Eating has always been something that is less of a concern for me.
There the the people that live to eat. And then there are the people that eat to live. I belong to the latter group. This means that I do not have an acquired taste or that I am picky with food.
As long as there are adequate quantity and the food is not prepared in a very poor manner (I have high tolerance for poorly cooked stuff trust me)
If you have auto-immune problems like myself, it helps to take on your problem as a project, and change the portfolio of food that you consume. This may nip your problem totally, or in a lesser extent improve your quality of life. I have experimented and shifted what I consume wildly but systematically in the past. It helps a lot that I eat to live and that I eat a predominately low carbohydrate meal therefore I do not feel hungry often. (There is a hormone called ghrelin in your stomach that triggers the signal that tells you its time to feed. Carbohydrates suppressed ghrelin fast but also rebounds fast. This means that while it makes you feel full, it does keep you satiated for long.) You have to eat adequately in the amount of calories as well.
Last year was unique.
I have always meal prep my standard lunch at home to bring to work (you can read a comprehensive meal prep article here). I look forward to my lunch. If you prepared a meal that does not interfere with your health problems, delicious, adequate, you will always prefer eating it compare with the food outside.
However, during the end of the year, something happen.
I felt that what I prepared was not enough, and have the feeling I need to supplement what I eat with one more meal that I can buy outside.
So there are days where I eat practically 2 meals for lunch.
There was also days where I need to feed during 3 pm.
It is only after a few times that I did this, that I was able to think about what I did. And I was shocked about what I did.
After reflecting a fair bit, I realize what caused this:
- I wasn’t happy with something at work
- I enjoyed the act of lunching so much that I want to preserve the length of it by eating
- I got bored during the period of 3 to 4 pm
The amusing thing is that non of the line items above has got anything to do with being satiated (feeling full).
Filling up a Void that we might not realize it’s there
We all deal with our demons in different ways.
Sometimes, we won’t even know we have demons in the first place.
And what we do often is try to hide problems as further into the background as we can. We put up layers in front of the problem in the hopes that things do not get uncovered.
In other cases, it is because we were missing something and we tried to fill it up by using something that seems the easiest for us.
Filling up voids is more common then I thought.
1. We have too much free time on our hands
With the proliferation of the smartphone in 2007, the way we work have changed a lot. It used to be that if your job sucks, or when your job is lax, there is nothing you could do about it.
With 3G, 4G internet access, it enabled us to fill our intermittent downtime at work with scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds or engage in online games. Sometimes I am amazed that we will still have people complaining about their work environment. Do they want to go back to a period where they do not have a smartphone competent to gain access to these entertainment.
These activities became our daily habits. This means that despite what our brain tell us, we will scroll through these feeds and open up these games.
Majority of why we do this is because we do not have a better way to spend these intermittent time in-between work, and while commuting.
There is an industry that is spent on tackling boredom. You are always looking for novel things to explore in the city. And if you cannot find it within the city, you get out of the city.
2. We Pay to Balance out the Stress at Work and Personal Life that We will not Spend Otherwise
In the book Your Money or Your Life, Jose Dominguez taught me that your actual high paying job might not actually pay that much, if you net off the cost of maintaining your sense of self so that you can continue in that job for a long time.
Your leisure, be it holidays or shopping in selected interest area, act as an outlet so that you do not collapse psychologically.
People in the finance world earned a lot, but their form of release can also be rather impressive. The form of release cost a lot and some of them have negative residual effects.
If they have not taken up such a high stress job, or they are so competent that they cope with the stress much better, they might not need these kinds of outlet for stress release.
For some, the lucrative nature of the job might still be worth it, and some of us can see ourselves slog in these job for 5 years before stepping down.
However, there are a group of people that will use the job as an excuse/reason to embark on holidays, shopping spree, food and drinks session.
They do not earn a lot. They have a problem coping with the demands of the job (even though they shouldn’t)
3. We suffer from some form of Trauma and we need a way to Cope
We might not know we have some deep seated problems unless we were diagnosed with them. And usually the coping mechanism is engage in filling up these void with some replacements that can be rather negative in the long run:
- Always looking to eat or starving ourselves from food
- A frequent and expensive shopping habit
- Always get together with partners that are just detrimental to your family and your well-being. Again and again seemingly never learning the lesson
The Repercussion of not Solving the Issues
All these different ways of filling the void are difficult to solve. This is because most of them are not aware of the problem, or are in denial that they have a problem in the first place.
A lot of these coping mechanisms results in expenses that take up a sizable amount of their take home income.
What was supposed to be good-to-have discretionary expenses becomes mandatory expenses.
The more expenses you have, it means the less wealth the person builds up.
In extreme cases (but not uncommon), when the expenses becomes more than the take home income, the person dug a hole that is difficult to get out of.
Such a person, could not see any light at the end of the tunnel:
- He views all his expenses as necessary because he needs a lot of things
- He does not have the bandwidth to reflect upon how things could improve for himself because he is always filling up spare time with boredom coping things
- As far as he is concern, his problem is not associated with his identity, beliefs or values
Due to the above, financial goals are too large to be worth it for him to even make a first move.
The more holes you have in your life, the more it eventually becomes a money issue. And money issues become domino effect.
It is why the solution to pull ourselves out of a financial problem is to tackle non-monetary stuff.
What we can do
1. Have Adequate Awareness
If you don’t know or don’t acknowledge that you have a problem, then it becomes difficult for you or any of those who wish to help you to do anything.
What I realize is quite helpful is the ability to view yourself from the third party perspective.
This is as if you are playing some action based games that you are able to see what your character is doing.
Then I can ask myself, does that seem like the behavior of someone that got his shit together?
You could identify the problem better, and then you can tackle it.
P.S. this technique seems useful as a way to self reflect on your performance in other areas of your life be it at work, the way you execute your investment process.
2. Embrace the time when you are Free
Instead of taking the easy route of trying to fill up every second of the time you are not doing anything, take some time to sit there and do nothing.
Let things come to you. If you fill up every second, problems will be embedded in the background and will not surface.
If it doesn’t surface you cannot action upon them.
I used to read more and listen a lot to podcasts. I learn to pull back and not do so much things.
What happens is that I begin to action on more things. And stuff gets done. And I gain more satisfaction because things on various fronts moved forward.
3. Be more Purposeful with Your Life
Life is not boring.
It is just that you didn’t dive deeper into some area of interest. Being purposeful means being more intentional about the direction of your career.
You can focus on one or two areas out of work, and go down these areas in greater depth.
Developing with greater depth increases your skillfulness.
This becomes something you can identify with.
No doubt, you might spend a little more money, but you might excel so much in it that in the future this can be a second career or you can become a teacher of this skill.
My problems didn’t result in large financial losses. It also didn’t develop into a decadent monetary leak as I tried to nip the problem in the bud.
The cause of most of the issues are frustration at work and a loss of focus. The solution is to be more intentional at work.
I wanted to enjoy lunch longer than it should. The problem here is perhaps that I was using the lunch period as some form of escape or taking an easy way out of life. The solution to this is much more challenging. I will need to reprogram my brain to tell myself that I have eaten a lot and that there are work that I can identify with, that I can look forward to after meals. This would involve re-arranging specific tasks that is more suited to carry out after meals.
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