Journal #164 – Minimalism, Gratitude, Patience, and 5% More

Singaporeans sure complain alot; I complain a lot. We all are miserable.

Let me be clear. I don’t know of the minute details that led them to complain a lot but I assume it has to do with them NOT doing the following:

  1. Simplifying their lives
  2. Be grateful for what they already have
  3. Have patience for things to happen
  4. Applying 5% more effort, more time, to achieve what they want.

Of course, you may get upset and ask: how I can assume that? You may just say: I am not you or him or her. I am stupid. I haven’t experienced enough.

The list goes on.

I do question myself: Am I right or wrong with my assumption?

All I can say is, I don’t know. But what do I know? I drew my current conclusion through my observations thus far. And I do know I am like that too. I didn’t simplify my life. I wasn’t grateful for what I already have. I wasn’t patient enough to wait for things. I didn’t apply 5% more effort, or more time on whatever I want to achieve.

It made me unhappy. It made me FUCKING MISERABLE!

Now?

I simplified my life when it comes to material goods and owning things. Having access is more important. I buy only when I truly need it, and after I have asked myself several questions and answered them.

It doesn’t mean I am not affected by advertisement and the emotions associated with getting new things. I personally love getting gadgets. In the past, I got new phones, MP3 players, Discmans, etc., just because I want them. And at this stage of my life, I love Apple’s products and wanted to get the latest and greatest (iPhone X, I am looking at you). I am afterall like you, a human too. However, I applied 5% more effort to change my mindset (I am a lazy person and enjoy things status quo, so it’s a struggle everyday) and accept the feelings I have, then I moved on.

Simplification also come into play on what I have to say next. There is one thing in Singapore that always grind parents’ gears. I am not a parent nor do I foresee myself getting married anytime soon. So I don’t know what is it like. But I see it everywhere and I do know what it brings. It brings unhappiness. It makes everybody in the circle fucking miserable. I see it in every parent’s face.

What is it? Education.

Parents in Singapore always compare with their friends and colleagues when it comes to their kids’ educations. They fret over the school their kids go to, how much tuition their kids should get, etc.

Why they do it?

They have good intention behind it. All parents want their kids to have a better life than they did. They applied their worldview of having more money and climbing the corporate ladder as having a better life.

But it has gotten to a point where it becomes fucking excessive, especially when it comes to tuition or expectations parents have of their kids. It put pressure on both ends, no doubt. Parents, wanting the best for their kids, send them to the best school and tuition centers, spending out thousands of dollars every month. It strained their finances, creating unhappiness. Kids have more homework, less play. They suffer from unnecessary anxiety. As kids, they tend to suffer more because they are unable to articulate out. They internalized it as just went “because my parent blah blah blah…, I have to do it.” When they fail, they blame themselves. That leads to the increasing number of children committing suicide. When that happens, parents will be putting the blame on themselves. If they have more than one child, the other children in the household will also suffer.

So my question is: Is it fucking worth it?

And that question applies to your finances, and your family’s happiness and wellbeing.

That lead me to gratitude. I have also applied gratefulness whenever I am aware of it. There are times when emotions run high, I forget about it or didn’t realize it. I am grateful that I am alive, have a family, and friends. I am grateful that my parents allowed me to explore what I like and dislike. I am grateful that I am not living in poverty and had a decent education. I am grateful that I had and have decent jobs (though I don’t like my current one, it just pays the bills), so that I can have some stability in life.

I have also tried to be more patient. I am an extremely impatient person. I like to see results the moment I applied some action. It is still a work in progress. But over time, I have learned to take it slow and enjoy the process. Just like right now. I applied patience to my writing. In the past, all I thought about was wanting to be maybe a New York bestseller or at least be the best science-fiction novelist from Singapore. And I couldn’t wait to get there. Now I know it’s not easy. And it will never be. It takes patience and hard work.

Both gratitude and patience can go hand-in-hand too. It applies to my family and friends. I am also grateful for the fact that Singapore has a decent, working public transport that can get me to most places and try to be patient when there is a train fault. No need for random outburst or public display of unhappiness. If you can’t wait any longer, accept the situation, move on, and find an alternative.

If you studied and applied stoicism, even at the bare minimum, you will be able to understand what I am talking about.

But most Singaporeans will just complain. I don’t think they have that patience anymore. I also don’t think they have the gratitude anymore. They are always looking for greener grass without wanting to do anything about it. Or they just blame the politicians. I know I do. But it doesn’t change anything. Now I know that. You can vote out the politician at the next election cycle but the real problem is YOU.

Has always been you.

I have come to acknowledge and realize that politicians deal with big picture. They have a grand plan of how to make Singapore a better place. Someone has to do that so that we as nation has a direction. It is up to us to implement. But have we been implementing? We may have but is it enough?

That lead me to the part on 5% more. 5% more effort. 5% more time.

The loudest Singapore complainers are who I assume to be lazy. You can get all defensive with that all you want or lie to me or make up some excuses. I don’t care. At the end, you could be lying to yourself to make yourself feel good and then continue to feel fucking miserable. So start asking yourself, what have I been doing and finding an answer to that.

From what I have observed, these people are NOT spending 5% more effort and time to be on the ground, focusing on making changes to their immediate environment or to themselves. Instead, they rather spend the energy and time doing something as meaningless as complaining.

It’s just noise really. No meaningful actions.

I’m pretty sure even entrepreneurs also say that complaining does nothing. Only by doing, you see result.

And what do I mean by doing? Here are some examples:

 

If you are a rail engineer, put in 5% more effort (even if you are not fucking paid for it), when it comes to train maintenance. How much is 5%? I don’t know the actual amount for you. For me, as a Software Engineer, 5% more simply could mean running an additional unit test on a piece of function before pushing out that piece of code.

 

If you are a parent, put in 5% more time to instill patience in your kids so that they grow up to be patient to wait for things to happen. You see, impatience is a major contributing factor to quality problem at the end. People just want result or get something done and over with at the snap of a finger. So they cut corners instead of spending 5% more effort, 5% more time or even both to deliver quality. Technology these days has made us even more impatient. We get instant dopamine rush or gratification from our smart phones. Instant notifications. Instant news. Instant feedbacks. So much so that we forgot what is it like to wait.

 

You see, if we on the ground didn’t even do things properly within our immediate environment or with ourselves, be fucking patient with the process, be grateful for what we have already achieved, how the fuck can we effect changes at other places.

For me, minimalism was hard. Gratitude was, and sometimes, is hard. Patience is hard. But I applied the same 5% more mindset to them. The end result is. I’m happier than I was. I’m less miserable than I was.

So I hope you can see that, it all starts with us, as an individual. I’m good now. Are you?