So it’s been a while since I updated my blog. Sorry for that. Let me update you on what I’ve been up to.
You see, I bought a piece of land in the remote jungles of Malaysia. I am in the process of building a small eco-friendly house and I am planning to move there with my family in the next 12 months. Its a big move and a fun and exciting process that’s been occupying a lot of my attention. I’m learning a lot about solar power, rain water harvesting, aquaponics, permaculture and many other subjects that are truly new to me.
Now you (like many of my friends), might think that’s a pretty radical thing to do. Its not something that I’ve planned on doing at all. I’ve never really been much of a “greenie”. Heck, I’ve been the total opposite! I’m currently living right in the heart of the city. But its just something that makes common sense to me based on what I see around me and what I see coming in the near future. So on this post, I wanted to explain a few of my thoughts that’s motivating me to move out of the city.
We Are Connected To Our Environment
I see a very clear and direct link between every human being and the environment we live in. The current rate of development is not sustainable and will be bad for us in many ways. Most people know this but choose to ignore it for one reason or another. Most people just don’t want to think about it and would rather defer that responsibility to someone else or maybe leave that to the governments to fix. That’s a dangerous way of thinking because what affects our environment, affects us all.
Here’s an analogy of what I mean – you can say that the majority of the people in developed countries behave very irrationally. They smoke, drink, eat processed foods laden with harmful chemicals…etc. They consume so much resources and produce so much waste that ultimately destroys the planet. Similarly, cancer cells are normal cells that also behave irrationally exactly like people in developed countries. They multiply and grow uncontrollably until all the normal cells (the environment) are overwhelmed and the host organism dies. Can you see how our outer world and inner world mirrors each other?
There was a recent viral video on Youtube showing satellite images of earth. Most viewer comments remarked how beautiful the images were. And they are. But those pretty lights actually represent unnatural man-made structures. At the rate of growth to date this looks alarmingly like a cancer spreading uncontrollably over the planet. That video clip scares me. I get that same feeling when flying into any major city at night. Just looking down from the plane as we get a view of the ground shows how extensive the destruction of our natural environment really is.
What this means is that if we continue living the “normal” lifestyle in developed countries today, we are going to get sicker and sicker. And the quality of life will become poorer and poorer. There will be very high levels of stress and less time leading to broken relationships and a generally unpleasant lifestyle to say the least.
I believe the cure for cancer and many of the chronic illnesses is not going to come from some drug or treatment. Its going to come from a radical shift in the general mindset leading to different choices and different habits. In the same way, the cure to our environmental problems is not going to come from some radical technological advancement or government initiative. Its going to come from each individual taking responsibility to live sustainably.
I know I’m probably sounding like an idealist but I think its the truth. It may not happen in my lifetime, but being a father of 2 young boys I’d like to at least get the ball rolling for their sake.
Be The Change You Want to See In The World
This is a philosophy that I believe in very much. It was Gandhi that said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This is a very profound statement and something that I have pondered upon a lot. There’s really no better way to change the world than to start by changing yourself.
So instead of joining environmental groups or lobby groups, I’m taking Gandhi’s advice. I’m going to change myself and my own immediate environment. I hope more people find value in consuming less and enjoying more instead of consuming more and enjoying less.
I hope to be able to show that a simpler way of living is not only possible but actually more pleasurable. As Cicero said “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
That’s All Very Nice But How???
So I know some people would be reading this and say “oh, that all sounds nice in theory but how do you balance work and family life? What about school education and so on?”. It’s a long topic to tackle so I might leave that to future posts as we progress with our plans. What works for us may not work for you so all I can do is share our own approach for your own consideration.
In the meantime, I do encourage you to read a blog post I shared in 2010 about focussing on “congruence” to achieve a happy and fulfilled life - http://brianwong.com/blog/congruence-versus-balance/ .
In short, over the last 10 years, I’ve focussed on aligning my income, family life and health in a singular direction. I believe anyone with a similar intention can create enough passive income to allow them to live a very comfortable life. A life that is not excessive but allows them to focus on the things that really matter like their health, family and mental and spiritual growth. You just need to have a clear picture of what that ideal life is like and then work backwards to see what you need to do.
Embrace minimalism. Be very clear about what really matters in your life and don’t be influenced by the consumer trends. You will find that what you really truly need is so easy to fulfil.
Take some baby steps by getting rid of the TV, avoid processed foods and chemical and eat more whole foods. Having mental and physical health will be a major advantage for you to achieve your other life goals. Continue working working on passive income sources. Spend less than what you earn and invest the difference.
So that’s all I got for you for now. Stay tuned for more updates about our move in the near future.