For My Grandchildren

Advice from my grandfather for me and my siblings, circa 2005. It’s been over ten years since he handed this to me after I taught him how to type on a computer, and I hope I live to pass it down to my children and grandchildren.

For My Grandchildren (July 2005)

Believe in God almighty and always trust in God almighty.

Do not forget your origins.

Do not waste your time.

Do not put off ’til tomorrow what you can do today.

Do not postpone your work for tomorrow as tomorrow never comes: A man who is destined for success makes every minute useful of his life.

Avoid laziness and always be a careful person.

Concentrate on your studies.

For success, following elements are absolutely necessary:

  • Seriousness and concentration
  • Learning and practicing
  • Revisions
  • Concerted efforts
  • Scan everything: what, why and how?

Make your self strong:

  • Physically
  • Mentally
  • Financially

Change/Make your fortune yourself by working hard

You all brothers and sisters give respect to each other and extend help to each other at every moment.

Give unlimited respect to your parents and be kind and sympathetic with them.

Remember, as you sue, so shall you reap.

Give due respect to every human being and help them.

Be patient. Patience makes everything possible.

Take care of your health. Do not forget to exercise and walk.

Attend the library daily for hours and also borrow books for reading at home.

Do not take rest until your good is better and better is the best.

Muhammad Iqbal Malik

On happiness

The scariest thing about being happy is how much of our everyday lives turn into meaningless pile of deprecated trade-offs.

Things that you thought meant something for you actually don’t. Things that you thought you’d keep for life actually turn out to be nonimportant. People you considered close were just vehicles for you: you gave them that love you didn’t know how to give to yourself. And finally, things that you so cunningly shielded from your gaze for years begin to pop up and become unavoidable challenges.

That is because you can only be happy when you do things for the right reasons. Otherwise you just think you’re happy and yet you spend your time trying to fill in gaps in yourself and your life, gaps that you don’t know how to love. In other words, you’re sitting on the passenger’s seat yourself and letting what you think other people will think of you drive your life.

Go stand in front of a mirror and ask yourself if you’re happy. Are you so happy that you wouldn’t want to change anything in your life? Are you so happy that while you might certainly want to change some things you would still be perfectly content should those things actually never change? Ask yourself if there’s some part of yourself that you don’t love one hundred percent? Ask yourself if you see too much fat, a body too skinny, or a person too unpopular and rejected, or someone who can’t steer away from too many bad habits? Or do you see a person with weaknesses yet completely accept him/her just the way he/she is?

I’m not entirely happy myself but there have been, and there are, occasional moments when I am 100% happy.

It’s those moments when I wouldn’t replace a single bit of myself, whether it’s hemorrhoids, feelings of guilt, or the history of how I’ve lived.

6 ways I [try to] diversify my life

When properly diversified,  nobody can say “no” to you anymore. Disappointments and failures become a natural part of life that you learn from, in the same way you learn from success and opportunity. Intelligence springs forward from the additional creativity. Love comes from the most blossoming part of the social tree you build for yourself.

— James Altucher

1. Upset at least one person a week with your honesty. Makes them think.

2. Try desperately to never give advice especially to someone who is pleading for it. You are not them and you cannot possibly know what is best for them so don’t try and tell them.

3. If you are as shy as I am, speak to strangers walking past. A simple hello, morning or good evening will do. Do it with a smile. Most people are shy with strangers and to them you are a stranger too (something we all forget).

4. Surprise someone who has done something nice for you with a gift right after they have done it. This one forces the mind to take stock of other people and why they are doing what they are doing.

5. Surprise someone who screws things up for you by apologizing for putting them in a position where they made a mistake. This one is hard as anger and annoyance are on hair triggers but the feeling you get knowing you have have helped someone off of the floor is fantastic.

6. Need less and have more. Which is the best, most simple, easiest and yet at the same time hardest way to diversify every aspect of your life. If you can embrace and practice need less and have more then you’ve cracked it, in my humble opinion.

It’s a work in progress.

Strict progress is illusory

I’ll be 21 in a couple of weeks, and I already see the progression from when I was 12, 15, 17, 19, etc.

However, it’s not a strictly monotonic function of progress. Me_{2007} had a better life philosophy than Me_{2009}, though I think Me_{2012} has surpassed both, plus I know a lot more. I’ve learned things when I was younger that later I either forgot or learned something opposing the initial belief, and then later either relearned or realized the original belief was the correct one. I’m certain there are things I have yet to (or may never) learn/relearn and thus correct whatever is incorrect with my present self. Was there something I understood at age 16 that I don’t anymore, and such a thing would make me (even just marginally) better? Probably.

Do you find your self progressing after each year, or every few years, and never taking a wrong turn? As an extreme example, I can imagine someone having a bad drug problem in their 30s during which they’re worse off in every way than in their 20s, and only come out of it in their 40s. I think for most people, improvement and regression are more subtle and happen in many dimensions. Strict progress is illusory. I think it’s too easy to get caught up in your present values and discount the wisdom of your younger self just because you care about your present self more than your past self.

It’s also fairly obvious with older people that their minds just don’t work like they did when they were in their 30s. Are they really wiser, do they really have more total knowledge than at their prime? What’s the ratio of those who are and those who aren’t? I also like to point out that a lot of important knowledge and wisdom can be found in books alone without experience.

It’s easy to forget this fact among all humans regardless of age: other people (including your past selves) may be privy to information you are not privy to.

Coming up short

The last couple of years I have found myself constantly measuring life by some invisible standard that is grounded on a hazy idea of what my potential is.

And coming up short.

Recently I’ve been looking around me more. I notice that not everyone has the same stringent criteria of what constitutes success or fulfillment of one’s life purpose. They seem happier too.

I am all for aiming for the sky, putting in the hard work, getting out of the rat race, raising capital, becoming a billionaire, whatever. But then I step back and see the bigger picture; I try to suppress that emotional memory, try to stop being depressed because I am not swinging for the fences as I should be doing. I stop comparing myself to the top 1%.

Then I become happy and content. Because I am alive and healthy. Because I don’t have to slave away to secure my food.

But this only lasts for a tiny bit, until once again, I swiftly swim back into my self-perceived ocean of mediocrity.


I’ve become convinced that cancer is among the elite series of diseases that are, in many cases, just how people die, meaning that perhaps in many instances the medical term for “dying” is “cancer”. I think it is naive to ever think we’ll have a general cure, especially since “cancer” covers such a broad range of specific issues.

I understand that people die in other ways too, of course, but I think cancer is a common agent that is just how dying works. It’s like getting gray hairs — you can do things to try and stop or cover it up (and some people will get old without much graying), people can fantasize about a fountain of youth that will keep your body at age 21 forever, but the reality is that graying is just part of aging and nothing is going to change that despite any realistic effort that humans can put in. Cancer is part of dying for many, many people. It’s not going to go away despite our best efforts to mitigate its effects or eradicate it entirely.

I once read the supposed confession of a medical researcher that “cancer” as a general thing is not curable but they keep the myth alive because “cure cancer” makes a really decent slogan.

My grandmother passed away from cancer. My best friend got cancer (twice). And today, a friend’s father passed away from cancer.

My Birthday Wish

UPDATE: Thanks to you guys, we raised over $1,300! 🙂

I’m lucky that I’ve never been one for “stuff.” And birthday parties are cool, but it’s not the gifts I ever cared about, it’s my friends.

I’m so fortunate to know great people and that’s why this year I want to get everyone involved to do something really awesome for my 20th birthday.

A few months ago, my friend told me about a nonprofit social services organization he was starting called Smile. Their mission is to uplift and transform downtrodden communities through a food pantry, health clinic and a broad range of social services programs. Smile has provided a monthly food pantry service in the Paterson/Passaic community since 2008 which has distributed over 1,200 bags of food to low income and under privileged communities.

Recently, they launched a campaign called Smile Somalia, where they will donate $1 towards orphans in Somalia for every picture of a smile posted on their Facebook wall.

Take a look at some of these scary stats:

  • An estimated 29,000 children under the age of five have died in Somalia over the past three months.
  • An estimated 640,000 children are acutely malnourished.
  • An estimated 740,000 might die of famine this year.

This year, for my 20th birthday, I’m asking everyone to donate to Smile with me.

As I’m turning 20 years old, I’m asking for $20 (more if you can, less + lots of promotion if you can’t) from everyone I know. And all of it is going to benefit the orphans in Somalia. I’ve set a goal of $2,150. If we hit that, we’ll be able to support 50 orphans for one month! 50 orphans!!

I want to make my birthday matter this year and I want to do it with the help of all of you. Thanks so much for participating.

You can find my fundraiser page here:

Lots of love.

P.S. My birthday is October 4, just a few days away. Let’s do it people!