Living My Values

Chris Kuo is back in Stockholm pursuing a master’s degree in business and management at the Stockholm School of Economics (’20). Previously, Chris worked in fast-moving commercial goods (FMCG) brand management after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. He attended the Swedish Program in Fall 2014. Chris is particularly interested in the balance of physical, mental, and financial health.

I recently completed an exercise where I generated a personal values tree, in which some of my top values included health, exploring, gratitude, and simplicity. Though I did not realize it at the time, these helped to explain why I enjoyed being in Sweden during the Swedish Program and motivated me to come back. While living in the US, I tried to prioritize the same values, but honestly it was much harder to achieve any of them. In my experience, American culture has always promoted a “go, go, go” attitude where it has been hard to appreciate the things going on around you and also to find time to enjoy the things that really matter. That said, I think this is partly an outcome of living mostly in the Northeast. Now that I am back in Sweden, what has changed? In short, a lot, and all in the best ways.

With the cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården

Starting with health, I feel physically better than I have ever before. Unlike in any place where I have lived before, I have access to so many beautiful running areas that I am highly motivated to run more often and longer. Living in Bromma, I actually often run to the royal palace at Drottningholm. Even though I have been there so many times at this point, I still find it exciting to think about how I am within running distance to a palace.

In terms of mental health, one thing that struck me more returning to Stockholm is how differently I have been challenged to think about my relationships with others. I have more Swedish friends now and they have expanded my views. One question I get asked often when discussing my relationships with others is, “Does he/she give you energy?” I love it because it is such a direct way to approach one’s relationships with others that promotes mental health. It makes it easier to focus on the people that make you truly happy.

For exploring, I have been living my values by getting to know Stockholm in greater depth as well as seeing new places in Sweden. It is great to be able to participate in more local events such as Kulturnatt, Stockholm Tech Fest, speaker events, and more. Since it is quite international here, I also feel like I have easy access to different parts of the world. For example, the first time in which I got to try Australian food has been in Stockholm!

Finally, I see gratitude and simplicity inherently linked from my perspective. Like many Swedes, I have been able to feel a sense of gratitude for the small things, such as good weather and nature. Within an environment that places much less emphasis on material items as well, I have learned to love to live with less – simplifying to the things that matter most and feeling grateful for what I have. Not only is there less space for more things given that homes are typically smaller than in the US, but there are so many enriching experiences available that who really needs more stuff?

By now I have experienced Sweden throughout all seasons and I have not been scared away yet! There is always more to see and do, and I am excited for what is in store next.