Mindfulness meditation


Why meditation can give us joy?

Mindfulness meditation is having its moment in the recent decade and it has become a billion-dollar business. Companies like Nike, Google, Facebook, and Sony are using meditation to empower staff to be happy and creative. Steve Job meditated. Emma Watson meditates. Tim Ferriss meditated. After writing this blog post, I have convinced myself to start meditation too! Simply meditate 10 mins every day. I found myself happier and healthier! I dug into the myth of mediation and I have concluded 2 main reasons why meditation makes us happy — it makes us see things from a different perspective and live in the present.

Seeing from a different perspective

When I forget to bring the door keys and can’t go home, I judge myself being stupid and feel angry and ashamed. My judgment and reaction are automatic. My stupid example shows that we tend to react to or judge our experience habitually without awareness. Mediation is a way to get into the aware mode and take a break from the default mode. What happens when we are in the aware mode? We see things from a higher or broader perspective. And that makes a difference.

The little book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki is a great read to get a thorough understanding of Zen practice. Suzuki, a Zen Buddhist, shows readers how to appreciate zen practice with the key concepts explained in short chapters. Concise and sweet. Beginners’ favorite. My favorite! Reading this little book is like practicing Zen. It calms me and gives me broader perspectives to reset myself. If Zen has a slogan, it will be “Just sit, and breathe”.

Living in the moment

A cognitive experiment about meditation reports that meditators keep a non-reactive and non-judgmental awareness of anything that occurs in their experience of the present moment. While maintaining this awareness, the contents of experience such as bodily sensations, feelings, and thoughts are not distractors but simply contents for observation1. If they are preoccupied with life experiences (the autobiographical sense of identity that projects back into the past and forward into the future), they become distracted from awareness of the present moment. Put it simply, meditation is a way to live in the moment.

I feel enlightened when reading The Power of Now! Thanks to the author’s great examples or metaphors, I totally understand the concepts. It helps me imagine or visualize what it’s like when accessing the power of now. It’s a must read if you want to go deeper to figure out nowness or the art of living in the present moment.

Health benefits of meditation

You can find tons of benefits of meditation when you google it. Here is a quick summary for you to get an idea of how great meditation is for our mental and physical health. Meditation helps us to become less anxious and more focused. Mentally, it enhances self-awareness, generates kindness and fosters creativity. Physically, it lowers our blood pressure and boosts our immune system. People who need better sleep may find it helpful too. Check out more advantages of meditation if you’re interested.

Aging and meditation

No one wants to get old! I guess you want to stay young as much as I do. According to scientific research, feeling stressed doesn’t just damage our health – it literally ages us. We all know exercise, eating healthily and social support all help to reduce stress. But do you know what is one of the most effective ways to slow aging? To my surprise, it’s meditation.

How to meditate?

Observe and accept

The more I get to know meditation, the more I want to give it a go. Therefore, I read 3 books written by meditation experts to learn about how to meditate at home or anywhere. Yes, experts agree that it’s possible to meditate anywhere. But a quiet space for sitting comfortably is the most ideal. Making space: Creating a home meditation practice gives a simple overview of step-by-step meditation. I love “the cake in the fridge” practice for maintaining family harmony. Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk suggests that whenever there is a fight, take the cake in the fridge and take a break to enjoy it. What if you don’t have any cake in the fridge? It doesn’t matter. The main point is to break the tension and focus on the enjoyment of life. You can have some tea or do anything that makes you feel good. Thich Nhat Hanh also teaches how to sit for meditation. He describes sitting is to purely enjoy life and living fully. In his point of view, mindfulness can be practiced in our daily activities. And he suggests that we can jot down or draw to record any thoughts and enlightenment from meditation. Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world is a complete how-to book that provides you with audio guides. I must say you have to be open-minded while following the audio guides. Otherwise, you can’t embrace mindfulness in all senses. 


Guided meditation

You can find a meditation guide here or listen to the following guided meditation from two experienced meditators, Sam Harris and Tara Brach, if you feel like you need some space for your head. Personally, I like to use the app Headspace for guided meditation as it’s cute and simple to use.


FIRE Movement

CreativeDoing personal finance

What is FIRE movement (Financial Independence Retire Early)?

I have been thinking about how to get financial freedom last year and Google directed me to FIRE community. I feel like I see the light of Jesus! OMG. I want to be FIRE too. Who doesn’t want Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)? FIRE movement is created by frugal and simple-living people who want to have more time and freedom. The idea of FIRE is appealing to many people, especially millennials who love traveling (including me). FIRE community is apparently happy and creative as they can do whatever they want and be free in any way. I dig into this community and study their secrets to happiness and creativity.

Save massively & earn passively

The first key to FIRE is to save more than 50% of your salary and earn more passive income. Many people who are FIRE reduce the spending on unnecessities and greatly increase the saving power up to 70%. They also find their own ways to build more income streams by freelancing, blogging or building a business, particularly the passive income.

Invest wisely in low-cost index fund

The second key is to invest in low-cost index funds. You may wonder which low-cost index funds do they invest exactly? I dived into their investment strategy and found that most of them invest in Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) and Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) which are the most cost-effective and diversified. They don’t believe in financial advisors so they manage their own personal investment and rebalance the asset allocation consistently. The asset allocation could be 80% VTI and 20% BND and it varies according to the your risk tolerance and age.

Where do FIRE learn the FI secrets from?

The book Your Money Your Life is a bible for the FIRE community. Most of them are influenced by Vicki Robin’s way of thinking about money and life which encourages people to be minimalists and environmentalists. I love Vicki’s interpretation of the relationship between money and life — your money = your life energy/time. When we spend money, we’re actually spending our life energy because we traded our energy/time for money before achieving financial independence. Therefore, have a second thought before purchase: “Is this expenditure of life energy in alignment with my values and life purpose?” After all, life is bigger than a job/money. Don’t equate life with job/money. Another most popular source of FI wisdom comes from The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, which highlights the importance of frugal lifestyle rather than the high-consumption lifestyle. The interesting research in the book shows that multimillionaires usually have frugal wives and these crazy rich people are long term investors who spend a certain time on investment planning but trade less.

Index investing is a strong conviction that every FIRE holds! Interestingly, there are two books about index investing FIRE must read. The first one is The Simple Path to Wealth, which is a good and easy read for beginners like me. I would say it is far more digestible and entertaining to read than the other book The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investingwhich is more academic, with detailed explanations.


My favourite FIRE

Many FIRE are personal finance bloggers, podcasters, or entrepreneurs. They form a community online and even offline sharing experiences, advice and helping each other. I love this happy and creative community and I love the below FIRE bloggers the most. You might like other interesting FIRE if you discover more of them.

MMM – Mr. Money Moustache is very optimistic and he is the core advocator of FIRE community. He always shows people the possibility of being FIRE with maths and real-life examples.

Millennial Revolution – This resonates with me as I love traveling and simplicity as they do. I love their investment workshop which demonstrates how to online invest index ETF steps by steps, giving you confidence that you can do it too.

JL Collin – His stock series is the best source for understanding index investing. I love his sense of humour, his deep voice and his great dad image. The way he explains investment strategy is perfect for laymen such as me. Here’s his talks at Google.

Personal finance resource I found helpful & wonderful

Directory – an excellent source of personal finance

Documentary – an aspirational doc about FIRE movement and a retirement calculator for you to see the big picture of how long it will take to be FI

Forum 1  Forum 2 – an online platform for FIRE community

News – an article about FIRE movement

Happy reading!

New rich


What is new rich (NR)?

Happy new year! Wish you a happy and creative 2019! How would you design your new year 2019? Speaking of new, have you ever heard of the term new rich (NR)? It’s a word coined by Tim Ferriss who is living a new rich lifestyle. What the hell is new rich lifestyle? It’s a totally different lifestyle designed by entrepreneurial and creative minds that provoke people to rethink the way they live and ask the question “How would you like to design your life?”

The new rich is idea-rich, time-rich, experience-rich and relationship-rich. What makes the new rich people different is that they design their desired lifestyle instead of living by default, and they prioritise time for important relationships and dreams.

Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek is a good book that explains clearly what exactly new rich is about. The book was written 10 years ago but its impact has lasted so long that it has inspired many people to redesign their lives. The key to have a nomad life like Tim Ferriss is outsource, outsource and outsource! Tim lists some other new rich people in his book:

Another book by David Moore called The New Rich: Escape the job you hate by starting a business the world will love is one more good example who challenges the mainstream lifestyle and design a different way of living. Everyone can create the life they want so why not be adventurous and do what you want. What is the one thing that you want to do the most in 2019? My answer is I want to write a book. Of course I have many other things want to do as well. Yet, it’s more effective to have a focus. Prioritise the top one and get it done first.

How would you like to live your 2019 and the rest of your life?

Creative doing!