Life is… Life is not…

As I at in the office plugging away at the keyword today, or not, since I got distracted and something hit me…

Life is not sitting in an office/cubicle for most of the day.
Life is not climbing corporate ladders.
Life is not about fame.
Life is not being super-rich.
Life is not having MacMansion.
Life is not about drama.
Life is not killing each other.

Life is compassion.
Life is having genuine relationship.
Life is appreciating what nature offers.
Life is simple.
Life is living in the moment.
Life is changing.
Life is learning.
Life is singing.
Life is playing piano.

Yes, I am a bit of a dreamer and I like it. I tell myself to work hard to move more and more toward what “Life is” everyday.

Originally posted 2008-05-07 23:18:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Housing Crisis, Woe and Pain to be Felt by Everyone

I talk a lot about the economy here. But let me join the party and share my take on the current situation today. Oink! ^(oo)^

Everything is connected. That applies to our economic system. That is exactly why this dreadful housing crisis’ pain will and have to be felt by everyone. Allow me to explain.

It is easy for us — ranging from the lower and middle class to the less-than-filthy-rich class — to blame the government, the banks, the Wall Street, the Madison Street, the CEOs, or the monkeys who picked their stocks… so on and so forth. But it is foolish to play this blaming game. None of this would have happened if not everyone participated.

Greed. If we must identify one cause for the problem, greed it can be. It is not one single entity that leads us to today’s problem, but the greed that is in everyone’s mind. Who knows, if I had the money and power and was in the right place, I could have been part of any of the following… But alas, I was only a simple student couple years ago, so I missed all the fun.

Government / Fed

Their lack of oversight for the indulgence in this “free market” and the prolonged period of dirt cheap rate encourage much greedy behaviors by the following people…

CEOs

They are consumed by greed when they see how much compensation and bonus they can get by indulging in this short-term burst of high return. They are smart, intelligent individuals — definitely no fools — so they probably foresaw or at least had the intuition of what is to happen if they jump into the subprime and CDOs party. Yet, they could not resist and allow their companies and subordinates to partake. Honestly speaking, I think some of them, if not most, did not really care because they will walk away with a crap amount of money in a short period of time anyways.

Banks and Investment Firms

The only reason CDOs of the subprime mortgages ever existed is the banks insatiable hunger for greater profit. They lend the money out for a set rate of return as mortgage interests paid by the borrowers. That make them money already but that is not enough, apparently. Expanding in the subprime sector already increase risk exposure… but they further complicates the problem when they turned around and created CDOs for trading for even MORE profits, long-term or not. More profits mean bigger bonus and paychecks. One thing leads to another. Subprime mortgages and CDOs lead to other fancy financial products and ways to make money. Some collected fees up-front for processing… Some provided the insurance for them… And who knows what else. I don’t know all the details, but all these things together exacerbated the situation further.

Investors

Above I talked about banks and investment firms wanting more money for themselves (I-bankers, hedge fund managers, loan agents…), they also have major incentive to boost the rate of return in order to attract investors… actually, more like, just their money. They probably do not care if the client is a zombie if he has millions. Anyays… what the firms did was simply feeding the market what the investors demand. With demand there is supply. Simple as that. So, investors helped to feed into this circle of greed through their desire and demand for more and quicker gain of money.

Common People

The commond people here mean people who bought the houses. Specifically, these are people who bought houses they cannot afford. They buy into the fancy ways of financing through ARMs, interest-only, and what not. There would not be such a big subprime market (problem) if the people see the reality and stay grounded and buy a house only if they can afford to.

Everything is connected

I described above how everyone played a role to lead to the current dilemma. Together, all of us have indulged in irresponsible behaviors for too long to try to satisfy the desire for wealth and materials that can never be fulfilled, and that is why, before things get better, we will all feel the pain. The crisis is the manifestation of our greed.

Such sizeable greed demonstrates people’s lack of awareness. People joined the parade to get what they want, and only what they want. They are each in it for themselves. This crisis, as serious as it is, only came about because nobody cares much about each other, or the big picture. I think that is the most fundamental problem these days. People just don’t care that much about each other, truthfully. Heck, some do not even care about themselves. That is the source of many problems we are facing today. They are not aware. They do not see how everything is connected.

Solution?

I am not here to offer a solution. I do not have one, nor do I think there is one big fix-all solution. I simply offer my observation. I think there will be a lot of pain to be felt, and everyone has to feel it because this is a crisis caused by everyone and again. The only solution I perceive is for each of us take full responsibility for the self. I think if we do that, things will come together and we will naturally have more harmoney in the country all around. Being responsible, not blaming, continuing to learn, and always growing are the best things each of us can do.

About the bail out

I don’t know if the bailout bill should be passed. I don’t know what future it means for taxpayers whether it is passed. Either way, we will be going through a period of pain, correction, and learning for everyone.

However, I am in awe by how quickly people reject it because the conclusion is that “taxpayers will have to pay for it”. The truth is, by not passing the bill, we are still going to pay for it. Our 401k and portfolio could be down the drain for a long long time. In fact, after yesterday, some people who out-right rejected the bail out bill may be having second thoughts after checking their 401k and portfolio. To continue to describe the ripple effect…

Banks will lay off people left and right because they do not have the cash for payroll. Companes big and small will not be able to borrow money to sustain their business, which further increases job loss. Employees who got laid off will not be able to pay their bills and mortgages, and thus more foreclosures. Without jobs and money, we cannot buy things and the business will suffer further loss. Without credits, we cannot buy things, probably for the better, but it also means students cannot get loans to pay for school and familes cannot get mortgages to afford a home even though they can afford the payment.

You see, everything is connected. Wall Street and Main Street… I do not think it is one against the other. Hence, we need to accept the situation and make the best possible move together. Sadly, I am uncertain if the people, the officials, and hence, the government is capable for a suave maneuver out of this. There is too much blaming going on. A bumpy ride is inevitable. It is a matter of HOW bumpy.

For now, even though this last bail out bill was rejected. My prediction is that one way or another, sooner or later, the Congress will pass a revised or some other version of a bail out plan. It may take a few more 800-pt drops to push it through the Congress though.

Now is certainly an interesting time to be alive to witness what is going on.

Originally posted 2008-09-30 23:31:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Dealing with heart breaks and disappointment – Detachment, Surrendering, and Letting Go

Last time I talked about not hoping. Couple weeks ago I talked about not limiting yourself with predefined principles. I will tie them together into the topic of detachment, surrendering, and letting go.

There is a pattern of human behavior that has existed for eon. This pattern, this behavior model got built into us, carved into our minds since birth through family, through friends, through commercials, through culture, through society. Everything around us tells us to work hard for what we want, and as part of the package is the expectation of certain beneficial outcome, or perhaps some notable achievement. Sure it feels great when we get what we want. Quite often, we don’t. And when that happens, we get angry, depressed, frustrated, disappointed, worrisome, jealous… naturally.

Or is it? Or is it naturally because that is what we are programmed to think?

Natural or not, that is besides the point. Certainly now, we can agree that there are so much burden that comes with expectation because we are attached to an outcome.

What is expectation? It is none other than a thought of certain outcome. The thought comes from certain aspect of our ego. The certain outcome provides significance and effects that enhance some aspects of our ego. Say you are a father, you expect your wife or children to obey or at least behave in ways that acknowledge your authoritative figure in the family. Say you are a senior, or maybe a genius programmer, you expect yourself to create a new software design that is a breakthrough and will dominate the market share. Say you are a CEO, you expect your decision to bring unprecedented profit for your company. Anyways, you get the point.

It is this expectation, this hope, this thought of wishing for good outcome that causes much suffering. It is the inability to let go of thoughts of a future that is good for yourself — your ego. Selfish? Yes. Attachment is selfish and causes suffering, but detachment is also selfish because you want peace for yourself. Selfish is okay. Just that between being selfish and in pain, and being selfish and in peace, the choice is obvious, eh?

So, on the other side of attachment is detachment which can offer us peace and joy. Yes, accomplishment, achievement, milestones… they offer moments of happiness, excitement, feeling of being proud of yourself, but how long do they last. We know they do not last forever.

People keep on chasing and chasing because they are attached. Along that path, they suffer. They desire endlessly for the next best thing that will fulfill expectations and hopes, which then make them happy. They dread and feel pain when the next best thing never comes. Such is the suffering of attachment.

And you know the story of our lives?

When we are young, we are to study hard in school and expect good grades. When that happens, the parents and children feel good about themselves. However, that does not last, which leads to the next thing…

When we finish one level of school, we expect to get in a better higher-level school — star high school and Ivy League univeristy — because of the previous diligence and good grades. When that happens, the parents and children are happy and excited again. However, that will not last either, which leads to the next thing…

When we finally finished studying hard in the academia and received the degrees, we are expected, again, to study hard to “win” interviews in order to land a wonderful or a “dream” job. Once that happens, we feel proud and excited again. But darn it, that does not last very long either, which leads to the next thing…

Now that we have a stable job/career, we are expected to get in a relationship (or already into one). Sometimes we expect to get “swept off our feet” by meeting one person, which could be cool. Either way, when things go well in the relationship, we are happy and we feel bliss, but certainly that does not last forever because no relationship sails smoothly always. There will be conflicts along the way. That leads to the next thing…

Ok, this paragraph is not quite a next thing, but if we are not in a relationship or do not care for one, then we expect ourselves to accomplish something, do something extraordinary career-wise probably. It is about either getting rich or famous. When that happens, we again feel the rush of happiness and excitement in life. Unfortunately, that will also be ephemeral. Once those feelings end, we expect ourselves to accomplish something more, to feel happy again, to feel alive again. Meanwhile, we expect ourselves to do this next thing…

Now that we have succeeded, dated enough… or not… we are to pick a person, someone who is perfect or complimentary enough to marry as partner for life. Then we get married. And we are happy and excited because we are finally hitched. But only momentarily, again! And by now, we are all thinking, “When does it end!?!? What’s next? What do we do?” Well, I think at this point, people either get divorced or have kids and get stuck. And the children and parents together start the cycle all over again (just go back a couple paragraphs back…). And at each step, when what is expected does not happen, we suffer.

Of course, there are people and couples who learn the wisdom of living in the moment and live joyfully together for a long long time. Notice I used the word “joyfully”, not “happily” because they are different. Happiness is an emotion that does not last forever. Joy comes from being aware, having peace in order to see things as they are, having the curiosity to observe, and appreciating the wonder and amazing qualities of each moment.

Returning to the topic of suffering caused by attachment and expectation. I am not saying to do nothing with your life. I am not saying that the stuffs that happen in life I describe above are bad.

Well then, what am I saying?

First of all, I think that given this life, we have responsibility to do as much as we can with this life because this is all we have. To do so, we have to master ourselves. Be our own master. But it is quite difficult to be a master of yourself when you are suffering.

The attachment to our hopes and expectations cause most of the suffering in our life. We expect this and we expect that, and we suffer when we do not get this and that. So logically, let us play without attachment. Let us play the game of life with detachment. And doing so allows us to exploit our full potentials.

Surrender yourself to your thoughts and expectations. Be aware and know that they are there. Sure they exist in your head. Just realize that they are there, fully feel what you feel each moment, and then let go. We are only human after all to have thoughts and emotions and desires. And we have learned for years to expect and hope for this and that. Be okay and surrender to your thoughts and emotions, expectations and hopes. They are merely that, and you choose your actions.

On the other hand, please remember to be okay with being happy when you are…

Surrendering and letting go are not passive. Rather, they are not the opposite of giving up because you must allow yourself to be fully aware in each moment in order to see your thoughts and feel the emotions, to sense your mind and body. As such, you make the conscious choice to observe yourself most nakedly, both the good and the bad. Giving up is allowing yourself to be ignorant, to succumb and be dictated by your thoughts and emotions, to not be responsible for yourself.

And perhaps stop doing things out of expectations. Make your own decision. Let go of the outcome. Then you will do your best.

Just be careful not to get attached to the outcomes of detachment, it is another form of attachment that will cause you suffering.

Originally posted 2008-09-03 19:35:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Take A Step Back to Look at the Economy

News business is the news business. They will always have news. If they don’t have real news, they will generate “new” news. Experts whose jobs are to write reviews, criticism, and various articles will also always generate opinions because that is their jobs. Not their fault.

News thrive on drama and for the past decade, negative drama. So, there will always be headlines like “Economy shrinks at worst pace in 26 years,” and additionally, for the past month, I have read “Oil below $xx [namely anything below 50] on record economic lows” on every single friggin’ day in finance news section. Can we move on now? Sometimes I feel like Wall Street and stock market is just like reality TV show. They keep repeating same freakin’ drama.

The economy is not good for sure, but because everyone is “hyped” about discussing economy difficulty and doom and gloom, if the media does not say “26 years,” the media will still say “Economy shrinks at worst pace in 9 years!!!” Put an arbitrary number to your liking.

Is the economy is bad shape? Yes. Has it been this bad for a long long time? Probably not. Is it really as bad as the media makes it sound? Maybe not. But in all honesty, I believe that nobody REALLY knows, just like nothing is ever certain in life.

No, I am not saying we should deny reality. That is another harmful thing to do, just like if we feed on to these drama. The media is merely doing their jobs, and it is our responsibility to observe what it truth to ourselves.

That is why I suggest that we shall take a step back when we listen and read from media. Learn what is going on but distinguish the drama.

I understand many are affected with layoffs, and personally, these things are starting to hit closer and closer to home. These will make “taking a step back” very difficult. But in another perspective, we can only do the best we can. It maybe painful. Very painful. But we just have to keep chugging along and stop holding onto the past, drama, and the “excess”.

If the bull economy is simply a bubble, meaning an illusion, and that many people’s life style are bloated, or simply unaffordable, maybe it is not so bad that such illusion and “bloated-ness” is beginning to fade away. Painful? Maybe it is because we are trying to hold on to it and nobody wants the party to end. But if it is an illusion, it would be better for us to wake up, right?

I sincerely believe that by shedding the accumulated excess will allow each of us to see more of what our life is about and thus lead us down to a better path. More on this next post.

ps. If you are here to find a bit of good news in this economy, visit this blog — Carpe Diem.

Originally posted 2009-02-28 23:31:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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