You Can Turn The Tide By Being Grateful For The Shittiest Experiences

I did some researches.

Now it appears to me that I got knocked out by a sleeping pill or something after all. That’s probably why I don’t remember anything about getting more than $1000 stolen from my bank account. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read my previous post. (It’s long. The relevant section is towards the end if you want to skip the first bits.)

This might sound insane, but this whole thing makes me curious about what happened to me and how the criminals got the money out of me. There’s a part of me that hopes they threatened me, because that would give me an explanation as to why they managed to get the pin number for my cash card. Also, if that was the case, I could be grateful that I wasn’t kidnapped or murdered.

In fact, I’m grateful that I wasn’t kidnapped or murdered. I’m grateful that what they took from me was only my money and nothing else.

Financially, I feel like I fell down to the bottom of a pit. I could interpret this situation, roughly, in two ways.

  1. Oh my god, what am I going to do, it’s the end of the world. There’s nothing I can do about it.
  2. Wow, this is a great opportunity, because there’s no more falling down and I can only rise up!

I choose #2, with the spirit of no worries.

I want to become able to say, later on, that this experience of getting scammed/robbed was the best thing that happened to me. Not that I want to experience it again, but I will use it as a leverage and a motivator.

Knocked down 7 times? Get up 8 times.

There may be a lot of negative things around you, but at the same time, there are a lot of positive things as well. Today is the best day to be grateful for what’s around you. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today, and right now.

I thought it would be a good idea to write about things I’m grateful for. Then I remembered James Altucher wrote a post about being grateful. In that post, James talks about going on a grateful diet, which is to “be grateful non-stop for the next 21 days” by being “grateful for every object, person, thought, situation, that enters your mind”.

I will be on a grateful diet from today, and I invite you to join with me. Read James’s post and you can start working on your grateful diet right now. If you choose to do it, let’s start today. There’s no reason why you should put it forward. Also, do let me know if you are going to be on a grateful diet. I want to hear from you about your experiences.

On that note, here’s 23 things I’m grateful for. (23 things, because today is May 23. No deep meaning behind the number.)

  1. I’m alive!
  2. I have so many supportive friends.
  3. I lost money, but I didn’t lose my other precious items like my passport.
  4. I had a great training session at ATOS Philippines and they are very friendly and technical.
  5. The guest house I’m staying at now (Red Carabao) gives us bread for free for breakfast.
  6. I can get instant coffee for free at the above mentioned guest house.
  7. MacBook Air is such a great computer and I’m grateful for Steve Jobs and Apple.
  8. I’m grateful for my mother for giving me some emergency money.
  9. I’m grateful for this speech by Neil Gaiman that I watched earlier today.
  10. I was actually inspired to write about things I’m grateful for after watching this video of Lady Gaga. Yes. Lady Gaga. I’m grateful for her.
  11. Writing this list makes me smile… I’m grateful for that.
  12. As I write this, I’m listening to my favorite band FC Five. Their music cheers me up and I’m grateful for that.
  13. A couple staying at this guest house bought me dinner yesterday. I’m grateful for them.
  14. I’m grateful for being able to do what I’m doing right now.
  15. I’m grateful for The Ars Amorata, because it taught me the importance of ease and delight.
  16. I’m fit and healthy and have access to food and shelter. I’m grateful for that.
  17. I found a great Couch Surfing host in Saigon. I’m grateful for Couch Surfing and that host who accepted my couch request.
  18. I’m grateful for everyone who influenced me one way or another and made me who I am today.
  19. I’m grateful for the fact that I can come up with things I’m grateful.
  20. I’m grateful that someone is reading this (yes, you).
  21. I’m grateful for Skype, because it makes it so easy to contact people in other countries.
  22. I’m grateful that I can make my own choices.
  23. I’m grateful that today is a nice, sunny day.

If you are feeling shit, try going on a grateful diet. If you are already feeling grateful, try going on a grateful diet anyway. If you want to change yourself for the better, try going on a grateful diet. In short: let’s do it. Join me and we will be much, much more grateful for the moments we are living now.

(Again, James Altucher’s post is here. Read it and learn how to be grateful for things around you.)

Time For Lessons: How Not To Lose $1000 In Philippines

Apparently, Philippines and I don’t get along very well. Or it’s just travel misfortunes that hadn’t happened to me for the last 3 months decided to happen to me one after another right here in Philippines.

I’m tempted to write a whining post and to complain everything negative I experienced in Philippines. I actually feel like I’m becoming a very negative and skeptical-in-a-bad-way person day by day. This post will probably sound relatively negative compared to my other posts. Bear with me.

At the same time, though, I want to draw lessons from my negative experiences and to stay positive as well. I’m a writer and want to write something that inspires people. I’m not a ranter who just complains.

On 10 May, I left Hong Kong for Philippines. I had a great time in Hong Kong. I met some awesome people through Couch Surfing. I had some reunions with my old friends. I made new friends at Kowloon BJJ, which I think is a great Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club you should check out if you are a BJJ player and when you are in Hong Kong.

I had a booking for a dorm room in a guest house in the north part of Manila. According to the directions given by the guest house, it costs about 70 pesos (about a dollar and a bit) from the airport to the guest house if you get a short taxi ride to the closest station from the airport, catch a train, and then use a tricycle from the station close to the guest house. 15 pesos for the train ride. 20 pesos for the tricycle ride. These things were explicitly mentioned in the directions. The taxi fare wasn’t, but it’s because the fare can vary. I thought it would be around 35-50 pesos and it would be fair enough.

There were fixed price taxis outside the arrival terminal of the airport. To the station I wanted to go to… well, they say it costs 400 pesos or something like that. OK, that’s way different from what I expected.

I looked for another option, and found a queue of local people waiting for taxis. When you see a group of local people at this kind of place, it’s usually the right place to go. So, I decided to line up and to catch one of these taxis.

The Filipino gentleman in front of me said this taxi is much cheaper than the other ones too. There was even a sign saying “airport accredited official taxis” or something along that line. All of this information combined, it sounded very promising.

Until of course I got to the destination and the driver asked me for 380 pesos. Oh yes. That’s how much I’m supposed to pay if I catch a ride from the airport to the hostel, not from the airport to that station.

Later on, I asked the manager at the guest house about this taxi fare and he said it’s way too much. Yeah, I thought so too.

It’s such a great way to start a trip in a foreign country… not.

Perhaps I had been lucky, but I never had problems in the other places I’ve been for the last 3 months: Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

Malaysian pimps approached me a lot in Kuala Lumpur, speaking to me in Japanese, but that’s pretty much it.

There was one tuk-tuk driver in Chiang Mai who was really, really dishonest and ripping us off, but yeah. That’s about it.

Hong Kong… I ate a plate overpriced curry in the infamous Chungking Mansions, but that was clearly my fault: I didn’t check the price of the curry.

Of course, I’m pretty sure there are people who try to rip you off anywhere and everywhere. I’m aware that some people think that’s the way to survive… probably the only way. Perhaps some of them feel the need to deceive others in order to survive.

I believe honesty is the best policy though. If I get a bad experience from some product or service and feel ripped off or deceived, then I do not want to have that experience again.

I really liked some of the local restaurants I went to in Chiang Mai. They cooked great meals for me, and they were great people. I’d be happy to go there again and again and I’d bring some friends as well. It’s really simple like that. If you provide great value, people will react to it.

There’s another taxi driver who ripped me off in Manila as well. So, now I’m avoiding taxis altogether. Am I being too defensive about it? Maybe. There might be great taxi drivers who are honest and deliver great services, but now the likelihood of my meeting them in Philippines is, sadly, very low.

The main reason I came to Philippines was because of Pan Asian Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Championship. I also wanted to train with some good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu players in Manila as well. After all, that’s what I do as a vagabonding martial artist.

But after the competitions, I felt I needed to get away from Manila. I’m not going to lie or pretend to be nice, but Manila is a giant mess. Dirty, polluted, and unorganized. I wanted to get away from this city.

After some researches, I decided to go to Puerto Galera. It takes a 2 hour bus ride and 1 hour boat trip to get from Manila to Puerto Galera. Close. Not as costly as going to other places. So, I hopped on a bus and headed to Batangas Port.

When I got to Batangas Port, I wasn’t sure which terminal to catch a boat from. Some guy approached me and asked me how much I’d be willing to pay for a ferry ride to Sabang Beach in Puerto Galera. I asked him about the ferry tickets and he said 4000 pesos. That was very different from what I researched, because it’s suppose to cost something like 200-300 pesos. After mentioning this, he pointed another terminal to me and realized what I was looking for was a public boat rather than a gorgeous ferry.

These terminals are quite straight forward, but when you don’t know what’s around where, you might act as if you have no clue… I mean, you have no clue, so unless you purposefully try to act as if you know everything, the chances are, you’d end up acting as if you have no clue. Anyway, that was me. Two guys approached me and asked me where I’m going. I told them I’m going to Sabang Beach.

Now… I knew that it’s generally not a good idea to listen to these nice and friendly people at a place like this, but I didn’t remember it at that time. So, these nice and friendly guys took me to a ticket booth, helped me get a ticket and pay an environment fee, offered to hold the tickets for me even when I said no, and what happened was them asking me for tips of 100 pesos. Oh yes, Sir. I didn’t even ask you guys to help me.

I planned to stay in Puerto Galera for 6 days. I’ll make the story short here: I ended up coming back to Manila after 3 nights.

The only budget guest house in the Sabang Beach area looked promising from their website. I actually overlooked some negative reviews about this place, thinking that perhaps some people who weren’t used to traveling left negative reviews like that.

The guest house was located in a small village right near the ocean. I actually do recommend this place if you are interested in this kind of environment and coming to this place in a good season when there are other people staying at the guest house.

I have no idea when the last guest before me stayed at this guest house. I think it was a while ago.

I came to Puerto Galera, feeling low, desiring to escape a big, messy city, and I got sick after sleeping (alone) in their 20-bed dorm room at this guest house. I’m pretty sure it’s due to the unclean nature of the room that made me sick, because I got better as soon as I left this guest house and Puerto Galera.

By the way, if you’ve seen a cockroach in your dorm room and leave it and leave you bag open on the floor, there’s a chance of that cockroach jumping out of your bag when you pick it up from the floor. This is a lesson I learned in that room.

I felt like what the hell I was doing there, not wandering around much in Puerto Galera, because the major part of my activities there was just taking a walk from the guest house to Sabang Beach to get some cheap bread and bananas and reading some books in the dirty dorm room.

I did see some amazing views at the beach, though.

Speaking of walks, when I was walking on the Sabang Beach, there was this guy selling sunglasses. I told him I’m not interested. Then he said it’s a pair of Oakley sunglasses that he’s selling. It somehow really pissed me off for some reasons. Again, I understand that he’s doing it for survival and he may not know any better, but I’m sure one can always look for a better way. I haven’t checked the sunglasses he was selling, and I have no evidence or support for saying what I’m going to say now, but I bet his Oakley sunglasses were fake ones. I’m sure there’s a better way than walking around the beach and hoping to catch an unsuspecting tourist.

I don’t know, but I don’t think I was actually mad at that guy himself. I think I got pissed off at people who do similar things. Walking around, hoping to catch unsuspecting tourists and trying to sell things no one’s really interested in buying.

This does make me think though – am I creating and providing enough value instead of ripping people off in one way or another?

By the way, after a very short stay in the area, I came to the conclusion that it’s a place for divers and people who can spend something like $60 a day. It’s not that touristy, but it’s still designed as a resort place, I believe. It wasn’t a place for a budget traveler like me.

On the bus ride back from Batangas Port to Manila I took, the conductor of the bus asked me to pay the bus fare a couple of minutes after I had paid him. He was pretending he didn’t receive it, but I insisted that I had paid him, and he stopped asking for more payment.

This kind of behaviour puzzles me.

After coming back to Manila, I was to head to another guest house in the south of Manila, because it was the cheapest one in Manila and I was intrigued by the fact that the owner is Japanese.

I hadn’t figured out how to get there beforehand (my bad habit), so I decided to go to SM Mall of Asia, where you can have access to free wifi. This mall is supposed to be the biggest mall in Asia. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu championships took place in a part of this mall as well.

I still didn’t figure out a way to get to the guest house, but I decided to get closer to there by going south anyway, using a jeepney. Jeepney is a pick up truck with roof and a common public transport.

At the jeepney station at the mall, I met a group of friendly Filipino people – An elderly lady, two daughters of her, the lady’s friend, another lady and this lady’s husband. They told me they were going to the same area as the one I wanted to go to and offered me to take me to that guest house.

Should I have flagged a red alert because they were nice and friendly people? Maybe. Maybe not.

The elderly lady liked me a lot, and she said she’d treat me like her son. It’s very nice of her, you know. Especially after feeling low and having negative experiences.

She said she’s a wedding dress designer in Cebu. That was Friday, and Saturday was her birthday. Apparently, that’s why some of them came to Manila to celebrate her birthday.

It took a while for us to get to the guest house I wanted to go to, but they came all the way to take me there. It was really kind of them. They invited me to join the birthday celebration and wanted me to come along with them after I checked in at the guest house.

I could say no. But I didn’t. I wanted to show my gratitude and celebration to them for taking care of me even though it was a brief time, by celebrating the lady’s birthday together.

As I think about it, I made a mistake here, though. I clearly remember considering an option I had, but I didn’t choose it. Probably that was the major mistake that led me to trouble later on. The option I’m talking about is not saying no to the birthday celebration, but something else.

We went to a Filipino restaurant, had some roasted chicken and rice. The birthday lady paid for everyone, including me. Her friend whispered to me and said, “Don’t worry, she’s rich.”

I really enjoyed the food as well as their company, especially because they treated me well. I thought it was a positive experience I will remember, after all the negative ones in Philippines.

After the early dinner, we headed to a karaoke place. I don’t think we stayed there for that long. Perhaps 2 hours at most. I remember checking my phone to see what time it was. It was around 8.30pm or so, and that wasn’t long before we left that place.

We had fun singing, dancing, and drinking. I’m not really a karaoke fan per se, but I love singing. When I was singing Radiohead’s song “Creep”, I cried a bit. To be honest with you, this song describes what I was feeling when I started the journey to become a better man. Or the feelings I was feeling as a teenager. Or what-the-hell-I’m-doing-here-in-Philippines feelings. So I cried a bit.

I told the birthday lady how much I appreciated her for taking care of me. After all the negative experiences, it felt great to spend some fun time like that.

I’m not a heavy drinker, San Miguel isn’t that strong, I don’t get drunk easily, and I was well aware that I wanted to go to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training next day. I didn’t drink that much.

But the funny thing is, I have no memory about what happened after the karaoke place. I have a vague memory of going to a hostel room or something and sleeping there. I’m not sure if it was straight after the karaoke place or there was something before that.

Perhaps I should have gone home after the karaoke place, telling them I have training tomorrow morning. That could have been a smart move I could make.

When we got up, I think it was around 6pm or so. I remember it was quite early. We got out of the hostel room. I can’t remember what she said, but the birthday lady’s friend convinced me to give her 500 pesos, and somehow I thought it was appropriate to do so. Was it for the food and beer and hostel room, which the birthday lady had covered on behalf of me? I remember thinking it was fair enough anyway.

Then there was McDonald’s. Now I think about it, I don’t remember much about that morning either, but I believe we went to McDonald’s and had pancakes or something. Or maybe we didn’t. We just walked past McDonald’s. My memory is being really fuzzy about the Friday night and the Saturday morning.

I said goodbye to them and somehow made it back to the guest house.

This guest house was far away from the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club I wanted to train at. I figured it would take 2 hours to get there, but it ended up taking me more than 2 hours, and I missed their morning session.

But there was a Judo training session in the afternoon, and I trained with them. They were all very good.

It was a bit depressing to think that it would take another 2 to 3 hours to go back to the guest house. I was wondering if I could find a jeepney going from EDSA to Sucat, the area I was staying. So, I asked this jeepney guy and he wasn’t sure, but another driver was like, “Yes, I’m going to Sucat”. And then he drove and drop me off at somewhere very close – another jeepney station and told me that I can catch another jeepney or taxi from there. I was sitting next to him, not in the back of the car, and I got pissed off at what I perceive as a shameless money grabbing behaviour. No, I didn’t knock him down or anything, but I got off the jeepney, slammed the door, and walked away.

A minute later, I realized I left my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uniform and my belt. The jeepney, gone. My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uniform and my belt, gone.

I still have a jacket for a competition use, but no pants, no belt. Yes, I’m a vagabonding martial artist! But I have no uniform to wear right now. (Note for grapplers: I do have my grappling shorts and rash guards. Maybe I should give up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and switch to submission wrestling…)

Despite the lack of my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uniform and my belt, I checked out from that guest house on Monday and headed to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu morning training session. I decided to change from that guest house, because it was way too far.

I managed to get to the training session on time, and people there let me borrow a spare pair of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu pants and a belt. I had a good training session there.

After the session, I was to head to a new guest house supposedly closer to this Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club. I wasn’t sure of the exact direction, so I went to a cafe nearby and used their free-wifi to do some more research.

While doing this research, it came to my mind that I should check exactly how much money I still had so I can make plans for further trips.

I had a rough idea of how much I had, so it was more like a double check.

My first reaction after opening the account balance page:


Capital letters and the f-bomb are totally appropriate here to describe my feeling at that moment.

There was only 600 yen left. In US dollars, it’s about 7 dollars. In Euro, it’s about 6 Euro.

I checked transaction records. There were 5 withdrawals that I didn’t recognize. Each one was 20050 yen. Times 5? 10,0250 yen. Something like 1250 US dollars/980 Euro.

What happened to that much money?


That morning, I withdrew some money to pay for the new guest house I was to stay at for 7 nights. I did have enough money left apparently, but of course, I hadn’t realized that this money I withdrew was the left over after these unknown transactions were made.

Taking advantage of the free wifi at the cafe, I immediately made a call to my bank in Japan and asked for assistance. According to them, these transactions were made around 11:30pm in Japan time on Friday. That means, if they were made in Philippines, it would be around 10:30pm.

Oh, OK, I was probably sleeping in an unknown place around that time. Did I have my cash card with me? Yes, but not in my pocket or anything. My cards were hidden in my bag. Unless you search for them thoroughly, you won’t find them. Did I tell anyone my pin number? No. Was I threatened to give money to someone? No. No gun to the head.

Given the situation, though, unless my cash card was skimmed somewhere and someone abused it on Friday night, I have to doubt the nice and friendly Filipino people who made me feel like home after a number of negative experiences. This sucks.

By the way, the option I was talking about before… the option I had after I checked in at the guest house these friendly people helped me to get to was this: Leave my messenger bag and every valuable item and just bring some cash.

But I somehow chose to bring my bag. With my cards hidden in it.

Did this experience make me wiser as a traveler? Yeah, surely.

But it hurts… it hurts to doubt people. It hurts to act cold and closed towards people. I know that not everyone is like that. But still. I wonder if it’s because I’m afraid of being an asshole and want people to like me. I wonder. Yes, I wonder.

It may sound strange, but these negative experiences and how I’m turning colder remind me of the male-female dynamics, which I’m interested in and write about.

Is this why some women act cold towards men? After so many negative experiences they got from men?

I wish to live in a world where I don’t have to doubt people.

Anyway, I was naive and careless. I should be grateful that I’m still alive, even though my money’s gone.

Even if my bank decided that they’d get me my money back, apparently it would take 2 weeks.

I applied for a visa reference number for Iran and I asked to receive my tourist visa here in Manila. I’ve been waiting for the reference number.

I have a flight booked for Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam on 30 May and will arrive there on 31 May (it’s a late night flight).

Then I have a plan to fly to Malaysia on 13 June, because you can fly from Kuala Lumpur to Tehran for a reasonably low fare (around 260-320 USD one way).

My plan was to spend 2-3 weeks in Iran, and then to head to Turkey via train.

These plans may change, given that I have only little money left. My mother can help me and send me some money, and I will get paid for the last month’s translation gig on 31 May, though there wasn’t much work last month and it will be a small amount. But, I figure I can make it to Vietnam and Malaysia at least…

Or can I? Right now, I’m not really sure.

What are the lessons from these experiences? What are the positive things in these negative things?

To be honest, it’s hard to pin down what these lessons and positive things are. It really sucks to be in this situation. One thing for sure is that I feel calm somehow. I’m not sure how I will make it, but I know, or rather, I must believe I will make it somehow. This is the spirit of no worries. But what about other things?

These experiences teach me what I don’t like and what kind of person I don’t like to be. Of course, I don’t want to make a living by deceiving people. But what I refer to by “what kind of person I don’t like to be” is the kind of person who acts cold and ignores seemingly cunning people. I think what I need to be is to be assertive and to make it clear that I don’t want to be treated in certain ways, without being aggressively cold and indifferent. I may be wrong, and I need to learn more to come to a better conclusion that I can be satisfied with and practice.

What I don’t like is to be treated like a money bag. That’s for sure. Such treatments made me think of how I want to be treated… or rather, what I want. It’s very simple. I just want to be loved for who I am. How simple is that. But in this world, it can be too much to ask for. And many of us are looking for someone who can love them for who they are.

If not love, some empathy and understanding would do.

What this teaches me is that I should offer love, empathy and understanding as much as I can. Again, I may end up getting ripped off by doing so, and that thought makes me cautious, sadly. So, there’s a conflict. I’m not going to deny it. But I do sense people want love, empathy and understanding. I do, at least.

This trip that I had expected to last longer may finish soon. I don’t know.

What I know is that I want to keep going somehow and I will find a way somehow. That’s how I feel right now.

I may have been knocked down, but it’s not finished yet. I can stand up again and again. May these experiences make me stronger and wiser.

You Can Be More Creative

I made a list of things I wanted to do in the beginning of 2008. One of the things I wanted to do was to be more creative.

One year later, I heard about The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and a reading group for this book in Tokyo. Working through The Artist’s Way was a great way to get rid of creative blocks that I accumulated without realizing.

I was a creative child, in the sense that I spent a lot of time creating something. I loved imagining, drawing, and making up stories.

As I grew up, however, something changed. I started comparing myself with others and telling myself that I’m not good enough. Sometimes, others would tell me that I’m not good enough.

I believe this is a common story among us. When you are a child, you don’t care what others think of what you create. You just have fun creating something. But eventually, you start comparing yourself with others and others start telling you that you are not good enough, and sadly, you give up. Perhaps school killed your creativity too. (If you didn’t give up or you regained your creativity, congratulations!)

Also, if this happened to you, you might have a tendency to consider creativity to be something special. After all, you weren’t special enough to be creative, right? Or so they say.

But being creative is not about being special. It’s not the case that only some gifted people can be creative.

I recommend you to work on The Artist’s Way to explore a very good definition of what it means to be creative and to regain your creativity. The book is designed as a 12 week course. So, in 12 weeks, you could have a better sense of creativity and become creative… again like you were as a child.

But, if you are interested in this whole thing about creativity, keep reading before spending 12 weeks on this book; I’ve got something to say about being creative… in fact, about being more creative.

Just like writing down what I wanted to do in the beginning of 2008, recently I thought about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be in the future. One thing that came to my mind strongly was to be more creative. Now I have a better idea of what it means to be creative than I did in 2008.

But I thought more about what it means for me to be more creative.

What I came up with was really simple, and it starts with this question: Are you creating consistently? My answer was: no. I had been creating, but not consistently.

So, here’s what you can do if you want to be more creative. Spend more time creating and create consistently! Forget about the quality, forget about what others or even you think of your creations, and keep showing up everyday!

Does this sound too simple and even too easy? It may sound too easy, but I bet it’s not too easy. In fact, I believe that’s the most difficult part for many of us.

Jeff Goins’ new book “You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One)” inspired me and helped me get to this line of thinking. It’s a great book for those who write. What I found unique about this book is one of its core messages that urges you to act like a writer right away. I highly recommend it.

How do you spend more time creating and create consistently?

This is a matter of priority and choice. If you are serious about being more creative, then you need to find ways to make time to create and to create consistently.

(Hint: Be serious about it, but never forget to have fun.)

By the way, creativity is relevant to anything and everything we do. So, even if you thought this post wasn’t for you, the chances are – being creative would help you with what you love doing, and you can be more creative about it by spending more time on it, by experimenting without the fear of failures, and by having fun.

And in case you didn’t know, I believe your life is your art, and I believe creativity is important in creating the life you love to live. If you read some of my posts and liked them, I want you to create and to live your own art. If you haven’t started yet, this is a great time to work on being more creative. It’s never too early or too late. If you choose to be that way, come and jump to this side right away.

Let’s be more creative. You can be more creative.

The Spirit Of No Worries

Have you ever solved a problem by worrying about it? I bet your answer is: no.

Here’s another question. Have you ever stopped something bad happening to you by worrying about it? Again, I bet your answer is: no.

But no worries.

No worries that you haven’t solved a problem or stopped something bad happening to you by worrying about it. I can’t think of any situation where worrying about things will give you positive results. The act of worrying is tiring. It doesn’t solve problems, but it gives you extra problems in making you feel miserable and tired. Here’s a solution. Stop worrying by choosing to seek other options.

No worries about the past. We can’t change what happened in the past by worrying about it. It’s important to learn from the past so you can use what you’ve learned for the future, but forget about worrying too much. If you choose to worry about the past, there are so many things to worry about. Many more than you realize.

No worries about the future. There are things we can control, and there are things we cannot control. Some things are predictable, and some things are not. If you want to make your dream happen, do what you can control and you can predict you’ll be closer to your dream. But you might get run over or you might get shot, and it may be something you cannot control or predict. If you choose to worry about the future, there are so many things to worry about. Yes, many more than you realize.

No worries about the present. It will soon be the past, which you don’t need to worry about. If you are feeling worries, that’s OK. Just feel them and acknowledge your worries, and do whatever you need to do. By doing what needs to be done, you are more likely to solve something you’re worried about than just worrying about it.

No worries that worries may occur to you even if you understand they won’t solve anything. Just let them go and focus on something more productive, like doing what needs to be done.

One thing I do is to let go of making evaluations like good or bad. Let’s say something happens to you. You might perceive this thing to be bad in your own sense of the term ‘bad’. Instead of evaluating this something as bad and worrying about it, I would be more concerned about this thing that happened.

For example… let’s say I got kicked in the face by accident.

On one hand, I could make an evaluation about this event, start and keep worrying about what happened.

On the other hand, I could focus on what happened and what needs to be done. I could check my eyes, whether I’m bleeding or not, whether I have a concussion, whether I can get some help from people around me etc…

The former doesn’t help much in terms of taking care of myself, while the latter would lead to better action.

Like anything else, you need to practice this attitude consistently if you want to get better at letting go of worries and living with no worries.

The key, I believe, is to stop for a second before making an instant evaluation like “This is terrible, and I have no options”, and to realize that there are things you need to and can do so you can improve the situation and that the act of worrying doesn’t produce anything but stresses that make you feel terrible and pressured. I believe you can choose to focus on something else than worrying about what you cannot control, and making this choice is what you can control about the situation you are in.

If you have worries about love, relationship, confidence, making your dreams happen, getting started, and anything else that I talk about in my writings, feel free to write to me. If there is anything I can help you with, I’m happy to do so.

No worries. I’m on your side.

How I’m Doing What I Wanted To Do: Being A Vagabonding Martial Artist

I’m doing what I wanted to do. I’m now traveling around the world as a vagabonding martial artist.

In fact, this is a combination of a few things I wanted to do: 1) traveling around the world, 2) being able to work from anywhere, and 3) training with different people in different countries.

At the same time, there are things I wanted to avoid as well, such as wearing a suit and catching a fully packed train to work everyday.

In short, though, it all comes down to being able to choose what I want to do and being able to do it.

I will write about what exactly I’m doing and how I’m doing it. I hope this post will give you some courage to do what you want to do.

What I’m Doing

I’m traveling around the world as a vagabonding martial artist. What I do is to go to different countries and to train with people there. In addition to normal travel gears, I carry my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gears: one set of uniform (one jacket and one pair of pants), one extra jacket for competition, two rash guards, and one pair of grappling shorts.

So far, I have been to Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Hong Kong. I’ve trained with 11 different groups of people in these countries. Also, I competed in Australia and in Hong Kong.

I’m planning to go to Philippines, Vietnam, Iran and Turkey as well as the rest of Europe. I’m going to compete in Philippines and will be training in these countries as well.

Although you may not know much about it, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become a very popular form of martial arts in recent years and it’s relatively easy to find grapplers around the globe. It’s a great way to make new friends too. I spar with people, and if there’s something I can help or teach, I share my knowledge and experiences with them. I learn from them as well.

The way I fund my trip is by working as a freelance translator. A while ago, I learned that there are people who move from place to place while working as a freelancer or an online-based business owner. Since then, I chose to take this path and now I’m doing it.

In terms of the cost of trip, you could say I’m a budget traveler. I prefer to travel slowly (though not as slowly as Niall!), and I’ve been relying on low cost carriers like Air Asia and Cebu Pacific for transportation as well as on buses and trains. I don’t drink much or party hard. I’m mostly staying in a dorm room in a guest house or on someone’s couch. I’m happy with getting food from street food vendors.

I’m pretty easy going and low-maintenance, so these options are readily available for me.

Now that I’m doing what I wanted to do, my next move is to keep doing this for a while. There are things I will need to do in order to keep doing this, but I believe I will figure it out.

How I’m Doing It

Everyone is in a different situation. It may be harder or easier for you to do what you want to do than for me to do what I want to do. But I believe there’s always a way if you look for it. Whether you stay open-minded and look for a way is up to you. This is the most important initial step you need to take.

So, you are still with me and you are determined to look for a way to do what you want to do. That’s great. I applaud for your courage.

Now, here’s a question for you – what do you want to do? If you don’t know what you want to do, it’s going to be pretty tough to make it happen. Here’s a tip – you don’t need to worry about what others might say about what you want to do (unless of course it involves harming others or criminal acts).

I assume you already know what you want to do. Here’s another question for you. What do you need to do in order to do what you want to do?

This is a tricky question, because we tend to assume we know a lot about what we need to do. But, it’s possible that what you think you need to do may not be necessary at all in order to do what you want to do.

For example, you might think you need a large amount of money in order to start a business. Your next thought might be: Oh well, I don’t have enough money to start a business any soon. Should you give up what you wanted to do (i.e. starting your own business) right away? The answer: no. There are people who run a $100 startup, and while there’s no guarantee that you can be like them, you now know it is possible to start a business under $100. That means it’s not necessarily the case that you need a large amount of money in order to start a business.

In my own case, when it comes to financing a world-wide trip, a traditional approach would be to save a lot of money before you go. Of course, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have worked on saving money, but I chose a different path, which is to earn money while being on the road as a freelance translator. In the Japanese standard, I don’t earn a lot and my source of income is unstable, but it’s been OK so far. In fact, it would be easier for me to save money while being on the road, especially if I chose to slow down in a place where the cost of living is much lower than what I make.

Having said that, while it isn’t a huge worry, I have a worry about my money situation – that I need to make my income stream more stable. But, since I know what I need to do and I’m willing to find a way, I believe I can do something about it instead of giving up what I want to do altogether.

Further Thoughts

I want to close this post with some further thoughts. One is about the importance of knowing what you want to do is possible. The other is the best move you can make in order to do what you want to do.

So, the importance of knowing what you want to do is possible. What I’m doing is not entirely new. The way people before me did what they did may be different from the way I’m doing what I’m doing, but it’s great to know about these examples.

I bet that there is someone who has done what you want to do or at least something close to it. Google it and get inspired. It’s simple like that.

For me, a classic example would be Maeda Mitsuyo, a Japanese martial artist who traveled around the world about 100 years ago and who we can call as the ground father of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If someone from 100 years ago did it, there’s no reason why I can’t do it.

A recent example is Christian from Denmark, who traveled around the world as a BJJ globetrotter. Again, the way he traveled and grappled around the world is different from the way I do it, but it was great to know about him.

These guys are more martial arts oriented inspirations, but if I am to name one person as someone who introduced me a lot in relation to living this kind of life style, then it’s definitely Chris Guillebeau. If you’ve heard of him, check out his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity.

If you have a hard time finding some role models for you, you can ask this simple question: Is what you want to do physically impossible to do (that is, impossible according to the laws of nature)? If your answer is no, then it’s possible, even though it may be difficult to do. But, knowing that it’s possible is a good step for you.

Here’s the second thought: the best move you can make in order to do what you want to do. I believe I read about this best move in a number of other places, and now I made that exact move, I can tell you that it is indeed the best move I made. I hope it will be the best move for you too.

The best move you can make in order to do what you want to do is to start working on it right now. Yup, I know you’ve heard it before. You just need to do it.

To be honest, it took me a while to do what I’m doing now. I could have started doing it earlier. I don’t regret about the time I spent on getting to where I am now, because I made great friends and memories by not leaving Japan, but the thing is, you are ready when you choose to be ready. What stops you is just yourself. It’s fine to take small steps and prepare for a big move. But don’t just give up or keep dreaming without taking action.

If there is anything I can help you with in relation to what I wrote above, let me know. I’m on your side.

I believe you can do what you want to do.

You Are Going To Win: Fight and Learn

Let’s say you are facing an opponent of some kind. It could be someone, a challenge, a project, or something you need to get done. How do you fight against this person or thing and win?

It’s about who you are and expressing it with assertiveness.

For me, this is most prominent in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That’s how I want to fight and that’s how I fight. But it applies to every area of my life.

What matters is not so much about who my opponents are or what they do, but showing up as who I am with no apology.

You don’t have to be aggressive or harmful against others. You need to claim who you are.

Here’s a little question for you: Who are you?

I arrived in Hong Kong on 29 April. My primary aim here was to compete at a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament on 1 May. I competed in my weight division and in the open weight division. I won my division and came to the 3rd place in the open weight division. But what’s more important is what I learned from the matches I fought. I learned most from the match I lost in the open weight division. I’ll write more about it later.

I am not an aggressive fighter. I want to be calm and to focus on one thing: To beat my opponent with greater techniques by doing my game.

My typical fight experiences in a winning match go as follows. I step on to the mats, I make sure to smile (what’s more scarier than a smiling opponent?), I shake hands with my opponent, the match begins, and I focus on what I need to do. I am being myself and I do my game, because if I can insist on my game, I know it’s a winning match for me. It feels great to be able to feel calm through focusing on what I need to do.

In a way, it’s a fight against myself. If I rush and forget what I need to focus on, I’m not being myself and I can’t do my game. I need to beat the part of myself that tells me to hurry up and I need to stay focused. I might lose nonetheless, but it doesn’t matter. What really matters is whether I show up and do what I need to do.

I enjoy this state of being. I enjoy the feeling of calmness and the sense of focus.

Like in everything else, it’s important to be able to seize small opportunities in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu matches. When you fight against a skilled opponent, it becomes harder to find opportunities and to stop yourself from giving away such opportunities to your opponent. That means you’ll need to be detailed about what you do and everything becomes very subtle. Making a small mistake can send you to a disadvantageous position.

So, you train to be able to find tiny, tiny opportunities or even to create such opportunities as well as to close opportunities your opponent may find. Also, you need to be able to take advantage of the opportunities you find. This applies to life in general, too. You gotta be able to notice small opportunities by being aware of them and to grab these opportunities by acting accordingly. If you think too much or freak out, and take no action, they will be gone. But at the same time, if you rush, you’ll probably miss them as well. It’s tricky. You need to catch them at the right moment.

After all, I think one big factor as to why I lost in the open weight division was that I rushed and didn’t take advantage of the opportunities I had. I was tired. My opponent was probably 30kg heavier. I was losing by points. There was not much time left. None of them shouldn’t have affected the way I fought, but I think they did. What should I have done instead? To stay calm and to do what I needed to do. That’s all. I kept fighting hard till the match ended, but I missed the great opportunities I had.

What do I do now? Train harder and smarter so I can stay calm and be myself no matter what. This loss is a great opportunity to learn something that I had missed earlier. By learning this, I will improve my skills and I can be a better grappler. That’s how I win.

There’s no losing when you can stand up again and grow up. Even if you lose in a match, it doesn’t matter, because you can choose to stand up again and when you do stand up again, you are learning and you are winning.