Getting to the Basics and the Heart of Things

Success is my topic on this blog. Success is not simply one thing and definitely not about money.

That is why I have a tendency to write more about concepts in personal development and less about personal finance. I write much less about in specifics and details in what to do with your money. Besides the fact that there are plenty of info and references on the internet already, the truth is that if you can master the basics, success in life (and therefore personal financial life) will soon follow. Kinda like martial arts practice – the ability to a more advanced move comes from the mastery and understanding of doing a more basic move.

How do I mean? What are the basics? These qualities quicly come to my mind:

You may be thinking, “Compassion? Wha…?” Don’t laugh because compassion IS a basic and requirement in success in life.

Use the “Search” on the right to locate my posts on these topics.

Originally posted 2008-01-30 23:45:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Pain – You Don’t Want to Forget

Phew, Bush Junior finally stepped down today. This marks the end of (uh-hmm, I’ll be nice) a not-so-nice period for the U.S., even though I know there are plenty of people who think otherwise, and let us not count those people’s votes from now on… oh wait, I forgot to be nice. Oh well.

Now, Obama has charisma and does seem an intelligent individual. He also carries a lot of positive motivation for the people. However, I still see him as sort of a stock option where you can win a lot but also lose alot because with the current landscape, we simply do not know that whatever he does will, and by how much, improve the situation. We shall see.

This brings me to my topic on pain. Pain. It can be physical, mental, emotional, as abstract as could be. Most of us don’t like pain. But I think it would do us well to always remember the pain we have experienced. I say this because I observe that people are predisposed to forget about pain quickly.

I noticed on the highway that people average 70+ MPH now vs only 60+ MPH couple months ago and that more SUVs and Hummers once again roam the roads. How quickly people have forgotten about the energy crisis. It shows that people only care about the short-term expense of gas vs. understanding that our energy resources are not infinite.

Start naked truth — As of now, most people do not know nor truly care about preserving resources and not be wasteful for both the planet and the generations to come, yet. They may like talking about it. They may like being enthusiasts. But that is that.

On a personal level, I observed my parents’ tendency to seek a lot of space when searching for housing, even though we used to live in some 400 sq ft. apartment back in Hong Kong. Back in the days, we just make do, and honestly, we don’t really NEED all that space.

It is important to remember painful experience because it will guide your action in the future. Pain teaches good lessons. When you learn from painful experience, you will get that much wiser. When you forget about pain, it is much easier for to make mistakes, and to repeat mistakes.

I remember the pain from relocating and starting brand new twice. I know to cherish the people I do get to spend time with while I can, and simultaneously, holding on to people is futile.

I remember the pain when I could not speak English properly and fluently. It helps me to be kind and considerate with strangers.

I remember the pain when I got stuck between a clash of two cultures and generations that almost no one can understand. I know that no one can fully understand each other and that makes it even more important for us to make an effort to empathize, to be compassionate, to be present in the moment.

I remember the pain when a good friend my age passed away suddenly who is a most kind person. It provoked me to pull myself together and figure myself out. From there, I learn to live in the moment.

I remember the pain when I got hit by a car on a bicycle. Life is not to be taken for granted.

I remember the pain from watching my grandpa who became half-paralyzed on the right after a stroke. The most painful part is that he’s a poet and calligrapher who could no longer enjoy those things. We do not have as much time as we think to do what we want. Hence, I do what I can most when I can now.

I remember the pain from breaking up with girlfriends. Sometimes no matter what you do, be it timing, place, or person, it does not turn out alright. It is all the more important that one gives their best, and that in relationship, it will do well for us to help each other grow. Even if broken up, we will have learn and grow because of each other. That will surely allow a smile on the face.

I know the pain from not being understood from some of the closest people in life. I strive not to do the same to the people I most care about. I must listen, without presumptions, without ego.

I remember the pain from not having a stable income, yet having large amount of expenses when I was attending graduate school, and to get by, I would pass up meal on campus until I get home and do whatever else to preserve money. I understand most of what I do and have now are basically luxury which I could do without, and I do my best to manage my money now. It is never too early. It is never too late.

I remember the pain I have caused to others and myself from when I let emotions took over. It does me well to understand myself and be consistently aware of my thoughts and emotions now.

I remember the pain I went through to learn all that I did, though painful yet necessary. It is vital for us to be considerate to not take away others’ opportunities and responsibilities to feel pain, no matter how eager we are to present them with a solution.

Pain also presents itself as disease and illness in terms of our body. We need to take heed when they happen because the body is telling us that we must take care of it. I find it sad that for years people would not do that and rely on medication to cover up pain (remove the symptoms) and think they are “cured”, only to be hit with a much more deadly or incurable condition later. By the time, it’s already late. You wonder why are medical cost is going up like crazy. It is hugely because people do not listen and neglect their body for years and decades, thinking that medication and technology will “fix” them when something happens.

Stark naked truth — As of now, people do not truly care about the health of their body, and for proof, you just need to look around yourself. How many of those people look healthy? And there’s a difference between that and looking pretty.

In the end, let me say that pain does not only teach, it is also a way to connect us all. When we remember our pain, we can also be compassionate.

One thing is for certain. It will do us well to remember pain. As a nation…especially the last eight years’.

Originally posted 2009-01-21 00:28:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Poverty Business

“The Poverty Business” is the title of an article from the May 21, 2007 issue of BusinessWeek. An excerpt from the article:

In 1989, households earning $30,000 or less a year paid an average annual interest rate on auto loans that was 16.8% higher than what households earning more than $90,000 a year paid. By 2004, the discrepancy had soared to 56.1%. Roughly the same happened with mortgage loans: a leap from 6.4% gap to one of 25.5%.

Does this help explain why the gap between the wealth and poor is expanding rapidly in the past years? Not only are these people making less, they also have to pay more. It’s a double whammy!

Another thing is, the poverty business, which includes service like pay-day loan, subprime mortgage, etc., use procedures and strategy that entice the poor or make use of their ignorance to use their service and then hit them with outrageous interest+fee (BlueHippo?). It is always my insistence that we are the results of our own action. Based on that principle, these people should educate themselves financially and know they are getting themselves into, otherwise, it’s their own fault. However at the same time, it’s also problematic that these business are exploiting these folks who are already making less. That’s just adding trouble to misery, kicking them when they’re down, and get them stuck in a vicious poverty cycle.

Who is responsible for this “poverty problem”? The business? Or the people themselves? What do you think?

Either way, this raises another point – there is a need in our society to better educate people on personal finance and raise their financial awareness.

Originally posted 2007-05-20 23:24:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Dealing with Ego

Imagine someone egotistical… how are they like? I predict you have the image of a flaming jerk in your mind. What does it mean to be egotistical? How is it that some people have more ego than others? Following is how I will break it down.

Ego is a product of thoughts. It is a composite of all of our thoughts that project into a self-image of what we think we ought to be. One may think he or she needs to be confident, pretty, macho, skinny, full-bosom’ed, wealthy, know-it-all, normal, non-conforming, etc… Take a moment to look inside yourself to see the qualities and attributes you think you should have. All together, that creates an image of what you think you should be like. That is your ego.

Ego exists in all of us, and it is not necessarily negative. It is okay to have ego. Saying ego is a bad thing is like saying the fact that we have emotions and thoughts is a bad thing.

Most non-physical pain and suffering spring from the fact that the ego becomes threatened. The ego can be threatened by external attacks or through your internal dialogues, where you struggle because you feel you must be exactly like your ego but you are not. Negative emotions are produced in the process, such as anger, resentment, fear, envy, and jealousy. However, it does not have to be like that, with the pain and suffering.

Imagine someone said something to insult you, or perhaps a rumor going around about you. Something to the effect of “You are worthless,” or “You are an ass.”

Do you feel hurt?
How would you feel about it?
In reality, do you become worthless?

You will probably feel hurt and angry, even though it did not make you worthless all of a sudden or take a physical chunk of you away. If anything, it is part of the ego that is lost. Your ego says that you are worth a lot of value, and as this person challenges that, you become angry.

In such a scenario, there are 2 outcomes(choices). You can choose to react purely base on your ego and the resulting emotions. Or, you can choose to react objectively and optimally with the knowledge of your emotions and thoughts. It is obvious which choice can provide a better ending. Hence, ego produces pain and suffering for you when you react to situation base entirely on your ego and your emotions. And you do so because you may yet observe your own ego, and it becomes out of control when you act like you are it.

Now that we are clear about ego being a matter of thoughts and emotions, dealing with ego is the same as dealing with emotions and thoughts. Sorry for being repetitive, but we learn through repetition :)

Once again, the key lies in awareness. As stated, ego is not a bad thing per se. The goal is not to get rid of ego, just like we should never aim to remove or suppress our emotions and thoughts. You must embrace your ego as your emotions and thoughts. At the same time, you are aware of their existence. Once you start becoming more and more aware, you learn that you ego is not you.

In the above scenario, once you notice what you are thinking, the anger can go away because you know the other person did nothing to you, although he did something to your ego. And because your ego is just what you feel and you think, there is no reason to be so dramatic. Unless you feel you are very very important and are at the center of the universe… which is another form of ego.

For more details, please read Dealing with Emotions.

As a personal observation, a lot of thing is out of whack today is due to out-of-control ego. More and more so, the society puts a huge emphasis on monetary and materialistic wealth. THE RULE is that only with abundant or excessive wealth should you be considered successful, and ONLY THEN you can be happy. What craziness.

But as a result, people think they need to be rich. They HAVE TO be rich. Their ego is a rich and “successful” person, and without being aware, people act base solely on such ego. As a result, people do whatever it takes to make money and often do terrible things to the environment and other people. It is truly a sad state of affair, and I studder watching people continue to act upon such runaway-train-like ego. If they keep doing it, a train wreck is simple inevitability.

Originally posted 2008-04-27 01:16:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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