An Insight a Day

The Faraway View

Imagine you're a soldier on a battlefield, and there's chaos everywhere. You constantly see gunfire, grenades, and troops ducking for cover. You're hiding behind a wall and afraid of moving to your next position. For all you know, you might get killed if you're unlucky. The whole place is a mess, and the uncertainty is killing you.

Imagine you're a commander, safely tucked away in HQ and miles from the battlefield. You see everything happening, your troops on the north are losing ground while the ones on the northwest are steadily advancing, so you change tactics and prepare a flank from the west side.

Imagine you're a prime minister, safe in the capital and nowhere near the battlefield. You see the big picture and the impact of the war, so you ask allying nations for help or find ways to alleviate the supply chain issues. You could also negotiate and try to stop the war peacefully, maybe with a strategic trade of some territories and a peace treaty.

Now imagine you're a historian, you've read about countless wars, and this is just another war to you. One side wins, the other side loses, life goes on. Perhaps you can imagine a different world where the loser won, and history is forever changed. Maybe it's worse, and you're glad it didn't happen. Or perhaps you lament over the missed opportunities.

Now imagine you're an intergalactic alien studying lifeforms in general. You see conflict as the bread and butter of life. Every species fight for its survival. There's the classic predator-prey relationship, usually among different species. And then, there's the my-tribe-vs-your-tribe relationship among the same or similar species. Ultimately, it's the same story everywhere you go. Some live while others die.

Here's the analogy. Is your life messy like a soldier on the battlefield? If so, take a step back and look at things through the eyes of a commander, and make tactical plans for yourself. Sometimes, you can step back further and think like a prime minister. What strategic plans can you make to achieve the outcome you want?

Occasionally, be a historian, look back at all the things that have happened, and study them. And realize, like the alien, that everything is but a part of life, and the story is almost always the same in the grand scheme of things.

Time is Short

An hour is short, like really short. It can fly by in the blink of an eye without realizing it. Before you know it, your day is gone. How many hours was that?

I don't mean in the sense of pulling out your phone, and the next thing you know, three hours have gone by. Nor do I mean it in the sense that you're swamped with meetings, and the workday is gone before you had the chance to do anything. Those happen too, but the issue is deeper than that.

Even if there are no external distractions and you're paying full attention to the present moment, an hour still feels short, like when you're engrossed in a game or in deep focus trying to write a blog post. But that's not it either.

What about when you're in pain? Surely an hour feels long when you're suffering? You could be in crutches or doing rehab after surgery, and it certainly feels like time is moving slowly, but that's only in the short term. After spending a few thousand hours, it would become a daily routine, and you'd get used to it. An hour would pass just as fast again.

Why do we think an hour is long anyway? Because it's long relative to a second or a minute? Or is it because it used to feel longer when we were younger? Since there are only 24 hours a day, does that mean a day is also short? Yeah, it certainly feels that way to me. That's why it's so precious.

Digital Distractions

This is what happens when you stop spending time with intent and let distractions rule your life. You become consumed by the constant search for more, the desire to pull down and refresh the feed, and the incessant lure of that small glowing rectangular screen on your hand. It's all so suffocating.

Your mind feels like it's getting clogged, your thoughts slow down, and your brain feels incredibly hazy. Sometimes, you surprise yourself with how much you've forgotten. What did you do this morning again? Perhaps you should seriously consider getting therapy? Or, at the very least, throw that damn thing away!

It's as if someone is out to get you. Every little thing seems over-engineered for addiction. You struggle to concentrate to the point where you can't even read your search results, wishing for the screen to show a short 30-second summary video with fast camera cuts and condensed speech with no pauses. What in the world happened to you?

Four days, that's all it took. It was supposed to be a simple two-day break, and this is how you end up? All crippled and broken? Is it the fault of the technology? Or is it your fault for not having self-control?

The good news is that recovery was just as fast. All you had to do was stop. Perhaps it's because your brain was only temporarily rewired that it was easy to undo. Maybe the act of going offline and journaling like crazy also helped.

Deep down, you already know this. You know full well what you're getting yourself into. You also know how to get yourself out of it. It's just a matter of having enough self-awareness to act on it.

The Story of Yuuri's Rise to Fame

A few years ago, around when Covid was happening, I discovered The First Take. It's a YouTube channel where various musicians perform in a single take with no do-overs, and it quickly became my go-to place for discovering good Japanese music.

And it wasn't long until I discovered Yuuri and his iconic song, Dry Flower, which was an instant hit. I had always assumed he was a famous and well-established artist. What I didn't know was that, just a year ago, he was a no-name street musician.

How did that happen? Well, let's say he had a lucky break during his street musician days, and he was able to take full advantage of it. While performing a cover of a popular song on the streets one night, the actual main vocalist of the song joined in and sang with him, and the internet went crazy over it!

After that incident, they became good friends. The band spontaneously called him out to perform together on stage one night, and they even helped him with his first single. After that, he became one of Japan's top solo artists, and the rest is history.

[Yuuri] began his singing career as a vocalist for the four-man rock band, The Bugzy, until they disbanded in May 2019. After the group's disbandment, he began performing live on the streets of Tokyo.

On October 10, 2019, Yuuri was singing [「花 」-0714-] by My First Story on the street at the scrambled intersection in Shibuya. It became a hot topic when My First Story vocalist Hiro, jumped in and sang the second verse of the song with him.

After this incident, Yuuri was called out from the crowd to perform spontaneously for the encore final performance on November 30 when My First Story was holding a concert in Saitama Super Arena as a part of their country-wide tour "My First Story Tour 2019."

Yuuri's originally composed "Kakurenbo" whose recording was supervised by Hiro and My First Story's [「花」 -0714-] were performed together. On December 1 [2019], Yuuri released "Kakurenbo" independently. It ranked in 4th place on the general chart on iTunes Japan, and the music video garnered over 40 million views.


On October 25 [2020], his second major single, "Dry Flower" was released. On February 1, 2021 "Dry Flower" exceeded over 100 million streams on the Streaming Songs chart on Billboard Japan.


On March 22, 2021, "Kakurenbo" also exceeded over 100 million streams on Billboard Japan’s Streaming Songs chart. It is the first time in Billboard Japan history for an artist to have two songs exceed 100 million streams only 8 months after their major debut.

On September 1, 2021, "Dry Flower" exceeded 400 million streams on Billboard Japan’s Streaming Songs chart. Since it exceeded 400 million streams within 44 weeks of charting, Yuuri became the first and fastest solo male artist to achieve this record.


He also became the first Japanese artist and solo male artist to exceed 500 million streams on December 22, 2021.

Sometimes, fateful encounters like these can overplay the importance of lucky breaks. What most people miss is that while opportunities like these can make or break your life, you would still need to be skilled enough to capitalize on them. If Yuuri didn't have the talent, he probably wouldn't have gotten this far, even with all the help he received.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. While we don't have much control over the latter, we have total control over the former.

Alternative to Beating Imposter Syndrome

A lot of people struggle with imposter syndrome. It's the psychological phenomenon where you doubt your skills or accomplishments, and it constantly feels like you don't belong, that you're just faking it, and it's only a matter of time before someone finds out and arrests you for being the fraud you think you are!

Perhaps you, too, struggle with imposter syndrome and find this very relatable. But here's the thing, have you ever seen an imposter getting caught? Probably not, but with so many people feeling like imposters, how is it that no one has ever gotten caught before?

Instead of trying to beat imposter syndrome, why not aim to be the best imposter you ever can be? You know the old saying. If you can't beat them, join them.

You know you're an imposter, so you put in the hours to study hard and improve your skills. You spend days learning to act more in tune with your role, and you've gotten so good that no one can tell you (the imposter) apart from the real thing!

There's a near-infinite upside and almost zero downsides! You don't have to worry about getting caught because if anyone's getting caught, you know it won't be you. It'll be all the other imposters who didn't work as hard. Besides, society doesn't seem to care anyway.

On Joining Zoom Calls with Random Strangers

Today, I joined a zoom call filled with random strangers. I didn't intend to join, I just happen to find out about it right as the call was starting. So I thought this must be a sign and just joined the call. Twice.

The first time, I chickened out. There was just me and another guy, his video was on while mine was not, and there was only awkward silence. So I left.

I rejoined a few minutes later, and now, there are about a dozen people on the call, all with their video on so I turned mine on as well. They're all talking about something, and I have no context on what they're talking about. They're probably wondering who I am and why I'm here, but it didn't seem to bother them. It's just a social get-together, after all. I listened in for a bit but ultimately decided to leave shortly afterward.

So what did I learn from all this? I'm unnecessarily fearful. It was a random zoom call on the internet with random strangers, there's nothing to lose and everything to gain, yet I didn't take advantage of it.

I could have made small talk and introduced myself when it was just me and the other guy. Best case, I made a new friend. Worst case, a random stranger on the internet tells me to go away.

And when there were about a dozen people, I could've looked for a natural break in their conversation and interject with a comment or a question. Best case, I join the conversation, learn something new, and make new friends. Worst case, they ask me to leave.

There's a near-infinite upside and almost zero downsides! Anyway, I'll try that the next time I join a zoom call with random strangers. Hopefully, it'll yield a better result than today.

Constantly Busy or Constantly Bored?

Between being constantly busy or constantly bored, which would you rather be?

People like to complain about being constantly busy and not having enough time in the day. Suppose we offer them the complete opposite, a life of being constantly bored with nothing to do. Do you think they would take it? Would you take it?

Note: Being constantly bored doesn't mean mindlessly scrolling social media or browsing the web all day, it means being stuck at home with absolutely nothing to do. Just you and your thoughts.

The funny thing is that most people actually like being busy, so much so that it's a status symbol. Being busy feels important, it gives us a sense of purpose and meaning, and it makes us feel like we're making progress toward something. Anything. It's like a free pass to not think about anything, an excuse to justify all the things we're not doing or achieving.

In contrast, what does a life of boredom look like? Unless you're filthy rich or can afford to do nothing all day, most people would see you in a rather negative light. They would look down on you and think you're wasting your life away. Society doesn't like it when people do nothing, it hurts productivity and drives down GDP, stuff like that.

I know what you're thinking, this is a false dichotomy. We should strive for a balance between the two, and you're right, which is why if you were ever offered the opportunity to experience a life of constant boredom, you should take it. Take it to balance out the years you've lost to the constant busy work, take it so you've at least experienced what it's like on the other side.

Perhaps the biggest reason why everyone needs to experience being constantly bored is this: It affords us the time to sit still and think. Having nothing to do is like a superpower, time slows to a crawl as you're faced with all sorts of existential thoughts. What will you do today now that you're free to decide for yourself? Will you trade away this freedom just to have the comfort of being told what to do again?

AI in the Office

Recently, there's been a series of AI-related announcements that blew (and maybe also broke) a lot of people's minds.

Google announced their new AI integration for Google Workspace and so did Microsoft with their Microsoft 365 Copilot. Go watch the two videos, they're both less than 2 minutes long. But if you don't feel like watching, here's a brief summary of what they are capable of:

Office productivity will never be the same once these AI products reach mass adoption. Think about it, you will never have to write a document or build a presentation from scratch again, and no more fiddling with spreadsheets trying to manipulate the data!

On the flip side, this means pretty much anything you read will be AI-generated one way or another. I'm not sure if that's a net positive or a net negative, but one thing is for sure, we will have to rethink what it means to work in the office again.

And this is just the beginning. As we get more and more AI breakthroughs, we will have to rethink what it means to work for a living when AI can do everything for us. Eventually, we might even have to rethink what it means to be human.

How to Keep Promises to Yourself

What do you do if you're the type of person who can't keep promises to yourself?

If you promise someone you'll do something, you usually have no problem keeping it. But the moment you promise yourself something, you just can't seem to keep it. After years of living like this, you might have even stopped trusting yourself.

The easiest solution would be to create social pressure and find someone to hold you accountable to your own promises. Since you have no problem keeping your promise to others, this should be an easy hack. Alternatively, create do-or-die situations where you are forced to keep your promise.

A better solution is to train yourself from the ground up and rebuild the trust you've lost in yourself. Start with the little things, promise yourself you'll shower before bed, and actually do it. It's not much, but it conditions your mind to start trusting your words again. It's a slow process, but eventually, you'll regain trust in yourself and get better at keeping your word.

Doers and Deciders

Some people are deciders, they like to argue about how things should be done and why. They don't want to actually do the thing, they just want to sound smart and make cool decisions.

Some people are doers, they like to do stuff and get things done. They don't really care about the what and the why, they just want to fix the problem and make it go away.

Which one are you? I find that I'm more of a decider than a doer, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.