Friday, 11 December 2015

Choose Yourself, Choose Happiness



Okay I lied. The first part of the title is not exactly my headline, but a term I casually adopted from a venerable author James Altucher. He wrote the book Choose Yourself and albeit I have yet to get my hand on it, I reckon it’s going to be mind-blowing. I definitely can’t wait to get one!

Imagine ourselves lying on the floor, barely able to lift our heads, unsure of where and when to turn. James has thrived in the past by starting up so many companies, but hit rock bottom multiple times too. Every year is challenging for him, but he still continued to live each day clasping his Daily Practices (reading, writing, doing podcasts and inspiring others with his unique experience and brutally honest and creative ideas, BEING THANKFUL). 

Just this week alone I have been pondering on the idea of happiness. Even during Sunday Service in church 5 days ago, my pastor talked about choosing happiness. How much more coincident can it get because I have been pondering the same thought for the past few days prior to the service.

I honestly admit I am not exactly a happy-go-lucky person, in fact I am quite the opposite. I always find myself struggling in the dark space of depression. Maybe you will think I am exaggerating. Anyone who knows me personally will never think this is the case. So you are safe, you are not alone. There were countless times I thought of ending my life, and it was awfully easy. I chickened out. Also, I hate seeing people who love me crying, worse still because of me.

But how come?! I thought you are a Christian! You have your God with you and if you do everything He asks you to do faithfully, you will never find yourself having to struggle with all these, right? Well yeah, that’s why prayer is important to keep me in sanity. Maybe you can keep me in prayer.

In life, everything can pull you down. Jean-Paul Sartre said “Hell is other people”. Imagine you are having a nice day thus far, then on the way driving home, you find yourself almost crashing into a reckless insensible motorcyclist. Then you started cursing and your day is no longer nice. I am 99% sure I am not the only one who get irritated easily at little things like this, but really if we let others dictate our day, it’s not surprising our happiness can be robbed from us in a split second.

What about people you love and people who love you dearly? They too can bring us down. When you form a relationship or friendship with someone, you subconsciously put a price tag on that person. You set an expectation. The painful truth is that everyone wants something from you, including your parents.

The sooner you are able to figure out what is the something that everyone wants from you, the quicker you are able to realign the expectation set earlier on and save yourself from unforeseen disappointment risk. It can be love, career progression, business deal, or plain platonic relationship.

Maybe this is when we can choose to be happy, meeting optimum expectation others placed in you and in turn meeting others’ expectation. Now this sounds like a bad idea, but it’s true! Life is full with meeting expectations. Whether from parents, bosses, friends, lover, children etc. The key word here is optimum. Optimum always work the best.

Firstly, it can prevent ourselves from burning out. Secondly, it can help us not to be lackluster.

Even if nobody chooses you, the only person who can choose you is YOU yourself. Quit your 9-5 job if you failed to find any meaning in your work. You yourself have the ultimate power and capability to rise up to be the person you want to be, by exercising your own customized Daily Practices. I am no expert in this as I am still learning. But you know who to learn it from.

Choosing yourself would inevitably bring happiness into your life. That is when you realised the purpose of your life – why you are doing what you are doing. Doing what you love, at the same time satisfying your inner desires.

Maybe you would like to change the world. Maybe you would like to add values to your network, by connecting people within your network who don’t already know each other but would immensely blessed by one another had they known one another. Are you giving your dream a chance?

Moving forward one step at a time means you are not stopping and you are on track on achieving your dreams. 

Another vital key is to be thankful. Whenever I find myself not happy and have nothing significant to cheer on, I often forget about being thankful. It’s easier said than done. But to practice it religiously daily is not a mammoth task neither. If you have not already been doing this daily, be thankful the moment you open your eyes can start your day right.

To be honest, every morning when I wake up I will ask myself these few questions:

- Did I sleep enough? Am I energized sufficiently?
(If I didn’t sleep enough, I will feel like crap the whole day. There goes my day. Can’t even start it right.)
- Is there anything I can be thankful of?
(Hint: Of course there are plenty of them. The very fact you are awake now and reading this are themselves two blessings already.)
- How’s my schedule like today? And how can I improve it to make it better? 

Come out with your own questions. I am pretty sure you can do way better than me.

Start your day right and you will be delightedly surprised that happiness comes knocking your door.

Lastly, don’t let happiness stand outside your door. Let happiness soak into your heart chambers.

Happy people attract more people. It is not always the case that we can become happy on our own, so being able to happy innately is an enviable gift.


I'm choosing happiness. Are you up for it? 

Friday, 4 December 2015

Why I Think Kepong 5 (UOA) Might NOT Work Out


I almost did it again. Bought into the sweet words of a property agent and book a unit at Kepong V Residences. I’m glad I did not. As you all know I have been looking around for a property. My main intention for this purchase is for INVESTMENT. And then this popped up. Kepong 5 / Kepong V / Kepong Square, by UOA.

Yes UOA! UOA is quite a reputable property developer that has been building projects after projects even before I was born. So I have no doubt about the quality of the project. If you haven’t heard of UOA because you are just a newbie like me or you haven’t been actively looking around for property, the entire Bangsar South is the masterpiece of UOA.

So far so good. Now here’s the deal: Currently it is still at the soft launch period, or pre-launch mode if you like. For a soft launch project initiated by such a reputable developer, nothing can go wrong, right? Let’s delve into it further, shall we?

Here’s the background: The project site is located at Jalan Lang Emas, next to Taman Segambut Aman. It smacked right in between Kepong and Segambut, and it is only 8 minutes off Mont Kiara and Desa Park City. There will also be a KTM station right behind the condo, which is fantastic! In addition, the construction of Duke2 Highway is already on-going, right in front of the project site.

The best part of it? It would be a MIXED DEVELOPMENT, i.e. a shopping mall with Cineplax embedded within, food and beverages, entertainments etc. Just like Publika, Tropicana, Paradigm, Mid Valley and so on. You get the idea.

There are 3 layouts and the one I chose was the middle one with 962 sqf, and its costs range from RM556k to RM620k, depending on the floor level of your choice. Through a simple calculation, you will arrive at RM578 per square feet. Not bad at all, right? Riggghhhttt?! Maybe..

OMG WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?!

I was ready to be sold. Seriously the moment I stepped out from the UOA showroom at Bangsar South last Saturday, I was so convinced this was the best deal I had ever came across. I was merely a lazy bloke ready to be sweet-talked into making a 6-figure purchase. Costly and foolishly.

But the thing is this, it is just okay, nothing too great to shout about. I’m extremely thankful for my seniors who kept asking me to reconsider my choice. Which leads me to…


5 Reasons NOT to Buy Kepong 5 Residences

1) Mixed Development. “How can this even be a reason for you not to buy this property?! I can’t believe you just said it.” Yes, I just said it. This should have been one of the biggest, if not the first, reasons why I should not buy into this project. Is there anything wrong with having a mixed development just below your condo? Let’s see. The targeted segment was high income earners from Mont Kiara and Desa Park City, but seriously when you come to think of it, Mont Kiara has their own shopping malls (1 Mont Kiara and Plaza Damas), while Desa Park City has 1 Utama and The Curve nearby. Why should they come to your shopping mall then? No reason? So again, this project would attract mainly middle income group. Think in the perspective of the potential crime rate.

2) The current state of Kepong and Segambut. I may be a little myopic on this, but despite the close proximity to Mont Kiara and Desa Park City, I don’t see the Segambut and Kepong areas growing fast enough to become high-end locations any time soon. It would take at least a few more decades, if ever, for Segambut and Kepong areas to be pulled up to the luxury standard. Plus the current residents are mostly middle income people who stay in landed properties. Again this are just my two cents, feel free to take it with a pinch of salt.

3) KTM service 100m behind the condo. This is a good thing right? I mean, seriously?! Not necessarily. If you look at the existing quality KTM offers, it has not been up to the satisfactory standard. Not only the timing is awfully inaccurate, the KTM users mainly comprise low to middle income groups, and even low-skilled foreigners. I’m not trying to offend anyone here, especially if you are a frequent KTM user. But I am speaking objectively. Of course there is always a chance of KTM management to significantly improve their services by say increasing frequency and improving timing of the train services. Again, this is merely a chance.

4) Duke2 Highway smacked right in front of the condo. Great? Maybe not. Think again. Currently the Jalan Lang Emas is already congested. Would it be a blessing for this Duke2 Highway to come in at this point of time? Or would it be a curse to the existing traffic? Again, it remains a possibility for the latter to happen. Imagine the 3-lane Duke2 Highway converging into the small Jalan Lang Emas in future. The sight is not going to be pretty, isn’t it? Think of yourself enduring this every day for the next 20-30 years, if you bought it for your own stay.

5) OXIDATION POND is just 1km away. For those who don’t know what an oxidation pond is, Google is just at your fingertips. Basically it is used for simple secondary treatment of SEWAGE effluents. Imagine the bacteria that could potentially spread to your property. 



So there you go, my reasons for not buying this project.

And because of this project, it has changed the way I viewed property investment. The next time similar opportunity arises, I would definitely ask myself this one golden question:

“Why shouldn’t I buy this property?” 


Always make it a point that if you managed to find even one flaw you are not happy about, you shall not proceed. Ignore that flaw and you risk it coming back to haunt you in future. 

Because every agent would want to tell you only the good things, but not the downsides of it. Always, I mean ALWAYS, remember that agents would ultimately prioritise self-interest. Their earnings are based on commission and that would only come through when the deal is sealed, that is when the SPA is signed by you and you paid the 10% downpayment. 

NOBODY TAKES CARE OF YOUR MONEY MORE THAN YOU DO. 

Think for yourself to avoid making all the costly mistakes! You wouldn't want to regret for the next 30 years just because of your impulsive decision.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Love Yourself First



“Hey, how are you doing?” is one of the most common questions we ask others or people throw at us, whether we realize it or not. Ironically not many people are genuinely interested about how you are doing, but rather it serves just as a form of formality or conversation starter.

Because we have been asked this question thousands of times, we subconsciously formed a default answer as well. “I’m fine / I’m doing great. Yourself?” becomes the default answer even when we don’t feel all that great at that point of time.

What happens when we give a genuine answer? In other word, be our true self. For instance, when I don’t feel all that blissful and positive about life or simply being dissatisfied at my workplace, I say “It is okay. I have been feeling tired at …xxx… and this boss has been squeezing me alive at work.”

Some friends may be caught by surprises for giving them unconventional responses and become empathetic at our situations, but the rest would be like “Oh snap, I wish I had never asked that question…” Have you ever been in that situation when you regretted asking your friend what is going on in his/her life? I am ashamed to say, I had.

So why should you be reading this post anyway? To be honest, no one is without one’s own problems, and we have a thousand and one decisions to make. A few decisions may put us in deep troubles, while most will help to improve our general happiness and contentment on life.

Speaking of which, behavioral economics has helped me to rationalize my decision making skills and see it from different perspectives. I strongly recommend books by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist based in Duke University and MIT. Check him out if you like.

I am pretty sure I am not the only one who don’t feel like listening to others’ problems all the time as I have enough of my own, but most of the times I still choose to be a good friend. I still listen to others’ life situations and be empathetic. Then I realised not everyone loves himself or herself.

We, human beings, are strange creatures and sometimes we enjoy tormenting ourselves with our past experiences particularly those hurtful moments. At times we will recollect the happy moments and involuntarily smile, but when one or two particular songs come up on our Spotify playlist, painful moments immediately gush down the memory lane.

But that’s what makes us human, human. Without memories, we are just another aimless moving creatures strolling around making babies. Memories can break us, but it also possesses an immense capability and strength to mold us. Attributed to its unique mark in our life, we think and act differently. People may idolize the adage “Great minds think alike” but everyone went through different life experiences. Even great minds did, so they are not exactly identical.

Just last week alone I have heard of two cases where my friends’ boyfriends cheated on them. One was a distant story, about 2 years ago. Another one was just two weeks ago. Coincidentally, both cases occurred when their relationships turned into long distance relationships (LDR). I may never find out what was playing in the guys’ minds because of my devoid of relevant experiences, but I would never commit such shamefully distressing act.

Just because you are alone feeling lonely when you are abroad, it doesn’t give you the permission to flirt with another girl and worse still, sleep with her. Unless you don’t mind being labelled as an asshole douchebag. Even so, your act is outright despicable. 

Few weeks ago when I went to watch movie with my sister at Tropicana Mall, my sister told me there was this guy looking at her even when he was walking next to a hot girlfriend. Seriously, what’s wrong with guys? Of course I am stereotyping here, but it’s undeniable that guys are, mostly if not all, visual creatures.

So guys, when you already have a girlfriend, please treat her like a jewel because if you don’t, someone else will. Just like salt put onto a wound, it would never be the same for the girls who got cheated. They never deserved such treatment, definitely not from one of the most trusted persons they have poured out their hearts to.

Unfortunately shit happens.

There are two types of losers in a relationship:

1)  Those who don’t think they deserve someone better, and hang on to the current bad apple.
2) Those who think they are not good enough to deserve someone as excellent as [insert your dream guy/girl], and thereby not confident enough of themselves.

These two types apply to both guys and girls alike.

For the first type, of course it is difficult. It is never an easy task to save yourself, to bring yourself out of your comfort zone. Someone you have been so familiar with for the past xx months/years. But enough is enough. Love yourself. Save yourself time and energy. Get yourself out of the mess. When you sense something is not going right in your relationship and you find yourself having to struggle through days and nights worrying about it, disaster is looming.

As for the second type, you need to buck up. I’m not sure if you know this, but YOU ARE UNIQUE. The sooner you realize there is only one you in this world, the faster you will start to appreciate your self-worth. I used to be a Type II loser, until one day I realised I may not be too bad. I may not have found my soulmate yet, I know she is somewhere out there. I can only pray for her.

To my future wife / best friend / soulmate,

I know you are out there somewhere. Maybe working, or still studying. Until you walk into my life, I pray that you will always live your life joyfully and thankfully. Seek God and praise God when you are happy or even sad. If you are in a relationship right now, I pray you will find happiness and deeper meaning in the relationship. Guard your heart, love yourself first before anyone else. Everything happens for reasons, every relationship will teach you something valuable.

I pray that you will be more compassionate and empathetic towards friends and strangers, and find peace in all the little things around you. Slow down and listen to your little voice. I pray that you will be receptive of Holy Spirit’s voice, and follow Him. If you ever feel lonely and no one else understands you, please remember there is this guy right here who never ceases praying for your well being. You are never alone. But till then, please hang on tight. The storm will be over soon.

Till then, I promise you I will do my part. I will strive to improve myself in all areas, including my relationship with God, friendships with other people and family, as well as my health and finances. I am working hard now to provide a decent life for our future family. I will pass all the actuarial professional papers to further secure my career stability, at the same time not putting my savings and investments on the backseat.

I will take care of myself for you, and I hope you will take care of yourself for me too.

With all my heart and soul I love you,

Nicholas 

Favourite Music! =)