There's Something to Be Learned From a Crotchety Old Russian, Long Since Dead

A Simple Approach to Life Has Its Benefits

"Life is short. Live it up." Those are the words of the Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev, one of the most famous of Soviet Premiers. As supreme ruler of the Soviet Union he spoke for Russia and its satellite nations up until 1971, and oversaw important events such as the creation of the Soviet space program and the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Most often remembered for his belligerent attitude against western motives and actions at the U.N., Khrushchev would often take off one of his shoes and violently beat it on the table in front of him for emphasis. This iconic image was the way many came to view Russian leaders in general, especially during the Cold War. They have been seen as stern, inflexible men who got their way through force of will and being the loudest, most uncompromising voice in the room.

Yet Khrushchev’s statement about enjoying life because it passes by all too quickly is completely opposite to this cliché’d image of Russians. As a life philosophy itself much can be learned from this softer side to Russian character and the idea has tremendous merit if applied in a balanced way. Without using it to justify a life of laziness, decadence and hedonism (which Soviet bloc rulers often, paradoxically, accused the west of being corrupted by), it could be considered the optimal way to view your own life and to succeed. Life is short. So shouldn’t we be doing the best we can to enjoy what time we have?

We seldom follow such a philosophy or take it to heart however. We’re taught in school to get a well-rounded education and focus on the subjects that we struggle with most. Yet we are happiest when we are doing the things and focused on the subjects that come easiest to us. In relationships we are told that “opposites attract” and that we should look for someone with different values and interests that will “complement” our limited view of the world. We are usually fulfilled in social situations however where we are with people that are most like us. This is how we pick our friends after all, and shouldn’t the same apply to choosing our life partners?

Is there really any arena of life where the concept, “Life is short, Live it up” wouldn’t help us to target what brings us the most joy and achievement? With such limited time on the planet, spending that time trying to improve skills we really don’t want to have, or in relationships that don’t make us happy seems foolish. Looking below the surface of Khrushchev’s crusty exterior provides us with a real guide to finding a path to living the best life we can have. Its an easy philosophy to remember with just six simple words, and when you compare it to the popular image of the man who said it, the contrast alone should make it easy to remember when significant choices have to be made…