The Art of Doing Nothing

do-nothing-sticky-note

I think we are under a kind of illusion about life. Or should I say, modern life?

It’s all about productivity
It’s all about technological advances.
It’s all about the newest and greatest.
It’s all about moving forward, progress.

And also allow me to make a blunt statement, that in the name of progress, our successes become failures.

Maybe we ought to take a minute and stop to do nothing. More than the question of what and how to do, NOW. Perhaps it is time to consider what not to do. That it maybe a good idea to do nothing than do just anything.

So many of us, come out of the mothers’ womb and from that moment, we are to take off and start running, metaphorically. We say “Life is short.”

We also say “Life has a purpose. And the purpose is to get to that point.”

So therefore, we are to learn to eat, pee, poop, talk, walk, run, and then to get educated, to become successful, to contribute to community and the world… as fast as possible. Meanwhile we learn parents’ and elders’ ways of living philosophy, friends’ advice, society trend, marketing information and what not. Over the years, we accumulate more and more identities and expectations.

“Life has a purpose. And the purpose is to get the that point.”

Ah, so many things to do and accomplish.
From birth, we ought to never stop.
No matter what, we just gotta keep doing.
ALWAYS.

And so that is how humans had been for past hundreds, if not the last one or two thousands years.

As a result, we are incapable of knowing when not to do something. Or rather, we suck at doing nothing.

So there’s always supposed to be a point. But what point exactly is that? That we MUST have a purpose? We are ALWAYS to be productive? So much for free will.

We spellbind ourselves into the illusion that we must be doing something.

Despite all that. I find that in life, we only need to do a few things right in life to have a decent time. That much is definitely the truth.

However, because we must do something always, we do a lot of things that create messes and troubles and then we spend the rest of the time fixing them. Probably making more messes and troubles because we are not very good at doing nothing.

If we are able to do nothing, there are much less things for us to set right.

In a orchestra performance, each instrument is to wait until the exact moment to come in and out. In between, it is to be silent. Unable to do exactly that, the performance is ruined.

Doing the right thing in life is the same. Knowing in your bone who you are, what to do, and what to apply at the right moment. You simply do it. And you know exactly when to act because you are not busy doing something else.

Like a beast attacking its prey. Attack at the exact right moment means there is a meal. Any slight error means nothing to eat, perhaps for days.

However, the instance for us modern people is more so where let alone all the things we must do to succeed and accomplish, we also over-dose ourselves socially, mentally, and emotionally.

It is no wonder we all seem to end up with social, mental, emotional indigestion. Well, and likely physical indigestion too :P

When we cease to do nothing, we never get the chance to be with ourselves. We never learn to live with ourselves. We never come to understand ourselves. We never give our brain and body a chance to recuperate.

And most of us don’t even sleep enough.

The situation of the world and the state of affair amongst humans are self-spoken and evident enough that such living attitude is bringing us to the verge of going estranged That is, if you think we are not already estranged.

A derived question from this topic, but nonetheless as important, is that as good as us modern people are with thinking and so fascinated by it that we even think about thinking, when and how do we stop thinking?

Because, doing nothing includes the cessation of thinking.


Some of you may find this somewhat doom and gloom?

Well, quite the opposite, the only reason and it is pointed out, and the fact that somebody (because I am not alone to observe this) can point this out, means that something can be done about it, by each of us. If you choose to.

Originally posted 2010-01-18 00:58:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Capitalism Means No True Happiness?

My answer would be yes to the question, if we live purely or mostly by the value of capitalism.
Otherwise, this post would not exist. Ha!

Living in this capitalistic world, I can to see why the people with [monetary] power could possibly not want people to gain knowledge. The knowledge that I’ll explain now.

I truly believe when it’s all said an done, true happiness lies within ourselves. Once we can find this peaceful, gentle, kind, compassionate self within ourselves, we can come to acceptance to our true self and therefore, be able to ALWAYS act upon that. And with that, we’ll continue to empower this identify of “self”, so we don’t lose control eating, spending, chasing after ephemeral, etc. In other word, NOT looking in the outside world or from materials to fulfill this happiness that is so grounded in human beings, and also the root of all our actions, if one cares to trace and think deep enough.

If it’s so easy, why aren’t we all happy yet?
Well, it is not easy.
Nor is it fancy.
Which is why you don’t always hear this. (or do you?)

And why capitalism means no true happiness?
Because if everyone starts to find “this way to happiness” because those sales people’s numbers will go down.

Or if they do somehow try to teach you this idea, they’ll sell it in DVDs…in a series, and keep you buying next DVDs that only contain missing or repetitive information from the last.
Maybe I’m being too cynical.
But nonetheless, I’m serious that they don’t want you to know.

If you think about what I said about finding happiness in yourself and THEN understand and THEN practice it, a lot of the goods and services that they claim will somehow directly or indirectly make you happier will no longer be needed. These myriads of consumeristic “things” they offer will lose their appeals and they will no longer have a business.

This is we why are bombarded with advertising, most plausibly.
Make us buy.
And keep buying.
Non-stop!
Keeps us from thinking.
Keep us from realizing.

Their advertising so advertently strives to remind and “brainwash” people that they need more “things” to be happy. Strategy may include confusion tactics, meaning that we may just got lured to buy because there is waaaaay too much information than we can ever process cause us to be in a state of confusion.

Either way, the main point of this post is NOT about discarding materials completely and going into monkhood.

We are commoners.
And we want certain standard of livings.
At least for comfort.
I know I do.

The POINT is…
We must work on the inside of ourselves to be truly happy.

I said it’s not easy, despite it being a simple idea. It is because to approach the state of true happiness that I mentioned requires continuous effort, to maintain and develop the ourselves. You need to be consistently aware of your mind, your body, your attitude. From that, you gather information about yourself only then to think and evaluate “what” to keep and “what” to discard and “what” to develop.

In fewer words…
You will maintain a consistent state of self-evaluation (aka. understand yourself).
You will maintain also a consistent effort to improve (aka. remove bad habits, make good new ones).

Yes, that’s why it’s not so easy, but then once you are in the groove, it doesn’t seem so tough either.
So every step you take in this manner will make you stronger for the next.
Didn’t I say life is a spiral before?

The thing is… Majority of population maybe able to start and keep up some extraordinary effort for a day, a week, several weeks, a month, several months…but years after years? I think we all know how it is. It is even harder when these business people don’t like this idea and would do anything to convince us otherwise.

But we all have to start from somewhere.
Why don’t you start today?
I know I have, otherwise this blog will not exist.

And even if my posts are confusing (hopefully not) and make no sense what-so-ever to you, check out the links I provide in the navigation on the right. Those personal finance and personal development blogs contain LOTS of great information and quality content that I myself have learned much from.

Originally posted 2007-09-06 00:58:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Facing Solitude and Its Benefits

IMG_2012The noise of the day fades away.
The night is quiet and…
Space surrounds the alone being.
Solitude.

The night can be so lonely. Especially if you are alone.

In solitude, how do you feel?

Whatever it is. That reveals truth about you. How you feel when you are utterly alone speaks much about your true self.

As humans, having time to be physically alone is imperative. Imperative in that it lets each of us to feel the true self and thus helps us grow character, a genuine character. Because of the silence, the emptiness around, without noise and distraction, who you are becomes so naked — the amazing, yet scary part. Because it is scary, we always try to run away when alone or begin to feel lonely.

Solitude, aloneness then become amazing.

One of my favorite Taiwan artist Wang Leehom echos this thought and wrote:

I have come to believe that men mature in isolation. Isolation, being along with one’s thoughts can be a form of meditation and enlightenment. Perhaps one matures when he realizes that he is ultimately alone in this world, and that he must take responsibility for his own life, because no one else will.

Physically being alone speeds up this realization. Like Tom Hanks in “Castaway”. I believe in building from the ground up, whether it be corporate models, orchestra scores, or interpersonal relationships. For example, one needs to learn to love himself before being able to love others. One needs to be able to live in harmony with himself before being able to live together with another person. I guess if I look at it that way, I sure am leading the life these days, becoming a secure individual.

Thinking, meditating, feeling, composing,…searching for that rhythm in my soul that will make the whole world tap their feet. Yes, I miss my friends, and loved ones, but tonight, I wouldn’t trade this loneliness for anything.

So too I would never trade the peace that sprouts from emptiness, silence, solitude for anything.

The truth about meditation lies in that it lets you sees, and thus lay down, the identities you take on throughout the day, when you are with others. Thus the practice of meditation is to enable us to bring this observing quality into our daily life, which is why it is called a practice. Solitude is the first level, the physical level of meditation. Physical isolation is the entrance into meditation for modern people.

How is this relevant? Well, if you can face and accept and flow with the overwhelming quality of solitude, of utter loneliness, it cannot be any tougher than to face the daily stress in life — bills, budgets, work, relationships… Knowing that, how can you not be able to act with peace. Hence, we say it’s “ground work”, starting with the self.

Originally posted 2009-07-28 00:53:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What the Heck is Retirement

I said I will address the topic of retirement. As a man of my words, here it is :)

Ah, retirement. Can’t you feel this warm fuzzy feeling from the dream which the word may offer?

Now take a minute, imagine yourself retired. What do you have in your mind? Feel free to write it down. Below are probably things that came to people’s mind…

Not working. (Duh!)
Having enough money to lead a comfortable, or hopefully, luxurious life.
Travelling around the world. (Sipping martini on various beaches?)
Lounging at home watching TV for most of the day, perhaps half naked.

And whatever you may have in mind. Or maybe you have never contemplate thoroughly what you intend to do in retirement. Well, you should consider doing it. Over and over again, I have mentioned awareness on this blog. One main thing about awareness is knowing yourself. Wouldn’t it be nice for all of us to know what the heck we are giving our life for?

Undeniably, many of us spend much time planning and working so hard for retirement. It’s an oh-so-wonderful topic on personal finance blogs. Moreover, even the objective for starting business or joining startups frequently is to make it big at once so they can retire. It’s the next destination after we graduate from college. Sometimes it only comes to mind after we get hitched.

Well, I say, retirement is overrated. Yes, perhaps there is a time in life that we want to, or have to, stop working. That’s fine. But until then, why are we working just so we can stop working? Doesn’t that sound a little silly? Perhaps it’s more productive to think about what you want to do with your life instead. More on that later.

Here is what I see retirement has become, what is inferred by it.

Essentially, as it is now, we have turned retirement into a kind of nirvana, salvation. Stealing a quote from 40 year old virgin, we have put retirement on the pedestal.

How did it get like this? Please allow my simple minded hypothesis below.

As we have been turned into “consumers,” like many other things, retirement is a concept that had been sold to us over the past century just like the “American Dream”… Ah, the power of gradualism. Over time, marketing drove it into a home run now, where it is an unquestioned concept. How they are making money off this? Well, look at all the retirement homes, retirement community, vacations/resorts, the amount of money being poured into the market through 401k and IRAs (not saying we shouldn’t take advantage of them).

But all in all, the reason how retirement has come to mean is not that relevant.

More importantly is, like countless other illusions we have in life, when we focus our eyes entirely on retirement, we forget to live. We forget now. We forget to appreciate and cherish what we have now. We live solely for the day of retirement as if we are immortals.

Please understand, I am not saying retirement is bad and we need to throw it out the window. Instead, it would be well for all of us to explore the reason(s) to desire retirement. What is important is the intention behind the action.

I say,
Find what you love doing, that in one way or another…
contribute to the world as a whole.

Note: I said the world, meaning not just contribute to the human race. Now is time for everyone to step beyond thinking only about ourselves.

When you have done that, you can gradually transform your life into doing what you have found, instead of what you are told about retirement. At that point, retirement is no longer needed. You no longer need the salvation. When you are doing those things, you have found the bliss in your life.

Financially speaking, it is about knowing what is enough. When you know enough, you can be free, not just financially. If you look on the Wall Street, there are tons of people with abundant money, yet a majority of them continue to work and work to accumulate more. Some may learn “enough”. Some never will. Probably just a small fraction outside of that majority is working because they enjoy it or they want to contribute.

Also, I never buy into the argument that you need to accumulate enough nest egg to maintain the same income in retirement. I say, why do you need to maintain that kind of income? Presumably, if you do retire, your home should be paid off by then. Plus, when you stop working, a lot of expense goes away along with it. And how about finding yourself and peace which implies a simple lifestyle? And how about learn what it means to be healthy so you know not to destroy it that leads to all those medical bills? After all those impacts, it means you really requires just a fraction of your previous income in retirement.

Food for thoughts.

Originally posted 2009-04-28 22:42:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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