It’s Up to You!

Berkeley, 2016 #cindyproject
Berkeley, 2016 #cindyproject

Dear friend,

I wanted to write you a letter (to hopefully empower you). My suggestion: realize that everything in your life is up to you; nobody else.

You have control

Berkeley, 2016 #cindyproject
Berkeley, 2016 #cindyproject

There is nobody smarter, more capable, or more knowledgeable than you.

There are probably things about your life that you hate— working at a job you dislike, having a shitty boss, or certain lifestyle habits that you might not like (wasting too much time on the internet, being distracted, not enough time to be creative).

But know that you have the power to change any aspect of your life.

To do more creative work is up to you. You might not necessarily have the power to suddenly quit your job (and no longer put food on the table for your family), but you have the control not to waste time.

I think it is hard for all of us to find time to do things we are passionate about. But it is easy for us to figure out what to remove from our daily lives.

Avoid what causes you (dis)pleasure

Berkeley, 2016 #cindyproject
Berkeley, 2016 #cindyproject

For example, one of the things that brings me the most pleasure in life is to study, write, reflect, and spend time with loved ones.

Certain things that get in the way: obsessive social media checking up, browsing blogs (as mindless entertainment), being distracted by new apps in the app store, or wishing that I had someone else’s life. Or wanting to be in a different city (than the one I currently live in).

I find one of the best ways to find more pleasure in my life is knowing what not to do in life. So for example, I find the less time I spend on social media, blogs, and other forms of entertainment/distraction— the more time I have to do meaningful and empowering work (reading and writing).

Even now, I wanted to write you this letter, but I got momentarily distracted by a tech blog (the Verge). As much as I love the blog, honestly none of the information on the site will radically change my life (I’m obsessed with technology, but if I already have a smartphone, a digital camera, and a laptop— what else do I really “need” in life?)

Change your life (for the better)

Vancouver, 2015 #cindyproject
Vancouver, 2015 #cindyproject

I find that we’re swimming in a sea of discontentment— thinking that we will find the answers (or at least distractions) online to alleviate our dissatisfaction.

But no, I’m sorry— you will not find any answers to your life problems but inside yourself. Not this blog, not any other blog, not social media, and certainly not earning a billion dollars.

It is up to you to change your life (for the better).

Don’t torture yourself

Berkeley, 2016 #cindyproject
Berkeley, 2016 #cindyproject

One thing I never understood is why people sign up for exercise classes. To me, it feels like you’re paying someone to do something you dislike, because you feel like you “should” be exercising (rather than exercising because you enjoy it).

Only do physical activity which empowers you (for me, that is powerlifting). If you dislike “working out” but enjoy sports; sign up for some local sports group.

If you want to work on some photo project— you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Do you really want to work on that project? If so, why haven’t you started? Are you such a perfectionist that you haven’t started because you are afraid that you will fail?

Sometimes we just say we are “lazy.” Honestly, I feel that laziness can be a good tool— if we don’t spontaneously do something on our own, perhaps we don’t really want to do it?

I do believe we should live a life full of passion-driven activity. Anything that we do that doesn’t have our soul infused into it is apparent to others.

For example, when I work on my e-books, or articles— I try to bleed onto the page. I share my personal life experiences, my struggles, my frustrations, and try my best not to put a filter on what I say. I feel this makes my words more genuine, less forced, which I hope helps you connect to me more.

What habits do you want to foster?

Photo by Emilio Aparicio / NYC, 2016
Photo by Emilio Aparicio / NYC, 2016

Obviously there are a lot of habits that you might want to do. You might want to make more photos, you might want to travel more, you might want to be less distracted online, you might want to eat less junk food, or you might want to exercise more.

Personally I think the best way to build up positive habits is to do it for yourself— rather than following some arbitrary rules put onto you by society.

Don’t do anything because you “should” do it— only do things because you want to do it.

Know your life is up to you. Nobody can craft your lifestyle, how you live your life— but you.

Make the photos you were destined to create. Disregard what others on social media think about your images. Be true to yourself, and know that your creativity is in your own hands.


Thursday, May 12, 2016 // 11am

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