Tag Archives: Thought

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau

I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve always taken the line that if there was anything I wanted to change, I’d be best to start working on it right away – what’s the point of waiting for the next year to begin? And besides, setting oneself official targets on 1 January is a sure-fire way to invite disappointment come 1 February, right?

Well, maybe right. But I’m giving it a go this year.

Why? Well, over Christmas I’ve been taking stock. Thinking. A life-audit kind of thing. And I don’t like what I’m seeing. Not that I’m that bad, mad or lumpy in any moral or physical sense, but I’ve a feeling that I could be doing better than I am right now.

Sir John Falstaff. I’m healthier than him, but he’s jollier than me.

In fact, I have ten problems.

  1. I play too much. I spend a lot of time doing things that benefit nobody, poking around on the internet, reading part of a book and putting it down, rearranging stuff in the house but not throwing anything out. Diversions from the business of getting on with life.
  2. I worry and procrastinate, rather than doing anything I find difficult or awkward.
  3. I’m good at dreaming, but I don’t do anything to change reality. In my dreams, I’m capable of anything… in reality? That’s why I chose the Thoreau quotation at the top of this post: I need to start putting foundations under my dreams.
  4. I put too much pressure on myself to get a “lucky break”. I’ve done this both in my career and in my love life, and it only leads to disappointment. But now I’ve got a Kira to help me out with the romantic side, I realise that I can get out of my bad job-related habits too.
  5. I dwell on missed opportunities.
  6. I blame others for my failures and go around being bitter and jealous.
  7. I don’t/ can’t/ won’t give to others, either of money or of time.
  8. I have become lazy in my personal habits. I don’t do stuff unless I absolutely have to.
  9. I haven’t created anything, and this bothers me, because I like to see myself as an artistic, creative sort of dude.
  10. I self-congratulate when I shouldn’t, and I self-denigrate when I shouldn’t.

If these seem a little harsh, I did also write a list of things I’m good at/ can be proud of. But there were more than 10 of those, and as I said, I’m lazy. Anyway, this post is about improving myself, not about patting myself on the back for being awesome already.

And in the interests of non-procrastination, I’ve already forged on ahead and compiled eight resolutions for 2014. Yup, technically that leaves two problems extra, but the two lists don’t correspond exactly so I’m hoping some of these resolutions will solve multiple issues in my life. Besides, nobody wants to be perfect, because that’d be boring, wouldn’t it?

So, let’s be having them, then:

Every day I am going to

  • Study a foreign language
  • Do one thing to help expand my career
  • Stop blaming others and stop being bitter and jealous

Every week I am going to

  • Have a conversation with at least one stranger

Every month I am going to

  • Read at least one book

This year I am going to

  • Learn at least one new skill
  • Do 5 significant things to help others (who aren’t friends or family)
  • Compose one piece of music and create one piece of visual art

And one final rule

  • These are things I’m planning to do. I’ve written them down, and I fully intend to do them all. But should I miss my target with any one of these resolutions, I’m going to pick myself up, dust myself down and keep going.

Wish me luck!
And a happy and prosperous 2014 to y’all!!

– Erik

When Erik told me about his New Year Resolutions (oooooh, looks serious!), I wasn’t sure how I felt. I’m not big on them, for one reason mostly: They do not work. Year after year, I made resolutions upon the departure of a year and the arrival of a new one. By the end of the first week of January, I would have given up and realised I am not going to change. Not this way, at least. I also realised that it was peer pressure of seeing everyone around me making them that drove me to making up some for myself.

I have to agree with Erik, why should I wait for a new year to change, if ever? I am very self-absorbed as a person and I often think very highly of myself (too highly at times). I have been raised to always remember that there is nothing I can’t reach if I put my mind and efforts to it. Maybe that’s why, growing up, there wasn’t a pie I didn’t have my finger in. I have tried archery, astronomy, tried my best in NILAM (a Malaysian program in school to encourage reading among school children), I have built a robot able to play golf, played a few musical instruments that belong to the Malaysian natives, etc etc. I am sounding like a brag. My apologies. My point is, I have never had a belief that I truly needed a change in myself.

No, I am not perfect, no one is. But the way I perceive myself, I am close enough to perfection that I need not change anything. If anyone else thought otherwise, I would shrug it off and ask why should their opinion of me bother me at all? This is were Erik and I are worlds apart, I have never seen him think so highly of himself as I do. In fact, I think the way I think of him is almost hero-like. Maybe it’s infatuation, but I honestly think very highly of myself and him. I have what people often call, a superiority complex.

As humans, we don’t adapt easily to sudden changes, which is why I believe New Year Resolutions are ineffective. However, I am extremely respectful of people who make them and even more of those who successfully stick by them. As it is, I am extremely proud of Erik, for wanting to change for the better. I even envy it a little, because I am so stuck up in my own “awesomeness” that I cannot fathom why I need to change. I am being extremely honest here, that my superiority complex is so bad that I foresee myself as a high-achiever in the future if I am not one already.

Please don’t judge me, or rather, don’t judge me too harshly. I am as I am, and I believe that changes come gradually. Nothing works overnight, especially things like, “I will stop being so lazy”, “I will shed 20 pounds this year” and “I will be the best person I can be”. I do, however, stand firm on my healthy respect for people who strive for a change. They deserve a lot of respect for the amount of courage. Note too, that I am rather fearful and wary of changes in my life. Perhaps that is why I am somewhat against resolutions for myself.

Let me not rain on your parade however, if you believe you are in need of a change, then go ahead and do. Let resolutions not remain only as dreams or even foundation-less castles in the sky. I wish you the very best of luck. As for me, I am and will always stand strong beside my Erik and supporting him regardless of any resolutions he has expressed all while letting myself change gradually with lessons Life has in store for me.

Happy New Year and have a blessed 2014. 🙂

– Kira

Changing Myself

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Being Happy

“If you want to be happy, be” – Tolstoy

Tolstoy made it so simple, the very idea of choosing to be happy. I’ve always wondered if one can simply choose to be happy, and then one automatically is. Is it just a subconscious boundary we have to leap over, or is it more than a mental block one has to overcome?

Think: A family of eight, living together in a ramshackle house with only one room and rationed meals. Being confined in such a small space with seven other humans, all with needs and moods of their own. Can a member of the family be happy, just by deciding “Oh, I am happy, even with such harsh living conditions”?

And allow me to throw you another scenario: A daughter of a tycoon, born with a diamond encrusted golden spoon in her mouth,but who still chooses to throw a tantrum over the fact that Papa got her the Ferrari in a different shade of colour from the one she had told him. She has all she could ever need, and possibly even want, yet she chooses to be unhappy.

The contrast between these two scenarios is great, in my opinion. However, it only raises the question whether material wealth is enough to guarantee happiness. Yes, I am aware of the proverb “Money can’t buy happiness”. But I question you, would you rather be crying on a bicycle or in a Mercedes? *wink wink*

I once read a story that goes;

There was once a little girl who found a fairy stuck on a branch. She helped the fairy to free herself and in return for her help, the fairy allowed her one wish. She thought hard, with a crease in her forehead, about what her wish should be. Upon deciding what she wanted, she whispered her wish into the fairy’s ear. With a smile, the fairy granted her wish and disappeared.

The girl lived for many, many years and people often remarked on her seemingly eternal youth and longevity. She lived to an old age, and upon her deathbed, she was asked on what was her wish to the fairy she met when she was a little girl. With a smile and her last breath, she rasped that her wish was “I want to be happy”

After reading that story, I came upon a realisation that the secret to longevity isn’t necessarily in our daily dietary intake, nor is it in a particular exercise regime we follow. The secret to longevity, and a
fulfilling life at that, is simply to be happy. Personally, I’ve always felt that there is no point to living a long life if one is morose and never content with what one has achieved and acquired through the years.

Perhaps I am just being naive as to believe that being happy would miraculously solve all my woes and worries. However, the way I see it, neither would frowning help to pay the rent/mortgage. Being happy will not be your saviour, being happy simply helps make everything feel better. It helps my sanity, trying to keep an upbeat mood while solving any problem I have rather than moping about it, unless moping would help.

With that said, I choose to agree with Tolstoy, that if you want to be happy.. then be.



I’ve always been unsure of what Tolstoy actually meant when he created that quote (if you can call it a “quote” ~ the first time around I guess it was just a pithy phrase, which became a quote once people started repeating it with a knowing smile and putting it in Oxford Books of Quotations and analysing what it means and similar shizz).

So… yup. Did he mean “If you want to be happy, be happy”? Or was it more like “If you want to be happy, just be…..”? Y’know? Be? As in the “Be-in”/ hippie sense. Or the one from the other quote (who said that?) about humans being human beings not human doings. That’s how I prefer to look at it. If you want to be happy, just get on with the job of being a human on Earth….. and you’ll find, soon enough, that there’s something to be happy about.

Getting back to the main thrust (giggity) of Kira’s argument, I used to have a theory that everyone in the world is somehow allocated (by God?) an equal quotient of happiness. If your life sucks in some ways, it’s probably blessed in other ways. If you’re rich and pampered, you’re in danger of eating/drinking/carousing/whatever yourself to an early grave. If you’re a starving child in a poor country, heck, at least the sun is probably shining where you are.

But I’ve had to revise that earlier thought quite considerably. I mean, for an extreme example, what about the children born into the North Korean concentration camp system? That is most surely a life of unrelenting misery. Or closer to home, those born with the most debilitating diseases. No, it is definitely an unfair world, in which some are born with severe disadvantages and some with huge advantages, not just in health or wealth, but in the potential for happiness too.

On the other hand, can happiness be a state of mind? Of course it can! Doing fulfilling things, things I love, is going to make me happier than sitting around moping about all the things I can’t do. Being satisfied with my life is probably a more healthy mental state than being envious or unsettled.

So, what’s to stop us, then? I daresay most people can find things to be fulfilled by, things to satisfy us and make us happy.

But. And it’s a big but. Isn’t there also something to be said for hunger? For ambition. For the state of dissatisfaction that prompts one to get up and change things. This, too, is healthy. It may not be happiness, but hey, happiness gets boring after a while! Let’s try a concrete example: your boss is being a prick, but your salary is OK. So? Well, you’ve got several choices. One is to be happy. That’s right. Just sit back and say “my life isn’t too bad, and I won’t let my boss trouble me”. But then… yup, you guessed it, there’s an alternative, isn’t there? Go look for another job. Or, if it’s more your thang, poison your boss and get promoted.

So what about Tolstoy’s pithy little phrase? Was it right?

Hmmm, I think it was. If you want to be happy, be. And if being happy isn’t enough, go and do.


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