25 Observations I Made About People in My 25 Years

Feels a little surreal to turn 25. When I was younger, I had the vague impression that at 25 I’ll be a millionaire, driving an exotic car etc etc. While that’s not the case (and what’s important to me has changed), I’ve learned a lot. Whereas most people share general life lessons, I want to share the 25 things I noticed about people in these 25 years of my life. Here goes:

1. People want to be acknowledged.

I’m okay with people cutting me off in traffic as long as they give me the courtesy wave. But when there’s no acknowledgement of what just happened, I get all petty. The same phenomenon can be seen if you cut in line. Even if your friend is saving a spot for you, if you don’t say anything to the people behind you, they will utter curses under their breath and give you the stink eye. The moment you say “hey, my friend was saving my spot” they pretend like it’s NBD.  “Of course! No problem.”

2. The best gift you can give to your parents is to be happy.

And parents, the best gift you can give to your kids is to be happy yourself.

3. You can’t change people, but you can inspire change in others.

The most powerful change comes from within. Through leading by example and showing people a better way – rather than just telling them – you can inspire people to make the decision to change themselves.

4. People always say that they don’t have time, when in reality it’s not their priority

Thanks Frances for sharing this tidbit with me. Saying “it’s not a priority” makes YOU responsible for prioritizing your life.
You make time for what you care about.

5. Sometimes people just want to be heard

When people seek you for advice, most of the time being there for them and listening is enough. As a guy it took me a while to realize that my friends don’t actually expect me to fix their problems. Just being there for them to express their feelings out loud was often the most helpful.

6. Don’t Make an Identity of How People Behave

It was a game changer when I learned to separate people’s behavior from their identity. If someone had a bad day and acted foul to me, I try to think “He seemed pretty aggravated” rather than “He’s a bitch.” The latter is permanent and undeserved – people are always changing. They are onions and have a lot of layers to them.

On the flipside, people feel empowered by imposing a label and identity on someone else. “You’re a douche. You no-good-son-of-a-bitch.” Attributing this identity doesn’t do anything to solve a conflict – it just makes the other party angry and want to do the same.

7. You Represent Your People

Like it or not, people’s interactions with you will affect their generalizations about the demographic you represent. This goes back to the point that people tend make an identity out of how others behave. Example, many non-Asian women said that I was the first Asian man who has ever approached them. Before I came into the picture, they’ve only experienced Asian men as shy or non-talkative. That behavior was ingrained in their minds and made into an identity for other Asian men (fair or not). When I’m interacting with others, I see it as an opportunity to reinforce a positive image of my people.

8. People are mostly preoccupied with themselves

This almost seems like a paradox to #7, but people are almost always more concerned about what others think of them, rather than focused on judging you. This is a great reason to initiate conversations with someone else and made them feel welcome.

9. People don’t want to make too many decisions

This applies 80% of the time to event planning – people don’t want to be bombarded with multiple decisions (unless they have to, like international travel). Do it the In-n-Out Burger way and offer people just a few, curated options. Even better if you suggest something first. I wrote about this in detail in How to Plan a Simple Facebook Event.

10. Mixing different groups of people is fun

I used to separate out my friends in different groups, which can sometimes be appropriate. But with busier schedules and the desire do more interesting things, I found that nothing has worked better than mixing groups of people. I’m excited when I see a new connection between mutual friends. It definitely helps to have a mentality of sharing versus possessing friendships. Be a bridge between people.

11. People You’re Not Close To Will Help You A Lot

You are most likely to get that book published, get a new job and  more through acquaintances, contrary to popular belief that you need to have a bunch of close friends in high places (which doesn’t hurt either). This theory – and I’ve validated this in my own life – is called the Strength of Weak Ties.

12. People Can’t Read Your Mind (yet)

So make it clear and ask for things (with grace). Make it known that you’re uncomfortable with something a colleague said. Make it known to your boss that you’re interested in taking on a certain project. This ties back into the strength of weak ties – if you establish a good rapport with someone at a networking event, they might remember you as the person who’s looking for X job, and connect you with the right person later down the line.

13. People’s Top Regrets Toward the End of Life

People never wish that they put more hours in the office or skipped planning 2 week vacation for the 3rd year in a row.

People regret not spending more quality time with loved ones and not living “a life true to oneself” (read: doing what they want). So let’s get to know each other and ourselves more.

14. You are the company you keep and lose.

It’s perfectly acceptable to wean off of people who drain your energy. Focus on developing bonds with those who are a positive influence in your life. Old wisdom says that you will be like the five people you are closest to – choose wisely.

15. The Top Contributors to People’s Happiness:

Living around happy people, having a short commute, knowing that happiness doesn’t change too much after the $75,000/year income level, and focusing on work-life balance.

16. People Fear Loss More Than They Want Gain

In many sociological experiments, researchers have repeated the phenomenon that people will go to greater lengths, and experience greater stress, avoiding the loss of $100 than expending the effort it takes to earn $100.

17. Niceness and agreeableness are the top predictors for long-term, sustainable relationships

If you want to be with someone for years (and more), both of you better be flexible and adaptable to each other.

There’s a lot to the saying “Growing up together without growing apart.”

18. Resentment and Neuroticism are the top predictors for unhappy couples.

Also, this study shows that there is no correlation between physical attractiveness and happiness in relationships.

There is one notable exception: the most physically attractive men were found to be least satisfied with their marriages.

19. People are shaped in part by their environments

Often times changing your environment can be the best decision you make. From the layout of your bedroom to the city you live in, sometimes it just makes sense to adjust your environment to you.  When I’m antsy about getting a change of scenery, this quote always inspires me:

Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.

20. The First Step to Building a Community…

Is consistency. Show up to that meetup every week. Don’t be a flake. Call up your friends to hang out often. I talk about this at length in How to Build a Social Community.

21. You can’t please everyone

Trying to will make you burn out, go crazy, and ironically make people like you less. Pick your battles and make some sacrifices.

22. Be the person you want others to be.

Want to meet more charming, interesting people? Become more charming and interesting yourself. Wish people were nicer? Be a genuinely nice person first.

23. People can’t multitask.

We can only switch from one task to another. If you’re ballsy, the next time a job “requires” you to be a good “multitasker”, show them this. And let me know if you get the job.

24. People don’t want to do this, but the only way to get over an ex…

Is to cut off all contact with them and give yourself healing time. Let them emotions process, yo. Read more in The Breakup Series. 25. The Best Thing You Can Give to Others

Is your own personal development. A concluding quote by Jim Rohn:

The greatest gift you can give to somebody is your own personal development. I used to say, “If you will take care of me, I will take care of you.” Now I say, “I will take care of me for you if you will take care of you for me.

4 thoughts on “25 Observations I Made About People in My 25 Years”

  1. Spending the last night of my 24th year reading your 25 observations in life. Well done buddy.

    6, 10, 12 resonates with me. I can’t wait to hear about your observations in life and how they change/get proven in the years to come :)

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