What Steve Jobs taught me about Life & Death

If there is one defining individual that has a heavy influence towards some of my biggest life decisions, it would be Steve Jobs.

If there is a trigger point, it was Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address and his last words that have helped me made up my mind to pursue the realm of uncertainties as a learn to trade full-time and start No Money Lah.

With that, here are some key pearls of wisdom that I’ve picked up from the legendary Steve Jobs:

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(1) Death is a destination shared by everyone.

If you know that you are going to die tomorrow, what would you spend your last remaining day doing?

As hypothetical this question might be, this may be the hardest question that you’ve ever have to answer in life.

And if you have this question answered without a second doubt, chances are you have found the most important purpose in your life – the answer to your miseries and doubts all this while, may be just right within you.

The moment when we truly acknowledge and embrace the fact that we are going to die, our priorities in life will change drastically:

All of a sudden, the morning jam to work isn’t so frustrating anymore.

All of a sudden, getting a new luxury car may not be so important anymore.

All of a sudden, expressing your feelings towards the important someone (with the chance of getting rejected) may not be as intimidating anymore.

All of a sudden, having to have dinner with your family members every day become a precious moment in your daily life.

Once you embrace death as a part of life, things that you used to think were important aren’t as big anymore. In contrary, things and people that you have taken for granted all these while become the most important thing in life.

If knowing that death is a destination that we all share together, what would you do differently compared to what you are doing right now?

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No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there.

And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.

Steve Jobs


(2) When in doubt, follow your heart and intuition.

The irony of all misery is, deep down, we already have a decision or answer within, yet we still do the exact opposite in reality:

When you do something that you truly have no faith in, you will suffer within.

When you sell a product or services that you do not believe in, you will not find fulfillment within.

When you go for a career or degree that does not connect with you, you will not be happy within.

If you are struggling between your inner voice and what you are doing in real life, always follow your heart and intuition. They somewhat already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

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For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"

And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Steve Jobs


(3) Embrace love.

At the final moments of death, the only thing that we can bring with us are the memories precipitated by love, not all our physical riches and wealth gained throughout our lifetime.

Hence, be generous with love.

Love the people that are important to you. Spend time with them. Talk to them. Listen to what they say. Never take the people that you love for granted.

Even more important, love yourself. Be genuinely happy inside and out. Take care of your health. Fill your heart with purpose and fulfillment. Make self-love your biggest priority in life.

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Nonstop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me. God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.

The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love. That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on. Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands.

Steve Jobs


Side note...

This week’s article is truly a hard piece to produce. Seeing the tragedies happening around the world (Shootings, Plane Crashes, Earthquakes) saddened me, and I can genuinely feel the fragility of life in the moments of death and crises.

If you are reading this, I hope that this article could ease some of the pain and misery that you are going through in life. If you feel any better, even by a little, it would be the happiest thing in my life.

By any chance, do SHARE this article with your friends and family members if you find that they could benefit from it!


Read This if You Feel Miserable in Life

Do you feel miserable in your life most of the time?

As a SPM/STPM leaver, don’t you feel directionless while deciding your next pursuit in life?

As a university student, don’t you feel that you do not belong to the degree that you are pursuing?

As someone in the workforce, don’t you feel that work is, well, just work?

No matter which stages of life you are in, let me ask you this question:

Why do you do what you do?

This sounds like a question so simple that people would have simply shrugged it off with a standard:

“Nah…no specific reason.”

Or… is it so?

If, for most of the time, you have been miserable with life, chances are, if you have yet to ask this question enough – and not being honest enough to face the right answer within.

So let me ask you this question again:

WHY do you DO what you DO?


Are You Doing This for Others, or for Yourself?

For a big part of our early life, many of us have been living it in a pre-arranged manner.

Remember the piano classes on Monday? How about those badminton lessons on Saturday morning? Don’t even mention the drawing classes on my beautiful Sunday mornings (of which, I still got a ‘D’ in my Art (Seni) in my high-school years).

School was even more rigid – “Ah, you scored well in PMR/PT3, off you go to the science stream.”

If any, I hated science subjects more than ever!

Wait, there is more:

“Wow, you did a great job in SPM/STPM, you gonna do well studying law!”

If you haven’t noticed yet, we have been living our early life that is very much planned or as according to our parents’ arrangements and societal norms. Here’s a problem with this way of living:

While it may have helped us established a sense of how to live our life, it may not be the best way to live it – for the rest of our life.

Hence, for most of us, it goes without saying that a lot of our life choices that got us miserable is heavily influenced by the norms (or expectations) set by our parents and the society.

Look, careers like lawyers or doctors may be prestigious in the eyes of society, but are you in your career because of societal status? Or are you pursuing your career because it is your passion to uphold justice and save lives?

Are you doing what you do for the sake of meeting people’s expectation on you, or are you doing it because that is what you truly want to do?


Be Selfish with Your Purpose

Now, this may sound counterintuitive but hear me out:

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You have to be selfish when it comes to the purpose of doing what you do.

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Too many of us, when asked of the reason for pursuing certain life choices, we put too much weight on societal norms and expectations.

“I studied dentistry because my whole family is in the business.”

“I work as a consultant in Big 4 because all my peers are doing the same thing.”

“I got to find a partner and get married by 28, because that’s usually the case for most people.”

If your primary purpose in doing what you do is to fulfill your family and society’s expectations, it is hard not to feel miserable especially when routine gets boring and when times are tough.

Having a purpose that comes within yourself make tough times and repetitive routines more bearable. You know that you are in charge of making things work. You know that you make a particular choice willingly.

You know that you are doing it for yourself.

“I studied Chinese Medicine because I want to help to treat more people.”

“I become a comedian because I enjoy putting smiles on people’s face.”

“I agreed to Joel’s proposal because I wish to build a family with him.”

Whatever you do, do it for yourself. Having a selfish purpose in what we do prevents us from burning out of societal expectations.

The question is: WHAT do you REALLY WANT to do?

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Spend some time to think about WHAT you REALLY WANT. Getting clear of this will help you tremendously in getting out of a miserable life.

Be Selfless with Your Goals

This is weird. You’ve just asked us to be selfish with our purpose, yet now you are asking us to be selfless with our goals?

You see, while your purpose or intention should come from what you want or desire to do, but your actions and goals could be as big as making the world a better place. In other words:

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You can be selfish with your purpose, yet selfless in your goals.

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Of course, a selfless goal does not mean that you have to change the world. It could be to make the community around you - your workplace, your local club/society, your home, a better place to live in. 

It could be as small as sharing your recycling knowledge online to help raise more awareness towards the environment, or even as big as a global movement to encourage race and gender equality all around the world – all because you WANT to do so.

If having a selfish purpose prevents you from unnecessary burnout, then having selfless goals give you a sense of fulfillment in what you do – something that many miserable people do not find in themselves.


The key to getting out of misery

To be honest, it is simple to say whatever I’ve said than actually doing them in real life.

This is because whenever we try to move out and do something out of the norm, we would normally be met with resistance, not just externally but also within ourselves. Changes, well, are never meant to be comfortable.

In this instance, some people turn back to their comfort zone and continue to live their miserable life, while some break out of the zone to find their WHY in life. For you that need help in finding your WHY, I leave you with this formula:

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Remember: Be selfish with your purpose, be selfless with your goals.