Learning how to cry and time travel.

I was walking on the familiar uneven pavement streets which I called home for the past three months, with an oat milk latte in one hand and a banana loaf in the other, with Clare de Lune on my Airpods playing on repeat, as I made my way to my final 1-on-1 boxing session at Cambridge. I noticed I was crying…

It’s happening again. This is my fourth time studying abroad. I cried when I left Singapore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. And now Cambridge.

The sudden realization that this might very well be my last time getting the latte + loaf combo at my go-to cafe, Espresso Lane, individually run by this very kind gentleman who taught me bits of British culture during my stay. He gave me my final order today for free, for being a good customer. He deserves all the happiness in the world.

In a weird and “totally not” psychopathic way, I enjoy crying. I often do it alone because of a deep-rooted childhood experience when I was told boys shouldn’t cry. Anyways, the experience makes me realize that I am alive, making me aware of my body and the bizarre concept of emotions, and tears are the product. Weird.

My tears are a result of nostalgia and sorrow for having to say goodbye, mixed with the happiness that I was able to go through these experiences.

At my boxing session, my coach made sure to give me a great final workout. I ended up doing 16 boxing rounds, and 200 burpees in total in between the rounds. He also made sure to get a good final head and body jab to remind me of this great quote:

“Everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the face.” I might have a video of me getting hit – I will look to post that one day.

If you’re reading this, I want to thank you. I have always felt a weird ambivalence toward advertising my blog because frankly, this blog started as a personal diary of sorts and on most occasions can contain some of the most vulnerable parts of my life. That ambivalence is immediately expelled when I realize that the type of people who make the effort to read my mundane writing is also the type of people I care about and appreciate being in my circle.

I want to share with you a life philosophy I’ve been trying to apply to my life as I combat the dramatic emotions I have about saying goodbye to the past. Read on further and I will teach you how to time travel.

Well, not actual time travel. But let’s say you could time travel. And you are forced to use it every day. At the end of every day, you are forced to re-live that same day largely the same way. You do the same things, with a small nuance: the second time you re-live that day, you pause and notice the tiny, infinite beauties of life. The pavement you are walking on was made by someone potentially hundreds of years ago. Their work has impacted so many. Notice the beautiful architecture, and the little homes, and the people (overview effect). The clouds shifting. The hum of life. Feel your breath. Feel your heart. Talk to yourself. Tell yourself how powerful you are. With extra dramatic effect, listen to Claire de Lune. It is my favorite classical piece, by far, and I’ve never had the same experience as I do with this song. It makes me feel so much emotion, both anguish, and joy.

Unfortunately, we can’t do real-time travel. But I want you to just try this technique because I have felt it is so liberating. Pretend that the days that so quickly pass by us as it has in the recent years, pretend that you specifically time-traveled back to this day to re-live. Allow yourself to feel your emotions pour through. Your heartbeat. This is what it feels like to be alive, and to be in the moment.

I’m not sure if this off-brand time travel technique will cure my nostalgic depression, but I think it will help me live in the moment more and not be too sad about the past. Because, well, I specifically traveled back in time to re-live today. And I am so happy that I am here.

Thank you for coming to my Ted-Talk and for indulging my dramatic overthinking. There are over 7 billion people in this world, and it always feels good to be heard.

trying to do too much

I often feel like I am trying to do too much

  1. Teaching assistant for microeconomics
  2. Trying to write a book
  3. running two blogs
  4. a podcast
  5. 19 credits semester
  6. one independent study class
  7. side research for Upenn Wharton conference

Today I added two more things:

I am now trying to start a Pan-Asian Chapter at Villanova, and I am also now signed up to tutor the executive MBA class in introductory economics.

Other days, when I am sitting on the couch watching Netflix, I feel like I am not doing enough.

It’s a weird balance. Does balance exist for me?

results and hard work

I’ve considered myself a hard worker for a while now

I remember getting up at 4:30 AM to practice two hours of basketball before school started because after school I would have 2-hours of rehearsal for musical theatre and I’d be too tired to play basketball then.

I wanted to balance both basketball and theatre as well as maintain top grades.

At Villanova, I’ve constantly taken a full-credit load because I want to learn as much as possible given the fixed costs of my semester tuition.

But I have not necessarily been seeing the results of my ‘hard work’

Which makes me come to two conclusions:

  1. I am either unlucky / the universe is unfair, or:
  2. I need to work harder

Option 1 I can’t control.

Option 2 I can, which means it’s time to amp it up and keep going. I haven’t burned out yet, I’m just getting started.

Necessary and destructive happiness

Happiness is a just discrimination between what is necessary, destructive, neither necessary nor destructive, and what is necessary and destructive

We need the necessary essentials: food water shelter

We should avoid the destrutcgive: violence hatred and corruption

There are things that are necessary but also can be destructive: the oil industry, corporations, and burning the Amazon forest (for economic growth for Brazil)

But happiness is having a surplus of things that are neither necessary nor destructive because those things are often the best

Air conditioning is neither necessary nor destructive, but I often find myself the happiest when I am able to sit on a comfy couch in a well-AC’d room in the summer, eating take-out sushi and watching Netflix with my dear friends and family i care most avout

Winners and Losers: a cashless society

In Sweden, cash retail transactions have fallen 80%

Digital transactions in China have risen from 4% in the past 20 years to 34% in 2017.

A cashless society provides many benefits to society

Countries spend roughly 0.5% of their GDP managing physical cash

Consumers have better tracking of their money in digital forms, more convenience, and quicker and easier access to payments

Black market transactions dealt in cash will be strapped down

But consumers who value data privacy will also lose, as governments will likely use digital transactions as data

The poor and unbanked will lose out if cash is phased out

And society may become less democratic, with more power funneling towards institutions, governments, and financial corporations who control the digital system

 

Calculated risks

We make calculated risks every day – intuitively

How quickly can I jaywalk without getting hit by a car?

What if I run through a yellow light?

Eating spicy food

As I learn more about investing and trading, I’ve tried to apply those skills to life in terms of making calculated risks.

But not just intuitively. I love the idea of making decision matrices or weighing the options at hand.

My senior English thesis in High School was about the Paradox of Choice and how too many options in this world can put us in a state of paralysis of analysis. I found it interesting because I’ve used that knowledge to better my understanding of making – and going through with – certain decisions I make.

Of course, life offers many options. I chose Villanova over Toronto. I chose Economics over Finance. Every choice I make, I have to forsake something else due to opportunity cost.

But being too focused on opportunity cost may make your completely paralyzed and fail to actually make a decision.

And so there are two parts to being a great decision-maker: taking calculated risks (intuitively and planned), and making decisions and going through with them.

Being a great decision-maker. That is a strong skill to have.

I wish I hugged them

Today I had to say farewell to my co-workers as I leave for Hong Kong tomorrow

Because I switched departments half-way through my internship, I essentially had to say goodbye to two departments of people

Although short-lived, 3-weeks, I still got to know these people

And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little sentimental

It’s the realization that people, humanity, all around the world, is beautiful

All of us, each living these lives, each pursuing individual goals, but together forming a community with other people doing their own sh*t

Hong Kong culture is not something I can say I am fully familiar with. And because I wasn’t sure of the etiquette, I didn’t get the feeling that a hug was appropriate.

But I wish I hugged them

I don’t know if I’ll ever see these people again.

But it’s the same as when I had to leave Singapore last year (where I did get to hug my co-workers before leaving)

3-weeks and I formed genuine connections. Doing this around the world makes me truly and fully love humanity.

This life is so beautiful.

Just make sure you hug the people you care about.

Add Oil, Hong Kong.

It’s actually so difficult to go your own path

Going your own path is always difficult and it always will be

Those that forge their own path are either crazy or maybe just crazy enough to succeed

But if you’re not willing to break the societal mold that we’ve fabricated, then you won’t survive on that arduous path

The path is meant for people who don’t care about what others think

I’m still trying to learn how to foster that type of mindset

Then I can truly live life on my own terms

The fear of UBI

With the rise of AI and robotics, there is a lot of fear surrounding the job market and job losses in the developed world.

In Kai-Fu Lee’s book, AI superpowers, he mentions three potential solutions to the rise of AI

  1. Retraining people
  2. Shifting people (maybe 3-4 day work weeks?)
  3. A general minimum income, or universal basic income

He notes that although a UBI may be necessary, the fear is that the winners of the AI revolution will simply use UBI as a sedative for the real problem

The real problem is that with any revolution, particularly with the respects of technology and the digital era, the winners are becoming bigger winners in the economy.

Facebook has low or no marginal cost for pumping out ads

Advanced AI will be able to do more for less

And the rich will get richer, and instead of finding a solution, governments will put a “bandaid” called UBI for those that fall behind in the revolution

Which is why education is important. Which is why action is important.

a Universal basic income, no strings or restrictions attached, may have the issue of making society complacent.

He proposes instead to instead offer a societal standard income with criteria to meet.

For example:

  1. Educators, teachers
  2. Public workers, government workers
  3. Social workers
  4. those who contribute back to society in some way
  5. Meeting criteria of education and retraining programs

We don’t want to live in a world like Wall-E, where AI and robots are so advanced that humanity falls complacent, inactive

AI and robots will increase productivity. But humanity needs to continue running the race as well.

 

optimism

It’s easy to be a critic

It’s easy to be negative

When society sees someone going the road less traveled, or going a road that’s never been traveled, our instinct is to condemn the individual for being irrational

But realism and optimism are not polar opposites

In fact, a realistic optimist is the best type of person

They see an opportunity, and instead of simply dreaming about the potential, they actively take steps towards realizing that opportunity

But when someone is too optimistic, they are condemned, or criticized, or surrounded by negativity

Extreme optimism is powerful

But extreme optimism alone means you won’t get anything done. It’s okay to dream of being an NBA star one day. But if you aren’t practicing every day, taking care of your diet and health, and training your mindest as hard as you train your body, then it’s just irrational optimism.

Realistic optimism is unstoppable.

You train every day, you actively work towards your goals, and you are full of unbounded optimism and reach for your dreams.

Rational optimism is how you achieve goals.

Reach for the moon. Just be prepared to also build the rocket ship to get there.