Negative Emotions… Or Action Signals?











These “negative” emotions plague us all at some point or another, and I wanted to share a helpful lesson I learned from Tony Robbins’ “Get the Edge” series. A friend recommended I check him out, and I found Tony’s way of working around problems to be pretty insightful. This particular lesson is about interpreting your “negative” emotions in a productive way and taking action to change your life. (Dear Tony Robbins Team: If there is any issue with my posting the material below, please let me know, and I will change it.)

Tony Robbins talks about learning to view these negative emotions as “action signals” with each bringing their own respective messages, and how you can utilize them to better your life. Simple right? But we don’t always respond in the right way. Sometimes we misinterpret the messages, blame others or ourselves for our circumstances, or even pretend those negative feelings don’t exist. This lesson is about looking into the truth of your emotions and taking charge of your life by changing your perception and your procedure. I highly recommend Tony Robbins’ “Get the Edge” CD series as it contains many helpful lessons in leading a fulfilling life. Below is a short summary of each action signal and their message:

Uncomfortable-Change your state, clarify what you want, and take action in the direction you want. For example, I’m an introvert (for those who are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality system. Oftentimes it’s tough putting myself out there to meet and talk with unfamiliar people. However I understand that although it’s easier to run away, doing that will ultimately make me even more unhappy and uncomfortable in the future. If I want to meet wonderful people, I need to be sincere as well as enthusiastic in making those connections, and that means putting in effort. I find this quote to be as true as much as it is a pain in the ass: “There’s no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.”

Fear-Whether it is anxiety or heart-stopping terror, it’s telling you to prepare yourself for an upcoming situation to avoid the negative consequences of being unprepared. Of course it’s easier said than done, and I certainly have had my share of problems in confronting these issues instead of running away, which never solves anything.

Hurt-Feelings of hurt result when you have an expectation that has not been met, and you feel a sense of loss. It is important to reflect on these feelings because expectations can be very subjective. Say you were excited to meet a friend, but they were late or rescheduled at the last minute. Perhaps the other party didn’t mean to offend and had something unexpected occur, in which case it’s better to understand the situation before making judgments (change your perception), or if they actually are non-committal and don’t respect your time, then they aren’t worth yours (change your procedure and drop them).

Anger-“Anger is usually an outgrowth of hurt.”-Tony Robbins. The message behind anger is that an important rule or principle of yours has been violated. I am a fairly emotional person, and if you have seen Pixar’s Inside Out, ‘Anger’ is definitely my main emotion who is calling the shots. Which isn’t to say I’m exploding all the time, but as I like to think of it, I am a very principled person whose values happen to get trampled on. A lot. Respect and equality are beliefs that have been ingrained in my personality, and I often get stressed and irritated when they are trampled upon, such as at the ‘professional’ workplace. In this case, you can: (1) change your perception: “Maybe this person wasn’t trying to anger me?”, or (2) change your procedure: ideally communicate your perspective and/or compromise.

Frustration-This emotion is telling you there has been a breakdown in communication and to change your approach to accomplish what you want. When your current methods are not getting the point across, it’s time to be more flexible and try a different angle. When I was younger, if I was not angry then I would likely be frustrated. I always thought the world should be fair and everyone treated equally, and I obviously ran into many who disagreed. In this case, it helps to think about what the other party’s perspective is and what it would take to get them to agree or compromise. A definition of insanity that has been around for who knows how long: “Insanity is attempting to get a new result by doing the same thing over and over again.” Don’t be insane. It’s not fun.

Disappointment-This action signal states an expectation you have has not been met. Maybe the timeline you set is not realistic? If it’s not reasonable, you can change your perception to something more appropriate or change your procedure (i.e. what you’re doing) to meet your expectations.

Guilt/Regret-The message behind guilt is that you have violated your own standards or principles. The best action is to reflect on what you need to change so as to avoid feelings of guilt in the future, but we usually don’t do so. People often deny the guilt or wallow in it, which only makes it worse. If you don’t treat a wound, it may fester and become a much bigger pain in the future. Use the guilt to get the message and do what it takes so that similar issues do not appear again.

Inadequacy -The message from inadequacy or unworthy feelings is to immediately work to improve on something. As always, be honest and ask yourself, “is this feeling appropriate?” If not, then change your perception. There is no point in laying around and feeling inferior as that only makes you more miserable. Nothing will change unless you act, and things only are what you make of it.

Overwhelmed– Also known as “depressed” or “hopeless”, in my opinion this is one of the most crippling emotions because a person experiencing it will find it extremely difficult to climb back up. Perhaps you are trying to do too much in too little time or are feeling a lack of control or connection in your life, but the message here is to change your state, clarify what is important or what you want, and act.

Isolation-The message behind isolation is to spend time around people. We all feel lonely, and this alienating emotion is a large part of why I believe connection is the crucial third stage on the path to true fulfillment and happiness. I spent a large amount of my life unintentionally distancing myself from others, and the resulting isolation helped contribute to my depression.

Obviously this categorization is not perfect. A lot of these action signals are similar, as well as their resulting messages, but this is only meant to be a general guideline to interpreting your emotions. Whether you are irritated, angered, or completely losing your shit, these all fall into the ‘anger’ category. And for more complicated emotions like rejection, you should ask yourself if you are feeling more frustrated, hurt, uncomfortable, etc.  The point is to recognize these ‘action signals’ for what they are, appreciate the message, and take action—by changing your perception, procedures, or both.

It’s tough facing your emotions. For the longest time, I ran away from uncomfortable social situations. I didn’t know how to interact with others and bottled up my thoughts, and I became frustrated and hurt as some people would treat me with disdain. Rather than forcing myself to learn how to communicate earlier on, I took the easier path of isolation. However, we as human beings are not meant to be alone. The combination of low self-esteem and isolation ended with me fighting with depression for many years before taking action, but it has also given me an experience I hope will help others better understand it—both people currently undergoing depression and those who care about them—and I plan on writing a post dedicated to this subject. Seeing through your emotions is difficult; it takes maturity and self-reflection to be honest with yourself and constant effort to improve your situation. But if the result is a happier and healthier you, is it not worth it?


What Is Love?

I thought about including this in the previous post, but I feel that love being the most valuable experience we can ever have is more my own subjective opinion rather than what applies to everyone. Anyways, here it goes…

So what is love? I have thought about this a lot, but the concept of love seems to be just as elusive to me now as it was in the beginning. The Greeks had several words for all the various definitions of love, just to begin to describe its complexity. Personally, I believe it’s the strongest of all emotions, so strong that it defies logic. Even when we know we shouldn’t do something or that it doesn’t make sense, we will ignore our reasoning for love. It’s so strong it can even defy the ultimate instinct of all living beings—that of self-preservation, and we see it every time parents care for their kids, or when someone sacrifices for their partner. We all naturally crave it and pursue it on our own ways because whether we realize it or not, love colors and uplifts our lives long after everything else crumbles to dust. No matter if it is with your friends, your family, or your partner, I believe love is what makes life meaningful. On the other hand, life without love is like eating plain bread day after day without PB or J. It’s boring, and it gets tiring real fast.

Again, I cannot quantify or validate the meaning of love—all of these are merely my thoughts on this most elusive of subjects—but in my opinion, nothing quite compares to that heart-quickening sensation you feel when you see your beloved. Maybe that will change if I ever have kids, who knows. To end this post, I included a poem my best friend wrote about love, who does a far better job describing it than I ever will.


What is love?

Is it that 3rd grade crush you had to conceal?

Is it something that will appeal

To the masses? To the secret admirer

Who hides behind glasses?

Is it something you wear like a medal or medallion?

Is it a primal need like that of a stallion?

Or is it a pedal that fell from a flower?

Is it the exposure of weaknesses or the yearning for power?

Is it a wound so deep, it will never heal?

What is love? But furthermore is it real?


I believe the final stage of connection, or love, is what brings fulfillment and meaning into our lives. The Greeks had several different definitions of “love”, and the kind I mean to talk about is storge-love. This kind of sacrificial love unconditionally accepts another’s flaws; it is the love that parents instinctually have for their children, and the kind that defines best friends. This love may turn romantic where both partners magnify each other’s experiences, bringing a new sense of trust and comfort to the relationship. Different people may desire different things—some seek power and influence while others value peace and quiet—but for all of us, it is the irreplaceable, loving relationships that color our lives and give it the most meaning. Consciously or not, we all realize this, and everyone naturally seeks to form these relationships with others.

However, we are often sidetracked on our path to form these connections as we sometimes receive the wrong messages. We are influenced by the cultures we grow up in, and media is a great example of this. When we read about a romance or watch it on-screen, our idealization of relationships and love are changed to reflect what we see. We are told that we should be dating, what our partner should look like, and how they should act. This all becomes the standard, the expectation. But when these things fail to meet our needs, we become confused and disillusioned.

I believe we all come across a time when we feel lonely and isolated from others. Everyone’s situation is different, but it is inevitable that this happens to each and every one of us. When we face this low point and how we deal with it defines who we are. Unfortunately, a prolonged lack of connection to others can sometimes lead people to harmful behaviors like addictions and depression (**to be expanded in later posts**). And when our friends start finding partners, we wonder why we are always alone or whether there is something wrong with us—if there’s something broken inside. Some people, when looking for that emotional connection, try to fill that empty space inside with the physical presence of another human being. Which can be nice, but in the end, it’s a poor substitute for what we truly desire: the unconditional love of another human being. I am not looking down on those who choose that; in fact, I think it is a misinterpreted instinctual reaction to when we are feeling down. I just don’t think physical intimacy without a mutual connection fulfills us as human beings.

As for how to reach that stage of connection…I am not quite sure as I’m still working that out for myself. All I can say is that for now, what I believe will make my life ultimately fulfilling is living life with wonderful relationships, and for that I need to be honest and empathetic with those I care about. My views may differ in the coming years, but that’s what I currently believe and will chase after.


Of all the possible topics, this is the one I am the most excited to write about. Empathy is where the idea for this blog originated, and eventually I expanded it into the areas of honesty and connection. It’s a subject I’ve spent most of my life exploring, and I believe this is an idea of great importance in our current age of technology and communication.

Today we have advantages never seen before in humanity’s brief existence in the universe; we have our lessons of history to learn from and the technology to instantly connect people across the globe. Information is at our fingertips wherever there is an internet connection, and people of all different ethnicities and backgrounds mingle and interact on a scale never before seen. When we meet someone from another place or country, we have to opportunity to learn about their views and culture and broaden our own perspectives.

Yet this also causes conflicts as these people and experiences are unfamiliar to us. All too often ignorance and unfamiliarity lead to discomfort. Discomfort can turn into distrust and anger, and soon after, one group starts discriminating against the other. The “enemy”, painted with a single-story, has their humanity is stripped from them; they are seen as less than: beastly savages and heathens that must be forcibly reformed or removed for the greater good, and violence is seen as the only solution.

It is interesting to note that no one goes to war believing they are on the wrong side. Each side fights with the confidence that theirs is the moral, divine cause and that the enemy is an irredeemable evil that must be eradicated. As revolting as it may appear, the Nazis were one such group. Several factors led to their rise to power as the Nationalist Social German Worker’s Party, but the end result was the dehumanization of various minorities and one of the most brutal, systematic purges in all of recorded history. Sadly enough, their story is not unique, as we see this same story of dehumanization played out again and again with different characters. I do not mean to diminish the loss from such a tragedy, only to note that widespread massacres happen any time people are dehumanized and human life is cheapened. Even to this day, wars continue to be fought over various resources, ideals, and religions, and people all over Earth suffer. If there are enough resources to sustain Earth’s billions, why do we so often resort to violence?

At our heart, I believe we are all the same. I think most people will naturally agree with this—if you’ve read this far, you likely have a high degree of empathy—but I’d like to invite everyone to consider the following: all human beings are the same. Sure, we come in with different features, sizes, and skin tones; but our minds, the part that makes us human beings, are no different from each other. We all are born into this world, with no choice of how and when we came into it. And so we (hopefully) mature as we live through the ups and downs of life. We all experience the same emotions of anger, sadness, and joy. We all have precious things that we want to protect, and deep down, I think we all believe in fairness, whether it’s a conscious or subconscious driver.

As we experience life, we develop our own sense of right and wrong and get upset when others trample over the rules we use to make sense of the world. Like when a driver cuts us off on the road or we see someone get bullied, it violates our principles of right and wrong. We feel anger and the desire to right that wrong in our internal world, usually by imagining some sort of accident or karmic justice to be wrought upon the offender. Even someone who grows up completely self-centered believes that is what everyone does because that is simply how the world works, so why shouldn’t they do the same? In the end, they are only doing what they believe is fair or right for themselves. So if we all start from the same place and have the same motivational drivers, why is it so hard for one person to understand another?

It is because of our self-centered natures. From the moment we are born, we are only conscious of our little world. As babies, we cry when we are hungry or startled. We cry when we poop ourselves and need a cleaning. It’s all about what we want because we cannot yet comprehend what others feel and think. As a person matures, we become more and more aware and learn how to interact with others, but this self-centered perspective never fully leaves us because that is the nature of our identities. We perceive the world through our senses; we see through our eyes. From our perspectives, we are the center of our universe. This stays true no matter who you are, even if that’s Gandhi reincarnated. (Note that I use the term “self-centered” to mean a natural state of perspective rather than someone who is entirely preoccupied with their own affairs.)

Yet we all are obviously able to look beyond ourselves as the capacity for empathy resides in each and every one of us. There have been many famous people in history who made their mark as revolutionary leaders for their time (Gandhi, Buddha, Martin Luther King Jr., as well as other figures outside of the Western world, sorry I’m ignorant), and it is no coincidence they all espoused non-violence and empathy as the solution to the problems they faced. But even though we learn of their lessons and praise their actions, it is much harder to internalize and practice them ourselves. It’s painful and difficult to challenge popular conventions or imagine who could be hurt by our selfish or thoughtless actions. But these are all questions we must eventually face: what kind of person do you want to be? When you see suffering, will you turn a blind eye and pretend it’s not there? Will you think about the empathy in your life, when it was received or where it should have been? Maybe there are some bitter memories, but someone has to start it. So try to understand where your parents and friends are coming from; try to empathize with your coworkers or neighbors and give them your attention when you are with them. Because even if you have been wronged before, someone has to believe in a better world and act to change what’s around them. It’s uncomfortable to think about people in suffering; it hurts to feel other people’s pain. But that is the only way we will ever truly understand each other, and those around you will love you for it.

I dream of a world. A world where people look at others who appear different and yet know they are the same. A world where people value life and integrity over status and power. A world where people help others as they would want to be helped. A world of empathy.

My Dream

First off, I want to apologize to the readers and to myself. I started writing not only to develop my thoughts but also with the hope that this would encourage the empathetic part within all of us. I wanted to promote discussion on topics like depression, aging, prejudice and division, honesty, and love because that is what I believe people need to understand to live a fulfilling life. I look out and see a broken world weighed down by pain and apathy, and I desire to change it.

And for these last few months, I have been failing. My goal of a world where people strive to understand one another, one where people refuse to take advantage of others simply because they can, may be nothing more than a dream, but it will never have a chance if I, as well as others, do nothing to push it forward. I could make excuses about how I have been too preoccupied or overwhelmed lately, but the reality of it does not change. I may yet live a long time, but life is too short and too precious to waste it worrying that people will not see eye to eye with me. So I will write as it is currently the best way to start working towards my goal. I may change my mind in the future. I could very well be a different person a few years down the road. But either way, for now I will write.

Honesty with Others

The next step to happiness is honesty with others. Yes we’ve all heard this story before, but let us stop and think about it for a moment. It’s common to hide things from other people. As we grow, we learn to present a certain face to show the world and keep our real thoughts to ourselves. Why? It’s because we want to be more easily accepted. By appearing friendly and meeting people’s expectations, we are seen in a positive light and more easily able to get what we want from others, whether it’s for attention or favors. For example what child hasn’t acted like an angel to get something from their parents? This kind of manipulation further develops as we mature, and it extends to our everyday interactions as well.

So we put on this mask because it’s more likely to get what we desire and because other people do it too. Whether this pressure is due to society’s expectations and/or our hesitance to reveal cracks in the old armor, this creates a wall between us and other people. This barrier may protect our identities from being exposed to other people’s judgments and negative reactions, but it also prevents us from empathizing and connecting with people. Obviously, you do not have to understand everyone to be happy, and you can get by simply being friendly with most people. However, everyone needs at least a few people who they can be themselves with and who truly understands them. Perhaps it is because of our social nature, but we all long for that deep connection in our lives, a role that is filled with family and loved ones. Without it, I fear what’s precious inside of us dries up and withers away. If we push others away and never let anybody get close, we may be able to protect ourselves for the time being, but it comes at the cost of forming close bonds with other people.

So then should we open ourselves to every stranger that we come across? If you decide to, you are braver than I, for we have developed these self-defense mechanisms for a very real reason. We seek to protect ourselves because in today’s society because people do judge us, sometimes with negative results. Even if we are completely honest and have good intentions, people may still misunderstand what we mean because their experiences will interpret that same action a different way. Whether we want to or not, our past experiences frame our current perspective through which we view the world, and since we all have unique experiences, everyone views the same reality a little differently (to be later expanded more in the “Empathy” section). Additionally, we are naturally self-centered through the way we view the world, so it’s easy to misinterpret someone else’s actions if we don’t first consider the possibility of them imparting a meaning different from our original interpretation. And so, people hide their thoughts from us and vice versa in an effort to conform to ‘normal’ expectations, to climb the social ladder, and to avoid being judged. In an ideal world, we may one day not have to worry about such things, but this is the reality we currently live in. So what should we do?

I can’t say this is the ultimate solution for everybody, but I know what’s truly important for myself is to form deeply connected relationships with at least a few people. So while I also wear a face at work and at unfamiliar social situations, I try as much as possible to be open to forming those honest relationships. As I mentioned before, it is typical to be on friendly terms with most people but try to at least have one or two people who you can talk with honestly and deeply, who know you and who you can rely on. And support them in return—because those are the kinds of people worth having in your life.

I know it’s much easier said than done. Even if we feel confident in our identities and abilities one moment, it can all evaporate in the next, and the hardest part of all this is staying true to your beliefs when you are feeling emotionally and physically drained or, worse, apathetic. It takes constant effort and commitment to your goals. But even then, we all face our moments of doubt. We’ve all experienced periods of loneliness one way or another, moving away from friends and family, physically or emotionally. The isolation alone in our minds can be a dangerous environment where self-doubt can grow without restraint, a place where our mind starts to deteriorate. That’s why it’s so important to connect with others and have people who have your back, and people who understand you and help you reach your potential. And you start by forming those friendships with honesty.

Now we have explored why it’s important to be honest with others due to ‘self-centered’ reasons, but I also want to explore the other side of the spectrum—those who may not open up due to ‘selfless’ reasons. I don’t expect as many to have this issue, but for those who are inherent givers, this may be helpful.

A dear friend has trouble saying “no”. Growing up, she was always taught to put others first and herself last. She was taught helping others was important, and it became a source of pride for her–pride in how humble and helpful one can be. Over the years, this had become cemented in her personality, and she couldn’t refuse requests for help even when she was struggling to take care of herself. It got to the point where she had to constantly be productive or else she would feel guilty for wasting time that could be spent helping others. I believe she also derived part of her self-worth from her perceived ‘usefulness’ to others. She knew it wasn’t the healthiest, but it had been ingrained in her mind for so long things were hard to change. Since then, she’s been trying to find out what is best for her and the best way to set up boundaries with other people. I’m proud that she is striving to carve out her own path to be happier. Also, you can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself.

Generally speaking, helping others is a positive thing, but there are always two things to keep in mind: (1) does offering help make sense and (2) does helping them bring any unreasonable negative consequences to you. The former is about pursuing the best outcome. I personally believe in helping other people when I can because I would want others to do the same for me. However, it’s not uncommon for selfless people to be taken advantage of when they have a difficult time in denying requests. Whether it is done intentionally or not, there will always be people who take advantage of other people’s generosity, and then the situation becomes unproductive and detrimental for both parties involved. An old Chinese adage comes to mind: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” So rather than providing someone help temporarily, act in a way to bring about the best results from the situation. If someone consistently relies on others, they will only become more dependent and more demanding. Isn’t it better to have them learn for themselves and grow from the experience? Even if it’s painful—especially if it’s painful—it is better to get it over with now rather than let the issue become more unmanageable in the future. For the latter, what was the generosity of a favor turns into entitlement, and the pressure from and resentment for the other person will only grow.

How do we determine these boundaries then? It can be tough to determine the right move because we do not always understand the whole situation. But from my experience, communicating with the other party ends up working out the best. Talking upfront and honestly can save a lot of frustration, and by understanding the other person’s situation, you can in turn be honest about your own and whether you can and want to help them. It’s important to be honest with how you are doing too. After all, you can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself.

Honesty with Ourselves

Honesty is the first step towards leading a fulfilling life. It’s important to be honest with others, but it’s especially important to be honest with yourself. The latter is fairly complicated and affects everything in your life, but let’s give it a whirl.

Self-reflection is critical to being honest and leading a healthy lifestyle, but it’s tricky because we are inevitably biased when it comes to ourselves. It’s easy looking at someone else and explaining the problem. For ourselves however, our emotions get in the way, and we have a terribly difficult time remaining neutral when judging our own situations. Still, we should always think about the choices we’ve made and the decisions we will make. Am I being honest with myself? Am I avoiding accountability? Does what I’m feeling right now make sense? Reflecting upon your actions helps you grow as a person, and if you’ve made a mistake, you will grow from the experience and become a stronger person. On the other hand if you never acknowledge and work on your weaknesses, you will never improve, and nothing will change. You should always strive to improve yourself, but it should be because you want to become better in what you do, not for others and what they think you should do. If you try to fit your life around someone else’s definition of success, fulfillment, and happiness, you will never truly experience those emotions for yourself.

Being honest with ourselves also gives us more control over our lives. No matter who or where we are, we’ll have to deal with problems, and by understanding the cause, one ideally works on a solution so that particular issue won’t be a bother again. However, we sometimes ignore the true source of our discomfort, and thus the real problem, because it’s painful. It’s easier to turn away than to look in a mirror and ask what is really bothering us.

So what happens when we ignore the discomfort? It’s like a thorn in our side that becomes more and more painful as time passes. We carry this thorn with us everywhere, ignoring it until the pain is so great we wonder how it came to this. Finally, we are forced into a wall and attempt to face it and tear it out in desperation. Why, then, do we sometimes ignore our issues instead of meeting them straight on?

It is because we fear pain and prefer to avoid its cause. As a survival instinct, pain is very useful; it’s a signal saying, “Hey, dummy! This hurts, learn from it!” But sometimes, we avoid the things that hurt us or make us uncomfortable. We don’t ask ourselves why it hurts. Whether it’s due to nature or the culture we live in, we shy away from painful experiences, and in doing so, we miss learning from the experience. We miss the lesson pain teaches us—the understanding of why it hurts. It reveals to us our weakness, which we need to face if we want to improve ourselves. Every person will go through this. It’s an undeniable fact: we all have our own crucibles to walk through. Depending on how we react, our experiences can shatter us or temper us to be more resilient and become better versions of ourselves. But we need to learn and apply our experiences for it to do us any good.

I was always harsh on myself as a kid. I was the type who strove to perfect every action and demanded more of myself than I expected from others. I had to be the best. If someone complimented me on nine different things but criticized one, that one comment would be all I could think about. I would obsess about their words over and over again, feeling worse with each mental replay until I would get depressed and feel like a failure at life. Part of it was because I took pride in my work and wanted to constantly improve, but mostly I was extremely insecure. My identity as a person also depended on whether or not I was seen as capable and useful. Rooted deeply inside was my fear of being labeled as incompetent and useless… because then people would not want me around anymore. I was terrified of that lie and was afraid it was true, so I ended up believing it for a long time. But living in fear of not meeting other’s expectations is no way to live. I needed to realize that my insecurity in my self-worth was holding me back. To be honest with myself, I needed to understand that the only opinion that truly matters is my own–because I am the one who is living my life.

Why do we sometimes rest our identity in the whims and musings of others? It doesn’t make sense really. Giving that power away to others only gives you less control over your life, less opportunity for you to discover and do the things you enjoy. To really be happy, you should find out who you are, make your own decisions, and accept the consequences of those actions. And if you don’t like something, then work on it and become the type of person you admire. Then people will come to you.

The struggles we face and the pain we feel forces us to grow as people or falter if not dealt with in the right ways. If we aren’t honest with ourselves about what’s causing the pain and what is the best solution, then we slow or halt our growth on the way to becoming better people, and in that instant, we start to decay. Negative emotions like pain are signals for us to act and improve our situation, but if ignored, they will magnify to have large negative consequences on our lives. That is why it’s so important to recognize and deal with pain the right way, rather than making excuses, blaming others, or blaming yourself. This may sound like a lot of negativity (read ‘realism’), but this honesty is the foundation to build a better you for tomorrow; it’s the first step to living a life full of happiness and fulfillment. When you’re making a big decision, ask yourself: is this what I really want? Will this make me happy in the long run? If so, go and seize it.


As you can see from the title, this blog is about honesty, empathy, and connection. Why? Because I believe these things are essential to be truly happy, and if even one reader learns something that leads him or her to live a more fulfilling life, then this blog will have been worthwhile indeed.

Originally I was planning to call the blog “E is for Empathy.” I thought it was a catchy name, and it stuck in my head. But since I plan on catering to more of an adult audience and don’t expect many primary schoolers to read my blog—though if you are, that’s awesome!—I went with “Honesty, Empathy, Connection.”

OK, here we go.

Human beings are different from every other animal on this planet (don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this). Our intelligence and problem-solving ability is unrivaled on Earth, but what truly sets us apart is our sense of empathy—our ability to share and understand the feelings of another. Back in ancient times, it led us to form familial and tribal units to increase our chances of survival. In fact our sense of community is so ingrained in our survival instinct that it defines and shapes every person to this day. For many of us who have our basic needs met and are free to think beyond our immediate survival, we all seek that sense of family, still crave that connection with others. Which is a problem in today’s society.

Because while there are many benefits to technology, such as freedom from fear of starvation and most sicknesses, there exist some not-so-trivial downsides as well. We can connect with people across the globe at the touch of a button, yet we are also more impersonal and isolated in many ways. How often do we text someone rather than call because it’s easier and faster? Do you know all of your Facebook friends? We meet so many people on a daily basis that we have few opportunities to interact on a deeper level with each person. Many people find themselves developing a façade, an outer shell that presents a certain image while protecting the core of who we are from external judgement. The point is, we often become disconnected from others and—more importantly—from ourselves. We tend to lose that honesty that’s so important to trusting others and grounding ourselves in reality, and without empathy and honesty, our deep sense of connection to others suffers.

So I believe empathy is our path to leading a more fulfilling life. We were programmed to be social creatures. Indeed we need companionship to be mentally and spiritually healthy. More than that, we all seek that ultimate relationship, that form of connection so strong it’s what makes life worth living: we all seek love. Because that is who we are. Honesty, with others and ourselves, connects us to reality and allows us to communicate with each other. Open communication leads to empathy. Empathy leads to understanding, and understanding others and being understood, deeply and fully, leads us to the connection we so crave.

And that’s what this blog will be about. First, I plan on writing about the three categories (Honesty, Empathy, and Connection) in a general sense, and then I will post about more specific topics that I think are relevant or interesting. If you have constructive criticism or would like me to write about a certain subject, please comment below; I would love to read it. And lastly, thank you for reading this far! I hope this enriches your life =]