Dalat, Vietnam 2016 / Photo by Cindy

29 Life Lessons I’ve Learned

Dalat, Vietnam 2016 / Photo by Cindy
Dalat, Vietnam 2016 / Photo by Cindy

Dear friend,

Today I turn 29 years old, and I wanted to use this opportunity to reflect about my life, and 29 lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1. All people want to love, and be loved

No matter how wicked someone may seem; they were born as an infant to a loving mother. Each person has felt deep sorrow in their heart.

I believe that all people want to love others, and be useful to others. Not only that, but they want to receive love in return.

2. Life is a smartphone battery

Your time is the ultimate non-renewable resource. Each day you are dying, and getting closer to death. I see life as a smartphone battery — you are born with 100% charge, and each day, you are losing charge. And in life, there is no charger.

3. The more you give, the more you will receive

The more you help others, the more you will receive in return. This is the basis for the bond of humanity.

If you want to be loved, start by loving others.

If you want to earn more money, start by by adding more value to the lives of others.

“He who lives for himself is truly dead to others.”

4. “Happiness” is achieved by avoiding “unhappiness”

Nobody knows what makes them happy; but almost everybody knows what makes them miserable.

So the best way to (quickly) gain “happiness” is to simply avoid what makes you miserable.

5. Perfection is achieved through subtraction

Each day, seek to remove one thing from your life. Remove 1 distraction, 1 superfluous activity, 1 negative person, uninstall 1 app from your phone, and subtract 1 negative memory from your past.

Seek emptiness; and you will become full of life.

6. To focus, remove distractions

It is impossible to force yourself to focus. It is possible to remove distractions from your environment.

Turn off your phone, disable the internet on your computer, or do as Ulysses did before he met the Sirens — he filled his ears with beeswax and tied himself to the mast of his ship.

7. My definition of success: doing what you love without being homeless

Success (to me) is doing what you love without being homeless. If you spend each hour of the day doing what you love (and can pay your rent), what else do you need in life?

8. How to build good habits: do more of what you want to do, and do less of what you don’t want to do

We are our habits. To build good habits in life, you need to want to change your own habits.

If there is a certain behavior you like doing, do more of it. If there is something you don’t like about your character or behavior, seek to do less of it.

Don’t become discouraged. Even though you might fall off the horse, get back on again.

9. Innovation is achieved through necessity

All great innovation comes from hunger, poverty, or necessity. The richer we are, the less innovative we are (we just buy away our problems).

So if you want to learn how to innovate, see how you can put yourself in a difficult situation, with fewer resources, and less money and opportunities— to truly innovate.

10. Time either improves or extinguishes things

Things which have existed for a long time have probably existed for a long time for a good reason.

But most things will be removed with time.

Don’t fall victim to fads. Stick with the classics, and follow the example of the ancients. Anything modern will almost certainly fade with time.

11. The braver you are, the happier you are

To seek happiness, you need to be brave, take risks, and seek to live the life you want.

If we are meek, shy, and cannot take risks — we will never be happy.

It is a battle to live a life true to yourself. So armor up, and seek to take more risks in life, and to be more brave.

12. It is better to have a few very close friends, rather than to have many acquaintances

My opinion is that you cannot have more “real friends” than the fingers on your hands. It is better to have a few, very deep relationships, and to continue cultivating those relationships, rather than always trying to “network” and make new “friends” and acquaintances.

13. The best color is no color

When in doubt about purchasing any product (where you have a choice of choosing a certain color); use black as a default.

Black clothes, black shoes, black car, black camera, black devices. Fewer colors, fewer choices, and less stress.

14. Own your own platform

Don’t be slave to the platform of others. Build your own platform, and own your own platform, to have freedom, and control in your life.

15. Tomorrow is never

Don’t procrastinate what is important to you. But intentionally procrastinate on what isn’t important to you.

16. More is less

Less is more; more is less.

More stuff, more headaches, more problems, more maintenance, and complications.

17. To be creative, approach everything as a beginner

We have pure creativity when we are children; unsoiled by the opinions of adults. We are truly creative when we are beginners, starting off; unsoiled by the opinion of “experts.”

To always be creative, always try to be a beginner.

18. Don’t ask others for their opinions; observe their actions

Listen to what people do more than what they say.

Don’t ask people what to invest in— ask them what is in their portfolio. Don’t ask the waiter what to eat a restaurant, ask what they prefer eating at the restaurant. Don’t ask for parenting advice— observe how they treat their children.

And never trust the business advice of anyone who hasn’t actually run or built a successful business.

Similarly, don’t trust the opinion of any artists, photographers, or critics whose art you don’t personally like.

19. You are the most important (and the most difficult) person to impress

“To depend on the nod of another is a sad livelihood.” – Publilius Syrus

If you need the approval of others to feel happy or successful, you will always be a slave.

Only seek to impress yourself, then the others will come.

20. Be like bamboo; flexible, yet strong

Have a plan, but be flexible and open to changing your plans.

Have ethics and morals, but know when to change them according to the situation.

Have a life philosophy, but don’t be unwilling to change them if you find out that you’re wrong.

21. Treat others like they are going to die tomorrow

It isn’t enough to live each day as if it were your last. Also treat others like tomorrow is going to be their last day.

This way you will never regret anything negative you say to others. And you will have the opportunity to share with others how you really feel — and what you really want to say to them. To share words of encouragement, of love, and of appreciation.

22. To be a human is to be useful to others

We were born for others. The more we help others, the happier we are.

No person would want to live if there weren’t any other humans on earth.

The more we seek to be helpful and useful to others, we will always have a reason to wake up each morning.

23. All of life is comparison

Nothing is “small” or “great” except by comparison.

Wealth is all comparative. We are “rich” or “poor” based on who we compare our wealth to.

Our opinion of our “success” in life is according to those who we compare ourselves to.

If you stop comparing yourself to others, you will live a truly tranquil life.

24. Wisdom is following your own advice

I have a hard time following my own advice. So each day, I try to stick to my own advice, and to follow my own advice. To me this is true wisdom.

25. The three best things to optimize for: weight, size, and flexibility

When it comes to traveling, living, or creating— the lighter, the smaller, and the more flexible — the better.

26. Follow nature

Mother nature knows best. Don’t trust the artificial and the man-made.

For any beauty when it comes to aesthetics or art, observe nature. Observe trees, rivers, and animals.

What is enough for nature is never enough for man.

Seek to find abundance through nature, and our needs will be easily met.

27. The point of philosophy is learning who you are

“Know thyself”

Nobody (myself included) knows who they are. The point of philosophy (the love of wisdom) is to discover who you are. To discover your preferences, and what works for you.

No self-help book is written by you. So seek to write your own book, full of remedies that will help you find more peace, tranquility, and happiness in life.

28. Never stop learning

As long as we are ignorant, we should keep on learning. Even Socrates said he was wise because he “knew nothing.”

As long as we keep learning, we will never tire of life. If we keep learning, our minds will never grow stale.

Let us endeavor to keep learning until we die.

29. The purpose of life is to empower others

To me, the purpose of my life is to empower others. To empower others through information, advice, photography, guidance, and counsel.

The more I empower others, the happier I am. The more purposeful my life feels.

I’m not perfect, and I never will be. But the more I study, the more I empower myself. And the only reason I study for myself, is in order to help share this information with others.



eric kim photography wedding - black and white - ricoh gr ii-1
Garden Grove, 2016 #cindyproject

I have no idea what the future has in store for me.

The biggest highlight of 2016 (being 28 years old) was marrying the love of my life — Cindy. She is my muse, my guide, and my best friend.

eric kim photography wedding - black and white - ricoh gr ii-7

Thank you Cindy for helping me make it this far. I love you now, always, and forever.

Scroll to Top