Monday, July 19, 2010

Bible Reading 101

Recently, I have been fond of reading books about improving all aspects of life. Eventually, I noticed that the lessons from those books were also included in one of the most sold books of all time - the Bible. Since I have been neglecting my spiritual aspect of life for quite a long time now, I have decided that I will be including it in my "to-read" books. This would make me spiritually richer and at the same time, wiser and more knowledgeable.

If you are like me who's just starting to read the bible but don't know where to start, maybe this simple guideline would help.

Choose a reading plan to help you read the Bible in an organized way. Reading plans include Chronological Plans, Historical, Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms & Proverbs Plans. Some reading plans also include One-Year plans which have a strict schedule of reading passages every day for a year. Other plans also include Mixed Old & New Testament, and Beginning to End. However, it is recommended to read the New Testament first before the Old Testament because the New Testament is what is intended for us today.

Before reading the Bible, always start with a prayer asking for God's guidance. This does not have to be long. Even the Lord's Prayer may also be used as a starting prayer.

Start by reading passages in a slow and attentive manner. This way it is easier to understand the meaning of what is written in the text. Whenever you don't understand passages, you may reread them until they become clear enough. If ever passages are really hard to understand, you may note down the chapter and verse of the particular text so that you may check back on it some other time. Meditation can also help in better understanding and have a clearer mind. It is also advisable to limit your reading to only about five chapters a day. This will enable you to easily absorb what you have read.

If you are reading the New Testament, you may consider reading the chapters in the following order: Mark, Matthew, John, Luke, Acts, Galatians, and then finish the rest of the books from Romans to Revelation. The book of Mark is listed first because of the reason that it was written chronologically. The book of Luke and Acts are also placed that way because Acts is the continuation of Luke and that they are both written by Luke. Galatians, on the other hand, is recommended to be read before Romans since it deals with the reasons why we do not follow the Old Testament Laws in a much simpler way.

End each Bible reading with some reflection and meditation on the text that you have read. Always try to remember what you have learned and apply it to your daily life. Ultimately, the application of what you have read is the most important thing.

Reading the bible is a personal thing. It doesn't matter how many times a week you read it as long as you are true to what you are doing. If you are really serious about reading the bible, it is recommended to do it every day. Just a few verses or even chapters from a particular book will do. Just be sure you understand, learn and apply what you have read.

Reading the Bible is itself a whole different journey in life. Reading it will make you feel a lot of different kinds of emotions and can teach you many important things in life. This might be the reason why the Bible is one of or maybe even the best selling book of all time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Simple Ways to Feel Happier

There are times when events in our life make us depressed. These things may be as simple as losing a pet, not passing a job interview, or unlikely events like losing someone very special to us. Sometimes, we even become depressed without knowing the reason behind it.

Here are some simple ways to improve your mood and cope up from the depression caused by these unwanted events:

Have Quality Sleep
Having eight hours of sleep is not the only thing that's important in having a good sleep. Quality sleep can be achieved by having a clear and relaxed mind before sleeping. This can be achieved by avoiding watching television or surfing the internet before sleeping. Meditating, breathing exercises, massage, and stretching exercises before sleep also relaxes our body and mind. Also, avoid sleeping for more than eight hours, as this can make you feel even more restless and tired the next day.

Eat Right
Eating the right types of food has great effect on how you feel. Food that is sure to make you feel good are fruits and vegetables. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and instantly feel its benefits.

Exercise Regularly
Exercising is a good way of making yourself feel happier by releasing the chemicals in our brain which is in charge of making us feel good. While exercising can be tiring at first, the benefits are felt right after exercising - a lighter, stress-free feeling, not to mention its long-term benefits. Exercise can be simple 30-minutes-a-day exercises, like running, stretching, yoga, weight training, etc.

Meditation is one great way to clear our mind. Other exercises like breathing exercises also have some similar effects to our body and mind.

Be Positive
Even if you are doing all the things written above, if you are not positive at all, there is nothing that can make you feel better. Our mind is one of the greatest things that we have and have control of. If we can control how our mind can work and think, then we can surely control how we feel.

While these may just be simple ways to improve your mood, you should not under-estimate the wonderful effects that these may bring. Also, while they may be simple things, these are not easy to follow on a daily basis. It takes a lot of discipline to exercise daily, choose what to eat, set time for meditation, and have enough quality sleep.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Be a Rich Dad

When I had my first job, I remember earning a minimum wage. It sure wasn't easy. Sometimes, I had to depend on my parents whenever I went broke. I said to myself, that someday when my salary increases, I wouldn't have a problem getting broke anymore. After a few months went by, my salary increased. At last, I would be able to save for the future. But I was wrong. I noticed that while my salary increased, my spending habits also kept increasing. Because of this, I still went broke at the end of each month. I knew I had to do something about it.

So, after some research, I found out that this cycle was called the "Rat Race" - a continuous cycle of waking up, going to work, working really hard to earn money, paying bills, expecting pay raises, but still not have enough savings. I also learned about Robert Kiyosaki, a self-made multi-millionaire, real estate investor, author of the best-selling book "Rich Dad Poor Dad", and creator of the boardgame "CASHFLOW".

According to Robert Kiyosaki, to get out of this Rat Race and join the ranks of the truly wealthy, one must be financially educated and willing to take risks. Below are some of the things which he mentioned in his book "Rich Dad Poor Dad".

Robert said that there are four types of people based on how they earn money - by either being an Employee, Self-Employed, a Business Owner, or an Investor. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

These are people who work for corporations. They look for a safe and secure job that provides enough income every month. They either have very little or no control of time spent at work - usually eight hours a day for five days a week. Employees also have very little control of their income and their pay raises.

These are people who do not like working for anyone but themselves. They prefer to find projects and clients on their own. These people tend to work a lot because they do different types of work where in a normal company setting is done by different team members.

Business Owners
These are the type of people who prefer to be the boss. They have a lot of extra time since they own the business and hire talented professionals to do the work for them. Unlike the employees and self-employed who earn, pay taxes, then spend their money; these business owners get tax incentives which enable them to spend their money even before paying taxes. They also get to increase and control their income by learning to expand their business.

These are the type of people who purchase assets such as real estate, currencies, and stocks. They either sell them at a higher cost to achieve capital gains, or in cases like real estate, keep them for cash flow. Investing can either be a profession or for short-term income only.

Anyone can get rich in any of these ways, but as Robert said, those who get really wealthy are those who choose to be Business Owners and Investors. For starting professionals who are employees, it is recommended to learn how to invest and start a small part-time business. This is a good way of learning how to be successful in being a business owner and controlling your time and income.

Here are other advices found in his book "Rich Dad Poor Dad":

Work Smart
The middle class and poor work hard to earn money, while the rich work smart by thinking of ways on how their money can work for them. Get rich by building businesses and hiring people to do the work for you. By working smart you get a lot more things done.

Value Financial Freedom
The poor and middle class value financial security, while the rich value financial freedom. Financial security is the ability to have a steady income by working hard on a job. On the other hand, financial freedom is the ability to have a steady income and live the desired lifestyle without having to work or depend on anyone for money. Financial freedom is important during times when you want a vacation from your job, when you decide to retire, or when unlikely events such as accidents happen; making you unable to work anymore. Owning businesses, for example, can make you financially free. You get steady income even without your presence in the business.

Buy More Assets
The rich and wealthy buy more assets than liabilities. Robert Kiyosaki defined assets and liabilities in a very simple but striking way. To Robert, an asset is something that puts money in your pocket, and a liability is something that takes money out of your pocket. Be careful in buying assets such as luxurious cars and big houses. In general, these are assets, but practically, they tend to become liabilities because of the expenses that come with them.

The following is a list of assets that put money into your pocket:
  • Business - Having businesses enable you to earn money without your presence. You own the business, hire other people and let them manage and run it for you.
  • Income-generating Real Estate - Like businesses, real estate properties like apartments enable you to earn money without you working. In this case you earn, from the monthly rent. Tax breaks are also offered by governments to real estate investors because of the housing they provide. The value of real estate properties also appreciates because of the steady increase in population and demand.
  • Paper Assets - Stocks, Bonds, Mutual funds, Notes (IOUs)
  • Royalties from intellectual property such as music, scripts, patents.

Buy Luxuries Last
The rich people buy luxuries last, while the poor and middle class tend to buy luxuries first. People often buy luxuries because they want to look rich. If you want to be truly rich, buy more assets and use them to buy luxuries later on.

Expand Your Means
One great asset that we have is our mind. If you want to be rich, you should expand your means and not live below it. Living below your means will only prevent you from thinking of ways to get rich and keep your mind from growing.

Save Money For Investments
Save money then use that money for investments that bring more money. Be rich by using your savings only to create more money and not to pay bills and buy luxuries.

Get in Debt
It is OK to borrow money as long as it used wisely. The rich borrow money to get richer. One way of getting into bad debt is through continuous use of credit cards for monthly expenses and luxuries. Using credit cards are expensive because of the interests that come with using them. Get into good debt by investing in assets that in the long run, pay for your expenses.

Donate to Charity
The principle of reciprocity says "if you want something, you first need to give" or simply "give, and you shall receive". Giving not only helps others, it also makes ourselves feel better after. Also, be sure to inspire the poor to aim and make ways to be richer, so that they too, can help themselves and others; as in the saying "If you give a person a fish, then you feed him for a day. But if you teach a person how to fish, then you feed him for a lifetime".

Get Rid of these Attitudes
Negative attitudes such as Fear, Cynicism, Laziness, Pride, and Arrogance are all obstacles in our life. Fear, self-doubt, and laziness all keep us from doing what we really have to do. On the other hand, arrogance, being over confident and pretending to know everything there is to learn, will only drag us down.

Learn These Skills
To be better educated financially, it is recommended to read books about accounting, investing, marketing and law. However, it is important to know that success doesn't depend on technical knowledge alone. A smart person who is also self-confident, bold, and has good leadership skills will go a long way.

Find a Hero
Finding inspirations and people to look up to, help in being successful. It gives us hope that we too can do what they do, and gives us ideas how we can do it. One great example in the financial world is Warren Buffet. He is a successful investor and one of the richest people in the world. What separates him from the rest of the richest people is that he lives a very simple life.

Practice Now
To train your self to act like the rich. Buy three Piggy Banks and put equal amounts of money in each piggy bank everyday. One piggy bank for savings, one for investing, and one for charity. The money you put should be just the right amount you can put everyday. The savings piggy bank should never be spent. The investing piggy bank is used for buying assets, and the charity for your donations. By doing this, you already practice the discipline that the rich have.

That concludes some of the lessons that Robert Kiyosaki has written in his book "Rich Dad Poor Dad".

I hope you have learned a lot. Remember to always train your mind to grow. Do what you love, for learning becomes easier that way. And don't be afraid of making mistakes for trying. It might be difficult at the moment, but it will be worth it in the end.

Make this as a guide on how to become wealthy NOT because of wants for material things, but because of wanting a simpler life - a life not worrying too much about financial problems. Lastly, don't forget the rule of Reciprocity - "Give, and you shall receive".

To end this article, let me quote a line from the gospel of Matthew 6:2-4

"So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

I believe there isn't anything wrong with trying to be rich in order to be stable financially. We just have to be sure that we share with others what is given to us.

Until my next post...