Monday, March 27, 2023

It's 27th of March 2023.. and the paragraphs you see below preceding the line drawn to mark then end of the post were written sometime in February 2019. It was a time of change, and so is now... 

It's amazing how it has already been 13 years since I first started this blog back when I was in university. It used to be a regular, one post every week or so, and then it became an annual event. I guess adulting got in the way.

Even in the beginning, the readership were pretty low, there weren't a proper niche or theme that I adhered to, mostly just random ramblings about how my life is or so. I doubt if anyone reads this anymore by now. It kind of became a personal space to express my thoughts in writing. 

For someone who reads very little, writing has somewhat been a way of expressing my thoughts. Some deep thoughts, some darker ones, but this place seems to help me satisfy that need to express.
Sometimes one year's worth of thoughts are poured into one post. 

Its usually during a significant event that I drop a post over here, and this time around it is no different. I've been working in my previous employment for 6+ years. Never had I imagined I could last this long in a company. I guess when you find a place that treats you well and gives you opportunities, you stay on with it.

All good things come to an end.

Not that anything bad happened to me. Things around me changed, and I realized while I've been given opportunities to progress, along the way I've also given up or rather felt afraid to move away from my comfort - something that a part of me felt uncomfortable realizing it. It felt like I was keeping myself away from my potential. So when I had an opportunity to work for my previous boss in a new company, I decided to join her. 

Referring to my point above that I am "someone who reads very little" I do like reading a lot, especially materials which are concise and to the point. But I am a slow reader, and reading takes up a lot of time and needs you to be in a state of concentration and isn't something that you multitask with. As someone who loves facts and information, I find listening to audiobooks to be very useful and effective - something that you can do on the go. There's something about listening that uses less senses than reading but can have a similar impact - information download. Within the span of 3 months I have already finished close to 10 books! How about that?

Many of the audiobooks I listened to had to do with Behavioral economics, Mindfulness Meditation, Self Help books, most of which are books about Psychology. It's so interesting how some of the books have different inspirations but have overlapping contents, and these are the learnings which have helped / are helping me through my journey in my career.

I'll list the books over here before I go into the lessons I learned and what they mean to me:

1) Search Inside Yourself by Chade Meng Tan - My audiobook journey started with this one book that my friend James recommended
2) The Truth About Dishonesty by Dr Dan Ariely - an interesting book about how we perceive/interpret truth and how we could use this to our advantage
3) The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar - how consumerism has shaped the way we make decisions and why having too many choices makes it hard for us to decide.
4) Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Eric Barker - this book talks about what we think about success is wrong - especially on what we understand is important in our success could be misled.
5) Linchpin by Seth Godin - one of my favourite books which is short but straight to the point - are you indispensable?
6) I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi - to be honest, this book is not the most interesting one but was a good reminder on how you should manage your money
7) Predictably Irrational by Dr Dan Ariely - another one by Dan Ariely where he shares insights about how humans are irrational and how organizations can take advantage of this
8) Rewire your Anxious Brain by Elizabeth M Karle - a very straightforward and made to be understood quite easily about what causes anxiety, and their solution. In this book she focuses a lot on Cortex driven anxiety (anxiety or worry that are driven by "thoughts" can be controlled by psychological means) and Amygdala driven anxiety (anxiety or worry that is driven by memory can be controlled physiological means)
9) The Worry Trick by David A Carbonell - In my opinon a book that is complementary to no.8 - this is a little more fun and simple, but helps you understand what causes anxiety and how to deal with

There were a couple of other books which I have read but these were the more meaningful ones which have made an impact for me. 

I guessed I digressed a little. 

Coming back to the beginning of this post, my path has changed slightly. The last 5-6 years were very much focused on married life, building our nest and the last 2-4 years were about stability and managing our finances well. This year it will be about the path in our career, and to me this is a big thing - 6 years is a long time for a Millenial/Xennial/Gen Y (whatever it is that I'm classified as) and gives an ample time for one to build a lot of habits/routines and lifestyle. It's changing now and that scares me a little. The fear and anxiety of change can be frustrating and the key source of these is the information gap that exists. As human beings we crave for predictable outcomes and when don’t see the end point we tend to worry. And we all know worry leads us nowhere.

I am thankful for the books I read as they gave me the inspiration to embrace change and to seek for more growth and not to settle. One of the key themes around the books I read is your are what you think - if you think you can then you can, whether or not it takes you 1 day or 1 year to achieve what you want, it is your thinking that will decide if you will keep going or not.

When making the decision to move I had so much to fear for, what if I don’t feel happy? Am I losing the comfort I have here? Am I throwing away what I have built here? I really don’t know, but I noticed my fear was the effect what many psychologists would call “loss aversion” for every thing I think I could lose there’s every thing that I could gain too, but we are predisposed to think what we will stand to lose rather than gain. So I had to change the way I think about the positive impacts a change can do to me. Sure, there would be bad things but that’s life isn’t it?

The other thing I learned was how to contain my fear? One of the most discussed elements of anxiety and worry is the amygdala the part of your brain that is responsible for memory and the activation of the fight or flight mode. Fun fact: they say we only use 10% of our brains but what we often miss out is that 10% is used for conscious thinking. Most of our brain’s function are sub conscious like ensuring we breathe, making sure our motors move accordingly, storing memories, process information, activate our reflexes most of which we do not control. With that said, Amygdala has a privileged position within our brain, it can overwrite the functions of our prefrontal cortex (the part of brain responsible for our conscious thoughts). I think our gut feel / intuition has a huge connection to our amygdala that is why something “feels” right or wrong. As human beings we like to boast our ability to use our “sixth sense” our innate ability to foresee something happening. While sometimes it serves us well, most of the times they just don’t predict very well. The amygdala forms it’s Fight of Flight ability from generations upon generations of information and it was an important element of human survival. It decides sub consciously whether to run or fight when we are faced with danger. But as we progressed, the function of amygdala continues - to alert us when there is danger approaching.

These days we don’t face physical danger as much as our cave man relatives did. So our amygdala’s feature to protect us from threats which are not danger can be limiting to us. I believe that’s what has been driving fear in me. Seth Godin’s Linchpin said it in the most glorious fashion, her termed our amygdala as the lizard brain. All the lizard brain thinks about is to be safe, to fight only to ensure he could live another day and have sex in order to pro create. We no longer live in that world and we don’t quite need the lizard brain.

I don’t know about you, but I think I have developed a lizard brain and it is time I do something about it. Very strong words from Seth Godin but they are indeed painfully true.

So how to overcome the lizard brain? The lizard brain will fill you with fear, worry and anxiety in order to keep you from feeling uncomfortable. There are two things to recognise here: amygdala driven anxiety/worry and the cortex driven one. As I learned, amygdala is a privileged part of the brain so when you feel worried or anxious telling yourself things are going to be ok rarely ever made things better. Whenever your anxiety is triggered, you will normally be greeted by a increased heart rate or shortness of breath, that is how the amygdala signals to you that something isn’t right. This is when meditation or deep breathing would help. Realising your physiological triggers and practicing breathing frequently will help rewire your amygdala to be calmer. The other kind of anxiety trigger is  the cortex based trigger where you have your internal monologue that thrives on negative thoughts. This is when you have to consciously implant positive thoughts and regulate your internal monologue. One technique that is commonly taught in the books I read is what they deem as the “kind grandmother”. We always see our granny as someone who can...


After 4 long years, I returned to my sanctuary, a safe spot, one of many, if you may, to again immortalize my thoughts in this lonely blog. And, we're back to discussing change. It's funny that I somehow come back here and read my drafts and posts like they were time capsules meant for a future version of me to reflect on my past as I walk towards the future. It's warm, fuzzy and hits different.

As write this, I have yet again joined a new organization - as they say, change is the only constant, and as we go on, shorter timeframes will be deemed longer - and this time, it's after 4 years.

After 4 years..

And the lizard brain lives. Thriving on a predictable, safe life, the lizard brain harbored hatred for change. Anything that breaks its routine, it shows disdain. Even progress were showered with fear and thoughts to ward it off. 

But somehow, courage prevails, even knowing there might be a barrier ahead - even though fear still lives within. 

I've taken up the job, and as I said 4 years ago, the fear of not knowing what's ahead sometimes feels like it's killing me slowly, but as I realize, the thoughts you manifest are your thoughts after all, and are only as real as you think they are. It's not easy fighting an internal fight, but as with all changes you have to fight your inner demons, proving them that whatever actions you have taken are good and will be beneficial.

And after 4 years, I'd learn ways to manage this, but every new changes thought from the surface seems similar are really different monsters that knows how to attack your weakness. 

But I am really thankful that I stumbled upon this post of mine - and I somehow feel that I am not alone, that the past version of me had done this before and he prevailed, and so it's a fight that I've to go through so the future version of me can look back and reflect that we've done this and we will keep going strong

And as they always say, tough times don't last, tough people do

Thursday, February 02, 2017

As with all matters of the heart, you will know when you find it

Over the 32 years of life, I must've picked up something that made me who I am today. Here are somethings I've learned and for what it's worth, I hope it helped you too, whoever is left on my readership list :) This is a post that I am writing for my 40 years old self. Let's see if these change dramatically 10 years from now :)

1. Always hold close to yourself your values in life.
You always have values that you consistently practice subconsciously. Discover that and be as consistent as possible. Ever experience certain things that you do and you end up questioning yourself? That's your value speaking to you. recognize it, acknowledge it and always use it as moral compass and you will be able to make decisions firmly and without guilt. Let that be your guidance from your lust, greed and desire.

2. Don't turn your passion into work. Life is too short to hate your passion
I am not saying you shouldn't earn money from your passion. For those who are  working for other people, you would understand, it's not fun working for other people. You gain something at the expense of losing something. You lose time to get promoted, to get more money. Based on my own experience, I totally find it demotivating when all you want to do is have some fun, but do what you love doing for someone is spiritually draining. Art is a form of expression, not business as usual.

3. Don't spend as much as you earn
I dare say that I was lucky to learn this earlier. I used to do this - if I earn RM2,000 I would spend RM2,000 or save whatever was left. But after marriage, I figured that's not right. So I stick to the age old adage of "spend whatever you have left after saving" and that has become the basis of my spending. If I earned RM4,000 I would have only afforded to live the lifestyle of a person who earns RM2,000. All it meant is that I have lesser fancy meals, I become more creative in dressing up, I find cheaper means of enjoying life. I feel much happier now, knowing I have no money left by the end of the month because more money has gone into savings, rather than feeling sad/angry/regret because I spent all money

4. Invest, but invest according to your appetite
So this is a continuation of 3. With the money you have saved, you can now make your money work a little harder for you, or you can work hard and make your money work harder too. I choose to make my money do all the work - low risk, low return. To me, money isn't everything, but some extra cash at the end of the year would be nice. So I put some of my money into simple investment products like FD, which I have 100% confidence on. Some people would say, if you have the money, buy properties, invest in Forex, invest in this  invest in that. Anything has a better rate than FD. 80% of people who tells you that made none of the investment. Mind you, buying a house for living is not an investment, it is putting a roof on your head. You don't get money back. Investing in a house that you get lesser rent than what you pay the bank back is a liability until you sell it (to me this sentiment in itself is an undervaluation of your property)

Look, even if you don't invest, for every RM1,000 you save, you are RM1,000 richer than the other person who didn't save.

5. The exchange rates don't matter
Look, how many of you survive on the basis of a stronger exchange rate vs foreign currencies? None! The things that are getting more expensive are the capitalist multinational franchises that you can't stop consuming. Everything else is becoming more accessible. I love to travel - and travelling over the years is either the same or getting cheaper. Which in the end makes exchange rate difference irrelevant. I remember flying to Bangkok hasn't gotten much more expensive than it is today. With the rise of shared economy, what happens is that now we bring economies of scale to a  global level. Hotels no longer compete in a local market, the compete on a global scale to secure market share. When the competition is high, the prices get lower. And exchange rates won't matter so much anymore. Just have less Starbucks is what I'm saying :)

6. You can never repay your parents enough
Parents are the reason you exist in this world, and have cared for you for the rest of your life. If there's anyone you have to repay, it would be them. Everyone has a different way of repaying their parents, some are monetary, some in kind, whatever you do always have them in everything that you do. My commitment is to call them at least once every week, increase the allowances, continue to pay for their house, take them to a holiday once a year, pay their insurance, etc etc. I couldn't do all this when I first started out, but step by step I do more and more. Sometimes we take for granted and we spend on other things, but we should always remember their contributions.

7. Always take a step back and see things in perspective
My respect goes to people who always look forward and drive. However, I personally feel the danger of doing so is you tend to move into the narrow end of the funnel - it stops you from viewing things from other angles. Every now and then I take time to reflect. That gives you a sense of purpose, that you've come a long way from where you are now. That gives you time to re-focus and re-strategize. That's what leaders do - every now and then they stop at a check point, and re evaluate. This is the only way you can look at the big picture, clearly see how you can learn from mistakes, and clearly see where you've done right. AND, appreciate yourself. You may not like where you are now... your peers are way ahead of you, but if you just take a moment and reflect, things aren't that bad, from where you began and where you are now, you're leaps and bounds ahead, from how you started you have a house now, you're leaps and bounds ahead.

8. It's nothing wrong to stay in a comfort zone, just remember to find new comfort zones
What does it mean to feel uncomfortable? This is very subjective and very misleading, when people say stay out of your comfort zone...but how much is enough? Rather than saying stay out of your comfort zone, remember this: you worked hard to reach a comfort zone. You don't want to lose that comfort, so why stay out of your comfort zone? Just work a little harder, find that pocket of opportunity and you should reach a new high! Don't Stay out of your comfort zone, for god's sake!

9. Abstinence as a way to resist temptation.
I worked in the vice industry and I believe that you are presented with so much temptations in many occassions. This experience, coupled with my fitness regime helped me build this value. I always believe if you don't want to get tempted then don't go near to the temptation from the start. I always believe that you could resist a temptation maybe once, or twice, but if I tempt you a hundred times, you would succumb. If you know you're going to be tempted then just abstain from it from the start. Otherwise you're just weak at heart.

10. It's not hard to make the right decisions.
My aunt said this... If you found someone you love, then just get married! I totally agree and I don't see why it's so hard to get married to someone. Right decisions aren't hard to make, it's the wrong ones that you think a lot about. Like what the late Steve Jobs said: "as with all matters of the heart, you will know when you find it."

Saturday, December 31, 2016

J C | Travel Therapy | Mauritius Travel Video 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sometimes I wonder what is the whole purpose of having offsprings. While we are, like every living things on this planet trying to fulfil our natural objective that is to ensure the survival of species, what is the bigger goal? What good does it do if your offsprings turn out to be assholes. Objectifying someone or something out of a few incidences is wrong btw, but that's besides the point. I recently had a conversation with a cousin and it got me reflecting. We spoke about filial piety and how everyone sees it differently. It all ends up on how children can repay parents when they grow up etc and how we as grown ups have seen the ugly things that relates to this topic. And the consensus is "to avoid all this from happening, the best is to not depend on your children's money" This problem occurs when children's have childrens and their priority shifts from supporting parents to providing for kids. So if i would ask again, what would be the deeper objective of having a child? If they serve no more than as continuity to your bloodline and carrying your legacy? What's important in a person for me is the value that you build over time as a human being. And if a childs priority shifts because they have children and lost the need for filial piety then I would say why do we need to have children. The cycle is vicious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

J C | Recipe Therapy | Chicken Pie Recipe