Ways to improve your state of mind
The population of the island in Okinawa in Japan is famous for its longevity. Many Okinawans live longer than 100 years, and the elderly there have surprisingly good health.In a documentary, a 100-something man offered a tip. He said he never kept depressing thoughts in his head for long. On diet, he eats anything on the table until he feels full. Few want to leave the island to see the outside world, as they are content with their life.
Such longevity may not be the dream of everybody. But, at least, a peaceful state of mind, which is at the heart of this, should be something that we all dream of.
How to achieve a peaceful state of mind? One of my friends would say simply, "Don't think too much. Just enjoy your life." But how can we stop the flow of thoughts?
I guess, since we took to roaming the planet, we humans have never stopped thinking. Our ancestors must have been like us, or they would not have domesticated animals for food or cultivated crops to ensure a food inventory.
Industrialisation and advanced technology has spared us the need to worry too much about food stocks. We humans today are thus able to spare thought capacity for many other things. Hmm, the new smartphone has arrived. Which mobile operator will offer the best packages? Upon learning about school or university rankings, parents think how can their children get admitted to a particular institution? In a shopping complex, a couple may spend more than a few minutes arguing over which restaurant to eat in or movie to see.
Some people go beyond that, feeling upset about everything. After a shopping spree, some people love to show their new items and boast how they got the best prices. Those who pay more for the same item feel upset. Laughing at others, the winners in this game feel the pressure to maintain their superiority.
Attaining a peaceful state of mind has never been easy, particularly when it involves your conscience. When you are driving in heavy rain, have you ever felt sorry for people waiting at bus stops? Has the plight of the elderly poor in state nursing homes or dirty beggars on the streets ever saddened you? This kind of thought can wear you down. Increasing inequality is sad, and if we are to admit that this cannot be ended because of our natural selfishness, we will see no future to look forward to. What we should do is to convince ourselves that there must be a way to narrow the gap. But for now, leave the problems where they are. Yes, that is one cheap escape from negative thoughts.
And that is exactly the strategy many individuals and even countries are using for survival. Just before March, the possible and probable effects of financial "sequestration", or cutbacks, made headlines in the United States. Still, American politicians did not soften their stance. What happened? Luck has been on their side. The sequestration started and, without their help, economic improvement boosted general sentiment - allowing the Dow Jones to hit a new record.
Welcoming its new leaders, China also has many contentious issues to watch. Corruption is one, as this weakens the country's ability to grow in a sustainable way. As the new leaders take office, they know that there is much work to do, to assure all citizens of a bright future ahead. For one, state-owned banks need to be reformed; if not,when the country is fully open, fraud could be rampant, at the expense of all Chinese.
In a new report, HSBC summarises that today 10,000 financial institutions are doing business in the Chinese yuan, up from 900 in June 2011. The pool of offshore yuan, non-existent three years ago, now tops nearly 900 billion (US$143 billion). The proportion of China's exports and imports settled in yuan has increased nearly six-fold in three years to nearly 12 per cent. The projection is that a third of China's total trade will be settled in yuan by 2015, making it one of the top-three global trade-settlement currencies by volume. HSBC also sees the need for China to put its financial sector in order before that time comes.
In Thailand, at the national level, there are many pending issues, chiefly the amnesty bill and proposed charter amendment. These will take time. Along the way, Bt2 trillion in infrastructure investment is giving a boost to the economy, allowing the Stock Exchange of Thailand to report new 19-year highs nearly on a daily basis.
Yes, we can achieve a peaceful state of mind. The world never stops, thanks to 24-hour Internet service. But we can stop ourselves. How many hours did you spend online last weekend? In Thailand, many people were glued to the Internet to get reactions on a sad incident of censorship at Thai PBS TV station?
I wish I could find a place to retire to on Okinawa. Longevity is not my goal, but a peaceful state of mind is.