As asked by many friends, I have put together a resource page for all the life-advice stuff that I’ve been reading, applying and writing about.
My writing for the last few years has been an ongoing personal (and now more public) inquiry into the human condition. A big bold claim, I know, but I can’t find a better terms to describe the various questions I’ve been asking along the way. I do so mostly by telling stories and muse on them (Participant observation, as the anthropologists say)
I do it for two main reasons. First, I enjoy doing it. Second, I would like to believe that we are not alone, and that the troubles I’ve sit with is not unique and therefore may mean something to you.
In college, I almost majored in Philosophy as I got fascinated by Western philosophy (like this Onion article). Then I burned out and decided to just enjoy life without thinking too much about it, aka taking an experiential approach. Needless to say, I failed miserably and ended up philosophizing every step along the way. 🤣 One thing for sure though: my inquiry is not a search for capital T Truth, whatever that means. It’s just fun, interesting and maybe important.
Sometimes I draw on my background as a Millennial, a Vietnamese, someone who went to school in Singapore, college student in America, a nerd, an almost-techie, an almost-trickster who enjoys mixing, matching, twisting and discombobulating life experiences to share. Friends have come to talk to me about life, its joys and sorrows, its celebrations and struggles. I got better at admitting my ignorance, reframing and exploring those questions with them.
I want to keep asking and living those questions, and I am rejoiced to have you with me. No, you don’t have to be on my side. Indeed, I’d prefer you don’t so that we can co-inquire into the line we have drawn. It’s always my invitation for you to be on par, with-ness and play with me.
Life is a beautiful mess to be wondered about rather than cleaned up.
Onto potentially helpful stuff.
- Enneagram: If you are into the whole personality type thing, in the 18-40 year old range and haven’t heard of the Enneagram, you should definitely check it out. I like it more than the Myer Briggs because it has a lot more dynamic view of human development. The Wisdom of the Enneagram is a great book. Here is a resource guide I’ve compiled that you might find useful.
- ULab: Leading from the Emerging Future: I’ve taken it this free online course every year since it was first offered 3 years ago. It’s not a normal online course; it’s a budding social movement of integrating the intelligence of the head, heart and hand. Highly recommended for those who isn’t sure of what they want to pursue in their life but have a vague sense that they want to do something meaningful for the world (which is most of us anyway). If you have 40′ quiet uninterrupted time for a journaling session, do it here.
- Work/life “practical” stuff
- Design Your Life: great methodology to think about your life as a designer
- What Color Is Your Parachute: you can’t go wrong with this classic job-hunting. I’ve got a signed copy by the late Richard Bolles 🙂
- Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker: you can’t go wrong with this classic. Here’s a good synopsis.
- How will you measure your life (decent summary): looking at life through the lens of business. One of those rarer books that teaches us how to think, not what to think. Good theories matter.
- Related: The Startup of You: Good career advice in general for those interested in career. I am learning to let go of the notion of “career” myself, but many tips there are useful as life advice too.
- Deeper (whatever that means)
- Wild Mind and Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin are both well-researched and soulfully written (he has a really nice definition of “soul” that doesn’t feel religious or new-agy, which I appreciate).
- Finite & Infinite Games by James Carse. I gave up highlighting this tiny book – it’s way too dense. The opening line nails it “There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other, infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play”
- When you feel existential and spiritually horny, get Alan Watt. He will slap you in the face and you will feel great about it. For someone who used to be so deep into self-improvement, this is a good whack What if there is no self to improve. Beware: by conventional labels, he was an alcoholic and infidel. By the way, as someone who’s inflicted with a terminal disease called “a desire to live a meaningful life” I hit existential crises quite often too, and riffed about it once here.
- Work/life “practical” stuff
- If you are interested in what I read, see Thought Diet on my page.
Now to stuff I wrote, mostly in 2017.
Dear Jumbo: The advice column I wrote for Tufts students during my senior year.
- The importance of living importantly It’s too easy to be nihilistic. I don’t advocate for heroism, but I think we all aspire to live with meanings.
- Choose pain over numbness On choosing to embrace life.
- Also related Confession of a cynic in recovery
- I fall in love with the body. On discovering my sensuous self (it’s an active inquiry these days. Good TOUCH is the #1 thing to learn and appreciate!)
- A clown who stops trying to be funny. On learning to find life amusing.
- Three Truths and no lies On how to live with the paradox of “good people do bad thing”
- Achievement and Fulfillment How to think about each of them, and then both.
- Vu Deja – the opposite of “already seen” is “as if never seen before”
- Don’t be yourself – in defense of conformity, against the rah-rah search for “your True Authentic self” of the self-help gurudom.
- DTR – my rare column explicitly on relationships. Nobody should be together, unless accidentally so.
- From FOMO to JOBI – A reframe of this era’s phobia: missing out.
- When 2 = 4. On how we unknowingly narrow ourselves. Either/or < both-and.
- To the Young One: a plea for the future generations and also re-thinking “personal” development. A related story is my crisis of self-improvement.
- Meaning and Money: meaning, money, body, play. All entangled up.
- The dances you bring – on my reflection with Contact Improvisation, recommended if you wanted to learn more about this beautiful form.
- We need the best of each other: a story about my summer interning with People-Centered Internet. On the reality of young people entering the working world while hoping to make a difference. Also Coda: on cultivating relationships
- The coming of the Entrepreneurial kid: Thoughts from hanging out with young, ambitious people.
- Finding and Making a place: personal reflection on finding what it means to be live with the intimate knowing “To be human is to become visible while carrying what’s hidden as gift to others” – David Whyte
- Being a voodoo doll: a story on an edgy play I did at Touch & Play camp.
Phew! I will update this page often. Meanwhile, you can subscribe for the weekly Enzymes to help you digest your life experiences here. Do send me a note at g.khuyen [at] gmail [dot]com. I’d love to hear from you!