August 6th, 2009


Stop and Smell the Flowers - by Jack Sim

This resonates well with me and I thought it helps to share this with everyone.
The real currency of life is time =) Remember that.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Jack Sim

In an agrarian society, people cherish simple joy. Human beings don’t need much to be happy as we can see from the Gross Happiness Index of the remote nation of Bhutan. As societies industralise, capitalism promotes individualism. Just when knowledge seems like power, the internet globalises it until knowledge becomes a free, open-source commodity.

Our over-consumption eventually reaches saturation point and the self-destructive process is now upon us with the threat of global warming and other environmental disasters. Was progress really progress?

Our next era will be the Age of Wisdom where we search for simply joy and meaning again.

In our rush for economic success, we often have stressful days when we wish we could just make enough money to adopt a much slower pace of life, not be so hectic in our schedules, spend more time with our families and friends, learn a new language or musical instrument, learn scuba diving and under-water photography, even stop to smell the flowers…you know those days.

Well, the recession might just offer you the best opportunity to get out of the rat-race.

In fact, you may not be prepared for it but when the opportunity arrives, why not make the best out of it?

I walked away from the rat-race at age 40. On reflection, I have concluded capitalism is a futile game we cannot win. The game’s key elements are jealousy, fear, stress, a depletion of human kindness and a continuous sense of inadequacy. The original purpose of money for sustaining livelihood gets blown out of proportion. Acquiring branded goods with huge, ostentatiously displayed logos proves how nervous we are about who we are in the social ranking strata.

Life has become a scoreboard.

As someone once said, “We buy the things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress the people we don’t like.”

The scoreboard distracts us from what is meaningful. If we can put aside winning and losing as a measure of our purpose of life, we will be able to discover new dimensions of meaning not clear to us before.

In Singapore, an average man dies at 78 years and a woman at 82. Subtract that from your current age and multiply by 365: that’s the number of days you can expect to have left to live. Tomorrow, it will be one day less.

Money is not the currency. The real currency of life is time. When time runs out, life runs out. Envision what you’d say to yourself at the last moment before you close your eyes eternally. It is unlikely you’d be counting how much money you have at that moment, because you can’t take the money with you.

Volunteering to help others and philanthropy are some of the joyful things you can do when you’re alive. When we cease to become our own centre of focus, pressure and stress disappear. When we focus on caring for others, a warm and pleasant feeling energises us and makes us feel really good about ourselves. This spiritual reward is something money cannot buy.

Forbes or Fortune magazine may try to tell you that the guy on the front cover is a successful person. Such publications prey on your sense of inadequacy. You can reject such an attack on your ego. I once asked a former communist cadre from China who went through poverty and is today a senior officer in a government owned company: “Are you happier now that you are rich, as compared to the time when you were poor?”

She answered: “Our family was happy when we were poor because everyone was poor at that time. We are now rich and also happy. But the most difficult time for us was when our neighbours became rich first while we were still poor. That was a most painful period.”

Life is easier when we don’t compare. Simplicity is a form of happiness itself. Simplicity teaches you that you can choose to live at your own pace. We don’t need much to be happy. We don’t need to have much before we give love to and care for others.

Remember: The Business Times Model of Success is not compulsory.