Journal #164 – Minimalism, Gratitude, Patience, and 5% More

Singaporeans sure complain alot; I complain a lot. We all are miserable.

Let me be clear. I don’t know of the minute details that led them to complain a lot but I assume it has to do with them NOT doing the following:

  1. Simplifying their lives
  2. Be grateful for what they already have
  3. Have patience for things to happen
  4. Applying 5% more effort, more time, to achieve what they want.

Of course, you may get upset and ask: how I can assume that? You may just say: I am not you or him or her. I am stupid. I haven’t experienced enough.

The list goes on.

I do question myself: Am I right or wrong with my assumption?

All I can say is, I don’t know. But what do I know? I drew my current conclusion through my observations thus far. And I do know I am like that too. I didn’t simplify my life. I wasn’t grateful for what I already have. I wasn’t patient enough to wait for things. I didn’t apply 5% more effort, or more time on whatever I want to achieve.

It made me unhappy. It made me FUCKING MISERABLE!

Now?

I simplified my life when it comes to material goods and owning things. Having access is more important. I buy only when I truly need it, and after I have asked myself several questions and answered them.

It doesn’t mean I am not affected by advertisement and the emotions associated with getting new things. I personally love getting gadgets. In the past, I got new phones, MP3 players, Discmans, etc., just because I want them. And at this stage of my life, I love Apple’s products and wanted to get the latest and greatest (iPhone X, I am looking at you). I am afterall like you, a human too. However, I applied 5% more effort to change my mindset (I am a lazy person and enjoy things status quo, so it’s a struggle everyday) and accept the feelings I have, then I moved on.

Simplification also come into play on what I have to say next. There is one thing in Singapore that always grind parents’ gears. I am not a parent nor do I foresee myself getting married anytime soon. So I don’t know what is it like. But I see it everywhere and I do know what it brings. It brings unhappiness. It makes everybody in the circle fucking miserable. I see it in every parent’s face.

What is it? Education.

Parents in Singapore always compare with their friends and colleagues when it comes to their kids’ educations. They fret over the school their kids go to, how much tuition their kids should get, etc.

Why they do it?

They have good intention behind it. All parents want their kids to have a better life than they did. They applied their worldview of having more money and climbing the corporate ladder as having a better life.

But it has gotten to a point where it becomes fucking excessive, especially when it comes to tuition or expectations parents have of their kids. It put pressure on both ends, no doubt. Parents, wanting the best for their kids, send them to the best school and tuition centers, spending out thousands of dollars every month. It strained their finances, creating unhappiness. Kids have more homework, less play. They suffer from unnecessary anxiety. As kids, they tend to suffer more because they are unable to articulate out. They internalized it as just went “because my parent blah blah blah…, I have to do it.” When they fail, they blame themselves. That leads to the increasing number of children committing suicide. When that happens, parents will be putting the blame on themselves. If they have more than one child, the other children in the household will also suffer.

So my question is: Is it fucking worth it?

And that question applies to your finances, and your family’s happiness and wellbeing.

That lead me to gratitude. I have also applied gratefulness whenever I am aware of it. There are times when emotions run high, I forget about it or didn’t realize it. I am grateful that I am alive, have a family, and friends. I am grateful that my parents allowed me to explore what I like and dislike. I am grateful that I am not living in poverty and had a decent education. I am grateful that I had and have decent jobs (though I don’t like my current one, it just pays the bills), so that I can have some stability in life.

I have also tried to be more patient. I am an extremely impatient person. I like to see results the moment I applied some action. It is still a work in progress. But over time, I have learned to take it slow and enjoy the process. Just like right now. I applied patience to my writing. In the past, all I thought about was wanting to be maybe a New York bestseller or at least be the best science-fiction novelist from Singapore. And I couldn’t wait to get there. Now I know it’s not easy. And it will never be. It takes patience and hard work.

Both gratitude and patience can go hand-in-hand too. It applies to my family and friends. I am also grateful for the fact that Singapore has a decent, working public transport that can get me to most places and try to be patient when there is a train fault. No need for random outburst or public display of unhappiness. If you can’t wait any longer, accept the situation, move on, and find an alternative.

If you studied and applied stoicism, even at the bare minimum, you will be able to understand what I am talking about.

But most Singaporeans will just complain. I don’t think they have that patience anymore. I also don’t think they have the gratitude anymore. They are always looking for greener grass without wanting to do anything about it. Or they just blame the politicians. I know I do. But it doesn’t change anything. Now I know that. You can vote out the politician at the next election cycle but the real problem is YOU.

Has always been you.

I have come to acknowledge and realize that politicians deal with big picture. They have a grand plan of how to make Singapore a better place. Someone has to do that so that we as nation has a direction. It is up to us to implement. But have we been implementing? We may have but is it enough?

That lead me to the part on 5% more. 5% more effort. 5% more time.

The loudest Singapore complainers are who I assume to be lazy. You can get all defensive with that all you want or lie to me or make up some excuses. I don’t care. At the end, you could be lying to yourself to make yourself feel good and then continue to feel fucking miserable. So start asking yourself, what have I been doing and finding an answer to that.

From what I have observed, these people are NOT spending 5% more effort and time to be on the ground, focusing on making changes to their immediate environment or to themselves. Instead, they rather spend the energy and time doing something as meaningless as complaining.

It’s just noise really. No meaningful actions.

I’m pretty sure even entrepreneurs also say that complaining does nothing. Only by doing, you see result.

And what do I mean by doing? Here are some examples:

 

If you are a rail engineer, put in 5% more effort (even if you are not fucking paid for it), when it comes to train maintenance. How much is 5%? I don’t know the actual amount for you. For me, as a Software Engineer, 5% more simply could mean running an additional unit test on a piece of function before pushing out that piece of code.

 

If you are a parent, put in 5% more time to instill patience in your kids so that they grow up to be patient to wait for things to happen. You see, impatience is a major contributing factor to quality problem at the end. People just want result or get something done and over with at the snap of a finger. So they cut corners instead of spending 5% more effort, 5% more time or even both to deliver quality. Technology these days has made us even more impatient. We get instant dopamine rush or gratification from our smart phones. Instant notifications. Instant news. Instant feedbacks. So much so that we forgot what is it like to wait.

 

You see, if we on the ground didn’t even do things properly within our immediate environment or with ourselves, be fucking patient with the process, be grateful for what we have already achieved, how the fuck can we effect changes at other places.

For me, minimalism was hard. Gratitude was, and sometimes, is hard. Patience is hard. But I applied the same 5% more mindset to them. The end result is. I’m happier than I was. I’m less miserable than I was.

So I hope you can see that, it all starts with us, as an individual. I’m good now. Are you?

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Journal #146 – Perpetually Happy, No Such Thing

There is no such thing as being perpetually happy.

Happy is an emotion state. It comes and go. Just like any other emotions.

Life will take it away from you.

Life will give it to you.

What you can do is try your best to achieve a certain level of internal mood stability and contentment.

How to do that? I don’t know about you or what’s your life like so I can’t give you any advice. As for me, I’m still figuring it out as I go about my life.

Now what I can tell you is what I have tried and what worked for me based on the many YouTube videos I have watched.

I know minimalism has put me one step closer to contentment. By intentionally focusing on what I need and removing things that I don’t need or use anymore, I was taking away mental clutter. It cleared my head.

Taking a step back and recognizing the fact that you are alive, surrounded by people who love you, and be grateful for that is also another thing that helped me to be happier than how I was two months ago or maybe even one year ago.

Learning to let go. It’s a work in progress. My neurotic mindset is always having me think of the worse that could happen to whatever event I will be going or to the thing that I do own. I let the feelings in, I acknowledged the feelings, and review what I can do about it. If I recognize that I can’t do anything about it, I let it go, and apply the 5 second rule. Then I switched focus on the next important thing in life.

Diet. Diet plays a bit part on your mood whether you acknowledge it or not. For me, my recent diet of salad and proteins for lunch with minimum carbohydrates has definitely helped improve my mood. I felt more alive and more courteous to strangers whom I interact with. And so I’m gonna keep doing that.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Daily Journal – Aug 9, 2017

This is my 125th journal.

Today is Singapore’s birthday. We are celebrating National Day today and it is a public holiday.

I woke up several times to use the toilet and that was pretty disruptive to my sleep. Blame it on my water intake the night before. But still, I think it was a pretty good sleep cause I dreamt a lot. Like a lot. I personally like dreams when I sleep because it shows me that my brain learnt or absorbed quite a lot of stuff during my day and it’s processing those information during my sleep.

After that I started up my MacBook and went about redoing the payment for my AWS account. Amazon sent me an email saying that the payment was successful.

You know what, I think I will keep the AWS account because I think I can play with it when I get enough work to earn enough to pay for it.

Then I went on to prepare the Latest Science Tidbits #2.

After that I watched Shooter (TV Series, Season 2) and some YouTube videos. I will be meeting my friend later for dinner tonight at 1730hrs.

We went to Tanjong Pagar to eat Bak Kut Teh.


After that we went to Holland Village to have some drinks at Starker.


Managed to finish the 2L drink. I did used the chance to talk about some ideas that I have but not easy to implement because of cultural, and resource issues and the solutions to those issues have yet been thoroughly thought out.

Also, during our chat, my friend reminded me of something. Different people has different kind of thing that makes them happy. Some is family. Some is money. Some is watch. Some is reaching certain purchase goal.

For me, I came to realize that my true happiness stems from stress-free environment. And please don’t say everyone loves to be stress-free because I know that’s not true. Some people are happy when they encounter challenges in their lives or work because they get to solve a problem.

So in order to to achieve stress-free I need to work for it. That means I need to put in the effort to get the things, create whatever plans, and implement whatever steps necessary.

To illustrate what I am talking about, I will pick inconvenience. It is a major stressor in my view. That’s why I went to get Apple products and enter the ecosystem. It has a lower inconvenience rate than Windows machine. I choose to eat at restaurants because I don’t like to deal with the chaotic scenes, or the inconvenience of looking for a seat and then queueing for my food in coffee shops and hawker centers. That’s also why I went with minimalism especially when it comes to clothes and material possession. The act of choosing what to wear is an inconvenience to me.

But that also means that I need a certain kind of income that will allow me to do what I have mentioned. Apple products don’t come cheap. Restaurants don’t come cheap. But that doesn’t mean I need to work 24/7 for the kind of money I’m looking for. Because with me adhering to minimalism, I already stop myself from buying unnecessary stuff that don’t add value to my life which in turn ncrease my happiness in any way.

Ok, back to what happened in my life. At around 2130, we are contemplating if want to go home earlier or continue drinking. After more drinking and talking, at around 2220hrs, we decided to call it a day and go home. My friend’s wife was with us and she looked bored. Not very nice to stay on. Beside, they both need to work while I don’t. Unless…well…I choose to go to my client’s office.

Boarded the train at Holland Village, then the west-bound train, and I managed to reach home at around 2319.

I don’t have anything else to update. So I think that’s all for now.

Here I conclude my journal for today.