I just went to a friend’s wedding the other day— and man, it was so much fun.
Singing, dancing, drinking, eating— the air full of merriment and joy.
The greatest joy
What is one of the greatest joys in life?
Friendship, companionship, and love.
The sweet conversation with a loved one that goes on for hours, with the smell of delicious food in the air.
The “catching up” with an old friend— the reminiscing of sweet old memories.
The belly-roaring laughter, and acting like a kid again.
Not concerning or worrying about your life’s problems— but focusing on the positive and the benefits you already have in life.
Sharing a gift with a friend— why would you want to live in the world as a billionaire if you didn’t have the opportunity to share your gifts with your loved ones?
Other simple joys
Making yourself look like a fool and dancing on the dance floor without concerning how others see you.
Taking photos like a child again— making fun snapshots because you enjoy it, rather than worrying if you are taking “good” photos.
Singing (even though you can’t sing) at the top of your voice with the windows rolled up in your car, and having the people outside look at you like you’re crazy.
Engrossing yourself in a book, letting time slip though your fingers. Not even stopping to eat.
The joy of giving a print of yours to a friend, and seeing the genuine smile and joy it brings them.
Making a scrapbook for a loved one, and reflecting on the fun adventures you’ve (already) had in the past— rather than worrying about the places you haven’t traveled to yet.
Thank God we’re human
Friend, there is so much to be joyful and grateful for in life.
I was thinking— man, it is so wonderful to be a (social) human being. All of my favorite memories in life haven’t been the food I ate, the coffee I drank, the exotic places I’ve visited— but rather the precious time I spent with people that I cared about.
For example, I personally don’t care for Dubai at all for a city. It is like a really boring suburb, with the desert all around, and the only place to have “fun” is the mall. But the friends I have in Dubai are amazing— so full of life, love, and an appreciation for friendship (and simple and delicious meals together).
I have a very simple nuclear family— it is more or less me, my mom, and my sister. We are a small little trio— yet we understand each other so well. We are easy-going; not picky, and the greatest joy we share is going camping together, enduring the cold, and eating (delicious) BBQ meat over a campfire.
I am so grateful for the love I share with Cindy. I lose my patience with her often and get angry at her. But looking at her perfectly-circle (sometimes crazy) eyes— I beam with joy. She’s taught me so much about being more considerate towards others, to be less irrational, and also has exposed me so much to history, culture, and art.
I am grateful for my father, even though he has “done my family wrong” a lot in the past. I know he still has a lot of love for me and my family— and he has been through tough times when he was young.
I’m grateful for all the difficulties I endured as a child. I think growing up with little to no money, the stress of not knowing if my mom could pay the rent that month (and if I was going to be homeless next month), and having little was the best teacher. This taught me a sense of what is really “necessary” (food, shelter, love) and what isn’t necessary (Playstation, expensive clothes, other bullshit). In-fact, if I didn’t grow up “poor”, I would have never gotten the hustle and entrepreneurial drive that causes me to hustle today. I see all of the people I know who grew up rich and entitled— they are not doing anything meaningful with their life. Not really their fault— being grown up having everything never teaches you independence.
Don’t take your friends for granted
Anyways, going back to the point in the beginning of this letter— friendship is one of our sweetest gifts from God (or whatever spiritual power or concept you believe in). And even if you’re an atheist and don’t believe in God; you have to admit friendship is amazing.
Friendship costs little. All you need is the company of another.
When you meet up with a friend, you don’t need expensive food, drink, or entertainment. Who you decide to eat with is much more important than what you decide to eat.
I read once that one of the biggest regrets people have in life is not keeping better touch with their friends and loved ones. A lot of people on their deathbeds regret losing touch with old friends. When I am old and about to die; I don’t want to be surrounded with stacks of dollar bills, BMW’s, Leica’s, and high-end gadgets. I just want the warmth and company of my future children, my friends, and family.
Isolated living = depression
Living in modern society is hard.
Even though we lived in shittier times in the past (death, poverty, exile, starvation), one of the benefits is that people lived more communally, and family-ties were a lot more tightly-knit.
Today’s modern society advocates individuality and freedom over the family and the community. The benefit— more innovation and creativity and freedom. The downside— more depression, anxiety, and loss of connection with friends and family.
The thing I am most grateful being in Socal with Cindy’s family is the time I spent time with them. We’re also very fortunate that Cindy’s brother lives on the same block as her family’s home. My favorite times just involve seeing them everyday, having lunch and dinner together, and just sharing company.
Invest in friends
Money is important in life, but as long as we have enough money for the necessities (paying rent, eating, water, coffee, wifi) — money is quite useless. In-fact, a lot of our time is wasted trying to acquire more money, rather than living right now.
I’ve personally found that spending money on other people (buying them gifts, giving away cameras, giving away devices, buying others food) brings me much more happiness than spending it on myself.
And don’t get me wrong— I’m not some enlightened selfless person. I’m selfish. Extremely selfish. I love material stuff, I love money, and I love shopping. But the sad thing— whenever I buy some material thing, I end up feeling empty & I just want more. I am never satisfied.
But the acts of “generosity” I have given to strangers, friends, and family, have always been “wise investments” — it brings me true satisfaction and happiness.
Don’t be alone
“Solitude is the mother of all anxieties” – Publilius Syrus
The more time I spend alone, the more anxious I feel, the more depressed I feel, and the more I worry about money, finances, my reputation, etc. But when I am with friends, I feel safe, happy, and secure. I know that even if I were to fall victim to poverty and become homeless, I would have friends I could depend on to take care of me.
I talked to a friend who was (once) homeless; and they told me that they have no pity for homeless people. Why not? Because to that friend, if you truly become homeless — it means you have no social support whatsoever (you truly need to burn a lot of bridges to become “really” homeless). While I do agree that certain shitty situations make people homeless (especially psychological diseases)— it made me consider; no matter how “bad” someone may be, they will always have family, friends, or acquaintances to help support them in times of need.
We live in the best world, ever.
Another thing I am grateful of living in 2016 is that all of our basic necessities are met. Nobody (at least in America) dies from starvation anymore. Rather; we are dying from drinking & driving, diabetes, cancer, heart disease.
Rent is getting expensive everywhere (at least here in the Bay Area), but living in a modest manner is always affordable everywhere. I know a lot of people who are tired slaving away to live in the bay area— they move to Detroit and enjoy a much happier life having to work less, and having more time to pursue their creative pursuits.
Even living in the Bay Area; you can live in a “shadier” neighborhood— or get more roommates. Sure you will be more cramped, but less stress and anxiety with paying rent means more time to do what you truly love.
Food is cheap and abundant. We deal more with issues of obesity and over-eating than starvation.
Wifi is also now “free” and ubiquitous (any coffee shop, Starbucks, or even grocery store). Many places are now even offering free public wifi. One day wifi will be as “free” and abundant like tap water.
Not only that, but I’m sure within our lifetime we will see when power and electricity is practically “free” (hopefully Elon Musk and other visionaries can truly help make solar power ubiquitous and affordable).
Transportation — all of our needs are met. Most metropolitan cities have cheap and easily accessible public transportation. And if you live in a suburb, you can buy a cheap used car that will take you from point “A” to point “B” reliably— the only strain is wanting to buy a “luxury” car. But does a BMW take you from point “A” to point “B” more efficiently? No— any old Japanese car can do that for a fraction of the price.
Why delay your happiness?
It has always confused me why we work so hard to “save” and “improve” our lives— when we can easily live happily now.
Why (excessively) save money for the “future” when we aren’t even certain whether we will live to see the future? Why plan on slaving away 40+ years at a company, to hopefully one day retire at age 65 and receive 1/2 of your salary, to travel and see the world? You’re not even certain that you will live to 65.
Go on that trip now. Don’t delay.
Why wait until your loved ones or family are on their deathbeds before settling your beef or animosity towards them? Like Jesus said— forgive your enemies, and don’t let resentment grow in your heart. I forgot who said this— but resenting someone is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person will die.
Rather than lusting for that new digital camera— why not just use the camera you already use, and learn how to be more creative with your limited means?
Even with traveling, you don’t need to go far away to “travel.” Honestly for me, the hardest thing for me is just getting out of my apartment.
Spread your love
Don’t take your friends for granted. There is nobody who brings more joy, happiness, and fun to your life.
Tell them that you appreciate them. And show it through writing them a (handwritten) letter, by giving them a small (inexpensive but thoughtful) gift, or just by giving them a big hug. Tell them that the world is better for having them in it.
Let’s make 2016 a good time for more loving, less envy, and more appreciation for our dear friends.
Sunday, 3:20pm, Jan 3, 2016 @ Philz coffee in Berkeley, with a lovely “New Manhattan” (black), listening to “Only One” by Kanye West, after some meditation of reading “The Cynic Philosophers from Diogenes to Julian.”