Try Something New for 30 Days

 

The Gist: Try something you’ve always wanted to do for 30 days, and you might surprise yourself. 

“Thirty days is just about the right amount of time to add a new habit or subtract a habit…from your life.”

This 3-minute talk by Matt Cutts really speaks to me. You hear people say that they’ve always wanted to try something new but “just haven’t had a chance to.” I love Matt’s idea that “small changes=sustainable”. Give it shot for 30 days and see how it goes!

I’ve been adding small new habits to my life, and it’s been working out great! For example, a few weeks ago, I realized that I haven’t been taking the time out of my busy daily life to keep up with news around the world. So I started browsing news for ~15 minutes every day. Now it’s become a part of my routine—the 15 minutes allows me to get my daily dosage as well as preventing me from spending too much time online.

2014/04/photoAnother cool thing I’ve started at the end of March was to write down 3 happy thoughts daily. Probably a result of my near-graduation crisis, I found myself constantly stressing over the unknowns. I figured that physically writing positive things down would make me more appreciative, calm, and happier! Two months into it, I can say that it indeed is a great happiness-booster! It’s not about writing down your biggest achievements; it’s all in the little things. My 4/17/14 note reads, “I donated blood!! Saved 3 lives :)” “Hummus & spinach when starving is the best!” and “Telegraph (the hippiest street in Berkeley) is full of weird things, but it’s screaming Berkeley, and I love that <3” This habit makes me notice the lovely things in my life that I otherwise wouldn’t notice.

You may also discover a newfound passion. I started taking weekly salsa dancing classes when I studied in England last year, just for the heck of it. Guess what, I fell deeply in love with it and never stopped since. Now I’m an avid salsera that regularly attends classes and frequents salsa clubs!

People sometimes find excuses to put things off. But as the cliché goes, a year from now, you will wish that you started today. The best time is now!

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The Great Gatsby

the-great-gatsbyI have very mixed emotions about the Great Gatsby. Gatsby, in my opinion, is a tragic hero. His dream was set up for failures. People and things change as time goes by, whether you like it or not. Like C.S. Lewis once said, “isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?” I don’t think Gatsby would’ve agreed with this quote. Remember when he cried, “Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”?
As for Daisy, she didn’t intentionally want to hurt anyone, She’s a girl who didn’t know what she wanted and chose to live a safe and conventional life. Maybe she’s what she hoped her daughter would be, “a beautiful little fool”, but is it really “the best thing a girl can be in this world”?

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Having spent the last four years at Berkeley and soon working in the Financial District, it’s sometimes easy to forget how privileged I am. But when I take a step back and look at my life from outside of my daily bubble, I can’t help but think, yes the world isn’t fair, but I have no right to complain anyway cause I’ve pretty much lucked out!

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

I’m totally on board with the idea that life is too short to live in the past. But sometimes it’s inevitable to fall back into memories. Human beings continually change as every passing moment gets integrated into their lives and becomes a part of who they are. In a sense every moment is a defining moment. The deal with Gatsby is that he stopped moving forward while the world around him is. Continue reading

Last Lecture with Robert Reich

The Senior Council at UC Berkeley chooses a well-received professor every year to give the graduating class a send-off lecture. This year, the professor for my senior class is Robert Reich, a renowned professor at UC Berkeley and Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

Humility

Professor Reich told us a story from when he interned at Governor John F. Kennedy’s office. One day, he saw Governor Kennedy walk out of his office with a bunch of important political figures. To his surprise, Governor Kennedy said to him “How are you doing, Bob?” as he walked past him. Prof. Reich could not believe that Governor Kennedy remembered his name and greeted him! This small gesture from Kennedy became such a fond memory of him that he proceeded to work for him for the next 6 months.

He advised us to always pay attention to the people around you, no matter what position they are in. Be humble, attentive, and kind.

Failures

“The test is resilience, not success of failure.”

Prof. Reich called us all “good hoop jumpers.” We had to jump through all the hoops that our teachers, parents, and the society have set in front of us in order to sit here as a graduating senior from UC Berkeley, one of the best universities in the world.

But sooner or later, we will either fail to jump through a hoop or jump through it and fall on our nose. It’s foolish to think that we won’t fail. But the key is to remember that successes and failures do not necessarily define you; resilience does. Continue reading

The Surprising Science of Happiness—Dan Gilbert

 

The Gist: Human brains are equipped with “experience stimulators” that allow us to “experience” a situation without actually being in it. Tendency Bias causes us to overestimate the benefit we can get from potential alternative situations, thus making ourselves less happy. In other words, happiness is a choice.

“We synthesize happiness, but we think happiness is a thing to be found.”

I agree with Dan to some extent. People should always look on the bright side of life and make the best out of their current situations. Two people might have the same things in life but one can be much happier than the other. We have the ability to be happy, so find it within you.

There’s a little story I once heard: A puppy asks his mom where happiness is. Mama dog tells him it’s on his tail. So the puppy spends the whole day chasing after his tail and becomes really sad because he can’t catch it. Mama dog sees that and says, “Silly boy, stop chasing after it. Keep your chin up and walk straight ahead, then your happiness is following right behind you!” Continue reading

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the ButterflyThis tragic memoir is not for the faint of heart. Journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby tells a poignant story of his life before and after a massive stroke. I could not believe how it was written! Blinking 200,000 times over 10 months while the transcriber repeatedly recited the French alphabet. Can you imagine?

“The memory of that event has only just come back to me, now doubly painful: regret for a vanished past and, above all, remorse for lost opportunities. Mithra-Grandchamp is the women we were unable to love, the chances we failed to seize, the moments of happiness we allowed to drift away. Today it seems to me that my whole life was nothing but a string of those small near misses: a race whose result we know beforehand but in which we fail to bet on the winner.”

This sounds like a common regret of people on their deathbeds. Nothing haunts you like the things you could’ve said or done. While I’m all for seizing the moment, this quote reminds of what Morrie from Tuesdays with Morrie said: forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for chances you’ve missed or things you could’ve been. At the end of the day, make peace with others and forgive yourself too.

“Today is Father’s Day. Until my stroke, we had felt no need to fit this made-up holiday into our emotional calendar. But today we spend the whole of the symbolic day together, affirming that even a rough sketch, a shadow, a tiny fragment of a dad is still a dad.”

I love this quote. I used to tell people that I’m not a fan of all the made-up holidays, that it just a commercial tool. Sounds a bit cynical, doesn’t it? Now I see these them as reminders of the important people and things we have in our lives. Let it be Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or National Chocolate Day. No need to complain; rise and celebrate woohoo! Continue reading

My First Post!

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a while, but I’ve been putting it off until I have “more time.” After studying abroad in England for a semester, I came back to Berkeley this January and dived right into my last semester in college. Accompanied with the excitement as well as uncertainty about the future, the graduation season has been all kinds of crazy. But I’ve come to realize that I’m never going to be “not busy.” I’m traveling right after graduation, and will start working full-time shortly after. So even though graduation is a week away, I decided that there’s no better time to start than now.

I often have waves of thoughts after finishing reading a good book or watching a talk. But these thoughts sometimes slip away as time passes. So I will write down in this blog my feelings and favorite quotes when they are still fresh in my mind. It’ll also be great to see what other bloggers are reading and watching! I will start with a few of my favorite books, and continue with new books as I expand my reading list.

This will also be where I keep track of the places I visit and new cool things I discover. Growth is an ongoing process and doesn’t stop once you hit adulthood. I’m hoping to be able to record my footsteps along the way by keeping a blog.

I’m excited to share my ideas with and meet my fellow bloggers! I’ve always had a feeling that the blogging circle is a whole new world; I’m stoked to become a part of it!