Selling Your Life

I want to share a brilliant writing from someone I do not know. Credit to the original writer of this great article who had removed the link since, for some reason unknown to me. Formerly at this [link] It had since influenced my attitude towards life in a many ways. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

There is a chinese term "Sell life" (chinese language has no past tense or continuos tense for verbs).

Written like this : 卖命

The term means working very hard for someone, usually your boss, your lord, you emperor. But it seldom means its literal term, as in selling your life to someone.

Ironically, as the world gets more urbanized, this term could be seen as a very good description to many peoples' life.

When i was learning economics, i forgot which dead guy mentioned about how any labour/employee/worker should divide his/her 24 hours, but it should be 8 hours of paid work, 8 hours of leisure, 8 hours of sleep. The rationale is the person would have balance his efforts to earn a living with his leisure time. and 8 hours of sleep is just about the rest you need to do what you do for the rest of the day. If you work less, and have more time in leisure and sleep, your quality of life increases. The worker wont complain as long as he earns enough for his lifestyle. The economic theory comes in when you work more than 8 hours a day.

Base on his theory, you should be compensated more on the extra hour of work you put in, and the increase in salary gets more as more hours gets put in. eg. 9th hour increase by 10%, 10th hour increase by 30%, 11th hour increase by 60%. The argument is as you sacrifice more hours of leisure of work, your quality of life decrease in an exponential rate.

We don't need proof in this theory, just see your work life.

Of coz, this theory has some flaws, as some people can finish someone esle's 8 hours of work in half the time etc, so not a good measuring tool.

But the reason i brought this theory up is because, part of this theory applies to almost everyone in the urban working world now, and in a way, you are really "selling your life".

A very good example, no matter how efficient you are, your boss will make you work 12 hours a day. Or, you just can't seem to leave the office because the workload actually needs you to be in office for 36 hours a day.

Why would I say you are selling your life here? Many people do not understand how important leisure time is, and the theory of the quality of your life dropping exponentially as leisure decrease is so true. Because of a lack of time, you have to eat non home cooked food. To entertain a client, you have to drink excessive alcohol till late hours and sacrificing sleep. Being too focused in work, you lost the interest to exercise or to engage in activities you will mentally/spiritually enjoy.

1) Eating non home cooked food - You eat more salt, MSG, oil, sugar, and whatever thing that get manufactured due to all the food processing procedures. Don't ever think the vendors in any restaurant actually cares about your health. If they do, they come at a higher price, which you need to pay more out of the salary you earn by sacrificing your leisure time. Which goes back to ...why dun you just cook yourself?

As a person who always enjoy cooking myself, as i learnt more about cooking, i realized that it is so easy and tempting for the fancy deco restaurant operators to use very unhealthy food sources in their cooking. very few restaurants I know use 100% fresh food, there are bound to be some food that they need to use that are pre-processed for longer storage. Any food that are processed for them to store longer have things that are toxic to your body.

Eg. Leave a piece of fresh chicken wings on a table, beside it put some potato chips (processed food). And you will see why the ants and the flies chosed to eat. In fact, some potato chips do not decompose after 5-6 days. Amazing.

In simple terms, i would say this. the time you save on cooking yourself healthy meals to commit to work, are the time you took away from the days of life when you are older. You probably need to spend more on medical costs when you are slightly older, you need to spend more time visiting doctors, and you probably have some conditions (cancer, heart disease, stroke) that prohibit you from travelling too far, learning a new hobby.

You probably shorten your life span. This is why I think people are selling their life to work.

2) Sacrificing Sleep. Many scientific researches had already showed that human needs 8 hours of QUALITY sleep to be optimum. And the best time to sleep, as in your body rejuvenates and recover, is the time from 9pm to 2am. If you are young, energetic, thats fine. You can go clubbing and not sleep during this hour. but if you are above 26 years old, you should really try to sleep between this time as much as possible. if you have never try, you should and you will realize how energetic you would be. Ever tried waking up only feeling more tired and listless after 8 hours of sleep? that's beacuse you slept the wrong hours.

Some researches show the reason why humans rejuvante best from 10pm-2pm has to do with the gravity from the moon. I am not a scientist really but I do know i felt like 18 when i slept in those hours. And these must have been what our ancestors experience and passed down from history to "have an early night". Another proof is jetlag, when your biological "day" become "night", and your body has yet to adjust to the new time when the gravity of the moon is like at 10pm-2pm, you just cant seem to have a good sleep.

Unfortunately, 9pm-2am to many people, are time when they are just leaving office, or still in office or rushing a presentation for the next day. And for every hour you missed to rejuvenate your body, its very likely the machines in your body gets "rusty" earlier than they ought to be.

You probably shorten your life span. This is why I think people are selling their life to work.

3) No time to exercise. The human body that we have, after millions of years of evolution, is designed by nature to be able to

a) Walk long distance, as we were hunters and gatherers.

b) Store energy when food is ample to prepare for the time when food is scarce. We are mammals, we have the ability to hybernate if the situation force us to.

Before you lost the perspective of time, recorded modern human history, is only about 5000 years. So i add another 5000 years for lost record of civilisations like Eygpt or rome or what have you. That is 10,000 years on a very prudent estimate.

The body that we have, from being a chimpanze to a UPRIGHT WALKING human with the ability to use tools, took easily at least 1 million years to evolve. If we want to prolong the working life of this body, it is easier to work around the body that evolve thru 1 million years, than to wait for it to evolve (or degenerate) into something suitable for the urban lifestyle.

Heart disease, a very common condition in the urban people, is a result of our body having the genetic behaviour to store any excess food in our body to prepare for the never arriving time when food is scarce.

So is stroke.

What do victims of these 2 conditions have in common? Not enough exercise to burn off that excess fat in the body.

I am not saying we should live like a cavemen, no. That would be a waste of the human wisedom to bring us to what we are today.

But we cannot forget what our body is designed to live in. Without enough exercises, we WILL get sick. And its gonna take quite a number of generations before our body evolve to be 100% suitable for the urban lifestyle.

To be efficient in work, we take a cab to meet a client even when his office is just 10mins walk away.

To be on time in work, we take the lift and not the stairs even when the office is on the third floor.

To finish never ending work, we have no time for proper exercises, thus lead to our body functioning in the wrong environment it is suppose to be in, thus resulting in getting many medical conditions.

You probably shorten your life span. This is why I think people are selling their life to work.

A few very good gauge of whether you are selling your life is as follows.

1) When is the last time you cook your own meals? Stop slaving your mum to cook for you or she is selling her life to you. Your maid probably could not care much how healthy you are. If you are rich enough to hire a maid who can cook delicious and healthy meals, I am sure you are in the category where you do not need to spend more than 8 hours in work.

My standard, you should cook at least 4 days a week.

2) When is the last time you sleep early? Pubbing and clubbing is fine once awhile, if you are young (18-22) you can do more often. Any older and you are still sleeping late, you are selling your life, either to your boss, or you are "borrowing" the time for a longer lifespan to be spent late at night.

My standard, sleep before 10pm at least 4 days a week.

3) When is the last time you have a proper exercise? A proper exercise is defined as having your heartbeat rate increase at least by 50% (compared to the heartbeat rate when you are awake and doing nothing strenous) and maintained it for at least 45mins. It can be jogging, skipping, swimming (highly recommended). Choose something you enjoy doing.

4) Think about the 8 hours theory by the dead economic guru. 8 hours 1 day for exercising, for cooking your own meals, for researching how to cook a nice and healthy meal, for researching on the food choices you should make, for researching on a new hobby, for spending time on a hobby, is barely enough.

Life is precious, don't sell it.


  1. I work on 12 hrs shifts with only 4 working days and 3 rest days.How does that equate?

  2. The best thing for your health and longevity is to enjoy being alive. if you have something to look forward to each day, you will find fulfillment in everything you do,no matter how unimportant it may seem to others, because it is all part of the life you make for yourself. Every moment may not be a success but it may teach you, prepare you or advance you on your journey and your mindset can be your biggest asset. The material world will never outshine your inner life if you know what is important.

  3. In SG, no matter what job I do after graduation, I felt I am slogging and selling my life.

  4. Based on this reasoning, we can possibly conclude that NSP treasurer Christopher Neo "sold" his life. RIP

  5. What about those working on irregular shift patterns? Upset their body biological clock. They just don't bother. I had an argument with my big bosses. I told them for shift workers it's normal to have few days of MCs per yr when he bragged that he didn't have any for yrs. I challenged him that I were to work like him office hrs, I too can do himt. Yes, it's true that retards are everywhere even in high positions in big corporations and in govt. Or they know it but just don't bother or care about the workers?

    1. > Or they know it but just don't bother or care about the workers?

      Yeah, with an infinite supply thanks to the open immigration floodgates, workers are disposable assets to the big bosses/corporations. That's why I do not regret leaving the Singapore workforce. IMHO, the worst offenders are the insecure Singapore-citizens turned bosses/supervisors.

  6. Currently, we have a choice. 50-year mortgage loan.
    Expect to continue to slog for the property of your desire.

    1. This 50-year loan is sipeh wayang.
      On one hand MAS approved it but on the other hand MND said HDB flats are still affordable so no need to loan for 50 years.
      Are they trying to say that we give you the supply first just in case although there is no demand yet?
      This is the sorry state that we are in now, blame who? 60.1%? I dun have much confident in them if they continue to rule S'pore and I also dun have much hope on the future of S'pore.
      Bye bye S'pore, hello Australia.

    2. This may indicate the following:
      1) the property price will be having upward trend (good for rich investors lor and welcome further income inequality)
      2) People's great desire to own a bigger luxury property that they will consider stretching over 50 years.. same as buying a car. Buy big but all loan. (look good what)
      3) people are expected to work till die and pass the loan to the descendants. Maybe one of the loan criteria could be must have a child. Lol, this will fit nicely our needs for SG babies! (no more inheritance of assets, but inheritance of liabilities!)

  7. Governments, Business and Media are all geared towards making consumerism more important to us as it creates more jobs, earns more tax etc. When we stop and think about the way society functions we realize too many people have fallen for the "big sell" and we don't really need so many "things". We can be much happier being ourselves and sticking to what is important!

  8. Many people who do not work also suffered from lack of sleep due to blogging, gambling, mahjong etc. I guess it is all based on individual priority.