I read an excellent post from Joshua Kennon today and this goes into my unofficially titled “Must-share Monday”. His post was another from his excellent series on Mental Models which is a series of frameworks in understanding how the world works. This was more famously introduced to me by Charlie Munger, the famed partner of Warren Buffett.

Anyway, Joshua Kennon’s post answered a question that I’ve been thinking about in my life- Should a person cut another off from his/her life if that person is not contributing to where you want to get to or how you want to be in life?

I think this question is relevant to anyone but I felt a sense of familiarity because of the extended family lifestyle that I’ve grown up with. Many Asian families probably experience this as well where you grow up being in constant contact with not just your immediate family nucleus but your extended family as well (i.e. Cousins, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and even distant relatives)

Joshua’s answer is yes and after reading his post and doing all of 10 minutes of thinking in the shower (Ok, I bluffed. I thought about it the whole day), I concur. Every individual is a living being that is free to make choices. Undoubtedly, his choices will impact others around him and this is why knowing who to cut; and when to cut someone off is important.

If the main goal of your life is in seeking happiness, who else can know what makes you happy other than your own self? As a fable (zen?) goes, two men are on a bridge looking at fish in a pond and they go:

Man A: “The fish are happy.”
Man B: “How can you know? You are not a fish.”
Man A: “They seem happy.”
Man B: “Yes. They seem. But are they truly?”

In Economics, there is the ideal equilibirum, which economists call a ‘Pareto-efficienct outcome‘. Simply put, a Pareto-efficient outcome is one in which both A and B are better off. Therefore, if your life is one filled with people that extract happiness only by taking yours, you should, for both your sake and theirs (otherwise, they only know of inefficient outcomes), cut them off.

Of course, do it nicely. You never know…one day, that person and you might find a Pareto Efficient outcome.