LIVING OUTSIDE THE BOX

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Since the start of this year, I have officially been living outside the box. And I can proudly say I don’t think I can ever step into the box again.

Whether you see it or not, we’re all born into a box… a box with prescribed roles and responsibilities we all have to fulfil since birth. Samples are set by the society. Rules apply to everyone you see. Stages in life were set and passed on. We’re born into one big box with a life of its own and plenty of toys that make us feel safe and warm, and keep us busy and occupied. Everything and everyone else seem to be doing the same thing. We are not weird. We fit in. We follow the rules and we do it better than everyone else.

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But to some of us, fitting in and following rules make you itch.

Everything that exists today was made up by someone else. Why do we need to live like everyone else? Why do we need to do what everyone else does?

Over and over this creeps up inside you that you can no longer stand living inside the box. But outside the box is kind of scary. What if it’s not safe? What if it’s cold and lonely? What if it’s not as interesting as you think it’d be? What is out there outside the box? Are there many people outside in the box? Is it really that interesting?

Getting over fear and giving it a go, you start to feel comfortable living outside the box.

It has become your way of life, your routine, and a huge part of who you are — your mindset, attitudes, and lifestyle.

We all crave freedom. Yet, we all seem to get stuck between the two types of freedom — financial freedom and physical freedom — as we want to have both at the same time, but it seems like we can only have one or the other.

We hate the rules we have to play by — whether it be the working hours, the number of days one can take off, the tasks and responsibilities that come with the role that helps you pay the bills. To some people, getting a monthly income translates into freedom. It gives you a piece of mind, knowing that you’ll be fine at the end of each month.

But what about the physical freedom? Are we all supposed to be born to play by the rules set by others?

If you think about it, we are not so different from animals.

Think about the animal shows — dolphin and tiger shows — they are not doing the shows because they love doing it. They do it because they are starved and that’s the only way they are going to get fed. If you don’t love your work, going to work for you is just like dolphins and tigers doing these animal shows because they need food and shelter, and their owners are providing them these— in other words: security and stability.

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But can these animals be let run wild and free?

Will they survive if we let dolphins go into the sea and tigers go into the wild forest? No one is going to feed them, provide them shelters, and make sure they are safe.

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(You think to yourself)

So if these animals are going to be fine without owners who provide them food, shelters, and safety, then why aren’t you?

Why do you think these animals are going to be fine on their own? Won’t they be lonely? Won’t they get bitten by other bigger animals? Won’t they starve themselves?

When you step outside the box and start looking around, expanding your circle, reaching out to other people who live outside the box, you’ll realize that there are so many other people out there who live outside the box.

You’ll start to learn their tricks — how they survive, how they build themselves up, what roads they have been on, and how they manage to build an ecosystem around them that feeds itself and is sustainable.

If you aren’t currently happy with what you do, it’s probably time to find a new owner who gives you some other tasks to do. But have you ever thought that maybe you could just build a new circus?

You don’t really need a new owner to provide you things, you just need to have the guts to build your own show.

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Your best work is your expression of yourself.

Frank Gehry

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FINDING YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE

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I believe that everyone’s end goal in life is the same — “ to find happiness” or “to be happy”.

In order to feel more fulfilled and find the path to sustainable happiness, we follow our passions and purpose. But what is your purpose in life? I believe this is the question we ask over and over within ourselves.

There are three ways in which you can achieve this ;

Through…

  • What you have
  • What you do
  • Who you are

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1. What You Have

As you need to live, certain basic needs need to be fulfilled first and foremost before you can find purposes from other things in life. Starting from food and shelter, money is the mean to buying the most basic things that you can’t live without.

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Sometimes though self-esteem is derived from material possessions. The purpose in life is then to become wealthy, to have beautiful things, and to be able to afford luxury. When your purpose in life is to based on what you have, your happiness comes from outside in, rather than inside out.

I have learned that this could be a tiring process. Once you have reached your purpose in life in material attainment, you find yourself struggling to stay happy. It is not sustainable. Surely comfort feels great, but it is mostly a state of mind.

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2. What You Do

Throughout our lives, we fit into different roles . Each comes with different responsibilities — from the role of a child, to a sibling, a student, a friend, an employee, a boss, a lover, and a parent; from the role of a student to an employee, a manager, a director — the list goes on and on.

And if you haven’t noticed….

At each stage of our life, we define our purpose in life based on the role we have, in which its responsibilities define how fulfilled we feel at the time.

Our ability to fulfil the role we partake the best we can becomes our purpose. Our inability to fulfil as such becomes our failure. These role-based purposes in life that change over time as we go through different stages in life affect how we feel — how happy we feel.

For example,

  • A child feels happy when a parent praises them — “Well done, son. I’m so proud of you.”
  • A student feels happy when they get a high score in their favourite subject.
  • An employee feels happy when they’ve have done a great job for the company and that the boss loves it.
  • A parent feels happy knowing that the family is well fed and well taken care of.
  • A sales manager feels happy when the team is doing a great job and has reached the target.
As you can see here, it is quite almost impossible to fulfil all of these different facets in life at the same time.

The secret to finding joy and happiness through one’s purpose in life is to have “What You Do” and “Who You Are” aligned.
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3. Who You Are

This comes down to the foundation of your being — your personality traits, your strengths and weaknesses, your core values, your perspective of the world, and your beliefs.

When your purpose in life is based on who you are … and who you are and what you do align, your happiness comes from inside out, rather outside in. This leads to a feeling of contentment.

A feeling of rich and emotionally fulfilled accomplishment is what you’d feel when you succeed in what you do — when what you do aligns with who you are.

Sometimes it is hard to discover and understand who you are. 

There are several ways in which you can start discovering your core values and your natural talents.

  • Look at your past experiences and the situations you’ve been in. When having to pick between two critical decisions in life, which path did you go with? The path your gut instinct tells you to choose normally reflects your core values.
  • Look at the people you dislike. Why do you dislike someone? What is it about him or her that you don’t like? What behaviours of theirs that you don’t like? Is it their work ethics? Is it their perspective of the world, their attitudes, or their beliefs?
  • Look at the people you like and admire. Why do you like someone? What is it about him or her that you like or admire? Is it their work ethic, their attitudes, their perspective of the world, and their beliefs? Is it their way of life? Is it their ambition, their aspiration, the way they work, or the way they think? Is it what they’ve done in the world, the “reason” behind why they do what they do?
  • What did you love doing as a child? What were your childhood hobbies? Were you good at drawing, painting, writing, musical instruments, sports? When you role played as a kid, what roles did you like playing as? A lot of the time, these relate to your natural talents - when you’re unrestricted by societal norm and let run free by the dream and imagination of a child. 
  • What do you love doing in general? Do you find joy in making sure things are organised? Do you like freedom? Do you hate or love schedule? Do you like talking to people you don’t know? Do you have or prefer to learn something that is methodological and systematic or abstract and conceptual? How do you describe the way you see and the way you think? 

Your gut instinct is your best friend in this. Trust your gut instinct.

If you’re stuck in discovering who you are, ask people around you - your close friends, your boss, your close colleagues, your partner, etc to describe you. 

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If you’re not happy with who you are, because you’re too pessimistic, lazy, unorganised, or selfish, then maybe your purpose in life becomes your aspiration. Your immediate goal is to first become who you want to be.

Bit by bit. One by one. Nothing is more satisfying than knowing that another month or year has gone by and we have become a better person. We are more in control of ourselves and our attitudes. We are able to find our passion, turn it into ‘what we do’ for a living, and marry it up with ‘who we are’ .

That is a purpose & passion driven life.

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Every human has four endowments - self-awareness, conscience, independent will, creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom - the power to choose, to respond, and to change.

Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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THIS KID’S TED TALK WILL INSPIRE YOU!

SOO refreshing and inspiring to hear this. A kid like this makes me smile as I’m on the path to inspire more kids to adopt this kind of mindset and to live a purpose and passion driven life. 

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5 THINGS WE TOOK FOR GRANTED AS CHILDREN

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Moving out of home as we transition into adulthood is a wonderful thing. We gain independence, become self-reliant, and have the freedom to really discover who we are and what we want in life.

Sometimes we enjoy the independence of adulthood so much that we forget the things that make up who we are.

Being back in my hometown for a couple of months, I realise that there are things most of us took for granted as children.

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1. Mother’s Love

Ain’t nothing like the love of a mother. She cares you like no one else does. She loves you like no one else ever will. No matter how good or bad you are, for most of us, she will always forgive you and welcome you home.

A mother’s love is love of extreme sacrifices — when someone else’s well-being is above her own; when someone else’s pain stabs her heart with the knife; when someone else’s wrong doing causes her heartbreak and disappointment.

Sometimes we take for granted the love of our mothers — which is probably the only love that lasts until the day she dies. We used to yell. We used to argue. We used to lie. We used to rebel. We used to date the wrong boys and do stupid things just to give her headaches and painful adrenaline rushes. All of these did nothing but hurt her.

A mother shows her love through her actions, not her words. She proves to us that actions are the only things that truly count.

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2. Father’s Wisdom

Everyone grows up with different types of parents — some have cool, hipster parents; some have strict, conservative parents; some have free-spirited parents; some have parents as protective as a dog.

Regardless of what our parents are like in terms of personality traits and lifestyles, they always pass on something they learned to us.

From always reading documents before signing, to how to live life, how to do house chores, how to pick fruits, how to play sports, how to ride a bike, how to be patient and accept that we can’t always get the toys we want, how to laugh at ourselves when we trip over, and how to cry when it hurts and get back up again…

Without them as our mentors when we were young, we would have stumbled upon so many more errors in life. The preaches might seem like they’ve gone into one ear and right out through the other. But as we get older, those things they preached us start to turn into life’s golden wisdom. The skills they taught become valuable for a lifetime.

The mindset they planted into us is probably the most powerful thing one could inherit from parents. 

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3. Basic Needs Made Simple

Society turns things we don’t actually need in life into something we think we do. Society imposes on us the material-based definition of success and happiness. Over and over along with everything and everyone else feeling and doing the same thing, we try so hard to attain happiness and raise the bar of what we believe are our basic needs.

A simple home-cooked meal. A comfortable bed. A cosy living room. A Hug.

We had only these when we were kids, and we were happy. We were full. We were satisfied. We felt safe. It felt like home.

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4. Being in the ‘Now’ & Enjoying the Moment

Moving into adulthood, we are bombarded with so many responsibilities and tasks we have to prioritise. We took for granted the times when being in moment was easy; when mindfulness was unintentionally practiced; when we were in the present at all time.

When we were kids, all it took to make us happy was simply just to have the time to play (of course, toys were additional bonuses).

What truly made us happy was being allowed to run free, to talk, to laugh, to interact with another kid, to role play, to create, to draw, paint, write, to kick balls, and to let our imagination run wild.

Being in the ‘Now’ hasn’t been easy for adults. In fact, it is so hard that mindfulness has become such a new life concept that many people are trying to learn and practice every day. 

Sometimes it’s good to stop everything else in the world for a few days, a week, or a month, and start embracing your inner child. Let your mind run free. Engage in this on a regular basis.

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5. Being Free — Physically, Emotionally, and Mentally

We took for granted the times when we were completely free.

Free to try different things and change. Free to fail. Free to imagine and create. Free to run. Free of baggage and walls. Free of fear.

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Shall we go back and embrace the things in life we took for granted again? 

I think it’s time.

And actuallythe most valuable things in life are free.

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Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken. 

Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken. 

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Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money - that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

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HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN SOMETHING IS RIGHT?

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Do you know that moment when things just feel right - whether’s it’s a job, a friend, or a lover?

A lot of the time we try to justify things in our head. We interpret things to be the way we want them to be… to go the way we want them to go. Sometimes our head gets clouded by our heart, triggered by our emotions.

And every once in a blue moon, things just feel right - so damn right - that you wonder how it happens and if it could happen again over and over as if you’re trying to find the formula for it. 

1. You have no doubt.

Doubt occurs, more or less, on almost a constant basis. Very rarely you have no doubt - no doubt at all - in what you do. 

When you’ve found something that’s right for you, you have absolutely no doubt. You’re instantly and continuously in the flow. You move forward without hesitation and questions. You don’t need an affirmation from another person to assure you that what you’ve got going is right. You just know it.

Following your heart becomes easy. In fact, it becomes a natural process for you. Your eyes light up when you talk about that object. You smile when you think about it.

Whenever you’re free, that’s what you want to do. You feel sure, confident, and secure like never before. You’re not scared because there’s no doubt and fear that make you wonder ‘what if’ because there’s no ‘what if’.  

2. You are completely yourself and you feel happy.

There are several things we have to put up with in life - be it subjects we hate, colleagues we don’t get along with, or tasks we don’t enjoy doing.

But when you’ve found something that’s right for you, there’s no need to compromise. You enjoy every bit of it. The difficult tasks become a fun challenge.

You’re completely who you are, doing what you do, and you just feel happy. You feel content. It’s happiness from the inside out, not outside in. You feel like you’ve found your purpose in life. Your life now has a meaning. You feel rich - from within. 

3. You become more focused.

Being focused is hard. We all have a tendency to say ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’. But when you’ve found something that’s right for you, nothing else matters. That right thing has become your main focus without questions. Your heart says yes. Your mind says yes. Your body says yes.

You have never been happier saying no to other tempting distractions before because you know you have found the right one and you don’t want to waste time focusing on other things. 

You wake up thinking about that thing when you wake up. You can easily get into the zone without trying. You can read up on such topic for hours without feeling like it’s hard work. Focus becomes easier because you have found what’s right for you. Your intellect and emotion become in sync. Regardless of road bumps, life has never been more fulfilling. 

4. You look forward to every day.

Waking up to work every morning, hitting the snooze button over and over can be daunting - typing away in front of the screen, putting up with small talks while making yourself a cup of tea. When you’ve found something that’s right for you, there’s no question that you look forward to going to bed simply because you look forward to fast forwarding time to when you wake up and simply starting another exciting day. You feel excited. Your life is filled with euphoria.

You live life with your arms wide open and look forward to what life’s going to throw at you. You feel like you can’t live your life any other way.

Even struggles seem alright, because you know no matter what, you will find a way out because you simply love every day of your life and everything is going to be okay. 

5. You feel inspired.

When you’ve found something that’s right for you, you want to be better without force. You get this instant internal drive and motivation to become a better person, to do better work, and to achieve greater things. You feel inspired. 

You start seeing the world in a slightly different way. You start to be more curious and discover more things. You want to learn more and feel like you can’t get enough of this world.

It’s because you’ve found something that’s right for you that has opened the door to your heart to the world filled with inspiration and beauty.

You’re now restored with reasonable hope that injects you with a hint of creativity. Inspiration is a wonderful thing. And when you’re constantly inspired, life never feels the same again. 

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Just like what Steve Jobs said… 

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

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Formula for Happiness-Filled Success :) 

Formula for Happiness-Filled Success :) 

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Thrive to realize your dreams, or somebody will pay you 9 to 5 to achieve theirs.

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Ideas are worthless until you get them out of your head to see what they can do.

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