The Law of Averages

The Law of Averages is a principle that states that a large randomly selected subgroup is likely to reflect the population as a whole.  For example, if 10% of the entire population is left-handed, then it is likely that 10% of a randomly selected large group will also be left-handed.

But that law doesn’t work with small sample sizes.

Like my family.

Sometimes I have a conversation,  that starts with “most people don’t live the way we do”.  Allow me to explain.


Do an internet search on any of the following lifestyle behaviors- diet, exercise, smoking, drinking, saving/spending, TV watching, etc.  Type in “the average American ____” for any of those behaviors.


The average American watches 35 hours of TV a week. Five hours of TV a day.

The average American marriage lasts 8 years.  The American divorce rate is 40-50 percent.  (Are all of the remaining marriages happy marriages?  Probably not.)  So the average marriage may not result in divorce- but it doesn’t look very happy, either.

The average school loan debt just passed $30,000.  The median American household (not individual-  household) salary was just under $52,000.  Meaning if two partners each have $30,000 in school loans, in a house with the median income….well, it’s going to take a long time to pay those school loans.

The average American savings rate is about 3%.  But the median (the most frequent) savings rate is 0%.  I just read online that 4/10 Americans have no emergency savings.  None.

The average American male weighs 191 pounds, and his ideal body weight is 162 pounds.

18% of American adults smoke.

Only 3.2% of American adults are vegetarians.

Only 30% of Americans have a passport.  Many of those with passports don’t use them.  So the average American is never going to see London, or Paris, or Rome.


So what’s the point of all of this?  I think I wake up to a different experience than most people.

Not better.  Not worse.

But a lot different.


Have you ever seen the movie “The Matrix”?  In that movie, Keanu Reeves does some time travel.  He has an experience where he exists in a place, but he is separate from that place and the people who live there.  He can see the other people who live in that place, but they can’t see him.

My experience is like that sometimes.

At our house, we sit down for dinner, and we talk about life in the Matrix.  We don’t call it the Matrix, but that’s what it is sometimes.


We have two TVs in our home.  I watched an hour of the Super Bowl.  That is the only TV I’ve watched in 2015.  That makes me the super-user of the TVs in our home.  I cannot remember the last time anyone else in my family turned on a TV.

Try explaining to someone that you’ve never seen Seinfeld.  Or Cheers.  Or Friends.   Never binge-watched a show, because you haven’t watched a show since the 1980s.


We are all vegetarians at my house (except for my dog).   Being a vegetarian isn’t rare anymore, but it isn’t that common.  I recently ate at a restaurant that had no vegetarian main courses.  The one “vegetarian” option had bacon in it.  I’m not making that up. My daughter and I had to order a side salad as our main course.

As a result of our diet, I think we are all at, or near, our ideal body weight.

We try to avoid debt.   So our hope is that our girls graduate college without any school loans.  That’s the plan, and we are sticking to it.

We travel.  Some people tell us that we travel a lot.  I’ve travelled to 24 countries, a total of 76 times.  My girls have been to 14 different countries so far.  It’s what we do for fun, so it doesn’t seem like a lot.


In the movie “The Incredibles”, the family has an adventure, and at the end, Violet is speaking with a young man.  He tells her that she looks different.

She replies “I feel different.  Is different ok?”

The young man replies “Different is great!”

I hope he’s right.



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