Debt and Conspicuous Consumption Speak Fundamental Problem

2007111850020101.jpgDebt and conspicuous consumption are symptoms of a much fundamental problem.

The subprime crisis, consumer debt issue, and negative national saving rate don’t happen together out of sheer chance like giving birth to triplets. They demonstrate the change in people’s values and perception from past decades. What is the difference?

It is a fact that life can be a bitch and some are very unfortunate to be much handicapped to begin with. However, it is also a fact that they are the minority of the population who have no choice being in poverty. Here today, let’s focus on the majority of the population who has the luxury of the freedom to choose.

At the end of the day, people deep down know what they need to do for themselves regarding their finance, but somehow somewhere along the timeline, people stop admitting to reality and ignore what they know. They prefer to be denial, and may even do their best to stay in ignorance, so they can justify themselves. Ah, ignorance is a bliss… but not really. There is always a choice, and people choose to be ignorant so they can be superficially happy through materialism and instant gratification. They like taking the easy way out, though it is only temporary, but they don’t care if it’s only temporary.

Being in denial, people try to become something they are not. And whether they know it or not, that builds up a void within… you can think of it as a spiritual void or a feeling of emptiness. Call it what you want. As this void gets bigger, people try to fill it with external things, which are paid for with money or credits — money they don’t have. These external things provide instant gratification and the perfect noise to mask that void. As time goes on, they lose a great deal of responsibility, integrity, discipline, and compassion with such behaviors.

I don’t think people should blame credit cards. Credit cards are merely financial tools and dead object. Like subprime mortgage, like all other forms of intelligent(dumb)financing program. Like money. They are all dead objects. How can they be held accountable? Companies make them available, and people choose to use them.

I think life is structured a way that allows us to make many mistakes. We can make a lot of mistakes at different times, as long as we recover from each. And frankly, we all make mistakes in life. We need to do our best to stay aware and catch and correct mistakes as quickly as we can. I cannot fathom that it is one big mistake that brought everyone down to their knees. Humans are tough and adaptive creatures. The key lies in being aware and always learning — the opposite of being in denial and ignorant.

It only becomes the big issues today as people remain in denail and continuously make the same mistakes, until one day — WHAM!!! — they found out they are holding on to a thread hanging off a cliff. They tried to chase after the something that they vaguely see and believe that will bring happiness but won’t and now they need to catch themselves before they fall. They need to recover from their mistakes, and they will if they choose to.

Indeed, we need external things for survival and for pleasure. It’s a part of life. But when you look to ONLY externals for happiness, you are chasing after shadows.

I believe happiness happens when you look within yourself first. When I said to look within yourself, I mean to find the values in life that are important to you. You need to get to know yourself. Know what you want in life. To each person, there are many important values, so you must prioritize, and I dare claim that no one should have money and fame at the top of the list. With such a list, you shall know what is “enough” and hence, be able to distinguish between “wants” and “needs”. You can then simplify your life and not have excessive externals yet be content, though remember being content does not mean being satisfied and complacent.

Problem happens when people never stop to find out their values. Again, they try to become what they are not. I don’t believe it is entirely the people’s fault because of how they become conditioned the way their are — constantly being distracted by advertisements, bombarded with information, and conditioned about money/appearance/fame. As a result of those: They think they will be happy when others see them as rich. They think they will be happy when they have that next-best-thing. They think they will be happy when they beat their neighbors.

However, there comes a time for each of us to come to understand that such a culture doesn’t work and therefore, learn not to buy into such a culture. It is not easy, but it is what we need to do. This is where discipline comes into play, and where we take responsibility for ourselves.

So at the same time you are learning and reading about all those “methods” on how to get rid of debt or to build your wealth, why not take a pause to learn about yourself and get your values straightened out? Because if you don’t, your changes will likely be short-lived because your character has not changed.

You can shred your credit cards, but if you don’t fix the problem by fixing the fundamentals, the problem will come back as easily as it is to shred the credit cards.

Originally posted 2008-03-28 10:22:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Wisdom Results Not in Process, It Results in Outcome

We humans tend to think of wisdom as a top-down procedure. A powerful mind gathers information, measures it against the lessons of accumulated experience, and makes a rational decision. But really, wisdom is not a process but an outcome; it’s the ability to live well, to antipicate and be prepared, to avoid disaster, to navigate troubles. It came through experience and pattern recognition or it can come through instinct and feedback loops, as it does with bees. Either way, it’s a process of trial and error, of learning from mistakes. One method emphasizes the individual’s role, while the other relies on genes and evolution. Our species tend to recognize only the former method, but nature seems to favor the latter.
Rowan Jacobsen

Originally posted 2011-04-26 16:48:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Where Does Your Attention Go?

With a plethora of family issues and personal things to take care and a blue-screened desktop to reinstall, I did not have the time and energy to post. I thank you for your patience.

One thing you can evaluate to gauge how well you are doing in a particular aspect of life is by observing how much attention to direct to it.

Let us focus on personal finance. What is the first thing you should do to get your finance in order? Lay down a budget? Start investing? Opening high yield saving accounts? Not. To put things in order, you must first pay attention and understand your current situation before doing anything else. That means, find out your assets and liabilities (networth), and then income and expense (cash flow). If nothing else, by paying attention to these information, it reveals the truth about your financial situation. As such, you can provide yourself no excuse to avoid doing what’s necessary.

Certainly you can act on your personal finance situation without these informations… but that just means you just don’t have the genuine desire to change it, as you don’t even want to pay attention to it. Maybe you will get lucky and get somewhere, but it’s the equivalent of walking around with a map but without a compass.

In a sense, when I say attention, it is about being honest and seeing the truth about your current situation first, in order to act accordingly and bring order from chaos. No excuses. No denying. And no procrastination.

You can do the same for your health, career, and relationship. In fact, they are all important in life and thus, all require your attention. But I am surprised to frequently see people focus on only a subset of these four things. Paying attention to everything? Sounds very busy. Because it is. And you get to decide when, where, and how to be busy — how to allocate your time and energy.

Which area(s) of life does you attention go?

Originally posted 2008-08-07 19:49:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Kids Have More Fun

Talk about having fun, kids can easily beat their adult counterparts, like taking candy from a baby. Seriously, adults can be so bad at enjoying the moment and having straight fun that they may as well just watch the weather channel.

My observation is substantiated by watching my niece who’s only slightly over one year old. It’s fascinating watching and paying attention to her. If you know a toddler around you, try to pay attention yourself.

I talked about living in the moment previously, young children are the ones who can really do it, probably because they are at a stage before they learn to have the kind of thoughts that we adults have, which in most cases, are simply illusions.

If a kid sees someone they like, they smile and is very excited.
If an adult sees someone they like, he or she may think, “Is it appropriate?”, “Does that person also like me?”, “Is that person going to return the favor?”, before smiling and show friendliness toward that person.

If a kid enjoys doing something, they are simply doing it and enjoying the moment completely.
If an adult enjoys doing something, they think about if it’ll last, if they can hold on to it, trying to capture the feeling, instead of simply doing it.

What I’d like to say is: We adults have much to learn from the kids, on how to live in the moment and how to simply have fun sometimes.

Originally posted 2008-02-08 23:57:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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