Monday, 1 December 2008

How to make our lives happier?


Everyone everywhere is concerned about the gloomy economic crisis. On top of it, everyone is saddened by the Mumbai terrorists' horrific attacks on the innocent, the strikes in Bangkok airport which has turned many tourists' vacation topsy turvy, job lay-offs, and other disasters we hear everyday when we turn on the TV.

How to make our lives happier ?

1. Be more frugal
I am a person who has problem in saving money. So I have to force myself to think of ways to save, by:

- going out less - means not spending more on unnecessary stuff, turn to healthier options like exercising in your neighbourhood or go biking or learn meditation!

- stall vacation plans - with havoc in our neighbouring countries, it is also not wise to travel at this time. I am just back from vacation, so I do not think I will be going anywhere in the near future. There are many new places within Singapore we can explore still (besides the shopping malls) eg. Hort Park, Sentosa, Marina Reservoir, or maybe a drive into JB in Malaysia.

- using public transport - if I have to go out to meet clients or anywhere, I will try to use the train or bus or free shuttle services, and avoid taking taxis more (unless the destination is really an ulu place).

- buy lesser groceries - I do not stinge on food for my family, but I will buy lesser portions now because we can't finish all the food. This I have to learn from my Mom who is good at "ah gah ah gah" (estimating) the exact portion of food to cook. And we also eat the past night leftovers the next day.

- buying less snacks - this habit I have to struggle to kick off. Although I do not snack alot but I will ensure my house is well stocked with snacks for the kids, like vitagen, milk, cheese, and cookies, bread etc... so I need to buy less of these and also chips and soft drinks.

- signing less credit cards - this can be a bottomless pit, because you think you have unlimited money when you are using money on credit. Ideal case: stop using totally. Cash is king. If you do not have hard raw cash, then don't buy anything.

- not buying clothes - I have stopped buying clothes because I have too many working clothes and casual clothes in my 2 wardrobes to wear till I am 60! Time to visit Salvation Army to donate my old clothes.

- avoiding magazines & online shops - many ads on TV, papers, internet, and even banks entice you with more offers and discounts to spend more.

- digging out my stuff to sell online - I have many unused gifts which are still in good condition, earn extra bucks by selling them in online auctions. Electronic stuff like handphones or massager or certain books can fetch good prices. This is one reason why I change handphones often. By reselling your relatively new handphone, it fetches a higher price before they "depreciate" when new models are released.

- thinking of ways to make more money - eg. taking up a part time job, invest in "safe" stocks, take up adhoc projects, or learn a skill (see point 3). If there is no way to earn more money, then think how to stretch your dollar. Eg. cutting cable TV, using less aircon, talking less on mobile phones etc..

- blogging more! - If you think you have many stuff to share with people, then start a blog, let go of all your emotions and blog. Do so and learn a few simple tricks or so. I try to focus my energies on writing and blogging and reading, then I won't divert attention to other money-spending activities.

2. Make others happy
Focus not on the economy nor yourself. Turn your attention to others, and think how to make others happy. We can spend more fruitful time with your loved ones or close friends. These do not mean going out for meals in restaurants or movies. You can also go for a picnic or stroll in a park or beach, or stay home and watch DVD. Or have your red wine in the comfort of your home. You may not be able to give more pocket money to your Grandma, but you can spend more time with her to make her happy.

You can volunteer yourself for charities or participate in events organised by non-profit organisations. Give a little of yourself to others, strangers, your effort will make their lives a world better. This is what they called "give back to society".

3. Learn a skill or two
This can be taking up an enrichment course, to learn a skill, to upgrade yourself. We do not know if we are going to be laid off tomorrow, so it is best we learn something new, so that we can keep in touch with the world around us, and to prepare ourselves for the worst.

I am always keen to learn a new job scope, or new job nature as I am a Jack of all trades. I am also keen to learn how to cook well, cook those simple dishes by learning from my mom. Although our chinese dishes are not difficult to cook, however we are losing our heritage if we do not learn from our older generation how to do the dishes properly. Especially, unique dishes within the family.

You can also further your studies. Take up that degree or masters if you have not done so. Or sign up for a course for a specialised skill.

4. Believe in your God.
Whichever religion you believe in, have great faith in your God and you will be protected throughout this crisis. When you are down perhaps you can seek God as your solace, as your guide. For me, I believe the Buddhas are always around me, to protect me and to bless me. In times of trouble, it is even more crucial to practise the Dharma, perform good deeds, to believe in the law of cause and effect and to generate great faith in the 3 Jewels.

"Everything is possible for him who believes." Jesus Christ, MAR 9:23

"On a long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey; and it is the greatest property." - Buddha

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9

"Be vigilant; guard your mind against negative thoughts." - Buddha

"He who has in his heart as much faith as a grain of mustard seed will not enter hell, and he who has in his heart as much pride as a grain of mustard seed will not enter paradise." - Prophet Muhammad

"If you want others to be happy, practise compassion. If you want to be happy, practise compassion." - The Dalai Lama

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