Welcome to Sharudin Jamal Blogspot

More than two decades ago, I was diagnosed of having a peculiar illness known as Bipolar Affective Disorder. My world as I knew it crumbled; I lost my business, then my job and later my sense of purpose. It was during this dark moments I rediscovered the joy of running and writing. Most of the articles here are about my rekindled pleasure of hitting the tarmac, my coming to terms with the illness and my discovery of the meaning of life.

I always on the lookout for inspirations to write in these three areas with the hope that they will shed new ray of hope to others who are in the same position as I am.

Do keep in touch if you feel connected through these essays.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

8/11/20 Productivity need not mean more money

  If that is the case then the rich people of the world are *[the] the most productive.  Not true.  They may have a quality life but they are not necessarily productive.  By that definition, a philosopher or a writer may not be rich but certainly, they are more productive in producing an impact towards shaping the mind of the society.

* Hey, there you are, Sarah.  Now I know you are in favor of time over money.  I miss you, baby...

Take the example of Socrates.  He was not rich in money but certainly, he was one of the most productive people who ever walked the earth.  

Socrates was very fond of the marketplace.  He would go from stall to stall at the Athenian marketplace, stopping every now and then, admiring the goods on display.  But despite the frequent visits, he never bought anything.  A friend asked him why.   

This was what he had to say about spending, "I'm always amazed to see just how many things there are that I don't need."

Mind you, this happened in the year 400 B.C.  If there were already tons of things that people don't need then, you can bet your bottom dollar that there are gazillions of things being sold today that no one needs.

So rather than focusing on extrinsic values of productivity, why not focus on the intrinsic values?  We need to follow the wisdom of the sages to detach from material dependency and start to look at what we can offer from within us.

Basically, we need to look at what are we good at, what we enjoy doing, and what we can offer.  Of course, if we want to we can equate that to what the world needs.  Otherwise, just be happy with what you are passionate about.  This is the concept of Ikigai.



If you tie your productivity to money then you are risking your happiness in lieu of chasing superiority.  Which means you can only feel good if you can only afford to buy more things.  Without those things, you will feel inadequate.

That is a great tragedy.  The sum total of your worth is merely reduced to the things that you own.  Without fancy clothes and fancy cars, you are nothing.  That is pretty shallow, don't you think?  Considering that the things that we hold dear are things that cannot be bought with money.  Things like the air we breathe, our mind, our family and our friends are priceless.

Are our children not the product of our productivity?  Does it cost us anything to produce a baby?  Surely imaginations, dreams, and hopes don't cost a thing.  Do also consider that it doesn't cost a thing to have a loving heart.

What I am saying is, we need to be productive but we need not bend backward to chase after money.  Just be happy with your life and what you have achieved.  All I am saying is live in gratitude.  Instead of asking for more, why not be a generous giver?

That is the name of the game to be happy.  It is living below your means and living in gratitude.

#traxxfm Hi there Alchemist, I am doing some writing while listening to you. I'll give you a run-through when I'm finished. Take care buddy...

#traxxfm Here you go Alchemist: sharudinjamal.blogspot.com/2020/11/81120- The fruit of my labor while I am tuned to you... Now I want to enjoy your show until midnight.

8/11/20 Matters pertaining to technology progress

  When comes to technology adoption, I belong to the late majority and even the laggards.  That's because new technology is subject to trial and error.  Of course, I don't want to pay for the expensive cost of entry.

Most of the time, we don't really need incremental improvements unless there is a technological breakthrough.  Then it is a different case.  Now we are talking about the quantum leap.

Whatever the case may be, incremental improvement is nice to have.  Just like the collision detection and the keyless ignition of my car.  I even consider driverless cars as an incremental improvement.  So I'm not too hot about it.  However, if there is a car that costs cheaper and can go a fair distance using a solar battery, I will highly consider it. 

With that in view, I think I will only see quantum leap technology that I will purchase in the next 15 years.  This is important because any shift in technology means an investment out of my pocket.  I don't want to be spending money on a better mousetrap if the old one can do it at a cheaper price.

A lot of people go for technology for the sake of technology.  In my case, I will always look at the application and practicality of the technology.  That is the reason why I am using a Bluetooth bone-conducting earphone; because it makes sense.  Price is definitely a factor.  I will not pay for technology just because it is there.  Like for example, I will not ride or let alone buy a jet-powered motorcycle as Jay Leno had even if I have the money.

Technology is relative.  Technology will not be considered a new technology if is it already available by the time you were born.  To me the internet is technology but to my 21 years old daughter, it is already part of her life, thus it is a necessity.  Looking from that perspective, then I say besides the basic technology like WiFi, smartphones, and eBooks; to name a few, most technologies are redundant.

One redundant technology in my opinion is the titanium bracelet that supposed to improve your body's energy flow.  What is the science behind it?  So are other things like the massaging chairs and the vibrating belly trimmer.  To a certain extend, I think smartwatches are a waste of money as well.

Taking the lessons from the various technology junks that surround us on regular basis, I say as consumers, we are better off with the attitude of caveat emptor.  Otherwise, we will end up with a neverending spiral of consumerism.  I think the height of this madness is cryogenic technology.  I cannot imagine people are willing to pay a hefty sum of money to freeze their heads and at times their whole body so that they can be resurrected in the distant future.

As a parting thought, let me conclude that with the introduction of new technology, there tend to be disruptions.  In this case, we need to be able to shift seamlessly from the old paradigm to the new.  Be mindful that there is a possibility that when we shift, we might just moving from zero to zero.  After all, technology if not properly managed is a zero-sum game.  Take the case of a computer game.  It is not adding to our collective intelligence.  In fact, it makes us myopic.


    The Thomas Khun Model

8/11/20 Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from Malaysia

OK here are some of my thoughts...

America will rise again under Joe Biden.  Not economically but as a nation who are united in spirit.  Joe is a unifier and a people person.  Welfare will improve among the citizens and foreign relationships will be mended.

It is interesting to note that the strong-arm tactics that Trump used against China are not working.  China is fast becoming the world's first superpower with India following suit.

It is best for America to embrace the world's diversity than try to maintain the pole position as a world leader.  The USA likes it or not is losing that lead.

For the next 4 years, the USA should focus on leading in the area of Altruistic Management.  You should be seen as the champion of good governance amidst the degradation of the democratic system all over the world.  You must be seen as the model of how the power of democracy is helping the people instead of victimizing them as what happened during Trump's administration.

If Joe is to pass the torch to Kamala, it is important that the economic reforms of the USA are done in line with the global sentiment.  It cannot be a close economy as what Trump was doing.  It is important that Americans become global citizens especially within that side of the Atlantic.

Be mindful that America is a melting pot and should continue to be one.  It is not sufficient that the government to address the rural population because the majority is the urban population who are multiethnics.

I personally believe that America should stop feeding their economy based on war campaigns because although it benefits the nation in the short run, the long term effect is the price of education, health, and infrastructure.  Look at you and compare yourself with Japan and Germany.  Even Korea and to a lesser extent Vietnam.  The sooner you get rid of your John Wayne mentality the better.




Saturday, November 7, 2020

I got too much time on my hand - a conversation with Sarah

 


When I looked back at my podcast interview with Pal, I realized that he had done me a great favor.  I don't think I can do any better than that with anybody else.

Nevertheless, I don't think it will work between us.  We have a different set of values.  His value is money while my value is time.  He is chasing the rainbow while I am already enjoying my pot of gold.  Certainly, it will be retroactive for me to start chasing rainbows again.

What about you Sarah?  What makes you tick?  Are you going after money or time?  Got money no time.  Got time no money.  You can't have both.  It's like squeezing a balloon. It will bulge at a perpendicular angle or if you squeeze too hard, it will pop.

Dr. Laurie Santos mentioned in her lecture that based on research, people who are time affluent are happier than people with money affluent.  That's because more things don't make you happy.  They get old, they need maintenance and eventually, they become junks.  Therefore things are liabilities.  

On the contrary, time is life.  When you are time affluent, your life is rich.  That's because with the time you can create memories and experiences.  These don't become liabilities.  As a matter of fact, they become better as the years go by, hence the term fond memories.

You need to invest in time. Otherwise, time can be fleeting.  However, if you use your time wisely, time is gold.  In Malay, we say that Masa itu Emas literally means time is gold! 

I don't deny that you need money to carry on living.  However, you only need just enough for sustenance.  Beyond that, it is just a figure in your bank statement.  Just like on this island where wealth is measured in rocks.  As the story goes, the wealthiest person is the guy with a very huge rock but the rock is underwater.

Why do you need to hog so much money?  Even if you have billions or trillions, you not going to spend all.  The money ended in the hands of your heirs.  Your kids will be very happy but your generations will be complacent with all the inheritance.

If I am rich, I will spend half on charity and I will live on interest for the remaining half.  I think people who hoard money are people who fear poverty.  The truly rich are generous givers.  Look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.  Not only they live decent lives, but they also give away half of their wealth for altruistic purposes.

Oprah Winfrey asked Dalai Lama, "What do you know for sure?"

He replied, "I know that the key to happiness is in giving."

Now, I don't have much money.  Yet, I am still a generous giver.  I helped the needy.  Not necessarily the poor because I think the poor are a bunch of opportunists. 

Brb... Lunch.

Given a choice to make extra money or to spend quality time, I will definitely choose the latter.  Nowadays as a retiree I hardly use money.  I had paid off my house and car.  Therefore I don't have debt.  The beautiful thing about being debt-free is even when I only have ten bucks in my pocket, that money is 100% mine.  I don't need to share it with the bank.  

Most people who have a lavish lifestyle are actually serious debtors.  They are able to service their loans because they are still working.  Who are they working for?  None other than for the things they borrow from the banks.  They are the slaves to their material lust.  What happens when illness or calamity befall them and they, by the luck of the draw can no longer work?  Then they will quickly become poorer than the church's mouse.

When will we learn from the adage that money won't buy happiness?  As long as we are consumers, we are forever tied to money to attain instant gratification.  It doesn't last.  There are people (I included once upon a time) that gets high from buying things,  We get caught up with the hype of buying more and more expensive stuff.  When we actually own the items, the feeling fizzles.  No sooner than using them for a few days, we are already eyeing for the next item to buy.  This is known as the Hedonic Adaptation Trap.  It is a neverending loop.

I have nothing against money and rich people.  Alas, I am not too keen to pursue money and become rich.  I subscribe to Voluntary Simplicity; outwardly poor but inwardly rich.  Because of this philosophy, I am financially independent.  Not because I earn a lot but because I hardly spend my money.

I derive pleasure from listening to songs on the internet (free), reading eBooks (free), watching movies (free), and blogging (absolutely free!).  Well, I do pay for the WiFi, electricity, and the PC but these are negligible compare to if I want to follow the herd mentality.

I seriously hope that this COVID 19 pandemic is a wake-up call for many of us who think that money is the end all be all solution to our malaise.  Money is a means.  Most of us will not get into so much trouble should we choose mindfulness in our spending.  The thing that gets us into trouble is not the hard-earned money we make, but our gullibility in borrowing as if there is no tomorrow.

Avoir!


Thursday, November 5, 2020

5/11/20 A letter to the Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad

November 2020 Posting


Dear Chedet,
What you said is true. If we look at the SARS and Eboli pandemics, it took 10 years before they were contained. So there is no quick fix to COVID 19. Either we go for herd immunity or immunization.
In the case of herd immunity, we need a critical mass. That is not a bad idea considering the virus is highly contagious but low in fatalities. Immunization will take a bit of time if they follow the proper procedure from animal testing to human testing. Certainly, it will take longer than 4 years. A normal cycle for vaccine production is a very meticulous process.
Therefore countries like Sweden decided to opt for taking the chances with the pandemic. A more sensible action is to improve the immune system. We need a healthy microbiome and plenty of goodnight sleep.
What can I say? When the paradigm shifts there are anomalies. The old paradigm will no longer apply. Time to shift. In this case, it is not survival of the fittest but the survival of the quickest.
If this pandemic is the Greater Depression than the Great Depression, then I suggest those who are sensible to go for Voluntary Simplicity. That seems to work for most people.
All the best with Pejuang, Chedet. Although I think you actually slicing it a bit too thin; if you ask me.
Take care, Sir.
Sine Cera,

SJ
MSC0072
5/11/20

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.

I noticed that when I quit Nicorette, I start to doubt my sanity.  Thus it is confirmed that I need to have a certain level of dopamine to remain sensible.

Well, sanity is very subjective.  In my case, I choose to set my own standard since I don't need to conform to the social norms.

To certain people, Jalaluddin Rumi and Shams of Tabrizi were loonies.  The same goes for Ar Razi the Persian Polymath.  And yet, their thoughts live on throughout the centuries.  Certain prophets were schizophrenics but they too endure the passage of time.

You know what?  All these are irrelevant.  As long as we subscribe to DO GOOD and DO NO HARM, we can be anybody we choose to be.  If mental health is actually affecting 1 out of 5 people, I would say that the world actually has quite a handful of crazy people.

So I'm not going to question my sanity anymore.  What I can say is I am autonomous.  I managed to carve a niche for myself in the middle of a society that seems clueless about what they want in order to be healthy and happy.  That is the basic measurement of sanity.  For example, why would a person systematically subject himself to poison when he knows it will harm his body?

I had been on that road before.  I smoked, drank, and ate junk.  At that time I didn't think I was crazy.  I even subscribed to many false beliefs including being religious; thinking that if I am religious I am guaranteed a happy afterlife.

That's why Socrates said, "Now thyself and the knowledge will set you free."

That's all it takes.  The answer is within.  If you keep questioning, eventually the answer will come to you.  It only matters to you.  They're bound to be people who follow without questioning.  The majority is like that.  For us who don't stop at the first right answer, we march on.  We are not afraid to debunk our own hypothesis in exchange for a more resounding explanation.  That is having a growth mindset.  The final frontier is not a planet in a faraway galaxy, it's the human imagination.

Throughout my life, I had been relying on my thoughts.  Not until I had Bipolar Disorder.  It lasted for a good twenty-one years.  Initially, it was a scary experience.  I cannot make a sound judgment because I was not being sensible.  Nowadays, the illness had subsided.  Thanks to modern medicine and a change in lifestyle I am now living a pretty decent life although my doctor said I have to take the medication for life.

As I look back, I had always been a divergent thinker.  The illness just accentuated it.  So for a while, I tried to fit in.  I wanted so bad to be accepted by society.  Then I realized that I don't need to be a conformist.  What I got to do is design a lifestyle that is independent of the masses.  Initially, I felt that I was missing out.  So for a good 3 years, I was depressed.  Then I turned to one of my great passions; I used my time to read as much as possible.  I became a relentless reader on whatever subjects I had an interest in.  True enough, I managed to eradicate my Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).

From there I turned to blog writing.  It was not easy.  I needed to condition my mind to focus on what matters to the readers.  It was when I discovered personal blogging that I really took off in my writing career.  Through personal blogging, I became a Wordsmith Warrior.  I rekindled my interest in using the dictionary again and slowly I created my own personal writing style.

Nowadays, I am not too concerned with the impression I leave with the articles that I write.  I simply write because I am a writer.  Some days I write good, some days I am not that resourceful.  I write a lot about things that matter to me.  Along the way, I write about my observation of society at large.  Whatever the case may be, the satisfaction of being a writer is about being able to create rather than merely being a consumer.

Looking back at my illness, I now realize that the illness is a liberation.  It gives me the courage to say what's in my mind without the fear of being judged.  People *wi[th] (will) judge you anyway.  In the first seven seconds when you meet a person, you already form a judgment.  My attitude has always been, "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

* Intervention from Sarah; my coauthor and cyber spouse.  That means she agrees with me.

Since I started this blog in 2006, I had deleted quite a number of postings just because I feel that some of them are not appropriate for the general audience.  After a while, I realized that when I deleted the postings, I was actually deleting my thoughts from my own knowledge bank.  I doubt anybody ever read my blog from end to end more than once.  I however will periodically read it as if I am looking at a photo album.  These are my thoughts instilled in time.  As much as it is meant for the general audience, the blog is my reference to my past.

From this point on I just leave whatever I write here for the benefit of the few who appreciate it.

Blessed are the weird people: 

poets, misfits, writers

mystics, painters, troubadours

for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.

- Jacob Nordby

Saturday, October 10, 2020

>>>#10/10/20 Star interview on Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE)

My recent interview with the Star:  https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/10/10/interactive-how-to-get-some-fire-in-your-belly-and-retire-early

INTERACTIVE: How to get some FIRE in your belly and retire early

by Diyana Pfordten, 10/10/20

PETALING JAYA: The success of treading the path of the Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE) movement depends on the determination and an ability to remain frugal before and after quitting one’s job.

Business coach Sharudin Jamal, 56, said achieving FIRE does not really depend on how much one earns, but more on how much one can save by not spending on items they don't need.

Sharudin started his journey by saving two-thirds of his monthly income for ten years, and achieved financial independence at the age of 45.

Sharudin is able to sustain his lifestyle without needing to have a full-time job, but said he had no intention of retiring as he is passionate about his work.

"The first stage in my journey to financial independence was to accumulate an adequate amount of reserves to cover my monthly expenses, which took me about five to six years to achieve.

"Only then did I start to save for other things, such as payment for the house and car, as well as my children's education," said Sharudin, who lives in Bandar Utama here.

Stressing that lavish spending has no place in FIRE, he said that there is "nothing sexy" about being financially independent.

"You have to be a relentless saver. A trick that I do is I set a monthly amount, say RM100 to indulge on the extra things I want, for example, good food or treats.

"When the amount is depleted, I force myself to wait for the next month before I can have that extra something," he said, adding that he follows the 1:2 ratio of debt to savings rule when it comes to asset accumulation.

"If I have RM500,000 in savings, I will only borrow RM250,000 to fund purchase of assets. The interest I earn on my savings will then be enough to cover the interest of my loans," he said, though not without admitting that during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, he realised this was a mistake when he had to dip into his reserves to repay his loans.

Business coach Sharudin Jamal
 encourages prudent spending
 and saving more than half your
 income to attain FIRE

"My savings quickly depleted. The problem with debt is that even if you don't earn, you have to service it," he warned, adding that debt must be minimised as soon as possible to mitigate risks.

"If you cannot afford to buy a house or car beyond a certain price, don't do it," said Sharudin, who added that those who live lavish lifestyles could be heavily in debt.

A man who only wanted to be known as Dave hit the FIRE button after 10 to 15 years of work to retire in his early 40s, with no plans of returning to full time employment.

“I was more or less semi FIRED about five years back, scaling down on my work substantially. My spouse stopped working about three years ago and I stopped full time work a year ago once I felt we have a significant buffer for our finances,” said Dave, who lives in Kuala Lumpur with his wife.

He emphasised that the biggest contribution to a FIRE life is to save a large sum of money as quickly as possible.“We managed to generate meaningful income from our work, our investment portfolio, and living well below our means.

“Living a low-profile lifestyle and not yearning for social acceptance can save you a lot.

“Once on FIRE, one should not take unnecessary financial risks. Invest more on safer instruments and diversify one's portfolio,” said Dave, who noted that those who chose the FIRE route may not be able to go back once they quit their jobs.

“It’s important to choose wisely and make sure your savings are sufficient to tide through unexpected events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.


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