Month: December 2012

Happy New Year’s resolution!

Happy New Year!

Here comes another year which reminds us we are getting older (but at the same time wiser). On the optimistic side we will have another year ahead of us where we can look forward to having a brighter future!

Around this time, some of us are writing down (or at least thinking about) new year’s resolutions. Why do we wait until this time to do it? Maybe it is because having a new year gives us a chance to reflect on the past, evaluate and make plans for changes in our lifestyle. This gives us another chance to achieve what wasn’t and to erase the regrets of the past.

May I present to you some tips or suggestions on how to make our resolutions effective?

*Get rid of bad habits – smoking, drinking a lot, gambling, overeating, etc. I’m sure most of you don’t do it, but the best way to get started with the new year is to totally forsake bad habits that can really break down your spirit, health and overall well-being. The best way to quit also is by cold turkey. It will hurt for days or even weeks but after that, everything gets better. Before you do it, make some research on how best to go about doing it, or ask a professional how to do it effectively. Is too much TV and video games considered bad habits? Yes, because it robs you of productive positive output. TV and video games you don’t have to quit totally, but you need to cut down a big chunk of time spent on them.

*Get rid of some of your debts – A lot of people have learned from the economic recession. They downsized houses, sold their gas guzzling vehicles and bought inexpensive cars. Let’s continue this because the only one that can really help us in our finances are ourselves. If you have a monthly debt payment of let’s say $100 to  your credit card. Add another $50 so you can get your card payment paid early. Also you can switch to a twice monthly payment for your house mortgage (ending up with 13 months of payment instead of 12 months a year) which saves you about 7 years of payment and tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands total?) of dollars in interest payments. If you want to know more how to reduce debt, use the web for research. There’s dozens of financial advisers on how to live a frugal life.

*Think hard on your priorities – for example, some people would rather save on groceries so they can afford a new car stereo. That’s completely OK. However, be realistic about it. You don’t want to eat less quality food to listen to a slightly higher quality sound. It’s nice but if you can’t really afford it, it’s time to rethink it over.

*Work on improving your relationship with at least one person. It doesn’t have to be a very likeable person, because that would be too easy!

*Don’t write down too many resolutions because it would probably overwhelm you. List down three. Work one at a time. Once all three are achieved, make another list.

*Think of all your purchases. Once you buy it, you may not be able to return it in case you suffer from buyer’s remorse. Some of the knick-knacks you buy becomes “junk” once it get to your home. Do you buy a new shirt every weekend? And do you really need two dozen pairs of shoes? Mrs. Marcos has more than 3,000 at one point but it was all “given to her” so there was no expense on her part. :). Buy quality items so you don’t have to buy another one after a few months. The problem with quality is they don’t break when you get tired of them. There are two options: give them away or keep them stashed out of sight for a year. After a year, take it out and presto, you’ll love it again!

Those are all my suggestions to you. But what about me? I’ll be working on mine based on the themes of what I just recommended to you. I sincerely hope we all succeed in our resolutions.

Happy 2013 to all of you! Talk to you next year!

 

 

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A Quick Thank You!

The Holidays are here and people are getting very busy! I hope you are enjoying the Season just like most people in the world.

My wife asked me one day why does she like this time of the season better than the other three seasons.

My replies were:

-It’s colder?

-Less daylight, therefore people stay indoors and spend more time with families and friends?

-Decorations all around are all festive!

After some analysis, she finally came to the conclusion that during this time of the year, generally people are nicer to one another. It seems that there’s so much love going around with each other.

After mulling it over (I’m kinda slow), I realized that it’s probably the real reason.

Speaking of nicer, thank you for being nice to this blog! your support is very inspiring. So if you like my posts, the reason is because YOU inspired it!

If you see something you didn’t lke, it’s mostly my fault. If I may ask to please ignore and find a good one in the next post.

I wanted to thank you all, my dear readers for sharing this blog with other people. It seems my readership is increasing. Not even close to most bloggers but I think it will get there. With your support, I can spread some of my suggestions/advice/recommendations to other people. If you are able to use at least one of these ideas to improve your lives, then I feel that what I am doing is creating positive outflow of energy of which you are the beneficiary! Isn’t that wonderful?

I checked the statistics for countries visiting this blog, I was surprised that Russia, China, United Kingdom and Nepal leads everyone after the U.S. Then there’s Australia and the Philippines. The rest of the visiting folks are from a smattering of a few countries. I think they just happen to pass by when they did a search because they never came back.

To all of you I want to say thank you very much!

I hope you continue reading in 2013.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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The Pursuit of Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy! People sometime comment to me: “I’d rather be happy than rich!” To which I reply (silently), I want to be both happy and rich! Even the Declaration of Independence of the U.S of A. includes the following statement: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Happiness is something we really work towards. It is part of our goals if not the ultimate goal for some people.

So what is happiness? According to Wikipedia, Happiness is “is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy” So how do we explain what will make us happy?

Here’s some excerpts of what I heard from a variety of people before:

-“When I see my children graduate from college I’ll be happy.”

-“I’ll be happy when I reach my first million.”

-As long as you are happy with your decision, it’s all that counts”

-“When I’m done climbing the top 10 highest peaks in the world, I’ll be happy”

What makes people happy?

Money – most people would say that having enough money will be enough to make them live a happier life. To a certain point, money can purchase material things that would give us more comfort and convenience. That would mean we will experience a certain level of contentment, which results in happiness.

Relationships – some relationships (even imperfect ones which is 99%) can produce happiness. It would be impossible to be happy if we don’t have any relationship with anyone.

Achievements – the pride and the feeling of accomplishment produces happiness in some of us. The years of laboriously doing something produces success which leads to wonderful feeling hard to describe.

Serving others – I have seen so many people that are not wealthy yet very happy with their lives. Their secret? They are so busy serving other people that they don’t have time to be lonely. Some even receive harsh treatment from the people they serve yet they go on serving them. I wouldn’t say these group of people are a rare breed because I’ve seen so many of them.

Possessions – some people like to collect “stuff” or buy shop for new things to be happy. Stuff normally gives a few days to a few months of happiness and then it becomes a familiar fixture of lives, finally degrading into something that we regret getting. Did you notice I separated possessions from money? It’s because with the availability of credit, you can have things now at the expense of future income. This is not a good source of happiness because it turns into an unwanted baggage in our future financial health.

Did you ever pause to consider what can make you happy? I submit to you that happiness is a choice. With that said, we could be happy in almost any circumstance. Of course, there are exceptions to that but why dwell on the exceptions?

Paul (a.k.a. as St. Paul to most people) who wrote most of the New Testament books was beaten, bitten by a deadly snake, threatened to be killed several times, shipwrecked a few times, imprisoned and prosecuted always (and I believed he is almost blind). Despite of that, he lived a contented and happy life. Contrast that to a wealthy scion, with a trophy wife, very healthy children, wealthier than most Third World countries, yet kills himself at an early age. That proves that suffering or a hard life does not prevent us from being happy. It also proves that abundance in material things does not produce happiness.

The next time you feel unhappy, list down the great things that you have in your life right now. Still unhappy? List down the things that a few billion people are suffering from but doesn’t affect you. Happiness is a choice. Your happiness will depend on you.

 

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The present is now!

The first time I read the phrase “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”, I was kind of impressed with it. To me what it meant was “start today with the understanding that now and the future will be up to me (on things within my control, of course).

Sometimes there are things that prevent us from living in the present. First is any phrase that has the word “IF” in it:

– If only I saved enough when I was in my twenties, I’ll be rich now.

-If I didn’t sell that good ol’ reliable Toyota truck, I wouldn’t need a new one.

-If I majored in Engineering instead of Liberal Arts, I’d have a job!

The past is already gone. All the regrets in the world won’t change a thing in the present. We can always hem and haw about how things would be great now if one decision was made instead of the other decision. It won’t matter! What we can do is do some deep thinking and analysis about what we did and what made us make the decision. Then hope that if presented with the same situation, we will be able to make a better judgment, which could lead to a more desirable result.

The second hindrance in being unforgiving. There are people in the world today that are still bitter over a little petty quarrel that happened 10-30 years ago. Forgive the person. Forgiveness does not mean that we become best friends with the person that offended us. It doesn’t mean call them and tell them that they’re forgiven (although this is still an option, and could lead to a better relationship). Forgiveness frees us from the bondage of feeling hatred (for lack of a better word) towards another. It will improve our health because our heart won’t work harder, our mind won’t be cluttered with negative inputs and our immune system is not constrained by restless nerves.

The third is not being accountable for our actions. If we made the decision based on available knowledge, we may 100% accountable. Don’t blame others for our misfortune. Blaming others of course is the easy way to go – but doesn’t do anything for our personal development. Well, it does – it hinders us from being a better person.  We don’t have to tell people about it. Don’t beat yourself and call yourself names either. Learn from it. And make sure the mistake is not repeated.

This is the part of this blog where you can add other things that come to your mind that hinders us from living in the present:

____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________

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(If the above space is not enough, please use a separate piece of paper :))

To have a great life, we have to embrace the present. It doesn’t matter how old we are, TODAY is the day that matters. Yesterday is now a day away – we can’t go back to it except to learn from the experience or cherish the happiness we felt back then.

In front of us is a future full of possibilities, opportunities and blessings. We have to face it with a clear conscience and  an attitude free from psychological and emotional baggage. Isn’t it great if we start the race wearing lightweight attire and lightweight shoes? Then we know that we have a chance to do a great race.

Speaking of race, remember life is a marathon, not a sprint!

 

 

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Tough love is tough

 

For some of us, the way we show our love to others is to shower them with gifts, presents and other materials things. We don’t want our loved ones to “suffer” so we do things for them or pay other people so that our loved one doesn’t have to go through the pain and suffering of hard work.

Is that really love?

If you ask me (and I never get asked this question), no it is not. It is more of a decision to make ourselves feel good instead of the loved one getting the right kind of loving.

So what is tough love?

It is described by Wikipedia as “someone treat another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run”.  I am sure the word “harshly” or “sternly” may apply to what we feel whenever we see our loved ones “depraved” or “suffering”.

Let me show by examples:

I have a relative who can afford to buy her kids almost anything they want. Instead, they are given an allowance based on a budget. If they spend that money they were given, they won’t get more money until next week.

James (who is the primary objective of this blog) does household chores and given a token amount by his Dad so he can learn the value of money and the reality that money comes from hard work most of the time. This is pretty common but you’ll be surprised at the number of families not doing this.

Parents who can afford to pay for college but instead have their college bound kids go and work their way to earn money to pay for college expenses. I know of several and I think this is prevalent in western culture.

I had a supervisor in the navy that whenever he was asked by a subordinate about details regarding administrative policies, he points to the manual and says “There’s the manual, look it up”. It really helped with the advancement test because we got used to reading the manuals. We passed the test and earned our promotion.

A friend who is a multimillionaire teaches his kids how to manage money in theory and in practice. His kids do household chores or sell creative homemade doodads. He wasn’t cheap with his kids as they are properly attired, well fed and groomed but they learn fast how to value hard work and manage money.

Hard work is the secret to success. Some people inherit money but they’re still not successful. Why? because they never tasted hard work. Hard work teaches us how to be adaptable to circumstances and creates character in us. Think about this next time you pity your loved one because he or she is “suffering” at work.

Having less will teach us more about life than having more (most of the time). Most people get in trouble for having excess stuff than people who lack stuff. It is also very satisfying for a person who worked hard (while cash poor) to finally be able to buy the object of his or her desires. That feeling is priceless. If we keep on spoiling our loved ones with material stuff, we are in fact depriving them of this great feeling.

Tough love is real love!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Horrid side of Sports

Some of us have favorite sports and favorite sports team, right? We have jerseys of our favorite players and collect baseball cards or autographed balls and watch pay per view of some of the sports that can be watched only by paying the equivalent of one day’s pay (for some) only to see it end in a few minutes.

Is sports really a great thing? Well, if used for exercise or fitness or to promote a sense of community or camaraderie among a group of reasonable people, then it is acceptable. But this article is more about the loathsome side of sports. And I will give you a few instances which proves that it is not worth your time, your money or your efforts.

Soccer – tens of millions of people watch soccer more than any other sports worldwide. However, soccer promotes more negatives than positives in our society. Which sports has its fans rioting when its team wins? Which sports has its fans rioting when its team loses? You guessed that right! soccer. However, watching a bunch of 6 years old play soccer is great because of all the innocence and the parents are still not very competitive yet.

Cycling – happens to be my favorite but I’m beginning to have a dislike for it. It has the highest reputation for doping among its athletes. Cyclists are also the most tested, but reports estimate that around 80-90% of professional cyclists cheat. Teaching your young child, grandchild, nephew or niece how to ride a bicycle is priceless though.

Football – (U.S. football) – this creates a lot of income for the owners. One thing I don’t understand is when the owners convince the mayor and city council to build them a stadium using taxpayers money. Then if the stadium doesn’t get filled to capacity, the city owes the team owners hundreds of thousands of dollars per week. Talk about win win win for the owners, and lose lose lose for the average taxpayer. Their justification is it brings a lot of business to the city. But it’s true only if the team is very good all the time and if the Superbowl is held it that same city every year.

Boxing – people paid $50 to watch people beat up each other. There is also a new sports now called Mixed Martial Arts, where men are usually hugging each other on the floor (I think they are trying to wrestle but most of the time they look like they are hugging very tight) and every now and then punching each other. And we wonder why there is so much violence? Most people lose their hard-earned money on betting on the outcome which is normally whatever they bet against.

Golf – is this really a sport? Maybe if you consider that a lot of people get injuries swatting a little white ball all across a huge well manicured field which could be used for more productive endeavors. People spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment alone. A round of 18 holes uses at least 4 hours. I started playing golf a long time ago but realized I could use those 4 hours to other things that I really like so I quit.

Ice Hockey – It seems that the highlight of every game are two players slugging it out while not having enough traction on the ice to really create any momentum on their punches. Nothing much there!

Baseball – generates a lot of income – for the owners and the players who all seem to be overweight. The income come mostly from fans who work so hard during the week and spend a huge amount of their income on jerseys, games and other sports memorabilia (also known as junk).

I have a few more sports to ridicule but I’ll stop here before some of the readers get so mad at me. So what sports do I recommend?

Sports that may be used in real life: swimming, running and cycling. There may be a few also that maybe beneficial but I can’t think of them right now. Martial Arts and Boxing are good for fitness and for learning self-defense. The rest of the sports are just a drain on the average person’s time and finances.

It’s something to consider before you spend that $250 on that new Jordan shoes.

 

 

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How much money will make you happy?

In past studies published by Wall Street Journal, it was determined that optimal income (in the U.S.) to make a person happy would be around $75,000. After that amount, any additional income doesn’t increase the amount of happiness by much.

I was reading an article the other day from CNBC that the perfect income for happiness is $161,000 annually.  This was an averaged amount after researching 13 countries or states, including Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, Peru, etc. If you want to find out the details, please google “the perfect income for happiness” .  In Dubai, people needed $276,150 (in U.S. currency), while in Germany, people only need $85,781. Why do you think is there discrepancy? The article stated because Dubai has a lot of oil barons, people needed more to feel happy while in Germany where wealth is distributed evenly, the needs are not as high.

One of my favorite blogger named Len Penzo stated that “if you cannot live on 40,000 a year, it’s your fault”. Another article I read which is here stated “How we lived from $42,000 to $6,500 and lived to tell about it”. These two people are obviously happy with much less.

That’s quite a discrepancy in the perceptions, isn’t it?

How about those local villagers shown in the recent “Survivor: Philippines” episode. They look much happier than anyone in living in mcmansions in Southern California. I bet you most of them don’t even have $6,500 a year income. I’m not being derogatory, just merely stating a reality that they do not get that much income, because they are living in a developing country. But I couldn’t get over the fact that they look happy and content with their lives.

How much money will make you happy?

Would you be happy when you reach $250,000 annual income? Well, you may start getting taxed more in 2013 if you have that much income.

Would you be happy with your first million?  First $10,000,000?

There are a few dozen sports figures that earn tens of millions a year, but I think the local people in the Survivors episode I mentioned above are still happier than them. Once they retire from sports, about half of them go broke and live in misery. In the NBA 60% get in a financial difficulty five years after retirement and in the NFL 78% after two years.

Same with Lottery winners. In the U.S. the estimate is about 1 in 3 lottery winners go broke within five years and only 55% are happier after winning huge amounts. Is it really about money?

Well then, we can conclude that it isn’t about money. Money is a medium that we can use to live a comfortable, happy life – but it is not the secret formula behind happiness.

Happiness is a choice. That’s why you see little children in very poor countries that are shoeless and had to walk through flooded streets to attend school, but they are smiling. On the reverse side, you see people floating in wealth and living in gaudy luxury that get depressed and live lives of melancholy.

What we have is the here and now. We can choose to get sad about things that should have been or we couldn’t acquire – or be happy with all the blessings we are currently enjoying. The past is already past – all we can do now is learn from its mistakes. The future is not here yet. We plan for it, but we also recognize that it may be a bright future but challenges will be part of it.

Live life to the fullest!

 

 

 

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