Aloha Spirit

Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain – it is my pain. When there is joy – it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not wilfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed, I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect. This is Hawaiian – this is Aloha!

The first thing that most people assume about the Hawaiian culture is probably daily surfing, bikini bods, and a pretty laidback lifestyle, which is kind of true but not the whole of it. The Hawaiian culture, as I have learned, is essentially steeped in the Spirit of Aloha.

According to the information on the University of Hawaii’s website, the Aloha Spirit is considered a state “law”, but it is not a type of law that will get you in trouble if you break it. The world “law” does sound too strict. Its purpose is actually to serve as a reminder to government officials while they perform their duties to treat people with deep care and respect.

In other words, Aloha Spirit is more a lesson than a law. If the government officials (and citizens) apply the lessons in real life, they could contribute positively to the world, as the “law” is based on empathy, not superiority. The philosophy that the public officials should uphold is stated in the State Law:

“Aloha Spirit” is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force, “Aloha”, the following unuhi laula loa may be used:

“Akahai”, meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;

“Lokahi”, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;

“Oluolu”, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;

“Haahaa”, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;

“Ahonui”, meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii. “Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. “Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. “Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. “Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

This resonates so much with me, my values and my beliefs that I have gradually acquired even before words could properly describe them. And when I read about Aloha, I knew that I should hold on to it thus began my acknowledgement of “Spirit”. In pictures, I often show the Shaka sign, and I practice Aloha with every person I meet by just being aware of the other person’s spiritual presence.

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To me, it’s a way of living consciously and compassionately. This would hopefully lead to building more meaningful relationships with people. As they say, change starts within oneself. And so, this has helped me look at the world in different perspectives, and I am able to better understand and accept people just as they are.

It’s difficult to talk about the concept of “Spirit” when it is intangible. It’s either you feel it or you don’t. And I think I can safely say that most people do feel a certain warmth in them when a person hugs them, say thanks to them, do something good to them… and that to me is an interaction between two souls, or spirits. I believe that there is more than just our body and the internal organs. There’s something else weaving in between the veins and arteries.

The Spirit does not only harbour positive feelings. It is also the feeling when you lose a loved one; when a loved one leaves you; when you are abandoned; when you are being discriminated; when you are angry at someone or something; and when you just want to give up.

The point is that acknowledging your Spirit, and subsequently others’ Spirit, allows you to feel much more, embracing the range of emotions that the human brain can offer. This humbles you because you would realise how vulnerable you are as a human being, but at the same time empowers you, as those emotions, the gut feelings, are what’s keeping you alive and able to contribute to others. Sure, we are all different and the experiences we have are different, but most of the emotions we feel are similar. We can relate to each other, understand each other better, and help each other in need.

I’m still on this journey of discovering more of myself and what I can offer. I think I will always be on this journey until my breath is completely exhausted from my body. And what I would love to encounter on this journey is people who also embrace this Aloha Spirit so that we can collectively grow, make good memories and leave our footprints along the way. With that, I can only hope that the destination, wherever that is, would be sweeter because of the amazing journey.

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gratitude to earth

Earth is important because we live on Earth and we depend on Earth’s resources. We need the oxygen from trees to breathe and we need food from the soil for sustenance. We need the clouds to produce rain to fill up the river for us to drink, and most importantly, we need the Sun to give us Energy.

Unfortunately, there are quite a number of us who take that for granted or perhaps have forgotten about Earth’s many gifts. Instead, we treat the Earth like we do our exes or enemies – like trash.

We purchase plastic bags and bottles and then we discard them in the bin thinking that the rubbish collector will sort them out. We buy smart phones every two years because new ones seem better and we don’t think that perhaps human lives were shortened just so our smart phones could have longer lives. We use polystyrene plates at events because it’s cheaper and easier – we don’t have to wash them, just throw them away after use and all will be well.

No.

Whatever items we throw without thinking would come back to bite us in the arse. The polystyrene cups and disposable straws we discard would go to landfills. Landfills are just a plot of bare land that used to have trees growing on them, land that huge holes have been dug to bury the trash. To let it decompose. We would think it’s good because it would then be out of sight.

But the soil suffers. The chemicals will leach into the soil and if the landfill is near an agriculture land, then our food will be affected. If it is near a river, the freshwater lives will be lost. The ecosystem becomes unbalanced. It struggles to achieve equilibrium again, as we human beings continuously dump more synthetic weight, more chemicals onto Earth.

And it’s not just the land. The oceans become affected, too. Population increase prompts the development of cities leading to more trash produced. When there is not enough land to hide the evidence of our irresponsibility, the rubbish goes to sea.

Don’t get me started on what happens to the rubbish at sea.

On second thought, let me just list down what happens:

  1. Rubbish is eaten by fish and whales thus slowly and painfully killing them.
  2. Plastic ringlets become unnecessary corsets for sea turtles, damaging their beautiful protective shells.
  3. Plastic straws stuck in the noses of those turtles.
  4. Albatross consumes plastic toys and such, eventually dies.
  5. The formation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

If those things don’t sound horrible to you, I’d suggest you have a good check on your humanity.

It seems like whatever we throw away irresponsibly would result in death of a living species along the way. To me, regardless if it’s a direct or indirect killing, it is still a crime that one is a part of. And yes I do feel guilty upon realising this and I am trying very hard to change the throwing away habit by practising the 5Rs.

But it’s still so very difficult to keep motivated or consistent, as I am basically going against the default system. It’s just like swimming against the current. It takes so much effort and sometimes it would feel as though it’s better to just drown.

No.

It’s never better to give up. The earth has done so much more for me than I could ever contribute to it, which makes it all the more necessary for me to keep on caring for the environment until my last breath. I must show my gratitude for the trees, the soil, the Sun by endeavouring to live sustainably and consciously.

And you should, too, if you live on Earth.

productive discussions

I was listening to a podcast entitled “Digital Lives” by Colin Wright. He posed this prospect of being cut off from the Internet either intentionally or not, and how businesses especially would get affected by it considering how reliant their system is on the Internet. Most of us use various Google software as parts of our daily lives – Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Maps, YouTube, etc. So it’s quite terrifying, or perhaps liberating for some, to imagine how our lives would be like without those tools.

For me, I think that if I were to be the only one being cut off from the Internet, I would definitely feel left out and it would be much more difficult for me to reach out to people. But if the rest of the world is to be somehow cut off from the Internet perhaps by a massive solar flare, I think I would be a bit more relaxed because then everyone would shift their focus to elsewhere and not on a device. I’m not dependent on the Internet even though I use it every day. It’s just that I wouldn’t be devastated if I have to live without it.

After thinking about this, I have the inclination to voice out to a person. I looked to my left; the car seat was empty. Listening to Colin Wright felt like someone else was there talking to me and I nearly forgot that I was on my way to work and no one else was in the car. I then thought, “With whom can I immediately talk about this?”. I don’t have a significant other. I do have friends and I love them and all, but they are often not as inclined to care for my wild thoughts daily, as a significant other would – and that’s just plain reality.

Basically, there is no one keen enough to muse with my thoughts on a daily or weekly basis. This might be normal whereas having someone to talk to is a privilege. Or it might be the other way round for some. I don’t know. But this is normal for me. And it seems like unless you have a significant other who cares a hell lot about your hopes and worries, then you just have to put up with the thoughts weighing in your head.

I guess this is one of the reasons why I write. I need to write. Otherwise, sooner or later, I wouldn’t be able to think and behave very well because my mind’s all clogged up. The thoughts have to be displaced elsewhere. Some people may not realise this because displacing their thoughts is a natural habit thanks to the people around them who are willing to listen.

But I think that there are people willing to listen; it’s whether they could provide their input at par with the required level of thinking. I don’t mean to sound proud, as though I’m at a higher level of thinking than everybody else. But the things I mull over in my head are often not the kind of things people would like to talk about over lunch. So most of the time I am reluctant to bring up a topic lest others would not respond satisfactorily. And that would just irritate me.

So I shall continue to write and post my thoughts in articles, hoping to come across people or at least ONE person who would appreciate my thoughts and contribute theirs so as to build upon each other’s knowledge. That’s what I truly need right now – productive discussions that can help improve my way of thinking and drive my ideas into tangible results. I could realise my ambitions alone, sure, but it would take a longer time and much more effort than necessary.

A L I G N

I haven’t been my “usual” self this past month hence the social media silence. I didn’t post anything on my blog, YouTube channel and Instagram (instastory doesn’t count) this past month. I was in a difficult state and it sucked out nearly all the motivation and hope in me.

Let’s call it burnout.

spreading myself thinly

I’m the kind of person who likes learning about lots of different topics, who likes to do many things and who cares about many things. Some people tend to focus on one thing that they’re really good at, but I prefer to get my hands on several things and endeavour to be good at all of them. It is not impossible, but it can be difficult and taxing.

Since I’ve started working full-time, I find it difficult to balance the things that I want to do. Work is obviously one of the top priorities because I need money, and it takes about 66% of my energy. Although it occupies only about 9 out of 24 hours of my day, I actually need as much time to recuperate, which leaves me with just 6 hours.

How is that enough time to write good content on my blog, edit videos, post pictures, read a novel, go to the gym, practice dancing and bake cookies?

And don’t give me the “Béyonce has 24 hours too” bullshit.

What I realised is that yes, I am pushing myself too hard by doing too many things at once. There is no such thing as multitasking. If I want to be good at something, I would need to allocate time for it realistically. And if I can’t make time for each of the things I want to do, I’d have to remove the activities that are least beneficial to me at the present time.

We often confuse activity for productivity.

— Joshua Fields Millburn

Of course it’s easier said than done. So I took the time to brainstorm. I wrote down the things that I like to do and I narrowed them down to the things I need to do. Then, I scribbled the hours of the day and filled them in with activities as realistically as possible. Since my week days are governed by work, I would only have a few hours each night to do one thing.

Confused yet?

Basically, my whole point is that I shouldn’t do too many things in short periods of time and instead focus on one or two things within a longer period. That way I can get more out of what I do instead of always feeling unaccomplished.

 

no accountability

I’ve previously written about accountability factors and how I need more of those in my life. I mentioned about Muay Thai classes and how the money I earn plus my own genuine intention are factors that force me to attend those classes. And guess what, I have been attending them consistently each week (unless work brings me outstation).

A question I posed in that post was do I need an accountability partner? As in a real human being with whom I can talk to at least once a week to go through what I have accomplished and what needs to be done. And if I don’t get to accomplish my weekly target, said partner would be the one to push me on and give positive encouragement.

I was listening to a podcast by Ariel Bissett about getting organised for freelance and she mentioned that having an accountability partner (or two) helps tremendously. Yes there’s the physical organisational part of writing to-do’s on a notebook, but we also need to consider how organised our mental and emotional states are. And that’s where help from another human being may come in.

Wanting to have an accountability partner does not mean that you are not strong enough or not independent enough. It’s a whole different thing. It’s just accepting that you are a human being who requires input from others every now and then so that we don’t get trapped in our own little minds, which can be a dangerous place to be. Trust me.

So while I keep on searching for such a partner, I am trying to keep myself and the work I do accountable by sharing my thoughts publicly on social media. That is mostly why I rely on Instagram, for example. My Instagram feed is filled with posts that often serve to be motivational. The pictures I post are edited nicely with insightful caption so that I could look back and smile at the memories. In a way, I’m helping my future self in need.

And yes I feel happy when people acknowledge my pictures by liking or commenting because it does give that serotonin boost. Yes, it’s a short-term pleasure and yes, it may sound pathetic but this is the best I can figure out since there is literally no one in my life who would ask about how I feel, how my progress is, and who would listen to my complaints without harsh judgment, who would help me get out of a rut, and who would do all of those consistently.

Well, I guess those are the two main reasons for my burnout. From these two root causes came other factors that I won’t talk about as they may be generic or too personal. Plus, this is long enough.

The whole point of this post is for me to share with you this thing that has bugged me so that my conscience can be cleared and I can move on to write about other important things that I have in mind. And also it feels good to let it out into the air not caring if this will be read by anyone else or not.

But anyway, I wish all the best to you who are reading this and just don’t give up no matter what, as there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep holding on.

B U R N O U T

10th FEBRUARY 2017

I’m staring blankly at the computer screen, the opened Word document in front of me with what little progress I’ve made. I’ve been staring at it for 10 maybe 15 minutes with my right palm resting on the mouse and the left on the keyboard. Both stiff as statues. My mind is blank, my face bore lines of fatigue. I don’t care anymore.

And there’s that red flag.

Some people don’t realise that their having a burnout and only think that it’s “just stress” or “hormones raging” or whatnot. Being in denial. But what if you do realise it’s burnout stemming from lack of motivation, creativity and progress? And worse still, what if you know what to do but there’s no way of doing it in the current situation you’re in?

But there’s always a way out, says the small and almost insignificant voice inside, nearly drowned by the numbing nothingness brought by the flames that burned so quickly and died so suddenly.

Is there a way out considering that you sit on your butt about 8 hours each day with little to no exercise and having minimum (or none at all) intelligent conversation to stimulate your mind?


 

5th MARCH 2017

I had little to no intention to publish the paragraphs above on that day itself because I thought I would add something more. But then days passed and I couldn’t bring myself to continue or to answer the questions I posed. I didn’t have the answers. I still don’t.

All I can say is that the burnout was real. I have now recovered from it, I believe, or else I wouldn’t be typing and publishing this post. At that time it seemed as if I was stuck and there was really no way out. But I wanted a way out and so I searched for one. And the exit door appeared eventually.

I shall talk more about this (the real reason I burned out) in my next post, as it is a topic I’ve been mulling over my mind. For now, to you who are encountering difficulties in life, just don’t give up. There are more beautiful things in life than you’d think.