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.

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.

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.