The 4X Philosophy

I recently came across this article written by Vivek Bhargava – The 4X Philosophy

My father was on the ventilator, and I was in the visitor’s lounge of the hospital unable to sleep … it was the perfect time to set my life goals. […] And then it hit me: I want to lead a joyous life … every minute of every day!

It talks about defining success, but most importantly communicates across what Bhargava dubs “The 4X Philosophy”.

Bhargava’s 4X Philosophy is focused on purely material objects, and provides rationale behind delaying gratification in the form of incremental upgrades. The results, Bhargava reasons, can have an “eternally joyous quality”.

Seventeen years ago, a chance meeting with a multi-billionaire changed my life forever. He shared his interesting “4X” philosophy that I have followed ever since. In his words, the key to satisfaction with material success is to “only upgrade your lifestyle in MULTIPLES, never in INCREMENTS.”

This multi-billionaire must have known something that the rest of us don’t. If he said it, I’m listening.

Instead of upgrading my entire lifestyle by 4X, I applied it to each and every object or experience. From the clothes I wear, the house I live in and all the way up to the brand of rice that I relish, this approach has allowed me to upgrade something by 4X almost every other month, and I continue to do so till this day.

Bhargava takes the 4X philosophy system by system. He is thus able to perform lifestyle upgrades piecemeal.

He describes the particular benefits of embracing the 4X philosophy:

  • Attracting Wealth
  • Bhargava talks about the watches that he’s owned, and the watches in his future. I’d like to think about cars.. BMW E46 330i (~$40K) -> Maserati GranTurismo Convertible (~$135K) / BMW M6 (~$112K) -> Rolls Royce Phantom (~$447K)

  • Improving Self-Confidence
  • Bhargava writes about material possessions and their role in establishing status: “I know countless people who may be as financially successful as me, but even my extended family has a perception about me that is superior to reality”

  • No Downgrades … Ever
  • He provides a sound rationale for delaying gratification here by making the point that “you only make the upgrade when you know that you can comfortably afford it”

  • Builds Character
  • “The best part of the 4X approach is the way it has built my character beyond more materialistic gains”. This is important because it allows one to step away from the hedonic treadmill for long periods of time. In our consumption-obsessed culture, we devote a tremendous amount of mental space to the acquisition of things.

Overall, an excellent article, and a philosophy that I vow to live by. I will always remember that one piece of wisdom from Fight Club: “The things you own end up owning you”.




The things you own end up owning you
The things you own end up owning you

To that end, we may as well own better things instead of a wealth of things.

Caveat emptor: for most people, it is not reasonable to expect a 4X increase in earnings at any point. You can expect to earn 3% raise every so often. Assuming a 3% increase year over year, you would expect to double your earnings after twenty-four years.