Have you ever thought that one of the main driving forces to keep people working and seek FIRE is risk aversion and simply have difference preferences? Now don't get me wrong, I am with you guys and want to FIRE by 48 (about to turn 37), when I talk to my friends and coworkers about FIRE they don't talk in terms of depriving themselves but rather the risk of a large market downturn, health insurance, enjoying hobbies (some of which cost money) and the fear of running out of money. Many people who FIRE still have an income, whether they call it a job/hobby/side gig its still a source of revenue and frankly some people don't want to have a blog/drive uber in retirement.
We on this forum should be happy that there are others that live a consumption life, thats the blood that is pumping through the US economy. Do you think as we have enjoyed one of the longest bull markets is because consumption is decreasing or people/businesses are not leveraging with debt at a current cheap rate.
My family saves a good chunk of our income because we want to and thats what we value, I have friends who take breath taking trips with their families instead. The pictures, memories they have created to them are well worth the money and I am happy for them.
No one on this forum has met someone that enjoys their job, I know plenty. This may be a shock to some, but they don't want to retire.
For every story that someone posts that they knew someone that died at 60+ right before or after retiring there are stories that someone younger then 40 died, and if they were saving 70% for the hope to retire at 45 then they are not better then the former who died at 60+ working their entire life.
I don't pity people who spend more and save less then me, if they are enjoying life who am I to tell them what they are doing is mindless drone activity and they are products of their parents/society etc...
So to answer the original question, what are we thinking. I am hoping that instead of pitying the person who bought a big house, fancy car or the latest Iphone I hope they are enjoying that because my assets in turn increase.
Don't mistake this for me sitting on my high horse I have opinions just like everyone else ( and probably everyone here is going to disagree with this one). The notion that if your not aggressively seeking FIRE then you are hopelessly lost and have no financial insight bothers me. It put it simply there is opportunity cost in everything we do, save now to enjoy later ( earlier then most) or play now and save later ( while having less). Either way the same risk applies to both, we will all die and no one knows when its going to happen. I think its a safe bet that if someone told you that you will die in 1 year, I don't think anyone of us is going to be saving 50%+ of their income.
Okay getting off my soapbox