taxes may result in you ending up in jail some point in time.
- Rich person who provides handsomely for his family but never spends any time with them because he is always at work.
- The person who treats his friends poorly to make himself feel important until the day he has no friends left. There is always a price to pay.
Universe as a whole is ultimately a closed system. There is no magic source of matter, energy, light, or indeed lunch, that does not draw resources from something else, and that will not eventually be exhausted. In Nature, you will find that for every aspect there exists an equal and opposite. Darkness is nothing but absence of light. Similarly silence is nothing but absence of sound. It is only the duality in Nature, the co-existence of positive and negative that gives meaning to the existence t the whole. When you choose one over the other, you are paying the opportunity of not having the other.
The philosophy applies equally to both Individuals as well as corporate entities.
Some exceptions from the “no free lunch” tenet are the Sun and carbon dioxide. Metabolism evolved to take advantage of the free lunch provided by the Sun, which also triggers production of vital oxygen in plants.
Less understood currencies and associated price
The concept of trade off in emotional, life, time, spiritual and mental space is less understood and bit complex for simple mind to grasp. The currency in spiritual space is time, effort, consistency and constancy to stay in the consciousness you must have to demonstrate the object you desire.
Think economics while making your choice
Using economics to help us think about our choices helps us understand that all of our choices are precious (they have meaning and imply sacrifice) and need to be made with intentionality (awareness of the foregone opportunities).
For example, if I am deliberating between getting a slice of pizza for lunch or going for north Indian thali, and I choose thali, the opportunity cost is the slice of pizza. It’s what I gave up for my thali. Opportunity cost is relative to the person making the choice. All of us would have different preferences over how to use that same amount of money.
Awareness of these types of costs is critical to the economic way of thinking. It helps us navigate a world where choices are hurled at us constantly. Life becomes busy because there are so many ways to spend our time.
Whether or not you are successful in life depends almost entirely on how well you manage your own, personal opportunity cost.
Doing nothing has its own opportunity cost.
Doing nothing is, itself, a choice. That means it has opportunity costs. By not investing when you have the chance, the foregone wealth is staggering.
Time is the real currency of life, and the value of our time—what we can acquire for its exchange—is our most important asset. People truly don’t understand how valuable or finite time is until it’s almost gone.
There is no such thing as a free lunch, but once we accept the price, we are more than half-way there to paying it. And what rewards we shall reap!