Changing my outlook on life and money

By 智扬

Jen Chen Buddhism is very practical and applicable in all aspects of our daily life. Recently, I realised that my outlook on life has changed. I find myself not as ‘kiasu’ (afraid of losing), and not as competitive as what our current day society has been forging us to be. Now, I am beginning to view earning money as not the most important objective in my career or even in my life. Yes, we still need to earn a living, but with a renewed perspective, I go about doing my job professionally, working to the best of my abilities and not blindly striving for the biggest profit or fat pay-checks. 

Growing up in a very competitive society, I used to aspire to lead a good life; I wanted to climb up the corporate ladder, own a property early and drive a fancy car – these were the benchmarks to gauge how well I am doing in my life. I now realise that these are just materialistic pursuits, and I had been following and chasing these external yardsticks in today’s ever changing world where it can be a endless pursuit. 

Now, I view working as more of a necessity to earn a simple living and my definition of a good life has changed. Any honest and decent job that can sustain a comfortable living is good enough. I do not need to wear fancy clothes and accessories to make myself look good, as I do not deem these as things that others will judge me on. Similarly, I do not judge others based on what they wear and how much they make. I am glad to have realised this early, rather than realising it at my deathbed when I look back and ask myself why had I spent my whole life chasing after all these materialistic stuff. We came to this world penniless and that’s how we will depart. As simply put by Jen Chen Buddhism Reverend Teacher Chen Ming-An, “there is only one path we take in our life, the path towards death” (我们人生只有一条路走,就是死路一条).

I know that the way I handle my finances is still not ideal. I hope to reduce my expenses in my indulgences; a meal at the hawker fills my stomach the same as a meal at an expensive restaurant. I will keep reminding myself I have more than enough clothes and shoes to wear, even when my favourite brand or a design I like is on sale. Hopefully, these savings can help to increase my contribution to those who need it more. A dollar to us may be small change, but to others, a dollar can be their family’s daily expenses for food. I know that I cannot contribute millions of dollars to make a big change but I know that I can start small and do my small part, and so can you.