Two Books a Month: This is February

I chose to read about the passion of two men.

That sounds weird. Let me explain, the first book:

‘Railway Man’ – Memoirs of Eric Lomax

I was on a cruise going from Singapore to Thailand when I decided to pick my first book. It took me roughly three seconds, I skimmed and then immediately chose Railway Man because I remember seeing the trailer for it when I was in Prague and being deeply effected by the trailer. I read it over the next few days and it was so well written and so powerful I couldn’t put the thing down.  Eric Lomax wrote from his point of view of his passion as a child for locomotives and railways and how this passion eventually led to his experience as a Prisoner of War in World War II.  I almost cried, I clenched my teeth, I cringed and was there right next to him during the torture, abuse, and glimpses of hope.  But more than this, the book holds a greater look at humanity itself and how we can sometimes even connect to people we never ever imagined we could have.

‘Tides of Fortune: Memoirs of a Shipping Tycoon’ – Dr. Y. F. Chang 

This book made me realize how much I love, absolutely love my resolution, to read two books a month and that I can turn the resolution into some sort of adventure.  I picked up this book at a lonely library in Kenting, Taiwan.  It was the only English book in a sea of Chinese books.  At first, I was overwhelmed by the size of the book and also the fact that this was about container shipping which I had zero interest in.  But the Foreword was written and signed by Margaret Thatcher herself.  She stated that this book would inspire the youth to persevere in their dreams no mater what they face.  I was sold.

Have you ever heard of Evergreen? It is a world famous shipping company that eventually also went into the air with the airline known as Eva Air.  Evergreen Line operates the fourth largest container fleet in the world.  I read how Dr. Chang literally built this multi billion dollar company from scratch, and then never stopped even when challenged with politics, rumors or cartels. He was constantly fueled by this immense passion for the sea, ships, and integrity in customer service.

The main message I got from Dr. Chang was that anything is possible and to never give up.  And my favorite part is that now when I’m driving on the freeway in California I see trucks with the big Evergreen symbol and I literally smile to myself because it’s my own reminder to never, ever give up.



Moments of Happiness

Moments of Happiness

There’s something about actual photographs that evoke happiness. Perhaps it is the nostalgic feeling of flipping through developed photos, or it is the effort to create the photo and then put in a photo album, or maybe how memories are suddenly tangible and real. Anyway, I organized, sorted, and brought over an album filled with memories of my one year old self cracking up with my grandma to share with my grandparents. It was that moment of reminiscing, realizing how far we came that brought me so much happiness today!

Walking Intentionally


Let’s walk together. Where’s your favorite place to walk? Do you enjoy walking alone or with other people? Is walking or running part of your daily routine? The most fun walks I’ve been on are the ones where I intentionally “leave” my phone at home.  All other parts of the day, my phone is glued to my hand or at least in a 2 foot radius from me. It’s unhealthy, I know.  But that is why I take the time sometimes to get as far away from it as I can.

The chronic and very irritating problem I face is that I photograph and document everything on my iPhone.  It’s the same with writing things down. I feel like I’ll lose it if I don’t capture something brilliant someone just said or take a picture of every single animal at the zoo.  But the problem is: the minute I capture these moments, I regard the moment as stored away forever and literally forget about it and move on completely. (I don’t even go back to look at most of the pictures) So basically…the practice is not very productive or necessary but it is one of my compulsive habits.

Thus, the walks. 30 minutes each one.  No phones.  No cameras.  Usually along some body of water: a lake, pond, puddle, ocean.  I take in everyyything just as it is.  The colors, the silence, the movement of trees and birds.  I appreciate it more because I can’t just take a picture of it and have that false security that I’ll have the moment forever.  It makes the very ordinary moments in my walks seem like once in a lifetime.

23 Things I’ve Learned By The Age of 23

Written by Andi Long

1. You will never meet The One at a club or bar.

2. Look past appearances and stereotypes.

3. Be earlier than on time.

4. Don’t let anyone break you or tell you who you are.

5. Don’t be shady. You will pay for it.

6. Don’t procrastinate.

7. Make appointments don’t just show up.

8. 20 seconds of courage is all you need.

9. Don’t be pressured to buy something or accept something or do anything.

10. Let yourself be happy. Don’t set deadlines for happiness.

11. Know people’s names.

12. Don’t drink more than two cups of coffee a day.

13. Smile at strangers

14. Nothing is really as awkward as you think it is.

15. Don’t compare yourself with strangers on the internet.

16. It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you think you look.

17. Everyone you meet has a story that will make you cry.

18. You can say no to plans but you only have one chance and that’s right when you are asked. After that if you change your mind you risk being a flake or having bad integrity.

19. When you’re going on a hike, bring snacks and sandwiches.

20. Foster good habits

21. Tell your parents you love them.

22. Trust your significant other.

23. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.

23. I’ve learned 23 things but I have so much more to learn.


“See that’s what you should focus on, doing nice deeds for other people (that you love). There’s no other more satisfying feeling. “

I’ve seen this so many times with my father. He isn’t the happiest man. As all people, he went through the highs and lows of life and at the lowest points there were times. But I asked him the other day if cooking for other people made him happy because I think that’s my go-to happiness cure. He said yes, in fact focusing on other people and doing small things to make my mom and other people happy made him a lot less depressed.  It has been a recurring theme in my happiness research. Outward thinking people are generally so much happier than those who think too much about themselves.  

Decluttering: The Top Trending Activity in Hollywood

I’ve discovered one of the ULTIMATE Secrets of Happiness.  One day I came home to an unrecognizable room. Nothing really happened to it, some guests stayed in it while I was gone but I just didn’t know really what I was sleeping in the first night I came back from Prague. I remember taking only a small part of my bed, getting under the covers and being very still. Then, over the next few days I got inspired to declutter and it was life changing. 

The joy you get from throwing away things, clearing off spaces, seeing your desk in order, rearranging furniture. I don’t care who you are. This process is enjoyable, therapeutic, and motivating. It’s like a drug.  Oprah swears by it, you can see it here:

(and just take a look at how happy Oprah looks, it’s no joke this decluttering fad) 

I even bought myself a small pocket book and it’s called Organizing for Dummies. The knowledge I gained from this embarrassing pocket book helped me transform my room and I literally smile when I walk in. Ps. Candles are not clutter. 

Get Started Now! 

Start with your desk. 

Go shelf by shelf.  

Buy Zip Loc Bags.

Assemble all old chargers and store them somewhere far far away.

Put all pens in one place.

Make everyday objects accessible but hidden. 

Create a filing system for all loose papers.

Donation box. 

Always put your keys in the same place. 

One Year Rule. If not used in the past year it doesn’t belong.

Find a home for everything. 

I love this one. Every object in your room should have a home, if you saw your unopened mail in the shower what would you do? Naturally put it where it belongs. Every object should be like that. 

Don’t underestimate the power of decluttering. I sound like a nut. But I’m okay with that because this is a game changer.