Friday, October 4, 2013

Random thoughts: What to do in investment but not in life?

Comparisons. In investment, we are always comparing. This quarter results with the last, we compare results over a long period of time. We compare the earnings and ratios with its competitors, market leaders and industry average. The more we compare, the clearer picture we have.

In life, too much comparisons can lead to unnecessary and unhealthy emotions such as envy, stress and misery.

I whatsapp a close friend of mine who knows where good food is. I ask him to give me some suggestions of a good dining place to bring my wife for a birthday dinner. He gave me plenty of suggestions, restaurant with Michelin star chef, restaurant at MBS that cause 200 per pax set menu to nice and reasonable priced food at dempsey. 

Do not get me wrong, this friend of mine is not trying to show off, he has already made it in life, he is a CFO of a listed company but is very humble, in fact, he is just like when we are in secondary school, very helpful. It is me, who starts to feel uncomfortable.

I think to myself, wow he brought his wife to all those places. (I know his wife, we were all secondary classmates), how often did I brought me wife to somewhere nice to eat. In fact, I was constantly talking about thrift, about scrapping the car, about saving money in case our parents fall ill. I know there is nothing wrong with being prudence and thrifty, and my pay is properly less than half of what he is getting. I also know my wife does not mind her current lifestyle, but the "what if" keep ringing in my head. I am not a nasty person, but I know my friend to be a kind and romantic person, and he is also rich, what if I am like him, wouldn't my wife and family be more comfortable and happy?

I enjoy my job, and is comfortable with my lifestyle, but I have been thinking about changing another job, or take a slower pace when I save enough for my passive income to supplement my income significantly, I thought of becoming a insurance agent or part-time teacher, but just now when I am driving back home in my car, such thoughts momentarily made me feel inferior: What? you still want a lower end job, people is already at the top of their game, and you want to start at the bottom again. I am so affected that I reconsider sending my son to a primary school that has a high percentage of affluence family. I then recalled another friend of mine from university, he comes from a very renowned secondary and college. During my university days, he helped me a lot as he is very knowledgeable, but I think told him once, that he gave me a feeling that he wasn't really happy. He told me his peers have all done very well in life, and he feel that he should be able to do bigger things. He wasn't satisfied.

I used to think of how silly it is for him to compare with others, now I can empathized with him. Just 1 comparison with a friend, and I questioned myself,what if I am surrounded with tons of these people, would I suffer from low self-esteem?? I recalled during an overseas exchange programme, a scholar from NUS almost cried and throw his temper when he got 3 A and 2A- for his semester exam, how sad, the best I ever got was 4A and 2 Bs and I was screaming and jumping with joy.

So, in life, we should not compare too much, excessive comparisons will lead to misery. I am older and more zen now, I was affected for only a few hours, but I thought I pen this down for anyone who might have similar thoughts or go through similar experiences. Get over it quickly, life is not fair but is full of abundance, enough for everyone to live happily. If we are already happy, share it, why bother if someone if happier? Be happy for them =)



  1. Hi Mike,

    I enjoyed this article. You have attained enlightenment. Be totally unaffected even for a minute in future and you are ready for Buddhahood. ;)

    There will always be someone else who is getting richer faster than us. Remember what Charlie Munger said, "This is not a tragedy." :)

  2. Hi AK,

    Hahaha You just ask me to compare myself to the past, I felt I am a worse person than a decade again.

    Not a bad person, but a worse person... LOL

    I can forget about Buddhahood, just hope I don't end up in Hell...