How to think

I finished 2 books over the weekend, “How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds” by Alan Jacobs and “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. 2 authors who contrast each other as day and night, hold very similar beliefs about how one should think, that is, don’t let dissenting voices of others control one’s thoughts.

One should do what one beliefs is right only after one have done enough thinking regarding the subject. Just because a majority of people in a social circle agrees with something, doesn’t mean it’s right and it doesn’t mean one has to agree. One can disagree in a respectful manner and choose to listen to dissent without letting emotions cloud thinking. If one feels the need to argue, one will initiate it by arguing for the view opposite of oneself’s. Arguments and disagreements aren’t battles to be waged. Blunt honesty shouldn’t be thwarted for the good of group cohesion, but it should be managed appropriately like any efficient tool, in the case that it can cause unwanted effects. Accepting that normal and average is part of a long process that will give one more enjoyment in the long run than temporary pleasure.

These 2 books are worth reading at least once a year, for people young and old. Manson’s book is so refreshing and funny, I really couldn’t put it down. On the other hand, I found Jacobs’ book to be a challenging read because his words weren’t made to convince but to provoke.

Honestly, I don’t feel I’m even beginning to summarize the content, but you don’t have to take my words for it. Do a quick search and you’ll find so many reasons to read them. I borrowed mine from the public library, but if you don’t want to wait, you can buy both on Amazon and own it forever. Either way, don’t give yourself excuses to not read them.

I probably illegally procured these 2 pages from Jacobs’ book, but here is a checklist that can be found at the end of the book. My takeaways

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Here, I leave you with some quotes from Manson’s book as well.

“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

“Subtlety #1: Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.

Subtlety # 2: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.

Subtlety #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about.”

The Defining Decade – My Takeaways

My first reaction after I finished reading was,

Man, I wish I read this book when I was in my early 20s instead of now. 

Doctor Meg Jay couldn’t have done a better job describing who we are in our 20s than her book “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of it”. It’s like she’s in my head all these years. Thoughts like,

I should really live it up now, I’m never going to get the same freedom and fun. This is bad for me, but it’s not like I care about a few extra year when I’m 90.


The time you have today spent alone, could be time you wish you had spent with your spouse, kids, and grandkids in the future.

OMG. That’s it.

So aside from getting in my head, she makes a lot of really good points. You can hear quick highlights in her TED Talk video.

But if the video got you curious, I highly recommend you buy/rent her book. Her stories are heart-felt and relatable, which make the book a really fast and fun read. Don’t put this off, go read it today and start thinking differently!

Thanks for reading!


Do What Makes You Happy

Suggested Tracks: 
Freesol by Seven Lions ft. Skyler Stonestreet 
Worlds Apart by Seven Lions ft. Kerli

Life is too short to be listening to what other people tell you to do.

I finally realized the truth at age 28.

Honestly, being ethnically Chinese, growing up in a traditional Chinese family and then being surrounded by everything American, I never really did have it easy. I identify as Chinese American. American, key word.

While I possess American values, I am also governed by my Chinese values. I believe I have the right to say whatever is on my mind in whatever the situation. I believe in doing what you love to do and finding that passion is important. Yet, I also believe in filial piety, respect my elders and provide everything possible to my offsprings no matter how old they get.

One thing I could never fully suppress is the need to strongly consider my parent’s wishes, even when they conflict with mine. I rebelled strongly at first. During my teenage years, I would purposely do the opposite of what they asked.

“You can’t go out with this boy.”

I would go out and stay out until dawn.

“Do these SAT practice tests.”

I would play PC games instead.

“Go to sleep now, it’s 10PM.” “Wake up! It’s 8AM.”

I would stay up until 4AM watching movies. And not wake up until 1PM.

I sure showed them!

Or so I thought. In my adulthood…

That boy was a mistake.

I should have studied harder, I really had it so easy. Never a worry about money, I could focus ALL my time on skills that can benefit me so much later in life. Why did I not apply myself more?

My daily routine these days is sleep by 10:30PM and wake by 6:30AM.

So in my adulthood, I developed this this nagging feeling that maybe they were right, and that feeling is always there. And that feeling sometimes prevents me from doing what I know would make me happy. Call it a side effect of all my experiences.

“Don’t date this boy, you have no future together.”

I pushed him to the edge with my impatience and probably prematurely ended something that was making me happy.

“Come back to New York. Why are you still in LA?”

I loved California and I could see myself there for a long time. I came back after only 1.5 years.

“Why don’t you try dating other people? You don’t seem to even really like him.”

I made the man I love cry when I told him my parents had suggested it.

I also told him my parents were wrong of course and that I did stand my ground on this. I wasn’t going to give in on this one.

It’s funny though. It’s not through all these big decisions that made me come to a sudden realization of what I need to do from now on. It’s actually something as small as hair dying.

I keep telling my Mother I want to dye my hair again because I really thing I would look better with honey brown hair instead of the jet-black hair I was born with. My Mother then keeps telling me not to dye it because the chemicals in hair dye are bad for my health. She also adds the fact that when I get old, I would have no choice but to dye my hair so why not start when you no longer have a choice.

Hold up. First of all, I wouldn’t do it that often, maybe once every 6 months to a year, so it can’t damage my health that much. Second of all, if I’m really worried about not having a choice except to dye my hair every month in the future, who says that future wouldn’t have invented some technology that gave that choice back to me? Also, why worry about the world in 30 years when you can’t even predict the next second of your life?

Oh my goodness. Why do I keep letting her influence me so much?

Today, I’m making this realization.

Today, I vow to do the things that make me happy and within the confines of my principles. Because, honestly, life is too short to keep second-guessing myself.

Have peace in your thoughts. Have peace in your words. Have peace in your hearts. From my heart to yours. Namaste. 


Not As Easy As It Seems

Having gone to bed at 9:30pm last night, I opened my eyes to see my alarm indicate I have slept a full 9 hours. Blissful, dream-filled, and glorious sleep. Turning over to my back, I meant to slowly wake up and get out of bed. As I laid there reflecting back on my dreams, I unfortunately fell back asleep. HA.

Why is it not that easy to go from waking up to getting up?

Love this quote from Quora by Venkat Bharadwaj Jonnavithula. And his self-annointed title “lifehacker”.

May be there is nothing that is exciting enough to wake up early in the morning and do. So you feel, ‘I’d better rest and do it later’.

The brain will try to debate you between getting up and finishing that thing and procrastinating.

So to wake up early, you’d have to have an ‘obsession’ or at least that state of mind that it is a great time and I have to utilize it to do something exciting.

As I sit at work, yawning, no less. I think to myself it must be that time of the year again where I want to accomplish something. I feel like everyone has a special hobby or skill they spend hours perfecting. What’s mine?

I have many things that I want to do, but they all require extra effort. Easy enough but still require extra motivation and time. Yes, time is another factor. I do think that if I had all the time in the world, then it would be easier to focus on one thing and do it well. Reality? I’m too used to rules and having people tell me what to do. I blame upbringing, culture and education system. It taught me that thinking for myself is hard.

That’s why people take classes at the gym, no? A part of me has always hated restrictions and boundaries. What would a world be like without them? Would we be more challenged? Would only the strongest survive? Would there be progress made faster or would it stop altogether? Aren’t innovators sort of like rule breakers? Isn’t that why it’s so hard to innovate?

I leave this last thought… If we are only bound by the rules of ourselves, would society today be the same? Or better? Or worse?

Which Supermarket is Cheaper?

I am a huge fan of Trader Joe’s. I love its mission, “The mission of Trader Joe’s is to give our customers the best food and beverage values that they can find anywhere and to provide them with the information required to make informed buying decisions. We provide these with a dedication to the highest quality of customer satisfaction delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, fun, individual pride, and company spirit.” I am all for value. For me, value is a formula composed of quality and price. For the same product and the same quality, what am I paying at one store versus another. This is how the argument started with the bf…

Post my shopping spree at Trader Joe’s, I left the receipt on the kitchen counter, to which caught his attention. I should qualify the story with an important statement. He believes in opportunistic buying, which means buying products in season and on sale, and I’m all for it. However, that also means I can’t buy what I want all the time, which when it comes to food, is no bueno for me. Non-perishable items are a different story.

Oh and another fundamental belief he has is that only buy what you can carry. Since I was barely able to carry all the produce I bought today, he questioned whether it was worth the effort, to which I responded yes. Yes because we rarely make the trip to Trader Joe’s since it’s so far away, so I should take full advantage when I’m there.

My next statement really got him going. I simply stated that every item on the receipt compared to the same product at Ralph’s is cheaper. Well, I said at least $1 cheaper in general. Next thing I knew, he wanted to compare every item on the list to Ralph’s to prove I’m wrong. Counting on the fact that I have a good idea how much everything cost at Ralph’s the last time I was there, I accepted his challenge.

So we started going down the list. Notice the crossed out items, he insisted they were not comparable since no exact weight is provided on the packaging and therefore can vary each time. The argument culminated with the ratio of almond/cashew/cranberry in the trail mix and him giving up the argument. Probably because he saw the actual prices and realized I was right. Anyway, we’ll just have to make the comparison, won’t we? Unfortunately for me, when I start something, I’m going to have to see it through. I would say it’s not a matter of winning, but yea, it kind of is…

Finally – A Useful Ad

IMG_0018About time there’s an ad that warns people against giving their children sugary drinks! I saw this in the subway and thought it was worth sharing.

Don’t be fooled, anything that has “sugar” or “fructose” or “lactose” or basically anything that has a “-ose” in the end as its first ingredient is a HUGE warning sign. Water is the best beverage…or green tea if water is too boring. Next time you pick up a drink bottle, check the ingredients for “Sugar” and see how many grams (g) there are. If it’s anything more than 0, drop it and move on!

A Radical Idea — or is it?

A friend of mine told me something today that sparked an idea. He recently made the decision to create a lifestyle change and set a goal for ideal body fitness. The only issue is, being a full-time employee like many of us today, he is struggling with the time juggle.

Here’s my idea:

WHY do we need to work from 9am to 5pm (on average)? Is there so much work that we have to be at our desk and do work nonstop for 8 hours?

  • What if we gave AUTONOMY to the individuals to ENGAGE their teams and managers on agreements of work MASTERY? i.e. let me propose to you what I can best and realistically accomplish in a day and I will accomplish these goals on my own time and with people that are conducive to teamwork and success

Check out this video around MOTIVATION and you’ll see how I came up with this idea:

Here’s another idea: We all know we are extra motivated when working out with a group of people.

  • What if you can incorporate exercise and healthy eating into your team dynamic? i.e. we can stimulate team bonding while promoting health
  • What if instead of going to bars for happy hour, we went for bike rides (spin class) or cooked healthy meals and ate them together?
  • Why aren’t companies more concerned about keeping their employees healthy?
  • Why aren’t there insurance plans available for healthy people and shouldn’t we be rewarded for being healthy? i.e. lower the cost?


Spread the word~ 🙂