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"Focus on what you can control."| A Yale Student's Advice On Balancing Life

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

We had the great opportunity of interviewing Kai Xu, a student at Yale University, about: Balancing Life

Kai Xu is a student at Yale University majoring in Computer Science and Economics. He has been involved in the tech team of the Entrepreneurship Society, in addition to the development of an ornithopter in the Undergraduate Aerospace Association. During the past year, Kai interned at FounderTribes, an entrepreneurship startup, and Certree, an anti-fraud startup. In high school, he was involved in music production, computer programming, and their areas of intersection. Currently, Kai is also working on a research project in topography.

Here are some contemplative thoughts:

  • "Happiness isn’t about your conditions; it is about your expectations."

  • "It is crucial to learn about hindsight bias and the hazards it may present."

  • "Do not get caught in the noise."

Q: What is one inevitable obstacle we will all have to face in our high school career?

A: Mental health is super duper important. Determine ways to reduce background levels of stress. This could be through exercise, meditation, video games, etc. More often or not, just get some sleep. If necessary, seek professional sources of help. Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and focus on things you can change, rather than on things you cannot. Happiness isn’t about your conditions; it is about your expectations. A person who gets 1,000 dollars when he or she could have gotten one million would likely be unhappy, whereas a person who gets 1,000 dollars out of the blue would likely be ecstatic. Focus on expectations that you have control over.

Q: If you realized you had given yourself too many commitments, how did you determine what to give up?

A: If you feel like you are putting in more than you are getting out of something, replace it with something that is more fruitful. Instead of focusing on 10 activities, focus on a select few that you are passionate about.

Q: What are some regrets that you have about your high school career?

A: Let the past guide our actions of the present, but do not get lost in the soul-consuming realm of regrets. It is crucial to learn about hindsight bias and the hazards it may present.

Q: How did you set your priorities in high school?

A: Start from the very long term (such as your lifetime goals) and work backwards from there. If you feel like everything you do is rooted in a greater goal, you will be motivated. Do not get caught in the noise.

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