Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I sweat the small stuff and even the “smallest of them all” stuff. I know you, they, we all sweat the small stuff. Below is a not-so-complete-list of guidelines taken from the book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. Hopefully, we can learn, practice and live by these guidelines.

1. Make peace with imperfection. Sometimes, when things do not work the way you expect them to be, it is best to just let it go. Do not stress yourself on what went wrong and what is wrong. Avoid weatherproofing or being always on the lookout for what needs to be fixed.

2. Let go of the idea that gentle, relaxed people can’t be super achievers. Ambitious, hardworking and competitive are the kind of people to look up to. But so are the people who know how to enjoy and do not get caught up solely on making a living. Some fear that when they relax and be more peaceful, they would become lazy and suddenly stop achieving their goals.

3. Be aware of the snowball effect of your thinking. Negative thoughts can drain you. It is impossible to feel peaceful with your head full of concerns and annoyances.

4. Develop your compassion. Take the focus out from yourself and feel how is it to be in someone else’s shoes. You will realize that they may be going through something like you do or even worse.

5. Remind yourself that when you die, your “in basket” won’t be empty. We are obsessed of getting our “to do” list done that we put hold our happiness, believing that once we’ve done, we will be happy. But the truth is, once we ticked off items from our list, new ones simply come in and we again get caught up on the same unending process.

6. Let others have the glory. The next time someone shares you a story about himself, his achievements for example, avoid the tendency to say something about yourself in response. In relation, don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences. Some just couldn’t hold their tongue and butt-in. If you are in the habit of interrupting someone, you spend an amount of energy keeping track of our thoughts and that someone’s thought. This could lead to irritability and worse makes other people uncomfortable talking to you. Stop interrupting and when you do, it’s not only you but the person you’re talking to will feel more relaxed.

7. Do something nice for someone else and don’t tell anyone about it. It’s good to be kind and help others and once you do, keep it to yourself. In this way you retain all the positive feelings rather than diluting it by telling it to someone.

8. Let others be “right” most of the times. Ask yourself, “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?”. The need to be always right, defending your position every time, requires an enormous amount of energy and can be exhausting. You assume that when you correct others, they will appreciate you but that is not always the case. Some people just want to be listened to, so stop correcting or else people will resent you. Give others the joy to be right.

9. Surrender to the fact that life isn’t fair. We make mistakes, we lose, we fail, we wallow, we keep feeling sorry and we complain that life isn’t fair. It really isn’t and never meant to be fair. If we just accept this fact, we keep us from feeling sorry for ourselves and will be more encouraged to do the best we can.

10. Allow yourself to be bored. Much of our anxiety and inner struggle stems from our busy, overactive minds always needing something to entertain them. The beauty of occasional boredom is it teaches us to clear our mind and relax.

11. Lower your tolerance to stress. Notice your stress early, while it is small and manageable, before it goes out of hand. When you feel like you’re getting out of control, rather than rolling your sleeves, back off, relax and go for a walk.

12. Spend a moment every day thinking of someone to thank. Gratitude and inner peace go hand in hand. It can be anyone, the elderly waiter who cleaned your table at the hawker center, the staff at the counter who took your quarter pounder order, the bus driver who saw you running and waited for you to hop in the bus. You can thank God for the beautiful weather, for the moon and the stars during your late night walks.

13. Choose being kind over being right. If you pay attention to the way you feel after you put someone down, you’ll notice that you feel worse than before the put-down. Resist the temptation of always HAVING THE NEED to correct someone, even if his facts are little off.

14. Agree with criticism directed towards you, then watch it go away. Criticism does not match the vision you have of yourself. Negative reactions to criticism often convince the person doing the criticizing that they are accurate in their assessment of you. Agreeing with an occasional criticism has more value than it costs.

15. See the glass as already broken and everything else too. Life is in constant state of change, everything has a beginning and an end. When you expect something to break, you’re not surprised, disappointed or immobilized when it does. Make peace with the way things are.

16. Get comfortable not knowing. We don’t know what’s going to happen, we just think we do. Often we make a big deal out of something, we blow up scenarios in our minds about all the terrible things that are going to happen. And you know what, most of the time we are wrong. Just keep cool and open to possibilities and eventually all will be well. Remember: maybe so, maybe not.

17. Imagine that everyone is enlightened except you. There are teachings we can learn from the people and strangers we encounter. Example, you are in a queau in McDonalds and the staff at the counter is moving real slow. Instead of feeling frustrated, ask yourself, “What is he trying to teach me?”. Maybe you need to learn about compassion and understanding (maybe he had one hell of a day) or perhaps learn more about being patient. If you do this, you will be far less annoyed and bothered by the actions and imperfections of other people.

18. If someone throws you the ball, you don’t have to catch it. Simply put, do not make yourself ALWAYS available to other people. Tendencies are when someone throws you a concern, you assume that you must catch it and respond. Know when to catch the ball so you won’t feel victimized and resentful. Mind your own business – know when to help and when to leave something alone.

19. One more passing show. The good and bad, pleasure and pain, approval and disapproval, achievements and mistakes, fame and shame, all come and go. Eventually, everything disappears into nothingness. When something is happening that we enjoy, know that while it’s wonderful, it will eventually be replaced by something else. If you accept that, you’ll feel peace even when the moment changes. Emotions, thoughts, people and scenery are temporary. Do not become attached, just flow with it.

20. Live this day as if it were your last. It might be. CARPE DIEM.

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Why Hike

Funny cause I’ve been to only like 3 mountain hikes with altitudes of just less than 1000 meters, yet I am here blogging about hiking. I am no expert, I have not even hiked the highest mountain in my country. Hard core hikers will surely be laughing at me. But hey, we got to start somewhere, right. They may just be easy to moderate hikes but they are already something for me. Although I grew up in the mountainous region, I really haven’t been into long hikes before.

The feeling I get whenever I reach a peak of a mountain is just indescribable. It somehow makes me feel strong, brave and independent. It is not just about the reward of having to see the view from the top but the effort and the pain endured just to be there. Those moments where your body and mind are like giving up at the middle of the hike and would just like to turn back, but you keep convincing yourself that you can make it. There is somehow an “emotional element” in there.

It sounds cliché but it really feels great to be with nature. If only I have all the time and resources, I would gladly join every training hikes to prepare myself to reach at least one of the highest peaks in the world. I wish to set foot in the Himalayas.

Whenever I am in a hike, I think of nothing but the trails, on how to cross a path without slipping, how to control my balance and breathing, how safe is the rope considering my heavy weight, where to land my foot next and when do I get my water break. For a day, I get to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of a city, as well as from the usual boring routine.  For a while, I get to escape from depression, frustrations, stress and whatever it is that is bugging me. For a moment, I get the chance to appreciate the beauty of a creation, thank the Creator above and thank those who had hiked ages before us for making the paths easier. For a second, I get to pat myself at the back for this little accomplishment. For a lifetime, I have something to look back on and at least be proud of.

And for goodness’ sake, I am sounding so emotional about this hiking thing and yes I honestly am. It really has an impact on me.

So yeah, if you haven’t climbed a mountain yet, I know you don’t feel the same way I do. You’re probably laughing at me. Climb one, no matter how high or small it is, then surely, you’ll land on the same page as I am.

Rock Climbing in Tabur East

Tabur East, from a no-expert-hiker’s point of view, is one scary hike coupled with rock climbing. I have no proper training on rock climbing, thus scary. What made it scarier during our hike were the falling loose rocks and pebbles from soft surfaces. But there is nothing we can’t conquer, right. It does not require that much endurance but is risky with its steep slopes and vertical drops. You will depend on the ropes for most of the tough parts of the hike. They are the lifelines on this trek. You get to rest a little bit longer as you take turns using the ropes, so you will like stand or sit there for a while staring on someone’s butt as he makes his way to the top.

But seriously, there is no time for butt-staring as you will be more focused on the technique on how he climbs up so you’ll do the same or even better.

For safety reasons, it is advisable to stick to the trails no matter how expert you are. Do not be in such a hurry to reach the peak, stay with your group and most important of all, do not overtake your guide. If you happen to encounter falling rocks, give a heads-up to the people behind you.

Sometimes, it just feels crazy to go through these dangerous and brutal paths for the sake of a nice view. But then again, it is worth the effort and worth the risk.

Tabur East, by the way, is located in Selangor Malaysia, close to Kuala Lumpur. Permit is required before embarking on this trek. Once at the peak and on a clear day, you will get a panoramic view of the Klang Gate Dam and of Kuala Lumpur. We set foot on a hazy day so we got the haze as our backdrop.

Essentials: Gloves, knee pads, first aid kit

We are heading there.

We are heading there.

Just imagine a beautiful dam & parts of KL in the backdrop.

Just imagine a beautiful dam & parts of KL in the backdrop.

Enveloped in haze.

Enveloped in haze.

See what burning forests can do.

See what burning forests can do.

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Photo ctto.

And it's a wrap. Photo ctto.

And it’s a wrap. Photo ctto.

Life Lessons from “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”

Authored by Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is an inspirational story about a successful lawyer who, despite his fame and fortune, still feels empty inside. Everything changed the moment he had a heart attack. When he recovered, he packed up, gave up his profession and wealth and embarked on a journey of soul searching. This led him to a group of monks who taught him the techniques and disciplines to create inner peace, fulfillment and happiness in life.

Below are some of the lessons/guides taken from this book.

  1. Master your mind. When you form the habit of searching for the positive in every circumstance, your life will move to its highest dimensions.
  2. Practice Opposition Thinking. Your mind can hold one thought at any one time. When an undesirable thought occupies the focal point of your mind, immediately replace it with an uplifting one.
  3. Set your goals. Write them down in a journal. Divide your goals into different areas like financial goals, physical fitness goals, personal empowerment goals, relationship goals, social goals, spiritual goals. Have the courage to act on them.
  4. In attaining your goals, first, form a mental image of the outcome. The clearer the picture, the more effective the process would be. Second, get some positive pressure on yourself to keep you inspired. Third, attach a deadline to your goals. Fourth, stick with it and lastly, enjoy the process.
  5. Practice the art of Kaizen which means constant and never ending improvement. To improve your outer world, you must first improve your inner world. Push yourself daily, work hard to improve your mind and body, nourish your spirit. Remember, life, not luck, favors the prepared mind.
  6. Practice the Vow of Silence. To hold one’s tongue for an extended period of time would have the effect of enhancing one’s discipline.
  7. Repeat this mantra 30x a day. Words do have power. —Mantra: I AM MORE THAN I APPEAR TO BE. ALL THE WORLD’S STRENGTH AND POWER REST INSIDE ME.
  8. Change is always a little uncomfortable and a little risky but this is the surest way to design a more joyful life.
  9. Run your own race. There is nothing noble about being superior to some other people. Do what you think is right and not be concerned with the judgement of others. Never get into the petty habit of measuring your self worth against other people’s net worth.
  10. Stop spending so much time making a living, spend more time creating a life. Stop putting off your happiness for the sake of achievement.
  11. Develop a deathbed mentality. One that reminds you that today could be your last, so savor it to the fullest. What would you do if it was your last?
  12. Selflessly serve others. No matter what your achievement, no matter how fat your piggy bank is, your quality of life will come down to the quality of your contribution.
  13. Practice the art of gratitude. Daily thanks will develop the habit of living in the moment.

A lot of them really need a great deal of practice and patience. Personally, I need to master the so-called Opposition Thinking, as I always get haunted by negative thoughts.

I started on my dream book few months back. It is easy to write down my goals but I am failing on the execution part. I know I am not going to meet some of my deadlines but that does not mean I have to stop. I just got to give myself an extension. Some people (well including me) prioritize on the financial goals in life and there is nothing wrong about it. If that is what we value then go for it. Who does not want to get rich anyway. That is the reason we work our butt off every single day. But while we attain for this financial freedom, there are other certain areas in our life that we must not ignore. Let us not focus all our energy in a single goal that we miss out the “in-betweens”, the journey and the small things that equally matter.

It does not mean we have to give up our professions and our worldly possessions just so we can devote ourselves to a more noble cause, for example, or just so we can say we are living a simple and happy life free of material things.

Living a balanced life for me does not necessarily mean that these aspects of life (i.e. relationships, emotional, physical, financial, spiritual, etc) have to be of the same level. One maybe is of high priority but as long as I don’t forget to nourish the rest, then I can say, it’s balanced.

Mt. Datuk

Mt. Datuk or Gunung Datuk is located in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia and has an altitude of 870 meters.

Climbing Mt. Datuk can be compared to the board game Snakes and Ladders. Like in the game, in order to reach the finish line, one must have to deal and survive snakes, ladders and boulders. We really have not encountered any sneaking snakes there but according to one hiker, he did saw one on his previous hike on that mountain. Well it is a forest and a mountain so expect some. As long as you stay on the trail, you’ll be fine. If you have to get off the track to do your business then better have a stick to shoo away whatever creature you have disturbed.

Your speed and movement, however, unlike in the game, will not be determined by rolling a die and following the number that you’ve rolled. This will obviously depends on your fitness level and your stamina. It is quite a challenge with a few steep trails and will take about 2-3 hours for a beginner to reach the peak. The first 2 hours for me was very brutal that right at that point I started to regret joining the hike.

The peak is a big rock formation and you have to use  a series of steel ladders that were tied on the rocks. For safety reasons, hikers should queue and take the ladders one at a time. Same is through when descending. So while waiting for people to ascend and descend the ladders, please help yourself and just enjoy the view around you.

The objective of both the game and this hike is obviously to reach the finish line or the peak. The difference is, in the former, you aim to be the first one to finish. While on the latter, it does not matter if you finish first or last cause at the end, you get to enjoy the same reward.

Once you are at the peak, you get to enjoy a view of the Strait of Malacca and have a feel of the cool breeze.

My regret during the hike instantly fades once I made it to the top. I must say it was worth the effort.

All hikers need to register individually

All hikers need to register individually

Snickers kept me going

Snickers kept me going

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Second to the last ladder

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Last set of ladder

Same ladder for ascending and descending to and from the peak

Same ladder for ascending and descending to and from the peak

It's a cloudy kind of day

It’s a cloudy kind of day

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We-fie

We-fie

Selfie

Selfie

Broga Hill, A Beginner Trail

Broga Hill is located in Selangor, Malaysia and has an altitude of 400 meters. It is mainly covered with lalang grass and palm trees.

For people who are into hiking, it is a beginner trail although it is quite challenging reaching the first peak as it is a bit steep. But fear not for there are ropes that you can hold on to. Depending on how fit you are, it can take about 30 to 45 minutes to reach the highest peak. The more photo stops you take, the longer it takes to reach, obviously. There are 3 peaks and they offer different views.

We were supposed to catch the sunrise, but unfortunately we arrived late. Nonetheless, the climb was still worth it for we had a breathtaking view as we reached the top. It was so refreshing because the view is almost all green. From the top, you get a panoramic view of the landscape, the plains, the nearby towns and the plantations. The hike may be short but is very rewarding.

I just love the feel of early mornings

I just love the feel of early mornings

And the sun is up and shining

And the sun is already up and shining

And the photo ops begin...

And the photo ops begin

Ascending...

Ascending

Oh so green

The green green grass of Broga

Lalang grass

Lalang grass

Don't you just love this view

Don’t you just love this view

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Start them young. I heard them say a few times during the hike

Start them young. I heard this boy said “I can do it” a few times during the hike, every time his parents tried to hold his hands.

Descending...

Descending…Hope to be back

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That ends the hike. And what better way to relax after a hike? Well, nothing beats a foot massage.

I Left My Heart In Borobudur

A month before my 28th birthday, I have decided that I must do something memorable and different on that day to celebrate my 28 years of existence. And so, I have decided to travel alone. Sounds boring to go solo? Well, not for me.

So, without much hesitation, I booked my flight bound to Yogyakarta. The main purpose of the trip is to visit the Borobudur temple at sunrise. Borobudur Temple is located in Central Java in Indonesia and according to Master Google, is the world’s biggest Buddhist monument.

Exactly on my birthday, 12th of April at 4:00 AM, I left for the temple on a motorcycle with a tour guide. Availing of the sunrise tour is worth it because there are only a few tourists, so that would mean less crowd, better photos maybe, and you do get to appreciate its beauty in peace.

The moment I reached the top of the temple and while waiting for the sunrise, no exaggerations but I really felt at peace. I was so mesmerized by the breathtaking view and the place itself that no matter how many photos I take, they won’t give justice to its beauty. This place has to be experienced and be seen by the naked eye. It just felt so good standing on that temple merely watching the sunrise and observing the sky changed its color every single second.

Here comes the sunrise!

Worth the early wake up call

I so love this shot.

Buddha statue at the temple’s top terrace

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Sunrise + Temple + Quiet = Simply Magical

The Stupa

The Stupas

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The Stupas and Mt Merapi at the background

You are looking at the sleeping Buddha on that mountain (as per the tour guide).

There is a formation of a sleeping Buddha on that mountain

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Tourists are requested to wear sarong which are provided by the Borobudur staff. This is to show respect and protect the dignity of this holy place.

Ladies & gents, I present to you the Borobudur Temple. Looks just like any other monuments but go and explore the place and you'll see how amazing it is. And oh, much better if you visit at sunrise. =)

Ladies & gents, I present to you the Borobudur Temple. Looks just like any other monuments but go and explore the place and you’ll see how amazing it is. And oh, much better if you visit at sunrise. =)

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I'm really amazed.

Moments that count.

Something to remind of this place

Something to remind me of this place

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Wish I could show all the photos here, but as I’ve said earlier, they don’t give justice to this magnificent place.

So moving on…I had no other plans aside from the temple tour but the tour guide suggested a visit to the Merapi Volcano theater on the same day where I watched a short documentary on the eruption of the said volcano. I saw how damaging the eruption was and on the middle of that show, I got so scared I want to fly right away from Yogya, fearing for another volcanic eruption. I got a bit emotional and pitied those who have been affected. Outside the theater was the view of the volcano itself. The volcano is so beautiful in a perfect cone-shape and surrounding it are the beautiful villages that were once affected by the calamity. I just wonder how these people still get to stay in that place after such disaster. I hope and pray the volcano would stay dormant for a long period of time.

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Merapi Volcano

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Nearby villages

On the next day, another very early wake up call to catch the sunrise in Puntuk Setumbu as suggested by the guesthouse staff. It is overlooking the Borobudur temple and is indeed another sunrise-worthy place. And what better way to enjoy a sunrise than having a cup of coffee. No hassle carrying your coffee with you for there is someone selling hot drinks right at that spot. Felt so glad to see other fellow sunrise-lovers there. Moments like this is worth waking up so early.

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And last but not the least, a village tour to end the trip.

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So that’s it. A birthday gift to myself. Amazing experience, an emotional one even. Wish I could have stayed longer. I guess I can say, I left my heart in Borobudur.

The Black Hole

I’m caught in this “black hole”, I couldn’t get out of it.

I tried to get out, I swear I tried, but I’m stuck on it.

SOS, many times I tried to send.

But people are too happy with their lives to comprehend.

Help, I tried to get but I hate to appear so pathetic.

Family and friends are caught up with their lives to notice my life inside is so dramatic.

I may look strong on the outside.

But for crying out loud, I am crushed on the inside.

I have no one but myself.

And it’s my fault cause I chose to isolate.

I chose to isolate cause no one can relate.

So I tried to deal with it the best way I know how.

Two years and counting, I am still surviving.

But is merely surviving this black hole the only goal?

I know it isn’t.

Freeing myself from this hole, that will make me whole.