Life lessons

A work in progress. To be updated, occasionally.


  • Think of your spending (time, energy, money, etc.) as investment vs leisure. Try to proportion 80% of spending on investment, 20% on leisure. E.g. 80% eating whole-food plant-based, 20% eating delicious things you enjoy; 80% of your money should be spent on books/ self-improvement/gyms, 20% of eating out, drinking, 80% with people who nurture & grow with you, 20% with fun friends etc.
  • Your mind is the biggest limiting factor. You can be whatever you put your mind into.
  • Treat yourself as an ongoing agile project of test ⇒ measure ⇒ learn. E.g. Are you happy? How can you make yourself happier? Whatever it is, try it out for a week and see if it improves your overall well-being. Reflect, then repeat.
  • Always go back to the fundamentals. If you don’t know what fundamentals are in any domains, focus on finding out those things and master them first.
  • Do things that makes the rest of your life looks like a footnote.
  • De-optimize most things so you can focus on a few things. Never have more than 3 goals at the same time.
  • Journey over destination.
  • Incorporate reflection into your life, whether alone i.e. journaling, or with other people i.e. therapy/ talking to loved ones.
  • Make decisions and commit. After that, no second-guessing, no looking back and regretting. Even if you make the wrong decision, learn from it and keep moving forward.
  • The time it takes to make a decision should be inversely correlated to how easy it is to reverse it. I.e. take a short time to decide what you are wearing, but a long time to decide who you are going to marry.
  • Most questions, doubts and worries become nothing 10 years from now. Keep that in mind if you find yourself putting in too much energy for something insignificant long-term.
  • People come and people go, only you stay. Learn to prioritize yourself, and to be contented with yourself. You wouldn't want to befriend someone who make you feel miserable all the time, so don't be that person to yourself.


  • Smile more. If you find it hard, put on music that makes you happy.
  • Take yourself less seriously: make jokes, tease people, own up to your mistakes. It makes you more human, and also makes life more fun.
  • Enjoyment/ happiness as a goal might be bad - you will enjoy eating a burger and fries more than eating healthy and working out. A much better goal is long-term satisfaction - what would increase your well-being over the long term?
  • Be kind to people. Tip 20%. Say thank you. Smile.
  • Be grateful.
  • The same situation can feel very different depending on your perspectives. So try to view it from a positive angle i.e. what can I learn, how can this be good, etc.
  • Embrace emotions in its totality, don’t suppress or ignore it. Acknowledge it, feel it, and learn to make peace with it.
  • What you are searching for is not the overwhelming joy when you receive a reward or when your start-up get funding or during a rollercoaster love story. What you are searching for is the peace that you get when you wake up doing what you love, and go to bed with a loved one.


  • Instead of forcing yourself to remove a habit, try replacing it instead. E.g. Don’t try to limit your phone time, instead, replace it with reading a Kindle.
  • Consistency triumphs speed. Learn to be consistent. Even if it means you do significantly less per day, the cumulative value will be a lot higher in the long run.
  • Accountability partner is truly life-changing.

    • At the same time, don’t have too many accountability partners. Related to Meta[8].
  • Read. Especially long-form: articles, research paper, books.


  • Find work that is meaningful. You spend roughly 40 hours a week on it, make it something you want to do.
  • Earlier in your career, it’s good to build credentials. Work for big tech at least once, or go to a fancy university (even if just for a semester before dropping out). It gives you better reputation, and a good fallback if you want to try other things on your own.
  • All jobs will have at least 30% of work that you don’t want to do, but need to do anyways. Learn to enjoy those parts as much as the parts you want to do. But also take note of what you enjoy doing, and try to orient your career in a way that you can do it more.


  • When learning something new, spend some time looking around for the best possible resources. After that, stick to 1-2 resources for at least 80% of the content before moving on.
  • Whenever possible, work on a project along side learning. E.g. if you are learning about biology, try to work in a lab. Learn CS ⇒ build an app as you go.
  • Whenever possible, find mentor(s)/ teacher(s) and peers to learn alongside with you.


  • Eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, drink water. Do these first before you try any optimization or fad diets.
  • Use your common sense. Some food are obviously bad (candies, fries, soda, etc.) Cut them out first. Don’t listen to influencers doing keto and eating ridiculous amount of things you know are unhealthy eg. 1 pound of butter.
  • Lift and run. Or swim and do calisthenics. Whatever it is, combine both weight and cardio.
  • If you live in the city, get a bike. If you don’t live in the city, move to a city.
  • Reward yourself for showing up, not for achieving something. Going consistently to the gym 5 days a week even if you only exert 60% of the effort is way better than going to the gym once a week where you are at 100%.


  • Learn to be ok with few material things. Spend money on experience and people instead.
  • Never feel guilty about splurging a bit more on things that have long-term effects on your health e.g. gym, healthy food, etc.
  • Upgrading items is usually not worth it, but getting something new probably is. E.g. the shift from not having a phone to having a phone is a lot larger than having a iPhone 10 to iPhone 13. So save money upgrading things (unless they are broken) and spend on things you don’t have yet.
  • Donate at least 10% of your income to effective charities.
  • Money is in essence, a store of value. Instead of trying to be rich, try to create value.
  • Saving can only get you so far. Try increasing your income instead.


  • Quality > quantity apply to people too. Both in terms of number of people and time spent.
  • Schedule time to talk to other people, especially those you are close to. Not talking to people is like not exercising, you might not feel the day-to-day effect, but over time, it makes your life worse.
  • 80% of relationship-building is follow-up. Most people are open to chat, you just need to reach out!
  • Set high standards for people you surround yourself with. This means not just friends and family, but also podcasts, books, media, etc.
  • If you can, always offer to pay for coffee/ food the first time you met someone new. If they insist on paying, say “You can get it next time.”
  • The best thing you can do for people is to believe in them. Very often we cannot see the best versions of ourselves until others put that faith in us.
  • Learn to communicate well. Non-violence communication and How to win friends and influence people are a good start.
  • Live close to your loved ones.
  • Ask people often what they need and figure out how you can help them.
  • If your family or close friends need support, drop everything and be there for them.
  • Relationship can take a lot of mental space, especially during the chase. So take note as you’re dating: what does it feel like with the person?
  • The best people to befriend are those with a positive growth mindset.
  • People come and go. Learn to be ok with people leaving and don't take it for granted when people stay.