Size Does Not Matter

One thing I notice in Japan was smallness. No, I am not insulting their people. No, I am not insulting their men, either. Actually, many girls there are very cute… uh, yeah, getting off track.

I should say — large space does not matter.

Take a look at this picture.

It is a picture of my hotel room in Kyoto. There is barely space between the bed and table for my butt. It reminds me much about the living space from my past years in Hong Kong.

But, I am not complaining.

The common sense we have is — “Oh, we got so many things, we need more space”

In a way, our desire for space is directly related to our desire for things. Conversely, when we get more space in the house, we often want to fill that space with more things. Oh, what a dilemma.

Perhaps, we can consider the following chain of thought — “Oh, we got so many things, perhaps we need to make space by getting rid of things, that we don’t need, or use.”

Personally, I loooooove having space, and also cleanliness. They are very soothing.

Let’s face it, most of our stuffs end up sitting around collecting dusts. Instead, why don’t we carefully consider what we reeeeeeeeeally need, and if we are getting something, make sure it is something we will use frequently?

Oh, I am such a genius. Just kidding.

Another thing that is small is the portion of a meal. Each dish and even hamburgers from McDonald’s are smaller, which sucks for me because I am constantly hungry from my intense gym’ing. But for most Americans, who sit most days in office and sit some more in front of TV at home, can be a great idea.

That leads me to my final thoughts.

Perhaps we can use more limits. Yes, you heard me, limits, instead of more freedom.

Perhaps too much freedom had lead us to lots of indulgence, and indulgence is a result of not being clear about what is truly important. More limits in our environments force us to value what we have and cherish the resources that are available.

In other words, physical limits can be a great catalyst for internal growth.

Using the living space as an example, if you have so few square feets, there are only so many things you can have. And what you have will be what you need or truly find important.

Or if parking size is like this, you think twice before getting an SUV!

Ok, the car example is not very good. The living situation is too different. But about driving in Japan, most people from America probably can’t drive in Japan, uh, due to poor driving skills. I personally DON’T want to drive there.

Anyways, I want to say this…

Evolving the idea on limit. Next time when we are frustrated and want to complain, or feel like we are suffering immensely, or seem to have insatiable desires for other things, consider that, there will forever be somebody somewhere else who are a lot worse off than we are.

IMG_3257Maybe things could be better, but they can be a lot worse. Look at this picture featuring the tight quarters in Tokyo Metro’s human sardines.

I guess that is why seeing the world, experiencing different things, how people live differently, are so important. So we realize how things can be worse.

On this note, I attribute my non-narrow perspective and sometimes unique and bizarre mentality to my fortunate experience (well, also unfortunate because it sucked big times sometimes) of having moved and lived in drastically different places at an age (12) that I could make my own perception already. However, I give myself credits for choosing to look at both sides of things rather than seeing only the green on the other side.

Last thing, totally unrelated, is a picture near the famous cross section in Shibuya, Tokyo by Center Gai (センター街). Pretty, eh? (It was shot in Lost in Translation too — one of my favorite movies)

Originally posted 2009-07-17 01:06:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

California 10% Increase Tax Withholding is Borrowing from Tomorrow

It is no news that California government is taking a chunk of our paychecks now only to pay us back later, hopefully not with IOUs. Besides the general emotional response, beyond the effect it may have on our budgets, this is a general trend we can see of our society.

We keep on borrowing from tomorrow.
From individuals to local government to the national level.

From moving debt from one credit line to the next.
To taking tax revenue that really does not really exist.
To taking on great deal of national debt to “stimulate” economy. (Social Security aside…)

And most cases, if it is not that we don’t try to pay it back, it is that we have spent/run out of resources to pay it back. But in the end, the debt will always catch up and bite us in the ass. Somehow, eventually.

Borrowing from time, borrowing from tomorrow will never work. It will never solve anything.

When will we learn?

Originally posted 2009-11-12 22:29:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Develop Your Character is the Way

I had a discussion about money being just a tool and not being responsible for the evils of humans (nor the goods). And here on this blog, I have written much more about personal development, the growing of a person (myself) than personal finance. There is a reason.

We can think of what we do with money as a form of self-expression. Actually, don’t think, because it is. What you do with your money in a moment and the fundamental motive behind it is how and what you are in that moment. That’s why it is worth your attention and time to explore that fundamental motive. And if you look at it this way, money serves as a amplication tool of one’s character. So, the more money a person possesses, the more obvious what the person does with money demonstrates the character he is.

By developing your individual — your character — over time, you lose the dependence on the world around you and become less and less influenced by what you are told, and just be you. Because you can just be you, whatever you do is absolutely your own choice. This is convenient because changing your character changes how you act in all aspects of life, and that includes your personal finance.

By developing and changing your character, you change the way you treat and spend money.

That’s the reason why I place self-growth, development, reflection, discovery, and awareness at such high esteem. The utmost priority and the highest state of an individual is to be the person you are. Not your ego. Not an image of what you “should be”. Not what the world has told you so. When you can do that, you do not need the world to define you. You are who you are. You will not be afraid to stand alone. You become fearless.

The difficulty of this growing process is the difficulty in shedding. You will shed some believes and traditional ideas that once made up your reality. Tougher yet, you will likely need to make the choice to shed some people who maybe deemed important in your life… A hypothetical, yet serious, question is… “Are you afraid to stand alone amongst the 6.7~ billion people on earth?”

And yet again, these discussions take us back to the importance of awareness. Awareness helps you dig deep to find yourself, to allow you to observe and then question yourself and everything around you, and then ultimately, helps you to define the person you sincerely want to be. So everyday, I shed a little what I have trained and told to be for 20 some years and become more of the character I am. Simultaneously, I am growing. My character is growing because it is a continuous process of learning through myself, through others, through the world around me, and it is a process that will never end. I am ever changing. If you let it be, the sky is the limit.

“Mastering others is strength.
Mastering yourself makes you fearless.”

Originally posted 2008-09-07 14:00:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

When the Intention is Pure, the Action Follows

For every action in this world, there is an intention behind it.

To know yourself, it is very important to be aware of this intention behind each action. Therefore, to choose which action to take, one can first decide on this intention.

Notice I used the word “pure” instead of “good”. There lies the key because purity has nothing to do with good (or evil). What action follows the intention may not always be considered “good”, at least at certain time to certain people. So by pure, I mean to the degree which you are aware — of yourself and reality, as they are. Hence, if you are going to be evil, how pure can you be, act, and follow through on your evil intention.

Also notice that I also used the word “intention” instead of “thought” because the thought behind the action may not be the true intention. We have gotten too proficient in deceiving ourselves with our minds. Therefore it is important to examine the thought behind the action to be aware whether that is true intention. We must be honest with ourselves.

For example, charity donation. It is often discussed, especially on personal finance blogs, as many have it as part of their budget. Some questions I could think of for that is (for you to explore but not for me to answer and decide right or wrong)…

Is it to be done because we SHOULD?
Is it to be done because we will feel good about ourselves?
Is it to be done because others will cheer and praise us?
Is it to be done because of tax breaks?
Is it to be done because we feel guilty of all these “stuff” we have?

Or, is it to be done because we are truly compassionate about people out there who are starving, malnutritioned, without homes, without education, etc.?

One other quick example is… behind many actions that we take, how many of them is all about money? I understand we have to be practical in life, which is why I have a job, but I cannot help but wonder, money… is that all there is to our life?

Learning about yourself. Learning about your true intention. Finding that pure intention is important.

Acting out of that pure intention leaves no room for regret because that means you fully understand the circumstances and is making the best choice, and that choice is solely yours. As a result, you are also being fully responsible. It leaves no room for “I should have this, or I should have that” or “So and so told me to do it” or “If I had known better…” (because you could not have know better if you were already fully aware)

Therefore, “When the intention is pure, the action follows.” Given that the person is being honest with himself about his intention.

It will also do us well to be observant and fully aware of others’ intention behind the actions. That way, we know who are friends, and who are… not-so-friendly.

Lastly, I want to link this to the law of attraction. The law of attraction has been thrown around A LOT. Consequently, “affirmative thinking” has also gotten pretty trendy. Maybe it works for someone but I don’t believe in “affirmative thinking”. What I believe is that the true mechanism of attraction… lies in this pure intention. Thus, to make the law of attraction works with you requires awareness.

Whatever type of TRUE intention you have, things and intentions of the same types will happen more frequently. Note again, intention can be different from thought, especially for people who barely know themselves. If your true intention means well, better things will more likely to happen to you. Likewise, if your true intention is one of anger, hatred, selfishness, more of that will also happen to you. If the intention is half good half bad… I suppose that cancels out.

And well, if you don’t know your true intention, then everything around you probably seems to happen at random.

The paradox is though, if you go around doing good things because good things will happen to you, that is a selfish intention… and it also falls back onto the “agenda mindset” that I talked about last. Something I leave for us to think about.

Originally posted 2009-04-10 23:54:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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