defragment.me

Re-conditioning myself for inner-peace

The post would actually be titled "Re-conditioning myself in pursuit of happiness" until I made a recent discovery that happiness is a choice, not a pursuit.

The perception of happiness

People do all sorts of things to pursue what they perceive as 'happiness'. In the Singaporean society, 'happiness' generally (I repeat, generally) means earning enough money so that they never have to worry about having to cope with the rising standards of living. When I was younger, 'happiness' means the freedom to do whatever I want. Money, I thought was secondary. I was insistent that freedom does not neccessarily have to come with money. Back then, even as a kid in school, I was already the odd one out. My peers were very concerned about getting straight As in order 'succeed' and 'be happy'. Nobody told us that academic success is not equivalent true happiness and success. On the contrary, we kept getting drilled about the importance of being part of an academic elite in order to survive in Singapore (at least, in my experience).

I was determined to be happy. I have already disappointed my parents when I didn't do well for my O levels, and I sought the middle-ground, entering a polytechnic to study IT when what I really wanted to do was to go to a design school. I dropped out in the middle of my course after realising that I will never be able to graduate as long as data structures gave me a headache, resulting in more disappointment from my family. That resulted in me feeling even more that I should make it up to them. This pattern continued throughout my twenties as I tried hard to seek 'a good job' as defined by society. If I could not be the lawyer they wanted, perhaps I could at the very least try to climb the ladder as a designer.

I spent my twenties caught in between trying to be happy and trying to make it up to my parents. Or you can see it as trying to be myself and be weird, or trying to be 'normal' like everyone else. I swung between the two as there was never a period I could be happy without feeling guilty, or trying to be normal without driving myself crazy.

I thought I left it all behind when I made a big step to be self-employed, mistakenly thinking that being self-employed would mean freedom. I stopped caring whether that would please my family or not, it was something that I really wanted and needed to do.

In a conditioned state of fear

What I didn't realise was, the conditioning that existed in my mind/psyche was far deeper that I have thought to be. As I progressed further into my business, my worries about the future grew. What if I stopped getting business? What if I don't make use if the opportunities presented to me now? What if I didn't save enough to buy a house? What if I can't pay rent? What if my parents get old and they need money from me? What if one of them fall sick? What if I fall sick?

I was setting myself up for failure. Even before anything started to happen, I was already 'preparing' myself for all the negativity that can happen to me. And I assure you, whoever that is reading this, that probably 90% of us have the same fears going through their minds all the time.

That is why many of us stay in jobs we don't love. It is better to be unhappy than to be poor, a lot of them think. As a friend once remarked, she would rather cry in a mercedes than in a public bus.

And that is why, even myself, as much as I try to pursue happiness consciously, the conditioning of my mind has weighed me down very much, subconsciously. Most of us are brought up to seek stability and security, even if I seem to be a 'free-er' spirit that most of my peers, I cannot help but think about the house that I should buy, the money I should be earning, the 'success' I should be chasing. This affected the way I ran my business as I subconsciously sought stability (lots of cashflow! ;p). I made awful decisions accepting projects that I shouldn't, or working when I should have rested. I took my work too seriously, because I was very afraid to lose my 'freedom', and my work suffered as a result as I over-analyzed everything since I was afraid to produce work that was mediocre. I lost my love for my work.

Consciously or subconsciously, I was falling back into my old pattern of swinging between trying to be myself and trying to be normal. I was still trying to seek the middle-ground by not having 'a proper job' and still being able to make my family proud of me. I was still trying to make the invisible 'deadlines' that we seem to have – by 30 you should have established a career, by 35 if you haven't, you should be totally ashamed of yourself.

Why?

Why should we place all these deadlines on ourselves? Why are we conditioned to pursue things that society deem acceptable? Why do we make our children and youth feel so guilty when they try to be different? We do we shake our heads at people who want to have a change of career in their mid-thirties? And why can't old people find love?

Why do we accept these 'rules' as part of reality?

Why am I taking life so seriously? If you believe in one life-time and that you either make it or not with one chance, perhaps you have enough reason to be serious about life. Me? I believe in multiple-incarnations (this is going to be another post) and I find it hard to reconcile within myself when I am weighed down by the supposed practicalities of life. This is how conditioned my mind has become. Fear of failure.

Re-conditioning

I have found a great divide between my beliefs and the conditioning of my mind. And that has been creating a lot of noise in my consciousness. No wonder I never could quieten my mind. It seemed to be always anxious, always analyzing, always debating. It doesn't have to be this way if I simply have faith. I was very afraid to waste time, to make wrong decisions, to experience pain when things go wrong. Yet the other part of me is constantly trying to remind me that I should be doing what I love, I should choose what makes me happy over what makes me stable. I gradually realised that my unhappiness was caused by the inability to make peace within myself.

Considering that I don't believe in hell, one-lifetime, judgement (as you know it) or punishment after life, what is there to be afraid of? I don't even believe in 'right' or 'wrong'. I find it really amusing that I am in constant anxiety about my life even though I hold such strong spiritual beliefs. Okay, at least it is amusing to me now.

There was a mildly controversial comment made by Joi Ito at Echelon 2010, apparently saying that he does not hire MBAs because he would need to untrain them. Similar to the sentiment that some startups find difficulty in hiring Singaporean talent because of their apparent inability to be flexible (am not trying to criticise, I am just stating true feedback). That is sort of what I am consciously doing to myself now. Reconditioning my mind to incorporate what I believe in and not what people has conditioned me to believe in, which will probably be a long but necessary process.

Digressing a little. the Singaporean Government often states that many of our local talent go overseas, never to come back. And they are trying so hard to make Singapore a creative hub. I find it hugely ironic. Perhaps it is time for them to take a long hard look at our system. Or maybe some courageous soul can attempt to improve the system. Only if our bureaucracy would allow these courageous, idealistic souls to make a difference. Many times, they want us to make an effort, but they don't allow the effort to be made (Once bondedOnce bonded, reloaded).

Finding inner-peace to be happy

So, I realise I have been going about pursuing happiness the wrong way. I thought that by gaining or acquiring something, happiness follows. Usually it is only transient. Especially if you tie happiness to achievements or possessions. Your human nature will always want you to achieve something bigger in order to experience the same level of 'happiness'. For me, I came to the epiphany, that true constant happiness comes to me when I achieve a state of inner-peace – being at peace with who I am, what I am doing, what I have, etc. When you're truly happy, you don't need external events to provide that source to you. You see happiness in everything. Whether is it that the grass is green instead of yellow, or that I am looking at a 24in lcd screen, or that I get to eat dumplings. Knowing myself (sorry I cannot help that cynical side), I wouldn't say I will remain in this state consistently, but I will strive to.

I think that is the most important in life. The effort and process, and the non-attachment to results. Enjoy the journey anyway, whether it is long, tiring or painful. You can choose to be happy in spite of anything and everything. Similarly, you can be unhappy even if you seem to have everything but you cannot be at peace.

We all have choices

I never used to believe it, but we all have choices. I held a pretty deterministic view of life. I believed failure or success was pre-destined.

Choices define our lives. It defines us so much that many of us live in fear of making the wrong choices.

Me? I admit I was a pretty stressed out soul getting really angry and upset with myself for the choices I have made in the past. However, somehow I never got angry with myself for too long, because I believe everything happens for a reason. Making poor choices leads to valuable lessons and accumulated reasons, making good choices leads to increased faith and happiness. Therefore, in my opinion, there’s really no such thing as a bad choice. Success or failure, we are all learning along the way. Sometimes, you just take a while longer to get to the destination, but they always say, it is the journey that matters.

Here I am, staring at the vast ocean through the window of my room. Wondering about myself and my choices. Reflecting on my life and the path that I have chosen. My life could have turned out really different, but do I want the difference?
Baan Krating Balcony View

Sometimes it is really difficult. Seeing peers acquiring assets and attaining career success. I am human after all and sometimes I wish I don’t have to worry about money, I can afford to buy a house and a car, and I can have my parents living off me. Which could be possible if I have chosen differently.

Over the past one year I have met incredible people in different interpretations of the word. Through the hard work I have put in I have had the opportunities to work in a couple of big-name companies. Even if I didn’t want the corporate life, I could have been working in a very successful startup, earning the sort of keep that will not only keep me worry-free financially, I could probably afford to buy almost anything I wanted (I don’t go for luxury goods so that’s not that difficult to fullfil).

I also gave up the opportunities to work with people that I admire. On projects that may not be fulfilling financially at the moment, but definitely potentially life-changing.

I gave all of that up.

To find myself again, so that I can be myself.

I don’t deny I think of all these things wistfully, I think of the car I could have bought, the house I could have saved up for, the smile of my parents if I were to give them that fat red packet.

So when people tell me that I’m ‘lucky’ or ‘cool’ because I am ‘free’ to travel around and enjoy breathtaking views, I don’t really know how to react.

Because most of them will not know all that I have given up to be where I am today. And it is really not easy. I give people the impression that I am simply a ‘heart’ person and I make decisions like these with a snap of my fingers.

Nobody knows the nights of insomnia and all those tears behind my smile.

A friend of mine once told me, there are two ways to change the world. One is to become rich like Bill Gates and start contributing massively to charities, the other is to be like Mother Theresa, giving your whole life to everyone else without expecting anything in return.

I can never be the Bill Gates sort of person, neither can I be Mother Theresa. Who am I kidding?

But I hope and wish that by being true to myself I can somewhat encourage more people to be true to themselves as well. By writing openly about my issues and hurt I can let a few tortured souls realise that they are not alone in how they feel. By being idealistic I hope to remind some people of their ideals again.

They are all lofty wishes, but I hope and wish and I try. I never thought that I could change the world, but I thought that the very least I can do is to be the change I want to see in the world.

Perhaps the act of giving up to be where I am now will never allow me the same opportunities again. Perhaps it will bring me even more opportunities when I am ready. All I know is that I try my best. I believe if I try my best and do what I truly believe in, satisfaction will eventually come.

I believe everyone has a different role in this world. Once in a while there comes a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates to shake the world. Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Gandhi. There are the ones who give up personal time, family, love, just to create a product, a mind-blowing film script, or a book that will influence the minds of society.

But there is also the housewife that does her chores and brings up her kids the best way she can, giving up any form of career and ambition. The man that works in a boring 9-5 job faithfully for 30 years just to support his family in the best way he can. The woman who spent 25 years of her life walking around America without a single cent just to prove that compassion exists.

We all have choices. Sometimes these choices may not seem to be worthwhile on the surface. Sometimes nobody will see the value or understand the choices. Sometimes it is difficult to live with our own choices. All the what could have beens.

I think we just do our best. We all have different priorities. The easiest way to make a decision is just to ask yourself whether you will regret this on your deathbed.

Till date, I think I haven’t made any choices that I would regret on my deathbed. But I think I can do better. I want to make choices that I will be happy with on my deathbed.

As I was writing this post, I put a “do not disturb” sign on my hotel door, and a hotel staff quietly puts a change of fresh towels and water quietly on the table at the balcony. This is a simple act that many expect or take for granted. I manage to catch a glimpse and I saw her placing those items with her utmost care quietly, with a small smile on her face. She left without knowing that I was looking, or that I was touched by her simple gesture.

Our choices often create ripples of repercussions without us knowing. Good or bad, you get to choose.

Travelling solo, finally

Almost 3 years after I set out to fulfill my dreams of travelling around the world, I finally booked a one-way ticket to Phuket after procrastinating at the booking screen for a few days suffering from decision paralysis.

So Phuket is not 'the world', but it would be a start, and I am rather comfortable in Thailand. I hope to be starting off at Phuket but venturing to places I have never been to before, like Khao Lak & the Khao Sok National Park. Transportation around these places is not as straightforward as I'll like it to be, but I'll just see what happens along the way. I just hope I don't cop out and stay the entire time in Phuket.

So what's the big deal

I've always been afraid of sleeping in the dark, I feel afraid even when there's people in the room with me, but over the past couple of years I've slowly begun to overcome that. Still, it is a big step for me to actually try being alone in the dark in a foreign country or in the middle of the jungle (photo credit):

Khao Sok Accomodation

And this is the first time I'm truly travelling alone to a destination where I have no family or friends. Without my partner to fuss over me, without someone as a security blanket, without someone to discuss with when I suffer from decision paralysis.

Which is why I must do this.

I really believe people must get out of their comfort zones in order to grow and going on solo travel is definitely going to take me out of my comfort zone. I think I've been hiding too long, trying very hard to feel safe and secure, and relying on external circumstances or people to make decisions for me. Okay, that's a bit harsh since I've worked very hard and gave up a lot in order to be a solo worker, but it still doesn't take away the fact – I am afraid to be alone.

Not because I need company, but because I don't trust myself.

Do I have lots of money stashed away

Nope I don't. That's why I've delayed doing this for ages, because I wanted to be financially secure before attempting to do something like this. However, this year has taught me that health is much more a priority than money and I realise I cannot take my life or health for granted.

I will be bringing some outstanding work to work on the go, but I will be hoping to tie up all of my projects within this month or the next, and spend another month or so work-free (and stress free).

I am not sure if I will have enough to last that long, but I am going to try anyway. Worst-case scenario is to come back and wait on tables. I can live with that. Though when the time calls for it, I'll probably take on some small-scale projects to get by.

Why I want to travel

I've always wanted to travel. It is like a lifetime calling. I am not sure why, but I am sure there is a reason why I feel so strongly about it. Which I'll probably find out on the way I guess.

I've also been feeling really drained and I am hoping that being closer to nature will recharge me. Spending time in solitude has never failed to bring me opportunities for new perspectives and ideas.

I actually like to travel with people (the right company, of course) because they would amplify the joys of travelling. New sights to share, delicious food to salivate over together. I've always thought I wanted to do this together with my partner, but circumstances made it impossible and on hindsight, perhaps I am meant to do this alone.

Additionally, I want to see if I actually feel different in a different geographical location. Eckhart Tolle packed up and moved across seas to write "The Power of Now" because his inner-voice told him he would have a much easier time writing the book at a different location. That was an interesting idea when I first came across it. I am not implying that moving locations *is* the solution, but no harm trying it out. I believe different locations have different energies and everybody will react differently to different places. Or maybe it is not so hard to believe that staying closer to nature will be more inspiring that living in a concrete jungle full of stressed out people.

I know many people love Singapore for all the comforts that it brings and perhaps I will learn that I prefer this side of the grass after being at other patches, but I'll only truly get to know, only if I venture out of it. I definitely know of people who are really happier staying elsewhere (yes, I am looking at you, Adri ;p).

A start to something bigger

I chose Phuket because it is one of the cheapest destinations to fly to and I really want to be near an ocean (& anytime I can simply fly back if I chicken out lol). Hopefully the familiarity with ease me into getting used to the whole idea.

This is just for me to make a start and I want to be travelling further and doing some serious country-hopping before 2010 ends.

I have been to many different places but I never really had the chance to really settle down in one place and experience their local culture for what it truly is. Ideally, I will like to spend about 1-3 months in a single place, live there for a bit, work for a bit, get to know the locals and not so much of being a tourist.

Whatever happens, it will definitely be an interesting experience. Wish me luck. :)

Confidence

There are generally two types of people in this world. People who have innate self-confidence and people who needs others to deliver confidence.

I happen to be the extreme end of the latter.

The downfall of my confidence

I think I used to be self-confident as a child, maybe because I never needed to study much in primary (elementary) school and still managed to ace my papers. I was the child that my parents would literally be boastful of. My achievements year after year was trumpeted like a media press release. Perhaps I was never confident actually, more like complacent because of my environment.

The turning point came when I was 11 and having my primary 5 year-end exams. As the routine goes, I never put any effort into revision, I had never needed to. I stumbled horribly for my maths paper, because usually I would finish any paper an hour ahead of my peers – thus I took my own sweet time and I only managed to finish 60% of the paper before time was up. For the very first time in my life, I experienced failure. (And for my poor parents, the beginning of the end for their trumpeting.)

This set the tone for the rest of my years until my mid-twenties. The vicious cycle of failure, disappointment, trying really hard not to fail again, even more disappointment. The bigger the disappointment I had grown into, the more pessimistic I became of life. And of course, the discovery of the fact that there are millions of people smarter than me, so much so that I was convinced that my primary school achievements were a fluke.

Letting go of past achievements

I remember looking my primary school report book wistfully for many years later, until when I was about 17 and I threw it away accidentally in the middle of a move. Perhaps that wasn't an accident. I spent years mourning about it, thinking that I would never be able to look at it proudly again.

Till I realised that my 'success' as a kid was holding me back – what could the past for for me? Even if I were to ace my education till the tertiary level, that would not guarantee me success or happiness in my adulthood. I bore a grudge towards my parents because I felt that they were holding on to the past too much and thus I could never be the prodigy they envisioned me to be. Never did I realise, I was also holding myself back.

For the world can have so many plans and visions for me, ultimately it is my own destiny. (lol, pardon me for the cliche.)

Taking ownership

I think my life really transformed when I took ownership of my own life. It only happened after I had tried really hard to please my loved ones and realised all the attempts were futile. I could never be someone who would live a life someone had designed for me. It was a matter of time that I would break free – the choice was either breaking free or ending my life. Around this time I came across a book which the theme revolved around "You are what you believe" and it all became so clear to me.

All my life till then, I have been trying to get people to believe in me, but I never really believed in myself.

That was a start. I wouldn't say I found my confidence overnight, but I think what started the process was that I desired to find my confidence back. Or my life back. To own my life and not have it owned by circumstances or the environment.

I think that was in 2005.

Still taking baby steps

Now, in 2010, I am still seeking confidence. It has been a slow but sure process. Baby steps. I still fear speaking to people, and I would not remotely consider speaking in public, and I still feel very nervous about my work, or go through countless sleepless nights when I question whether I am cut out to be a designer.

A huge difference is – the future looks bright to me. Quite bright actually from where I am standing. Whereas life used to be a pain looking forward, now I am slowly getting excited about what is in stall for me.  I had been truly blessed, for there have been a few good people who have shown the faith in me that I could not even find in myself. But I had to open my life up to even have the opportunity to meet these people in the first place. The desire to push myself out the comfort zone.

Serendipity

I am currently in a new set of circumstances whereby I would never imagine myself to be. In a place where I am given a huge vote of confidence and an incredible amount of validation by some exceptional people. I would not have met these people if I did not push myself out of hermit-dom. The experience I am having now can be all traced back to that single flip of that switch in my mind. (Aided by some strange dude from the UK named Andy who never gave up asking me out for coffee lol.)

For many people, making a change in their lives seem really difficult. Many a time, the results would not be visible until a long time after. We just need to have that desire and commitment to make changes, even how miniscule it seems to be. Who would have known that the casual coffee I had with two strange Caucasians would be the beginning of of a mini-revolution in my life?

Though I should include a standard disclaimer that says, there is a thin line between self-belief and insecurity-influenced arrogance.

Looking forward with confidence

I don't know what is life going to bring me from now onwards, I just know that I am immensely grateful. It does not matter if the bright future I envisioned turned out to be not bright at all – it is really the process that matters. I think many of us are just fearful of losing what we have now – and if it helps I can remind all of us that it is not in our hands entirely whether what we have remains with us or not.

"Confidence, Sir Alex Ferguson once said, is the key to about 99% of what is achieved in any walk of life."

I wouldn't say it is 99%, but it is a major influence on how we perceive ourselves, and in turn, that determines how we perceive life. Having that bit of confidence has definitely made a huge difference for me – that confidence allows me to dictate many of my choices and not let it by dictated by my circumstances.

As long as I have that bit of confidence, the competition doesn't matter, the economic conditions doesn't matter, because if I believe that you have something to offer and you work really hard, there will always be something on that plate for you. And if it really turns out that the plate is empty, if I have the confidence in my own survival, then what is there to be afraid of?

There is only one self to be afraid of, because it is the one self that self-determines whether he/she can survive or be fearful of any circumstances or conditions given to him/her.

Living life without limits

"Now is the time to integrate with kindred spirits while continuing to leave internal and external limiting factors behind."

Quoted from The Aquarius-Leo Full Moon of January 2010 - Creativity Crystallizing in Forms of Power by Robert Wilkinson.

Astrology works in funny ways (No it is really not the monthly column you read in newspapers). I was just having this whole thought process about the limiting beliefs I have in my life for the past few days, and this article cropped up in my feed. Regardless of whether the astrological transits influenced me or not, I thought the above quote aptly summed up what I feel now, and will probably be the theme for my 2010.

Moving forward

I wanted to write my customary New Year's resolutions post quite a while ago, but I did not really have any specific resolutions. Not because there wasn't anything to improve on, quite the opposite actually. I think I am on the brink of a crucial transition phase in my life, and mere words will not be enough to express how I feel.

The great fear of moving backwards always seem to stop me from moving forward. I cannot help but feeling that the best solution is not to move, stay in limbo, until I know the best way to move forward. But there's no "best way to move forward".  How do we determine what is the "best"? By basing on experiences of others?

I've always believed, from a young tender age, that the best way to live life is to live it spontaneously. Yet how many of us can truly be spontaneous? Not worry about bills? Even if we don't care about our own survival, what about our loved ones and whether we would be able to afford medical care for them if necessary?

Bad news can be catalysts for growth

A while ago I had some news which threatened my financial stability. All the plans that I've made for this coming year either has to be shelved, or I have to find some miraculous way of pulling it all together. Perhaps if it was in the past, I would have been crippled by the news. Devastated, and think that nothing in my life goes according to plan. The reality is, even the best laid plans can be thwarted. A dip in the economy, a war in some country, a natural disaster, tons of things can happen. We can only try our best.

I could have continued moping about my situation, which I did, for a short while – I think sometimes we have to reach the bottom in order to rise up. Problems can be solved by money are not problems. I sound frivolous by saying this, but look at little Charmaine, whose banner I put up on the right sidebar of this blog. We can garner all the donations for her expensive treatments, but her life is still in the hands of fate. We can only hope and pray for the best. Money cannot solve her problem, neither can money really solve Haiti's problems. Can money bring peace and stability to a nation? But that doesn't mean we stop giving or trying, because trying our best is better than not trying at all, isn't it?

We all have choices

Some of us are trying their best to deny this, but we all have choices. I used to hold a deterministic view of life, I believed that everything was pre-destined and we don't have a choice if we're destined to suffer. Somehow I was blessed because a series of events changed my views. I can choose to mope, or I can choose to be hopeful. If someone without limbs can lead such an inspiring life, why the rest of us who can walk, talk and eat, feel so aggrieved?

I have realised it is all about being able to exert control over your mind. Most of us allow the mind to rule us, to tell us we have to be richer, to do better, to be slimmer, whatever. I am blessed to know a few people who are not bounded by the restrictions of the mind or society, and these people are truly exceptional. They take risks, live life to the max, and are truly happy. You don't even need to know them to know they are happy. They exude happiness from their very core.

Wiring & beliefs

Being raised in a materialistic society in Singapore, (and it didn't help having a very critical mother), add my natural melancholic self to the equation, I seem to be wired to believe that I was destined to fail. I worry about anything and everything, and I worry what will happen in 50 years time. I worry about the future and problems that doesn't even exist. I think of the worst case scenario in every situation. It can be a good trait. It is always good to be prepared for the worst consequences, but not when you actually believe that the worst consequences are likely to happen all the time. Sometimes I think I actually will my problems into existence. Isn't this what they call a self-fulfilling prophecy?

So when I received the news that could threaten my financial stability, I went through the entire process of 'shit, I am never going to make it'.

This time, a switched flipped in my mind. If there's a 50/50 chance of failure and success, why do I seem to think that failure is the higher possibility? Why do I subscribe to the notion that I was not capable of rising up to the new occasion, that my situation will improve instead?

As I allowed myself to conjure hundreds of solutions to my problem, I realised that a solution was not impossible. It was just how much I was willing to do it. A difficult solution does not mean impossible.

Removing limits

Now, I am in the process of removing all my limiting beliefs. Whatever that held me back in the past. It is not easy, and some mornings I still wake up with slight panic attacks over what I am going to do about my problem, some nights I still get dreams of being late for exams. I seem to dream a lot of the past and it gives an accurate picture of my whole psyche. I am still wired to the past, still haunted by it. In reality my life is getting better every day but there is still this part of me that thinks that this is all too good to be true, and that it will end soon. I am like ending my own happiness even before even any sign of trouble. I am already planning for doomsday.

Nobody is threatening my happiness except myself. I cannot change external circumstances but I can learn how to cope with it positively. I wouldn't be in my 3rd year of my solo career now if I didn't choose to let go my fears. I would never have imagined having the life I have now when I was still working long hours under employment. Back then, I only wanted my life to improve slightly, to stop working nightmarish hours and I was even prepared to suffer and earn less money in exchange for having a life back. Now, I am almost living the life I have always dreamed of, I still have to work long hours and suffer the stress every now and then, but I have the freedom (to travel, to sleep in, to choose clients, etc), and that is most important to me.

Instead of fretting over the possible problems in the future, I rather spend my energy being the architect of my ideals. I want to dream of an improved life, not plan for the worse. Because even if unfortunate incidents do happen, there's usually nothing much you can do. Probably the very most, is to be properly insured and have some emergency funds. Even the deepest emergency fund you have in the world will not help much if life really decides to throw you a curveball.

Grateful for the unexpected

Now, looking back at the news I'd received, I am amazingly grateful for it. Like truly. I was in some form of a comfort zone and I needed it to push me out of it. If this did not happen, I would not have been spurred on to be creative about the ways I can change my lifestyle. Something that I thought that required a financial miracle is turning out to be seemingly possible – all because the situation called for extreme solutions, and one of the solutions do not seem so extreme after all...In fact, based on the current situation it is quite do-able within my means, and who is to say my means will not improve? At the very least, it is worth trying and hoping for.

If this did not happen, I would not even contemplate this particular solution (sorry for being ambiguous but it is too early to write about it), because my own limiting beliefs thought it was impossible.

Just trust

Some time last year, I was in a very bad shape and I let go. I let go of my worries, my fears, and any attachment to any outcomes. I told myself to trust the Universe and see what happens. It was very scary, but looking back now, whatever followed up actually turned out much, much, better than I could ever have imagined or expected.

This time, and for the rest of my life, I want to do the same. Just trust. Implicitly. As long as I can eat, talk and walk, whatever that comes along is a bonus and a blessing.

It will not be easy, but I really do want to stop being so affected by my past, whether is it memories, phobias, conditionings.

I want to re-wire myself.

I want to live my life without my self-imposed or society's limits.

"Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they would get. But if you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen." – Conan O'Brien

It is all about perception

This post was triggered while I was reading Avram Grant talk about his father. He was deeply influenced by his father, who at the age of 13 had to bury both parents and his five siblings during the second world war. His father could have become very bitter, I think nobody would take that right away from him.

But he did not. As Avram Grant recollected:

‘He actually couldn’t understand why I had gone. “Why do you live in the past?” he said. “The future! That is what life is about”. Incredible.

Avram Grant was the caretaker manager of Chelsea, almost bringing them the coveted Champions League trophy, only for John Terry to miss his penalty.

I could have been one of those stories of people who went the very wrong way. Unlike quite a few exceptional people I know, I do not seem to possess that sort of healing mechanism when one encounters a setback. I would typically be very harsh upon myself, and would end up wallowing in self-pity that could last for months, if not years.

One's greatest enemy

I have learnt that one's greatest enemy is not society, not survival, not anyone – but yourself. There are plenty of people out there who have gone through horrible childhoods, encountered the worst situations you could ever imagine in their youth, survived cruel twists of fate in their adulthood, and yet they take all of it in their stride and still choose to live life in the most positive manner possible.

So what is it that sets these people apart?

I feel it is the gift of perception. The perception to perceive that life has to go on no matter what, and you may as well make the best out of it. The perception to see the silver lining in every cloud. The perception to recognise that there will always be people who are worse off and yet happier. The perception to realise that truth is the better choice over deceit.

Everyone possess the gift of hindsight but not many choose to use it positively. Most people use their hindsight for lamenting about making the wrong choices. For regret. For all the things they could have done and didn't do.

Putting it in my perspective

I had a great week this week. Not just great, but GREAT. And you know what?

I realised that I am just so grateful for all the major setbacks I have encountered in my life. It is the sort of gratitude that makes me well up inside and feel totally blessed. If not for my setbacks, I don't think I would take myself out of my comfort zone and find that courage to pursue my happiness.

And I feel even more blessed when I realised it could all have been so different. I could have taken the 'easier' route of accepting that reality that I didn't want to live in and forced myself into being someone I am not. I could have taken the other extreme and chose to numb my pain with substances.

I am fortunate, for my perception allows me to see things in a different light. I must say, this was not innate in me, it was a conscious but slow shift for the past 3 years. I was almost a completely different person if you have known me just 3 years earlier,

I guess I simply reached the bottom then, decided not to stay there and try climbing up instead.

"You cannot choose the cards you're dealt with, but you can choose the way you play the hand".

Further reading