When I first learned of the mini-retirement concept, I was immediately attracted to the idea. To me it represented freedom. I had all these romantic notions associated with it, and when I found a way to take three months off from work, I jumped at the first chance and ran with it.
While traveling is an eye-opening experience and a chance to see how others live in vastly different cultures. It is exhausting, on many levels. It quickly became clear to me that the romantic concept of traveling is flawed.
I often ask people: if you had all the money in the world, what would you be doing? The most popular answer is: to quit my job and start Traveling. There’s nothing wrong with this answer, I too have given it many times. However, in this answer, we include the notion of escaping our current realities while longing for something else in its place. And when we actually get to that place which we’ve longed for, disappointments sets in, for it did not meet the expectations conjured by our imagination.
Coming back from India, I feel like a different person. Not because of India, or that this is the cliché thing to say, but because I’ve been so out of touch with my old reality that I see my old life with a drastically different perspective. On top of being away for 3 months, I’m starting a new job and we are planning to move to another country later this year. Sitting here amongst all my things packed in 50 boxes retrieved from storage, it feels as if someone had pressed the “restart” button on my life.
It’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s surreal, and it’s so damn liberating. Gosh, it’s good to be home!
I’ve learned so many life lessons in the past few months, and I’ll start to share them with you over time. But the biggest lesson I’ve learned is how little we actually need. How little we need in order to be happy.
After traveling for several months in one bag: two pairs of pants, a few shirts, a jacket, several books, and my iPod (which I used once)…. Coming home to 50 boxes full of Stuff, it felt like my world was once again being weighed down by things I didn’t need. It felt as if the things will consume more of me than I will ever consume of it. Thus, my new project: to simplify my life… starting with Stuff.
ThinkSimpleNow.com has been live for 4 months and my deepest gratitude goes out to everyone who’s graced me with your readership and amazing support. I love you guys, seriously.
I wanted to personally thank all of you for your insights and feedback in your comments. Thank you for your kind emails. Thank you for helping me realize my dream of contributing to the personal development field.
This is a quick announcement post. Part announcement and part love letter to my readers. :)
A Journey to India
In a few hours. I will be leaving for a 3 months adventure to India. It’s my attempt to test out the concept of mini-retirements, introduced by Tim Ferriss. I view it as a spiritual and creative sabbatical, and I can’t wait. I am a little nervous though. Perhaps, it is my ego afraid of the unknowns in the weeks to come.
There is a simple fact of human nature that states we all want to be liked. Don’t be afraid to admit it. If we think about it, underlying many of our actions, we are really seeking ways to validate ourselves and to fulfill this desire of being liked.
Have you ever met someone and instantly took a liking towards them? You can’t explain why, but you feel a fondness and you want to do things to help them. I’m not talking about sexual attraction, but a genuine and innocent feeling of fondness towards another person.
In a job interview, you are more likely to be hired if the interviewer likes you as a person. In a business situation, you are more likely to get deals done and gain favors. In a personal situation, you are likely to gain trust and loyal friendships.
When we decide that we like someone, it is a psychological process that we cannot quite articulate. It’s not a secret that we make decisions emotionally and justify them logically. So, does this mean that we can influence an emotional decision that happens subconsciously?
I believe that decisions can be influenced. I know that the qualities of a likeable person can be cultivated and proactively developed. Do you want to know how to develop the skills to be likable?
I have a secret: I am an email-holic, and I am addicted to email.
Despite persistent drive to improve my productivity and personal efficiency, I am hooked on email, and occasionally social networking sites like facebook. I have read countless articles on the topic, including Tim’s4HWW. Each time, I would get inspired, follow it for a few days, and eventually fall back on my routine of checking email, every spare moment.
I would be writing an article or in the middle of work, my mind would wander and my hands would automatically fire-up my email inbox. If my inbox was full, I’d spend the next hour answering emails or reading links from emails. But, even if I didn’t get any emails, I would start visiting another site I frequent, or I’d check my web stats. Thirty minutes or an hour would go by. I would realize how much time I’ve just wasted and I’d think to myself, “Ahhh! Crap! Shoot me! Okay, I better get back to what I was doing.”
Does this sound familiar? Can you feel my pain?
If not, then perhaps you’ve already mastered the art and self-discipline of email productivity. In which case, please help a girl out and share your tips. Some of the best tips show up in the comments :)
Do you remember the last time you were deeply touched by someone? Sometimes, it is the little gestures that touch us most.
Here’s to Old Friends
It was my dear friend Tania’s birthday over the weekend. Tania was my college roommate of 4 years, someone who I’ve always admired for her grace and kindness. When we graduated, we both moved to Seattle. As we continued into new chapters of our lives as adults, we saw less and less of one another. Over the years, we’ve settled into a comfortable routine of seeing each other twice a year: on my birthday and her birthday *smiles*.
Near the end of her party, she had pulled me aside. After giving me various feedback regarding my blog, she looked deep into my eyes, paused slightly and said genuinely,
“You are amazing. Even if you didn’t have the blog, I would still be so proud of you in so many ways… like that time you imitated (our friend) Tim after his conductor class, how your energy just shined. You know, I will always be here to be your cheerleader… regardless of what you worked on. I have so much faith in you. Just always know that.”
I stood there, stunned, and trying hard to hold back my tears. I smiled back at her with sincere gratitude.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.~Confucius
Don’t you just love the excitement you feel after coming home with a new TV? Driving home in a new car? Opening the box on a new pair of shoes?
I sure do. But, from watching the behavior of myself and my friends I’ve found that the new quickly becomes just another item. The excitement of novelty passes quickly.
As we become wealthier, people seem to be adding more and more things to our homes. We then use our homes, and our treasures, to justify that we have won the game of life. Growing up in a family of pack-rats, I spent many years in my teens and early twenties accumulating stuff. During this time, much of my self-worth was unconsciously associated with the amount of stuff I owned; the brand names, and the latest trends. I spent a lot of money on clothes and stuff that made me feel ‘superior’. They gave me a sense of identity. If I just removed these things without awareness, my ego would have suffered. I had grown so attached to that definition of myself, that my loss would have been much deeper than just the cute sweater.
Not only did I not find myself in all this, I’ve also accumulated a lot of clutter in my living space and my inner space. Ironically, the piles of stuff actually held me back from understanding and inner peace with myself.
We are so eager to fill our homes, yet so disinterested in cleaning it out. As a result, we now require larger spaces, more storage space, and more clutter for the mind. Did you know that there are more self-storage facilities in North America than there are McDonald’s restaurants? We find it difficult to reduce the amount of stuff we own is due to our attachment to these things.
Is Less Really More?
The joy and art of having less while enjoying more of life can be summed up, as follows.
The true standard of measurement for extraordinary outcomes
is that which brings extraordinary benefit and fulfillment
to me and to the lives of others. That's success!~Steven K Scott
Yes, I experienced it, I really did; the intense feeling of true happiness and success. Not just temporarily, but extensively for an uninterrupted period of several months. This was simply the most significant ‘achievement’ of mine: finding clarity, peace and happiness in a hectic and high-demanding life. This phase took the entire first half of 2007 and I came out the other end with much insight and understanding about myself and my purpose.
I have never felt so complete and content as I did during this period. With the most rewarding being the absolute stillness I felt within myself and the understanding that we can be truly and absolutely happy with living a simple life with very little material possession. Now, if this is your first visit here, this may sound a little mystical and hand-wavy. No, I am not a hippy, nor am I religious. I am just a girl, going through life, seeking that which we are all seeking: happiness.
There are many reasons why we don’t always get what we want. One of these reasons is because we focus on the opposite of what we want. Sometimes, we just can’t help it. But, if we are conscious of our thoughts, we can intercept these thoughts and shift our frame of mind towards our desired goals.
Have you ever been particularly annoyed by a person or situation? The more we complain about it, the more we notice it. The more we notice it, the worse it becomes. The next time we interact with that person or situation, we almost expect to be annoyed and thus subconsciously look for those small triggers that’ll make us annoyed.
In a similar example of an opposite scenario: Have you ever shopped for a particular kind of car which you’ve never noticed before? For example, a black SmartCar or a silver Toyota Prius. And suddenly, you see them everywhere? Similarly, have you shopped for a particular piece of clothing, let’s say a blazer style jacket for the spring, and suddenly you notice them everywhere?
Whether we focus on things we want or do not want, the truth is that What we focus on expands.
From my experience, dreams do come true, for the sole reason that the more you focus on something, the more of it you’ll notice and you’ll be particularly sensitive to opportunities that’ll come your way which will allow your dreams to become your reality.
To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love.
In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.~Robert Muller
Do you ever kick yourself in the butt? No, not literally, but psychologically?
Have you done things in the past that you’re not so proud of? Perhaps it was hurting someone’s feelings or for being dishonest?
What about times when you were mean to yourself? Perhaps when failing to meet all the expectations set by your perfectionist self, you beat yourself up for it? Even just a little?
Where do you think all these thoughts go? Most likely, they stag like clutter in your inner space. The natural tendency is to repeat this in our head, until we eventually get sick of thinking about it and burry it deep in our subconscious. It is still in there nonetheless, keeping us away from being fully happy.
A Road to Happiness
Popular personal development strategies are known for using tools to achieve goals and techniques to become ‘successful’. If we drilled deep into these topics, you will find that they are all trying to lead you down the same path; the path to happiness. A happiness filled with fulfillment, purpose and peace.