Most People Only Ever See Risks Not Worth Taking, but Never the Risks Worth Taking.

A few years back, my laptop died right before Christmas Eve. I was in Bali with my girlfriend celebrating being broke, Bali being the only country we could afford to stay in given its proximity to Australia. We had less than several hundred remaining in our bank accounts but we believed we would be fine: it wasn’t as if there was much we could spend on in that part of Bali’s wilderness anyways.

Until my laptop died. And hers as well. (Can I just say, this is probably why you don’t want to use aftermarket chargers? Unregulated power flow can burn your laptop out.)

The moment our laptops died I called all repair shops on the island, but because it was Christmas Eve, all of them except one, were closed. And this was a problem because it was a repair shop that was smack right in the middle of nowhere: they had no actual storefront, no guarantee as to when they could fix it, and we would have to pay an initial hundred and fifty as a deposit.

Everything about it screamed SCAM!, would risk money we didn’t have, but we didn’t have a choice. It was either get our laptops repaired, or miss our work deadlines and not get paid. So I did exactly what I didn’t want to do, against all intuition and advice and sent our laptops to a random guy who sparingly answered his phone.

The good news was, it wasn’t a scam. Repairs were attempted and the deposit was returned, but the bad news was…the guy had no idea what he was doing. Instead of fixing the laptop, he made it worse: because he dissembled our keyboards using a heat gun, most of our keys were now warped. So not only did we have laptops that didn’t work, we now had laptops that would cost even more than initial to fix.

Looking back at this situation years later, I’ve often wondered if I would still taken the risk, and I think I still would’ve.

You see, risk happens every day, whether we want it or not. When we walk outdoors, we risk getting shit on by a bird or worse, being hit by a car. When we drive, we risk collision.

Even when we’re working or being in a relationship, we’re risking other opportunities we could’ve had that moment — perhaps a better job elsewhere that offers greater fulfillment or a relationship that feels less suffocating. But those are the risks we take, because what we see are the values offered that far exceeds that of the risk.

So the question isn’t whether or not taking risks is inherently bad, but whether or not we can see the value in taking those risks. But what always surprises me, are the risks we do take and those we don’t.

We risk our health by eating the things we shouldn’t. We risk our dreams by doing everything but. We risk our happiness by focusing on anguishes of the past. And we risk our opportunities for greatness, by staying stagnant. These are the far greater risks that we give up on everyday, compared to worrying about whether or not we’re being scammed, if we should risk a mortgage on the house, or spend money on an abundance of food.

And it’s heartbreaking to realize that most people only ever see risks not worth taking, but never the risks worth taking. When it’s precisely everything you’ve ever wanted that is on the other side of fear, from the risks worth taking.

The Secret to Not Quitting — Reasons for Success

The first video I ever uploaded to Youtube was a letdown…though that’s really not saying much, considering every subsequent video I’ve uploaded have been letdowns too. Hundreds of hours of production total — filming, editing, color grading all to equal to less than several thousand views.

So I quit — because why bother going through the pain of it all if it’s not going to work?

But over the years, I’ve keep finding myself getting back into it it all over again, convinced that this time will be different, but ultimately quitting and eventually starting all over again. And this doesn’t apply to just Youtube; this applies to most things in my life I’ve started and quit, only to start again.

It’s made me wonder: Am I simply incapable of improving?

But over the years, having read and understood more about neuroplasticity, our brain’s ability to continuously adjust in life, in response to the activities we do, I’ve realized that it’s possible for everyone to grow. Your abilities at birth (genetics) may impact, but not determine the potential of your abilities.

So it’s made me rethink why it is that I do what I do, entirely: why instead of how.

Why do I need a thousand subscribers? Why do I even do Youtube? For what purpose? Why do I keep going back to it, even though I’m barely getting views?

And it’s always the why that’s the more difficult to answer, because most people already know how to do something. Want to lose weight? Eat healthy and go to the gym. Want to curb your Instagram addiction? Delete it from your phone. Want to find inner peace? Take time to meditate.

It’s never about how. Asking why is difficult because it crystallizes the underlying intent of why you do what you do — it asks, why do I want to do X when Y is so much easier and familiar? Why do I want to suffer through the pain of going to the gym and working out when it’s easier just to eat what I want?

Most of us have a vision, a dream, a goal of what to work towards and where we want to be, but when we realize that it actually takes more work than we’re prepared for to realize that dream, we give up. Because we lack conviction — the reason that allows us to persist through the entirety of the journey with all of its struggles and obstacles. Sure, it’ll be nice to have six-pack abs, but why? Why do you need six-pack abs?

If you lack reason, a desire so strong and necessary to overcome the self-doubt that will inevitably arise, you’re going to give up. The truth is, most people don’t quit because something is hard; they quit when they realize just how much distance there is from where they are to where they want to be — they quit because of their self-doubts, because they wonder if they’re ever going to make it.

But for every tens of thousand of people who’ve given up, there are those who succeed:

An author so intent on pursuing her craft, she’d take her infant daughter to sleep next to her at cafes in order to write.

Two actors so intent on pursuing their passion, they decided to write their own movie when they couldn’t get casted.

An inventor so intent on pursuing his vision that he continued to build 5,127 prototypes in fifteen years even while being broke.

So why? Why is it that J. K. Rowling, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and James Dyson can go on to be such icons of success despite all of their failures and self-doubt?

Because they had a reason. A reason they held so much conviction in, it overcame all their obstacles and self-doubt.

So the question isn’t how, but why. Why are you doing the things you promise to do, to become the person you aspire to be?

As Hollis Stacy said:

“Why do we work so hard to feel so terrible?”

Answer that, to not quit again.

Relationships Are Only as Strong as the Individual Within

My girlfriend and I had an argument recently. Ever since we adopted our pet chicken, she’s been constantly spending more time with it to the point where I started to feel neglected.

It wasn’t a full-blown argument; we rarely get those now, but if anything, it was a honest realization of where our relationship was headed.

Many people treat relationships as a do-once-and-forget kind of deal. You put in the effort initially, spend as much time as is required on dates and lengthy conversations, but once the relationship is established, refuse to put in any additional effort. Date nights become ‘just another dinner,’ and spending time together begins to feel routine; and before you know it, you’d rather do the things you like, or do the things you don’t like but have to (work), because it’s assumed your partner will still be there at day’s end.

That’s what happened to us. Most of our time together in our relationship has been to travel — on some days, we’d explore the Batu Caves of Kuala Lumpur, on others, we’d take the small Bangka boats to the coast of Boracay, and occasionally, we’d visit the Wat Arun temple of Bangkok. Every day was an adventure and we ate exotically — in the alleyways of China, at the street stalls of Taiwan, inside the food centers of Singapore, and we traveled — riding our moped alongside the rivers of Vietnam, sitting in the populous MRTs of Hong Kong, and bus-hopping across the border of Cambodia.

So when you compare our experiences from before to now, back in the States living under my parent’s roof, in a culture that we once grew up in but no longer feels familiar, all the while struggling to stay true to our paths despite the many different expectations and responsibilities, it’s easy to see the present as lackluster and routine.

Instead of focusing on what we have, we’ve found ourselves focusing more on what we had; which is to say is a terrible way to live, if all we ever look forward to is the past.

So while our relationship remains strong, it feels shaky, because we know without a doubt as we’ve seen in similar situations with friends and family, that the path we’re headed towards — if we continue taking each other for granted, if continue to focus our efforts on something other than our relationship, we’ll drift further and further apart. We’ll still love each other, but it will no longer the kind of romantic I’m-in-love-with-you love, but rather the familial kind you share with friends and family.

And we don’t want that. We desperately don’t want that.

I used to say, relationships are only as strong as the individual within, but now I realize that relationships are only as strong as the efforts of the individuals within. To make a relationship work, you can’t just elevate yourself — you have to elevate each other. If your partner is struggling, has flaws, it’s not your responsibility to fix those flaws. But it is your responsibility to encourage and support them in fixing those flaws. Only by helping your partner succeed while elevating yourself will make the relationship stronger.

Relationships, like everything, require nurture. They’re only as meaningful as you make it them to be, and whether you think the relationship is over, or just beginning, you’re right.

Why Going Above and Beyond to Do Everything for Your Partner Is Toxic to the Relationship

One of the things I value most about my relationship is being transparent; when you’re open and fully honest with your partner, even if it means feeling vulnerable at times, you allow for the relationship to deepen.

So anytime we feel good or bad about something, we share, even if we know it’ll hurt. Which is why last night, I brought up how I felt: after coming back to the States, having traveled together all over Southeast Asia, our relationship no longer felt as strong as it had been before.

Was it from the lack of novelty, I wondered, from having gone from one country’s sights to the next to suddenly being stuck at home, under my parent’s roof much less?

Was it from the difficulties of readapting to a culture once familiar, now felt foreign?

Was it from the pressures of friends and family silently encouraging us to get married and have kids like everyone else?

We talked for hours; this wasn’t a conversation that happened just once, but throughout the course of many days of many weeks — we wanted to know why we felt this way despite still feeling so enormously in love. And as with how most relationship struggles seem at first — silly, but with underlying issues, we pinpointed ours to the building of a chicken coop.

A few weeks ago, we adopted a chicken. Not knowing where it came from — having found it dropped in our backyard with its legs paralyzed, we decided to take care of it. Our neighbors didn’t know where it came from and no shelter could afford to care for a chicken that couldn’t walk, so we decided to build it a chicken coop to give it an actual home.

The plan was my girlfriend’s and I wanted to support her, but somehow, somewhere along the journey, it became me that was designing and building the coop; on most days, my girlfriend would be out watching over and caring for Owl (our chicken), while I put the plan in action.

But I didn’t want to. I had responsibilities of my own and building a coop was the last of my priorities. But I did anyways, because I thought that’s what you do in a relationship — you support your partner in doing what they want.

But that’s precisely where I was wrong — building it for her, thinking that I was supporting her, was simply denying her of the responsibilities that comes with accomplishing goals.

I took away her opportunities to learn and to grow from the experience. But worse, I took away her confidence, the confidence she could’ve had from doing what she never believed she could.

It was simply entitled thinking on my part — by taking over her responsibilities, I implied that she was incapable of doing so on her own, that she had to rely on me in order to achieve anything, which is every bit inaccurate, and undeniably patronizing and unfair.

She’s one of the strongest people I know; before we were even together, she had already traveled Southeast Asia on her own, wrote and inspired thousands of others through her writing, transformed her body through exercise — it’s part of the reason why I fell for her in the first place: her strong-willed character and her desire to grow attracted me. So what does that say I’m doing to our relationship, if not sabotaging it, by taking away the very qualities I found in her to be attractive in the first place?

Supporting your partner is a must, but when you go above and beyond and do everything for them, you’re denying them of the growth they deserve. And when that happens, the entire relationship weakens: sooner or later, the person that is growing most from having taken the bulk of the responsibilities burns out; they feel burdened and unappreciated. The other person, robbed of their responsibilities feel unfulfilled and undeserving of their partners. And from there, the differences in opinions and values cause a rift, often a permanent one.

All the lessons learned in life are from the struggles we overcome. Relationships are the same. You might think you’re helping by taking full responsibilities for her problems, but in the end it only serves to hurt her. If you want to love, show encouragement and support — guide her, but don’t do the work yourself. Relationships are only as strong as the individuals within and that means allowing your partner to grow too.

What I Wish My Parents Knew Before Raising Me

My parents have no idea what Instagram is. They’ve heard of it, but like most things popularized in my generation, they’ve chosen to simply disregard it.

My parents have no idea what Snapchat is. The only time they ever mentioned it was when they awkwardly asked me if I used it, after having watched a news segment about teenagers using the app for sexting.

The only social networks they use are Facebook and LinkedIn so they can tag photos of me at family dinners or give me glowing recommendations.

My parents and many others like them have a hard time adapting to the ever-evolving culture of social inferences and memes; they lack the patience to understand what it’s like to live life in the cultural perspective of their children, a culture that’s grown increasingly self-seeking and gratification-driven towards Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or one of the million other social networks.

They don’t care or refuse to partake in the culture that defines their children’s upbringing and because of this will cause the gap between their relationship growing increasingly wide, with the common ground between them becoming increasingly small. As they remain stuck in a culture that’s regressive, their children are spending year after year on social platforms learning, acquiring, digesting new knowledge current with the constantly changing internet culture.

And with that, the lack of common interest that arises from the emerging chasm of the parent-child relationship sparks what they call the ‘rebellious’ phase all because the parent has a hard time understanding why it is their child chose to make the choices they did for the reasons they claimed.

I appreciate everything my parents have done for me, but in retrospect, I think — had they tried embracing my culture and worked on finding ways to relate to me, I would’ve been a lot less rebellious in my teenage years and there would’ve been a lot less secrets between us.

They say parents always have our best interests at heart; it is their duty to safeguard us, keep us from harm and provide for us until we’re able to provide for ourselves, or so they say, ‘finally leave the nest.” But oftentimes, those best interests aren’t our best interests; instead, they’re reflections of our parent’s experiences overlapped and imposed upon us. They’re retrospects of the parent’s own lives, what they wished they were taught to make up for their missed opportunities as children.

How many of us have taken piano lessons, not because we wanted to, but because our parents thought it was better for us? And how many of us have taken those piano lessons without ever understanding why it was that we took those piano lessons in the first place?

We’re given no answer when we ask except for the fact that it’s good for us. Is it really for us, or is it for them, because piano lessons were something that they wish they had in their own childhood? Somewhere in their past, they learned that piano lessons were a good thing for a child’s development and so they wish that experience upon us because it was either what they had done or lacked, in their own childhood. They drew from their own experience and knowledge from their lives in order to build upon the future of ours.

I love my parents and am grateful for everything they’ve done for me, but I hope that for my sake, for my children’s sake, if I have children, when I have children, I’ll remember this post I’ve written. I hope I’ll remember that not only is it important to adapt and embrace the culture changes brought forth by each generation but to raise kids by giving them perspective into the decisions I make for them, regardless of their maturity.

Even if they don’t understand why it is that I do what I do at that moment, at least I’ll have tried to explain and years later, when they understand more easily and remember that I’ve been there for them all along, in their shoes, that’s enough for me. It’ll have been my chance, my opportunity to stand by them, relate to them and attempt to understand them. It is our duty to go beyond our obligations of a parent; we have to immerse ourselves in their culture and their upbringing for their sake, and for ours.

Efficiency Is Overrated. What Matters Is the Way You Look at Time.

One of the most impactful, qualitative changes I’ve made to my life in the last five years has been how I look at time.

We already know time is valuable — from the moment we wake up to when we sleep, we’re taught to count the minutes in everything we do.

At home before school, my mom would yell, “5 minutes to finish breakfast or you’re going to be late!”

At school while taking a test, my teacher would yell, “2 minutes until all pencils down!”

At work, my boss would yell, “You’re late!”

The scarcity of time is something we all know well, which is why years ago, I knew to do everything I could to create more time by being more efficient.

I started listening to audiobooks instead of music at the gym. At mealtimes, I opted for microwavables. And when even that wasn’t enough, I made a commitment to sleep less and socialize less.

There was even a time when I had been so angry at being sleep-deprived I punched a hole in my wall. It was later covered with a poster of Schwarzenegger in his terminator sunglasses and the words “SLEEP FASTER” on it. I think the hole is still there.

The ironic thing is, despite having done all of that, Continue…

Why It Makes Sense to Follow Your Passions Alongside of Work

Neither passion nor work, but both

What always astounds me, is how much of the world’s career advice gravitates towards either working relentlessly or blindly following your passions.

Why is it always one or the other, but not both? Is it really so crazy to pursue your passions the same time alongside of work?

The crazy thing is we have been doing it already — we just don’t realize it. Every relationship we’re in or have been in, are in itself a type of relationship — because how else can we explain why we spend the time to deepen those relationships if not out of passion?

Yet, somehow, none of our other passions seem to matter; instead, we see them as distractions to our work. And because we treat them as distractions, we neglect them until after our career, thinking that there we’ll have more than enough time to pursue them after we’ve retired.

The only problem is, we’ve miscalculated. Continue…

The #1 Reason Why You Can’t Seem to Form Good Habits

Hint: It has less to do with you than you think

I still remember distinctly, the first time I uploaded a video on Youtube — it was early in the morning, perhaps even 4 or 5AM. I probably should’ve waited, but having already spent an entire week on the video, I was anxious to upload straight away. My only concern, was that nobody would like it — which, turned out to be a fear unfounded, since not a single person had even watched it.

Needless to say, I Continue…

How Much Money Do You Need?

What comes next after making millions of dollars.

My Christmas the year before last, was undoubtedly the worst I’ve ever had, despite having spent it on one of the most beautiful islands imaginable — Bali. My laptop had burned out on the eve of Christmas, and because New years was right around the corner, all the repair shops were closed; the only thing I could do, was wait.

If all the work you do is online, and having access to a laptop is the bread and butter to your livelihood, you’d easily feel the despair I had felt. The only choices I had were to pack up and leave immediately for China where I hoped repair shops would still be open, or stay in Bali indefinitely, until my laptop had been fixed.

I chose the latter — not because I was willing to wait, but because Continue…

Why It Makes Sense to Follow Your Passions Alongside of Work

Neither passion nor work, but both

What always astounds me, is how much of the world’s career advice gravitates towards either working relentlessly or blindly following your passions.

Why is it always one or the other, but not both? Is it really so crazy to pursue your passions the same time alongside of work?

The crazy thing is we have been doing it already — we just don’t realize it. Continue…