Gratitude, Lost and Found

The other day I took a cab out together with hubby as he went for work. I was holding a handphone and ez-link together in my hand which thereafter I slot both into my pocket. Anyone who has done that before can tell you it’s an almost-certain recipe for disaster, especially if you pull your phone out several times in the day. (You know, like to turn Pokestops.) Not long after on the cab, I realised my ez-link was gone.

I sat in the cab with a glum face after telling hubby the news, since he was the one who topped my card  yesterday with a full $20 that could last me several days. I tend to rarely lose things in public, so I was feeling being pretty regretful. Suddenly the thought of asking for the angels’ help came in to my mind and with a mix of desperation, hopefulness and feelings of silliness, said a prayer in my mind to find my card. Maybe they could watch over it till I get home. Maybe a miracle would happen that no one would notice a bright red ez-link sitting on the ground. Maybe the card might somehow come back to me.

It might be pure coincidence. It might a blessing from the other realm. As soon as I finished my prayer, I happened to shift around in my seat and saw something bright red on the floor of the cab! I had glanced the floor of the cab and it wasn’t there before. In any case, my feelings of gratitude were genuine and gushed over my body in waves as I looked upwards and thanked my angels.

If you are a spiritual person, you might have set up a gratitude practice, like giving thanks to the Universe at the start of the day. Well, I do it too. The problem is the routine of doing the same day after day sometimes makes me feel numb, like saying the words on autopilot. It is these events that trigger off your awareness and create the feelings that make you feel alive again. I am pretty sure down the road I will gradually lose this feeling again unless I consciously replay this event and its associated emotion in my mind. Humans are forgetful creatures.

Similarly, have you ever had a situation where you thought you were going to lose someone dear to you? In that moment, all you can do is to turn to prayer. The urgent, focused desperation for divine help and then things turned round for the better. Do you still remember the feelings after that? Gratitude might be simply too mild to describe.

What I am saying is that most things that humans do everyday – habits, routines, frustrations, problems – creates a certain numbness that slowly creeps in. The next problem that comes along when one is solved. The to-do list that seems too big to tackle with limited time and energy. While I would not wish for traumatic events on anyone, sometimes these are the very events that wake those who have been deeply asleep and far too long. Choose to be awake, or let life be your alarm clock.

Refuse Verbal Abuse

Today I was on the escalator up the train station and accidentally blocked someone who was going up with me. I had moved out of the way but then as he tried to maneuver himself out of the way he stepped into my path again. In the morning rush, it pissed him off and expressed it simply in my face, “F***.” I tried Steve Pavlina’s advice in his article, “Dealing with Difficult People” and pictured the “F***” as a present which I then refused to take with me. Strangely for the first time, it worked to reduce the effect on my mood for the rest of the day. Most of the time, such events upset me greatly and leave my thoughts replaying over and over again. If you have time, try a quick read.

Mindfulness Praying

If you have embarked on a spiritual path like me, you would have established a prayer routine. If you are a quiet introvert like me, you would live mostly in your head (and heart) of ideas, thoughts and feelings. On its own, these two pose no problem. That is, until they are combined together.

I try to say a set of prayers everyday. In fact, I have a small collection of prayers which I recite everyday. The problem is, the familiarity of this routine creates a situation where I simply gloss over the prayers. The feeling is like when you are absorbed in reading a book. You have finished a page of the novel but do not remember the exact words you have read. At the end of it, you only bring with you the ideas and an impression. Then you are eager to turn the page. I frequently find myself having finished a prayer and yet not remembering the words of it.

My way of dealing with this is that when I find myself doing that, I go back and recite the same prayer again. Sometimes even breaking a prayer into paragraphs and reciting each paragraph twice. Usually the second time is done with mindfulness of the words and it makes deeper imprint in my mind.

If you face the same problem, why not try it and see if it works for you.

Tsum Tsum and Thoughts about Financial Abundance

Tsum
Image taken from http://www.tsumtsumcentral.com/GameHome.aspx

I have been playing this game called Disney Tsum Tsum on my phone for some time. It is a simple match-3 game where you connect at least 3 of the same Tsums to gain points and coins. The picture above shows Minnie Tsums, Pooh Tsums, Piglet Tsums, Stitch Tsums and Donald Tsums. You also wield a character Tsum with which you can activate its special skill during the game to boost your score. Coins earned in the game allow you a chance to level up your character Tsum, specifically 10,000 coins or 30,000 coins per chance. If you are a beginner, your coins would range from 300 to 600 per game. If you have played for a long time, you can easily earn 1000 coins and above for each game.

Typically I am in the 1000 coin range. Recently, some of my family members started on this game. I gave them tips based on the amount of coins I was getting per game, until they woefully stated that they were struggling with even getting 500 coins; half of what I was getting. It meant that my tips were also useless to them at their “income” levels.

I was financially abundant in the game. Although I had been on the path before where I struggled with just getting 500 coins, it had dropped out of my reality. Probably this mirrors the situation with many of the rich people in society (also aka people in power) versus the ones who are struggling with survival. They easily spend hundreds on a dinner while $100 could last the average person for a week. Some, like me in the game, may have experienced poverty before but it had already fallen out of everyday lives to really remember how it was like. It takes a higher awareness for these people to pull out past memories and feelings of that state in order for them to truly empathise with the poor.  Or unless they had been living humbly on purpose. This is also why they frequently let slip certain statements that would anger those who have difficulty in meeting ends meet, such as being happy about buying a branded bag at a good discount.

While I do get envious of these people too, it is also unfair to have them return to a lower state of financial abundance. Rather, increasing personal awareness seems to be the key. People who have created financial abundance in a healthy way can be an example for others to do the same. People who have financial abundance and a high consciousness can find means to use their money to establish greater good for humanity.

Now if only i can convet my Tsum coins to real cash…

The HSP Iceberg

I have been unemployed for a pretty long time (which explains why my name is the idle soul) and also conducting my job search for a pretty long time as well. To keep tabs, my SO printed a list to fill in the number of resumes that I sent out each day. Similar to corporate ways, I get reprimanded if I fail to send out any and praises when I hit above his baseline of five. He doesn’t care if there were fewer suitable job openings for that day, nor does he care that we had been out the whole day and it was nighttime when we reached home. To him, and any other corporate manager, all he sees is the tip of the iceberg and the rest are just excuses.

I am also living with my SO’s family who seem mainly extroverted with a not-like introvert introvert (aka noisy). I think, it takes a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) living with non-HSPs to really feel the difference. For instance, crowds and long periods of noise are perfectly normal to them. They get by without needing solitude at the end of the day. Frequently they also make snap decisions easily and never, ever ponder about the big mysteries of life.

I show emotions on my face. There was a period of time when I cried frequently over a seemingly purposeless life and my SO just couldn’t get it. He simply felt that I was too idle as an unemployed individual, and spending time on unnecessary thoughts. When we are going out for dinner and my SO asks my opinion for a dinner place, I try to intuit the answer. So an answer sometimes comes after 30 minutes.

What non-HSPs see and acknowledge are simply the tip of the iceberg. Below it is where our great emotions churn when we think about our life, spirit and soul. It is also the place where we keep our deep sentimentality for treasured friends and family. It is where we go to when life moves on after the loss of a loved one and realised that life really, somehow stopped with them. Below the tip comes forth these tears that perhaps are never-ending because we never really know how deep our iceberg goes.

So when we tell others we are a HSP, know that there really is a huge chunk of us that is too huge and scary to show it all at once, not excuses. And as I shake your hand and introduce myself – all you are seeing is the tip of the iceberg.

Cookie Cutter Life

In secondary school, we were taught to first create an outline before writing an essay: Introduction, Two-Three Main Points, Refute, Conclusion. And then as a blogger, find that we really just write. Spill words on our screen and organise later. Or maybe not at all.

In junior college we had an art project as part of my year-end exams: Gather ideas, analyse the prominent ones and further refine using techniques such as cropping, enlarging, repetition, colour, etc to bring out the message that you want to convey. It was a one year project and one day, my teacher mentioned that artists do not work this way.

What if you couldn’t write well using the above method in school and for a large part of your life thought you sucked at writing. What if in your art project, you only needed to wait for an inspiration for a completed work (like real artists) and then develop the project backwards, but the stress of having to meet the teacher week after week and having “progress” killed off ideas prematurely?

And then after years of schooling, you graduate into corporate life.

Someone asked a Zen Master, “How do you practice Zen?”
The master said, “When you are hungry, eat; when you are tired, sleep. 

– From Buddhist Story, http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.com/en/index.php/Buddhist_Story:_Eat_When_You’re_Hungry

The corporate master says to eat between noon to 1pm everyday; no earlier and no later because these are the corporate rules befitting the company’s employees. So even if you are so hungry that you could eat a mule, either try to steal a snack at your desk (without people noticing; you know like making a snack bar appear in your hands and then disappear into your stomach in a sec) or discipline yourself till you eat your mule at noon. And if you try to have 5 small meals a day instead of taking a full hour lunch, you are seen as slacking off because these breaks eat into your productivity and value as a work churning machine. And then the corporate master hints that you need to sacrifice your sleep to complete deadlines. It doesn’t matter how high your consciousness is or how much positive energy you bring into your surroundings as long as you complete it, for these are your performance indicators which are visible and measurable. Try measuring the amount of soul someone puts into his or her work… And then, even if you love creating Excel spreadsheets all day but do badly at writing meeting minutes, the corporate master focuses on your minutes, like rubbing salt into an open wound. He would politely hint again to have you spend more time working on writing decent minutes because it is part of your given job scope. Maybe take more courses – Introduction to Minutes Taking, Intermediate Minutes and would be exhilarated if you could eventually move on to Professional Minute Taker (complete with a nice signed-off certificate), not knowing that each time you step into the class you cringe and a knot forms in your stomach that doesn’t get untied till the end of class. 

Is it any wonder that some people might balk at the education system or corporate system for that matter? That the needs of each individual is so vastly different yet due to economic, social or political reasons we are given the same rules to follow and be judged on because it is the only fair way to do so?

There are people who are happy and perfectly contented to be cookies. School, graduate then work at a 9-6 job until retirement (It’s at least 9 hours of work for the norm in Singapore.) But for those who want to step out of the system, it takes a lot of self-discipline, courage and self-awareness of what you really need and want. Not to mention uncertainty of survival. What really remains after the cookie cutter has done its job, are the bits of dough leftover at the edges, who are really too small to fit into the shape of the mould, seemingly too weird in shape to disguise itself as a cookie. All it can do is lay by the side beside those grand cookies, who have a shape, designation, flavour and a certain development process laid out for them (add flavour, toppings, bake, package).

Perhaps, when enough bits of dough gather, they can create a niche for themselves that even cookies will start to take notice. That these bits realise they are not alone and there are many others like them and that it is possible to create another kind of life. But for now, the cookie cutter has its place firmly in society. Do you find yourself being the cookie or dough bits? Whichever it is, you would have felt it long ago from inner turmoil as an isolated dough bit or leading the safe, standard life as a cookie. Or perhaps you find yourself as a new dough bit after life cuts the cookie away into another shape and you no longer fit.

I have yet to have an answer as a struggling dough bit in society, but what I have learnt that if you have a genuine urge to do something, try it because you only have one life. And if you need the extra motivation, Steve Pavlina‘s site does a pretty good job at it.