Here’s my recap of the takeaways that you can apply to your own life

NOTE: Earlier this week, I shared a personal reflection of how 2020 has been for me. Today, I wanted to share some important lessons that I’ve learned in the past five months of writing my newsletter, Little Tidbits, and how it can be applied to all aspects of your life.

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Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

I’m not the first to say this, but it’s been a tough year. With new restrictions lately, it feels like Quarantine 2.0 to me, a deja vu. I was looking forward to a more “normal” holiday experience, where people can go places and enjoy some festivities together. …

Reflections on a tumultuous and exciting year

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

This morning, I checked my email and saw a phrase I’ve never heard before. The writer and creator of Ness Labs, Anne-Laure Le Cunff, said in her recent newsletter, “This year was both the slowest and the fastest of my life. Some parts feel like a blur, others feel like they lasted forever.” The statement couldn’t be truer for me. For many of us, 2020 is the year where nothing happened according to plan.

I began 2020 with vacation plans. Normally, I take awhile to decide on a location and plan it down with precision. However, I decided in January that if I’m ever going to visit NYC, then I’d better do it now. Somehow, I was right. I went to NYC in late February with my husband and two children. Two weeks after we came home, the city shut down, along with the rest of the country. …

It starts with changing the way you think

“Happy lives are not stress-free, nor does a stress-free life guarantee happiness.” — Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D, health psychologist

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

Several months into the pandemic, in mid-August, I found myself having a rather stressful week. My husband was working overtime that week and was gone six days out of seven. I had a job interview in the middle of the week that failed miserably when my kids decided to pound their fists outside my bedroom door as if the house were on fire (apparently, you can only hide from your kids for about fifteen minutes), causing such a ruckus that I had to excuse myself twice to tell them to please let me finish the interview. …

Being kind requires more than just thought. It requires action.

“Empathy is an experience. Kindness is an action.” — Jamil Zaki, Stanford psychologist

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Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Twenty one years before I read the novel, and many years prior to that, the author Catherine Ryan Hyde experienced something so profound, so unexpected that inspired her to write a story about a little boy who changed the world. She recounted her story in the following video.

When she was 24 years old, Catherine found herself stranded in a dangerous part of town. Her car broke down and then caught on fire. Out of nowhere, two strangers appeared, but her instincts told her otherwise. “It never occurred to me that they would come to my aid,” she said, “but that’s exactly what happened.” …

Turns out, expressing daily gratitude actually works

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Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

October 26th was a special anniversary for me — not to anyone else, just me — because it marked a full 30 days of writing down my gratitude daily in a journal, which I kept on my nightstand as a reminder to myself to do the activity. And what I learned during the past month of writing down what I’m thankful for has been transformative.

The act of outwardly expressing gratitude has long been studied — for example, this landmark study by Barbara Fredrickson at the University of Michigan on the effect of positive emotions proves that when you recognize positive emotions, you see more possibilities in life. Opportunities immediately open up in ways you didn’t expect. …

New Netflix documentary showcases wisdom that can be gained from the world of sports

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Image courtesy of The New Yorker

“I’m not gonna coach you to who you are. I’m gonna coach you to who you should be someday.”

These are the words of the former Boston Celtics coach, Glenn ‘Doc’ Rivers, who led the team to multiple NBA championships during his reign from 2004 to 2013, then later as the coach for the Los Angeles Clippers. Named as the most successful coach in Clippers history, according to the NBA, Doc was featured on the first episode of a recently debuted documentary series on Netflix called The Playbook: A Coach’s Rules for Life.

In an interview that was as deep and intimate as a romantic relationship, he relayed all the things that he learned from his time as a professional basketball player and later, as a coach. I was amazed at just how much I learned from him (and will definitely watch the next few episodes) about what playing sports can teach you about life. …

What we can all learn from one of the most prominent men in comedy

“Are you afraid of death?” said a little preadolescent voice.

The man’s eyes grew large, alarmed. He pauses for a moment before answering, “Yes.”

Both are tucked in bed, at a summer vacation home in New Hampshire, the scene of a 1991 Bill Murray film called What About Bob? whose cast includes Richard Dreyfuss and Julie Hagerty. The boy in the scene is Siggy, the son of a successful psychiatrist named Dr. …

What the children’s book author can teach us about life

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Image courtesy of Berkeleyside

Todd Parr entered my life when my son and daughter was three and six, respectively. Almost every night for the past year and a half, my children would dutifully pick out one of his many books (40+ so far!), and together we’d read aloud together.

His books are fun, bright, and quirky. Upon first glance, you might say that the illustrations and words are the works of a child — but it’s all Todd. As a youth, he failed art class, which made him pause on the artistic dreams for awhile. …

Want to teach your kid important lessons? Instead of TV, try reading these books to them instead

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Image courtesy of the New York Times

“Who did I forget to thank Gerald?!?”

This famous line towards the end of “The Thank You Book” by Mo Willems makes me laugh every time I read it with my kids. The Thank You Book is about two best friends — an elephant and a pig, aptly named Gerald and Piggie, who goes on adventures, or perhaps everyday experiences and learns about things like sharing, being thankful, playing nice, being kind, and so forth. The Thank You Book epitomizes the importance of being thankful for everyone in your life and expressing it by saying, “Thank you.”

That’s why Piggie decided at the beginning of the book to go around and thank each and every character from their world. It wasn’t until more than halfway through she realizes that she has forgotten to thank Gerald, her best friend, for being her best friend. But Gerald responds with, “No Piggie. You forgot to thank our reader.” The book ends with the two smiling brightly on the page, “Thank you reader. We could not be ‘us’ without you.” …

Morgan Housel’s new book focuses on stories about money, not tips

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Here’s a common advice I hear a lot when it comes to spending.

If you see something that you really like, put it in your basket (online or in person) then abandon your basket for several days. Give yourself time to think about the purchase. If you’re still thinking about it several days later, then go ahead and buy it. And if you’re in a physical store, just leave it.

I love this kind of advice because it has prevented me from buying so many things that I think I need but doesn’t actually need. They’re simply wants. Most of the time, I’d forget about the items unless the website sends me an email reminding me of my unattended basket. …


Hoang Samuelson

Early riser. Editor. Writer, focusing on culture, money, parenting & Asian American identity. More writing here

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