Friday, October 18, 2013

The Price Of Happiness (Part I: Why You Can’t Argue With A Cheapskate)

If money CAN buy happiness, will you be willing to pay the price? Or will you conscientiously ask for a good bargain?

This discussion about whether or not money can really buy happiness has been nagging me for days on end. It all started when I got a dreadful comment from someone at work. We were having lunch at this posh Japanese restaurant in one of the classiest high-end malls in the metro (it was an invitation, I wouldn’t spend so much on food on a regular basis). I’ve always been a good participant in their conversations, which consist mostly of high-end brands of clothing, overpriced food and coffee, a hundred-thousand-peso collection of shoes, etc., albeit not knowing a thing about it. I don’t share the same appreciation for the branded, upscale lifestyle.

So there we were, talking about which brands they patronize for shoes, or the peso value of the food they just had in some God-knows-where resto, how much they spend for knick-knacks this and that. Then the question landed on my plate: What things do I spend mostly on? And then I stared straight at the wall trying to think of something to say. Well, I do drain my wallet for books. But in retrospect, the most I really spent on books in one stop was less than P5,000. That’s really not much of a “spending” if you ask me. And I do buy really good guitars but it still won’t amount to much.

So will I just spurt out some random thing or will I tell the truth—that I DON’T spend on anything at all? So I came to the safest choice, to tell everyone that, to be honest, I really don’t SPEND on anything in particular. Then came the comment: “You’re such a CHEAPSKATE.”

It was offensive, alright. But come to think of it, hell, I really am a cheapskate. It never occurred to me that I am probably so conscious about my finances that I am forgetting to enjoy my hard-earned money. I rarely shop for clothes, the most expensive piece of clothing I bought was a pair of jeans close to only P2,000. Not much on shoes either, the most I spent was around P3,500 for an Italian-made flats. Not on bags, too, the most expensive of which was about P4,500 a friend of mine got from the U.S. As for accessories, I got my hand-me-downs from my mom and my grandma. Make-up, the average U.S. drugstore variety. And for food, nah, I always go for the exotic, spicy Southeast Asian dishes that barely cost much. No, I’ve never been in a club. No, I’ve never eaten a thousand-peso steak. No, I’ve never bought myself a decent watch. No, not a single bling-bling. And no, never designer shoes. But should that be such a big thing?

Not that I can’t afford it, I can tweak my finances so well it can even accommodate an Antarctica cruise if I wanted to. But the weird thing about it all is that whenever I buy those kinds of things, I would always get the after-purchase regret. And then I would swear I would never do anything like that again.
To echo the famous maxim “Money can’t buy happiness”, I think that perhaps it needs a little adjustment: Money CAN buy you happiness if you spend it on something that makes you happy. And something that would make that happiness last.

People would think I'm a weirdo or that I’m a righteous bitch. But that’s how it’s been with me. The most dreadful feeling one could ever possibly get is regret after a mindless purchase. It almost always destroys my happiness bubble. Because I couldn’t risk feeling remorseful after buying something, I would think twice, maybe thrice, on whether or not I should buy this. Most of the time I would end up buying a cheaper variety, and sometimes end up not buying at all.

Studies show that people respond differently to money. Some are happy to buy jewelry, others prefer to spend it on expensive food. Some are happy to buy fancy clothes and bags, others have bigger priorities like a kid to send to school. As for my case, I happily scrape all my savings for books. I would gingerly stash away extra cash for an out-of-the-country trip. I would spend lavishly on musical equipment. I hand my younger sister her weekly allowance for school. And I am also happily paying up for insurance and stock investments.

And for me, this is the price I pay for happiness. This is, for me, money WELL-SPENT. I’d rather keep to it than dine in a fancy restaurant or splurge on the latest gadget. I’m not saying that spending on these things is not good. Like I said, it all depends on what makes you happy and what will make that happiness last.

I do believe, however, that one shouldn’t judge a person by the way he/she chooses to spend money. That’s just reckless and insensitive and downright stupid.

And, yes, I’m a cheapskate, a scrooge, a miserable dork, however you want to call it. But I’m good that way, thankyouverymuch.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

This 2013, i shall/shan't...

…update my blog more often.

Nah, let’s face it. New Year’s resolutions are all but taken for granted. Was there ever a time in our lives that we actually did what we’d pledged to do? Well, lucky for us if we do manage to stick to one or two, or if we could at least remember that, oh, I’ve accomplished a New Year’s resolution!

Perhaps it’s also because we tend to always make the most absurd of declarations on the vaguest of things. Take this for instance. New Year’s resolution: I promise not to be late for work. I mean, come on. How can you ever pledge not to be late for work?? It’s not like you can actually control the flow of the early morning EDSA traffic. Or how fast your building elevator can go. And even if you do get to manage the traffic or the elevator, you would always switch off your alarm clock when it goes off at an earlier time anyway. That’s because your will is mightier than your words. So what’s the point of going the trouble of making resolutions for the New Year?

Of course you will, well, if you do make your list a little less ambiguous and a bit more doable. And if you stick to them religiously. Mine wouldn’t be a New Year’s resolution, more like a list of stuff that I’d try to avoid doing this year. So it goes like this:

1.       Putting off replying to text messages at a (much) later time. OK, I’m guilty of this. I use a Blackberry and my closest friends are all in my BBM contacts list. So if it’s a text message, it would definitely be someone outside the circle, which will be attended to later on. And which is cruel and unforgiving. I know. So now, I promise to reply to text messages as soon as I get them.
2.       Buying overpriced hard bounds. I'm a booklover, ‘nuff said. So buying outrageously pricey books is perfectly understandable. Or so I thought. Because to be honest, the hideous salary I get from my job wouldn’t be enough to sustain this kind of lifestyle. Plus, there are cheap paperbacks and ebooks available everywhere. So now, I promise not to spend too much on expensive hard bounds if I can help it.
3.       Being too lenient with my diet. Modesty aside, I am one of those fortunate girls who don’t gain too much weight regardless of how many rice meals I stuff myself with for days on end. But well, obviously, that wouldn’t be for long; sooner or later I would have to bear with a thick frame. And I am actually looking at a thickening flab of skin on my tummy. So now, I promise to exercise regularly and be serious with it.
4.       Being comfortable with old tunes. I belong to that group of weirdoes who never seemed to grow up when it comes to their tastes in music. Well, you can’t blame me for remaining faithful to the musical geniuses of yore. They’re just irreplaceable! But the world goes on spinning and you can’t always stay glued to your corner when music and the whole world start moving. So now, I promise to listen to new songs from now on.
5.       Being too reluctant to leave home. I grew up a certified homebody and there are still a lot of times when I prefer to stay at home even when the whole world outside is turning into one big party place. I knew I was missing a lot staying inside my hole and all that. So now, I promise to go out and experience the world as much as I can.
6.       Not exerting too much effort on my looks. I’m not actually a party person as evidenced by Resolution No. 5, which means I don’t usually go as far as dressing up and prepping my face. My make-up is stashed away unnoticed and my clothes aren’t actually that fashionable. And this has reduced me to a mere speck of dust in a sea of beautiful women. So now, I promise to dress up, put on make-up and simply look good.
7.       Traveling once a year. Last year, I’ve been to five different places in the country and two international destinations and the feeling was exhilarating! It’s like the most perfect thing in the universe, experiencing life away from the city you grew up in and discovering, learning things. Once is not enough and will never be. So now, I promise to travel, travel and travel until my feet can endure!
8.       Mind is elsewhere during work time. Guilty as charged. I wouldn’t be writing this down if I hadn’t noticed how less productive I’ve been the past year because of too many things going on in my head. It’s difficult being a marketing person; it’s a job where your brain is at work 24/7. There were moments I caught myself staring at an imaginary landscape or Alt+Tab-ing to Facebook while doing some overdue paperwork. So now, I promise to F-O-C-U-S on work and to be more productive.
9.       Always having a hard time saying NO. This has been a very big problem for me, getting caught up in a lot of things when I’d rather not be part of any of it. I know I always try hard to please everybody, well not really try hard but trying too hard. That’s because I don’t want to start an argument and be the object of extreme dislike. But the result?—hating myself more and more for not doing what I really wanted in the first place. So now, Imma say NO whenever I want to.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lipat Bahay

The looooooong intervals between my blog posts are starting to annoy me. So I'm blogging now for the sake of blogging (which is totally non-sense). I know I've spilled too much emotions into this blog, not to mention filled every tiny space of this digital paper with ridiculous rantings about my mediocre life (like people would care). My boyfriend offered to create a website for me so I can finally say that the web space is MINE (ha-ha!), so I'm beginning to tidy up bit by bit and start sorting out what goes to "Blissful Savagery" and what should not.

So stoked! :)

PS: Wow, is that the first SMILEY to ever be typed in this blog?!?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Chasing Liberty

I know, it’s a corny title. It happened to be the first words that came to mind when I was thinking about blogging today. It has a pretty deep meaning, though.
I’m going to start off by stating a very well-known, very widely-accepted fact of life: We ALL have dreams. If you don’t agree with me then I’m guessing you are from another planet (but who knows, maybe aliens have dreams too). Yep, we have dreams and we want to make them happen. It’s that simple. That freakin’ simple. So I just don’t get it why some people are trying to dampen your spirits. When you want something and you want to put all your efforts to make these things work, someone comes along to throw a bucketful of water at you and crush your ambitions to bits. Ouch.
I know it’s painful. But what makes it all the more excruciating is when these people happen to be the closest to you. People who are supposed to stand by you during tough times. People who vowed to put your best interests above everything else. People who are supposed to care for you and keep you motivated [?] Like, your parents maybe.
Yes, this blog is about them. And I’m putting this on digital paper because there’s no freaking’ way I’m going to be able to stand up and tell them how I feel. Everytime I try to voice out my thoughts, they would come up with a counterattack that is so inappropriate you just want to force it out of your brain. I try not to let their words eat me. But at some point, the words just gnaw at you and you find yourself defenseless. I remember I used to cry in my room whenever my dad would throw some really nasty remark at me. It’s been his habit. He sometimes talks to us like we’re filth in his shoes. I started to hate all the curse words I hear from him when I, unaware, spat them all out myself by accident. I regretted it a lot because I never wanted to be like him in any way.
It’s been 10 years and pretty much nothing has changed at home. I am 25 years-old now and my friends would make fun of me because I still can’t make decisions for myself. It sucks bigtime. It’s not that I CAN’T make decisions, they just wouldn’t let me. At least without a huge fight. Like today, we had a row about work and me having a vacation. I’ve been working part time as an insurance agent for almost 2 years now, and as much as I want to take this job fulltime, they wouldn’t let me. Because they need me to have a steady flow of income so I can provide for them. Thing is, I WANT TO GIVE THIS JOB A TRY, and I know I’m going to be good at it.
And then there’s this vacation at Puerto Galera. I badly need this vacation! I’ve been so stressed out with work and I freakin’ deserve a break! And the place is just a few hours away, for goodness sake! A very inconsequential matter that spawned a nasty argument.
I hate these nonsensical arguments. I hate having to justify my actions all the time. I hate having to put up with their selfishness. I just want to be HAPPY—happy to do the things that I want. To travel to many places, to have a fulfilling job together with people who REALLY care about my growth, to experience so much in life no matter how bitter or sweet they’d be, to go out and have fun with friends, to love and be loved, to be free to do all these things without a heavy heart.
I wish they’d understand. I wish someday, they’d feel for me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

When being Happy is as easy as “1-to-10”

I know, and a lot of people would definitely agree, that I’m just not the happiest person in the world. I remember telling a friend that exact same line once over bottles of beer. But truth be told, as what I said back then, though I admit I’m not exactly too optimistic about things, I’m always trying to be. Yep, I’m not happy but I’m damn trying to be.

And I can say I’m pretty much doing a great job! I know that you, my friends, would probably be thinking now how utterly pretentious of me to be writing this stuff. But hey, I’m doing you fucktards a favor!!! And I’m not pretending, I really am shifting views.

So how to substantiate my claim of “trying to be happy”? Here are some of the ways. If you’re feeling depressed about almost everything in your life now, try one of these. I guarantee, it could help you.

1. Change of scenery. If you are the type who, when gripped by a strong wave of loneliness, wanders off along dark alleys picking fights with random strangers, then you seriously need to consider this. Surround yourself with friends who care about how you feel and wouldn’t put up with your silly habits. Be someplace where there’s a lot of sun and greens and happy people singing songs and bunny-hopping (no, that's not a scene from “The Sound of Music”).

2. Listen to happy music. Depressing music will only make you feel all the more depressed, and wallowing to self-pity will not do you any good. Soak up on some feel-good tunes, like those old records your dad listens to when you’re driving out-of-town. House music wouldn’t hurt either (not that I enjoy it but these sounds could help take your mind off serious stuff—because they rarely are SERIOUS).

3. Look fab. And not in a mirrorwhoring way. Try this: After shower, take time sprucing up yourself. Put on real make-up (but don’t overdo it of course) and don’t feel bad if it’s taking up too much time. Go over each step ceremoniously and go all the way down to every detail of your face. It also wouldn’t hurt to smarten up your locks a little bit. Then afterwards, smile in the mirror and feel genuinely good about yourself. And don’t forget to tell yourself that you are beautiful (no matter how ridiculous it sounds).

4. Eat like there’s no tomorrow. Really, would you ever have the strength to say no to a lip-smacking cup of gelato? Or a serving of red velvet cake? Or a mouthwatering slice of pizza? I doubt it, not a chance. So forget about your diet or your slimming regimen. Gorge to your heart’s delight! Food can work wonders for your mood in ways no amount of psychology or nutrition could ever comprehend.

5. Swallow pride. I know this could be extremely difficult for some. But we know pretty well that pride can be as destructive as a nuclear weapon. There are lot of things that could bring you down, so try not to be swept away by too much pride and anger. If you have an unresolved argument with a friend or a family member, be the first one to reach out and apologize. You could already be carrying a load of emotions so it’s just as right to release yourself from the burden.

6. Give and receive little. This could be translated to “STOP BEING A SELFISH BASTARD”. It sucks when you keep tabs on every single favor you do for people in hopes of getting as much in return. Give, and if you can help it, try not to ask anything back. And be sincere about it. Just take good look at the people who benefitted from your kindness. The smiles on their faces should be enough for you.

7. Close the distance. Learn to reach out to people. They may have disparate views about the world but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything nice to say. Be a little more sociable and don’t be afraid to open yourself up during conversations. Believe me, you’ll be surprised about how little stuff about the world you knew and how much you’d probably be gaining out of these talks.

8. Talk a lot. Yes, don’t be afraid of being overly chatty. Don’t worry about monopolizing the conversation. Just go on and release whatever emotion that’s being kept inside you. Talk about anything you feel like talking about—your dog, the music you listen to, the ginormous serving of pudding you had for dessert—and try not to be concerned about whether or not the person you’re talking to is interested.

9. Show some love. Be an advocate of L-O-V-E (not in a lecherous way, of course). Consider this as an act of charity. Volunteer to drive your little brother to school, and give him a peck on the cheek despite him being a total tard. Pour buckets of compliments and praises to people whom you feel are having a really tough day. Treat your bestfriend to lunch or dinner and be the first to say “thank you”. I don’t want to sound overly cheesy now but, hey, what’s there to lose?

10. Pray. Yep, nothing beats having a good, long talk with the one source of extreme, over-the-edge happiness—God. Everything that keeps you from achieving a life full of happiness should be dealt with accordingly. And he definitely gets all the work done faster than a speeding bullet. No questions asked.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Lifelong Farewell

I never thought getting over the loss of a loved one would be this hard. It’s been four days since a very close friend of mine died of heart attack in his sleep but I still haven’t recovered the slightest. And since then, all I ever did was to try, without luck, to keep myself from plunging into depression. So it would take every ounce of my strength to spill on this digital paper all the feelings I’ve kept hidden inside. Wherever you are, I know that you could read this. So here goes.

I regret not spending time with you when I could. You know, being busy with work and school and all that. The last time you asked me to tag along, I bailed out for the stupidest of reasons: a headache and the clothes I was wearing (but hey, you’ve seen my office uniform and though you were insistent, I know you were secretly relieved I wasn’t there, hehe).

And I’m always going to be thankful for your being sympathetic with all my crazy, stupid problems. Remember the last time we rode the bus together? It was me and motion sickness again, and I was having a terrible time keeping up with the conversation. But you talked and paused at the right moment, because though I was feeling shitty, you knew I wanted something to fill the air. And I appreciate your concern over my health. I was rereading our conversation in your mobile and you were so worried about me. And that instant, my heart swelled and I cried.

Didn’t you know I thought you were one of the smartest, most insightful people I’ve met? Yeah, I do respect your opinions and I look up to you. A lot. I love discussing books with you, and other things no matter how trivial they are. I mean, how else would a conversation between two people who share the same fondness for Haruki Murakami go? I feel bad that I wasn’t given the chance to tell you how much I value every single conversation we’ve had, talks about life, love, and even the green jokes . I was always so glad you were there to lift my spirits up whenever I feel down. And you were always ready to listen no matter how crazy my thoughts were. Thanks for showing great interest even in the most inconsequential things in my life, as evidenced by our endless Facebook comments and chats.

I might not tell you often, but I thought it was pretty obvious that I enjoy your company a lot. We would hang out all day long and there would never be the smallest air of uneasiness. Except for that time you told me you missed kissing a girl—honestly, how am I supposed to respond to that ? Yeah, awkward. And that time we watched “Norwegian Wood” in a room and locked the door when the scene got a little too—er—cheesy?

And thank you for trusting me with all your secrets and your girl problems. I thought it was funny when you got really conscious about your looks, because honestly, I don’t think there’s anything to fuss about (uh-huh, made you smile at that ). But you know what, I’ve always felt bad when the girls you liked didn’t fall for the tactics we’d worked on. I mean, what the hell, they sure are missing a lot! But still, it was fun talking to you about them. Of course, what else should your Wingwoman do?

I might not always tell you this, but thank you for just being with me, especially during your family gatherings. You know how hard it is for me to socialize so it felt ultimately good to have someone to talk to in a roomful of strangers. And thank you for taking care of me even if you weren’t asked to.

You’ve been such a great friend, and yet there’s just so much I should apologize on. Sorry for screwing up my birthday bashes. Sorry for the late replies to your text messages. Sorry for missing out on your lunch invitations. Sorry for being so moody. Sorry for getting you caught in stupid arguments (you know what they are).

And here I am, disappointing you again because no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I’m still far from getting over. I hope you understand, and I’m sorry because it’s not going to be easy. That emptiness is eating at me, and I’m fighting really hard against it. And all those places we’ve been in, all those movies we’ve seen together, all the bottles of Tanduay Ice we’ve shared, I want you to know that every single memory of you will be stored forever in my heart. But there’s still the gaping hole that I know will never EVER be filled. And I won’t be able to look at life the same way again.

I’m terribly missing you. And though I know you’re in good hands now, nursing this wound would be a lifelong pursuit. All I want now is for you to remember me always, all the memories we’ve shared, good or bad. Take care of me like you always did from the time we became friends. Talk to me in my heart. Help me cope with the loss. I couldn’t promise you anything, except to journey through life as usual. And hoping to see you again, soon.

- For my dear friend Pernell, I'm gonna miss you a lot.