3 Life Lessons from a 10-Year-Old


Today while I was having breakfast at McDonald’s, a young boy plopped himself next to me. I assumed that he was saving a seat for his family, but after a few minutes no one came and I realized he was on his own.

He glanced over at me and after a few minutes of awkward silence, he spoke in a monotone, “So shouldn’t you be at work?”

“Shouldn’t you be at school?” I retorted.

“No, it’s exams day today, but my tests aren’t until Friday.”

“So you don’t need to study?”

“Nope. I’d rather play video games with my friend.”

“Fair enough.”

Lesson learned: Take time out of your busy schedule to take a walk, spend time with your friends and family, or even play video games.

You’d be amazed at how much better you feel and how much more productive you are after recharging.

After our idle chitchat, I returned to reading the news thinking the boy would go about his way. But he just sat there and watched me read. So I turned to him and asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

He quickly replied, “A basketball player.”

“Why do you want to be a basketball player?”

“Because I’m really good at basketball.”

“Do you play on a team?”


“So you’re the best player on the team?”


“Second best?”


“Third best?”

“Nope,” the boy confidently exclaimed. “I’m the sixth best player on the team!”

I gave him a perplexed look. “And you still want to be a basketball player when you grow up?”

Yep. No one can stop you from doing what you love to do – even if you’re really bad at it.”

I sat there speechless. This kid had more confidence and determination than most adults I’ve met. I truly hope he maintains that fire and pursues his dream.

Lesson learned: It’s never too late to follow your dreams.

As we grow older, we often lose sight or give up on our dreams for various reasons, whether it is family responsibilities, financial burdens, or other extenuating circumstances. Sometimes all we need to do is look to kids to remember what it was like to be a dreamer and hopefully act on our childhood dreams.

At this point, the boy and I chatted like two elderly men on a park bench.

“So do you have a cell phone?” I asked jokingly.


“Do you?”


The boy began looking around for my phone. “Is it an iPhone 5?”

I pulled my antiquated phone from my pocket and looked disappointingly at it. “No, it’s an iPhone 3.”

Well, something is better than nothing,” he said as if to cheer me up.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

“Why do all adults have to have iPhones or cell phones?” he inquired.

“Well, that’s a good question. We need it to keep in touch with our loved ones and to make sure they can call us in case of an emergency.”

“If I need to call my friend, I just yell his name out the window or run to his house.”

I couldn’t help but grin at the boy’s guileless response.

Lesson learned: Appreciate what you’ve got, not what you want.

The older we get, the more obsessed  we become with material possessions – houses, cars, cell phones, and so on. But think back to when you were 10-years-old. You probably only “owned” a few items, which made you cherish them even more.

Following our half-hour discussion, the boy headed to his friend’s house, while I remained there contemplating the life lessons that this 10-year-old boy had just bestowed upon me.

Have you experienced a similar encounter? What life lessons did you pick up?



10 Things I’m Thankful for this Thanksgiving

First, let me say that I’m thankful for the obvious things in life like amazing friends and family, and the best girlfriend a guy could ask for. With that said, my list of things I’m thankful for this year won’t include any of those. No, the things I’m grateful this year are the little things that help me keep my sanity while spending my Thanksgiving overseas.

And without further ado, my list of top 10 things I’m thankful for this year.

1. Music – Nothing helps cure a case of the Monday’s quite like cutting loose to some Daft Punk or moshing to Lil’ Wayne.

2.  McDonald’s – Americans living in China can relate to that occasional craving for a taste of home – even if it’s from a substandard fast food joint.

3. MSN Messenger / Windows Live Messenger – Thanks to Mr. Billy Gates, I’m able to see my girlfriend on a daily basis despite her currently living thousands of miles away.

4. American TV shows – DVDs of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “the Walking Dead” have been my saviors in a country devoid of any amusing television programs.

5. My bicycle aka Black Betty – Living in a city notorious for it’s “diabolical” traffic can be a nightmare, especially when you’re trying to commute to and from work. Fortunately, I have my white steed (or in this case black) in the form of a RMB 300 (USD 50) bike that has been roughed up more times than Rihanna. (By the way, domestic violence is no laughing matter).

6. Sarcasm – Call it a coping mechanism or whatever you’d like, but sarcasm has kept me sane on multiple occasions, especially when complimenting one of the local fine dining establishments on their exceptional service and culinary craftsmanship.

7. Facebook – Instead of being thankful for Facebook allowing me to keep in touch with long-distance friends and family like most people, I’m grateful that Facebook allows me to keep up-to-date on the latest Maury-esque sagas like finding out which of my friends came out of the closet, had an illegitimate baby, or was convicted of a felony.

8. My camera – While I’m no pro, I do enjoy taking snapshots of my friends and documenting the constant zaniness surrounding me.

9. VPN (virtual private network) – To quote Amazing Grace, “was blind, but now I see.” Hallelujah! With my VPN, now I am able to see a world unscathed by the Great Firewall and into a sacred place chock full of dancing cat videos and “unbiased” news.

10. Freedom – Any proud American will tell you that one of the best things about American is freedom regardless of where you are. I, personally, value freedom of speech especially while trying to uphold this right despite being censored on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May your waistlines swell and your cup never remain full.

ImageMy Thanksgiving feast

What are you thankful for this year?