Monday 21 November 2011

Listen to your Heart

Sung by DHT and a tribute to Sailor Moon (don't ask me why?)

Several weeks ago, a beautiful event took place – the King of Bhutan wed his young and beautiful queen, and they even visited Singapore on a private visit!

It brought to focus Bhutan’s use of a Happiness index instead of the more commonly used Gross Domestic Product (GDP) index.

Of course each index serves its own purposes. I wonder how many people who argued for the use of the Happiness index in Singapore would apply it on themselves and in their own households…

1)   No need to compare salaries between peers and neighbours. Happy got job can already! If you happy, you wouldn’t care if ministers or MPs earn more or earn less than you, right?

2)   And especially on the education of their children. No need to ask or pressure your kids on what grades they’ve got. Just as long they pass can already. And not need to fight for the “brand” name schools. Focus on their children’s happiness instead? Hmm…

I can imagine what a Singapore Happiness index would look like.

Instead of a simple yes or no answer to the survey question: “Are you happy?”

Our index would probably ask about external material stuffs like: what home we live in, have car or not, have air-con, have big screen TV (min 37 inches and above), have smart phone or not, etc…

Hey! Isn’t that similar to GDP measurement?

If you have not already discovered, happiness is an emotion or state of mind. How to measure a feeling? Do I have to prove I am happy to the Happiness survey? How to measure something internal in me?

My take is that at least the GDP measurement is more “honest”. It just shows what it’s meant to measure: the wealth or material growth of a nation. Nothing more; nothing less.

But a Happiness Index? Its name by itself is an oxymoron. With lots of humility and my limited knowledge of Buddhism, if I wanted to know whether Bhutan or Singapore is a happy nation or not, I just need to tour round the country and mingle with the people. Be on the ground, not in air-con offices.

It’s my: Why look at a statistics when you can look at goldfish directly principle.

Ah! That brings me to the question of Financial Freedom or Independence.

I prefer the word Freedom. Independence sound a bit “negative” as it gives me the impression I want to “separate” myself from society or others.

If Financial Freedom is a goal by itself, then it’s quite easy to measure to know when you have “arrived”. It’s usually a big $ amount target or if $X (passive income) is more than $Y (living expenses).

But if Financial Freedom is a means to an end, ah! It’s a whole different story!

A remark by a forum member in comes to mind: “Then what?”

This “simple” remark is the question men have tried to answer since the days of Socrates and Confucius – then what?

If you have already got the answer to the question: “Then what?” I envy you!

You could be the 18 years old who is “free” to choose his field of study as that makes you happy – you are not “chained” to the desire to study a particular field just because shows it’s the best paying profession when you graduate. 

You could also be the under 30 executive who discovered you are actually “financially free”!? Take home $3,000 and living expenses $1,500 per month. Can afford whatever you want and desire and can’t wait to go to work every morning – what’s wrong with “active” income anyway? Doing something we love means we never have to worry about statutory age limits ever!

By the way, you already have a head-start on those who hate what they do everyday and their only ticket out is to be financially free at 40, 45, 50, etc; so that they have the courage to quit and do what they really want!?

Are these the same people who shouts the loudest for the adoption of the Happiness Index!? I hope they are not more concerned about proving their “unhappiness” than seeking happiness for themselves…

For the younger readers, you may want to pause and think about the “then what” question before you rush madly towards your journey towards Financial Freedom. Decide for yourself whether it’s the goal or the means to your “then what?”

My epiphany, paradigm shift, Zen enlightenment, and “ah ha” moment came around Christmas last year at 43-year-young. I have just stepped across the door’s threshold; still feeling my way around. So don’t believe whatever I say!

Listen to your heart.


  1. Hi SMOL,

    Nice song, I love that song very much :)

    I think financial freedom is not an end point. It's not the big boss that you fight after you've gone down the dungeon to the 100th level and see one big monster that you have to kill before you can win the game.

    Financial freedom to me is a journey by itself. By learning how to be financial free, and more importantly, to enjoy the journey, is the point of it all. It's not just about reaching a point where passive income is more than expenses. It's not just about reaching a certain networth that is enough to last you 20 yrs without working. That is not how I would like to see the word 'freedom' being used. That is being enslaved by money, to follow another sort of rat race.

    Financial freedom is about freedom. It springs from two sources - first is the financial (the usual passive more than expenses thing) aspect. The other aspect is actually the mind. To be financially free mentally, you have to let go and treat money impassively. It's just a means to achieve what you want to do in life, nothing more. If you're so obsessed about hitting the numbers in your networth, in your passive income, you'll never be free.

    To not worry about money is financial freedom. A rich man can also worry about money :) Enough crap from me :)

  2. The mind can't never be free when we still need to worry on how to pay up for the next few big ticket items coming up soon.

  3. How much money do we need to retire? That is the top most question that everyone would like to know. With all these talks about inflation, it seems that no matter how hard we worked, we are never going to have enough.

  4. LP!

    That day many months ago when I found out what La Papillion means, I knew I've found a kindred spirit.

    I have my fascination with flight - the choice of this template (birds flying), my El Condor Pasa song, and my desire to be the swan that's here and gone...

    If I have one wish, I would wish for the power of flight!

    Definitely not to be chained by X millions of dollars and earth bound.

  5. Hello CW8888 and what are futures,

    I am more a shades of grey and experential (feelings) guy.

    I am not into numbers precision or concrete "stuffs".

    So when I buy stuffs - like computers, clothes, holidays etc, it's not so much the specifications, the quality, or the value - I am more into what pleasure I derive from "purchasing" them.

    Thank goodness these "pleasures" don't always have to cost a lot!

    There is no "big ticket item" for me. I "bought" my HDB because it's cheaper to buy with 30 years mortage than rent. If renr is cheaper, I would have rented ;)

    There is always the lease or rent option - freedom is the ability to make choices!

    I fly with 2 wings :)

  6. I am touched AK,

    How funny things worked out... I've worked and sacrificed (in the illusion to provide a better life for mom), and in the end, all I want now is to have dinner with my family more often.

    My mom knocked some sense into me last year (In fact every year I was away; I just chose not to listen) when she nags at me to return back to Singapore and take a simple paying job. 1 or 2 thousands can already.

    Mom don't need my money... She just want her son to have dinner with her...

    Money is funny. Once you have X amount, you will want more, and more. Before long, it's not so clear who is chained to who...

  7. Hi SMOL,

    There is probably no limit to how much money we can make but our time on Earth is limited.

    Squander money and you can make more. Squander time and it is gone forever.

    How many realise this and realise this in time?

  8. Hi SMOL,

    "Squander money and you can make more. Squander time and it is gone forever."

    What AK71 said i fully agreed. That's one of the main reason i stop working at 53 when i was retrenched. My only son was only 13 and my wife is working. So i become official "house-husband and family driver" i drive my wife to & from work even until today. i am 63 years old already. In the beginning i felt a bit out of "syn"
    My wife felt it too.
    But after i prove i can earn my keeps by keeping on improving in our investment returns, then i feel actually i have a job. Now it become my family's mission.
    All is well then.
    So wish you reunite with your family soon and become your own boss(Investor).

  9. Thanks Temperament!

    I wish you lots of fun and laughter with your family too.

    You are way ahead of your times - a stay at home dad :) That's cool!

    Hey! We can call ourselves Chief Investment Officer too!


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