Advanced Laziness

Today I thought I would talk about a little philosophy that has powered me for the past couple of years.

This is the philosophy of advanced laziness.

It’s the same philosophy that has made me exercise every single day since January 1st of 2019, which makes today’s run Day 1740 of exercise without stopping.

It’s the same philosophy that makes me work hard in many areas and to carry forward doing many of the things that I have been doing without stopping.

It’s a philosophy that seems to bear almost no relation to laziness, and may at the end of the day just be a profound rationalization based upon delusional reasoning.

…But I believe in it.

Let me explain.

I believe that somewhere within a person’s spirit, they have things that they wish to accomplish and would wish to accomplish no matter what the circumstances are. As goal-driven beings, we seek to accomplish or do certain things with our lives, and therefore face an innate wish to strive for these things.

Here are some examples. A person might want to lose weight or to learn an instrument. Maybe they might want to successfully create a business that will sustain them or to sustain a social enterprise that is brought forth on the strength of their personality and many other things along the way.

Maybe some of these things are formed by society or from the people around us, or maybe even random interactions between ourselves and the world.

Nonetheless, their existence remains undeniable fact: To deny them is to pay for a future in which one sits up in bed and ponders why the goal has yet to be achieved, to question every moment that came before, and to recognize that one didn’t manage to pay respects to their inner will, leading to existential crisis, confusion, and a recognition that one should have done better.

It is to eventually return and remember the innate wish and see that it hasn’t been fulfilled in the world, and therefore face doubt, anxiety, and a wish to strive for the goal again.

Advanced laziness is founded upon these premises which may well just be assumptions at the end of the day, but it is founded on the basis of the belief that the most efficient way to strive and to minimise the time that a person looks back on life and tries again to achieve something that they could have achieved before is to simply pursue it every single day and with all of their heart to minimise the total amount of time that a person ends up wallowing in regret and wondering about things that could have been and instead capitalising on the benefits of compounding and the growth that comes when a person dedicates themselves daily towards small improvements brought forth manageably as they pursue the goals that arise from within their deepest being.

It is a philosophy that is based upon the idea that benefits compound through daily practice and regrets can be minimized if one doesn’t have a reason to have them in the first place because one is engaged instead in the pursuit of moving the needle forward with each day, interaction, and moment instead. This has always seemed like a more appealing way of living life to me than the converse, though I feel that on a personal level, it hasn’t always played out in that way.

Like any other person, I have moments when I feel subjectively that I’m not up for something, that I’m tired, that I cannot push forward in the way that I would like because of external circumstances, time constraints, or any number of other things that could make life difficult that I haven’t been able to push past constraining me from doing the things that I want on a day-to-day basis. But one thing I’ve come to learn throughout the course of life is that what we want is manifold, and it’s not always clear that we can make rational judgments about what should take precedence over what, and moreover that time inconsistency also assails us with the inability to make decisions on a consistent basis across multiple time periods in the situation that we do not spend time reflecting.

When I reflect personally on the different things that I’m doing, including Korean, cello, making videos, and pushing forward in learning how to educate people, I recognize at many different decision points that these things are difficult to balance because they require discipline and many other facets of personality which I have only imperfectly developed throughout the relatively brief duration of my life upon the mortal coil that is the wick of my life upon the candle of earth.

There are times when I am tempted to deviate and simply rest and stop and pause for a quick bit, allowing the wave of freedom to wash over me, only to realize that this decision represents, when I reflect upon it, a denial of my previously freely chosen decision to pursue these things in the very first place and represent an insult to my earlier self. One could very well contend that a person should be free to make decisions at an earlier point and then also to make decisions to deny that earlier decision when a person has changed. But has a person really changed along the way? Not necessarily. I know that I definitely haven’t. When I reflect upon the deepest parts of my soul, I recognize that the things that I say are valuable, remain valuable, regardless of my immediate feeling of stress or difficulty with coping. Because when I look at the deepest part of my being, I see that I value knowing how to speak Korean and with the world at large. And I know that I value music and its ability to unite people by appealing to the soul in ways that can only be brought forth with skillful practice and a sensitivity not only to rhythms but also to the souls of those who lie without. I see in the balance of things that impacting souls and helping them to strive for better, to live for better in the eventuality of things is and remains something tremendously worthwhile to aim for.

Each of these things is something that bears the possibility of failure the moment one moves away. A person cannot learn a language by simply choosing not to continue a class and hoping that one’s innate nature and supposed freedom will bring them on the path towards a greater mastery.

The same applies for learning an instrument. In the absence of teaching, it’s not always clear what I would do on my part and therefore, any freedom that would be brought forth on that front would eventually be drawn back closer into the sphere of what I had attempted to do before, across all different things, which in turn leads me yet again as what goes up comes down in what seems to be a teleological direction of return towards facets that I had identified before and that innately I know I should continue to pursue. These are facets that will ever remain as part of me, and that if I wish to chase with efficiency, I must muster the strength to push forward each day.

There is no guarantee that other people abide by the same way of living or think of the world or value improvement in the same way.

But I feel that this will resonate for those who do.

Here’s to advanced laziness to those of you out, there are striving for better and seek to accomplish it in the most efficient way possible, while paying respect to your nature. Thanks for reading.

Some Writing Advice To Myself

One of the most solid pieces of advice that I’ve ever received is that you should write the way that you speak; it’s something I think that I still fall short in, a piece of advice that I’ve wanted to implement but struggled to take, something that I personally want to improve myself in.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that in life, using difficult words and complicated expressions isn’t going to do you any favours – the people whom you’re supposed to serve won’t understand you, which means that if they are going to continue reading what you’re writing, they will have to use a dictionary or otherwise rack their brains trying to understand what you’re trying to say.

The answer probably is a solid no.

Even if you want someone to appreciate the high flown nature of your ideas, and to somehow elevate themselves, if they don’t get what you’re trying to say, then, there is no point – you have just wasted your time, which you could have spent either leveling yourself up so that you would be able to express better ideas, or perhaps, even just watching a television show in the first place:

People will most likely take one look at what you’re saying and immediately go away in favour of greener pastures or messages that they can understand; congratulations, you lose the attention war.

This isn’t to say in any way that people are dumb because they don’t appreciate difficult vocabulary and neither, by the way, is it to say that people should avoid difficult vocabulary altogether. Rather, it’s to say that when we express ourselves, whatever the scenario, we want to do it in such a way that the maximum number of people can understand us.

I feel that the underlying message is solid: whatever you communicate, make sure to phrase it in such a way that you aim to be understood by the person on the other end because if you’re just writing things in such a way that you use things that people won’t get out of hand, your communication will be unsuccessful.

Still, it’s something that I’ve identified and want to get better at, so here’s a note of vulnerability.

This is something that I myself struggle with, because when I think about things, I don’t always think about the most simple, or intuitive way of phrasing things – I tend to think in terms of complete ideas and full sentences, just as I have read them in books; I also tend not to filter them, so they come out the same way that they appear inside my head – unfiltered, often dense, and usually very quickly without any further consideration for the person on the other end.

Often it’s not the case that I think directly about what the person on the other side must be understanding or receiving from my words, hence everything comes out, unfiltered, overly convoluted, reflective of my thought process, and in short lacking usefulness.

I want to have my thoughts more relatable to people so that they can immediately respond rather than face confusion in top of getting what I’m trying to say, and why I’m saying it – that means being able to relate to people a little more and chatting with people in the knowledge that they can understand everything that I’m getting across.

I want to have more people understand the thoughts that I’m conveying, which isn’t just about changing the language that I use so that it can be more easily understood, but also learning how to think about ideas that are worthwhile to share in the first place, and to understand why and under what circumstances to share them.

I’d like to caveat that to some extent, though. I don’t think that learning how to share your ideas with the world necessarily means dumbing them down – in many ways, it means understanding how people will relate to things, how they will engage, and how they can understand things through examples, analogies, and many of the other things that link us together as human beings in the common experience.

Writing in a simple way often isn’t reflective off linguistic simplicity, but rather it’s something pretty darn sophisticated, because in order to write, simply, you often have to really boil down the essence of what makes an idea what it is and then convey those things to the person who is listening while paying attention to what they’re catching onto and constantly listening to their needs – definitely not something that’s possible in the course of writing, an essay, but something that a person needs to be able to imagine and demonstrate effectively when they’re in the process of writing an exam.

This too is something that I’m trying to learn at the moment, and I think I can do it to a southern extent, but perhaps writing it down here will solidify my intent, and make it more clear what I’m trying to achieve. Here’s the hope that in the days ahead, I’ll be able to better implement.

On Altruism and Charity

I often think a lot about charity and altruism. I think that it is noble to give unto others in many different ways. This is something that I cannot deny. Almost every single fibre of my being, schooled by the lessons of morality and the chidings of adults who taught me moral values at an earlier point, only to later turn out not to be such shining exemplars as those that I had imagined when I was younger.

Yet I have seen enough of the reality of the world to understand that gifts are truly things that we should not have any prior expectations about, in terms of how gifts should be used. It has been difficult to come to this way of thinking because I think that in many ways, when we give, we expect to make a positive difference and we want the world to go in the way that we imagine it will go, that our gift will end up making the impact that we believe or think that it will. As time has gone by though, I’ve come to see innumerable situations whereby that hasn’t happened.

During the course of a recent church session, what happened was that the pastor who was in charge of the start of the service basically said that he had an experience in which he wanted to give a thousand ringgit and had it stolen from him.

After this, he said that he decided to give anyway and then during the course of the year he nonetheless received a promotion and various other benefits along the way including a bonus for the very first time in his life.

At this time I thought to myself about whether one should give with any expectation as it seemed that the pastor was encouraging us to believe at that time, and I thought back to all the previous instances in which I had given unto others only.

I thought back to the time when I had donated a thousand ringgit to a starving Myanmar refugee apparently who apparently wanted to become a pastor and wasn’t getting supported by his own congregation but nonetheless wanted to continue getting funds from me and from the people who were in the church.

He didn’t want to work for some reason and apparently used the money that we had given him in order to buy household appliances and things of that nature. I remember at that point after having given unto that particular cause that I felt wrong. I felt that there was no point in having done any good to that particular person who refused to pull himself up by his own bootstraps and assist himself in being able to coordinate the circumstances necessary for him to preach God’s word.

What kind of preacher was he if he was unable to secure the support of his congregation in order to do the things that he wanted to do?

I remember feeling wronged at that point in time – Angered that he, rather than trying to turn his life around by making a living, thought instead to obtain resources from us thinking that it was going to be a continued thing. But he, instead of seeking assistance from those that he purported to serve, thought to rope in strangers who decided to give simply out of goodwill on one particular occasion, not only taking their gift for granted but in turn demanding more, without even so much as a hint of gratitude.

But that was simply a monetary gift, and that was simply one instance. I have given much more in other situations and on other occasions, which I think it would be uncouth to mention to a great extent. But suffice to say, what I can conclude is that it hasn’t always paid off.

As I thought about some of those things and reflected upon them, it made me think first one time, then two times, then for a third, fourth and fifth time as I cycled through all of those experiences inside my mind of the times that I had given.

I realized in that moment that yes, it was true, that in those previous instances I was not rewarded. If I looked to the future, I could anticipate or imagine that I would not be rewarded then either. I looked again into the future and recognised even further that perhaps, even if I should give at some later point, that the reward would not be apparent, nor would it be extensive and that very well I could simply decide on the turn of a moment that giving should be therefore an impossibility for me and something that I should not even abide.

But then thinking about it again, I recognised the true value of being able to give without any prior expectation.

I think that we live in a world where we won’t necessarily be rewarded for the things that we do; a dark and fallen world, where often kindness is replayed with treachery and good deeds with betrayal. It is not to say that there are no good people in the grand scheme of things, merely that while there are good people, it’s a much more rational bet to assume that if one decides to grant a good deed unto someone that is rational on the balance of things to expect, that nothing good will come out of it beyond a smile rather than a friendship of sorts.

Of late though, as I contemplate how far I’ve come from the years before, I recognize that the part of me that is willing to abide all of that and to give nonetheless has grown in measure. And where I am now is a reflection of that accentuated desire and ability to give, often with no reward promised or anything else of that nature. It’s hard to say exactly why things happen in that way, but when I look closer and closer down to the very depths of my soul, I see that it is what has come to pass.

Of what significance is a gift in the grand totality of things?

The other conscious beings to whom our gifts may be due have no obligation to repay them. To expect them to do so would be an act of folly, one based upon a flawed assumption of human beings. So I came to recognise.

Who, after all, can expect their fellow man to simply grant back unto them that which they have given?

I recognised this somehow in the midst of the days and months ensuing after those other unpalatable giving experiences… But over time I came to understand something else: That if I were in the position of a receiver and I knew that somebody had given me something with an intention or a goal in mind, that I would be less likely then to evaluate the gift as coming from somebody with a good heart or with a good soul, but rather something that had simply been extended in service of accomplishing an outcome; it would be entirely natural for me to just accept the gift and to think no further of it.

How strange and paradoxical it seems that my desire at that point to be rewarded for the gift that I had been given in the form of observing some sort of outcome that would take place should itself be the foundation or root of another problem – the problem of not having the right intentions, which if we think about it through the lenses of human understanding, can be filtered through so many different reviewlets and possible streams at the end of the day that it shall soon become incomprehensible what the gift actually was for and whether it could in fact benefit the one who received it.

I didn’t know what to think about this realization when I first had it, but over time, it has borne a fruit that is rather different to what I had imagined during earlier years that simply came out during the course of the sermon.

Frankly, as I heard the pastor’s words, they fell from my ears when I listened to the hints of extrinsic motivation that seemed to come across in his appeal for the church to donate, of a promotion, promises of better jobs, promises of improved financial opportunities after the fact, promises that this investment that one made into the Kingdom of God would somehow yield a tangible return… When such an expectation should not even have been a part of the matter in the first place.

When I regained my presence of mind however I recalled at that point in time that ultimately giving was its own reward – That it was an affirmation not only of my ability to give, but also of my willpower to help my community by being willing to sacrifice something for the sake of another.

I did not know, and I still don’t know, how my gifts of money and time or anything else will eventually impact the people around me. And frankly, as I think about it right now, I realise that it does not matter to me. Because while it’s true that I would like to see people’s lives improve, that cannot be the ultimate determinant of whether or not I choose to give in the first place. It has to be more sophisticated than that, something deeper, something that is It’s based more on something sustainable such as an innate desire which over the course of time has progressively grown inside me to be able to make a difference to the world around me, even if it’s something that I cannot personally see in the course of my time on the planet.

I recognized at that point in time in the sermon and through the unsuited motivation that if I was willing to sacrifice and was able to sacrifice, that was enough for me – Not because a person can meaningfully expect a reward in the same way that the pastor did somehow receive a reward, but rather because I’ve recognized that giving is good for me: It helps us to recognise that I have something in this world that is valuable to others. It helps me recognise that the gift of my resources can in turn support the people of another generation and plant trees in places that I may not have seen. It pays homage to the realization that somehow or another, through the sacrifice of certain gifts that I have in the present moment, I can make a better future for others in areas that we cannot reach, in places that we cannot touch even though I may never decide that future.

It reminds

“I slept and I dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Somehow or another, the words of that quote from Rabindranath Tagore, quoted by Tharman Shanmugaratnam, ring clear to me. Somehow or another, in the midst of that sermon, I recognised the truth of that final statement that service somehow was joy, and contemplated:

And as I contemplated, I extended my phone, scanned the QR code, and gave. I don’t know how my soul is being refined, but what I do know is this, that as of late, my focus has become more directed towards community, towards changing things, towards changing myself. I don’t know how much impact or difference a single person can make upon this world, and I think that it is presumptuous to over-consider that question.