Hey friends,

A couple weeks ago, the shipment of my 2020 iPad Pro finally arrived.

The month-long wait is finally over!

I’ve been pining for the iPad Pro for more than a year now (since the 2018 model came out, to be accurate) and I’ve been trying to justify my purchase of the device for just as long. Now, trust me when I tell you that I spent tens of hours, if not hundreds of them, browsing through YouTube videos and articles, trying to come up with a justification to splurge on the iPad Pro 2020. (I’ll write an article on the justification that I came up with and maybe it’ll be enough to push you over the edge and make the purchase)

I excitedly unboxed the iPad Pro with my friends and went through all the necessary setup process, eager to experience the Productivity Powerhouse Machine that many have sold me on.

However, once I’ve downloaded all the apps and personalized all the customizations, I sat there with the device on my lap and took a moment to reflect. While I was extremely grateful for the iPad Pro, I refuse to hop onto the Hedonic Treadmill. I was worried that once the novelty worn off, I would return to my wasteman habits.

Before I purchased the iPad Pro (and before it arrived), I somehow conjured up this image in my mind where the iPad Pro is a potential-packed device, the Ultimate Productivity tool, and having the device would boost my productivity tenfold.

It definitely is, but will it?

This was when I reflected on the concept of Via Negativa: Addition Through Subtraction.

🔭 Via Negativa

We often think that the only way to increase our living standards is to bring more value to our life.

And we think that the way to bring more value to our life is by adding external elements to our life.

This often fall into this trap whenever we are about to make a purchase that isn’t objectively worth it. You’ll see what I’m getting at after reading through the examples I’m about to give you.

💻 Getting the latest MacBook Pro would supercharge our productivity. We’re more likely to get some productive work done because the processor is blazing fast, the typing experience is enjoyable and the battery has enough juice to last us through a day of heavy-lifting.

🍎Adopting the Atkins Diet would help us achieve our body goals. Couple that with the GNC Gold Standard Whey Powder, they would definitely get us looking hench within the year.

📱 Buying a Kindle Oasis would help us to read more because it is portable and reduces the friction of reading a book. Purchasing a book through a friend’s recommendation on the Kindle Store is way easier than making a trip to the local bookstore.

👟 Getting the Brand New Nike Pegasus would make us more likely to jog because the soles are of good quality and we won’t get blisters. This then allows us to jog the next day because we don’t have sore legs or muscle aches.

🎮 Get rid of our time-wasting habits and invest our time in activities that contribute to our goals. Be more intentional and mindful about where we are spending our time so that we can get more productive work done.

🍟 Gradually reduce the amount of fast food we consume on a daily or weekly basis instead of changing our diet all together. Track our nutrition consumption and eat our greens.

📚 Reduce our screen time and set aside a certain time everyday to read the paperback books we have now. Develop the routine of reading and taking notes from them.

🏃‍♂️ Eliminating the friction to go on a morning jog tomorrow by setting out your gears today before you sleep (water bottle, your current running shoes, sports attire etc)

If you realized, all the above are subtractions.

Getting rid of bad habits, reducing our consumption of oily foods, reducing our screen time and eliminating the friction to jog.

These subtractions would add just as much value, if not more, than adding (purchasing) new items to your life. They, too, will help you to achieve your productivity/health goals and the best thing is, they cost NOTHING! For most people reading this newsletter, you already have all you need to go after your dreams.

Now, the trade-off here is that it is going to require discipline on your part. That is, of course, easier said than done, and I’m not implying that I’m a master of discipline myself. The iPad Pro 2020 isn’t going to be the determining factor to whether or not I am productive. I could very well own 10 iPad Pros and 5 Macbook Pros, and still procrastinate on my tasks. I decide if I am going to be productive or not. And so do you, for your own tasks.

What I’m getting at here is that you should try to develop a healthy habit before purchasing something new to add value to your life. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you would build healthy habits only after you have the novel item in your possession. The novelty will wear off and there’s that. Besides, you probably stand more to gain from the new item once you already have a healthy habit that you developed yourself, and you’ll be more appreciative of the new item as well. A win-win.

With that said, I hope my write up on this fun little concept - 'Via Negativa' added some value to your life in some shape, way, or form.

Have a great week ahead and see you in the next issue of Sunday Scoop!

Jia Shing.


  1. 💬 Quote - I’ve recently started on reading The Art of the Good Life by Rolf Dobelli and I came across this quote that ties in nicely with today’s topic, albeit in a slightly different context - happiness.

2. 🎙️ Podcast - Here is a fun little chat where Ali Abdaal and Chris Williamson talked about study tips, reading and productivity. They packed in quite a few banters in there, the vibes were good and it was generally a good podcast episode to listen to while doing menial tasks.


What is the one habit that you can start doing today before making some new purchase that would add value to your life?

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