Our family philosophy...along with original music compositions by Sumay.
WEquil is a way of life that helps our family find "Equilibrium" ... purpose from using our unique strengths to create unique value for the world. We are all unique.
By accepting this as a family we learned to better understand ourselves and each other. We learned to turn our differences into opportunities to grow from each others strengths. We share because we believe our family's journey is a unique perspective that can create unique value for the world.
Many great minds had influence on our family. Thinkers like Steve Jobs, Paul Graham, Ray Dalio, Naval Ravakant, Socrates, John Gottman, Balaji Srinivasan, Brené Brown and others … each with an independent perspective, but each with the shared mission of discovering truth.
Steve Jobs taught us the power of reflecting on death ... a meditation that helped our family avoid despair after our house burned down, taking our dog Juna who saved our lives.
Paul Graham taught us how to think like an entrepreneur ... viewing failure as an inevitable part of life, and growth as a process of iterative improvement.
Ray Dalio taught us a lot about the power of radical transparency...creating environments of open and honest communication so the best ideas can rise to the top.
Naval Ravakant taught us the value of Specific Knowledge ... unique strengths born from unique experiences that can be learned but not taught.
Socrates taught us the way of the Peaceful Warrior ... having the humbleness to question our convictions and the confidence to seek answers from within.
... and many others. We stand on the shoulders of giants...or so we try.
Seeking truth is hard because no one person or ideology has a monopoly on truth. The nature of life and the human condition are infinitely complex.
We are but a speck in the universe...we are but a brief moment in time.
So how can we mere humans find answers to life's biggest questions?
After the Fire
When Sumay was seven years old, daddy wrote her a letter about the "Ultimate Currency". Sumay had confided that she would have liked a "bigger house, like some of her friends, preferably with a jacuzzi".
Here is an excerpt...
Mommy mentioned that you had asked why we, since we can afford it, why we don't buy a nicer house like some of your friends ... with a jacuzzi. Wow that sounds like fun! Who wouldn't want that?
Mommy and I have been talking since before you were born about happiness. We have much to learn, but what we know so far is that happiness is the "ultimate currency". What this means is that when we make decisions we should try to increase happiness and decrease suffering. Sometimes this is easy, like when picking out a movie, we obviously want the movie we think we will like better. Sometimes this is hard, like when we try to balance happiness today from eating candy with happiness tomorrow from being healthy.
The world is full of people that will tell you how to live, what to buy, who to talk to, and how to spend your time. It is tempting to listen. It is tempting to follow the herd and do what everyone else is doing because maybe they know better. Another thing Mommy and I realized is that most people don't really know how to find happiness. They tell other people what they think is right because if they get you to do the same thing it makes them feel better. But most of the time, doing what other people are doing just because they are doing it doesn't lead to happiness. Instead it leads to suffering because you give up control of your own life and make decisions that you later regret because they were not your own decisions.
Your school has a poster that reads, "most people are as happy as they make up their mind to be". We agree. ... Full Letter.
Our house burning down was a real test for us.
We had talked a big game about avoiding attachments to physical things. We experienced a tremendous amount of suffering in the weeks after the fire. All of us experienced panic attacks and cried very hard at Juna's funeral. Coming so close to death was a very traumatic event that is challenging if not impossible to convey in words.
But even in the days after the fire we found ourselves doing what we always do ... turning life's problems into opportunities to learn, grow, and create.
Being literally forced out of our home was an eye opening experience. For over two years we had grown accustomed to spending a lot more time at home and connecting with people around the world virtually. It took us a month to locate permanent housing, crashing at friends houses and hotels. Meeting so many new people gave us an opportunity to re-think some of the things we were doing ... "iterate and improve" as Paul Graham might say.
One thing we did was livestream our Demo Days at WEquil.School again...starting with sharing what we had learned "After the Fire". That picture was taken the day after. We were wearing clothes donated by our neighbors and all still in a state of shock.
In the days after the fire, hundreds of families that had been in some way involved with WEquil.School reached out to express their sympathy and offer help. Several kids had even packed clothes to give to Sumay and Aila. One mom told us that her daughter was terrified after hearing the news and could not stop crying the whole night.
We were emotionally overwhelmed at the time... incapable of reaching out to everyone individually even if we had the time. So we decided to restart Demo Day with just us sharing our recollection of events and how we were trying to "turn our struggles into success".
Success means a lot of different things to different people.
For us...success means helping ourselves and others find happiness and avoid suffering.
Happiness is the "Ultimate Currency" as dad concluded in his letter to Sumay those many years ago ... so no matter what we may write or say about the "WEquil Way" none of it means anything if it doesn't lift you up.
For us ... the fire was a testament to what we had already discovered, but now knew more than ever. Purpose and meaning are created when we take responsibility for using our unique gifts to bring happiness to the world.
The WEquil Way
We are all enrolled in WEquil.School ... the learning community our daughters started during the pandemic. Every Monday we decide on a "Creative Project" to share on Friday. This week, dad's project was to draft this letter on the WEquil Way for the family to review before publishing on our app and this blog.