How to be happy
Many people spend their entire lives searching for the answer to happiness. Everyone wants to know how to be happy and yet you probably don’t know many people who actually are happy.

It is easy to buy into the idea that there are a lot of happy people just running around. Then you tell yourself that’s who you need to be too! There has to be a secret. Why am I not happy but X and Y are? What do they have that I don’t?

This makes you go on a wild chase for happiness. You want to learn how to be happy, but you’re not!

Then you start asking yourself the wrong questions.

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Growing up happy
Growing up sucks. I think everyone would tell you the same. I’m not sure why I was so excited as a kid when I thought about growing up. Maybe it’s because I thought there’d be a lot of freedom and that happiness would fall from trees. Money too.

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to love strong winds that would create chaos in our hair. We would run around and pretend we were superheroes. We tied the arm of our jackets around ourselves, pretending the jackets were capes and the wind would make us feel like we were flying at supersonic speeds.

Sometimes we’d pretend we were characters from Dragon Ball Z. Ah, how the strong winds meant a lot to us.

Fast forward to last week when Arizona was experiencing incredibly heavy winds. I couldn’t help but go “Damn it, are you serious?”, as I rushed to the nearest building. I’m an adult now and I don’t have the same sense of excitement towards the elements anymore.

How could I go from someone who flew around in the wind with his super-powered buddies to a person who absolutely hates the wind? Oh, I know! It’s because I’m afraid it’ll ruin my perfectly sculpted hairdo for the day.

When I was a kid, I didn’t care how my hair looked. In fact, I didn’t care how my hair looked until last year!

When I was a kid, all I cared about was living life and enjoying every second with those I loved. What happened to that kid? Where did this Vincent who cares about his hair or what other people think of him come from? Growing up did nothing but weaken my sense of enjoyment.

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Insert witty life quote and profound life lesson here
Spouting “profound” life quotes on a daily basis gets old, but you hear it everywhere. So why am I writing an article called “10 Life Quotes and Lessons to Live By?”, if I’m so anti-quote?

The issue is the fact that some people just quote all day and repeat them without internalizing the message behind it. It doesn’t feel genuine when and I’m not convinced that they really believe in it.

Instead, you need to use life quotes to internalize the ideas. Once you do that, you can move on from the quote.

To me, profound life quotes serve as a reminder when we’ve forgotten the concepts. We shouldn’t rely on quotes for repetition’s sake.

Use the amazing quotes and live by the meaning, not just the words.

With that said, here are some quotes with ideas that I’ve internalized and live by. These quotes focus on different aspects of life and I expand on them to get you pumped and excited for personal development. Focus on the message and begin to implement the life lessons.

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Last week I wrote a letter to my future self with several key points. In the letter, I listed out a few traits that I’m working on in 2013 and outlined the person I would hope to be by the year 2030. It included the present struggles that I face today and it was a reminder to myself that I can look back on anytime I want.

Now I’m opening up a question to all my readers: Who do you want to be in 2030?

We often hear the advice of picturing WHERE you want to be, but rarely is the question asked of who do you want to be in the future.

Keep in mind this is a personal development question, but it can be interpreted in any other way that you feel fits.

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What are you like, Vincent? I am still working on improving myself every day through daily self-reflection. Here are some of the things I hope you’ve fully internalized by 2030; the traits of who I want to be.

Don’t be afraid of being different
Back in 2010 and even earlier than that, you cared a lot about what others thought. You weren’t yourself because you were so scared of not being accepted.

Then you met great mentors, you established strong bonds, and you found that being different is not so bad. You were living life happily and it didn’t matter if you were different.

You learned that being different makes life more interesting and that people are drawn to genuine personalities. Continue to be genuine and be interested in others, because I know you LOVE learning about other people. Most people aren’t like that, so keep being different.

Besides, it’s no fun being a fake. Too many people are fake, not enough people are genuine, and you are the only one out of millions who aren’t afraid of who they really are. Keep at it.

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I used to do everything alone and put on a façade of happiness to keep my family from worrying. The past two years changed that though. Now, I am always going out with happy and uplifting people who help raise me to a level I could not have reached alone.

Despite the fact that I do math at the level of an ADD ravaged toddler, I feel there is in fact an equation to forming meaningful and lasting friendships. Being Social + Giving Value + Understanding Boundaries = great friendships.

Being more social gives more opportunities, giving value is what you can give to others, and understanding boundaries is what keeps a relationship healthy. This step-by-step process will help you make friends and learn how to get a social life that you only dreamed of previously.

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Taking the first step in anything is the hardest part of it all, usually. Unless you’re attempting to land a quadruple jump on ice using absolutely excellent form, chances are that just taking the first step and beginning is holding you back. The reason the first step is the hardest is because you need to discipline yourself.
I know a lot of people who lack self-discipline. They say, “Don’t worry, I’ll start working on my (insert task) at 7pm. 8pm rolls by, 9pm, and eventually it is midnight. Soon they realize they’ve failed themselves once again. In fact, one of my closest friends is exactly like this and it cracks me up every time because it is like watching a cartoon rerun.

Chances are that you lack discipline in yourself as well and you constantly lack the self-discipline to begin a less than pleasant task. You know you should start something, you tell yourself you will by a certain point in time, and then you put it off for later.

I’m not going to say I’ve always been self-disciplined, but much like all the skills I’ve acquired over the years, it’s been a work-in-progress and I can now say with confidence that I’m far more disciplined than I was four, five years ago.

Here are some of the things I’ve practiced over recent years to be able to simply tell myself to do something and jump to it right away.

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It seems that through every hour of darkness, every moment of utter defeat, and every period of my life where I’ve felt at my lowest, I found solace in walking.

I maintained my sanity through long walks at night to be left alone with my thoughts. It didn’t matter where my destination was or whether or not anyone saw me all alone. “What a loser,” someone must have thought to himself as I walked around the lonely, quiet neighborhood. I can’t blame anyone for thinking that because at the time I sure felt like a loser.

The moment the clock hit 8 p.m., I took off into the night without any explanation to anyone. I dropped what I was doing, headed out the door, and returned an hour after. I always managed to return with a content smile on my face.

Forming the Ritual
Years passed since my last tragedy and I had gotten rid of that nightly ritual. I found myself no longer needing walks to keep my sanity. Why? I realized how great my friends were and began to emotionally invest in the “overpowered” group for support.

Over time, walking just soon became embedded into what we did. Sure, we were too young to drive back then, so we didn’t really have much of a choice, but we loved every minute of it.

A close friend and I spent two hours walking to the mall and while we did it, we just talked about anything that came up no matter how personal and secret it was. Walking taught us to embrace the moments of silence. It taught us to let go of our worries and just focus on the present. These sorts of walks kept us sane and we tried our best to take advantage of walks as much as we could.

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The Value of Bantering

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Whether you are the richest person on earth or homeless in Seattle, every human being seeks (and deserves) intimacy. However, remember that intimacy is not always sexual.

Bantering with strangers can be a form of intimacy. When you stop at a convenience store along the Interstate to get a coke, the five-second conversation with the cashier can be intimate. I usually see bantering used among adults and the elderly, but about 3 months ago I met a guy at a QuikTrip who had mastered the art of bantering. He was about 22, Hispanic and confident.

As I was paying for my drink, he mentioned that he liked my watch. It was a simple statement, but it led to about 15 seconds of kind words to each other. There is a history to my watch and he was interested in chatting.

Usually, “bantering” is a method to joke with a stranger to bring happiness to their day and it is far removed from flirting. It is an admission between two people that this is a great life and a great planet and I am happy to chat with you.

You have zero hidden agendas in this conversation. That is the secret of a successful banter.

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How to spread happiness

How often do you consciously try to be selfless and focus on someone else’s happiness? It’s difficult to remember that the entire world does not revolve around us and that we need to give and put into the world just as much as we expect to receive. Happiness is the universal currency and you can choose how you spend it.

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