Raymund Tamayo www.raymundtamayo.blogspot.com
Introduction “That’s been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” - Steve Jobs
iving life has become harder and harder these days. Calamities and natural disasters, economic recessions and financial difficulties, crimes, wars, and rumors of wars cloud our every day existence. We see it on TV, we hear it on radio, we read it in newspapers and the internet. It’s as if a life of peace, happiness, and love is now far beyond our reach. Most people look for peace and comfort by having “things”. They opt to go shopping, watch movies, eat unhealthy food, and pleasure themselves just to be able to get by. They buy, buy, and buy just to find comfort and that seem to be unsearchable meaning of life. The result? They end up more tired, miserable, confused, stressed, and depressed. Is there a better way? You bet there is. For those who are tired of being tired, this e-book is for you. Through short and simple articles, I hope this book will inspire you and show you ways on how to have focus, pursue simplicity, and find your purpose on living.
You can find all the content of this e-book at raymundtamayo.blogspot.com. This is a collection of my blog’s essential articles gathered for better and more pleasurable reading. This book will not change your life. It’s your choice to do that. This book will only show you how to look at life in a different way so you can. This is dedicated to all the wonderful readers of my blog at raymundtamayo.blogspot.com. I’m giving this away for free, after you’ve subscribed to my blog. For those who are already subscribed, better check your email because you also have this. Also, this work is uncopyrighted, and I would love it if you send this e-book to as many people as you think can benefit from it. Thank you. Raymund Tamayo
Contents I. Focus Focus and Simplify ........................................................ 10 Why Not Love Life Instead ............................................. 13 The First 20 Minutes of the Morning ............................. 16 Slow is Beautiful ............................................................ 18 Being On the Mountain ................................................. 20
II. Simplicity Why I love Simplifying ................................................... 24 Simplicity is Being Richly Blessed .................................. 26 Better to Simplify Than to Organize .............................. 29 Four Principles on How to Live a Simple Life ................. 33 Simplify Life and Make it Count ..................................... 37
III. Purpose Laser-like Existence – How to Live a Life of Purpose ...... 42 10 Tips on How to Keep Your Passion at Work ............... 46 What Really Matters is… What Really Matters .............. 51 Living a Simple Life is a Spiritual Journey ....................... 54 A Simplified Life is a Successful Life .............................. 56
IV. Life Refreshed With a Simple Life ........................................ 62 “I’ve Got Everything I Need Right Here” ........................ 65 Simply Amazing ............................................................. 68 The Beauty of Limits ...................................................... 70 Real Freedom ................................................................ 72
Focus and Simplify Focus and Simplify. Two words that have caught my effort and attention these past few years of living life with God. Knowing Him more gave me a different perspective about life that I’ve never dreamed of. I’m not saying I had a bad life perspective before, it’s just that right now it has been better. One benefit: The more I simplified my life and focused on living, the less it seems I need. What does it mean to simplify and focus on living? It’s a shift from caring about possessions and status and ambitions and beautiful temporary things… to caring about actual life. Life includes: taking long walks, creating things, helping people help themselves, having conversation with friends, snuggling with my wife, playing with my daughter Ryah, eating simple food, going outside running and getting active. 10
That’s living. Not shopping, or watching TV, or eating loads of greasy and sweet food not for sustenance but for unrequired pleasure, or staying too long on the Internet, or earning more money, or trying to get popular. Those things aren’t living – they’re consumerist pastimes that tend to get us caught up in overconsumption and mindlessness. When I focus on living, all those other fake needs become less important. Why do I need television when I can go outside and get active, or take a walk with a loved one? Why do I need to shop when I already have everything I need – health and wellness of myself and my loved ones, provision for my family, time spent with them, a word processor and editor, a way to post what I create, a good book, simple food, a few clothes for warmth, and the outdoors. We’ve cut out cable TV from our lives since January 2010, and lo and behold our family is still alive, closer and more bonded than ever before. I began running again since August 2010, and I’ve dropped to a lean 150 lbs from a flabby 180 lbs. I started eating healthy food and acquiring healthy habits and my blood sugar went back to normal levels from being pre-diabetic. I started paring down my wardrobe and possessions, and 11
our home had been more spacious and clutter-free, a relaxing haven after a whole day of contributing to the world. I spend more time with the ones I love and create more, and I need very little to do that. And needing little but getting lots of satisfaction… that’s immensely fulfilling. It has given more meaning to my life that I’ve never experienced before. And it’s all because of my God who taught me how to focus and simplify, and who opened my eyes to life’s essentials.
Why Not Love Life Instead I’m amazed by how people we’re so much in love with material things – with buying, with owning, with amassing. Why not love life instead? Our obsession with things has become unhealthy. When we are depressed, when we have problems, when we are inconvenient, when we want to show someone we love him/her, it’s as if there is only one solution: buy things. And these things are becoming more and more expensive and wasteful and distracting. This intense materialism leads to owning a lot, having a lot of clutter in the house… and yet doesn’t give our lives meaning. It leads to deep debt and needing bigger houses to contain these meaningless stuff. Financially, people get far worse than ever because of this obsession with material things. 13
• Why not focus more on people than things?
• When you’re down or depressed, why not just talk to someone you trust and feel comfortable with, rather than eating too much and watching TV? • When you are inconvenient, why not just take it easy, breathe, and ask other people for help before thinking about buying? • When you want to show someone you love him/ her, why not just spend quality time with him/her, sharing and talking and encouraging, than go shopping? This lust for material things has disconnected our society from critical relationships, starting with our relationship with God, down to our loved ones. Why not give experiences as gifts, not material things? Instead of giving someone something come birthdays or Christmas, think of an experience you can give them instead. A date with you, doing something fun, cooking, playing, exploring, or just plain hanging out. An experience is more beautiful than an object. Connect with living, breathing people, rather than with mindless material things. Realize that life, not stuff, is what matters. Objects are just objects – if you lose them, if they get stolen or destroyed… then they’re gone. Life is the series of moments happening right now, and what you fill them is what really matters, not what you fill 14
your house with. At the end of this short journey, you’ll look back and remember the experiences, the relationships, the passion and love you’ve given and received, the people you loved and who loved you back, the things you did and didn’t do. Not the things you had.
The First 20 Minutes of the Morning Have you ever thought about the first 20 minutes of your waking time every morning? What habits have you built for that first 20 minutes? How do you jumpstart your day the right way? For me, like a right-handed basketball player who puts his right foot forward before taking a jump shot and successfully making it, it’s important to start the day on the right foot. I have learned that I have to consciously make the effort and decision to do so if I want to live a more purposeful life. Most of the time, here’s what I do during the first 20 minutes of every morning: 1. Wake at 5:30 a.m. I would want to wake up earlier, and I sometimes do when I also slept earlier. 2. Go to the bathroom and wash my face. I also usually take a pee. By the time I’m done with it, I’m awake enough 16
to face the day. 3. Sit still and think. What I do next is sit on a monoblock chair in front of my study table and think. I’ll sit still for about 5 minutes, and just focus on my breathing, pay attention to my breath as it goes in and out of my body. Then I think for about 10 minutes. That thinking could be in the form of prayer and meditation, or going over a list of things I’m thankful of. That’s it, that’s what I do for the first 20 minutes of every morning to start my day right. After that, I go on doing the rest of my morning ritual and that is reading the Bible, writing insights and ideas, posting articles on my blog (like this one!), enjoying breakfast with my wife, hygienic stuff and preparing for work. Since my daughter Ryah’s classes started last July 2011, I’ve scheduled my running in the afternoons. I only run in the early morning on weekends, or when she has no classes. The first 20 minutes of the morning may differ from person to person, but I believe that starting your day with prayer and thanksgiving to God is very important for a more meaningful, successful, and happy life. It’s such a small thing to implement, yet sometimes small things can make a huge difference in our life. I highly recommend you try it.
Slow is Beautiful These days, most of us are pretty busy and in a hurry just about every day. Some even like it that way – almost a status symbol as it shows you are important and productive and an achiever. But I reject that. I’d rather take it easy, find peace of mind and be able to relax and really enjoy the life God gave me, than allow it to pass me by just so I can be “productive” and show everyone how important I am. The thing with busy is, it never ends. You’ll never get out of it, there’s no end to a to-do list. We’re like hamsters on a treadmill, running for no real purpose, except to make a boss happy, to make money for someone else, or perhaps to make money for ourselves… but to what end? Is being busy the real meaning of life? Or is there a better life? We need to discover what it’s like to do nothing, sit still, 18
enjoy silence, and just breathe. We need to put more space in between things, instead of cramming them together all the time. Let’s stop being busy, and start being happy. There is a movement in Europe called Slow Food, which “establishes that people should eat and drink slowly, with enough time to taste their food, and spend time with family and friends without rushing. Slow Food is against its counterpart: the spirit of Fast Food and what it stands for as a lifestyle.” I love this idea. It’s finding focus, simplicity, and priority in life. It’s not just a matter of organizing, reducing clutter, and saving money… it’s a matter of slowing down to enjoy life more, of savoring life’s simple pleasures, of rejecting on some level the materialistic culture we are all caught up in and embracing fellow humans instead. It is about being still and knowing that there is a God who loves us. It is about being in the moment and having quality time with the ones we love. It is about having a life well-lived. A life that will echo in eternity.
Being On the Mountain This morning, while having my quiet time, I realized something. I was sitting in front of my desk. Reading. Writing. Thinking. I’m reading about Moses’ journey to the top of Mount Sinai, when God’s covenant with the people of Israel was being confirmed. I will not go through the details of the story because I want you to read it yourself. In the passage, God tells Moses to go to the top of the mountain. And stay there. I was intrigued. I imagine Moses was like “um, okay God, you’re the boss.” It seems like he didn’t get the point right away. 20
God doesn’t want him to just go on top of the mountain, then start thinking about what to do next. He doesn’t want him to worry about how he is going to get down. Doesn’t want him to worry whether he failed to put out the fire at his tent before leaving. Doesn’t want him to spend his time in perpetual planning. Or perpetual worry. Or perpetual whatever. Instead, God wants Moses to be with Him, and enjoy the moment. God wants to spend time with him, and take pleasure in his company. Just the two of them. How incredible is that? So many times in life you have been too busy to even hear God call you. To go on top of the mountain, and stay there with Him for awhile. So many pressures, so many cares of this world. Confide it to Him and be in the moment. I’m not saying don’t plan, que sera sera. Just enjoy the planning process with Him. I’m not saying don’t think about the future and hate the past. Just enjoy contemplating on the future, and learning from the past. 21
It’s not all bad. I’m not saying don’t do anything anymore with your time. Just remember to every day be on the mountain. And stay there for awhile.
Why I love Simplifying I’m an avid fan of simplifying. Because the process of simplifying is really the process of asking yourself, “What’s important?” and that leads to a more powerful life. We tend to forget what’s important in the confusion and chaos of day-to-day living. We need a mindfulness signal, and simplifying is that signal for me. There are several areas of my life where I simplify. I pare down my wardrobe on a regular basis (will have an article on my wardrobe in a future post). I remove unnecessary objects in our room. I clear out programs on my computer which I don’t use. I say no to activities which are not according to my values. Simplifying is a beautiful way to focus life, and a focused life resonates to eternity. 24
If you want your life to have an impact, simplify. Focus it. Stop dabbling. Stop trying to do everything. Stop being busy and do less. Prune away even good activities, and do only those which matters most. Iâ€™ve only been in this process since January 2010, and I can say that Iâ€™m very happy I started doing it.
Simplicity is Being Richly Blessed I own very few things right now. Because I am more than the brand of my shirt, the logo on my shoes, or the name of my car. I’m not ashamed to say that simply spending time with my wife is Class A entertainment for me. Sitting beside her even for just five minutes in the morning sets the tone of my day. Some take pleasure from dining out in a classy restaurant, or buying the latest gadget available, or eating the greasiest meal in a famous fast food joint. I’m not saying that those aren’t good. It becomes that when people go into debt just to pleasure themselves temporarily. That’s not being richly blessed. I’ve chosen simplicity: If I can simply be with my wife, or take a quiet stroll on a beach under the moonlight, or play 26
with my daughter, or read a good book at home, or laugh with friends over lunch, I consider myself incredibly and richly blessed. Many people think that joy and happiness are expensive. Dining out Php2,500 Going to the movies Php2,000 Having the latest SUV Php3,000,000+++ Having a Macbook Pro Php80,000+++ Having a personal home theater Php200,000 Cuddling up in a hotel room with your spouse Php8,000+++ Happiness for me is:
Being quiet in the morning, praying, and reading the Scriptures Php0.00 Writing a poem
Talking with my wife
Running (entrance at Remyfield Track Oval) Php10.00 27
Reading a good book (borrowed or given)
Laughing with my friends
Encouraging and sharing with my small group
Wrestling with my 5-year old daughter, and letting her win Php0.00 Dining in with my wife and daughter, with my wife’s awesome home-cooked meal (depends on the ingredients) Php99.00 on average
The point is: Happiness isn’t always about the money. And I would argue that most of the time it really wasn’t about the money. We are worth more than our material possessions.
Better to Simplify Than to Organize A hectic schedule is a major cause of high stress. Believe me, I used to have one! I had several organizers, manual and digital, tens of notebooks and to-do lists that I never complete and update anyway because of too much busyness. I’m great at multi-tasking at work, which left me no time to innovate and think about new things. I do and do things without really accomplishing anything. I thought being busy meant I was an important person and that I did meaningful things. I tried all sorts of organizing methods to no avail. Time management? I already did that. Attended lots of seminars about that. But there isn’t enough time in a day. Lord, please make it a 30-hour day, I used to pray. I tried all sorts of organizing to fit everything that I did in my schedule. Wow, am I productive? Or was I? Deep inside, I was saying to myself: I’m burning out! Until I’ve found out that simplifying is better than organizing. 29
My first step to a more peaceful life was to simplify and reduce the number of commitments in my life to just the essential ones. I learned to say no to the rest – and slowly got out of commitments and activities that aren’t beneficial to me. I got out of meetings when they aren’t absolutely essential. I also learned to say no to myself, and stopped watching TV and playing computer games. It was not easy at first, but when the smoke cleared, the benefits of having a simple schedule is worth all the trouble. Friends, here are some tips: Make a list of everything that’s taking time in your life. Include hobbies, clubs, online groups, civic groups, your kid’s activities, sports, church, home stuff, watching TV, playing video or PC games, etc. Anything and everything that’s taking up your time. Now pick out the few that really give you value, enjoyment, and long-term benefits. Toss the rest, if possible. If you value your family, choose spending time with them. If you value your relationship with God, choose church. If you value your health, choose exercise and sports… and so on. Choose five commitments, or you can up to seven, and stick with them. More than seven would mean a chaotic life once again. As an example, here are the top five priorities in my life right now: 30
1. My spirituality – my relationship with God & others; my service to God thru a local church
2. My family – my wife and my daughter
3. My health – includes eating a healthy diet, and consistent exercise (running is my favorite) 4. Our family’s financial independence – my work at Subic EnerZone; saving and investing 5. Simplicity – living a simple life to give way to a more meaningful one Any activity that didn’t cover these five, I say NO to (with a few exceptions, especially those regarding “social obligations”). It might be difficult to do it at first, but you have the choice to get out of commitments if you just tell people that you don’t have the time anymore. It’s really simply your choice. But this will leave you with a life that only has commitments that are most important to you and you really want and enjoy. The point is not to get rid of everything that isn’t cool, then do the organizing. Rather, it is to get rid of the unnecessary in favor of the essential. I don’t believe in Time Management. I believe in Priority Management. We are all given by God the same amount 31
of time every day. And it is up to each one of us to use it wisely. Prioritize. Focus. Simplify. Life is really simple. We just choose to make it complicated.
Four Principles on How to Live a Simple Life Living a simple life is not just about paring down to the essentials, being frugal, saving money, and eating healthy. It is more of a character change, a transformation from one who is always conforming to the unhealthy patterns of the world, into one who is focused more on having a life well-lived and on eternal things. There’s so much to learn and discover about simple living. Here are some four principles on how to live a simple life which I learned from experience: 1. Identification. You must know who you are. Some people readily admit that they don’t know themselves, that’s why they also don’t know what they want from their life. The best way to get to know yourself is to ask and get to know your Creator, have a personal relationship with Him. Remember, only the creator of something can tell what that something is for. Same goes with us humans. 33
Who is better to tell us who we are and what on earth are we here for than Almighty God Himself? Once you’ve done that, you will get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Build then on your strengths and maximize them, while know your weakness and minimize them. Avoid comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone greater and there will always be someone lesser. You will either become proud or discouraged if you compare. Also, avoid copying others. You will get depressed if you don’t live up to the expectation. We’re all uniquely created by God. If you wish to copy someone, follow Christ’s example. 2. Motivation. You must know why you do what you do. You must discover your life’s purpose. It is something more than your 70++ years of temporary life on earth. It is something eternal. Without knowing your purpose, waking up in the morning will seem tiresome. Every waking hour will seem unfulfilling and difficult. Life will seem uncontrollable and disorderly. When you know your purpose, it will increase motivation in your life. Waking up is a joy as you look forward in accomplishing and creating something. Knowing your purpose will focus and simplify your life. And knowing 34
your purpose prepares you for eternity. You know the eternal repercussions of whatever it is that you’re doing in life, and that’s exciting! 3. Prioritization. You must know what you want to accomplish. Activity does not equal productivity. If you are busy, it doesn’t mean that you’re really accomplishing anything. You can fill up a schedule easily but it’s harder to fulfill it. Be still for a moment and really think about what’s important to you and what do you want to become. Focus on them. Here’s my short list of important: my spirituality (my relationship with God and others, and serving Him thru a local church), my family (my wife and kids), my health (and my family’s; this includes proper diet and consistent exercise), our family’s financial independence (my work; saving and investing), and simplicity (living simply in all areas of life). Then write down your goals for each of these areas. Make your time schedule flow to accomplish these priorities. If you don’t plan your schedule, someone else will! 4. Concentration. You must focus on what is important. I’ve mentioned this word a couple of times already in this blog post: focus. Because it’s very important. What separates a good basketball player from a great basketball player? Focus. Decide on what is important, then focus, focus, focus. Don’t get distracted. Endurance is a big part of concentration. You determine a man’s greatness not by his wealth, nor his education, 35
nor by his talent, but by what causes him to become discouraged. Be disciplined. Get rid of distractions, and stay on the course.
Simplify Life and Make it Count We humans are funny beings. Many of us wanted every material thing we could get our hands on, and we wanted whatever it was to be bigger, better, faster. It’s amazing how many people are obsessed with buying, with owning, with amassing. I’ve said why not love life instead, because our obsession for things has become unhealthy. It’s not only in things, but the same is also true when it comes to time. Many people believe that being busy is a status symbol – which meant you are important and productive and an achiever. But I’ve also said that slow is beautiful, that always being in a hurry meant life is passing you by. Many people are all too busy, have too much stuff, and owe too many bills (mainly because they have too much stuff). They are always stressed, anxious, tired, and weary. 37
They wanted to shout “Get me off here!” from the top of their lungs, but, again, seem too busy to do so. The answer is simple: simplify your life. You may hear the word simplicity and right away think of self-imposed poverty or lowered ambitions. You may think of the simple life as an empty, boring existence. Friends, think again. Simplicity doesn’t take away from your life, but it adds quality and meaning to it. Simplicity doesn’t mean poverty. Quite the opposite, because when you identify those things and those people who are really important to you, your life takes on more meaning as you pro-actively choose to do those things that increase the quality of your life. The net result is your life is richer, not poorer. Simplicity doesn’t mean mediocrity. Quite the opposite, because when you prioritize to do the activities which are really important to you, your life takes on a sense of purpose. Your life leaves an impact on those around you as you put your passion into action. For most of us, our problem isn’t that we need more. What we need is better. Do you have any things you no longer use or wear because they no longer add value to your life? Get rid of them, give them to people who really need these stuff. Is your schedule so overloaded you don’t anymore have time for those people and activities that add value to your life? Learn how to say “no.” Learn 38
to prioritize. While giving stuff away and learning to say no, keep this profound thought in mind: The reason why our lives are so complicated is that we’re too self-centered. The writer Richard Foster said “Simplicity means moving away from total absorption in ourselves to being centered on God.” God doesn’t want to lead you to a more complicated life (and more stress). You get there most probably all by yourself. God wants you to give the chaos and complication and stress of your life over to Him. When you trust God and let Him take the lead in your life, you will find that your life will be more peaceful and more productive. You will naturally want to clear out the clutter to make room for God. So appreciate simplicity. Learn to have a good time without spending a lot of money. Never buy something for the purpose of impressing others. The poor dreams of having riches, while the rich dreams of simplicity. True wealth is measured by the fewness of your wants. Simplify your life and make it count.
Laser-like Existence â€“ How to Live a Life of Purpose Our life is a gift. Like any other gift, there are so many choices on what to do with it that we may become overwhelmed or confused when we try to think about it. You can choose to live it passively or you can choose to live it intentionally, with a purpose. A life of purpose involves both creation and choice. It is what we decide to make it. Unfortunately, many of us live a reactionary, passive life where we base our actions and decisions on our circumstances and the acts of others. Instead, we should create it proactively based on our principles and values. A life of purpose is not just about being remembered well after we move on from this temporary earthly existence, but it is the key to a life of harvest and success. When we live with laser-like existence, having a sense of purpose and direction, then we can be productive and fulfilled. 42
Why Live a Life of Purpose? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Consider for a moment the life most of us lead: we get up in the morning, we do what we have to do for the day, if we’re lucky we get some time to relax or do something fun, if we’re luckier we get some time to spend with our loved ones. And then the cycle repeats itself over and over again. In the twilight of our years, we look back and wish we had done something differently or we had just done something. But by then, we know it is too late. This post is about doing something about it now, about choosing to live with laser-like existence before it’s too late. How to Live a Life of Purpose Here are some tips on how to live your life with laser-like purpose: 1. Determine your focus statement. Take some time out of your life (30 minutes or so) to compose your life’s focus statement. This is the same as a mission statement, but you would want it to be more focused. Not more than five items is ideal. Write it down on a sheet of paper. Save it. Record it. File it. Frame it and hang it in your bedroom wall. Share it with your spouse or loved one. Be reminded of it every day. There is power in accountability. 43
2. Realize that nothing is an accident. Even you, your life, you are not an accident. Some are motivated by negative emotions such as anger, fear, guilt or the need to acquire more things. Some are motivated by the need to please other people all the time. Choose to be motivated by hope, courage, love and the knowledge that you are not an accident. You are here to contribute something great and good and special to society. 3. Simplify your life. Let go of all the non-essentials â€“ material things and activities. Make priorities and stick with them. If it becomes hard at first, persevere. As much as possible make all your actions move toward your purpose. With a simplified life, not only will you lessen your stress by having more quiet time between activities, but you will also become a good steward of all the physical blessings you have: your health, your finances, and your properties. 4. Have an eternal perspective. Remember that life on earth is like a dot compared to the infinite line of eternity. After weâ€™re gone, itâ€™s not the stuff we leave behind that will matter. It will be what kind of character we had and the example we lived for others that will matter. If our only goal is to live life by acquiring fame and fortune, we may find that purpose rather empty in the end. Realize that life is not just about your job, hobbies, or family vacations and traveling. Focus on a life of love, joy and peace as each day comes. This journey called life will be over before you realize it. 44
So why spend another moment living life that is NOT in accordance to your values? Live with laser-like existence now. May your life be blessed in ways you never expect. For those who are curious, this is my revised life focus statement: 1. To love and please God above all else. 2. To love and take care of my wife and kids, and earn their respect. 3. To love and serve Godâ€™s family. 4. To be a faithful steward of my lifeâ€™s blessings (health and finances). 5. To give my best and glorify God in everything I do.
10 Tips on How to Keep Your Passion at Work “Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle they need to overcome. Since the present moment is Life itself, it is an insane way to live.” – Eckhart Tolle I could never work on something I’m not passionate about. I mean, I can, but it will eventually lead to a burnout. That’s why I feel very blessed that my day job has provided me an avenue to bring out the best in me. Most simplicity bloggers I know have “quitting my day job” in their wish list. And they’ve done it. I’m sorry, but I’m not one of them. Why? Because I love my work. I love Monday mornings and look forward to another week of doing what I do. I work as a Corporate Communications, Branding, and Corporate Social Responsibility officer for a power distribution 46
company in Subic Bay. These are three tasks that I’m really passionate about. At work, I get to read and write a lot, create and edit articles, layout and manage a newsletter, and build relationships with people. I get to manage people’s behaviors, stand in front of them, and inspire them to be better persons not only physically, mentally, and socially, but more importantly spiritually. I get to help people help themselves, meet the needs of the less fortunate (which will be limited of funds if I would have done it personally), and contribute positively to the world. Because of my work, I am able to provide for the needs of my family and more, get to travel around the country and go to places I’ve never dreamed of going, and meet some of the best and most wonderful people in the planet. I know, you might say “lucky you.” Yeah, I must admit that :), but the simple truth is that passion doesn’t exist in the job, it exists within us. We have to choose to have passion. It’s either we find it in us right where we are, or we will never find it. The best place to ignite our passion at work is right where you are… right now. Here are some tips: 1. Appreciate your boss. I feel the most enthusiastic about my work whenever I appreciate my bosses. I walk over to their office and greet them, shake hands with them, or have a warm, short chit chat once in a while. Remember, they are humans too. They also need to be encouraged 47
and built up. 2. Be thankful. One of the ways that I do to keep me passionate at work is to constantly remind myself of all the blessings that it has given me. As I’ve mentioned above, because of my work, my family is well provided, I get around the country a lot to see different places, I made new friends and acquaintances, and I get to do something meaningful in the lives of others. I express gratitude for all that I have and this helps me become even more passionate about what I’m doing. 3. Make a list of compelling reasons why you work. At least five will do. Put it in a place where you can refer to it constantly. If your list is not that positive, rehash it and write it into something motivational. Here’s my list: 1.) To provide for my family’s needs, 2.) to share my knowledge and skills, 3.) to help people help themselves, 4.) to be a blessing to others, 5.) and to contribute something to the world before I leave it. 4. Balance work and family life. Even though I love my work so much, I never spend extended hours on it, except on those rare occasions that I really have to. I know how to work hard and smart, but I also know when to quit for the day. I never neglect spending time with my wife and kids as they are the number one reason why I work in the first place. Besides, I usually finish what I have to do before going home. 5. Always give your best. Great things happen when we give our best. That goes in everything we do, not only at 48
work. Give your best to your family, your relationships, your finances, your life. We give glory to our Creator when we pursue excellence. 6. Stay healthy. Eat the right food and exercise regularly. Watch your weight. Have enough sleep and rest. To perform at your best, you must be physically healthy and ready to meet the pressures of your work. 7. Act with enthusiasm. Sometimes, emotions can work backwards. Move and talk with enthusiasm, and soon you will actually feel enthusiastic. I’m not kidding, try it. 8. See what’s positive in every situation. I admit, it would be hard initially because it’s human nature to see the hassle first, the problem, and the inconvenience. Start identifying a little positive on anything, then change your perspective and build your passion on it. You’ll find out that whatever situation you’re in, it will be easier and more pleasurable to handle. 9. Keep a file of inspiring articles you read. As my regular readers and friends know, I love to read. Whenever I read an article that really inspired me, I tear it out of a magazine, or copy it in the computer, and file it. That way I can go back at it and read it every time I need some much needed boost. 10. Work for God, and not for men. For me, by far this is the most important tip of all. The Bible says in Colossians 3:23 that “Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart. Do it for the Lord and not for men.” I love this verse 49
because, as we all know, all of us have problems at work. And this verse is like a breath of fresh air, a reminder that our ultimate boss is God Himself. We should regard our work as an act of worship to God, something that honors and glorifies Him. This perception would take away boredom and drudgery out of our work, and unleash the passion within us. In reality, if we have work, we spend most of our waking hours on it than at home or anywhere else. It’s a minimum of 8 to 9 hours a day, more if you have a long commute. If you are unhappy at work, or if you feel that you don’t really love what you’re doing and you can’t be passionate about it, might as well get to know yourself more first. Find your passion. Discover your purpose. It’s better than wasting your time, and your life, on something that won’t give it any meaning. Life is short, really.
What Really Matters is… What Really Matters These days, a lot of people are NOT doing what they really want to do. For one thing, they don’t know what that is. The result: many are tired, confused, weary, chugging through the day-to-day business of living – doing whatever they can, all they can, without thinking too much and without being in the present. Living because of the past and living for the future. Living just to live. Living just to survive. Living just to get to that next grand family vacation, or to accumulate wealth, or to have the latest gadget available in the market. People, we can’t blame anyone for that: we all have our reasons and the freedom to choose. 51
But for those who are tired of being tired, there is an awesome alternative: live to be free, do what you want to do, and carry out your passions. The first step toward knowing what you want to do is knowing yourself, and the only way to know yourself is to ask the One who created you. You didn’t create yourself so there is no way you can tell yourself what you were created for. It’s like an invention. If you were instantly handed the newest tech gadget, you wouldn’t know what it’s for. And the gadget itself wouldn’t be able to tell you. Only the inventor, or the creator, or the owner’s manual could reveal its purpose. Simplifying your life is prioritizing – creating more time, on the job and at home, to do the things you want to do. But the problem is it takes time to make time. You can’t figure out how to create time for the things you enjoy if you don’t take time to rethink what you’re doing now. You can’t know your Creator better if you don’t make time to get to know Him more. It’s not automatic! Maintaining a complicated life is a sure way to living just for the sake of living. If you’ve spent years not knowing what you want to do – in your career, in your family, in your civic obligations – it seems like an impossible challenge to figure out. For many people, it’s easier to stay in the status quo – to keep doing what they know they don’t want to do, or what they don’t 52
mind doing. Simplifying life frees up time to figure out what really matters.
Living a Simple Life is a Spiritual Journey When I first decided to live a simple life, my goal is to be more organized with my stuff, time, and commitments, spend more time with my family, and to be able to save more money to bless others and provide for my family. But now, slowly and surely, living a simple life has become a spiritual journey for me. It has become about living a life that is pleasing to God, and one that gives glory to His name. I can fail many times about not being organized, but not giving glory to God… that’s a mistake I don’t want to make. Spiritual growth is about molding our character into like that of Jesus Christ. I don’t have to try and relive Jesus’ life exactly how He lived it – there is only one like Him, 100% man and 100% God – but I need to examine the life God trusted me with and ask the question “how would Jesus live if He were living my life?” With that in mind, I look around my home and wonder, 54
“is this what Jesus’ house would look like if He were living my life? How many clothes would He have owned? What food would He have eaten? How many gadgets would He have wanted? How much would He have spent on impulse buying?” And the answers always, always enthrall me. Jesus lived for the glory of His Father alone. It was His first and last priority and everything else came in between. He didn’t care so much about material things… but He cared more about people. His life was focused on fulfilling His purpose, doing the will of His Father in heaven, pleasing Him and glorifying His name, in whatever it is that He had to do… Right now, it seems to me that my decision to live a simple life is more of about Christlikeness, having Christ’s character, than my original goals of being organized or simplifying life itself. I pray to God that He gives me the strength and discipline to continue on with this journey, however rough and bumpy it may become.
A Simplified Life is a Successful Life I’ve always talked about how the majority has brainwashed us from thinking that in life “bigger is better.” That “the more, the merrier.” Society had led us to believe that the bigger car you drive, the bigger house you have, the bigger salary you receive, the better is your life. That “successful” people were the ones that does the most in life – the busier you are, and the more things you have going on in your head, the more successful you should be. So people choose to do anything and everything just to gain money, thinking that the more activities they can cluster in a single day, the more productive and successful they can become. Filling time with so many tasks and responsibilities that were assumed important because they are traditional in our culture. Sadly, most of our troubles and stresses happen because we base our choices on what we thought everyone is doing, or it’s always been done that way, or it just felt right. But we can be so busy with many things without 56
actually achieving anything. Success, from the biblical perspective, means much more than attaining material prosperity, or achieving fame or wide recognition. From the biblical standpoint, success is only success when we accomplish the purpose God had intended for us to fulfill. Simplify Your Life to be Successful A simplified life is a successful life. Why? 1. A simplified life has focus. There is nothing more powerful than a focused life. It brings change. The Apostle Paul, known as “The Man Who Shook the World,” almost single-handedly spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire because his life is so much focused. He lived only to do the will of his Father in heaven. Even up to now, we can always hear his name being mentioned as a prime example of a powerful life. Clearly, he had a significant impact on our world. “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” – Philippians 3:13 (New Living Translation) 2. A simplified life has purpose. Purpose defines what we do and don’t do. Purpose becomes the standard in which we evaluate which activities are essential and which are not. Without a clear purpose, there is no foundation on which to base decisions, allocate time, and use resources. People do too much and become too busy because they don’t know their purpose in life. Purpose-driven living 57
leads to a simpler lifestyle and a saner schedule. “A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.” – Proverbs 13:7 (The Message translation) 3. A simplified life is less stressful. A truly successful person has peace of mind and joy in his heart in whatever circumstance. What gain is all the fame and money in the world, when one is living in anxiety, fear, and frustration? One too many times a person is pressured because of trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” or to comply with the expectations of others. Learn and cultivate contentment. When you realize nothing is lacking, then you have it all. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” – Philippians 4:11 (New International Version) 4. A simplified life prepares you for eternity. Many people spend their lives trying to create a lasting legacy on earth. That is their basis for success. They want to be remembered when they’re gone. But what matters most will not be what others say about your life, but what your Creator says. We fail to realize that achievements are eventually surpassed, records are meant to be broken, and reputations and tributes forgotten. The problems we face today don’t mean a thing a hundred years from now. What will matter a hundred years from now and for all eternity is what God says about us. “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.” – Philippians 3:12b (New Living Translation) If you want a successful life, simplify it! Focus it! Live with 58
a purpose! Stop trying to do everything, and do less! Do only the things which matters most! In all this we can say that success from a biblical perspective means: • Finding and fulfilling God’s purpose for our life. • Becoming the person who God wants us to be, for time and eternity. • Winning God’s ultimate approval and commendation. I pray that you have been blessed, motivated, and inspired to live a more meaningful life that God has intended for all of us to have. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10 (New Living Translation)
Refreshed With a Simple Life Not that long ago, my life was very complicated. There was the complication of having lots of stuff, stacked up in every corner of my home and office, accumulated slowly, unconsciously through time. I was forced to wear my own clothes – even though they weren’t comfortable and/or I didn’t like them – just because they were a part of my wardrobe. Worse, there were still tons more that just occupy space and decay because I never wear them. I don’t know if it was greed that got the best of me… for even paltry giveaways were such a big deal if I didn’t receive any… There was the complication of having lots of commitments, filling up my schedule until I had no time to do the things that I really wanted to do. My life was driven by the need to earn money and the yearning to please others. I was like a foolish robot, doing the bidding of other people. I felt like my life was out of control, without meaning, or significance, or purpose… 62
There was the complication of busyness, too many tasks on my to-do list, too many emails to answer and phone calls to make, too many meetings, too many favors to attend to. I wonder how I could ever get everything smooth and organized. I tried to squeeze every task, activity, and responsibility in my 24-hour span, leaving me stressed, unhappy, burned out, and just mindlessly chugging through the day… There was the complication of unhealthy habits, being sedentary and watching too much TV, unwillingly ballooning to become 40 pounds overweight. I was ingesting more junk, fried, fatty, and liver-damaging food than ever before in my life. Because of that my blood sugar shot up into almost a diabetic, leaving me depressed, unmotivated, and miserable… Until I decided that enough is enough! I cried out to God for help on rescuing myself from this complicated, unmeaningful life. One at a time I changed my habits. I mercilessly pared down my possessions into less than 100 things. I stopped impulse buying and began to think twice, thrice, four times, before buying anything. I prioritized my commitments and said “no” to activities which didn’t give my life meaning or didn’t contribute for the good of others. I simplified my life, rather than organized it, for I realized that only in simplicity can we find focus and peace of mind. I started to regularly exercise and run again, cut out the prison nonsense of our cable TV, and ate a healthier, nourishing 63
diet. Until I decided that enough is enough, I have learned to live and love with “enough.” Simplifying my life is an on-going process, one that continues to this day but to a lesser extent. I’ve gained back my freedom, my health, my values, my life… and all that is because of my God who opened my eyes to life’s essentials.
“I’ve Got Everything I Need Right Here” I just watched the 2010 movie “Clash of the Titans” last night, and there was one line by the film’s main protagonist, Perseus, that resonated in my mind. “I’ve got everything I need right here.” His father, Zeus, the leader of the Olympian gods, was asking if he’ll reconsider his offer to take his place as one of them – as a god – in Olympus. But Perseus’ surprisingly meek and pleasant reply was, “I’ve got everything I need right here.” I put myself in Perseus’ shoes for a moment and wondered what would make me happy and content right here and right now. That moment when I can say “I’ve got everything I need right here.” This is what I came up with: 1. Jeans – nice and comfortable. I don’t need to be stiff 65
and cold while wearing them. 2. T-Shirt – just plain white, black, or grey. Without prints or brands. My favorite are v-necks. I can comfortably be myself when I’m wearing them. 3. Water – my favorite beverage. I also drink coffee, tea, or fruit juices, but nothing compares with plain water. Delicious. 4. Banana – or any fruit for that matter. But my favorite is banana. 5. Books – the best thing that entertains me. I usually have one or a couple in hand. I forget about time when I’m reading. 6. Pen and a small Notebook – for spontaneous writings of my thoughts, insights, and ideas about what I read and about a lot of things. 7. Walking – next to reading, the best thing that entertains me is walking. Especially with my wife. We talk about everything, and we savor the immense beauty of nature. Now, that’s living! 8. My wife, Denielle – she’s my confidence, my partner, my sister, and my friend. She’s the wind beneath my wings; the gust behind my sails. I love her forever. 9. My daughter, Ryah – being with her has always given meaning to my life that I had no right to expect. That no 66
one can ever take from me. I love her so much, more than anything in this world. These are all I need: jeans & t-shirt, water & banana, a book and a notebook, a walk with my wife and daughter in nature. I donâ€™t want to have everything, because Iâ€™ve got everything I needâ€Ś right here.
Simply Amazing Iâ€™ve always been amazed by simple things. First, I am amazed by the fact that I can breathe, be quiet, and sit still for a minute. Thereâ€™s a calmness and peacefulness that comes with it. In stillness you learn to be content. You donâ€™t need to eat junk food, or shop on impulse, or compare yourself to others, or to make more money to keep up with the Joneses, or to achieve power and glory, be selfish and greedy, be constantly busy and overwhelmed. I am amazed by the fact that I can run and walk. With a brain sending commands to my legs, I rise from our couch and move to the kitchen for a drink of water. I can walk one step or a few kilometers to be with my loved ones. I can run with the wind, feeling lightness, freedom, and triumph. I am amazed by the fact that I can listen, talk, and communicate. What an awesome ability to be able to 68
communicate freely with other human beings. Whether be it by talking, gesturing, or writing. Also, hearing different sounds and enjoying the music of life is another wonderful skill we take for granted. Nothing in the world compares to doing these things, and I thank my God every day for these gifts. A few things of beauty, when stripped of the excesses, are allowed to shine, to then create a whole that is better than a whole of too many less important things. Cut back to a few important tasks and your work will be transformed. Do only a few things in life and those things will breathe and take on an importance they never had before. They will create a life that is not only better but is a truer expression of yourself. Isnâ€™t it amazing?
The Beauty of Limits I was eating my breakfast this morning, a simple one – eggplant omelette, a cup of rice, and a glass of water – when I had the sudden urge to get more rice. I paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and composed myself. For health purposes, I am limiting myself to just a cup of rice, or fewer, every meal, I remembered. That’s what I like about having limits. It forces you to be disciplined and gives you the opportunity to practice selfcontrol. Too much of anything is not good. Imagine if our roads had no speed limits, or credit cards had no limits, or politicians had no term limits. The world would be a disaster! I’m not saying that everyone should have limits. But for me, it’s okay to have them. I limit myself to having 100 70
personal things, 1 cup of coffee a day, and live within our means, to name a few. Limits allow me to always be reliant on God and force me to figure out whatâ€™s really important. God Himself applied giving limits to humans. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil should not be touched or eaten. Look what happens when someone doesnâ€™t respect limits.
Real Freedom “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” – Mark 8:36 We may not notice it, but slowly and surely we are being made slaves by the stuff of this world. Never in the history of planet earth have people been involved in so much materialism as today. Even little children were being conditioned that the more toys they have, the happier they should become. Parents use material things as reward for something good done by their kids, without knowing they are introducing their children to the pattern of worldly materialism. As if a material possession is a goal they have to achieve. Why not use love and encouragement, and tenderness and gentleness towards one another as a reward? Corny, but isn’t that better? After childhood, we go to school and are then conditioned that life is a race, we should always be number one, that 72
the higher your grades are, the better is your life in the future. We are pressured to graduate in college so we can have the best chance at getting a good paying job. Then we claw each other and push each other aside, even forsaking friendships, just to covet those limited good paying jobs. For what? For big houses, fancy SUVs, expensive clothes and gadgets, and lots of debt to go with all that. While working, we are then conditioned that the solution to everything is consumption. When we’re stressed, we go to the mall and shop or watch a movie. When we want to be entertained, we buy the entertainment. We buy our food in artificial packages that damage our health, and then we fix our failing health by buying exercise clothes and equipment. And when we can’t afford to buy these things, we go into debt and depression takes over our lives. We fix our debt by going into another larger, deeper debt. Our lives are stuck to our buying, consuming, and hoarding habits. We are stuck doing work we hate, to pay for stuff we don’t even need or want. We become slaves of this world, and we don’t even know it. Real Freedom! Real freedom comes from a life driven by purpose, a life guided by the hands of our Father in heaven, a life being made ready for eternity. When you know your purpose, life becomes simpler and more focused. Nothing is wasted. 73
Life on earth is so fleeting, it’s just a dot compared to the infinite line of eternity. The question is why do we need to store treasures here on earth, where nothing is permanent and stuff goes into decay sooner or later? We should store more treasures in heaven, where decay does not exist. One of our young people at church posted in his Facebook account that “we can’t have everything, and we can’t do everything,” as if he is disheartened by that statement. I jokingly commented that “it’s alright not to have everything. Because if you do, where would you put it?” There are lots of ways to break free from the chain of this world’s consumerism. Living a simple life is the first step towards it.
About the Author Raymund Tamayo is a husband and a father of two kids, a 5-year old daughter Ryah and a newly-born son Rafa. They live in Olongapo City in the Philippines. He works as a Corporate Communications, Branding, and Corporate Social Responsibility officer for a power distribution company in the Subic Bay Freeport. He is also the editor-in-chief of its corporate newsletter, the Flame, and the companyâ€™s website administrator. He is a member of Tsidkenu Community Church, an independent full gospel Christian church in Olongapo City, where he is the lead worship musician and treasurer. He also leads a bible study small group for young men where they train them to lead godly and purpose-driven lives. He is also a writer/blogger at raymundtamayo.blogspot. com, where he writes about simplicity, spirituality, parenting, living a life of purpose, being a faithful steward on health and finances, and many other motivational and inspirational things. He wishes to become an inspirational speaker someday, to share everything that he has learned, and is still learning, on how to have a life well-lived.
A collection of essays by Raymund Tamayo about finding purpose, living with simplicity, and discovering purpose in life.