What would you like to do if money were no object

So much of what we do in life is done with the purpose of making money to allow a comfortable living in life. It’s not that it is a bad thing. It’s just that it can be so easy to get lost in focusing about money and our actions become immensely dictated by it.

I’d even take the leap that more of the people who are most influential in the world, and even local communities, become who they are because they act on some other ideals than the thought of generating money.

I think that’s why the question of the subject of this post is important.

What would you like to do if money were no objective?
- Alan Watts

For those of us working a job that we do not enjoy, it does not mean to rashly quit the job and do whatever we think we like at the moment.

More importantly, the question helps us to push aside the noise in our life (such as money) and to think about what we really want to do in our life. It is not an easy question to answer.

To know our dream. That is a gift.

And only if we identify that, then we can prepare. Then we can prepare and put a plan together in order to achieve it eventually. Before it is too late, before we regret what we had not done at an old age.

And I thank Zen Pencils for so brilliantly penning Alan Watts’ wisdom into the following cartoon.

alanwatts_mone_no_object

The Bright Side of Death – kindle ebook by Dario D’Angelo

Death, something that always caused us to beat around the bush when the topic comes up. It is a topic that is rarely broached by common media. Even if we do talk about it, we force ourselves to perform a positive-spin on what it is and on and on.

Kudos to my dear friend Dario, who braved himself to write his first book on the topic base on his recent past experience. I really enjoyed how he expressed himself, his feelings, and thought process realistically from what he has gone through, yet without indulging in gloominess or dreadfulness — with his Italian, dryer sense of humor that had made my girlfriend and I laughed reading it.

Beyond talks of experience, he also explored the topic of death from other uncommon angles which is refreshing. Here it is, cheers to my friend Dario.

bright_side_of_death_cover
Here’s link to the book

Have you ever tried to pilot an airplane on fire while texting a summary of Tolstoy’s War and Peace during the finals of a chess tournament? I surely hope so. These are experiences that make a life worth living or at least worthy of a Guinness World Record (if you make the landing, that is).

But more importantly than any record, this is how I felt when I was writing this book. Analyzing the many facets of a very real, painful subject while using my laughable sense of humor, has been harder than anything I ever tried. And take my word when I say that I have tried a lot of difficult things. English being my second language did not help either — not just me, but also the poor editor who had to fix a few hundred typos and relate to concepts as familiar as the dark side of Mercury.

While my passion for science and philosophy can justifiably scare most reality show viewers, it is also the premise for a meaningful analysis of the fundamental questions of human experience. What is the purpose of life? How does it relate to the meaning of death? What happens to the world when you die? Can you prevail over the fear of dying by jumping out of fully functional airplanes? Is living forever a good idea? While the answers to these questions may be as good as spaghetti with ketchup (don’t try at home please — it is just an analogy), they are at least an opportunity to disagree with me, ponder unusual aspects of life, and become aware of the way we relate with certain realities.

ps. I am very honored that he entrusted me to do the cover for the book. I think the cover turned out quite well :)

Introvert living in a world of extroverts

I maybe quiet, but I may also have great ideas.

I maybe quiet, but I may also have great ideas.

We live in a very loud society. At least, it feels that way.

We either scream at the top of our lung or risk being unheard, unnoticed, unappreciated in today’s world. With the ever more stimulating media and everyone’s craving for attention, we all, in turn, need to continuously speak up, and FIGHT for attention.

More and more talking.
Less and less listening, paying attention.

No wonder people are feeling lonelier than ever.
No wonder we seem to understand so little of each other.

When do we have time for contemplation and introspection? Without which we leave little room for substance to grow, new idea to form, and creative vision to arise. Without such, the words that we keep spewing out lack what was mentioned, and they are just verbal diarrhea. That is, what we excrete out of our mouths are malformed, malnutritioned, perverted ideas that will lead us to a world that we… ultimately don’t want. All because we have to be constantly talking and constantly entertained… so it seems.

This is not to say introverts are better than extroverts. This is all about how unbalanced we have become.

We now deem extroversion as “normal.” Our world is not accepting of personalities that are of an introvert. We usually end up calling those people as boring, or inadequate, or even weird.

We are a society that suffocates those who are more introverted. We demand continuous communication even when it’s unnecessary. We ask for non-stopping display of excitement which is obnoxious to introverts.

I am an introvert. I enjoy being alone. I like having time to read at home. I love playing the piano. I find listening to music with headphones which is relaxing. I can sit somewhere and simply people watch.

I had been in management for almost a year now. It is surprising how criticism would arise mostly from a more mild demeanor that is natural for an introvert. If you don’t try to be visible, shouting words at every chance, you lack leadership and are not acting with a sense of urgency.

IntrovertImage02_2

I am analytical, I like to take in a lot of information, process, and then arrive at a conclusion. But the environment does not favor that. If I don’t immediately respond, it does not mean I do not care. Being able to be quiet and listen is also where understanding can happen, where appreciation comes from. With inadequate traits of introversion, we become mostly egomaniacs. And that’s how more than the average people would act these days (especially people in management).

That’s why I feel a sense of relief when I came across Susan Cain’s TED talk – The power of introverts:

Finally, the talk of the idea to take the time to stop, to enjoy solitude and to introspect.

Introversion is important. That is how we can understand each other. And understanding is the basis of compassion where we begin to truly care for each other.

I believe in action with grace and humility.

And someone like that can still be exciting, can still have style. Our world should not require people to call attention to ourselves in a sort of self-aggrandizing way exhibitionistic way.

From way back, my quiet and introverted style of being has always left me feeling “out of place” in this society, and it’s still does sometimes.

In conclusion, two obvious idea stand out from these discussion:

1) Our society still benefit from learning and adapting more traits of introversion, and as a result be more tolerant and able to work with introverts who may have some great ideas.

the_hulk

2) Meanwhile, introverts need to compensate, especialy if one wants to be influential, by being more studious and knowledgeable, thus more confident and assertive when the occassion arises that we need to speak up.

In other words, to all you introverts, don’t be afraid to go into hulk-mode if you feel strongly that you need to speak up or you know that you are right!

Struggling with Work, with Link Love for Job Quitting posts

Stress-FishInBlender

The fact is that I haven’t been happy in the job for awhile, after I went from being a software engineer to managing a department for almost a year now.

I have hinted at the situation in writing my past posts, How to Deal with Work Stress and Saving Up for Fuck You Money.

It has become a sort of grind. I drag myself to work only to end up enduring endless meetings and political struggles – that often leaves little room for 1st level manager’s decision making anyway. My drive to getting work done is often met with the stone wall of red tape.

With projects involving teams in timezone across the globe, I would dial into conference call early morning, lunch time, and in evening.

Big customers frequently with sudden, difficult demands on the team. A side effect of a technology, information age where people have less and less patience and tolerance.

I get so stressed that I can feel the blood going through my body and the effect of cortisol and other ‘bad’ hormones that’s distinctly making my body feel physically weaker.

Part of struggle has to do with a toxic corporate culture that has particularly grown in my organization. Plea for changes just falls on deaf ears. The other part of it is the manifestation of my INFJ Myers-Briggs type. I am seeing the unfairness and pettiness in-my-face now and that is difficult for me to ignore. At the same time, I am getting overstimulated due to the constant stress and demands from managing the many simultaneous situations/projects/teams.

To provide a little more background, I had been with the company now for over 8 years since before I graudated with my master. I had made some really good friends. In fact, I was able to work with one closely who had also greatly influenced me in many aspects in life until I started this new position. So although the new job had made me see new perspective and grow in different ways, the feeling of “going at it alone” does not help also.

Because of what goes on for work, I am left with less energy to do what I like outside of it. This makes me more unhappy. This is not good. It is a bad stress feedback loop. Mentally and slowly physically, work is running me over.

I can continue in the job and just suck it up. Many people out there are unhappy with their jobs and are doing that. It is a noble thing to do in order to provide for yourself and the family. I just find myself asking myself the question, “at what cost?”

An image for the peace I desire now

An image for the peace I desire now

This reminds me of this bit attributed to Dalai Lama:

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Consequently, fantasy of quitting had appeared, as many of you can relate. Something needs to change.

I scoured the internet and found many others’ wisdom on this topic. Apparently I am not alone! In fact, we have a crowd…

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