Imagine a barrel with roughly 5.8 billion balls — one for everybody in the world. Each ball will determine important factors (e.g., your birthplace, IQ level, gender, ethnicity, skills, parents) in your “new life.”
“If you could put your ball back into the barrel, and they took out 100 balls at random — and you had to from pick one of those, would you put your ball back in?” he asked.
In addition to not knowing which ball you’ll get, there’s another catch: “Of those 100 balls, five of them will be American. So if you want to be in this country, you’ll only have five balls to choose from,” Buffett explained. “Half of them will be women and half men. Half of them will be below average in intelligence and half above average in intelligence.”
He asked the students again: Do you still want to risk taking a second shot at life?
“Most of you won’t want to put your ball back,” he said. “So what you’re really saying is, ‘I’m the luckiest 1% of the world right now, sitting in this room — the top 1% of the world.”
And that’s exactly how Buffett feels. “I’m lucky to be born where I was because it was 50 to one in the United States when I was born. I’ve been lucky to be wired in a way that, in a market economy, pays off like crazy for me,” he said.
You don’t need ‘luck’ to be happy
WarreBuffett acknowledged that not everyone is as lucky as he is because it all depends on the system that one is born into.
“[Bill] Gates says that if I’d been born three million years ago, I would’ve been some animal’s lunch. He says, ‘You can’t run very fast, you can’t climb trees, you can’t do anything. You’d just be chewed up the first day,'” said Buffett.
He closed the lecture by encouraging everyone to think about happiness from a more practical standpoint: None of us can live life all over again, but we can increase our overall happiness by choosing to make changes in our career, goals, finances, health and relationships.