The Art of Living

We live in a world that is very odd. All of us want to live a meaningful and happy life. But most of us are not getting anywhere in this life project. Any Fight Club fans would remember this — “we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.’ Our schools do not teach us about relationships, health and habits. Our self-esteems are built upon resume. We are obsessed with productivity hacks and self-help books which are not helping you on the most important aspect of your life.

In other words, we are all going after the science of achievement but what we actually need to learn is the art of fulfilment.

I certainly do not have all the answers to the big questions in life. But here are some beliefs that I hold which seemingly are not shared by most people I have talked to. I believe that it’s productive to talk about the meaning of life. It’s useful to experiment different ways of living. Happiness is a skill that can be practiced. It’s a conscious choice to improve the quality of your life. There are time-tested principles that we can learn from. Some are old wisdom, such as Stoicism by the ancient Roman or Buddhism. Others are contemporary with the rapid advances in neuroscience and psychology.

As humbling as I feel, I have been compelled to try writing this newsletter upon reflecting on my own life. My elder brother died when I was 9. I lost my mom unexpectedly 2 years ago. I was frequently bullied growing up as an extreme introvert (once almost drown in a swimming pool). I had always been terrible in my romantic relationships. I am not victimizing myself — despite these, I am still very fortunate among the billions that are in extreme poverty or subject to terrible experiences that are beyond my imagination. What I am saying is that I am an ordinary person with negative events in my life. Yet, people in the past year have been describing me as someone who has incredible positive energy, very recognizable kind of big laughter and in general a calm and happy individual.

As I go through my life every day and learn a little bit more about the art of living, I think about you. I want to share all these lessons with you.