Rebelling Responsibly

When one makes decisions that isn’t the “usual accepted” decision based on social norms and pressures, such as deciding to quite your stable job to start your own business, or embarking on a different way of eating, there’s a tendency of others to easily slap a label on you that you’re rebellious, wilful, or just different.

Others may label you as such, such that you might even think that way of yourself.

I think that you have to be careful of thinking this way of yourself, that you start thinking that you’re “rebellious”, “wilful” and whatever labels others put on you.

See it this way – if you’re wilful, does that mean that you cannot ever work with others? That you’ll never be able to work with others?

If you’re rebellious, does that mean that you’re not very disciplined? Or a slacker that cannot hold a job? Or that you’re irresponsible?

So am I rebellious because I started my own businesses? Because I explored fat-loving paleo diet? Because I prefer open and real two-way conversations?

Is it really rebellion…or is it really responsibility?

I can easily frame any of my decisions as acts of rebellion and wilfulness, and yes, sometimes it’s fun to do that, but the problem about that is it seems that I’m behaving or feel like a social outcast.

Thinking of myself as a rebel doesn’t reflect the truth of why those decisions are made (which is why labels are irresponsible and lazy way of non-thinking)

I choose to see those decisions as being more responsible and taking charge of my life. I’m consciously choosing values that are important to me. To be frank, when I started my business, I wasn’t looking to “rebel against employeeism”, in fact, far from it – I thought, felt and researched enough that I believed that I would have a better life pursuing the path of entrepreneurship.

And after hustling for 5 years, I’m right. I’m way financially well off. I’m happier. I’ve much more control in my life. Looking back, if I stayed where I was…nothing much would have changed, financially, socially, personally.

I could say that I don’t hold a regular job because I rebel against employeeism and bosses…but really, it’s more accurate to say that I want to be more responsible for choosing the type of work I do and how I do it. Looking back to 2008 to today, we’ve built up a moderately-sized business that I’m very proud of, and it’s been a wonderful journey. I cannot have rebelled into such a business – I was very, very responsible and hardworking. I listened to my therapists problems and looked for ways to contribute to them, to make their lives and work better. I’ve helped therapists earn their six figure years. I keep thinking about how I can serve and do things better. All these is hardly rebellion, but actual value creating rather than being rebellious.

I learnt a lot about businesses, healthcare, marketing, patience, selling, finance, budgeting. All hands on experience that I can never learn by picking up a business book.

I’m choosing to consciously make decisions that leads me to growth and experiences in life, whilst trying my best to not succumb to the usual pressures of social norms.

Going paleo doesn’t feel or fit into acts of rebellion either. For me, it’s another approach that I’m experimenting with with regards to health, nutrition and fitness. I’ve shared before with many individuals how I struggled being overweight for years “eating the healthy stuff of multigrains, yogurt, grains etc” and yet I steadily gained weight. 2 months of paleo and I lost 7 kilograms – to me, this was real and actual results, not some figures I pulled out of thin air. Going paleo doesn’t feel rebellious, it’s just a method of nutrition.

Yes, I did feel rebellious when I decided to stay on my own, and build my own lifestyle around my own sanctuary of a room. Today, that’s normal.

Some people still label my exploration of paleo diet as “terrible and I’ll die of heart attack soon” and my entrepreneurship as “just wanted more money” and I still get such messages and conversations today, but I am seeing those labels more of people’s self projections.

They’re not as important or meaningful to me. My old work wasn’t meaningful, it was senseless to stay there. My diet is not my life, and I’m open to experimenting. Moving from them was more of graduation rather than rebellion.

What about being honest and communicating openly. I’ve been slammed again and again interestingly only by family who are “well wishers” for me to not be so honest and to participate in dishonest conversations and events. I feel responsible as a conscious and sane human being to be congruent and honest and to align my actions with the values I see as good.

I cannot just pretend that their lies and deceitful actions that are incongruent “are okay”. I love truth, so how can I pretend that dishonesty is okay?

Am I a rebel because I am upset and disappointed in those who deny their own deceit? Of course, this is a catch-22, deceitful people will be deceitful, no? No, I am not honest just to rebel against the status quo, it’s about doing my best to make and enjoy honest conversations and life within a deeply conflicted society.

As we progress more and more forward into the future, it’s more and more vital that we learn how to accept and be more responsible and make more and more conscious and intelligent decisions as human beings.

RESPONSIBILITY VS COWARDICE

It’s hardly surprising if once in a while you get labelled as a rebel or something along those lines when you’ve taken the decision to take on more responsibility, more self disciplined, more focused on important matters such as growth, compassion, courage and intelligence.

Yes, you can label yourself a label once in a while to have fun, but don’t let the world convince you that you’re a social outcast for making more responsible, intelligent, compassionate, courageous growth-focused decisions.

If you’re seeing more and more positive changes in your life, then consciously become more and more responsible and mature, not just trying to be different for the sake of it. I find it better to increase the consciousness of my own decisions, and gradually ignoring what others say about me or label me – after all, it’s often the projection based on their own insecurity and them forcing their values on you.

I don’t think that we should let things go so easy for them – think about it, if others can easily and lazily slap a label on me that I’m a label for making reasoned, intelligent and growth-related decisions, then won’t the act of labelling be interpreted opposite, that such people who likes to label others as such are poorly-reasoning, unintelligent and non-growing individuals?

Those who try to label me as rebellious are at the same time trying to label themselves as normal and me as abnormal, is it not? If they can “qualify” as normal, that they don’t have to keep learning and growing because “they’re there already” – they can settle.

Isn’t that purely laziness and cowardly?

I refuse to bow down to such weak-mindedness from individuals or groups. These labels don’t define me. Likewise, don’t let it define you.

You’re more than conquerors in Christ, you’re capable of making good decisions, taking actions and following up on them. You’re able to build momentum. Life doesn’t demand perfection from you, but life isn’t going to be good to you if you choose to be lazy or stagnate.

Let’s make acceptance of greater responsibility a common thing, not an abnormal event. Let’s grow.

Let’s deny laziness and cowardly living.

Not wasting time on small stuff

Following a decision to get happier, one of the items that popped up was to not waste time, energy or effort on small stuff.

Small stuff here refers to minor life decisions that will not make any impact in your life in the mid to long term.

Examples of this:

  • should I eat rice or noodles? Really, it doesn’t matter. Unless you’re doing paleo, like me, then don’t eat any.
  • should I drink coffee with 25% sugar or 50% sugar? Please, it’s not going to make like a million difference to you.
  • should I watch this movie or that? Again, what’s the big difference?

These are some of the more mundane ones, and you can add in slightly more complex but equally mundane ones such as:

  • trying to impress people who’s not really important 5, 10 years later
  • a million brands of salt/sugar/whatever
  • _______ add in your own here

Here’s the crux: don’t waste time on things that don’t really matter. It doesn’t matter to bother maximizing or doing your best to optimize on things that are too minute to matter for the mid to long term.

Being decisive helps a lot, and for you control freaks out there (or those of you who have too much free time).

It’s very easy to be a control freak and zoom into details that don’t matter – and by being a control freak all you achieve is annoy the heck out of your co-workers and family, just because you think you’re doing it perfect.

And it’s really hard for control freaks to understand and even admit that all of us human beings really have limited time, energy and focus, so we cannot afford to waste time bantering and being stalled by mundane stuff that don’t matter. And actually spend good time, energy and focus on stuff that actually do matter.

Things that don’t matter? It doesn’t matter, just pick one.

…and if you make a mistake choosing the “wrong” one? It’s fine – it’s normal, and part of the price you pay for focusing on things that matter. Let’s see it this way – do you prefer to potentially make mistakes on things that do matter because you spent too much time/effort on things that don’t matter?

I could spend my whole life wondering why things go wrong, or planning the “perfect” life…or I can just start doing things that do matter, and lead to me having a better life.

That’s why I simplify my dressing and food – no need to think so much and hard on stuff like that. That’s why I try my best to not waste time going for things that aren’t important. And why I often go back to the same eateries and places – it’s easy and I get to spend more time on things that are more important.

And I’d like to pass it back to you too – do you find yourself spending hours on doing things that don’t really matter, the small stuff? Like choosing brands of sugar. Or spending 10 hours to buy socks. Or harping on a problem and complain about it again and again and again for 20 million hours, without doint a single shred of shit for it.

Let’s progress and grow, and do things that truly matter. Things that don’t really matter, just pick anything and move on.

I Want To Be Happier

A couple of weeks back, my lovable wife asked me an interesting question.

She asked:

Do you think you’ve grown increasingly unhappy since the changes in 2014?

I stalled for a bit, and let the question sink in.

Yes, I’ve been complaining and upset about several matters that seems to have kept me irritated and pissed off, and I wonder if she’s right.

The business decision and strategy is sound; and losing my dad was indeed a traumatic event that I can’t control; and facing people who could only blame another for what they’re experiencing was driving me nuts.

So I decided – I’m going to be happier, and I’ll achieve this by focusing on things that truly matter, and slowly and steadily ignore the minor issues that doesn’t. Looking back, it’s easy to fall into a system of complaining about everything and nitpicking, that in the end amounts to little.

Examples include:

  • getting annoyed by people and their nuances – their nuances is theirs, not mine, and I’ll remind myself of that.
  • trying to search 20 companies to find a 5 cent discount – someone, please kill me.
  • worrying about something I can’t control – if I can’t control it, I might as well let go.

I’ll write a bit more about focus.

Pa, Happy Fathers Day 2015

Pa, it’s been more than 13 months since you were called to heaven – time flies so papa and brownquickly.

I’ve missed you.

Your quiet assuring presence.

Your silent presence.

Even our last meal together was quiet.

But pa, you’re my hero.

And I love you lots.