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What is the Purpose of Life?

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What if, you lived the rest of your life in Hanoi, Vietnam?


eric kim street photography hanoi - old woman

Your rent is $380 a month. Your living expenses are $200 a month. You only need ~$600 a month (USD) to live.

I currently earn more than that just in Amazon affiliate links. Which means, in theory, I can live the rest of my life in Hanoi, and never ‘work’ another day in my life.

Isn’t that the closest thing to utopia?

2. Hedonism

eric kim black and white street photography hanoi-0012281 black on black rolex

What is the point of life?

Is it just for me to live a hedonistic lifestyle in Hanoi for the rest of my life? To just eat good food for the rest of my life?

Certainly, happiness isn’t just having sex all the time, eating good food, and playing video games for the rest of your life.

3. What if you lived the rest of your life in a skyscraper?

In Hanoi, there is the Lotte tower— a 70-story building made by a Korean company. Essentially, you can live the rest of your life in this tower. There is a gym, pool, fine dining, shopping centers, apartments, and all the luxurious material pleasures you could ever ‘need’ or want for the rest of your life.

What would happen if you spent the rest of your life in this tower? Would you go crazy or go mad?

4. What are your real preferences in life?

eric kim black and white street photography hanoi-0012076

So living here in Hanoi — I am no longer worried or stressed about money. This changed my total world-view.

What are my real preferences in life?

I actually love living in my studio apartment with Cindy. It is quite small. I wake up in bed, roll out of bed on the right side, walk two steps to the bathroom, brush my teeth, take an (icy cold) shower, step out of the bathroom, take 4 steps to the kitchen, boil some water and make a coffee, and then walk 4 steps to the left, plug in my head phones, and start working on my laptop.

The best part: I am lazy. I couldn’t imagine living in a big ass house, where I need to walk for 5 minutes just to go from the kitchen to my bedroom. I know that in life, the ultimate resource is time — why waste even 5 minutes a day, ‘commuting’ through your own house?

I’m lucky enough I no longer need to ‘commute’ for work. I do all my work in my apartment (at least in the morning), and then go to a coffee shop in the afternoon to do work for the rest of the day. I usually have dinner with Cindy back at our apartment, or eat out and meet a friend or two for dinner.

Granted we don’t have kids— but for a couple, why would we ever need more than a studio apartment?

5. Travel

eric kim black and white street photography hanoi-0012176-PICK HANOI

I can honestly say— if I never traveled for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t feel sad or anything. I’m lucky I already traveled a lot. But honestly— the only value I got from traveling was meeting new folks, learning more about new cultures, and about fulfilling my ‘life dream.’ But then again, I could have gained all of this just from studying philosophy, or better appreciating and exploring my own home city.

If you can live a life where you no longer need/want to travel away from your own city, or perhaps your own country (traveling domestic is usually cheap) — why do you need a bunch of money for?

A lot of people see the dream as to travel for the rest of their lives. I think this is silly. Egyptian Pharaohs didn’t travel as a luxurious thing — they preferred staying in their own country.

And I’ve met many long-term travelers— at a point, there is despair that everything is the same. And then they no longer have a ‘purpose’ in life.

6. Would I live the rest of my life in a spaceship?

Reality Eric Kim

I just watched the movie ‘Passengers’ recently — the idea is that a guy wakes up in a spaceship, and left to his own devices, he will die on this spaceship. The spaceship has everything he needs. Restaurants, shopping centers, coffee, video games, entertainment, gym, and food. He has access to all video games ever created, every Netflix movie ever made, and can even go shopping for Rolex watches and Louie Vuitton bags in the shopping mall on the ship.

If you were the only person on a spaceship (and you had to live on it for the rest of your life, until you died) — would there be a reason to live?

In the movie he wakes up another passenger, to have human companionship. So first moral lesson: it isn’t worth living as a human being (without any other human beings we can share our love with).

Anyways— which made me wonder: if it were just you and your 1 partner, would that be enough to live your entire life with? For me, if Cindy and I were the only two people on a spaceship — could we live a meaningful and purposeful life? I think so — as long as I spent my life empowering her, and also empowering myself. I just hope the video games are good.

7. Happiness to me

eric kim cindy project hanoi eyes

For me, I gain happiness through creative work. Through learning, but more importantly— sharing what I learn. If I weren’t able to share what I learned, it would be purposeless.

The only thing that gets me up in the morning, tired as shit, with heavy bags under my eyes, and drinking tons of (strong) Vietnamese coffee is having the opportunity to follow my curiosity, to learn, and to share what I learn with you and others. Otherwise, I would have no purpose to live as a human being.

So second lesson I learned: to be human is to help, or empower, or share with other human beings.

8. Elon Musk on rent and food

Elon Musk said all he needed in life was to just pay his rent and food. He lived in his own office, showered at a local gym, and ate hot dogs and spaghetti ($1 dollar a day) while he started his first company (which turned to PayPal).

I feel the same. As long as I have enough to pay my rent and food, I am satisfied. I don’t need anything fancy. A small studio. For food, just some meat, veggies, and eggs. And of course, good coffee and a fast wifi connection.

I already have all the physical possessions I need. I have a laptop. I have wifi. I have my Ricoh GR II. I have headphones. What else do I need?

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I don’t need a car— I ride Uber everywhere, or just walk. I actually prefer taking Uber instead of driving myself, because I can take a nap. Or make small-talk with the taxi driver. Or I could read a book while in the car (closest thing to having a self-driving car without buying a Tesla).

I don’t need any more devices, cars, clothes, or things.

When Cindy and I have a kid, my kid ain’t going to no pretentious after-school activities. I am pretty committed to sending my kid to a (free) public school as well. I will get my kid lots of hand-me-downs from family members. Will having a kid really be that expensive?

9. The world rocks.

eric kim cubist photo

We live in a good world. We have infinite entertainment (for free) via free games in the App store, we have YouTube, and we have social media. We have digital photography — so we can be creative as much as we want without spending money.

cindy cubist 2

We will never starve or freeze to death. We have the internet— access to the entire history of human consciousness, knowledge, information, and wisdom. It is like being plugged into the Matrix, or having a second nervous system (we are already Androids).

10. What is the purpose of life?

eric kim cubism - side by side laughing lady nyc

I’m still figuring out things for myself— but the best answer I have about the purpose of life is this:

To empower other human beings.

Pretty simple.

To empower others— through information, blog posts, videos, or a conversation 1:1 over dinner. To encourage others to become the best versions of themselves.


For me, I don’t need nothing else. I got everything I have ever needed or wanted.

But if I had no other humans to live for, I would probably kill myself. If I were like Will Smith at the end of the world, and no other humans alive — what purpose would I have to live?

Conclusion: Ask yourself the purpose of your life

dark skies over tokyo by eric kim and haptic industries

This is just a collection of random thoughts and musings I’ve been having, living here in Hanoi for the last 8 months.

Just think to yourself, “If I already have all my basic needs met, what is the purpose of my life? What is a human being? What is the purpose of being alive?”

There are no wrong/right answers. Just figure out what the answer is for yourself.

Be strong,

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