breathe, and then take it away. seventy seven times

#77breaths – a challenge I gave myself for two main reasons. One is private and the other is public. The public one is of course more important (the private one was more of an impetus) ; I simply wanted to escape the college bubble. When I was still in between the military and college, aside from doing stuff for The Hidden Good, I also went around encouraging people who were my age to not get trap by doing things that were thought to  be “expected of them” instead of doing things that actually interested them.

I faced that same challenge when I came here. I saw myself falling into the habits of a typical student ; and while that’s a completely normal way to live and exist, I’ve always wanted to amplify aspects of my life. I want to live large, live adventurously and live with gusto. I made a promise to myself years ago when my friends went to college and I went to Basic Military Training on Tekong, that when I went to college I’d make everyone jealous. I’d show them how to do college. That was arrogant, but it still fed that desire to live a meaningful life.

I’ve categorised the lessons I’ve learnt from this whole challenge into 3 main points (cliched but effective) :

1) It’s an exponential path

One of the first things I did with this challenge was to tell people around me what I was doing. I shared the reason behind the challenge and got generally really good feedback from everyone. In addition to that though, I had friends who would want to either join me in completing my breaths or even come up to me with opportunities for breaths. Going to the Bulls Game with Jacob was definitely one of my favorite breaths, and also hanging out with my close friends in Central and Eastern Europe. But with every additional breath, I was setting a new baseline for myself. I wanted to do more, see more, experience more. If you saw the beauty of life in one environment, you were excited to continue discovering that beauty in other environments. I forced myself to go out of my comfort zone, visiting monasteries and the Baha’i Temple to understand without prejudice how other people live. I wore suits, track pants, stayed overnight for a hackathon – the list doesn’t end. But by the time it all ended, I chose my last breath to  be this – a reflection of all the moments past. Because all  is nought without thought. Even the simplest of impulses require retrospection. And the largeness of this reflection, probably defines the exponential progression at its very best.

2) Breaks from Breaths – a Logical Decision

It seems ironic but one of the most important things this challenge about having my breaths taken away from me has taught me is to actually learn how to breathe. I’ve never been the kind of guy who can sit by the beach the whole day.  I’ll want to surf or play volleyball, but I can’t sit in a place for too long. So when I started doing this challenge, I started becoming exhausted.  I started wondering after a while whether I was forcing myself to do something I didn’t like just for the sake of doing the challenge. So I gave myself breaks, every 11 breaths or so I would take a day off to catch up on my studies or just sleep in. It didn’t compromise the spirit of the challenge and more importantly, after every each rest day I was excited for the next breath. I actually learnt the important of rest and pacing from this challenge, and became so much better at having patience.

3) Creating a Legacy

Documentation and Social Media have been strengths of mine for a while now. I love using it to inspire others and also to share my thoughts and ideas. One of the advantages of doing #77breaths was that I created a topic that people could follow, and visually be involved with either through Instagram or Facebook. Some of my friends picked up the challenge in their own variations while others kept looking forward to the next breath. It was a very involved process and I enjoyed having everyone follow the trail. And this will last. The skills I’ve gained through this challenge such as DJ-ing, Squash, Chess etc. or even the friendships I’ve gained will always last beyond the challenge and I’ll hold on to them more than the victory of actually completing the challenge.


It has been an absolutely amazing journey. I put myself out there and got so much back. What are you waiting for?