Baby steps

Baby steps

It’s all about baby steps

I still remember these words from

my grade 8-9 basketball coach

1% better every day

Whether that be personal life, academics, career, health, or basketball

1% better every day

Don’t worry about being a millionaire overnight

Celebrities aren’t made by one movie (they usually did several crappy movies before the star in the movie that “makes” their career)

Rome wasn’t built in one day

It’s not a lot, but baby steps eventually turn into strides, and before you even realize it, you will be running fast towards your goals

Do you believe in Karma?

I truly wish karma existed

Then there would just be an overseeing universal power, called “Karma” that would hold every individual accountable for their actions

More accountability and more responsibility put more weight on our words and actions

Then we start to see how important it is to pause and reflect

To think before we act

To stand up for what we believe in, to feel remorse, and to be better versions of ourselves.

Good thing we don’t need “karma” to hold ourselves accountable

patience

The name of the game is patience

If you approach life with patience, everything becomes more liberating

Forget about getting rich overnight

Abs don’t show up after working out once

And knowledge compounds

When you approach life with a perspective of improvement rather than an urgency to beat everyone else in an arbitrary race, you realize how liberating it can be to live life with this patience approach

So it’s okay to take the weekends off once and a while

Enjoy your vacations, take care of yourself, and don’t burn out. Because if you burn out, you won’t be able to race at all.

But remember that you need to continually keep your foot in the race

It’s okay to be the slow on in the race; don’t we all know the story of the tortoise and the hare?

Self-judgment

I truly believe that judgment of others is oftentimes just a self-projected judgment.

That is, when you judge others, you actually learn more about your internal self rather than the person you are attempting to judge.

She’s ugly

He’s so fat

The way he walks is weird

When you project these feelings onto other people, it’s a self-reflection of your own insecurities and contempt

Too much contempt, too much hatred being held within, and you end up projecting it on to others out of fear of letting it eat yourself up.

So cleanse your soul of this contempt and try to understand that humanity is beautiful

 

Different circumstances

Today I went to Milton Herschel School and man this school is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen

It must be over 4 times as big as Vilanova’s 250 acre campus

Children lived in mansions which houses up to 14 kids

The school where they took classes looked more like a tiny college

And there was just so much free land and greenery

But the students at MHS all come from underprivileged communities

Which is good and bad

Good because it allows kids without the right circumstances to flourish through support and education

Bad because some times the circumstances of a child isn’t where they go to school or how much money you throw at them

The graduating classes of MHS often have huge disparity in terms of where the children end up

My friend who goes to Villanova has friends at Princeton, UPenn, Georgetown and other esteemed universities

But out of his 200 graduating class, he notes several who have dropped out of college after one or few semesters and maybe 15 have ended up starting families already before they’ve turned 20, which also forces them to leave school

It’s an interesting case study of whether or not it’s possible to “help” people through institutions like MHS

How can we truly help people besides simply financially and educationally? I think personal life and EQ skills are just as important to teach besides a good education and scholarships for school

Not everyone is fit for school

But everyone is fit for life. And I think life skills is something we need to better teach future generations

Big fish, small pond

When granted the opportunity, it’s much better for your own self-esteem and personal success if you choose to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in a big pond.

Here’s the issue with being a small fish in a big pond. Sure, you’re in the big pond now, but you’ll get eaten.

It’s as simple as that.

If you are, instead, the big fish, you have the perfect little pond for you to grow, nurture your abilities. You have the flexibility to fail. This is your opportunity to make big mistakes, make big strides, and try to dominate your little pond.

Then you’ll be prepared for the ocean of life. And life is the biggest pond in the world.

Here’s the thing: we don’t compare ourselves to the entire world. We compare ourselves to our neighbors—our friends in the same pond.

If you choose to be an average Harvard student, you best have a lot of grit, discipline, and determination. Because you will be attacked. You will feel lesser. And it’ll be tough. The chances of survival are less, but if you do survive, you’ll have gone through the tough aspects of a big pond already.

Take a look at this chart. The bottom third SAT scores at Harvard STILL beat the TOP third at an average school. But the graduation rate is still symmetrical to that of the average school. If you are average or below average in a big pond, be prepared to be eaten.

I’d choose to be a stellar student at a lesser-known university. This is because I don’t think I’d have the emotional capacity to handle being “average” at Harvard. Everyone is “average” when compared to the entire world; I’d like to feel a little special at least for a few more years before I enter the big ocean of life.

YouTue Video: Does your school matter?

Philosophy makes you more sad

One of the most popular maxims in the world of philosophy, granted to us by good old Socrates, is that “the unexamined life is not worth living”

Surely, the unexamined life is less interesting. But does it make a person sadder?

To be a true philosopher, you must contemplate life and approach your transcendence.

Simone de Beauvoir, my favorite philosopher, and area of study, explains of the stages of freedom in her book Ethics of Ambiguity.

Now, I won’t go into too much detail about each step of the ladder, as there are 5 steps before we approach “genuine freedom,” which is ultimately how we reach our transcendence. But the important thing about de Beauvoir is that she addresses nihilism.

Nihilism is the third and inevitable step towards transcendent freedom.

Nihilism is an attitude; it is a conclusion that life is meaningless.

Now there is both active nihilism and passive nihilism, the latter of which we want to especially avoid.

Passive nihilism is what I would call modern-day dispassioned depression.

This is a dangerous combination because it is an awareness of one’s own sadness but also paired with a lack of passion or willingness to actually do anything. It’s almost like a complacency with one’s own conclusion that life is meaningless. Quite a sad attitude to carry for the rest of your life.

Eventually, you’ll burn.

Active nihilism, on the other hand, is how we are able to escape the nihilistic attitude entirely and approach the next steps to transcendence (which is called the “adventurer,” a person who does things for the sake of doing)

The active nihilist is in a rather precarious situation (as nihilism, in general, is quite a dangerous rope to cross). The active nihilist is aware of his conclusion that life is meaningless, but he fights against this conclusion—contemplating the notion and challenging his own predicament.

Eventually, the active nihilist, after much (or little) contemplation, will either move on towards his transcendence or revert to a passive nihilism.

I think every philosopher will approach nihilism at some point in their contemplative career, and often many times. Nihilism isn’t something we are able to just escape entirely unless you have approach full and complete transcendence. I know of no such person, except maybe the Buddha.

So yes, philosophers, true philosophers who are dedicated to a life of contemplation, will reach nihilism at some stage in their path to transcendence. Simone de Beauvoir calls transcendence “genuine freedom”; Nietzsche calls it the “Overman”; Plato has the “Good” and “Truth.”

All-in-all, if we want to truly achieve our philosophical potential, it’ll be difficult, it’ll be confusing, and it’ll also have a lot of sadness.

A sadness in nihilism. A sadness in lack of direction. A sadness through too much contemplation. But just know that sadness can be turned into passion and used to approach our transcendence.

Good Luck.

If you’d like to read some Simone de Beauvoir, check out her book Ethics of Ambiguity where she discusses freedom, humanity, and the meaning of life, etc. (She has a special place in my heart; she also essentially founded the second feminist movement).

An ego boost

Sometimes we need an ego boost.

Although confidence is sometimes mistaken as ego or boastfulness, it’s important to make a clear distinction.

Overconfidence is bad.

Moderate confidence is good because we need it to fuel our desires, our passions, and fuel action.

So give yourself an ego boost once and a while.

Compliment yourself.

Tell your friends how you’ve been working on certain projects.

Allow yourself to build moderate confidence.

excited

Past two weeks I’ve been quite stressed out about life

about education

vocation

career

but now I think I can turn that stress into excitement

excitement for the future

to do things

to use my failures as motivation

to create meaningful work

there’s always an opportunity to turn negative energy into positive action

and I hope I can do that more

Life is a Grocery Store

I’ve been having some life dilemmas recently

Regarding my education, career path, vocation, existentialism…

and I talked to a professor at Villanova today who is the head of the Honors department and he gave me this great analogy:

A lot of people think of life as a sprint. But life isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.

And then after you realize life is a marathon, you then realize again that life is actually a grocery store.

A lot of people can see the finish line in a marathon. They know where to go. They know that it will take a long time. But the path is predestined. I want this job. I’ll get married at 28. I’ll have kids by 30. Be a millionaire by 35 and retire early at 50. I’ll travel the world, go volunteer, do work for the government, or a bank, or a non-profit.

Life isn’t a sprint. And it’s not a marathon.

Actually, life is more like a grocery store.

There are many aisles. And you are perusing, checking out items, meticulously (and sometimes non-meticulously) putting items into your cart. And sometimes you’ll get random items in your basket and you’ll have no idea how it got there. Maybe a kid put it in. Maybe YOUR kid put it in. Maybe it just fell in from a shelf. All the different items at the grocery store are unique and sometimes your cart will be full of items that you weren’t planning on getting.

Even more so, you might end up at the checkout and decide you didn’t want that pasta or cereal anymore.

Sometimes you’ll be 20 years into your career and realize you want to be a Buddhist monk instead of a banker.

I think the most important thing this professor told me though, was that I should call myself a seeker.

Life isn’t black and white. There is no right or wrong. No simple Yes or No answer to the dilemmas of vocation and purpose that I’ve been having.

Because yes, some of us will be Buddhist monks, and some of us will work for a big bank, and maybe I’ll be the one in the middle ground and be a Buddhist Banker.