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Happiness and Increasing Happiness

July 5th, 2024 (about 10 hours ago) • 8 minutes


  • happiness involved other similar things like joy, gratitude and meaning
  • general conditions of happiness based on literature: get good sleep, have meaningful social connections, pursue meaning, don’t focus on the pursuit of money
  • it's a brain state and state of mind and body


  • sleep and on lights

    • critical value of getting regular bright light, ideally sunlight in your eyes within the first hour of waking.
      • for 5 to 20 minutes
      • flip side -> to avoid bright artificial light exposure between 10pm and 4am. Dim screens as much as possible.
      • bright light between 10pm and 4am increase dopaminergic -> enhance depression -> lower mood and affect
    • most people are using rather dim artificial lighting indoors during the day and then very bright artificial lighting indoors in the evening and at night, you want to do the reverse.
    • (mine) probably good idea to use gray scale mode definitely in the evening
    • don't try to get sunlight through windows, it doesn't work. You need to be outside.
  • low dopamine (e.g drug withdrawal effects) == low mood == less happy

    • serotonin is exhibit calmness so low levels is bad
  • harvard happiness project

    • total amount of income that an individual makes or has does not seem to directly relate to their level of happiness
    • once people get past a certain level of income relative to their cost of living, the amount of happiness does not scale with that income
    • while money truly cannot buy happiness, it absolutely can buffer stress
      • health care, education, housing, food, transportation, and other basic needs
  • peer group has a tremendous influence on whether or not we gauge the amount of money that we have as bringing us happiness or not

    • you want to be able to access the kinds of social interactions that you deem are correct for you at that stage of life
    • social isolation severely impact happiness
  • people normally disassociate work with happiness

    • but that's because that work is not meaningful to them
    • people do unpaid voluntary work for a reason
  • u shape bend

    u shape bend

    • (mine) we have the most energy and least responsibilities in the 20s so do everything you want
  • children == joy?

    • studies show people opting to not have children are happier
    • but that's mostly because they have more sleep and more time to exercise
    • this by no means is a reason to not have children - I still find young babies delightful and fun
  • people tend to report feeling lower levels of happiness, believe it or not, on their birthday - mostly in the mid 20s

    • reason: typically we go through our year not comparing ourselves to our peers terribly much, but birthday marks a checkpoint
    • benchmark or a window into the things that they have not accomplished, the things that, despite being age blank, they still haven't accomplished
    • most of the time, people are bad in reflecting on where we are in our life arc.
  • people who suffer from alcoholism or what's sometimes called alcohol use disorder, that is strongly anticorrelated with happiness

    • smoking and alcohol in excess is detrimental already to health
    • more effect on the spouse than the person themselves
  • natural happiness

    • happiness that we expect to have if we, for instance, complete a degree, hopefully a degree in a topic meaningful and interesting to us
    • finding a mate
    • making a certain income
    • these are taught and implied by society
  • synthesized happiness

    • what we make from things we didn't get or got
    • grounded very thoroughly in the neurobiology of dopamine rewards
    • our anticipation of something positive oftentimes leads to greater increases in the sorts of neurochemicals that support a state of happiness and well being than the actual acquisition of the thing that we are trying to obtain
    • The Molecule of More
  • environment matters

    • more so on how you interpret it
    • try and adjust your home environment adjust your work environment so that it is cheerful to you
    • a plant? a dog? a painting?
    • music is complicated because it's in a shared space
    • Huberman uses 40 Hz binaural beat or listening to Glenn Gould while he work or listening to whale song, because it doesn't have any structure that he can follow
  • happiness inventories

    • self created or self directed happiness
    • focusing on things that one is grateful for things that they particularly enjoy
    • somewhat of a gratitude type practice but includes some other features as well that are more focused on the things that bring you meaning and actually engaging in the things that bring you meaning

Levers To Pull For Increased Happiness

  • gratitude

    • receiving gratitude is a more powerful stimulus for the release of neurochemicals and activation of brain areas associated with so called prosocial behaviors and feelings of well being, including happiness
      • it's not just about receiving, it's receiving from somebody that, you know, genuinely wants to give
      • partially our own responsibility to synthesize happiness
      • give more gratitude
      • this is true of giving money, effort, and time so long as the person needs help and it’s not putting you out
  • mindset and behaviors

    • giving resources, certainly in the form of money, but also in the form of effort and time, is immensely beneficial for synthesizing our own happiness
    • the act of giving itself affects both you and the other person
  • focused mind

    • a wandering mind is an unhappy mind by killingsworth and Gilbert
    • the tendency for their mind to wander from an activity predicted lower levels of happiness than if they tended to be focused on the activity they were engaged in
    • people mind tend to wanser to pleasant topic 43%, unpleasant 27%, neutral 31%
    • but people were no happier when thinking about pleasant topics than about their current activity
    • Wendy Suzuki from NYU said a brief 13 minutes of meditation is enough to train your mind to be focused
  • quality social connection

    • social connection can be divided to bins: can be romantic connection, this can be friendship, this can even be coworker or just daily superficial interaction type connections
    • it doesn't have to be about deep talks, it can be about just being in the presence of somebody else
    • 2 forms: presence/eye contact and physical contact
    • increase happiness ⬅️ you need to have quality social connections ⬅️ you need to be present and engage in those social connections ⬅️ And that requires. A viewing of each other's faces ideally
  • pets

    • even just seeing a dog stimulates happiness as much as receiving a gift
  • choices

    • when people have an ongoing set of choices, it leads to reduced levels of happiness
    • when we make a choice, if we are forced to stick to that choice, we tend to be far happier with that choice than if we maintain the option to change our mind
    • focusing on the choices we've made and really investing in those choices as good ones or great ones and really trying to limit our thinking to the choices that we've made once we've made them is perhaps also important to our natural happiness because it's so inextricably entwined with what we think of as a good life

On Advices

July 5th, 2024 (1 day ago) • 1 minute

Sometimes I think that I am not at that stage in life where I can give advices.

Every choice in life is not deterministic, the same thing that 2 person do will not yield the same outcome. Some people are just pure lucky at some times.

So most of the time, I would tell people to take my 'advice' or words with a grain of salt. Take only what is applicable to you and leave the rest. Explore the current context of the world before making a decision.

The general thing I hope to impart when I talk to juniors is to just take the FIRST step and TRY.

Social Confidence

July 3rd, 2024 (3 days ago) • 3 minutes

Some notes from my morning walk listening to this podcast from The Deep End. It was such a chill conversation between 4 friends talking about deep topics.

some pictures from SF's ferry

some pictures from SF's ferry

Social skills’s foundation is confidence.

Traits for being socially confident

  • eye contact with a smooth gaze
    • don't be weird about it
  • keep your chest up
  • speak slower
    • Silences are okay?
    • Don’t try to to fit it in
  • relaxed muscle
  • be present and paying attention
  • talk like how you want other to talk to you
    • Be loving
    • Enthusiastic
  • never worry about the outcome, focus on the conversation
  • don’t worry about whether they will understand you

How do we build it? A Framework

  • A lot of them come naturally ONLY when you put yourself in a social situation
    • Do it in field, go to social events, do social things or learns it and integrate it in life
  • Visualize that you will do well and you will do well
  • Dance between visualization and action = experience (they go hand in hand)
  • Put yourself in uncomfortable situations so you will be comfortable
  • People who are below you will judge but most people who are above don’t, so why care?
    • Are you okay with internalizing it?

Ending a conversation

  • Be willing to do it yourself and do it for compassion, not just because you are taking control
  • If you finish reading the book, just mark it with a bookmark and close I

How to start

  • Start with things you like to do
  • Places you like to be
  • Socialize with people you kind of want to make friend or just you can talk to
  • Lead with good vibes and people will pick it up

Ending words

Often you are are overthinking words before saying it, but it probably wasn’t as bad as you think it is.

And the downside is that the easiest way to be forgotten is to just stays reserved because you are insecure about speaking.

So just do it man.

Speak up your mind or preference but practice strong opinions, loosely held. Learn how to know voicing words without coming out strong

Purple Rain by Prince

July 2nd, 2024 (4 days ago) • 2 minutes

It is an experience listening to Prince's Purple Rain while hiking up/down a hill. Imagine the wind blowing and the sun setting. It is really a moment of peace and tranquility.

I woke up pretty early this morning at 6am and decided to go on a walk. It's not too far, around 30 minutes to Coit Tower. While staring at the Golden Gate, I listened to Purple Rain and the melody was just so soothing. I felt like I was in a movie, thinking about life and the past.

i was sitting right where the woman is standing

i was sitting right where the woman is standing

a closer view

a closer view

In his words, this was what he meant by Purple Rain

When there's blood in the sky – red and blue = purple... purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.

A part of the lyrics goes like this:

Purple rain, purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain

I only want to see you underneath the purple

I really like that walking is not hot and sweaty now compared to in KL. As long as the view or the companion is good, I think I can keep up with this morning walk everyday.

Touch Down in SF

July 1st, 2024 (5 days ago) • 2 minutes

so many artsy stuff here, I'm happy

so many artsy stuff here, I'm happy

the city

the city

It's July! I'm here. I touched down in the Bay Area finally after years of talking about it.

There's so many things I want to do, so many things that I want to achieve. With this change of environment, I hope to be able to do more, to be more. No more restrictions, no more excuses, just pure 'D' gear and go.

I am reminded of a quote from Paul Arden

"It’s Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be."

Being in SF really motivates me to be better. People around me are so driven, so passionate about what they do. You have founders, engineers, designers, artists, left, right and center. It's a melting pot of creativity and innovation. So having these people around me, I can't help but feel inspired.

To do that means I have to keep myself accountable and set goals throughout this 1 year. Some of the main highlights are:

  • Meeting new people and making new friends - at least 1 new person a day?
  • Attend a lot and a lot of tech events (there's so many happening everyday)
  • Travel and hike around (I really needed this Airconds weather)
  • Build and launch a product (YC S25 🚘 🍾)
  • Read and write consistently
  • Build a habit of exercising consistently
  • Cooking

I'm excited for what's to come. I'm excited for the journey ahead. If you are also in SF, hit me up! I would love to meet you :)

p.s Hopeful for Chimps Theory to be a success.

Golf with Friends

June 14th, 2024 (22 days ago) • 1 minute

Today, I went to the driving range to get some golf session with my friends.

I always thought golf is expensive but this experience proved me wrong, it was only RM16 for 100 balls with the golf club rented at RM5. This lasted us quite long and we were definitely drained after this.

Like all sport, golf requires a lot of skills and techniques. Here are some things that I learned from the few instructors there and some that worked for me

  1. Make sure your club head is straight and not open or closed. This determines your direction
  2. To make sure it’s straight, relax your wrist and arm and don’t twist or turn them
  3. Let the golf stick swing naturally and let gravity do its work
  4. Think of your spine as the axis and rotate your body around it. This helps you make contact with the ball.
  5. Follow through with your swinging action

p.s see one of the better shot here

On Boundaries

June 14th, 2024 (22 days ago) • 1 minute

We shouldn’t always color inside the lines, but creative work is better when there are lines.

Take risk appropriately but remember of the boundaries you set yourself.

There are certain things you shouldn't do just for the sake of experiencing it. What does things are in life depends on you.

Remembering to Have Fun

June 14th, 2024 (22 days ago) • 1 minute

During the Bangkok trip, I had a lot of fun. One of the things that we talked about during the night was regrets during our younger days.

My answer that night was that I regretted not having fun.

I was in school with an asian mentality of studying hard and getting good grades. I didn't have fun. I didn't go out. I didn't do anything that was fun. I think it was also because I was more introverted at that time so I was fine with just being alone at home.

Now in my 20s, I want to try to experience more things. It's the period of time where you have the most energy.

Some people may say that you should hunker down and work hard and enjoy later. For me, I think that's a bit too late.

Work hard but also not too hard that you sacrifice social life and life itself. Go out there, try new things, meet new people.

p.s watch this as well on What makes a person popular by Dr Ana

On posting

June 11th, 2024 (25 days ago) • 1 minute

Putting yourself out there is important. It lets people know who you are and maybe from there you get to collaborate with others.

I think that was why I started to write and more recently on Medium. I hope to be able to churn out 1 post a week.

With quantity comes quality. So just start writing.

Bangkok: Day 4

June 4th, 2024 (about 1 month ago) • 2 minutes

  • Woke up later than expected at 10am. We didn't set an alarm. I guess last night was really too fun for us

  • 18 bottles of alcohol over 2 days. We are really "living the life"

  • Packed up bags and hurried out to get brunch before catching our flight at 2.45pm

  • Jan Kha Hmoo has really great pork leg rice. We almost went with the wrong one because we were rushing. They were actually further inside the alley

  • Airport checks were straightforward. GW had to throw away his cooling lotion he bought from Chatuchak because it was more than 100ml. I forgot about that rule

  • Our terminal is again at the end. We were lucky in being unlucky

  • AirAsia took over MyAirline's planes. The seats were so spacious, this is much more comfy that the previous flight

  • Booked a grab only to have 2 drivers reject us when they reach. They asked us to book a 6 seater because we have 4 person. It didn't make sense because all of us don't have a luggage, only a small carry on

  • Contemplated to go on MooMoo for buffet. Ended up at Gardens to have ramen at Ramen Menya Appare 麵屋 天晴

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