February 29, 2012

On ego

I just realized, the most unhappy people are they who are self absorbed, thinking that they're the center of the world.

I'm currently surrounded by sad and depressed people telling me their awful circumstances in life. One thing they have in common: these people use a lot of "I" word. It's always about them.

A friend is currently broken hearted. Ok, I won't say anything, since it's a very emotionally challenging situation in which you're hurting and not able to take a distance, seeing things in other perspectives. But the question she asked was,"Why does this happen to me? I never did harmful things, I don't deserve such pain. Why does God let it happen, Wi? Whats the reason? I hate him"

I answered,"I don't know. Shit happens to good people. It is what it is. Maybe god wants you to be stronger. A good sword has to be burned in the process. The best you can do is accept the pain, let him go, learn from it and be better next time. No need to hate, he's the best teacher in your life. No worry, the pain will subside, nothing lasts forever, not even pain."

Another friend keeps complaining about her engagement diamond her fiance gave her. It's not big enough :) She told her man,"Your parents are so naggy, this diamond is so not worth the troubles I have to go through with your parents. I know your salary, you can afford better than this."

Another friend is a very self absorbed person. We always talk about her problem, her boyfriend, her life, her work and she tends to sweat over small stuffs, got angry and depressed.

Another friend, a he this time, fell in depression as he dwells in his past mistakes and feels worthless about himself. He pushes away people, saying "I always hurt people close to me. I hate myself, my life is a living hell."

At a first glance, he seems like he's thinking about other people's welfare, but after I got to know him, I realized he's a very self centered person as well. He pities himself, and enjoys being the "criminal", thinks that he commits the worst sins in the history of human being. He puts himself on a negative pedestal and kicks away everybody else. I think this is an inward projection of self absorption, in which he blames himself instead of others.

Whereas other friends of mine project the self absorption outwards, in which they blame others around them for their misfortunes and unhappiness.

But all of them display one similarity. It's always about ME. "I deserve a bigger diamond. I have the worst colleague ever. I hate myself, etc"

I thought to myself, wouldn't life be easier if we open our eyes and see that there're people with worse conditions than us? If we stop focusing on ourselves and stop putting ourselves in such high or low pedestals? Why can't we just BE? Do our best we can, accept things we can't change and learn from them. I mean, we can't always control what happens to us, but we can control the way we deal with the problems, can't we?

"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters." -Epictetus

I used to be self centered as well, dwelling in my pity party, bitter and hating, until at one point, I'm tired of being negative. Negativity, bitterness, anger hurt ourselves. Why do I have to be such a stupid masochist, so keen on hurting myself? The moment I shifted the focus away from myself, put myself down from the ME pedestal, I feel much more free and happy. I stopped caring about what others think of me, stopped being paranoid and sensitive. I felt liberated. And I did others well too, as I stopped being so judgmental and stopped thinking negatively about people.

I just hope that someday people will stop their self absorption, pity party and just start being happy.

February 28, 2012

See how the world revolves around me?

An old friend asked me what present he should give to a girl he fancies on her oncoming birthday. He's thinking of a necklace.

Me: "How close are you both?"

He: "Not that close. We usually meet at prayer meetings."

Me: "No jewelry. Too personal and over the top for someone you're not that close to."

Me: "Find out what her interest is, get her a book. Or a framed poster, I dunno, religious or motivational one. You pick. If you want to make it more personal, design one yourself."

He: "Yeah, that's cool. I will design her a poster. Hey, could you find me nice german quotes or poems?"

Me: "German? And you expect me to translate it in English or Indonesian for you!?" (*Negative thinking mode: on. I know him too well :D)

He: "Nooo. Original German is fine. I want her to remember me. She knows I used to live in Germany. It's kind of a personal touch, you know."

Me: "But she doesn't speak German.."

He: "So?"

Me: "... So what if you used to live in Germany or Galapagos? This is a gift for HER. It's about her, not you. Stop being self centered. Get her something she'll love to read, appreciate. Giving her a German quote while she doesn't speak the language is just like you giving her your shirt. She'll remember you. But what use does it bring her?"

-- Sometimes I wonder how shortsighted some guys can be :)

Culture/ Indoctrination

February 15, 2012

About anger

"It is natural for the immature to harm others.
Getting angry with them is like resenting a fire for burning."

Living with a borderline mom can be emotionally draining at times. She feels constantly angry and unhappy, projecting these negative feelings to people closest to her. She refuses to reflect on the real source of her unhappiness and blame others for letting her down instead. No matter how hard I tried, it was never good enough for her. I always had to keep up with her unrealistic expectations. I've tried to talk to her a few times before, but it never worked out well. I have to admit I'm not a patient person, sometimes I lost my own control of emotion and retaliated to her angry outbursts by snapping back.

Today she started screaming at me. After her 10 min-non-stop insults, I started to get pissed off and I kinda practiced a meditation technique by deep breathing and being aware of our emotions. At that moment I realized,"Ok, I'm getting angry." This awareness brought me to a point where I could control my anger and I thought to myself,"I do not want to be robbed of my peace of mind therefore I'm not playing along." It worked! To my own amazement, I calmed down. I didn't respond to her anger invitation (patting myself on the back) :D

This reminds me of a friend's story about his mom. His mom was emotionally abused by his dad and she angrily complained to a monk about her depressing circumstances. The monk told her it's her fault. And she was shell shocked, started reflecting, stopped her complaining and changed her state of mind/ perception. And guess what, his dad started changing and becoming a better person as well when he noticed her becoming more calm, patient and tolerant. Just like what Gandhi said,"Be the change you want to see in the world."

A nice story about how we should deal with anger and insults.

Buddha is abused
by: Anthony de Mello (a late Jesuit priest)

Buddha seemed quite unruffled by the insults hurled at him by a visitor. When his disciples later asked him what the secret of his serenity was, he said:

"Imagine what would happen if someone placed an offering before you and you did not pick it up. Or someone sent you a letter that you refused to open; you would be unaffected by its contents, would you not?"

But despite of all our differences, I'm lucky to have a mother who loves me very much. And at the end of the day, it's all that matters.

February 6, 2012

My birthday project

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. - Dalai Lama


It all started a week ago, when I (true to my attention seeking self) told my friends that my birthday's coming up.
Most of them answered,"So, what do you want for your birthday present?" or "Let's go grab some food and drinks. My treat." Some of them answered,"So what?" :D
I was lying on my bed 2 days before my birthday and started thinking, what do I want? And it struck me, I am lucky enough to have everything I need and I don't want anything anymore. I'm content :) And I realized how lucky I am to have friends who would spend more than 50 euros to buy me presents, treat me to dinner in posh lounges, how we're able to spend hundred euros in one night just for food and beverage.

So I decided to share my birthday celebration with 70 children in an orphanage near Jakarta on Feb 19th. At first I wanted to pay the food and cake from my friend's fund, the money they're going to spend on me will go to those children's burgers instead. But then I found out that this orphanage is an independent orphanage, which means they do not have any trust fund. So, at this point I decided I would personally pay for the food expense, and my friend's money will go as cash donation.

I broadcasted my project to the people on my contact list, posted it on facebook, shamelessly extorting my friends and cousins. And I got very positive responses from them. Some offered to help, some are willing to donate and share the words. This is going bigger :)

Of course there're some friends who got suspicious and thought that this is a plan to scam their money. Well, they have good reasons to doubt, I don't blame them either. So I won't be focusing on this minority :)

At first I only planned on food and balloons for the kids, now I have a photographer setting up a photo booth for the kids, cake donation from a bakery owner, a musician offering to perform for the kids, some friends who are coordinating clothes donation. Cash donation is also pouring in. Some friends are eager to drive me to the orphanage, they are even more excited than me about this project :)

The words spread and I got friends from Australia, Germany, Austria, Sweden asking me how they could donate. I got the Australians covered, as they can wire their donation to my brother's Brisbane account and he'll give me the cash in our currency.
The Swedish guy wanted to send his donation per post, how cute is that..
I am still arranging with an Indonesian friend in Berlin, whether people in Germany can transfer the money into her German account, and I'll get the money from her dad in Jakarta.

To be honest, there's a selfish satisfaction in all of this.. I always believe in the good in people, and this project affirms me of people's warmheartedness and goodness, how enthusiastic people are in helping others. We are all one after all.
Someone told me before that people are evil in the first place and no one can do good without believing in God. I'm glad that he's wrong. My donators aren't religious people who go to church every week, but they know compassion and they believe in humanity.

I remembered the head-sister of the orphanage thanked me wholeheartedly when I was talking to her on the phone, and it made me realize, I should be the one thanking her and the children. They are the ones who give me the chance, the possibility to try making a change, they taught me about love and warmth. The givers should be thankful indeed.

"Many small people who in many small places, do many small things can alter the face of the world"
-excerpt from the Berlin wall.

* I still have 2 weeks to extort and beg and I am thanking all of those, who make it possible, as I can't do this all alone. Together we can make a difference :)

Info on http://nodongdana.blogspot.com/