Practical philosophical tips on living:
1. What are ethics?
Ethics: a code of values which guide your choice and actions in your life.
Ethics— they will ultimately determine how you live your life.
Follow your own ethics, what feels right to you. Follow your own gut, your own intuition, and also build rationality and reason.
Ethics applies to every aspect of your life— from your character, action, values.
What is your code of ethics?
In photography, art, we are guided by aesthetics. How an image looks, feels, and the quality of art.
Art is essential to being a human. Art refuels our consciousness.
3. Personal philosophy
As a human being, you need a personal philosophy to guide you through life. Or else you are just wandering, and responding to random stimuli and information in the environment.
What is the personal philosophy you live by? Why do you wake up in the morning?
4. There is no limit to your mind
Never self-doubt yourself in life. You have no limits. Avoid letting others hold you down like a ball and chain.
Consider where your mind’s wings can take you; and how far you can soar.
5. GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out)
In computer science they call it G.I.G.O. — garbage in, garbage out.
That means, the quality of your output depends on the quality of your input.
If you input your mind with wholesome thoughts, great art, you will output wholesome thoughts, and great art.
If you consume only junk food, the output is going to be junk.
Consider the same with your thinking and emotions. Only wholesome, positive thoughts to import. Then you can export positivity, love, compassion, and creative glory.
6. We learn philosophy everywhere
Philosophy isn’t restricted just to guys with white beards, or people meditating on a rock in the middle of the ocean.
We are taught life philosophy through popular media; through TV, magazines, blogs, YouTube, social media, etc. We also learn life philosophy from school, college, news, movies, religion, etc.
You need to set the tone of your own personal philosophy; what you believe in, and what you don’t believe in.
7. Create your own culture
We cannot control who our parents were, but we can create our own thoughts, personal philosophy, and the culture we create.
Don’t just be like a sheep, falling victim to the culture of a mass-group. Rather, make your own culture.
Make your own personal life mottos. Dress however you want to dress. Don’t be a conformist or an ‘anti-conformist.’ Just do you.
Set the tone of your own culture, and be the person you want to be, by acting in accordance with your personal philosophy.
8. Full confidence in yourself
Everyone lacks confidence. Why should you?
Fully understand the cause of your life, why you wake up in the morning, your value to society, and your inner-genius.
Have full-confidence in yourself, and full-certainty in your own moral righteousness.
Realize that philosophy is a practical system of thought how to live on earth as a human being. It is dealing with the day-to-day everyday living, not just philosophizing about the universe or whatnot. Make your philosophy practical.
If your personal philosophy doesn’t help relieve suffering in your life, or if it doesn’t uplift you in life, you are wasting your time.
9. Action above all else
Thinking, and meditating, don’t do much for us. We need to change the world, and ourselves, through action.
If you want to be more ‘creative’ — you need to create more. Make more YouTube videos, start your own podcast, make more photos, share more creative projects, write more, publish more.
Create, create, create.
Don’t aim for perfection. Just do it, and share it.
10. Be selfish for the greater good
We are all taught to think of others before ourselves.
I say let us do the opposite; be selfish first— but in order to serve the greater good.
Picasso best helped society through his art. Through uplifting the souls of many other artists, by painting like a child for his entire life. Picasso was very self-centered and ‘selfish’ in this regard. But he did it for the greater good— for all of humanity, even after his death (Picasso has deeply inspired me to re-discover my inner-artist and child).
So whatever your artistic talent, passion, or inkling is — follow it. Be selfish. Say “no” to pointless obligations you don’t want to go to.
Of course you still have to go to work, put in the 9-5 grind, but in all your other available hours; be extremely selfish. For the greater good.
Start writing more, do more creative work, make videos, paint, draw, photograph — whatever.
Make more art.
11. Never stop growing
Organic organisms die without constantly growing. Even as human beings, if we stop growing, we start to decay and atrophy. If we go a week without the stress of gravity on our bones, we start to die and weaken (think about astronauts in space).
Never stop growing; never stop learning. Never stop gaining nutrients from the soil, and reaching your branches to the heavens.
Keep living, and learning from anyone and everyone. Learn from your grandparents, your parents, from your friends, family, strangers on the streets, from fiction, non-fiction; wherever.
Keep feeding your creative mind, and no restrictions. Learn from any form of art— sculpture, anime, film, literature, theater, dance, photography, music, etc.
Combine all your artistic inspirations, and make your own unique sweet honey.
We all need fuel to survive. For the human body, we need food and water.
We also need creative fuel. Without fuel, we would die.
13. Become you
Don’t let your past dictate your future. Don’t let your parents, your grandparents, or any of your ancestors have control over your future destiny.
Everyday, seek to become you. Which means, everyday, become the person you would like to be.
If you would like to be a writer, write more everyday. If you want to be a photographer, realize you are already a photographer — you just need to make more photos, and to improve your photos and composition.
Take action to become you.
14. You’re infinite
You have an unlimited capacity for gaining knowledge, an unlimited capacity to grow, and an unlimited capacity to evolve.
You have all the digital tools at your finger-tips; through your laptop, smartphone, digital camera, etc. What is holding you back? Certainly not your tools.
Rather, what is holding us back is our lack of self-confidence. Our lack of creative fuel. Our distraction from always watching Netflix, scrolling through social media, and checking our email.
Do you want to be a creator, or a consumer?
You can accomplish anything you wish. Man has the unique capacity to take the matter of the universe, and shape it to his whims.
As long as you wish it; you can do it.
15. Never stop expanding your knowledge
Take notes, write more, synthesize information, read philosophy, read literature, observe, analyze, think, figure out relationships, and put things into a context. Figure out how things are similar, dissimilar, and reach your own personal conclusions.
Keep asking new answers, and answering your own old answers. Keep expanding your knowledge of the world, and hold all these thoughts together with reason and logic.
To be a human is to think. To think deep thoughts, and to be active. Not to be passive.
To think, we need to be in a state of fully-focused consciousness. To be aware. To focus our minds.
Don’t drift into a state of passivity— being a zombie. We all know this state (myself included). When we want to just ‘shut off our brains’ — playing video games on the computer or smartphone, when we listen to mindless stuff on the TV, or when we listen to gossip.
Whatever free time you have, make sure it is active leisure. You can still watch Netflix and Film — but make sure you are taking notes, synthesizing the information, and perhaps finding ways to inspire you to create your own film, or to study the cinematography to better make stronger photographic compositions. When I watch films (I recommend Jodorowsky), I take screen-shots of my favorite scenes on my computer, to analyze later.
16. Draw more
We all drew stuff as kids. As adults, we rarely do. Especially with smartphones; when is the last time you hand-wrote something?
Just for fun, learn to draw and sketch more. I carry a little notebook, and whenever I see a design that inspires me, I dust off my knuckles, crack them, and sketch. My sketches are horrible; but I still have fun. I draw inspirational lines I see in car design I like (Lamborghinis being my favorite), or just jot down ideas or notes.
Another fun idea: look at your photos, and sketch or draw out your own photos. Analyze your own compositions.
17. Realize your potential
Matter has unlimited potential. We just need to act upon it.
You have unlimited potential; you have material, your mind, and reason. You can actualize your own self-potential, with enough hustle, hard work, and of course— a bit of luck.
You have materials (information) and tools (technology) to actualize your potential. To create it in real life.
What is your spark plug in life? And how can you keep your creative engine in constant action, in constant forward movement?
Never stop hustling.
18. Don’t drown yourself in drugs
I don’t have a personal problem with drugs. Yet, the problem is when you drown yourself in drugs. To drown away your sorrow; or to escape reality.
Love reality, be hungry and thirsty in life— to live out your creative potential. Fuck getting drunk or fucked up every night and partying. Would you rather go to a club, or a bar, and talk mindless talk for hours, while getting drunk — or stay at home, in the lab, and create?
Homies always talking about going to the club, but fuck that I gotta work – Dr. Dre
19. How to survive
In today’s world, to survive you need to do ‘productive work’. Work that is of value not only to yourself, but of others.
Be useful. Create valuable things. Create things that uplift the souls of others, or are practical in day-to-day living. Create physical things, or create digital things.
Don’t be afraid to sell your art, information, or ideas. If you can end up making a living for yourself with your art, you can do more art, and end up helping even more people.
So once again, be a selfish capitalist, in order to help serve the greater good.
I like to think of this as “virtuous selfishness.”
20. Go straight
I saw the fork in the road, and I drove straight – Jay Z
In life, you are often told you have option “A” and option “B”. Option A: Go to medical school. Option B: Become a lawyer. I say fuck that, drive straight— go off-roading, and create your own path in life (be an artist, or whatever you want to do).
Don’t follow the routines of society, or what your parents tell you to do. Pave your own path.
21. Nobody will feed you
Surviving is hard. Really hard.
We need to take massive action in our lives in order to just make a living. And we are given a brain— in order to move. In order to think, to innovate, to create. To build value for other humans in society, and to sell, make a profit, and pay our rent and groceries.
We cannot be like a plant, sitting in the soil, waiting to be nourished by the sun, the rain, and the soil.
You have control over the effort and hustle you put in life. Of course; you cannot control whether you will be ‘successful’ or not. However, the harder you work, the harder you hustle, the more effort you put in life— your likelihood of success increases.
If you’re struggling, starving, barely paying rent— stay focused on you. Be selfish, and focus on your own task of survival. Don’t donate to charity, if you can barely pay your own bills.
First take care of yourself, your family, then put forth your generosity to the rest of the universe.
22. Seek joy
Do things which bring you joy; avoid things that bring you misery. Of course, you still need to do your taxes, but at least for things you don’t want to do which are in your control — learn how to say no.
What creative work brings you joy? Do more of that.
What stuff in life brings you suffering? Do less of that.
Do joyful things in your life that give you a sense of purpose, meaning, and happiness. Have pride in the work you do. You don’t need the “like” of others to determine your own self-ego. Determine your own self-ego by your own self-assessment.
Whenever you look at your own art, ask yourself:
Do I like my own art?
If the answer is yes; disregard what everyone else thinks.
23. Don’t compromise
The biggest mistake we make in life is compromise.
But what if you ‘compromised’ between food and poison? You would still die.
What if you ‘compromised’ between joy and suffering? You would still be miserable.
Of course you might need to work a shitty job you don’t like. Maybe that is out of your control.
However, never compromise on your art. The art you create in your own free time. You have 100% control over that. Never make “IKEA” art to please the masses. Make art that pleases you, a few friends, and maybe one day you can build a following.
24. Be a self-made soul
Be self-made. Don’t need the hand-outs of nobody to become you.
Have pride in your self-made success, your self-made wealth, and your self-made soul.
Shape yourself and your soul into becoming anything you want to. You are like play-dough; you can shape yourself into whatever shape or form you want to.
Be ambitious to achieve more, to help more people, and to be more creative. Hold yourself in the highest self-esteem. Don’t always be so modest and humble. Revel in your own grandeur, and greatness. Pursue your own perfection.
25. No guilt
Avoid the idea of guilt. Guilt from your family, or guilt you are taught from religion.
I was raised by Confucian values by my Korean-American family. Lots of guilt and ‘debt’ by the family. Too much bullshit emphasis on ‘honor’ and ‘prestige’ and that nonsense.
Of course, being raised Catholic— tons of guilt there. “Original sin” and whatnot.
I like the idea that we are born like a blank slate. Carte blanche (blank piece of paper).
So create your own version of you, without any ounce of guilt from the past.
26. Don’t fall victim to hedonism
Hedonism: seeking pleasure for pleasure sake.
Hedonism: just wanting to have sex all the time, drink alcohol, do drugs, drive fast cars, luxurious hotels, luxurious food, luxurious clothes, etc.
All that brings you is (momentary) endorphins or pleasure-chemicals to your brain. Unfortunately like any drug or stimuli; the effect wears off. You need to keep increasing novelty, and increasing your wealth and consumption to feel the same ‘hit.’ Unfortunately it fades— they call it ‘hedonic adaptation.’ No matter how good our hedonism (how good we feel), we will get used to it.
Even the guy who drives the blacked-out Lamborghini will get ‘used to it’ after a month or so.
Don’t be a victim to hedonism. Just have the basics you need to live. A basic home, basic food, basic clothes, basic tools, etc.
However make the focus of your life creative, productive, and meaningful work. This you will never get bored of.
27. Turn shit into gold
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
My idea is, when life gives you shit, turn that shit into gold.
We cannot control shitty things happening to us. However we can control our interpretation of it.
How can we take a negative event from the past, and turn it into a positive?
A friend betray you? You learned how not to trust parasites.
Your parent pass away? You learned to appreciate life, and never to take your loved ones for granted.
You lose a big business deal? You now have more time with your family.
You get punched and bullied as a kid? You grew a thicker skin.
Always turn the negative into a positive. The only way you can become stronger.
If you were a boxer (Muhammad Ali), you can only get stronger by boxing those who are at your level (if not stronger). If you only fight weaklings, you will never get stronger. So imagine when shit is happening negatively in your life; you are just being matched up against more difficult opponents— like a video game.
28. Treat all humans as equals
Never see anyone as your master nor your slave.
Never see anyone as lower than you, or higher than you.
Treat all men and women the same. Regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual-orientation, height, weight, background, age, whatever.
We are all born equal, and we all die equal.
29. Become a hero
Watch Superman, Batman, and Wonderwoman. Become a hero. Seek to help humanity, with your own super-powers.
Be strong, virtuous, and seek to help the greater good.
30. Work for future generations
Don’t just work for your own generation. Work for the next generation; and the next generation after that.
Your body is not immortal. However, your spirit and writings and information can become immortal— passed to future generations.
Seek to empower all of humanity, now, and tomorrow, and for eons to come.
31. What do you not do in life?
The best way to define yourself in life: figure out what you do not believe in, what you do not do, and what you refuse to follow.
We are defined by what we are not.
32. Are you unwilling, or unable?
Are you unable to change your life, or unwilling?
- I am willing to do everything
- I might not be able to do everything
To be more willing, is to have more drive, passion, and hustle.
Inability might be some external factor. But often, what we think of an ‘inability’ is just an ‘unwillingness.’
Figure out the difference; and this will empower you.
33. Build monuments
Be a builder, a creator, and make great shit.
Avoid ‘paralysis by analysis’ — thinking too much, which prevents you from making any action in life.
Rather, seek to build your skyscraper, brick-by-brick.
Advance the general prosperity of all others around you. Become first-rate. Don’t die from hemophilia; losing your creative blood.
34. Fuck ‘prestige’
Prestige is the applause of others. It is others clicking a ‘like’ button on Facebook. It is the clapping of tongues.
Prestige is a non-real concept. It is a man-made concept. That makes us slaves.
Academics and artists are ‘prestige’ hungry. But the hungrier you are for prestige, the more you are a slave to the opinions of others.
If you didn’t care for prestige, but your own inner-worth and self-assessment; you could achieve anything.
Why did Rome fall? They built the Coliseum to build their own ‘prestige’ while people are dying of hunger.
How many slaves did the Egyptian Pharaohs kill to make the Pyramids, to build his own ‘prestige’.
Or imagine Louis 14 of France; he taxed people into extreme poverty, to make Versailles for his ‘prestige’— for tourists now to wander around in flip-flocks and socks, and take photos to share on Facebook.
Imagine the Czar, who proposed these ‘socialist’ ideas, while eating caviar and drinking champagne.
What we should seek is legitimate grandeur — glory of our artistic work, for ourselves. Seek to help future generations, not for vain-glory, or for future prestige— but to genuinely help others.
35. Create abundance for others
Create an abundance of value through your words, writing, speech, or any form of art. The more you share, the more prosperous humanity will become. And the more prosperous you will become.
The more you give, the more you shall receive.
36. You have the right to pursue your own happiness
You have the right to live the way you want, to live in freedom, and to pursue your own happiness.
So why don’t you pursue your own happiness?
37. Avoid stagnation in life
You need growth, movement, and motion to survive.
Biologically speaking, inactivity is death.
If you’re inactive creatively, you will die.
If you’re not moving forwards, you’re falling backwards.
Life is about advancement.
38. You have no plateaus
There is no glass ceiling, no limit, no limit to your ambitions or your dreams.
Just keep putting one step, forward, over the other foot.
Keep climbing that mountain, and when you reach the peak, build a ladder, and climb even higher.
To keep growing is a psychological need of human beings. That is so important for our mental health and well-being. We need to have a sense of control over reality, our lives, and existence.
Don’t let nobody stop your creative dreams. Don’t let nobody throttle or suppress you.
“Who gonna stop me now?” – Jay-Z
39. Why do you care if nobody likes you?
If you like you, why do you care what others think of you?
40. 80% good enough, then publish
Action cures all fear.
Make your art 80% ‘good enough’ in your own eyes; then hit publish.
Create the art you would like to see, and seek to please yourself, before you please others.
Find more personal meaning in your life:
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- Zen in the Art of Street Photography
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