How do you want to live your life?

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken – Oscar Wilde

This post was inspired by something that happened to me last week. I was agonising over whether to purchase another 1 month deal with my current yoga studio because I will be going away on a family holiday in 2 weeks; which means that I will only be utilising only 2 weeks out of the 4 weeks that I pay for.

 

Now, coincidentally a new yoga studio opened up closer to where I live and I did briefly consider trying it out since it is so much nearer. So, I hatched a plan to try out this new place for the next 2 weeks. Even better, they put out a Groupon deal, for those of you who do not know what Groupon is, it is a marketing platform for business owners where customers can buy products and services at a ridiculously low price. The aim is not to make any money out of it, the purpose is to create awareness and get people through the door.

So, I happily purchased the deal and off I went excitedly last Friday for my very first class. Now, because the purpose of this blog is not to review the studio, I will simply say that it was not a good experience for me at all. The mere thought of returning there made me feel really awful.

I tried talking to a few good friends about it, hoping to get to some form of decision; whether to stick it out or for someone to tell me that it is okay to let it go. The answer came from a good friend who happened to be a great yoga teacher. She told me that it could be a learning experience for me. The first thought that came to mind was that it was a different style of practice that I am used to, so yes…maybe I could further improve my practice through persistence.

The real learning came to me after a night of tossing and turning because I was trying to come to a decision all night. It was as clear as can be. As an avid learner, I would hate it if my reason for not pushing on was because it was taking me out of my comfort zone. I admit that I was pushed to my limit during that practice but if I truly cannot get out of my comfort zone, I would not even have walked in the door!

My lesson is to learn to listen to myself and do what makes me happy. I thrive on pushing my boundaries and I have! I tried something new and hated it. No point sticking it out just because I wanted to save a few bucks. How often do we overlook our own wellbeing just because we refuse to listen to our inner voice? I am glad that I am able to jump over this hurdle this time with the help of supportive friends. We often get caught up with the initial plans and are unable to be flexible or worse still, we think we are doing the right thing while the whole time this right thing is eating us up inside.

So my message to you today is: Choose you every time, do not allow the situation to choose you.

i choose

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Actively seek the positive!

I have recently gotten off my backside and jumped straight back on my mission: to unravel the intricacies of some amazing human qualities such as resilience, gratefulness…and many more which fall under the umbrella of Positive Psychology. I have the good fortune of being able to be part of a course conducted by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, one of the leading experts on Positive emotions.

This area of study holds great interest for me both on the professional and personal level. But that’s another story for another day. Today, I would like to share something that I learnt today in class. Great news!!! Positivity can be learnt and can be increased!!

Here is a simple way to increase your positivity. Get yourself a glass jar/vase, plus a pen and paper. Everyday, write down 1 thing that was good that happened to you. This event may evoke the following emotions in order to qualify; joy, gratitude, amusement, interest, love, awe, serenity, pride, inspiration and lastly, love.  It may seem tedious but you will be amazed by the result. Just by thinking of a good thing that happened to me everyday last week was enough to bring a huge smile on my face, can you imagine a full year of goodness! Good things happen to us more often than we are aware of. The purpose of this mindfulness based exercise is to help you be more attuned to these precious moments that we often overlook. Go on, have a try, even if it is only for a month! What have you got to lose?

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Can you handle what you really want?

This post was inspired by a movie I watched yesterday called ‘Transcendence’ by Johnny Depp. Very interesting concept of creating an ultimate form of Artificial Intelligence that is capable of feeling emotions and making independent decisions. To simplify the plot of the movie, Johnny Depp played the role of a scientist who was on the verge of such an invention but unfortunately was assassinated. His wife who was also a scientist managed to transfer his ‘consciousness’ into the hard drive of his invention and brought him back to life – online.

The aim of this post is not to discuss whether such an invention is possible. It is the contradictory behaviour of human beings that I would like to point out. How many times have we heard of inventors and scientists, even beauty queens emphasis the importance of finding a cure for cancer? Looking for means of saving our planet? Ah, on the movie set, all these can happen and it did! But it also revealed the distrusting and ungrateful nature of the human race. He found the solutions to solve all of the world’s problems and that earned him the title of trying to play God which was why he got assassinated in the first place.

Today, I hope that whoever took the time to read this post also take a few minutes to consider what is it you really want in life? Will you be happy just to accept when it is given to you? If you are religious, then have faith that all these are part of the master plan. No one is trying to play God because if God does not want it to happen, then it would not. Is this not called having faith? But if you are not religious, just be happy that you got what you ask for.

We often moan and groan about not getting what we want, but when the opportunity presents itself, how many of us are courageous enough to reach out and grab it? And after you hold it tight in your hands, be grateful; don’t allow that annoying negative voice in your head spoilt it for you. That is the culprit, the insecurity in all of us that rob us of our ability to be happy. The need to question everything instead of accepting and enjoying the gift graciously.

That said, the next time the guy you have been eyeing asks you out for coffee, don’t allow the voice to tell you it is because you are the easy choice. It is simply because he likes you and wants to know you better. When your boss gives you the promotion, it is because you are deserving of it, not because you are the only obvious choice left. He can always give the job to an external applicant. Finally, the next time, when someone finally finds a cure for cancer, let’s not question why and how he did it. Let’s just be glad that more lives can be saved. Let’s choose to be happy!

‘Miserable people focus on the things they hate about their lives. Happy people focus on the things they love about their lives.

 

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Making the tough decision to choose you

“Don’t ever feel bad for making a decision about your own life that upsets other people. You are not responsible for their happiness. You’re responsible for your own happiness. Anyone who wants you to live in misery for their happiness should not be in your life anyway.” – Isaiah Hankel

I read this short passage on facebook today and it resonates very strongly with my values. Growing up, I had the same insecurities as any typical adolescent. That said, it meant that my top priority was to ensure that the people around me were happy; because that means that as long as I can keep them happy, they will remain my friends. Sounds familiar?

Over the years, I learnt many hard lessons about life. The single most valuable wisdom that I have gained is that people who truly cares about you will not begrudge you for choosing your happiness. But this is not to say that you covert your friends’ boyfriend and is dead sure that he is the love of your life and proceeds to take him away from your friend. Common sense and the rule of ‘nonmaleficence’ (means to first do no harm) does apply. Now, why would you purpose break your friends’ heart just because you lust after her boyfriend?

To help you gain a better understanding of what I am trying to say, allow me to give you an example: now, we all like to be around people who makes us feel good about ourselves. In my case, I love being around people who genuinely cares for and validates me, and these people are generally happy with their lives as well. For some, they use others to make themselves feel good. They constantly criticise others in the guise of having better knowledge. They also get upset when decisions are not made in their favour. In other words, they expect you to be responsible for their happiness. Always needing you to put them ahead of you.

During my ‘need to please others’ years, I was miserable. I was constantly walking on egg shells, worrying if I had made the right decision or even said the right thing. There were times that even when I had chosen their happiness over mine, it still did not guarantee the friendship. It was awful. Fortunately, as I grew older and with the help of amazing friends who helped me realise that the more genuine the care, the less they need for you to sacrifice for them. You can make choices as an individual with no sense of guilt or misgiving.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the highest level that we all yearn to achieve is self actualisation. In my humble opinion, that means we live the life that is meaningful to us and we are happy because we are the best that we can be. Therefore, in each and every one of us, there is an innate pull to achieve our personal self actualisation. We all want to be happy, and we want to live a meaningful life. Place this in contrast with trying to please others whilst holding on to our miseries. How far is that from our natural calling? No wonder we cannot achieve self actualisation from pleasing others.

Of course the most crucial part of this post is the acknowledgement that such choices are not easy to make. This is especially if the people involved are friends for many years or even family members. It takes time and a lot of courage in order to do so. Personally, I find that spending time with like-minded friends or simply those who truly cares about you will lead you to making the right decisions eventually. So do not be disheartened if you did not find the courage to walk away from those who are not good for you. It will happen but first you must choose it.

That said, have a wonderful rest of the week!

 

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Treating our bodies with respect and mindfulness

I read this post on my facebook page yesterday and woke up this morning with a renew sense of awareness and respect for my body. I hope that I am able to reach out to more people and help you see yourself in a new light like the way I did. This was what I read:

My dear, dedicated body,

From this moment forward, I vow to feed you with clean food and positive thoughts. I will water you religiously. I’ll seek nourishment for your physical form, but also for the spirit you so tirelessly protect. I will strive to understand you, in all your delicate complexities, so that I may serve you into our old age.

From this moment on, I will hold in my heart that you are doing your best for me, and I will not expect more. From this moment on, we are a team and I will repay your best with my best; and we will be brave together.

With deepest gratitude,
Me

Now, all I ask is that you spend a few moments thinking about what I am about to say. How many of us take our bodies for granted? Choosing to satisfy the few inches in our mouth instead of taking care of the overall body? We eat whatever we feel like and overeat on occasions just because we can, and we wonder why our bodies refuse to cooperate sometimes.
I have never looked at my body in this way. I take it for granted, often abusing it with too much yummy but unnecessary food, or worse still drinking too much alcohol. I was actually ashamed when I read this. I stepped out of my body for the briefest moment and looked at it as a separate entity. In all honesty, I don’t think I would even treat the person I dislike most so shabbily.
Another inspiration I received in tandem to this letter was the travel photos that was posted on facebook daily. These photos featured a loving couple, retired and having a great time travelling in Japan. I met Raymond in Singapore when I first moved back there and fell in love with the way he taught children how to swim. Subsequently, we engaged him to teach our boys how to swim. I suppose you could say that he is athletic his whole life but I have read of athletes who do not keep up on their physical exercise after they reach a certain age. I am proud to say that both Raymond and his wife, Sally maintains a very active lifestyle which enables them to travel around Japan with such ease. Think about it. You have spent more than half of your life in the rat race, and raising children. You have finally reached your golden years where you can do whatever you want to without concerns and with the money you have saved! Wouldn’t it be nice if your body would allow you to still do whatever you wished?
I hope that this post will find its way to your heart and open your eyes to see the special relationship you have with your body. You and you alone have the power to determine the quality of life you can have in the years to come. You don’t have to get out there and do a 10km run. Start small, every little bit counts. Start with something you enjoy doing; or if exercise is just not for you, start with walking a little bit more to the shops? Or even power walking whilst you are window shopping at the local mall. Just promise me you will have a think about this.
‘Be kind to your body, treat it like you would your best friend and it will reward you with many more years of quality living’ – Karen Foote
In the end
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The power of belief and positive affirmation

The thing or rather people who inspired the post today are my new friends that I met during my NLP practitioner training over the last two weekends. With age came the experience that sometimes the best way to approach a new learning is to keep an open mind and minimal expectation. But little did I anticipate the impact that it would have on me after a mere six days.

The bible mentioned something about coming together and worshipping in a group. Although it did not specific exactly why God would be present when a group of people come together; I had the first hand experience of the energy level when a group of people congregate for the same purpose. Alright…Pause for a minute. Disclaimer: I did not experience a miracle healing of any sorts, I am simply using the bible as an example to show that this is not a new concept.

So, how does my experience tie in with this? Everyone knows that great things have been achieved by simply believing and many successful people swear by performing positive self affirming routines daily. I am not disputing that. I am saying that there is an even more powerful resource that many people are unaware that can unleash amazing transformation. The fact that I am writing this post is proof that I have a certain level of self efficacy which is definitely enough to get me to where I need to get to. How do people gain self efficacy? Here is the key point of today’s post: self efficacy can be developed over time as one maintains a level of self belief and that belief is continually affirmed when that person succeeds in the things that he/she does. What I discovered over the last two weekend is that there is a more powerful way of empowering yourself. Now, stay with me on this one, I know that I am jumping around a little but if you would bear with me.

Let me ask you: How do you think we form our self impression? To put it simply, from self-evaluation and feedback from others. Can you see what I am getting at? That’s right! When you are in the company of people who believes in you and your capability; it has the power to change your self-image! This is the power of many! I have previously written a post about the importance of choosing friends who empowers you. This is what I mean! When I first met my fellow trainees, they were not my friends; but in that setting, we all held a common belief that every single person has the potential to be who they want to be. Now that is a very powerful force that is both undeniable and intoxicating.

I have again found proof that the company we choose to keep truly affects our wellbeing. Therefore I urge you to make choices that are good for you and also reflect on yourself, what kind of influence are you to the people around you?

I leave you with this:

“When you are up in life, your friends get to know who you are. But when you are down in life, you get to know who your friends are.”

 

good friends

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Dealing with challenging times

I cannot even remember the last time I posted something. It was so long ago and if we are all honest with ourselves; time slip us by if we are not careful. We tend to the more immediate and seemingly more urgent matters and forget to take care of our souls. What do I mean by taking care of our souls? To me, it means to always remember to do things that we love and more importantly stay true to who we are. In the past few months, I have learnt many things and I will share them with you in time to come. Today, I would like to draw your attention to something that a good friend shared with me:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, and kindness. What we choose to emphasis in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.” – Howard Zinn

As we all know, life is not a bed of roses and we face challenges more often than we prefer. Some of us see closed doors as a dead-end whilst the rest of us see it as an opportunity to practise our creativity. Which category do you belong to? Do you give up when things do not go your way? Or do you push on because you believe that you will reach your goal eventually? I find that in such pivotal moments, the most important question you should ask yourself is this: “Do I really want this? Am I prepared to keep pushing?” I noticed that people fail to achieve their goals because their answer is no to the above 2 questions. They simply stop trying and therefore do not get to where they want.

Then how does the rest of us reach our goal? Here is where the quote by Howard Zinn comes in. We keep the hope alive, we hold on to the believe that it will happen. Yes, I can see you roll your eyes. Like yeah….as if it is that easy. It can be because all you need to do is to choose to hold on to your dream. But I must also add that our parents and the people we meet in our lives also play a very important part. Lucky for me, I grew up with a mother who believes in all possibilities. And in the years after her passing, I was blessed to meet people who continue to share my values and nurtured it with me. So, to the parents who are reading this post, besides giving your children all the love and gadgets you can afford; give them the power of hope and believe. Armed with these 2 values, they will have endless possibilities.

So, what really inspired this post today? I am currently at the crossroad of my life. It seemed that I am lost in a desert where all I can see is an endless span of sand, but I know that this desert has an end. I just need to push forward, one step at a time. I hope to encourage those who are lost in their own desert to not give up hope. It may seem endless what you are facing and everything seemed to be telling you that it is time to throw in the towel. But if it is what you really want then focus on what your heart is telling you and ignore the noises around you that is distracting you. It is never foolish to hope. The very basis of human resilience is to have hope, without it life would be frightening and meaningless.

 

to be hopeful in bad times

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Things happen for a reason

Hello there,

It has been quite awhile since my last post, I truly apologise. In between trying to juggle family, kids, work, and school; everything can go a little haywire. Anyway, I had a bit of a drama with my car a few days ago and I was really upset with what happened. Then I recalled something I read on facebook a few weeks ago. My regular readers would know that I am not religious in any way but this article captured my attention and I would like to share it with you here. Here it is:

Me: God, can I ask You a question?
God: Sure
Me: Promise You won’t get mad
God: I promise
Me: Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today?
God: What do u mean? …
Me: Well, I woke up late
God: Yes
Me: My car took forever to start
God: Okay
Me: at lunch they made my sandwich wrong & I had to wait
God: Hmmm
Me: On the way home, my phone went DEAD, just as I picked up a call
God: All right
Me: And on top of it all off, when I got home ~I just want to soak my feet in my new foot massager & relax. BUT it wouldn’t work!!! Nothing went right today! Why did You do that?
God: Let me see, the death angel was at your bed this morning & I had to send one of My Angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that
Me (humbled): OH
GOD: I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you if you were on the road.
Me: (ashamed)
God: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick & I didn’t want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn’t afford to miss work.
Me (embarrassed):Okay
God: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give false witness about what you said on that call, I didn’t even let you talk to them so you would be covered.
Me (softly): I see God
God: Oh and that foot massager, it had a shortage that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn’t think you wanted to be in the dark.
Me: I’m Sorry God
God: Don’t be sorry, just learn to Trust Me…. in All things , the Good & the bad.
Me: I will trust You.
God: And don’t doubt that My plan for your day is Always Better than your plan.
Me: I won’t God. And let me just tell you God, Thank You for Everything today.
God: You’re welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I Love looking after My Children…
We all face adversities and difficulties; some more challenging than others. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason; still it was difficult for me to get over the car problem. The point of sharing this story is to show you that it is a matter of perspective and faith. In the perfect world, everything should go our way but in the real world, it is not like that. We need to accept that in life there are too many things that are beyond our control. All we can do is to do our best and trust that there is a bigger and better plan that is already in place.
If you are reading this post and life had just thrown you a curve ball and you got hit in the face (like me); I hope that this post will offer you a little comfort that despite how we perceive our difficulty, there is a reason why it is happening to us. Do not despair because when you do, you close your mind to life lessons and possibilities that this curve ball is designed to teach you.
I will end today’s post with one of my favorite quote:
“Everyone wants happiness
 Nobody wants pain
 but you can’t have a rainbow
 without a little rain”
rainbow and pain

 

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Review and regroup

I decided to post on this topic today because just this week alone, I had 2 different people mentioned this to me. There are times in our lives when we feel lost and unsure of our future or what steps we should be taking. So, what do we do? Or what can we do?

A very good friend of mine shared something she read by Martha Beck. If I understood her correctly; the essence of it all is this; sometimes we feel overwhelmed with what life throws at us. Some of us take a more pro-active approach to it and launch into whatever projects that lands at our feet. Many times, we fail to achieve what we hope to; not because of the lack in passion or inappropriate use of method. Instead, we fail to recognise if that is what we really want to do and end up even more confused and burnt out. I am very guilty of this; I am so afraid of missing any opportunities that I say yes to every proposal and ultimately tire myself out before I even reach my first checkpoint.

So, the point that I am aiming at today is this: if you are at a crossroad and are not sure of what you should be doing. Here is something you might want to try: According to Martha Beck, one of the ways is to walk into a bookshop. Hang on a minute, I am not asking you to go and buy a self-help book. I am saying there is a good chance that you will wonder to the section that interest you the most. If you are too lazy to go to the mall, sit down and think about which section of the bookshop you visit most when you do wonder into a bookshop? You can start your new ‘career’ or life goal search there.

Now, stay with me on this one. Just the other day, I was in a lecture on life-span development with a very grounded and humourous lecturer. Something she shared that evening jumped out at me. She said that many times when people want to reinvent themselves; be it because of a mid-life crisis or the result of a traumatic life event. People usually return to their childhood dreams. Let’s say you have always wanted to be a pilot but never made it there. And at 50 years old, you are successful but still feel that something is missing in your life; perhaps the thought of getting your pilot license might have crossed your mind. Then, maybe, you might want to consider going for that pilot license.

I believe that everyone should be doing what they love, but unfortunately the world does not function that way. But that is not to say that you cannot be happy because you are not doing your dream job. This is why people have hobbies which they love. Anyway, the topic today is not about whether your job is linked to your happiness. That is something else we can talk about another day.

Today, I hope to share these little tips with you; in the event that you feel lost and are in need of some direction. Try going to a bookstore and see where your heart takes you. Or think back on some of your childhood dreams, interests or ambitions. These are good places to start.

Good luck finding yourself again and remember; it is never too late and life is not meant to be easy. Decide on what you want to do and hold on to it like a bull-dog terrier. Start with something you love; at the very least, you have passion to rely on.

 

find your joy

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Getting rid of burden

For those of you who are not too familiar with the chinese culture; in 2 days time we get to celebrate the lunar New year; which means that we get a second chance to set of new goals for the new year and have another go at it.

I continue to emphasise on this point: Know who you real friends are, keep and nurture those with all the resources you can afford. As for the rest, drop them very quickly!

Quick guide to how to recognise your good friends:

It is not about how long you have known each other; it is how you bring out the best in each other. I realised this because I met some of the most amazing friends in the last 2 years. It was not a chore to be around them, in fact it was always great fun! All things aside, they should always make you feel good about yourself, there is no need for you to prove yourself to them. The acceptance is mutual and empowering.

The ones with a warning sign are the ones who constantly give you ‘constructive criticism’, which in fact is a guise to put you down. You feel that you cannot be yourself around them and have an urge to prove yourself to them that you are worthy of their friendship. In a nutshell, you are on eggshells in their presence. That is a pretty good giveaway that they are the ones you need to avoid.

You ask me: why do I keep harping on this ‘choosing the right friends’ topic? It is because over the years, I have learned that besides family, the friends that you spend time with have the greatest influence on you. If not for the wonderful friends I met in my lifetime, I will not be where I am, doing what I am doing right now. They love me for who I am, validating that I am good enough.

Having the right positive influence in one’s life is so important! That is why I continually post on this topic. I hope to empower my readers to choose the right friends and not to be afraid to let go of the ones who are hindering their growth. Needless to say, I have friends who seems to have my interests in mind and although some of them really believe that they do. I refuse to be in the company of people who needs to ‘fix me’. I need to be clear on one point, I am not so arrogant as to say that I am perfect and do not need to improve myself. I am simply saying good friends love you for your flaws. They know when to intervene, whenever they choose to tell you something, it is your personal growth they have in mind. That is different from those who are constantly trying to make you a better person. It is almost as if they bought a defective item so that they can work on it. Thus growing their own ego instead of growing you as a person.

So, I urge you to have a serious think about this topic, read this on pinterest:

“You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with so be brave enough to let go of those who keep weighing you down.”

 

letting go

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