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

why studying abroad is so great

I have studied abroad in Singapore (4 months), Shanghai (6 weeks), Hong Kong now (7 weeks), and will be in England next year for 6 months. I am technically studying abroad by attending university in Philadelphia as well, but let’s count that out due to a technicality

There are numerous reasons why studying abroad has been amazing for me

Making new friends, learning new cultures, languages, new food, sightseeing, meeting new friends, and seeing the world

As someone who wants to study both global economics and humanities, it seems obvious to me that I would love traveling and love the idea of seeing the entire world.

I’ve found a new goal for myself and it’s called 30 by 30

30 countries by the time I turn 30

I’ve been to 12, and I have so many more places I want to visit

Money

Modern money has no intrinsic value

and I think that makes it the most fascinating case study ever

The USD is the global reserve currency and 60% of world transactions are dealt in USD

That’s crazy

The USD is backed by US.

But if the country’s economy fails, like Venezuela, Ecuador, or Zimbabwe, then the currency also fails. Zimbabwe now uses the USD after their currency fell to a value of zero. Now you can get 100 trillion dollar Zimbabwe bills on eBay for roughly $80

Money has value not intrinsically, but universally is accepted as valuable because of a universal trust

This is the reason a lot of things in our world exists

Communities, religions, brands, Bitcoin and all cryptocurrencies

Even the local bar you go to, which might not intrinsically be better than the pub two doors over, will garner more people if there is a higher perceived trust of value

Certain parts of India don’t accept the 10 rupee coin because it is perceived as non-legit, despite being fully and legitimately backed by the Central Bank of India

psychologically, we want to tag along on what everyone else uses

and that’s why money is valuable: because we all deem it to be

But what if one day we don’t?

That is why money is so interesting. It is a platform for power, but also a platform subject to collapse

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

 

finite desires

The first thing we learn in any introductory economics class is the definition of economics, which is widely accepted to be how we, as rational humans, with infinite desires, should act in a world with finitely scarce resources.

There are two important notes here:

  1. Humans are rational
  2. We have infinite desires

Both of these concepts, when looked at carefully, actually seem very contradicting if you’ve lived past your teenage years.

Because, well, 1) humans are the exact opposite of rational, and 2) if we had infinite desires, why do people give away their goods to other people?

Economists rarely address the legitimacy of the rational choice model, unless you study the field of behavioral economics which blends psychology with microeconomics.

Most people understand though that we really aren’t rational.

The second note is humans having infinite desires, which also seems a bit off.

If I had infinite desires, why would I ever choose to share what I have with other people?

Rather, in life, my decisions aren’t actually to obtain as many goods as possible. Don’t get me wrong: material goods are great. But there is a limit.

The richest people often end up starting philanthropic work because there is indefinitely a point in our lives when we realize that earning income, although is necessary for modern day survival, does, in fact, feel rewarding, what is more fulfilling is actually giving.

To flip the terms:

Humans are irrational and we have finite desires.

With this framework, we shall see how humanity should better reflect choices.

This will be a future topic I will address once I’ve learned more about this framework. If you are interested in this framework, I learned it in my humanities professor’s amazing book that brings economics into conversation with Thomas Aquinas.

You can find it here: Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy

 

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).

Gratitude Day

I like to make my Sundays a gratitude day.

Have no daunting commitments, and just spend the day with a sense of appreciation for what I have.

Today I wanted to say a thank you to my readers of this blog, particularly to my readers from India. I’ve had a huge surge of readers from that region in that past few weeks and wanted to extend a warm thank you.

It baffles me that when I first started this blog, that I had 2 readers. One of them being myself.

Now I’ll get thousands of views per month on the 500+ posts I’ve made, from people around the world that I will most likely never meet.

And I’m just getting started.

Things like my Podcast, and my Finance Blog, all reach people I might never meet. And it’s amazing how much power I have in terms of influence.

And I am grateful for that.

Grateful for people who support my content.

am I the idiot?

I’ve recently been wondering how I can battle the question of telling someone they are wrong.

This is very pretentious, but here I go:

As an economist, I’ve learned a lot about how the world works, both in the social human behavioral aspect (behavioral economics) and also in the way the world works in terms of products, supply, goods, money, people, countries, firms, etc. (micro and macro).

As someone who studies philosophy and humanities, I’ve also learned a lot about how humans work. There is no answer, but I’ve contemplated this probably more than the average 19-year-old. I meditate, I read every day, and I’ve studied great philosophers and theologians.

Needless to say, I feel like the past year, I’ve become way more immersed in the world than I ever thought I’d be. I’ve collected more knowledge, more information, more books.

And so when I hear people giving their “opinions” on a topic of debate, I can respect it. But at the same time, I also often hear “opinions” which are just flat out wrong. Full stop. No debate here. There is just no evidence to support the opinion.

We are all entitled to our own opinions. But we also must be open minded and subject to new information or evidence to help shape our opinions. Only with the willingness to be skeptical about the world can we learn and adapt.

Yet, I also think I need to take a step back and not be the one to tell people they are wrong. Especially if the person isn’t willing to be corrected–people don’t like to be wrong. I also have to be skeptical about my own knowledge.

And so if I choose to argue with someone who isn’t willing to have an insightful debate–people who are fixated on their opinions regardless of the evidence–then perhaps am the idiot here.

The true idiot is someone who tries to argue with someone clouded in ignorance.

I know I sound super pretentious in this post.

But I have to be blunt.

Because if you have conversations with me, I hope you’ll understand: I don’t really care about being right or wrong. I care about understanding the world a little bit better than before we have our conversation. I love insightful debate. I love learning from other people. But I hope you’ll come into the conversation with me with an equal open-mindedness to learn from my perspectives, prior knowledge, facts and info from readings, and yes, opinions too. And I will also respect your opinion. But let’s get to a better understanding of the world–that’s the true objective. And isn’t that all we are trying to do in this world?