Selamat datang di blog Paulinus Pandiangan. Semoga kamu menemukan sesuatu yang berguna.   Click to listen highlighted text! Selamat datang di blog Paulinus Pandiangan. Semoga kamu menemukan sesuatu yang berguna.

On Focus: Limiting Options

We can actually make our lives simpler, better, and more focused on a few things that truly matter. It’s by being decisive about doing these few important things with undivided attention and neglecting the rest. Having too many options paralyzes us, making us want to do it all. The effect is pretty predictable: we endlessly jump from one thing to another, trying to accomplish things with our attention scattered all over the place.

What I am proposing here is the time blocking strategy. It’s done by deciding on the one thing that you really want to do (and that is also highly important and valuable to you personally). Then, allocate a certain amount of time—10, 20, 30 minutes, or whatever suits you—to do that one thing only, with undivided attention. It doesn’t come easily at the beginning, but with ruthless practice, I am confident in saying that everyone will get better at it over time.

Let’s say you want to write a journal entry or a short article. First, take a moment to sit still and collect your thoughts. Decide once what it is that you really want to do—in this case, write a journal entry or a short article. Then, allocate a time slot, say 20 minutes. During this 20-minute period, focus solely on this task with undivided attention. Put aside other distractions and focus solely on this one specific thing.

"Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest."Leo Babauta

When you’re finished, take a short break. It’s important to allow space between tasks. Afterward, you can approach something else with the same mindset. Allow room for unexpected events as well; it’s impossible to plan everything out completely. Some deviations from our plan should be expected.

And that’s pretty much it. It provides a sense of structure to your day and helps reduce the tendency to appear busy all the time. Your days will be more impactful when you truly focus your attention and become increasingly mindful of your journey through life. That, my friend, is a healthy, productive life! 🤩

Dump It and Start Fresh

I have something to confess…

Oftentimes, I spout ideas without really examining their significance or importance. I consider those ideas to matter, only to find out later in life that they hold little value.

Well, I am confident enough to say that I am not alone in this.

If it sounds familiar to you, then occasionally dumping your ideas may not be so bad, right?

Generally speaking, we are all biased. We are affected, to varying degrees, by endowment effect and confirmation bias, to name a few. We assume that our ideas are more significant than others’just because they’re oursand we rarely challenge ourselves to see things from a different angle, if it seems to contradict our pre-established beliefs. We are consumed by our egos. So much so that we are prone to clouded judgment about things. We don’t always see things as they are; instead, we interact with our conceptions about them, with the ‘models’ we’ve developed in our minds.

In short, we become slaves to our ego.

The antidote? Be aware of the cognitive biases. Know that you don’t have to work on every single idea that crosses your mind. Sometimes it’s liberating and healthy to simply let them go. Be mindful about the few ideas that are important in life. You definitely need to prioritize investing your time in essential things like maintaining relationships, but you can let go of other things that don’t add value to your life. I mean, if we’re honest with ourselves, we waste a significant amount of our time on non-essential things daily! I am not saying that we must be productive at all times. Studies even suggest that allocating a certain amount of time to not doing anything (it’s called niksen in Dutch), being free from agenda, is actually benefiting our overall well-being in the long run. What I’m trying to say instead is about being aware of our attachments to our own ideas, and be decisive to dump some, if not most of them, sometimes. The idea is to create more ‘space’ for good things. It boils down to focusing on a few things that truly matter.

It would lead us to becoming individuals who truly ‘see’ things from a fresh perspective. It’s about opening ourselves to the possibility of growth.

Does it sound intriguing to you? 😉

“Man in the Car” Paradox

One particular concept that stands out in Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money is the “Man in the Car Paradox.” This paradox encapsulates the complex relationship between wealth, perception, and happiness. Let’s delve into the nuances of this paradox, but first, what is it all about?

Imagine driving past a person in a luxury car, envying their apparent wealth and success. However, what you don’t see is the financial stress, debt, or dissatisfaction that may accompany the owner of the luxury car. Meanwhile, the person driving a modest vehicle may be content, financially secure, and free from the burden of excessive consumption. The individual inside the car may be biased, thinking of themselves as cool and successful, when in reality, as the observer, you might imagine yourself driving the car, considering how cool and successful you would be.

Some key insights from this paradox are as follows:

  1. Relative Wealth vs. Absolute Wealth: Housel highlights the distinction between relative wealth (comparing oneself to others) and absolute wealth (financial security and peace of mind). The “Man in the Car Paradox” underscores that true wealth lies in achieving financial independence and contentment, rather than merely outpacing others in material possessions.
  2. The Illusion of Happiness: Society often equates wealth with happiness, leading individuals to pursue materialistic goals relentlessly. However, the paradox reveals that external markers of success may not always correlate with genuine fulfillment. Studies suggest that happiness derived from possessions is fleeting and often overshadowed by financial insecurity or comparison with others.
  3. The Importance of Perspective: The paradox emphasizes the significance of perspective in shaping our attitudes towards wealth and well-being. By reframing our definition of success and embracing gratitude for what we have, we can cultivate a more fulfilling and sustainable approach to money management.

What can we do about it?

Understanding the “Man in the Car Paradox” can profoundly influence our approach to personal finance. Instead of chasing superficial symbols of success, focus on building financial resilience, pursuing meaningful experiences, and nurturing relationships. Adopting a mindset of abundance and gratitude can lead to greater satisfaction and contentment, irrespective of one’s financial status. And that’s what truly matters in the end.

Practical Things We Can Do:

  • Prioritize financial goals based on personal values and long-term aspirations.
  • Practice mindful spending and differentiate between wants and needs.
  • Cultivate gratitude through regular reflection on life’s blessings.
  • Invest in experiences, relationships, and personal development rather than material possessions.
  • Embrace frugality as a means to achieve financial freedom and flexibility. I should emphasize though that this lifestyle is not for everybody.

☘️ ☘️ ☘️

The paradox serves as a poignant reminder that wealth is not merely a measure of material possessions but encompasses aspects of financial security, contentment, and perspective. By redefining our relationship with money and prioritizing intrinsic values over extrinsic markers of success, we can navigate the complexities of personal finance with greater wisdom and fulfillment.

As Morgan Housel eloquently states, “Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.” True wealth is achievable if you choose to embrace financial prudence, gratitude, and a holistic approach to well-being. 🤩

Belajar Berfokus pada Hari Ini

Kita memiliki hasrat dalam hidup untuk selalu memiliki kendali. Kita ingin agar rencana-rencana kita berjalan baik, dan dengan rencana itu, kita berharap memperoleh sukses yang akan membuat kita bahagia.

Tetapi realitas kehidupan tidak (selalu) mengikuti pola seperti itu. Ada-ada saja hal yang terjadi di luar kendali kita, dan ketika kita merasa tidak memiliki kendali atas apa yang terjadi, kita merasa tak berdaya.

Dan lalu kita merasa tidak nyaman, lalu cemas pun menghampiri. Inilah mekanisme alami tubuh kita saat ketidaknyamanan menghampiri. Akan tetapi, kita harus menyadari keadaan cemas tetap bisa direduksi dengan beberapa tindakan praktis berikut:

Pertama, menanamkan mindset realistis. Ekspektasi adalah sesuatu yang sebenarnya bisa kita kendalikan. Ketika ekspektasi kita terlalu tinggi, akan sangat mudah untuk jatuh pada ketidaknyamanan saat apa yang kita harapkan tidak benar-benar terjadi. Kita perlu memahami bahwa hidup memang penuh dengan kejutan-kejutan menyenangkan, akan tetapi juga banyak pergumulan. Life is not all roses and unicorns. Persoalan akan selalu datang, tetapi kita memiliki kendali atas bagaimana kita menyikapinya; apakah kita mengizinkan persoalan itu mempengaruhi kesehatan mental kita atau tidak.

Apabila kita hanya mengharapkan hasil yang baik setiap saat, tentu akan sangat mudah untuk tidak puas dan cemas. Kegagalan dan persoalan akan lebih mudah dihadapi apabila kita mengenakan ‘kacamata’ yang lebih realistis. Tetap berupaya untuk bersikap positif, tetapi di saat yang sama tetap menyadari bahwa tidak semuanya akan berjalan sebagaimana yang kita harapkan.

Kedua, tidak terlalu berfokus pada tujuan jangka panjang. Kita senang membuat tujuan-tujuan untuk jangka panjang, dan kita membayangkan bahwa di masa depan akan banyak manfaat yang kita rasakan. Tentu itu hal yang lumrah juga. Tetapi akan baik bagi kita apabila kita menyadari bahwa besar kemungkinan rencana-rencana kita di masa depan akan berubah, karena kondisi kita dari hari ke hari akan berubah pula. Prioritas kita juga akan berubah dari waktu ke waktu karena situasi hidup kita juga berubah.

"Live today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Just today. Inhabit your moments."Jerry Spinelli

Apabila kita terlalu berfokus pada rencana jangka panjang, kita kehilangan kesempatan untuk menikmati ‘saat ini’, karena kita terlalu ‘larut bergumul dengan skenario di masa depan’ yang belum tentu akan terjadi.

Maka perlu untuk selalu mengingatkan diri dengan pertanyaan sederhana ini,

“Pilihan bijak apa yang kiranya bisa kulakukan hari ini?”

Dengan kembali ke ‘rel kehidupan saat ini’, kita mengurangi kecemasan akan apa yang mungkin terjadi di masa depan, dan kita lebih bisa menyadari hal-hal baik yang layak disyukuri hari ini.

Bagaimana bentuk nyata dari berfokus di hari ini?

Ketimbang berpikir terlalu jauh ke depan, kita bisa menikmati hal-hal baik, sekecil apa pun itu, hari ini. Kendalikan kecenderungan diri untuk selalu membuat aneka skenario dalam pikiran. Tidak perlu terlalu banyak berpikir tentang hal-hal yang (justru) menambah kerumitan hidup kita. Sometimes, thinking less is liberating!

Bagaimana menurutmu? 😉

10 Fun Ways to Paint Your World

The daily grind can leave us feeling uninspired, with the same routine thoughts on repeat. As a result, we find our thoughts stuck in black and white. But here’s the catch. We can actually change this. The following are 10 vibrant ways to add a splash of color to your mental landscape, making each day a little more interesting.

  1. Sensory Adventures: Our senses are powerful gateways to new experiences. Take a walk in nature, focusing on the textures you feel, the sounds you hear, and the vibrant colors around you. Savor a delicious meal, paying attention to the different flavors and aromas. The idea is to engage your senses fully, and watch your thoughts come alive!
  2. Embrace the Power of Play: Remember the joy of coloring as a child? We can still do that! Dedicate time to coloring books, doodling, or even finger painting. Let go of expectations and simply enjoy the process. Play some upbeat music, light a scented candle, if necessary, and create a fun atmosphere to ignite your creativity.
  3. The Soundtrack of Your Day: Music has a profound effect on our mood. Start your day with an energizing playlist to get your creative juices flowing. Throughout the day, curate different soundtracks for different tasks. Upbeat music for chores, calming melodies for focus work, and something inspiring for creative ventures.
  4. Flip the Script: Challenge your usual way of thinking. Approach familiar tasks from a different angle. Try a new recipe with unusual ingredients, walk your usual route in the opposite direction, or even write with your non-dominant hand (I am not good at this, by the way). These little disruptions can spark new ideas and perspectives.
  5. Spark Curiosity: There’s a world of fascinating information waiting to be discovered. Pick a topic that piques your interest, however random it may seem, and delve into it. Learn about the history of buttons, the science of dreams, or the different types of clouds. Feed your curiosity, and your thoughts will be bursting with new colors.
  6. Embrace the Unexpected: Sometimes, the most interesting experiences come from unplanned detours. Take a spontaneous walk down an unfamiliar street, strike up a conversation with someone new, or say yes to an unexpected invitation. Embrace the thrill of the unknown and see where it leads you.
  7. Write Your Own Story: Journaling is a fantastic way to explore your thoughts and feelings. Write down your dreams, anxieties, or even fictional stories. Write in different formats – poetry, free verse, even a dialogue between you and your future self. Let your imagination run wild and see what stories emerge.
  8. The Power of Gratitude: Focusing on the good things in life adds a natural brightness to your day. Start a gratitude journal and take a few minutes each day to write down what you’re thankful for. Appreciating the little things can shift your perspective and color your thoughts in positive light.
  9. Create a Vision Board: Don’t just dream it, visualize it! Create a vision board filled with images, quotes, and words that represent your goals and aspirations. Surrounding yourself with these visuals will inspire you and keep your thoughts focused on achieving your colorful dreams.
  10. Share Your Spark: The most vibrant colors shine brighter when shared with others. Teach a friend a new skill, host a creative game night, or even start a blog to share your colorful ideas with the world. When you share your passions with others, you not only inspire yourself but also color the world around you.

Remember, coloring your thoughts is more like a journey, not a destination. Experiment a lot, try to have fun, and embrace the joy of living a life bursting with color!

Walking the Lonely Road

Let’s face it. We can’t expect to be loved or understood by everyone. In fact, we should be prepared for misunderstanding or disapproval. But we shouldn’t be troubled by what other people say about us when we’re away. As a matter of fact, no one who ever did anything novel did it without criticism. People will cast doubt on you. Nevertheless, we have to cultivate our own strong sense of values and virtue. We have to be who we are.

It would be wonderful if people were admired for doing the right thing. But in this life, things don’t always go our way. Morally upright people don’t always get the rewards they deserve. That is how things have always been and will continue to be. People like Cato, Socrates, Diogenes, and many other virtuous figures in history were not really appreciated during their lifetime. Most of them were hated. Some were even sentenced to death.

So, the moment you’re embracing your journey towards virtue and wisdom, know that you are walking a lonely road. Get used to judgmental eyes. Acknowledge the skepticism and critiques. Steel yourself against the jeers and attacks. Remind yourself all the time that being true to yourself is what truly matters.

This might sound challenging, even frightening. But the journey is worthwhile. We’re born for a mission, and in many cases, this mission requires us to choose a different pathway—the road less traveled. I know it’s hard. But this is life. We have to be who we are. Embrace the journey. Who knows, maybe it will lead to something lovely! 😍

☘️ ☘️ ☘️

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tentang Kausalitas Yang Keliru

Di pulau Hebrida, yang secara geografis berada di utara Skotlandia, konon kutu di kepala dianggap sesuatu yang harus dipelihara. Mereka berpendapat bahwa kalau induk kutu dibasmi, orang tersebut akan demam. Maka, untuk menyembuhkan demam, orang malah dengan sengaja menaruh induk kutu di kepala orang tersebut. Menurut mereka, setelah kutu dikembalikan ke orang tersebut, kondisinya akan membaik.

Di tempat lain, ada juga orang yang meyakini bahwa semakin banyak petugas pemadam yang terlibat dalam proses pemadaman api, maka kerusakan akibat kebakaran tersebut akan semakin besar. Kepala daerahnya bahkan sampai memotong anggaran petugas pemadam kebakaran akibat pola pikir ini.

Kita mungkin tersenyum membaca kedua cerita di atas, tetapi kekeliruan berpikir yang tersirat di dalamnyakausalitas palsu (false causality)sesungguhnya umum terjadi (bahkan) di kehidupan modern sekarang ini. Dari kedua cerita di atas kita tahu bahwa sebenarnya kutu meninggalkan inangnya yang demam karena permukaan kulitnya menjadi hangat, sehingga kutu tidak nyaman, dan bahwa jumlah petugas pemadam justru ditambah karena memang sebaran apinya membesar.

Contoh-contoh lainnya sangat mudah ditemukan dalam kehidupan terkini. Misalnya saat kita membaca artikel berjudulkan ‘Dampak Motivasi Karyawan Terhadap Meningkatnya Keuntungan Perusahaan’ . Kausalitas yang tersirat pada judul ini tentu bisa dipertanyakan. Apa memang demikian? Bisa jadi orang menjadi termotivasi justru karena perusahaan sedang dalam kondisi baik.

Atau saat orang-orang begitu mendewakan Alan Greenspan, kepala bank sentral Amerika pada periode 1987 – 2006. Mereka beranggapan bahwa kebijakan-kebijakan moneter Greenspan membuat ekonomi Amerika aman. Penjelasan yang lebih masuk akal sebenarnya adalah bahwa Alan Greenspan hanya beruntung bahwa ekonomi sedang berada dalam kondisi baik saat ia menjabat. Simbiosis Amerika dengan China saat itu memainkan peran penting dalam menjaga kestabilan ekonomi. Tentu berbeda dengan situasi sekarang.

Contoh lain: iklan shampoo. Dipromosikan dengan gencar bahwa shampoo tertentu (katakan saja merk Z) akan membuat rambut lebih kuat, dan secara statistik telah terbukti dengan angka-angka. Yang terjadi adalah bahwa orang-orang tersebut memakai shampoo merk Z justru karena di kemasannya tertulis “khusus untuk rambut tebal”.

Dari pola-pola yang berulang ini kita bisa ‘menangkap’ kekeliruan berpikir dalam beraneka hal lain, misalnya:

  • Jumlah buku yang ada di rumah siswa akan membuat skor akademiknya lebih bagus. Yang terjadi adalah orang tua yang terdidik menyediakan lebih banyak buku di rumahnya, dan gen orangtua yang terdidik dengan baik akan menurun kepada anaknya (yang kemungkinan besar akan meraih skor akademik yang baik).
  • Lamanya pasien dirawat di rumah sakit akan memberikan dampak buruk kepada pasien bersangkutan. Yang terjadi adalah bahwa pasien yang lebih cepat akan dipulangkan lebih cepat dari rumah sakit dan tidak ada yang salah dengan waktu perawatan yang lama untuk pasien yang memang membutuhkannya.
  • Berasumsi bahwa kucing hitam yang berpapasan dengan kita di jalan menjadi penyebab kesialan. Yang lebih masuk akal adalah bahwa pengalaman sial dan bertemu kucing hitam adalah dua hal yang terjadi dalam rentang waktu yang berdekatan, akan tetapi tidak terhubung sebab akibat.

Kesimpulannya adalah: korelasi tidak berarti kausalitas. Seringkali hubungan sebab akibat diterjemahkan terbalik (sebab menjadi akibat, seperti contoh di atas 👆). Dan terkadang dua kejadian yang terjadi bersamaan memang tidak berhubungan sama sekali.

If This Is Your Last Year Alive

What if the remaining days of this year are all you have left? What if this is it? The thought strikes like a cold wind, I know, but along with the discomfort associated with it, it also has the potential to crack open life’s deepest questions.

I am not wishing any of us to die soon by posting this, but keeping this perspective in mind is actually healthy and liberating. It sets the tone of our life and significantly helps us to focus on the things that truly matter. In Stoicism, this reflective thinking is called memento mori. The whole idea is beautifully encapsulated in the following quote,

"You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” — Marcus Aurelius

Author Thornton Wilder eloquently stated, “Most of the time, we don’t realize that we are living in the very best time of our life.” We get caught in repetitive routines, chasing after elusive futures, and end up losing sight of the preciousness of the present.

What Would You Do?

Visualize briefly your to-do list for this final year. What would you put on it? Would it be filled with unclimbed mountains, unsaid apologies, unexpressed love? Perhaps it would involve spending more sunrises with loved ones or pursuing a long-dormant passion you tucked away for “later.”

Alan Watts once said, ‘This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing at the moment. To be present.’ Would your final year be characterized by an abundance of presence, where you are truly immersed in each passing moment?

Facing the Big Questions

But let us move beyond the mere checklist of aspirations, where an even deeper reflection awaits. If your time is limited, what does it all mean? What is the purpose of this grand, messy human experience?

Throughout history, philosophers have wrestled with these timeless inquiries. Some posit the existence of a grand design, a cosmic blueprint in which we unwittingly participate. Others view life as a self-fashioned odyssey, where meaning arises from our interactions and personal growth.

And what about you, personally?

Leaving Your Mark

Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedomsto choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” Even in the face of the inevitable, we can choose how we live.

Would you endeavor to cultivate a legacy defined by acts of kindness, creating a ripple effect of positivity among those you encounter? Alternatively, would you prioritize personal evolution, embarking on a journey of introspection to gain deeper insights into both yourself and the world around you?

It is all ours to determine.

Finding Peace in the Unknown

The truth is, we don’t have control over the length of our life. But perhaps that’s the beauty of it all. The mystery of life compels us to create meaning, to find purpose in the everyday.

As the Buddhist saying goes, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Maybe the “last year” scenario serves as a powerful reminder to fully embrace the journey, to find joy in the simple act of being alive, and to connect with something bigger than ourselves.

Whether this truly is your last year or not, let it be a year of awakening. A year of living with open eyes and a grateful heart. A year of chasing dreams and mending fences. A year of confronting your fears and embracing the present.

Because after all, isn’t that what life is all about, regardless of how much time we have left?

Savoring Good Things

Generally speaking, we tend to pay attention to negative things—be they negative remarks from a coworker, negative news in the media, or negative comments on our social media accounts—over positive ones. This tendency is called negativity bias. The good news is that we can practice “taking in the good” to counteract this bias. By actively seeking out positive things, no matter how small, we are creating neural pathways in our brains, making it easier for us to feel more positive in the long term.

How to do it, then?

It is as simple as noticing small positive things in life: enjoying your morning coffee (or tea, for that matter), completing a small task well, spending time enjoying nature, or talking with someone you love.

While you’re experiencing these small positive moments, try to really immerse yourself in them. Let each moment fill your mind. Be fully conscious of it. This is an important step, as you’re creating new neural connections in your brain. These connections will be an important asset for you to maintain a more positive outlook from that moment on.

Lastly, repeat those two basic steps whenever you experience something good. Over time, these positive experiences will add up, and eventually, they will help lower our stress levels, making us more resilient in dealing with the slings and arrows of everyday life.

I hope this rings a bell for you and encourages you to become a little more positive TODAY. 😍

"Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth." — Mallory Hopkins

Notes on Self-Reflection

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and lose sight of ourselves. But amidst the noise, there lies a simple yet profound practice that has the power to transform our lives: self-reflection.

What is Self-Reflection?

Self-reflection is the art of looking inward, of taking a moment to pause and examine our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s about becoming aware of ourselves and our experiences, and gaining insight into who we are and what we want.

Why Self-Reflection Matters

Self-reflection is not just a fleeting moment of introspection; it’s a powerful tool for personal growth and development. By taking the time to reflect on our experiences, we can learn from our mistakes, celebrate our successes, and make better choices in the future.

Real-Life Examples

Imagine you had a disagreement with a friend. Instead of brushing it off or blaming the other person, take a moment to reflect on what happened. Ask yourself why you reacted the way you did, what triggered those emotions, and how you could handle similar situations differently in the future.

Or perhaps you’re feeling stuck in your career. Instead of resigning yourself to dissatisfaction, take some time to reflect on your strengths, passions, and values. Ask yourself what truly matters to you, and how you can align your career with your authentic self.

Quotes to Inspire

  1. “The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination. Until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.” – Iyanla Vanzant
  2. “Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.” – Baltasar Gracián
  3. “In solitude, the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.” – Laurence Sterne

How to Practice Self-Reflection

  1. Find a quiet space where you can be alone with your thoughts.
  2. Set aside dedicated time for reflection, whether it’s a few minutes each day or a longer period once a week.
  3. Ask yourself open-ended questions, such as “What am I feeling right now?” or “What can I learn from this experience?”
  4. Write down your thoughts and insights in a journal, or simply reflect silently.
  5. Be gentle with yourself. Self-reflection is not about judgment or criticism; it’s about understanding and growth.


Self-reflection is a journey, not a destination. It’s an ongoing practice that requires patience, compassion, and curiosity. So take a moment to pause, look inward, and discover the incredible potential that lies within you. As the great philosopher Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.

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