Joie de Vivre

She wanted to live, and live fully, and to give life, she who loved life! What was the good of existing, if you couldn’t give yourself?

― Émile Zola, The Joy of Life

What does living fully mean for me?

Loving myself. Sharing that love with others. Creating things. Being grateful for the small stuff.

For me, this is the only way to live.

What does living fully mean for you?

January 22, 2021

Learning Something New

Every year, every semester, I like to learn something new.

I love learning new things. The process of starting off from scratch, to struggling and stumbling through, then finally being able to do something I couldn’t do before. It’s such a rewarding feeling.

We’ve all got limited time, and there’s only so many things we can learn, but the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few things I’d love to learn, some are practical while others are just for enjoyment:

January 21, 2021

What’s the Point of Daily Blogging?

The point isn’t to write masterpieces. The point isn’t to virtual signal intelligence. The point isn’t to impress people.

The point is to write for yourself. If I wasn’t intrinsically motivated I don’t think I would’ve kept writing every day for this long.

Even if no one reads my blog I get so much out of writing it. This is where I can write what I think about a particular subject, why, and how I reached that conclusion.

By asking myself why I do things, I can start to change behaviors I don’t like.

For instance, Stumbling Throughtaught me the beauty in the struggle. That sometimes it’s better to stumble through things then to ask for the answer.

Thinking For Yourself is a piece on how we consume too much information and think too little. It inspired me to stop doomscrolling and reading other people’s opinions and take time to think for myself instead.

Reflecting on experiences, adjusting ourselves, improving processes that don’t work, all of that is worth sharing.

January 20, 2021

Two Minutes Hate

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the citizens of the superstate, Oceania, have to participate in a daily event known as the Two Minutes Hate. Here’s the description according to Wikipedia:

The Two Minutes Hate is the daily, public period during which members of the Outer Party of Oceania must watch a film depicting the enemies of the state, specifically Emmanuel Goldstein and his followers, to openly and loudly express hatred for them. The political purpose of the Two Minutes Hate is to allow the citizens of Oceania to vent their existential anguish and personal hatreds towards politically expedient enemies: Goldstein and the enemy superstate of the moment. In re-directing the members’ subconscious feelings away from the Party’s government of Oceania, and towards non-existent external enemies, the Party minimises thoughtcrime and the consequent, subversive behaviours of thoughtcriminals.

Does this sound familiar?

It eerily reminds me of the Trump supporters that stormed Capitol Hill last week. They’ve been brainwashed from the Trump adminstration to direct their anger towards the system itself, while chanting USA and calling themselves patriots.

The 24 hour new cycle and social media is a modern day Two Minutes Hate, but instead of two minutes we are bombarded 24/7.

January 19, 2021

Dream Analysis

In Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols, the first chapter deals with dream analysis and the function of dreams.

I can write a coherent story that will make sense to a general audience. This story is told from my conscious mind.

But what about our dreams?

Often they don’t seem to make any logical sense. This is how the unconscious mind tells stories. There’s no sense of logic or time yet they are riddled with symbolism. Jung saw dreams as the psyche’s attempt to communicate important things to the individial.

Our dreams act as a gateway to the unconscious mind and they tell us more about ourselves than we think.

January 18, 2021

Stuff I Enjoyed this Week

  1. Attack on Titan Season 4
  2. Why the Canadian Tech Scene Doesn’t Work - Alex Danco
  3. Be (Album) - Common
  4. Becoming a Daily Painter - Abby Ryan
  5. How to Be An Artist - Jerry Saltz
January 17, 2021

The Traffic Test

In Wait But Why’s piece How to Pick a Life Partner, one of the key ingredients to success is an epic friendship.

How do I know if it’s an epic friendship?

They pass the traffic test:

I enjoy spending time with most of my friends—that’s why they’re my friends. But with certain friends, the time is so high-quality, so interesting, and so fun that they pass the Traffic Test.

The Traffic Test is passed when I’m finishing up a hangout with someone and one of us is driving the other back home or back to their car, and I find myself rooting for traffic. That’s how much I’m enjoying the time with them.

Passing the Traffic Test says a lot. It means I’m lost in the interaction, invigorated by it, and that I’m the complete opposite of bored.

To me, almost nothing is more critical in choosing a life partner than finding someone who passes the Traffic Test. When there are people in your life who do pass the Traffic Test, what a whopping shame it would be to spend 95% of the rest of your life with someone who doesn’t.

A Traffic Test-passing friendship entails:

A friendship that passes the Traffic Test gets better and better with time, and it has endless room to deepen and grow ever-richer.
January 16, 2021

No Code

Recently, one of my friends introduced me to Bubble.io, a no code tool that enables anyone to build web apps. It abstracts away the complexity of building a web app, into an interface that anyone can learn quickly.

With a no code tool like Bubble, I can rapidly build and iterate on an MVP in one weekend. Potentially even create a fully functional final product as well.

When my friend first showed me this I blown away. The potential of no code is limitless. It lowers the barrier of entry for creating and testing products. It can also significantly increase the development velocity.

January 15, 2021

Arrival Fallacy

If only I get into that school, then I’ll be set for life.

If only I get that internship, then people will respect me.

If only I get that girl, then I’ll be happy.

When that goal is achieved there is a feeling of accomplishment and euphoria. But eventually, everything returns to normal. A sense of accomplishment is replaced by a sense of emptiness.

I got what I wanted, why am I still not happy?” I ask myself.

This is arrival fallacy. The belief that once I attain a set objective, then I’ll achieve lasting happiness.

The truth is, no external change can change my internal state; that change has to come from within.

January 14, 2021

Asians in Hollywood

Hollywood plays a big role in defining the cultural narrative. For Asian men, that means being emasculated and shown as undesirable. For Asian women, that means being fetishized and shown as submissive. Asians were relegated to the sidekick or the ugly villain, never the lead role [1].

These painful, humiliating images continue to go unchecked in American cinematic history.

Oddjob - GoldfingerOddjob - Goldfinger

Gogo Yubari - Kill BillGogo Yubari - Kill Bill

Uli - Die HardUli - Die Hard

Lo Pan - Big Trouble in ChinaLo Pan - Big Trouble in China

Chong Li - BloodsportChong Li - Bloodsport

Mr Yunioshi (Played by Mickey Rooney) - Breakfast at Tiffany’sMr Yunioshi (Played by Mickey Rooney) - Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Notes

[1] That is until 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians broke Hollywood’s bamboo ceiling.

January 13, 2021

Retaining Friends

In my friend Rishi’s excellent blog post on retaining friends, he outlines 3 ways to delegate retaining friends:

  1. become a part of their friend group
  2. have them join your friend group
  3. create a friend group with them in it
Because the second key to retaining your friendships is recognizing that friend groups are 10x stickier than 1:1 friendships. If you’re like me, you can’t be trusted to maintain a friendship 1:1 by calling and texting all the time. You get busy. In a friend group situation, your amazing friends keep each other engaged. This way, you’re relying on a system instead of willpower.

For years I’ve been hesitant to introduce my friends to each other or inviting friends from different friend groups to trips/events. I’d have one identity with one friend, and a different identity with another friend. Introducing them to each other would cause cognitive dissonance for me.

Now, I’ve surrounded myself with friends where I’m comfortable being myself. It’s one unified identity. This makes it much easier to introduce friends to each other or for them to intro friends to me.

This is what my other friend, Ethan, talks about in his blog post on curating friends:

My stress test for making sure two people get along is if I am the same person around them. We all have different identities, mine differ depending on the person or the place. If I act the same way around two people, then I am confident that those two people would get along.
January 12, 2021

Unresponsive

If you know me in real life, I’m notorious for being a slow messager, whether that be through text or social media. It can come off as frustrating, apathetic and honestly I’m just not being a good friend.

This is an old habit from my hustle porn days, in which it’s encouraged to ignore notifications and social media to get work done.

While it’s great to focus on tasks throughout the day, this has programmed me to think that it’s disruptive to respond to messages quickly.

This is something I’m unlearning.

January 11, 2021

Compilation of Advice for Young People

The right advice at the right time can be life-changing. Given that notion, I thought it’d be helpful to compile a list of advice that I wish I read earlier.

Take all this advice with a grain of salt.

Email me () or DM me (@MrJamesQuiambao) if I missed any!

January 10, 2021

Do or Do Not

Luke: Master, moving stones around is one thing. This is totally different.

Yoda: No. No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.

Luke: All right, I’ll give it a try.

Yoda: No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.

Sometimes when I set a goal for myself, I’ll say I’ll try to accomplish that goal.

I’ll try to write 3 essays.

I’ll try to get a good internship.

I’ll try my best on this final exam.

Trying shows a lack of commitment. It shows that I’d like to accomplish this goal but I’m not confident I can. And if I do fail, at least I tried. Trying is better than doing nothing, but there needs to be intent. I need to set every goal with the intention that I will achieve it.

That’s my theme for this year, there is no trying, just doing or not doing.

January 9, 2021

Lost in Translation

This blog serves as a medium to transfer ideas from my mind to your mind.

Part of the challenge of writing, or any art form, is expressing these ideas exactly as we envision it is impossible. We can get close but we’ll never be able to fully express it. Some pieces of the idea get lost in translation.

The more clearly I’m able to transfer my ideas to the page then to your head is a measure of my skill as a writer.

Scott McCloud explains this concept in his book, Understanding Comics:

January 8, 2021

Diversify Your Identity

In finance, it’s common knowledge to diversity your investments and not put all your money into say a single stock. Diversifying your financial portfolio is one way of managing risk and reducing volatility.

We don’t do this with our finances yet we do this with our identity.

Often what I see, especially with university students, is that they put their self worth into their careers. Their self esteem is dependent on their career and they’re emotionally volatile as a result.

Your identity doesn’t have to be based on one thing.

Pick up a creative hobby. Play a sport. Start a side business. Learn a new skill. Spend quality time with friends and family. Explore your spirituality.

Diversify your identity, this will make you more antifragile in the long run.

Found out Mark Manson wrote an article with the same title

January 7, 2021

New Year, New Website

As I’ve got some time off before school starts next week, I thought it’d be a perfect time to update my website.

I rewrote the Start Here page and updated my Favorites page as well.

Check them out!

January 6, 2021

2020 Annual Review

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a piece on coming of age in the 2010s:

I couldn’t ask for a better decade to grow up in. Especially working in the tech industry, the 2010s was a decade of continuous growth and optimism.

For me it begged the question, is life really this rosy?

There weren’t any significant world events that had a direct negative impact on me. Perhaps this is why me and my immediate circle are so optimistic.

Shortly after writing that piece, a global pandemic turned the world upside down. It’s been a tough year for many, myself included. But I’m happy to see 2020 move into my rear view mirror. Here are a few highlights from the past year:

Finding Joy in the Little Things

I want to live my life so that I maximize the amount of first hand stories I can tell. By that measure, this year has been relatively weak. At the beginning of the year, I had plans to travel internationally during my sabbatical until the global pandemic interrupted those plans. Instead, I stayed at my family home all year. Though I enjoyed living with my family this year and I made many memories with them, living in the same house, seeing the same people, and eating the same food gets mundane quite quickly.

At first I felt restless, many aspects of my life were put in limbo. Romantic relationships, career prospects, travel, health and fitness, etc.

This is where my gratefulness practice saved me. After nearly three years of practicing gratefulness it wasn’t until this year that I truly experienced the benefits. It’s easy to be grateful when you’re winning, when you land that dream internship, when you get the grade you want, or when traveling someplace new.

But where gratefulness matters is when you hit rock bottom. To find things you’re grateful for even on your worst days is like lighting a candle in the darkness. Gratefulness is how I learned to love my new lifestyle. Yes, things may have not gone as planned, I may not be able to travel, I may not be able to see my friends in person or I might’ve not gotten the internship I wanted yet I’ve still got so much to be thankful for.

Most experiences are not objectively bad or good, rather it’s how we perceive them that make it that way. Gratefulness trains us to view the glass as half full rather than half empty. And building a gratefulness habit is insurance for when the bad days inevitably come.

Online Communities

Until recently, I’ve never made a friend over the internet. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know what I was missing out on either. To be frank, I thought the concept was weird then. How can I build a genuine relationship with someone if I’ve never physically met them?

But this year, I met many amazing people through online communities despite a global pandemic. For example, when I first started writing, my friend Rishi, started a messenger group with other friends that were also interested in writing. We aptly named it, the writing club. This group edited my work, kept me accountable, and gave me confidence early on. I’m not sure if I’d be able to keep up the grind of a daily blog if I didn’t have this community. Our bond grew from this shared journey and our conversations naturally evolved from writing to anything and everything. Although I have yet to meet most of them in person, it doesn’t feel any different from friendships I have in person.

There’s an african proverb that sums up this lesson nicely, If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Whatever I decide to learn in the future, finding a community of people on the same journey makes the learning process much easier. This community will help me grow, keep me accountable, and inspire me to achieve more. And the camaraderie of growing together sets the foundation for a strong friendship, whether we’re in the same physical area or not.

Do Something That Scares You Everyday

One of my main areas of growth this year is changing my relationship with fear. Fear can’t be overcome but rather it’s something you dance with. Oftentimes, It’s a compass pointing us in the right direction. All the most worthwhile decisions I’ve made scared me at the beginning including the two best decisions I made this year: Taking time off for a learning sabbatical and writing every day.

My sabbatical at the start of the year was an experiment in freedom and creativity. Despite not being able to travel like I initially hoped, I had an incredible time. I doubled down on writing and I started my daily blog. I met many interesting people and made many new friends. I shared my journey in my newsletter, and my work resonated with others which was an incredibly fulfilling feeling.

Perhaps my biggest highlight this year is writing every day. At first, I thought it was daunting to write every single day, but one year later I did it, and I’m glad I did. It’s an ongoing project — I don’t have plans of stopping anytime soon — yet it’s in contention as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Daily blogging has given me so much. It’s helped me improve immensely as a writer. It has given me a voice and a medium for self expression. It’s helped attract interesting people and opportunities. And it’s my chance to do something that scares me every day.

January 5, 2021

Do Something That Scares You Everyday

This is part 3 of my 2020 annual review

One of my main areas of growth this year is changing my relationship with fear. Fear can’t be overcome but rather it’s something you dance with. Oftentimes, It’s a compass pointing us in the right direction. All the most worthwhile decisions I’ve made scared me at the beginning including the two best decisions I made this year: Taking time off for a learning sabbatical and writing every day.

My sabbatical at the start of the year was an experiment in freedom and creativity. Despite not being able to travel like I initially hoped, I had an incredible time. I doubled down on writing and I started my daily blog. I met many interesting people and made many new friends. I shared my journey in my newsletter, and my work resonated with others which was an incredibly fulfilling feeling.

Perhaps my biggest highlight this year is writing every day. At first, I thought it was daunting to write every single day, but one year later I did it, and I’m glad I did. It’s an ongoing project — I don’t have plans of stopping anytime soon — yet it’s in contention as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Daily blogging has given me so much. It’s helped me improve immensely as a writer. It has given me a voice and a medium for self expression. It’s helped attract interesting people and opportunities. And it’s my chance to do something that scares me every day.

January 4, 2021

Online Communities

This is part 2 of my 2020 annual review

Until recently, I’ve never made a friend over the internet. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know what I was missing out on either. To be frank, I thought the concept was weird then. How can I build a genuine relationship with someone if I’ve never physically met them?

But this year, I met many amazing people through online communities (Shoutout to Twitter, On Deck, the Writing Club) despite a global pandemic. For example, when I first started writing, my friend Rishi, started a messenger group with other friends that were also interested in writing. We aptly named it, the writing club. This group edited my work, kept me accountable, and gave me confidence early on. I’m not sure if I’d be able to keep up the grind of a daily blog if I didn’t have this community. Our bond grew from this shared journey and our conversations naturally evolved from writing to anything and everything. Although I have yet to meet most of them in person, it doesn’t feel any different from friendships I have in person.

There’s an african proverb that sums up this lesson nicely, If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Whatever I decide to learn in the future, finding a community of people on the same journey makes the learning process much easier. This community will help me grow, keep me accountable, and inspire me to achieve more. And the camaraderie of growing together sets the foundation for a strong friendship, whether we’re in the same physical area or not.

January 3, 2021

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