Monthly Archives: March 2009

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The Secret of Happiness = Selective Memory

The Secret of Happiness = Selective Memory

(Image by Manfromsun)

My back is aching, and I can’t block out the pain.

As my mind wonders back to the various incidents happened recently in my life, I marveled at how little I remembered. It was as if someone put a gauze across my eyes as I peer hard into my recent past.

No, I don’t exactly forget everything. I remember the touch of your hand on my face. I remember the melodious voices bursting my heart with pride. I remember the crunch of diced celery and crispy ayam penyet.

What I don’t remember is what made me upset. Yes, I remember being upset. Just that I don’t remember why.

And since I can’t remember why, I might as well not be upset, right?

Right. Selective memory is the secret to happiness in life. It is a skill I honed since young. While it may be increasingly hard to practise it as I age, I found it to be extremely useful especially at times like this.

My back is aching, but it is nothing compared to the pain you are causing me. I just don’t remember why.

So, for now, I’ll suffer from my back pain with a smile on my face. After all, I don’t have anything to be upset about.

Do I?

You’re My Exception, Not The Rule

He's Not That Into You

(Image by IMDB)

He’s Not That Into You tells the stories of a group of interconnected, Baltimore-based twenty- and thirtysomethings as they navigate their various relationships from the shallow end of the dating pool through the deep, murky waters of married life, trying to read the signs of the opposite sex… and hoping to be the exceptions to the “no-exceptions” rule.

There were many different story angles cleverly portrayed in this movie, but I especially liked the one on “technology” as illustrated by Mary (played by Drew Barrymore):

“I had this guy leave me a voicemail at work, so I called him at home, and then he emailed me to my BlackBerry, and so I texted to his cell, and now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.”

“Things have changed. People don’t just meet organically anymore. If I want to make myself more attractive to the opposite sex, I don’t go get a new haircut – I update my profile. That’s just how it is.”

The movie boasted a star-studded cast, including my all time favorite Jennifer Aniston. Through many twists and turns, the characters met, fell in love and fell out of love as fate continues to play havoc on their relationships. I learned a great deal of wisdom from the show, but none other impacted me by the character of Alex (played by Justin Long).

That… many of us who date are the “rule”, not the “exception”. So stop pondering over stories of the unfamiliar but enticing love tales of friends of friends, and start listening to your heart. And when the cupid strikes, listen harder… for you have found your own exception.

I am looking for my exception. Will you be the one?

Happiness is not by chance, but by choice

(Image by barnsley anna)

Did you know… that I reduced my waistline from 40″ in early 2008 to 32″ right now? Many of my friends complimented me on my new “figure”, and of course I am happy and flattered.

However, my happiness is not because of the compliments, but because I choose to be happy.

When I was at my bigger size, I agonised over everything I eat. I missed having McDonalds’ big breakfast meal (upsized no less). Whenever I was faced with the option to eat what I want or to eat what is healthy, I faltered, and will most likely opt for the latter.

But I was sad, because I believe my happiness depends on what I eat. My value, then, is to equate my joy with the ability to eat what I want.

Now at my new size, I still agonise over everything I eat. But the difference is that I am happy not eating rice, only lean chicken meat. I am happy not eating at fast food outlets, but to cook my own meals three times a day.

I am happy now, because I believe my happiness depends on how I feel about myself. My value, now, is to equate my joy with the ability to choose what I eat.

Happiness is not necessarily dictated by your circumstances. It depends on the choices you made. If you have a wrong set of values, and you live by them, inherently you will lead a miserable life.

To have the courage to admit that your values are wrong, and make a change, is to learn to be happier. Your happiness is no one’s responsibility but your own.

Accept that responsibility and be happy. You owe it to yourself.

To Seoul with Love

Kolourful Korea

(Image by Stuck in Customs)

The fever begins 15th April. I so need to get used to kimchi now!

5 Easy Steps for Better Anger Management

I need to control my anger!

( Image by danorbit)

And so I was angry today over something that was beyond my control and someone’s seemingly childish behaviour towards what I was doing. Coupled with my recent stress and packed schedule, I snapped.

My close friends will tell you that I seldom get angry. I am always so calm and logical, you will be hard pressed to find me in a huff of the-world-has-something-against-me attitude.

A couple of angry, long and loaded SMS-es ensued between the “offending” party and I. In the end, he said sorry and I stopped myself from continuing my tirade. I realised that… perhaps, just perhaps, my anger was not justified. My outburst does not help the situation I was in, and at least two person were then upset.

I need to manage the situation. I need to gain control. So I did what I have to do:

#1 – Stop whatever I was doing. I know if I continued on berating on how I felt, it will never end and my anger will not abate. So I did nothing. And started the long journey home.

#2 – Took a deep breathe, and looked far, far away. I know this seems very cheesy – heck, even I did not believe in such crap – but to my amazement, it helped. My fast heartbeat subsided, and my palms felt less clammy.

#3 – Vented my anger elsewhere. At places where no one can understand the context of my anger, and yet help was on hand to calm you somewhat. I don’t know about you, but venting online (like on Plurk and Facebook) and the resulting comments helped.

#4 – Start to think about “what’s next” instead of “what happened”. There is little point to dwell on the who said what and when, really. What I need is a way to take on the next step, to make things better.

#5 – Look at the big picture. It was indeed just a small thing. There is always next time. And chances are the other party’s friendship is more important than this… qualm. After all, it is only because he is important enough to make me feel provoked in the first place.

If you like me, a can of beer (or two) will definitely make you feel better. Listen to your favorite music – Olivia Ong is playing on my iTunes right now. Oh, and blogging about it (like what I am doing now) is a really therapeutic way to manage your anger.

And to you: I am sorry for the outburst. I really am. We arrange for the next time ok?

The Game Called Jurassic Jumble

Jurassic Jumble

Had a whale of a time learning and playing Jurassic Jumble during lunch time. That speaks volume on the quality of food around my office. We are simply not interested at all.

Offices should have a board game culture and put an end to post-lunch coma.

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Best Friends at Crossroads

(Image by LostMyHeadache)

Everyone needs a best friend.

A best friend is someone you can always count on to be there for you. To offer you comfort when you are down. To listen to you when you have to rant. To share your joy when great things happened. To learn and grow together, to be better friends.

It is often said, to remain best friends, two have to work together at it, just like in a love relationship. You have to spend time together, to learn and grow together, to be better friends. And in that process, you find yourself, what you have to offer, and what you can receive… and how to be a better person.

You probably have a friend like that right now. Or if not, in the past. Often you will feel grateful to have him/her in your life.

You don’t feel so alone.

But as time goes by, people change. You change. He or she changes. I change. We strive for our personal identity in our own ways. We heed our callings listening to our own hearts. We lose ourselves in the daily tirades of chores, commitments and promises.

It happens to everyone, including your best friends. Sometimes, they change in a direction different from yours. One moment you are having the best time in your life, and suddenly you are displaced by a strange feeling you have not felt for a long time.

The feeling of losing someone important. And realised you and your best friend have drifted apart.

Is it your fault? His fault? Our fault? No one’s really. People come and go in your life all the time. Of these, some leave behind footprints. These are the people worthy of your memory.

When you realised you and your best friends are at a crossroad, stop and take a deep breath. Remember the time you had together. Smile to yourself on the silly jokes and life stories you swapped. Be grateful that your life has changed because of him/her.

At the crossroad, between heartfelt hugs and fond farewell, believe that when you meet again, you can pick up where you have left off. To be best friends again… even if it is just for a moment.

And believe in yourself that, someone new will come along. Who can share your unshed tears, unspoken tales, unuttered laughter. Making new memories together.

Because everyone needs a best friend.

P.S.: This post is dedicated to all my best friends in the past, present and future.

The Wedding of Terence Leong & Dora Ong

Terence & Dora's Wedding

I was honoured to be a part of one of the most beautiful weddings ever, last Saturday.

Terence has been my buddy since university days. I remember how we “got together” over endless meals, movies and studies, well into our graduation days and when we started working. Over the years, he has been a part of the small uni-mates gang which I am constantly in touch with.

I also witnessed how he got to know the then-bride-to-be, Dora, back in NTU. How he got to know her, how they met, how they overcome obstacles in becoming an item, and how they finally tie the knot, almost seven years later.

Terence is now a full-fledged pilot with Singapore Airlines, and Dora is a stewardess. They got to be the most awesome couple I have even seen being together.

When Terence asked me to be one of his “brothers” during the wedding (it’s a Chinese tradition thing), I was flattered. But I didn’t really know the other “brothers”, so I asked Terence if it was awkward for him, and that it will be alright if he thinks it’s better for me to pull out.

“Don’t be silly,” he said in a reply SMS. “I want all my best friends to be part of the wedding, and I want you to be there.”

Well, what could I say? I was so moved by his honesty, and I said yes, of course I will be there.

And what a ceremony it turned out to be. It started right at dawn (at six in the morning, to be exact!), and continued on till way past midnight in the couple’s suite at Marina Mandarin. The solemnisation ceremony was especially beautiful. I was standing at the back with Tony and Yali, and to my embarrassment I welled up. In happiness. For my buddy to have found a beautiful wife like Dora, to take on the next phase in his life with her so bravely, and to see that they are really, really destined for each other.

Terence & I

To the both of you, Terence and Dora, I wish you well and a lifetime of happiness as you journey into the exciting realm of marriage. And I am honoured to have known you, and look forward to an everlasting friendship between us.

Click here for the entire set of “unofficial photos” of the wedding taken by yours truly.