Small Pieces of Magic

We do not see the world as it is, but as we are.

— Anaïs Nin


Notes from The Happiness Equation – Neil Pasricha

Notes taken from Blinkist summary.

  • Success and great work come from people who are already happy. Happiness comes when your motivation is internal, ie. you do things because you love doing them, rather than external.
  • Use the 20 minute replay before going to bed: write down at least one thing that made you happy during the day. This allows you to relive the happiness and also recognise future moments of happiness.
  • Your brain is wired to produce negative thoughts — your amygdala identifies dangers and triggers a stress response. The PFC tries to counter this stress with logic, but the amygdala often wins, keeping us anxious and unhappy.
  • Retirement is a concept the Germans invented in 1889, to open up the job market to younger people and let 65 plus-ers enjoy their final years (when the average lifespan was 67 years). However, healthy people have a desire to stay productive.
  • Okinawa Islanders: no concept or word for retirement. Instead, they have ikigai: the reason you wake up in the morning.graph
  • Overvalue your time. Time should be given a higher value in your life, since we have precious little of it. Be aware of how you are spending your time. Reconsider how much your time is worth when it’s not being spent doing things that give you joy, meaning and purpose. Try dividing your week into three categories: ‘sleeping’, ‘work’, and ‘things I love doing’. 168 hours/3 = 56 hours per category = healthy work-life balance
  • To create more time, reduce choices and make space. Making decisions fills up time and can be stressful. Many decisions aren’t even important. You can regulate your wardrobe, chores, routines.
  • Setting fake deadlines can also create more time. [cf. Parkinson’s Law: work will always take as long as the deadline allows — C. Northcote Parkinson, 1955.] If your assignment/task is due in 3 weeks, set yourself a deadline in 1 week, to cut out the time wasted on procrastinating and worrying.
  • Break through barriers and tick things off your bucket list, even if you’re afraid. Break through the ‘can’t do’ and ‘don’t want to’ mental barriers.
  • Take the Saturday morning test: what would you like to do on a Saturday morning, when there are no other obligations? Think over your answer and put yourself on the path to your true self. The more Saturday morning activities you do, the happier you’ll become.
  • Be true to yourself and don’t rely on the advice of others. Ultimately, you’re the only one who really knows your hopes and desires.

Happiness lies in realising that you already have everything you need. Once you start doing the things you love and being yourself, you can start enjoying your life and living it to the fullest.

Take action:

  • Pick one of the above practices and challenge yourself to keep at it for seven days. Track how it affects you.

My thoughts, normally bunched together, wrapped in gauze, insistent, urgent, impatient, one moment to the next, living in what I now realize is, in essence, a constant state of emergency (as if my evolutionary instincts of fight or flight have gone haywire, leading me to spend each morning, noon and evening in a low-grade but absolutely never-ceasing muted form of panic), those rushed and ragged thoughts are now falling away, one by one, revealing themselves for what they are: the same thought over and over again.

— p. 122 of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, by Charles Yu

Next Road Trip: Warburton Redwood Forest

Take me here, please!

warburton redwood.jpg

Explore The Warburton Redwood Forest

Photograph taken from

Reminder to self

Do one thing at a time. Multitasking is a myth. You are not an operating system.

homeward driving under sunset skies on a tired friday night

softly dimming sky
layers of tangerine and lavender blue
embracing the world

it soothes the itch in my bones
my juddering fluttering soul
i inhale colour and space

The Paper Menagerie | Ken Liu


“Labeling someone a monster implies that he is from another world, one which has nothing to do with us. It cuts off the bonds of affection and fear, assures us of our own superiority, but there’s nothing learned, nothing gained. It’s simple, but it’s cowardly.”


Sometimes I get asked for book recommendations. I fall in love with a lot of books, but there aren’t many that astound me several times over. If I had to recommend just one book this year, it would almost certainly be this short story anthology by Nebula and Hugo award-winner Ken Liu. His tales intertwine sci-fi 🚀, magic 🎆, history🎎 and emotion 🎭 to come up with ideas that make me jealous that I didn’t think of something so clever! Many of his stories also have Asian themes, characters and history.

Has anyone else read any Ken Liu works? I’m very keen to get a hands on a copy of his translation of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem.

Be nice

Be nice out of your own choosing. Expect nothing in return. You have no control over other people’s actions.

Doing Nothing


All my life I’ve taught myself to do–
and to do more.

Over the years I learned to beat the clock
Squeeze more minutes into each hour
Drive to work with breakfast in one hand
Do three things at once instead of two
Add two things to my list when I check off one.

In this way, I understood, life became full;
While I became frantic.

And so yesterday
as I sank deeper beneath the surface
and my bones soaked up the heat of the water
I gazed up at pieces of cloud and blue, caught between branches
and tried to teach myself once more
–(unlearn, unlearn)–
the value of doing nothing.


[Photo taken at Jiufen Old Street, Taiwan]

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