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“To say “I love you” one must know first how to say the “I”.” ― Ayn Rand In the early 1990s to early 2000s, a lot of self help gurus and motivators have encouraged people to develop self esteem (or more popularly, self confidence).  At its core self esteem can be defined as an evaluation of our worthiness, a judgement that we are good, valuable people.  William James, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology stated that we derive our self esteem from thinking that we’re good at things that have personal significance to us. Most people raise their self esteem in one of two ways: Value things that we’re good at, and devalue things that we’re bad at. Increase our competence in those areas that are important to us. Thus, we can conclude that self esteem stems not only from our own self judgement, but also more importantly,…

“The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.”- King Solomon, Proverbs Recently I just had a fascinating conversation with a close friend of mine on the issue of anger. This person felt that anger was such a destructive emotion that she felt it was very wrong to be angry. The thought really puzzled me because if anger is very wrong then we are all wrongdoers for we all feel anger from time to time.  Asking an emotional being not to feel any emotions (anger in particular) is like asking monkey not to eat a banana or hoping that there will be no traffic jam in Jakarta. We, as emotional beings, can’t go through life without feeling emotions and besides, emotions have their uses. Scientists have agreed that our emotions (especially the negative ones) are necessary knee jerk reactions that have…

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club Living in a social media crazed world, where everybody can be anybody they want, look great without being actually great and everything seemed awesome; it is easy to feel entitled. This feeling of entitlement can come in two forms: I am super awesome and the world sucked. (The World is such a woe) I sucked and the rest of the world is awesome. (Woe is me) However, these two forms of entitlement is counterproductive if you are planning to live the good life. It is even arguable that entitlement is the source of most human sufferings. What then should we do with these feelings of entitlement that we have? Modern philosophers like Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Malcolm Gladwell and Mark Manson have shared many tips to help…

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ― Alexander Pope In the book The Mastery of Love, writer, Don Miguel Ruiz stated that “Your whole life is nothing but a dream. You live in a fantasy where everything you know about yourself is only true for you. Your truth is not the truth for anyone else.” Thus a perfectly functioning relationship is a relationship where two people in the relationship can share their truth as it is, and live their truth comfortably. The first secret sauce of a happy love life then, is to accept each other’s differences and respect it. We need to treat each other’s truths as truths with capital T (because that’s how they see it). The problem is, most people in a relationship tends to force his/her truth onto the other, believing that their truth is right and their partner’s wrong…

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” – C.S. Lewis Bad things happen to good and bad people alike. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, Indonesian or European, religious or not religious. The world is never fair, the world is just is… Sufferings happened to the best and the worst of us. We lose things all the time: our time, money, loved ones and possessions. So if bad days will come, and you know there’s nothing you can do to change it, you might as well prepare for it. The Ancient Stoics have recommended few ways we can steel our heart against grief. Here’s…

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”- Kenji Miyazawa In my previous post I have established that to live is to suffer and that the best way to overcome the feeling of pain that comes with suffering is to accept it as it is. Once you have accepted this truth, the next thing you need to do is to choose the suffering you want. Life problems never stopped, they are only upgraded or exchanged, so the question you need to ask yourself is “what kind of suffering do I want?” This question will not only help you clarify what you want in life, but also open your eyes to the cost of getting what you want. It is easy to say what we want out of life, I want X, achieve Y or be Z. However, those hopes usually don’t translate into anything because when…

“You cannot be an attractive and life-changing presence to some women without being a joke or embarrassment to others. You simply can’t. You have to be controversial. You have to polarize people”- Mark Manson At the heart of a well functioning relationship is vulnerability, the ability for two people in the relationship to be themselves, without pretense. This is very important in a relationship because without vulnerability, a relationship will become hollow, superficial and shallow. The interaction became dull and you are constantly second guessing your partner’s identity because you don’t know them. If you can’t be yourselves with your partner, you are in trouble. If you can’t share your problem with your partner, you are in trouble. If you can’t show your bad side to your partner, you are in trouble. A relationship centered on pretense is a very tiring one. Acceptance is the foundation of a strong relationship.…

“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”- Mark Manson Contrary to popular belief, converting a negative experience into a positive experience is not done by visualizing positive stuff, adopting a positive belief or babbling some positive affirmation in front of a mirror.  The problem with inducing these ‘positivity rituals’ is that they don’t solve our problems. They only help us escape our problems for a brief moment by giving us a ‘good feeling.’ Like what Mark Manson said in his phenomenal book Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, “Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering.” Thus, the way to turn negative experience into a positive one is to accept the negative experience as…

“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.” – Denis Waitley Since the dawn of time, religious people, philosophers, scientists and artists have been pondering what happiness is. However, they all failed to find a satisfactory answer, because what makes one person happy doesn’t make another happy. Happiness is subjective.  Some people never even bothered to ask that question. Instead, they believed that life is one never ending hoarding game. They thought that achieving X, owning Y or being surrounded by Z will make them happy. However the happiness they felt is fleeting; modern research has shown that achieving something doesn’t make a person happier but actually sadder. (I will not go into detail, but you can read it yourself in the book Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert) This was because as Mark Manson powerfully wrote in his…

“You can’t be in a happy relationship unless you are happy- and you’re the only person who can make you happy.”- Laura Doyle When a person fall in love and enter a new relationship, there’s usually this unrealistic expectation that says, “Maybe this new person will finally make me  complete.” A thought that says, “I will finally be happy when I’m with X…” However, these are dangerous thoughts, which usually ends up breaking the relationship apart. For when love the feeling fades- and it will- you will realize that more often than not, your new partner doesn’t make you any happier. That they can’t make you happier…  This then highlights an important truth about relationships: your happiness is your own responsibility.  You can never expect your spouse to make you happy because your partner is never responsible for your happiness; you are. And this too applies for your partner’ happiness.…