The three symptoms of killing our dreams

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A repost from Paulo Coehlo’s blog, it’s a piece from one of my favorite books, The Pilgrimage.

The first symptom of the process of killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the Good Fight.

The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the Good Fight.

And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we have refused to fight the Good Fight.

When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being.
We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.

And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoon.

[Photo from this year’s best collection, taken at Sai Kung, Hong Kong]

3 more tips to avoid clutter

 

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I continue to believe that a minimalistic and uncluttered life can lead to more productivity, increased efficiency and greater happiness. I’ve written several blog posts on my experiments with minimalism and tips to reduce clutter – at work, at home and life in general. Here’s a short version, because I think it all starts with buying stuff…

Buy mindfully:

  • Only buy what you need – really need. If it’s a temporary need, see if can be borrowed or rented.
  • Go with a shopping list and stay focused. Don’t be distracted by displays or special offers.
  • Don’t buy anything ‘just in case’ you might need it. Trust that you’ll find it ‘just in time’.
  • Always buy quality. It lasts longer, so costs less in the long run.
  • Don’t compromise on your style, size or color, otherwise you may be discarding it too soon.

Discard ruthlessly:

  • Once you buy a new something, get rid of the old one. Not tomorrow, not later, right now.
  • Find local charities or Salvation Army stores where the old stuff could go. If it’s too bad or old or broken to go to charity, then recycle it.
  • Give yourself limited space to keep your stuff. Once that space fills up, you know it’s time to reduce.

Use gratefully:

  • Whether it’s clothing, gadgets, books or other possessions, be grateful every time you use them. Remind yourself that millions of people do no have access to such luxury.
  • One of the biggest reasons for buying and accumulating stuff is being ungrateful for what we already have – that feeling of not having enough.
  • When we are grateful, we take good care of our stuff, and don’t discard/replace them easily.

If that sounds too difficult, just take one step at a step. And perhaps developing the attitude of gratitude would be a good start.

6 Key Ideas on Simplifying Your Life (and fit all your belongings in an 18kg bag or less)!

mush-panjwanis-possessions-in-an-18kg-bag.jpgDuring a recent move, I was proud to put together all of my personal stuff (everything that I own) into an 18kg bag. And the FB post got a lot of interest – some wouldn’t believe, some wanted to know what’s in it, some curious to learn how or why. And that inspired this blog post, and I am happy to share why I do it and how.

It’s a lifestyle! Accumulating less stuff; getting rid of unwanted things; keeping within a pre-defined space; staying organized… is not a one-time project. It’s a lifestyle. I started the process about ten years ago, and wrote the first blog post on the subject five years ago. That post covers how I got rid of all the books, reduced the amount of clothes, minimized all accessories, simplified and organized everything, and then applied the same principals to my office and desk.

Why de-clutter and simplify?

  • Easy to find what you are looking for, whether it’s a file on your computer or a travel adaptor
  • Take less space, whether it’s a wardrobe, cabinet or a shoe rack
  • Focus on quality instead of quantity
  • Spend more on experiences (books, travel, personal development, causes) and less on things (except those you buy for others)

Buy less, of everything

  • Buy only what you need, and only when you need it, not whatever is on sale.
  • Wait and see if you really need it. Then see if you can borrow it, before you buy.
  • Buy good quality so it lasts longer and you buy less often.
  • Buy only if there’s space to keep it, not find a space after you buy it.

Continue getting rid of stuff

  • When you buy a new one, get rid of the old one – clothes, shoes, bags, stuff
  • If you bought something but not using it, either due lack of interest or wrong purchase, get rid of it.
  • If you get a gift that you know you are not going to use, get rid of it.
  • If you haven’t used it in 6 months, get rid of it.
  • Only keep stuff that’s essential, makes life easier, or inspires you. Get rid of everything else.
  • When getting rid of anything, try to sell or give away to somebody who can make use of it or recycle. Trash bin should be the last option.

Use technology

  • Unless you can’t live without the touch and smell of physical books, go digital. There’s a long list of pros and cons, but I only buy ebooks and only read on my iPad.
  • Covert all important documents, photo and videos into digital copies and put them all on Dropbox or iCloud. In my recent round, I took photos of loads of ‘emotional-value objects’ and threw them all out. These included large photo frames, desk gifts, crystals, accessories and more… all with thank-you notes, names, or messages printed/engraved on them. These were in a large box, which I don’t have any more!
  • I’ve stopped using notebooks or diaries and pens for a long time. All notes are digital.

Learn to live with less

  • So what do I have in that suitcase? Clothes: formal, casual, summer, winter, gym and swimming gear. Shoes: just two pairs. Gadgets: MacBook, iPad, cables. Lots of socks and underwear; last few copies of my book to give away; pack of business cards; travel toiletries in mini sizes; travel adaptors. No ties, accessories, notebooks, stationery or camera.
  • Living with less inspires gratefulness; helps you keep organized; reduces stress; gets you more focused… is extremely easy to pack and move and unpack!

I know it’s easier said than done. I understand this may not be for everyone. I am sure there are people who can be happier with more, but for me, less stuff equals more happiness. I am happy to answer any questions and offer further advice to anyone who is starting on this journey or wants to get to the next level of minimalism.

 

 

Mush Talks #13: Julia Wong of ‘Triple Lanterns Cafe’ talks about dreams, happiness and slowing down

Triple Lanterns Café is one of the stilt houses in Tai O Village (Hong Kong), offering beautiful views of the canal, the bridge and sunset, besides great pizzas, cakes and coffees. What makes this café really special though is Julia, the owner, who is always happy and cheerful, and ready for a conversation with every customer. During our visit to Triple Lanterns yesterday, we talked about the story behind the café, dreams, happiness, success, customer service and the importance of slowing down to enjoy life… parts of which were also captured on my phone. Here’s an edited version, and I hope it inspires somebody to follow through on their dreams…

More about achieving your dreams, happiness and positivity at Mush Talks #1-12

10 Reasons You Should Travel Solo at Least Once a Year!

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The first time I wrote about ‘five reasons I travel solo‘ was in August 2012, after my trip to Chenzhou in China. Since then I’ve been blessed with many more solo trips and experienced the endless joys. Earlier this month, I was in Da Nang and Hoi An in Vietnam, for a week, all by myself. I got to experience for the first time…

  • Living on USD20 a day, including accommodation, meals and transport!
  • Riding a scooter, and that too on the right side of the road!
  • Learning to make ‘Vietnamese fish rolls’!
  • Homestay in the middle of rice fields (way different from the B&B above the rice terraces in China)!
  • Taking a tour with a traffic police officer!
  • Starting an online travel journal on TravelPod!

Most of these wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t traveling solo. So here’s my expanded list of benefits, and why you should travel solo at least once a year:

  1. Plan easily. Pick your own dates and destination. The places-to-see on your list are not the same as the places your family or friends want to see. And finding a time that suits everyone is not easy.
  2. Try new things – accommodations, means of travel, food – and get out of your comfort zone.
  3. Have conversations with fellow travelers and locals. You learn a lot more about the people and places when you are on your own.
  4. Be more flexible with your time, destinations and decisions you make. Wake up for sunrise or sleep all day.
  5. Overcome your fears. Whether it’s fear of new places, fear of being on your own or fear of darkness… the more you travel the less you fear.
  6. Gain confidence by handling problems and situations on your own. You take your own risks and learn.
  7. Indulge in whatever you want, without being judged.
  8. Stay within your own budget. No compromises or overspending.
  9. Become a better traveler by observing more. You engage more fully with the people and places when you are on your own.
  10. Get to know yourself better. When you are on your own, it’s easier to listen to your heart and focus your mind. The extended me time is an opportunity to dream, plan, think, and even reflect on your travel experiences.

That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy traveling with family, friends or groups… solo travel just a different kind of great experience!

PS. One of the most common questions I got asked by fellow travellers and locals: ‘Your wife doesn’t mind your solo travels?‘ And the answer is, one of the reasons we have been so happy with each other for over 30 years is that we accept, understand and appreciate the differences between us. And we allow each other to do our own things. [Thank you, Salma!]

You may view all the photos from the Vietnam trip and the daily journal on TravelPod here, or a selection of photos on Facebook through this link. And more of my travel videos here.

Moments of 2015 by Mush Panjwani

And 10 inspiring quotes about moments:

  • “Life isn’t perfect, but it has perfect moments.”
  • “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”
  • “The best things in life are not things, they are moments.”
  • “A good life is a collection of happy moments.”
  • “Don’t wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.”
  • “We don’t remember days; we remember moments.”
  • “Fall in love with moments.”
  • “You don’t get the same moment twice in life.”
  • “Life is all about moments of impact, and how they change our lives forever.”
  • “Make this moment count.”

What is Success?

For many years, I have struggled to come up with a perfect answer to this question. The following piece from Paulo Coelho’s “Manuscripts Found in Accra” is the best answer I’ve ever read. I hope it inspires you too:

Manuscript found in Accra

Success does not come from having one’s work recognised by others. It is the fruit of the seed that you lovingly planted. When harvest time arrives, you can say to yourself: ‘I succeeded.’

You succeeded in gaining respect for your work because you did not work only to survive, but to demonstrate your love for others.

You managed to finish what you began, even though you did not foresee all the traps along the way. And when your enthusiasm waned because of the difficulties you encountered, you reached for discipline. And when discipline seemed about to disappear because you were tired, you used your moments of repose to think about what steps you needed to take in the future.

You were not paralyzed by the defeats that are inevitable in the lives of those who take risks. You didn’t sit agonising over what you lost when you had an idea that didn’t work.

You didn’t stop when you experienced moments of glory, because you had not yet reached your goal. And when you had to ask for help, you did not feel humiliated. And when you learned that someone needed help, you showed them all that you had learned, without fearing that you might be revealing secrets or being used by others.