The Opponent

There is an obstacle, an opponent, holding you back. Pushing you to the ropes. Beating you to the ground.

This opponent stands over you.

It feels insurmountable. It feels unstoppable. And, worst of all, it feels perpetual.

When you push back, it resists. When you regain footing, it pushes forward. When you break, it stands strong. It cannot be stopped.

But does that matter?

Get after it anyway.

What reward is there for the one who runs? For the one who hides from his opponent?

There is nothing for them.

But for the one who holds, he is strengthened.

In bodybuilding, it is the weight’s resistance that strengthens you. By pushing against the opposition, you gain strength. Is this principle not universal?

Your opponent is the weight, bearing down on you. You must fight it. By fighting that which opposes you, you build the skills to beat it.

By fighting laziness, you gain discipline. By fighting submission, you gain toughness. By fighting fear, you gain courage.

Think you’re too weak to beat the opponent? Fight it. By fighting weakness, you build strength.

Think you’re not smart enough to strategize against the opponent? Fight it. By fighting ignorance, you build intelligence.

We learn by practice. You solve the problem by trying to solve the problem. Bad writer? You must write and endure the bad writing. Eventually, you will find clarity and style. Socially awkward? You must socialize and endure the awkward moments. Eventually, you will develop charisma. So fight the opponent.

And keep fighting.

It may stand tall. Even if you push forward, it may still be standing tall. But the more you fight, the stronger and smarter you become. You learn how it moves. You learn how it attacks. You learn how it defends. Can’t go through it? Go under it. Can’t go under it? Go over it. Can’t go over it? Flank it. You fight until you learn how to beat it.

You do not run from your problems. You do not hide from your fears. You do not shrink. Shrinking is not the answer. Being strong is. The light at the end of the tunnel is found not by running backward but by marching forward. By simply showing up and fighting, you will build the skills and learn how to beat the opponent.

So the next time you find an opponent standing across the ring from you, plant your feet, lace your gloves, bite down on your mouthpiece, push forward, and remind yourself, “When I push against the unstoppable, I become stronger. When I strategize against the insurmountable, I become smarter. When I rise up to fight against that which stands over me, I bring myself to a higher level. Because what opposes me, in truth, strengthens me.”

The Joy of Stoicism: Perception

We will all be attacked.

Physically, we have martial arts to defend ourselves. But emotionally? What do we have? How do you recover when a loved one dies? When your significant other is not the person you thought they were, how do you move on? When a failed exam or a lost job opportunity rips your career aspirations away, how do you continue? With Stoicism.

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The Joy of Stoicism: Perception (Draft 1)

Note: After writing this post, I spent 2 weeks studying writing and another week rewriting this post. I have added a revised version of this post, but I chose to keep this first draft so you could see the improvements I made with the second draft.

“Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 1.18.21

Our thoughts control our mind, and our mind controls our emotions. As what we eat determines our physical health, what we think determines our mental health.

But what is it to think well? We know how to eat well and to be healthy. Doctors and numerous books on nutrition and dieting tell us so. But how do you think yourself to better mental health? When you are sick, you take medicine. However, when you are discouraged by failure, what do you do? When you are torn by a breakup, how do you recover? When you miss a job offer, what then? The answers may be found in Stoicism.

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Learning Piano (Day 89): “Haste Makes Waste”

I did in one month what most would take one day to do. I wanted to be a prodigy…what a step backward.

In March, I reflected on and refined my learning process. I identified and corrected mistakes, I threw out wastes of time, and I added learning techniques, tactics, and strategies used by the learning experts Scott H. Young, Josh Kaufman, and Tim Ferriss. This updated process was my recipe for becoming a prodigy of anything and everything.

When April began, I tested this process immediately.

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How I Learn

I want to be a polymath.

Others want to learn something specific. I want to be able to learn many things. More specifically, I want the ability to learn anything, the ability to be prodigious at anything. I want to be a master learner.

But my last learning challenge exposed the truth that I am nowhere near this dream. I wanted to learn “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme,” the most difficult piano piece from the Oscar-winning musical La La Land, in 30 days. I had never played piano before, yet I was trying to learn La La Land’s most difficult piano piece in a month. I had hypotheses about how to learn piano, but I had no plan. I had a short deadline, yet I procrastinated. I was naive, I was lazy, and I was lost, so I spent the whole of March reflecting on this last challenge and on my learning process. After much revision, observation, and experimentation, here is my learning process, in every detail:

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Decelerated Learning For Accelerated Times: How To Analyze Fights And Read Books

 Slowing Earth’s Orbit

If the world stopped spinning, we’d fly sideways at 1,600km/hour and become blood smoothies.

The world turns fast, evidently. That is true both literally and metaphorically. As you get older, time seems to speed up. One moment you’re writing college apps, next you’re graduating, then you’re thrown off to the real world. Work gets tougher, deadlines get shorter, and everything spins faster. The enjoyable moments decrease while the stressful moments multiply. You tell yourself you’ll relax when the work is done —but there’s never enough time, never less work. Will you ever relax? Will the break come? You secretly hope that it does, but you also hope that it doesn’t, because if you break too long, you’re a blood smoothie on a wall.

It’s tough to relax. Even if you’re busying yourself always, it’s impossible to relax.

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What Martial Arts Taught Me About Learning: “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out”

It’s a common scenario that martial arts saves someone, but this isn’t about that.

It isn’t even about having an undying passion for martial arts—I haven’t trained in more than a year. It’s about the perspective I gained looking through martial arts.

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