Knowing your why reduce odds of depression

Making goals in life is a very human thing. A goal is something that allows one to live a better life than before or to be happy. It could be as simple as, “I want to make x amount of money by x”

However, what most people failed to realise is that a goal is finite. It’s temporary. Most people don’t ask themselves what would they do next after they reached their goal. As a result, when they finally achieved it, they feel like there’s nothing else in life for them to do. They are lost. This is when the people lose hope and slipped into depression.

But it’s important not to confuse this kind of depression with clinical depression. This is a situational depression. And yes, the symptoms are alike but the point of origin is different. You can get out of situational depression by reevaluating what you are doing with your life and taking actions to redirect yourself without relying on medication.

For me, I have been diagnosed with depression. Now I know it had always been situational and not clinical. I’m grateful that I never went on medication nor was I prescribed any. I managed to get out of those episodes by changing my perspective of things in life with the help of friends and family.

And you know what?

I can’t guarantee that situation depression won’t strike again. What I do know is I can minimise my chances of suffering from it in the future.

It is by knowing my “why”. To know why I exist in the world. To know what’s my purpose and my vision of the world. You may be wondering how does those help with minimising situational depression. Well, you have to know what’s the difference between a vision vs a goal? Having a vision and working towards it is a form of infinite goal. You don’t win the vision because the things you need to do is never one time deal. Sometimes you will fall short in terms of results and sometimes you will achieve better results than previously. But you will always have something to look forward to.

It’s like life. You have a finite lifespan. You probably would die anytime between now and one hundred and twenty-five. But you have to live an infinite life. Life still goes on despite whatever happen. Right? There’s no winning life. And when you lose life? It simply means you are dead. Or in other words, drop out of the game.

So now, do you see?

By playing the infinite game of life and knowing your vision for the world, you reduce the odds of suffering from situational depression. It’s all because there’s always something for you to do to achieve that vision of yours. You don’t lose hope nor purpose of life.

I’m sure you will be wondering how the hell do I know my “why”? Or know what’s your vision. I also didn’t know my why for a very long time. All I know is I was happy when I’m left alone to do my own thing, to create something for another person that make them happy. But I always forget about that specific aspect of myself when life hits me hard. As a result, I’m always making short term goals to feel good.

It wasn’t until I discovered the book called, Start With Why, written by Simon Sinek that I found out what’s my “why” and have been actively to keep it in focus while I navigate life.

Here’s one video that I have watched which I hope can help you to figure out your “why”.

In addition, I would recommend that you check out the book, Find Your Why, written by Simon Sinek, David Mead and Peter Docker, after you are done with the first book.

Too much of anything is bad

You love ice cream. So much so that you thought you don’t mind eating it every day and having it after every meal. Before you know it, your weight increases and start to develop sickness deep inside of you. If you continued down that path, the sickness will only worsen. Heart disease, diabetes, and various other issues will crop up.

It’s the same thing as everything you do in life.

In my case, there’s something I did that affected my writing although you may not see it given that I’ve published something almost every day. But deep down, I know something’s not right.

There isn’t much inspirations or ideas floating around in my head to write about these days. I had to sit at my desk doing a whole bunch of other stuff before I can settle down to write something. Even when I do start, the topic elude me until much later during the writing process. Instead of entering into the zone or flow state, there’s a lot of writing and editing on the fly. Lucky for me, I’ve honed my writing muscles far enough that I could do both without obvious slow down.

But it’s something that need to be fixed. So I did a quick audit of what’s going on in my life.

Turns out, I’ve spent too much time consuming content. Again. By that, it could mean watching videos, listening to music or playing video games. And the latter is the one that’s main cause.

Ever since I got Nintendo Switch, it would be in my hand at least once a day for a couple of hours. Because of the amount of time I’ve spent playing first-person shooter on it, specifically Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, I’ve gotten pretty good at shooting enemies despite the weird placement of joysticks (compared to the Xbox). I am able to have the crosshair follow enemies as they moved while another finger is on the trigger button. When I first started, I’ve a real hard time doing even basic shooting.

Sound great? Yeah, it’s good that I gotten a new skill. But it came at the expense of having ideas for writing.

And do you know why playing so much games created this sickness of not having ideas to write about?

Playing games, most of the time, is actually pretty mindless. Especially if it’s a shooter game where all you need to do is kill enemies, reach objectives. Rinse, rise, and repeat. So where’s the thinking in that?

But not all is lost.

The moment you realise something is wrong, you can take control back. The one thing you could do is to cut back on the amount of time you spend doing that one thing. Yes, it’s painful when you have to cut back because you have been getting all those dopamine coursing through your mind. But it has to be done in order to achieve something you want in your life.

With that, I end off with something any minimalist would say, “Less is more.”

Meet short term goal or minimise long term pain

Every day of our lives, be it professional or personal, we’ve got to deal with situations that require us to deal with it now with quick solutions or come up with a better solution and taking the time to implement it to minimise long term pain.

Ideally, there should be a balance between the two but reality tends to force us into coming up with an immediate solution to deal with the current pain. Usually, it’s because someone above you, your customer or that a life depends on it made the issue a high priority.

And it takes someone with experience in certain situation to be able to make a decision that seemingly strike a balance.

As a software creator (I don’t call myself an engineer or developer but that’s a story for another day), I lost count of the times when I have to sacrifice the solution that’s good in the long run to deal with something that the customer wants it now. And then there’s always this “we are behind schedule” speech by the management. So much so, it makes you want to roll your eyes. It can make one feel like the management is always reacting to something and not preempting and executing on a plan.

Of course, perspective matters here. More time spent in doing something means more money spent. The manpower could be better utilised to work on something else that deliver on more value (money) to the company. Not to mention, to the customer, it’s like they don’t get their money worth of goods or services on time.

However, cutting corners on a solution just so that you can deliver on time can lead to long term pain that ultimately translate to time and money wasted.

Let’s take something that I’ve experienced at work as an example.

The system my team and I are working on requires a constant patching of data in the database. It can be either to insert new records or to fix old records with updated information. As the system is still undergoing development and deployment, the data is constantly in flux. And the customer will send us spreadsheets of data for us to do matching and patching.

And instead of spending maybe a week to build the user interface and implement the business logic that not only validates the data but to allow us to upload those spreadsheets and update the database in a few clicks and change existing data all from one UI window, my colleagues have to take the time to review through those spreadsheets. Sometimes, two persons are involved. What any one of them will do is use their eyeballs to scan through the records in order to determine whether to match and update existing records or to insert. Then they will manually write the SQL scripts to insert or update the data into the database.

No doubt the scripts run fast and the database will be patched within seconds.

However, what the project lead and management didn’t take into account of the time and effort needed to validate the data manually every time, prepare the scripts and run them. And that’s not forgetting humans can make mistakes. If the data is patched wrongly, the whole system may not work as intended and then we will need to “rush” someone down to the customer office to fix that issue. Time spent at customer office is time not spent on delivering features.

And if you are someone who panics very easily, and you have to deal with such high pressured situation, more mistakes will happen.

The management of course have a defence. Their stance is that this kind of data patching doesn’t happen often. By my last count, it has happened five times since the project started and we aren’t even at the end yet. And I suspect this data patching will repeat several more times until the end of the project. How many more, I don’t know. In fact, I’ve just recently spent half an hour to de-associate the relationships between two datasets because it wasn’t patched properly. Mind you, those de-associated relationships need to be rebuild again once the data has been reviewed and cleaned up again.

I may not be in a management role but it’s obvious to me that taking the time to build that user interface and implement the necessary business logic to help us match the data, validate the data and update the database in as few click as possible is the better option here.

And given what I know about the future plans of the company with regard to this project, the current way of doing things is just not scalable. Oh, I raised the point a lot of times but I’m always overwritten. Well, mostly.

This is what I mean by meeting short goal or minimising long term pain. There are many other examples that I could think of but this is the clearest one to me.

In conclusion, always strive for the mid-point between meeting short term goal and minimising long term pain by evaluating as much data point as possible before making a decision. It’s especially the case if it’s something that affects your persona life and you don’t have a higher up to answer to. And depending on the culture of where you live and work, you can either fight to the death for what you believe to be the right course, find a compromise or swallow your pride and let the other party win. In an asian context like the one in Singapore, you are better off choosing the last approach if you are an employee at the bottom of the ladder or an underling. Or management will make your life miserable.

Murderous House

If you haven’t read Part 1 of Murderous House, check it out here.


Part 2

His heart thumped so hard that it was about to fly out of his chest as he chased after the figure who grabbed Alec. However, he wasn’t fast enough. He crashed into the door at the end of the corridor. Earlier, it swung open to allow the figure to drag Alec through.

“Alec! Alec!” Jake yelled as he pounded the door. He tried turning the knob but it refused to move. He took a few steps back and slammed the ball of his feet into the door. It didn’t budge. He tried a few more times and it didn’t work. The next time he tried, he lost his balance from exhaustion and landed on his butt.

He yelped from the pain. The sudden realisation that he won’t see Alec again made him curled up into a ball. Tears started streaming down his cheeks.

The memory of them when they were eight came flooding through. Both Alec’s and his mom were there on the beach watching over them as they chased each other across the soft and wet beach sand. When either one of them caught up with the other, they’d wrestled each other playfully until they were both on the ground covered in wet sand. In the meantime, the sea would come gushing towards them and cover them in saltwater. During that time, it would become a battle of who could get on top and pin the other down or get pushed away into the water. He remembered the part where Alec kept laughing after seeing his shorts was around his knees, floating on the surface of the water when he stood up, revealing his private parts to the world to see. He bend over to pull his shorts up, realising the drawstring had loosen. He tightened the drawstring around his waist and used a dead knot to make sure it doesn’t come loose again.

Later that day, Jake had his revenge by pulling the towel Alec had around his waist after a shower and made him chase after it from outside the bathroom to the guest bedroom.

Even though they were equally embarrassed then, they continued to laugh at each other over those incidents during their occasional reminiscing moments over the past six years.

He smiled at that memory and didn’t notice how much time had gone by. When he looked up, the door in front of him was open. He remembered why he was sitting there. He got up and charged towards the door, deeply hoping it didn’t close again. Once he was through, he heaved a sigh of relief.

The worse of the thunderstorm had gone by. But it wasn’t a good thing. Without the lightning flashes, this part of the house was dark. And without those thunders, any noise in the house would be particularly loud and sound really close.

Jake wasn’t sure if he was ready to move around in the dark but the thought of Alec in trouble somewhere in the house pushed him on. He stayed close to the wall on his left and place a hand on it, using it as a guide as he moved forward.

Alec swerved around trying to locate the sound as he thought he heard jangling sound from behind him while his eyes scanned the dark corridor for whatever made that sound. He waited for the sound to repeat. But it didn’t. He turned around and continue his journey.

After a slow stroll, his hand found the end of the wall. The next moment, it was touching air. He stopped and glanced around. It was still too dark.

“Alec, where are you?” He whispered. Not that it would do any good if his friend was unconscious or too far away. But it gave him an ease of mind. That he was doing something.

The sound of china crashing made him twerk on the spot and his head followed his ears in an attempt to locate the sound. He thought it came from above. Then came the same jangling sound. He turned around but couldn’t see anything. The hairs on his body stood up and his legs felt weak. What the fuck? he thought to himself.

He keep turning left and right, afraid of whatever is lurking in the dark and waiting to snatch him when he wasn’t looking. After a while, he realised it was ridiculous.

He squeezed his eye shut, took in a couple of deep breaths and repeated his personal mantra, “I can do it.”

He put his hand on the wall again and use it to guide him around the turn. A couple more steps and his knee struck some kind of furniture. He put his hand around his mouth to prevent himself from making any sound as he waited for the pain to subside. When he could walk again, he felt his way around the furniture and continue. The way sound bounced around the room made he believe this was a corridor.

Somehow, he managed not to crash into anything else along the way and come upon a closed door at the end of the corridor. He felt his way around to locate the knob, gave it a turn and pushed. The door opened to reveal a corridor that looked like those found in old hotels that were built in the 60s. Wall lamps spaced equally apart showered the corridor in a baleful orange. Between the wall lamps were doors leading to different rooms.

He stepped through the doorway in a more deliberate pace, unsure of what would happen. At the back of his mind, he knew it just wasn’t possible for the place to have electricity considering it was an old abandoned house but he couldn’t deny what he was seeing.

And he didn’t forget about Alec.

He tried the first door on his right and found it locked. He tried another that was behind him. Locked. He tried a few more doors until he found one where it swung open with very creaky hinges. Behind the door, it was a slightly darker room that was gently lit by the low hanging moon. His eyes darted all over the place to look for threats, only to catch Alec lying on the floor, unconscious.

He ran in and went on his knees beside Alec to try and wake him. After a few shakes and calling out his name, Alec stirred and moaned.

“My back and head hurts,” Alec complained as he tried to sit up. Jake put his arm behind Alec in case he lose consciousness and fell back to the ground.

“Are you hurt anywhere else?” Jake’s voice was shaky and soft.

Alec felt his body with his hands to locate any potential pain spot. Other than his head, back and knee, he was otherwise fine. “No,” he replied weakly.

“Come on, let’s get out of here. We can’t stay the night.”

“Agree.”

Jake grabbed and placed Alec’s right arm around his shoulders while his left hand went to support Alec’s lower back as they got up together. The process was difficult and unsteady because Alec’s unwillingness to put any weight on his injured knee. There were times when Jake had to brace himself and exert enough strength to keep them both stable. Then they hobbled towards the door only to see it slammed close halfway through. They regarded each other for a moment before increasing their paces.

Jake prayed that the door wasn’t lock as he reached for the knob. He gave it a turn and pulled. The door opened to reveal a dark corridor.

“Shit!” Jake cursed, drawing a curious look from Alec.

“What?”

“The corridor. It’s no longer lit.”

“Do you know the way back?”

“I hope so. Let’s go.”

Jake took the lead, drawing upon his memory of how the corridor looked when it was lit, secretly hoping that it was still the same corridor. Thus far, the house already demonstrated it had a life of its own. It was as though there’s a housemaster hidden somewhere in the attic or basement, spying on them and messing around to scare them. But if it were true, and this place is a legitimate entertainment place, then the owners have taken things too far by injuring Alec.

They went through the corridor in a deliberate manner, not wanting to trip over anything that could slow them down while worry hung out at the back of their minds. Yet, neither one of them dared to look behind. They didn’t want to scare themselves anymore than they currently were by seeing something or someone behind.

They made it through the first of the two doors separating them from the corridor linked to the main hall. Then they hurried through the next corridor to the last door. The good thing was Jake remembered the layout of the corridor and made sure they avoid the piece of furniture that he hit his knee with.

Before long, they were through the door and making their way back to the main hall.

Once in the living room, they packed their belongings, took out torchlights and scrambled for the main door. Staying another minute in the house wasn’t something they even want to consider. They’d rather take their chances out there in the woods where their survival skills and provisions in their bags could at least keep them alive until morning.

As soon as Alec placed his hand on the doorknob, a loud, high-pitch cry echoed throughout the main hall. The hall temperature plummeted rapidly that made every exhalation visible as white mist, giving the boys the shivers.

“Come on, let’s go!” Jake yelled as he swept the torch across the dark main hall, allowing the yellow-whitish cone of light to illuminate whatever surfaces it came in contact with. It was obvious there was a strange mist gathering around them.

“I know!” Alec replied.

Alec gripped the doorknob hard, gave it a hard twist before pulling it towards him. The door opened without any protest. He went out first with Jake following closely behind. Despite the pain he experienced across his back, Alec found the will needed to push on. With Jake providing support, there was nothing he couldn’t do.

After five minutes of threading through the forest path that led to the house, the boys turned to the right upon coming upon a fork. They decided to head east and followed the man-made path into the dark forest with the torches in their hand giving them the comfort the night won’t take their sights away.


To be continued…

Writing achievements 2018 – year in review

2018 is coming to an end in an hours’ time as I write this and it’s my hope that this post goes up before the arrival of 2019.

I for one isn’t someone who like to brat to the whole world about what I have achieved and tend to keep a low key. In fact, I’d probably reject any awards that requires me to collect on stage.

But it’s also important to acknowledge how far I have come when it comes to writing.

When I restarted this blog, it was supposed to be just for me to vent my frustrations, let me jot down what happened in my life and help me process all my emotions. After reading lots of articles about self improvement and writing, I came to the conclusion that I’m not going to do that anymore. This blog isn’t going to be about me ranting about life, the misfortunes and whatnots that I have encountered. So I decided to expand my writing into various other things.

With that, I also came to learn that there are only two metrics that matter to a writer. Everything else is just not as important. The first metric is how many articles or essays you have published in a year. Doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. Hitting that publish button is important as a writer. The second metric is how many followers that you have. The more follower you have, chances are it indicates your writings, especially the underlying message, have somewhat captivated readers and they want more. And it doesn’t matter if they are genuine, fake or bots. It’s important to be very very grateful for those followers and keep publishing new content.

Even so, I feel like celebrating what my blog have achieved in 2018 alone. And I’m going to keep doing what I do, keep working at my writings, interact with the blogger community in whatever capacity I can and grow myself further.

In 2018 alone, I have published 110 posts for a total of 101,270 words compared to 67 posts for a total of 42,420 words in 2017.

Now those are the metrics which are more important than anything else I’ve got to list below because these numbers prove to myself that I can write. A lot. And despite the occasional but overwhelming feeling of failures, I pushed forward. I acknowledge my failures in writing and seek to do them better next time.

And now it’s time for the not so important metrics.

Compare to the year 2017, my blog has gained 1.8x views and 2x the amount of unique visitors. In terms of likes, it’s 3.49x. I couldn’t be more happier. I’m deeply grateful to everyone.

Thank you all so very much. 😀

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!