May 6, 2010

A Late Night Reflection

I stay awake for stupid reasons. It's 5AM. I've been "working" all day and night, but really, I should've been efficient and been in bed by midnight. Such is life (particularly in college right before your last final when you're just waiting to sleep in your own bed).

Late nights are glorious in their own right though. I know a number of people who are staunchly against staying up unnecessarily, but there's a special quality to walking back to your dorm at 6:00am as the sun is rising. The world is quiet for a short bit, and you really get a chance to just observe things as they are without distraction from other people, from incessant texts, BBMs, emails, whatever. You're just...present. You focus on what's around you, and the air smells so much fresher. You actually hear birds chirping, and you wonder WHY they only chirp when you're trying to work late nights. It's not that they only chirp then. It's that during the day, we're too rushed and busy to realize their songs.

It's a beautiful thing, really. Although my melatonin levels are completely out of whack, my eyes are dried from wearing contacts for too long, and my back slouches more every 10 seconds despite consistent effort to sit up straight, I love being up right about now. I'm going to love going back to my dorm to take a shower and bang out this final right after despite my lack of sleep. I'm glad I'm ending my freshman year this way.

What else could I ask for than to appreciate the beauty around me? I think it's fair to say that's a pretty baller way to exit.


April 30, 2010

Protected Interests

Context: I know I haven't written in this thing in almost a year, but it's okay. Apparently, my tumblr isn't sufficient fun/inspiration/happiness/whatever for people, so after...a lot of requests, I've decided to sporadically update here.

I've been trying to figure out the same practice problem for my Managerial Economics final for the last 30-90 minutes (I've lost track), but perhaps if I write, I can go back to that with a clearer mind.


Often times, I notice people get defensive about their interests - myself included. We'll talk about things we're passionate about like our passion is different and special in some way, that no one else can share that with us. I see this all the time when people talk about their music interests ("oh yeah, you're probably not into the stuff I'm into. It's different") or their majors ("Oh, you're doing urban studies? So am I, but what do you want to do with the degree? [I'm just trying to find a way to distinguish myself from you]") and a number of other things. It's kind of ridiculous though.

Why should we have an ego associated with interests? If you're into the same things I am, cool! Let's make some magic and do something awesome with our common interest. What we can create with that common interest could be something totally different and special. We're all much more similar than you think. If you're doing an Urban Studies major and I am too, cool! Let's find a way we can apply that knowledge together and create a better world together. If you are into the same alternative artists as me, great! Let's find a way to create an awesome collection of music and share that with one another to expand our musical tastes.

There's no need to protect your passions and interests. Share them with people and see if magic can be made.

June 21, 2009

Fighting v. Debating

The best relationships in my life are those founded upon the principle of debate. 

Debate is an art very different from that of argument, which is more closely tied to the idea of fighting, of two opposing sides. Debates are conducted by two intelligent people -- intelligent about the value of relationships, that is -- who are able to open up to each other and not necessarily agree upon things, but can politely and genuinely agree to disagree. 

Fights/arguments are conducted by two (not necessarily UNintelligent) people who have probably lost touch of what they are discussing and where they are hoping for the discussion to lead, and hence, it becomes a fight.

We're all different, and that's something we'll eventually have to acknowledge in every relationship. No matter how close you may be with someone else, you have disagreements in small, petty matters and in larger matters such as lifestyle habits and whatnot. Often times, I witness these disagreements turn into dysfunctional relationships that simply cannot stand because one or both of the individuals can't reach a mutual consensus. Why? Because they're fighting, and when you fight, the tendency becomes to (1) tune the other out, (2) ramble on and on about your point, (3) lose much of your own sensibility.

Debates work a bit better in that you realize there's a disagreement, each person expresses him/herself fully without interruption, then you look for some common ground or simply try to understand the alternative perspective. It sounds a lot like a formal set up for discussions, but it's really not. It may be methodical in a sense, but it really does work. It's not frustration-proof, but then again, no disagreements are. 

Hold onto your relationships, and don't let unnecessary arguments create dents all over them. Debate a little more, and you might just notice bonds growing stronger as a result of disagreement. It's a beautiful thing.


May 30, 2009


It might be weird that the first place I learned about semantics was in my chemistry class of all places, but it created a bit of a domino effect where I thought a lot about how I say things and what exactly I say. I'm not talking rhetoric or aestheticizing my language, but rather, how I use my words in day-to-day conversation.

Simply by changing your habitual vocabulary, you can instantaneously change how you think, how you feel, and how you live.
- Tony Robbins
Some words that have caught my attention are "but," "maybe," and "kind of." They all give this sense of uncertainly and doubt. "I'll do it, but if this comes up..." "Maybe I'll come along." "I kind of want to do it, but I'm not sure." All statements we make pretty regularly; however, the word "but," when creating a conditional," makes things a lot more complicated than they need to be. When you say "maybe," chances are you mean "no." When you say "kind of," chances are you're trying to cushion the blow of what you really mean to say.

All of these things create layers between what we are thinking and the message we are actually sending. If you actually say what you mean to say, you don't have to think nearly as much. People appreciate your honesty sometimes, and sometimes they will wonder why you're so definitive, but it's okay. The point is that you walk away from conversations with a clear conscience, knowing that you said what you needed to say.

Lately, I've been saying "no" when I would have otherwise said "maybe," but I will follow it up with a disclaimer, something like, "Just being straight up," or "I don't want to ruin the plans, so it's almost definitely a no." Now, I do not like to provide disclaimers, but I am still in a bit of a transition phase in shifting my semantics, so it's tough, but that's not to say I'm not trying. It's not such a big change in language, but when you make it a habit, it makes all the difference in how you present yourself and how you feel about it.

When you say yes or no, you're able to create a definitive stance and be done with it. If you say yes, you know exactly what you need to do, and you just do it. If you say no, you can toss the thought from your brain and never worry about it again. When you say maybe is when things get fuzzy and the thought remains in your head but no where near the front, but not quite in the back. You know what that does? It takes you away from being present. You can't be where you are, in the moment, if you have all these "maybe," "kind of," thoughts in your head.

Just another example using words like "could" or "would." If you could, then DO IT. If you would, then DO IT. Instead of could/would, just say you're going to. The words you use determine whether you create your plan of action now or whether you say you'll make it later, which most likely means you're never going to get to it while keeping the thought in your head the entire time.

Live awesome,

P.S. I've always been saying "yes" a lot more when I would have otherwise said "maybe," (which would've inevitably led to a no), and it really opens me up to the opportunities in life a lot more. Try it. Say yes.

May 26, 2009

Fail With Purpose

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
- Winston Churchill
Yesterday, I realized the truth of that quote. With a bunch of fantastic people, I did random acts of kindness in Central Park. We set up a table with a giant Smile Card poster in front of it, hand out cookies (as our random acts of kindness) and direct people towards a board with ideas of how to pay-it-forward. We present ourselves as just a group of friends trying to create a bit of a ripple effect with the random acts of kindness. Now, compared to what people in New York are used to, this is a totally radical idea -- giving away free cookies? No organizational affiliation? Real kindness? Believe it.

Because it was so crazy, only one of every ten or so people actually stopped to hear us out and receive us (which is actually a lot considering the hundreds and hundreds of people that walked by). It is hard to really be open to strangers when there is so many underlying intentions and relative corruption in the world, but those who are open and do stop to hear us out are our successes. We won them over and were able to produce the domino effect from the idea of paying it forward.

Now, the message here is to continue trying. Especially in the beginning of the day, when we're setting up and before the momentum starts to create itself, we fail over and over as people blatantly ignore the offers for cookies and tune out our introductions -- "Hi! We're doing Random Acts of Kindness today, and [walks away]." We can get upset over our failure, or we can keep the smile on and try again. Of course, we chose the latter, and that's what made all the difference.

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received is to fail, but to fail with purpose. Succeed from failure. It's the only way to get it done.

Happily failing,

May 25, 2009

The Art of Conversation

As humans, we are blessed with so many different things, and most of them are rooted in our ability to think and express ourselves. Think about it -- that's why we're (unfortunately or not, depending on how you look at it) as high up on the food chain as we are. Livestock can't express themselves the way we can, and that's why it's "okay" to eat them. Primates are close, but they don't have coherent languages the way we do (they could whoop our butts though, and that's why we don't eat them). Simply put, we should be grateful for our ability to express.

So why do we waste so much of this wonderful power by expressing discontent? Expressing the gossip we heard the other day? Expressing all the drama we're exposed to on a daily basis, whether it be from our friends, business partners, the media, or whatever other source you might get your daily fill from?

We are so addicted to all those things, but most of the time, they all share one similarity -- that they completely dump the potential for precious conversation. Conversation is a very powerful thing -- it fuels diplomacy, it creates connections, it sparks the ideas that keep the Earth spinning (that is, if you were to forget about that whole gravitational force thang).

I'm not recommending we try to make all conversation "serious," but I do think we could better outlet our verbal energy into conversation that does all those things. Find common ground over interests instead of disinterests. Spark relationships through a common desire to improve rather than a common desire to put the next person down.

Think about the content of your conversations. Are you wasting your energy? Kill the drama, the gossip, the negativity. Start creating.

With purpose,

May 20, 2009

Captain Obvious!

Think about what you do with your life. How many of these do you have?

Yesterday, I was called "Captain Obvious" after pointing something out. Sometimes, things become so ingrained in our nature and obvious to us that we don't think about the intricacies behind them. One of these things is what we do with ourselves on a daily basis -- the people you listen to, the ideas you make yourself permeable to, the things you naturally say to people.

When you step back and ask yourself, "Why?" there's a high likelihood you realize a little something about what you're doing. You learn that some of the things you do might not be so worth it, that you're wasting your energy on something that doesn't really go somewhere, that you could better outlet your energy somewhere where it could yield results, whether those results impact you or the people around you.

I guess what I'm saying is that prioritizing is important. It's obvious, but then again, we forget the obvious sometimes, and I am Captain Obvious :)

Some things' purposes that I wasn't really aware of until I really thought, "Why?":
  • Friendships I found myself in that yielded nothing but pointless, gossip/drama-filled conversations
  • Foods that I ate just to put something in my mouth (get your minds out of the gutter)
  • TV shows I watched that I did just to feast my eyes on something
  • Classes in school that I didn't really extract much from
  • My poking fun at people around me for little things (really, just displays of my own insecurities)
  • Things I'd buy and not use and later realize that some material things only last so long (read: a few minutes, an hour tops)
That's not to mention asking yourself why you don't do things. If you're holding yourself back from doing something, figure out why you won't do it, and see if you're really going to let a hurdle of that magnitude stop you.

Just a thought. Don't waste your time on things you have little reason for. If the reason is sheer intuition, that's legitimate. I'm not saying everything needs to be logical.

Stay good,

UPDATE 5:00p: I spoke to a good friend of mine, and she worded one of the ideas of this blog better than I did, so I'm going to quote her to make this point a little clearer:
The thing about stating the obvious is that sometimes it's totally unecessary, but sometimes, it may only seem unnecessary, but it actually reminds us about things that we allow to slip to the back of our minds, things that may be important -- even if we knew them already. For example, your blog is full of things that people may never have thought about, so they learn from it. There are also things that people have thought about though -- the "obvious" things; you just help them reinforce the idea.