Tabi basa and greetings everyone! How was your day? I hope you are doing fine despite the ever-increasing case of COVID-19 now, especially when you are residing at Peninsular Malaysia. For Malaysians, that is always the struggle that we will not be able to get away from anytime soon. Let’s call it our war (Boku no Senshou). As of 11 Aug 2021, there is a huge number of COVID cases in Malaysia. At 1.3 million, it is approximately 4.0%, a figure that’s quite high, even higher than India’s case in terms of COVID-19 percentage. That is scary. Even worse, there are some local “treasonists” who has the balls to sell fake COVID-19 certificate to Malaysian citizens. Their business idea seems to be out of this world, risking general’s health in order to gain extra money. For as low as RM200 (47 USD), you put aside your integrity and gave others a false sense of security? That’s lunatic.
Setting aside COVID-19 case in Malaysia, one of the thing that I want to talk about today is regarding life’s philosophy, where I always find it fascinating to be able to hear more inspirational words from other authors, especially that talks about improving lives.
One of it is definitely the notion that “Life Is Not A Race”.
Life Is Not a Race
One of the thing that I commonly see among my circle is that they are constantly thinking that life is a race. I find it sad to see man/woman with high potential for the future but jeopardise their potential by not doing what’s required. Most of the youngsters are trend-hoppers, jumping from one trend to another. I am guilty of this as well, because like it or not, peer pressure is always there.
But in my silence (I’m doing silent retreat), I realised that if we are not happy with what we are now, we cannot be happy with whatever we posses.
If we are not happy with our present, we’ll never find happiness in the future.
But why is this happening?
It could be probably due to the accumulation of disappointment that we receive up until now, as of the past is still haunting us. Call it a joke, it happens to some bloke. To be able to handle disappointment would be a superpower for many of us. We are not well-equipped to handle rejection, at least that’s what our brain wants to hear.
A lot of our problem stems from our inability to be still, mentally. You can be sitting quietly in an empty room for hours, but if your brain is still erratic, you can’t find peace.
It all boils down to your ability to the harsh reality of life, and not being overly optimistic because down along the line something undesirable will definitely happen.
According to the famous Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.
Because of this, things might happen no matter how good we are in preparing to avoid it. As long as there is percentage of probability, no matter how small, it might happen.
But so is happiness. But, then again, why is it so difficult to improve our lives?
For me, one of the way to improve lives is through Stoicism philosophy.
What is Stoic?
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of stoic are as follows:
1. Capitalized : a member of a school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium about 300 b.c. holding that the wise man should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submissive to natural law.
2. one apparently or professedly indifferent to pleasure or pain
Synonyms: forbearing, long-suffering, patient, tolerant, uncomplaining
Antonyms: complaining, fed up, impatient, kvetching, kvetchy, protesting
I first heard about this philosophy from Eric Kim, a photographer from America. You can read more about his view of stoicism here.
When it comes to Stoicism, this person comes to mind – Ryan Holiday. He is the writer of Daily Stoic. You can follow him here (personal Instagram) or at his famous Daily Stoic Instagram account. From Daily Stoic page, you can get your daily dose of Stoicism where for me, it is a good daily reminder and it provides me with something to think about for the rest of the day.
In short, Stoicism teaches us that, before we try to control events, we have to control ourselves first.
Yes, that’s right. Often we think that we are not in control of our lives, and we are living in an autopilot mode. That is actually not true. We are holding the flight stick of our life. Sometimes, we forgot, due to various reasons.
Our life is dynamic, and we are living in a turbulence. Our reality and our ideals are not aligned to one another. If we can calibrate our expectations to meet our reality, then we will be much happier with our lives. Sadly, that is not the case to most of us.
Our brain are wired to accept only the best but forgot that we are not a perfect being ourselves. It’s like boys expecting a perfect, Barbie-like spouse when they are not even close to look like Ken.
Having a passion in our life is important because we need to have a locus in our life. We need to identify it as early as we can so that we can leverage on time that we have. We can’t play short term gain because like Malcolm Gladwell said, we need to have at least spent 10,000hours of intensive practice to be a good in something, whatever it is. 10,000 hours, divided into 8 hours per day, is equivalent to 3.5 years. Or maybe more, depending on your commitment level. Some are better than the other, but that is dependent on their physical advantage. People will always use the word “talent” to someone who is better than the other, but little did we know, most of the time, it is down to their effort, or how bad they want it.
One of the most profound thing that I heard is “You can’t fix internal issues with external accomplishments”, a quote by Ryan Holiday, the writer of Daily Stoic. You can follow him at Instagram for more inspirational quotes.
Don’t Take Things Personally
Your value does not decrease just because someone’s unable to see your worth.
Usually we take things personally because of our ego and our desire to be right. Our brain is not wired to accept the fact that it is lacking in so many ways.
To deal with these, we need to look at their intention and try to understand where they are coming from, for example, deep down, they want to be right, or have something in mind for the whole day.
Improvement-wise, our negative beliefs, we take things personally because we know that we have some truth in it. Our childhood has an effect on this.
The account that engages the most with our limbic brain will have the most following. Don’t believe me? Have a look at those popular images at Tik Tok or Instagram. They are eerily having the same pattern. In social media, previously it was chronologically-arranged, and now it is done by using algorithm. Usually the minorities are being left out. That is why, if you want to pioneer something for a long run, don’t put your base in Social Media, It’s like building with sand as its foundation.
For your own good, learn to walk away when you think you are not being appreciated much. I wish I knew this when I was younger. 20s was a decade of experiment, and 30s is when you know what you want in life.
The Wise and Foolish Builder
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”Matthew 7:24-27
If you want whatever that you are building last, do it on a solid foundation. Not temporary trend like Tik Tok or Vine, or even Facebook and Twitter. These things will evolve, and new form of platform will take place.
The best time to be invested is in something that will give you a return in the long term. Public speaking, writing ability, guitar-playing, singing, photography mastery – those are the things that will pay in the long run. Don’t play short term. Aim for long term. I had my time experimenting on mobile games such as Mobile Legend: Bang Bang and League of Legends: Wild Rift just to find out that those things are not suit for me. Firstly, they consume a lot of time, and with the right community, you are hooked by its promise of endless dopamine surge. But what does it cost you? Time, sleep, energy, death of a dream et cetera. Even the 15 seconds video of TikTok actually took a lot of time to prepare, don’t underestimate it.
In essence, time is gold.
From the stories that I have written here, from Life Is Not A Race, to Stoicism and finally Not Taking Things Personally, I hope I have given to you something to ponder upon and ultimately, improving your life.
Note: “Tukang Rantek” means photographer in Bidayuh language.