Sunday, March 27, 2011

Just do it

What is it with humans? We crave for the comforts and security of routine but get frustrated and bored by the very same things that we do again and again. We want to experience adventure yet fear the road that lies ahead. We want to be do the same thing that we did yesterday yet we get bored by them in the end. I've talked to people who complained about their lot in life. For every suggestion that I offered, but they shot me back with 10 reasons why it can't be done. It left me thinking that perhaps they do not want to solve their problems at all, but is contented to have bragging rights to others about their pitiful and sad circumstances.

I am guilty of such negativity too. But I fight against it. In fact, I fight against the very nature of complaining to others about my own problems. I believe that everyone has their own problems to solve, and probably they only have enough energy to just bear it through. A good friend might want to share your problems by hearing you out, but to what end? At the end of the day, and all that is to be said is vented out, you are still the person to clear up the mess. The person who unties the bell still has to be the same person who tied it in the first place, to translate from a chinese saying.

I will also not wallow in self pity. In my deepest depression a few years ago, I know the spiritual harm that this does to me. Every thing in the universe seems to conspire against you when you indulge in self pity. I use the word 'indulge' because like wine, you get intoxicated in the inebriety of it all. Work, surprisingly, is the one that compels me to leave my sorrow self out of my home. From my deepest depression, I learnt a few things about my character. I wish I didn't had to go through it but having experienced it, I am quite certain I would not be in it again. I remember vividly how difficult it is to cold-turkey myself against all the pessimism that my mind constructed and how hard it is to dig myself out of the hole of self pity. I am all the stronger because of it.

With your shield in hand and your sword ready, brace yourself for the good fight ahead!

I believe that in order to succeed, a person must overcome your own limiting characteristics. If I have to change my quiet nature in order to succeed, I would do that. Likewise, if the ability to take hardship and be disciplined is limiting my path towards success, I would have to train myself to be disciplined and to endure hardships. Many many would complain about their own specific set of circumstances that leaves them unable to compete on an equal basis with those who, because of their birthright and family relationships, are more well to do. Life is never fair, and the sooner you come to terms with it, the faster you can get past the different starting line of this race and try to catch up with those who had already started running. Be-Do-Have instead of Have-Do-Be.

The whole point of this article is to psych myself up for the trials and challenges that lie so clearly ahead of me. The chess pieces are almost in place. If I can also motivate you in the process, then this article would have done it's job for the two of us.


AK71 said...

Hi LP,

"The person who unties the bell still has to be the same person who tied it in the first place, to translate from a chinese saying."

This is one of my favourite Chinese sayings:解铃还需系铃人.

Whoever created a problem is the best person to solve it. Indeed.

AK71 said...

Left this out earlier:

Ganbatte kudasai! :)

Stiff upper lip and soldier on, old boy! ;)

Anonymous said...


I've been following your blog for quite some time and this is my 1st post.

Just a sidenote, i think i was in same reservist as you, we were out in jungle for 4D 3N twice right?

Anyway, with regards to your article, i feel the same way. Sometimes i do wallow in self-pity, but i guess the character in me forces me to perservere. But other than yourself, part of where you are today depends on your circle of friends, and on your upbringing, and what the life of cards has dealt you along the way.

Life is a journey and no matter how tough, sometimes it is just a matter of pushing on, and also having family and friends around you to encourage and go thru together. Makes me think about ATEC. It was tough, but we succeeded.


la papillion said...

Hi AK,

Haha, I think your translation sounds nicer :) Hmm, but hor, the best person to solve it might not be the person who created the problem :)

I think perhaps it should be like this:

Whoever created a problem should be punished to solve it


Many thanks for your encouragement :)

la papillion said...

Hi Charles,

Really?! I've no idea that a fellow soldier of my battalion reads my blog, so I'm very honoured! I'm from 452 :)

Thanks for sharing your experiences :) I agree, it was a tough one incamp, but really glad it's over!

touzi said...


Paul said...

This reminds me of a recent beer talk I was having with my fren the other day.

The topic was generally about the class/income divide where in his views; there are people who are struggling to keep afloat, people who are floating comfortable, people who are clinging on to the boat, people who are on the boat; and people who are in the air-con upper deck of the boat slipping wine and champagne.

He liken himself to be just barely keeping afloat and clinging on to the side of the boat. When I asked him what's stopping him from getting on to the boat, he was unable to answer me.

It always easy to blame your lot in life on fate, the govt, your environment, yr education; everything and anything but yourself.

But if you have not tried to get on the boat, do you have anyone else to blame but yourself?

la papillion said...

Hi Touzi,

Thanks for your encouragement!

Hi paul,

Oh, I've seen many people like that. As you had observed, the lack of action is the key difference between those who made it and those who didn't.

I think the words of Hellen Keller, that life is a daring adventure or nothing, rings true. I would not want my life to be nothing :)

PanzerGrenadier said...


What we achieve in life is determined by a few factors. It would be naive to say that our family situation doesn't play a role in the opportunities we were given. I am thankful to be born to my parents who worked hard and sacrificed in safe, stable jobs to provide for environment for me to do reasonably well in studies.

I used to teach children from low income families under CDAC's supervised homework group program and can see how challenging it is for some families to provide for tuition for their families as they lived on one income or fairly low incomes. So they could only go for CDAC type of heavily subsidised programmes and not private tuition for their children.

Having said that, as Randy Pausch of the Last Lecture fame famously mentioned that we can't chose the cards we were dealt but we can chose how we play them.

We do have some degree of control in working hard, leveraging on the opportunities that are available and not giving up.

We also can control to some extent our own mindsets and emotions. But it is tough to fight through inertia, fear and doubt about our own abilities and capacities for great things in life as well as fear of failing publicly.

My own thinking is that our achievement in life is an interplay between our fates (how we were born, opportunities available), our free will (to choose to be proactive or reactive, to work hard to be prepared to seize opportunities) and our mastery of our own weaknesses.

Wallowing in self-pity is easy. I did that for many years myself whilst chafing under the "unfairness" of national service before I realised it didn't get me anywhere. It took me many years to get over my resentment against this thing we call conscription and work actively towards thoughts and attitudes of others to rethink about whether conscription in its current state is an optimal model for Singapore's defence.

Be well and prosper. :-)

Singapore Man Of Leisure said...


Just sharing that not complaining does not mean keeping everything bottled-up inside.

I avoid engaging in negative mindless complaints (my best friend always ask how come I don't complain!?); but I do! It's just that I phrase my "complaints" into seeking advice on my fears and/or indecisions instead. I put the focus back on me.

If we have female best friends or love ones - we need to communicate. We may think we are "protecting" them by keeping a stiff upper lip, but they will be hurt by our reticent..... Women are wired differently.

In touch with my feminine feelings. (Now don't get any ideas!)

la papillion said...

Hi PG,

I agree with you about family circumstances. I'm sure you'll also agree with me of this quote:

If I'm born poor, it's not my fault. If I die poor, it's my fault.

Wow, I didn't know you dislike NS that much, judging from the nickname of your namesake. Perhaps you should do a post on that army experience that so troubled you ;)

la papillion said...


You're right! Not complaining does not mean keeping everything bottled up. That hits the spot that I'm itching to find as I was writing the post. I couldn't find the right words to say about the same thing, so I didn't put it down to words.

So, I agree with you truly. So what's the difference between complaining and sharing? I do not have the definition but I'm sure it will jump out to us when we see it. I suspect it's the tone when voicing them out... complaining as a certain tone of resignation and anger to it, whereas sharing has a tone of learning and curious inquiry to it.