Saturday, September 25, 2010

The More The Merrier?

The more the merrier. Really?

It is not surprising to hear someone says "I'm not happy because my job is not paying enough' or 'I would be happier if I live in that big house'.

People chase after money and material stuff with the idea that they can bring satisfaction and happiness. They pursue their 'millionaire dream' ceaselessly and some are even prepared to pay for it with family time and friendship.

I have come across many rich but unhappy people. It is obviously not a secret that people are not necessarily merrier with more. Strange as it sounds, people know that money may not bring happiness but they want to be there to find out themselves.

I am not a 'happiness' guru and I am also not suggesting that you give up your money. All I am saying is that there are lots more to happiness and it is not merely about material possession. In fact, beyond the poverty line, money brings little more happiness.
Here are just a few of my humble thoughts about living a happy life:

1. Look for happiness from within

No one can give you happiness but yourself. If you make up your mind to be happy, you will be. There are always reasons to be happy. It depends on how you look at things. See article 'Perspective of Life'.

Famous quote from Abraham Lincoln says it all "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be". See article 'Happiness is a Choice'.

2. Count your blessing

Positive thoughts generate happiness. The reverse is also true for negative thoughts.

I often hear comments that it is hard not to have any negative thoughts. I agree. The idea is not about eliminating such thoughts altogether. It is about having a lot more positive thoughts than negatives ones at any one time.

Praise more, blame less. It helps.
3. Find happiness in simple things

Simple pleasures do not need extravagant spending: A relaxing stroll in the park; sipping a cup of tea with a good old friend or watching little children play.

Simple things can inspire you and bring you happiness at no cost. See article 'Ten Things That Inspire Me'.

4. Build people relationship

Human beings are gregarious animals. We need 'emotional food' to sustain our mental health. Much of such 'food' can be derived from meaningful human-to-human relationship.

One very important note about having meaningful relationship: You need to 'invest'. Be genuine when initiating a good relationship and do not be too preoccupied with the 'return'.

5. Think beautifully

Beautiful people are not necessarily happier. In the first place, beauty is a matter of opinion. As far as happiness is concerned, what you think about yourself is more important that what other people do.

You can be ugly. The world can be ugly. Everything can be ugly if your mind chooses to think so. However, if you learn to see the beauty in life, you would definitely be less miserable.

6. Give to get more

This is odd but true.

In financial terms, a good investment is one which return you more money than you have put in. It is the same for 'emotional investment' except that it is harder to measure the return.

You can give time, friendship, inspiration, compassion and forgiveness. Give without hoping for a return and in time, you will be rewarded with more than you have bargained for.

7. Get your daily motivation

We often feel unhappy when we are consumed by life. Workload, financial burden, family conflicts are the usually culprits.

There is no way to avoid these life-chewers other than constantly boost your emotional immunity with your daily dosage of motivation. See article 'Get Your Daily Motivation'.
From Stephen Covey's '7 Habits of Highly Effective People', I learnt that a happy life is a balanced life. Covey suggests a constant renewal of ourselves in four areas: Physical, Social/Emotional, Mental and Spiritual.

With this, it is simple to understand why money will not bring you happiness when you are a sickly billionaire or when you are rich but without friends around you. There is also no point being wealthy but spiritually anemic.

We really ought to fear less, hope more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more and hate less, love more.

Finally, here is the secret to happiness - It is up to you.

You might also like to read:

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." ~Albert Einstein~

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Ten Things That Inspire Me

"Inspiration" is any stimulus to creative thought or action.

You might be thinking that you need something or someone special to inspire you. Not quite. Inspiration can come from almost anything. Oftentimes, it can come from something small and seemingly insignificant.

There are many things in life that could bother you: work pressure, family problems, financial strain, a difficult marriage or illness. Having a little inspiration every now and then will certainly do you good.

Many things inspire me and here are 10 examples:

1. Writing

Writing is like an act of lubricating my brain. I have many random thoughts all the time. If these thoughts are put in perspective, they can be inspiring. Writing allows me to do just that.
2. Babies

Holding their perfectly developed little toes and fingers somehow inspire so much hope. Each time I spend a little moment watching a sleeping baby, a sense of calmness also sets in and draws new inspiration.

3. An act of kindness

The image of a child helping a frail old man is both touching and inspiring. A random act of kindness, when observed, often gently reminds me that I can always give a little more.


4. Young shoots

They look fragile and insignificant amidst the vast nature. It is precisely this reason that I find young shoots enwrap so much miracle which we often overlook.

5. Volunteers

Something must have inspired those amazing people to volunteer for some good causes. Their acts of volunteerism demonstrate so much selflessness that I am reminded to count my blessing.


6. Budding flowers

A flower bud is humble looking even though it is about to become a beauty pageant. It is nature's way to give a wrapped present waiting to surprise me.

7. Positive people

Nothing is more annoying that being around negative people. They sap my precious energy and leave me little good for the rest of the day. I prefer to stick around positive people and feel the energy lifts me to a new height.

"When you have purpose, you don’t have time for negativity." ~ Mark Victor Hansen


8. Photographs

'A photograph is a portrait painted by the sun', so they say. It freezes a moment which is never to be repeated, ever. No matter how a photograph is taken, it tells a story. I particularly like close-up (macro) photographs. They remind me that no details are ever too small and insignificant.

9. Children's drawing

A drawing by an innocent child is refreshing. It offers a new perspective forgotten by or not known to adults. We need to renew our perspectives from time to time to make room for new ideas.

10. Being inspirational

This may sound circular. It always inspires me when I am being inspirational to others (that is, if I am aware that I have been so). Inspiring others is a form of giving. I have been the beneficiary of great inspiration and I certainly would like to pass the same to others.


So what inspires you? Give it a thought and seek your source of inspiration. You need it so that your days are filled with the much needed energy to overcome difficulties.

I hope this article gives you a little inspiration.

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." ~ William Arthur Ward ~

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Picture Blog #14 : Don't Just Leave the Leaves Alone

Magic, unfolding. [Link]

Most of us are only that observant but we can always do better.

When we visit gardens and parks, we are often attracted to colorful flowers, beautiful sculptures, chirpy birds and perhaps, some uninvited creepy crawlies. Few would pay much attention to the leaves. Would you?

In botany, a leaf is an important organ of a plant responsible for photosynthesis. For this reason, leaves are usually green, flat and large in numbers. Because of them, we loosely term nature as 'greenery'. They form the backdrop so that the flowers can stand out to lure pollinators such as butterflies and bees.

Singapore may be a highly urbanized city but it is also well known for being a green city with many parks. Here are 25 pictures of leaves which I have taken during my numerous visits to the parks. If we could just pay a little more attention to the leaves, they have many stories to tell too.

In photography, almost everything can be photogenic.

The heart in nature [Link]

The birth of a new life. [Link]

Leaves are amazing 'factories',
turning sunlight into energy. [Link]

Leaves are 'nondescript'
so that the flowers can be 'outstanding'. [Link]

Through photosynthesis,
leaves 'make' oxygen so that we live. [Link]

Leaves have interesting shapes
which interest not just the geometricians. [Link]

Leaves have one of the best
distribution networks on Earth. [Link]

Do you become observant
only when you look for a 4-leaf clover? [Link]

Leaves provide shelters.
They keep those beneath cool. [Link]

Leaves can be huge.
You need little effort to notice them [Link]

Leaves can be floating solar panels too. [Link]

Nothing goes to waste.
Decayed leaves send nutrients back to soil. [Link]

Leaves are umbrellas in nature. [Link]

Leaves may look 'angry'.
They are merely protecting themselves [Link]

Leaves provide a food source for many.
You are one of the main beneficiaries. [Link]

Leaves can be elegant too,
if you do not stereotype them. [Link]

Each leaf is important.
They have the whole Earth to feed. [Link]

Leaves can look messy or orderly.
It depends on your point of view. [Link]

Leaves can be artistic or boring.
The artist in you will decide. [Link]

Leaves can be mysterious,
if you choose not to know them. [Link]

Leaves are not always green
and they make autumn beautiful. [Link]

Whether you believe in angels or not,
young leaves are miraculous. [Link]

Even the tiniest leaf
can give you the most refreshing sight. [Link]

With a little imagination,
some leaves could be smiling at you. [Link]

“Nature will bear the closest inspection. 
She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, 
and take an insect view of its plain.” 
~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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Monday, September 6, 2010

The Time is Always Right to Write


I posted my 300th article here last week and I am moving on to the next.

Writing is a very age old thing and existed since the pre-historic time. Simply, it is a systematic way to communicate using symbols. The early 'writings' were done more in the form of drawing but a system of using symbols in writing gradually evolved.

The cave men wrote because they needed to communicate. They needed to tell others a story even during those times when they were not present to do so orally. Today, the reasons for writing have not changed very much.


We write in many ways.

1. Good old pen and paper

This has existed for a long time and it will probably be around for a very long time more. However, due to the proliferation of other media, this conventional method of writing is taking a back seat today.

2. Typewriter and paper

If you have not used or seen a typewriter before, you are probably rather young. The invention of typewriter changed the way we write. Instead of inscribing the words with a pen, we 'hammer' the letters on a paper with our fingers.
3. Type and display

When computer became a common sight in our homes and offices, we write with a keyboard, similar to those found on typewriters. Instead of paper, the writing is shown on a display screen. This way of writing changes a few established concepts. For example, we no longer correct a mistake using an eraser or a liquid corrector. Instead, we hit the 'backspace' or 'delete' button.

See article: "The Quirky QWERTY".

4. Soft type and display

Keyboards have gone virtual. Now we can 'write' by typing on computer screens which display the image of a keyboard. With this, we fuse the keyboard into the screen and thus making our gizmos more snugly. However, with virtual keyboards, it also means that we can no longer do touch typing.

5. Finger or pen-based writing

It seems that some people still like to write instead of type. So, some computers allow us to 'write' with a stylus or our fingers. By mimicking writing with a pen, we 'write' by tracing over the screen. Thanks to handwriting recognition applications.
I am sure the way we write will further evolve and the possibilities are only limited by our imagination. Coming up soon, I expect to be able to write on projection keyboards. These are virtual keyboards which can be projected on any surface and after that, you just type on it. Now, that sounds cool.

I started blogging here two years ago for a simple reason: To write. I still write on conventional media using pen and paper. It is therapeutic to write and at the same time, I think and I learn as I reflect the day.

Occasionally, I do mirror image writing. In that way, I get to heighten my awareness. As I slow down my thoughts to keep pace with my writing, I internalize more of what I write.

See article: "It feels Right to Write".


If you do not write on a regular basis, try it. For that, I do not mean the stiff corporate reports and business emails which you have to prepare at work. Try writing as you think and see how you gradually internalize ideas which will help you shape the habits that you have always wanted.

Besides pen and paper, there are so many other ways to write. You can practically do it on the fly. The time is always right to write

"If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand, don't remove it.
I might be writing in my dreams."
~ Terri Guillemets ~


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