Why I’m Happy with My Shitty Unimportant 9-to-5 Job

Like most people, I don’t love my nine-to-five job. Nor do I hate it, mind you. It’s just that it’s not so much fun, even tedious and boring at times, and the paycheck isn’t really great. It requires me to spend a major portion of my waking hour sitting on a chair, staring at a glowing display and writing about things I’m not really interested in. Sometimes I feel like my life becomes so sedentary and I’m dying inside.

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“I know how you feel, vending machine…. I know how you feel.”

Alas, I have to put up with it anyway because otherwise I would have to live with my parents raining onto me, like on a daily basis, their sickening homespun philosophy: getting married solves life’s problem. Accordingly, I have to be grateful for my job because at least it pays the bills and gives me a hint of responsibility and independence. Because that’s the point of being an adult, right? Paying bills and stuff.

Now, before you feel sorry for me, I want to let you know that I’m happy. Really.

While most members of my generation avoid nine-to-five job (especially when they’re tedious) like it’s some kind of disgusting contagious plague, I’m grateful for my shitty, unimportant job. Why? Because even though sometimes I feel trapped in it, it offers me something that most “cool and important” professions don’t: free time. A plenty of it.

You see, free time or downtime is a rare thing in this age of hyper-productivity. Where did all those relaxing weekends go? When did the last time you peacefully go to bed without thinking about that overdue tasks at work? For how long has your job robbed you of your time doing something you really like, like hanging out with close friends/families or Harry Potter marathon?

That’s why I value free time more than I money. Not that I’m lazy or having very little interest in pursuing a lavish lifestyle. The abundance of free time that my job provides me gives me space, and of course time, to do what I really want to do: my hobbies.

My favorite artist and writer, Austin Kleon, lists the importance of hobby at number five on his 10 things about being creative. To me personally, my hobbies — reading, film photography, and now, blogging — are really the things that make me, if not creative, grow as a person, alive, happy and less stressed-out.

Your hobby is yours only. Nobody can take it away from you. It’s not something obligatory or task that you have to do or submit. It’s an enjoyable thing you want to do, it’s voluntary, and you don’t complain about it.

I mean, how great is that?

I used to feel bad about and ashamed of my job. I used to worry so much about not having passion about it. I used to envy some of my friends who moved to different cities to pursue their career while I had no single clue about what mine was.

But then I come to a realization that I don’t have to have what others have and I don’t have to follow others path, especially when it means that I have to be somebody I am not. It’s okay to have a job you don’t like as long as it doesn’t prevent you from doing things you really like.

Jack Ma, the founder of million-dollar company Alibaba, wrote in his blog that “happiness at work comes from your own attitude. There are always people who can find happiness even in their tedious, repetitive jobs, and yet others are always dissatisfied regardless of how important and interesting their jobs are. A good job isn’t something you go out and find, it’s something you discover while you’re working.”

Then, Mike Rowe summed it up perfectly.

Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.

Introverted Sunday

As an introvert, I often choose to spend my day-off indoor because this is the way I energize and recharge my introverted battery.

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My legs. My beautiful never-shaven farmer legs. #NoMakeUpSelfie

I must tell you that being an introvert is not the same as being an antisocial. We, the introverts, just love the feeling and energy we get from spending time alone. However, it doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy time spent with fellow human beings. This also doesn’t imply that what we’re doing when we retreat into our introverted cave is better than going to a party.

Okay! Anyway!

On Sunday, I wake up late, mostly around 10 am. I skip breakfast because it’s for the weak. I get up from bed, do some business in the bathroom and off I go to the kitchen to fix myself a nice cup of lemon tea.

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I thank you, Mother Nature, for providing mankind with lemon.

I bring the tea back to bed with me. Once settling in comfortably on the bed, I pull out my smartphone, ready to rummage in and through the Internet, looking for brain candies to munch on.

TV? Nah.

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No Value in an Empty Room, an essay by The Minimalists.

But still, nothing compares to printed pages, for they don’t crash and won’t run out of battery, while smartphone is full of distraction.

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Excuse the low exposure.

Dad always comes by my room. Most of the time he asks me what I’m doing. On one particular Sunday, he showed me photos of his during his 20s.

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Twenty-something Dad (the guy in white long-sleeve shirts) with his trademark mustache and big smile.

When it gets too quiet, I put on some music. And yes, that one says “The Comfort of My Own Company.”

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Frau and Mian Tiara, two of my favorite songstresses.

Then I fix another drink.

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Iced Nutrisari in the hot Sunday afternoon is perfection.

When I feel like it, I take pictures of random, mundane things, like a nail in the wall.

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Diago-NAIL-ly.

I also use my day-off to zone out. After all the surfing the Internet, reading and drinking’s done, I will lie on my bed, staring at the ceiling, the wall… or at my feet. I try to be in the moment, to be right here and right now. I try to see things as they are. Finally, I try to let things go and not to worry.

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My fit feet.

You see, it’s not laziness or the symptoms of inertia. It’s some sort of cheap vacation, a ME, ME, ME party, so to speak.

***

All photo taken with Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 x expired Fuji Superia 200. For more photos like these, visit and follow my Instagram.

2015 Resolution: Read Better with An Idea Index

It’s a sin to read absentmindedly. And heaven knows I’m a professional sinner when it comes to reading because I often find myself thinking about other things when I need my mind to picture what the newly-introduced character of the book looks like.

That’s why I support Slow Reading movement (learn more here and here) and found my own Slow Reading Club which is currently in a hiatus because I have a reason that I don’t want you to know. But I’ll let you know when it kickstarts again. I promise you (or not).

Anyhow, besides reading slowly, one of the ways to get more out of the books you read and keep your reading session from the danger of absentmindedness is to create an idea index, a method of note-taking probably initiated by the awesome BrainPickings’s Maria Popova.

Let me pull a little Chuck Palahniuk: I know this because Cal Newport (whose blog I follow) knows this, and he knows this because Tim Ferriss knows this (apparently, Tim had the chance to interview Maria and published the podcast on his blog). So yeah, I’m just paraphrasing/quoting here.

For laypeople like you and me, note-taking is usually done by highlighting or underlining passages with pencils or hightlighter pens. Some do bookmarking by bending the edge of a page (this applies only to physical books, of course). Some use sticky notes.

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You’re doing it wrong, Charlie!

Although nothing’s intrinsically wrong with these strategies, sometimes they are just messy and somewhat ineffective. When we try to get back one particular book to find particular quotes, we have to, in Cal’s words, “skim through all the marked pages.” You see, that’s kind of annoying sometimes.

The idea behind idea index is to resolve this problem and I’m gonna let Cal explains how the method works (I know he wouldn’t mind).

Around thirty-one minutes into the interview, Popova explains how she takes notes on books:

  1. As she reads, she creates an index at the front of the book that lists its most interesting ideas.
  2. Every time she encounters a passage relevant to one of these ideas she adds the page to the relevant line in the index. If it’s a new idea, she creates a new line for it.
  3. As she reads more, the index grows.

Here’s what’s great about this idea index method: When you pick up a book read long ago, you can quickly recall what it has to offer by glancing at the index. Then, if you want to grab some quotes about one of these ideas, the index tells you exactly where to look (no more reading every annotation!).

(Now is the time for you to cheer “Great tip!”)

Since Maria Popova is no layperson (reading 15 books per week and writing 3 long articles per day? INSANE!), her technique is worth a try.

My personal goal this year is to read at least 25 books. But my real goal is not only to read more, but also better. I’m going to do it by reading slowly (real, physical books mostly), minimizing external distraction, and taking more notes using this idea index method.

So, what’s your strategy to read better?