Slomo Documentary: Find Your Happiness

slomoI just finished watching a short documentary from The New York Times about Dr. John Kitchin, a man with an alternative lifestyle that now goes by the name “Slomo”.

You can watch the full short documentary below.





I have to admit that I find Slomo’s choice of lifestyle profoundly weird. He spends his time rollerblading the San Diego boardwalk in a Zen-like fashion, his movements geared towards reaching a meditative state. That’s pretty damn weird. From time to time I wonder about injecting a bit of meditation into my life. I haven’t yet, but I can’t imagine spending entire days, weeks, 15 YEARS focusing primarily on meditation of any kind.

Yet Slomo seems happy.

Different people find happiness through different means. I don’t really understand meditation to the degree that Slomo practices it, but I am ready to admit that he found happiness through it. And what I can learn from Slomo is clear: “do what you want”. Just as an old man in a hospital told Slomo years ago, life is all about conscious choices.

“Do what you want” is a dangerous phrase in the hands of the shortsighted. Right now, I kind of want to eat an Oreo cookie. Tomorrow, I might want to stay in bed and not go to work for the next few days. You need to spend time and effort to figure out what you actually “want” in life, long term. Once you figure that out, working towards that goal sets you on a path that is infinitely more rewarding than all others.

The genius of Slomo is that he was able to look past the wants and desires that were laid out for him by society and find the path that truly made him happy, intrinsically. Of course, we are social creatures, so sometimes the path that makes us happy within aligns with societies path in certain ways. If you contemplate what you want to do with your life and decide that being a doctor is really the right path for you, that’s ok, too. You’re path doesn’t HAVE to buck society’s trends, just as it doesn’t HAVE to fully conform. At one point, Slomo confesses that he doesn’t identify as a doctor any more. So many people’s identity is tied up in the job that they do as opposed to the kind of person they are.

Of course, there’s Slomo’s condition. He started out his professional life as a doctor, but had to rethink his path when he developed the inability to distinguish faces, to recognize people. The documentary doesn’t go into detail about the condition, so I’m not sure if it is a problem with his vision or with his brain, but either way, the condition forced (enabled?) him to change his lifestyle.

I found this documentary on Reddit,.com so I naturally started reading the comments other viewers had posted. The main criticism of Slomo’s lifestyle centered on the fact that he had built up enough money to “retire”, so this wasn’t the story about getting away from society’s hold that it proclaimed to be. It’s simply a story of a man who retired.

Here’s where the money part comes in (this is, after all, a financial blog). Making money early in life and using that to buy time to do what you later in life sounds a lot like the Financial Independence that many financial bloggers talk about. Maybe Slomo didn’t have that plan all along, but he found that plan when he found that he wasn’t happy in life.

And just because Slomo built up his wealth and now lives off of it doesn’t mean he didn’t have to “get away” from society to a certain extent. Slomo used to live in a mansion, drive an expensive BMW and had completely subscribed to the lifestyle inflation that so often comes with increased pay. Now he lives simply, in a small apartment without any of the frills he became accustomed to. It couldn’t have been easy, but seeing the look on his face, and hearing his words, it seems as though it was worth it.

So make conscious decisions about your life. It’s easier said than done and requires work and thought, but you will be happy you did.

What do you think about Slomo’s lifestyle and about this documentary in general?

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7 thoughts on “Slomo Documentary: Find Your Happiness

  1. J. Money April 7, 2014 at 11:37 am

    If it’s the same condition that my biz partner Nate has (“face blindness”), it’s called “Prosopagnosia.” He once didn’t even recognize his sister!
    J. Money recently posted: Lessons from a 50 Year Old Multi-MillionaireMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget April 7, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Wow – that’s crazy. That must be tough – but yeah, from the way it is described in the documentary, Prosopagnosia seems to fit.

  2. Debby April 7, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Definitely checking out this documentary! I love when people are strong enough to find a way to give meaning to their life, however hard it seems.

    • Mr NYBudget April 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      Yeah – watching the documentary, no matter what you think about what he is doing, it’s hard to argue that the guy is happy!

  3. Broke Millennial April 8, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I’ll have to check this out — I do love a documentary. I’d only heard about face blindness in Arrested Development and 100% thought it was made up (seems like an irreverent joke that show would have).

    In a bit of an off-topic personal story, Peach actually came to the realization last night that money equals freedom. We were talking about my new job and he said, “You know why I want to make good money?” and I said, “So you can do whatever you want later in life?” And he said, “YES! Exactly.” I just had to chuckle (he doesn’t read PF blogs other than mine and I’m not an FI-focused blogger).

    It’s nice that Slomo is enjoying life and found his “bliss”. It certainly looks different for all of us!
    Broke Millennial recently posted: Does the Average Millennial Need Life Insurance?My Profile

    • Mr NYBudget April 8, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      Ha! That’s a great revelation! It’s fun to see people realize that money can buy time (away from having to make money) – it doesn’t even have to be full FI!

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