brandmentalist

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.
— 

Bob Marley

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! 

“Inspiration. Its hope injected by creativity and imagination. Its motivation without force. Its encouragement with a touch of heart. It makes us better. Makes us want to do something. It moves our emotions, intellect and behaviour.” #brandmentalist #currentlyreading
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I’ve done things I’d never thought I would, i’ve seen beauty in things i’ve never seen, and love in places my heart’s never been to. Since i’ve known you, you have inspired me. In the most unimaginative way, you brought out the best in me. #faithfulfriday #fattyrandompost #instablogxaxa

Letting go is like pulling a tooth. When it’s pulled, you’re relieved. But how many times does your tongue run itself over the spot where the tooth once was? Probably a hundred times a day. Just because it was not hurting you doesn’t mean you did not notice it. It leaves a gap. And sometimes you see yourself missing it terribly. It’s going to take a while but it takes time. Should you have kept the tooth? No, because it was causing you so much pain.Therefore, move on and let go.
10 RULES TO LIVE BY FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO LIVE A POSITIVE LIFE

There are many several rules to live by. It is up to you to take one that aligns with your values the most. About a year ago I wrote 10 Rules To Live By For Those Who Lead a Life of Wisdom. This year I’d like to focus on positivity and happiness so I have come up with the absolute 10 rules to live by for those who want to live a life filled with positivity. 

1. Be comfortable in your own skin 

The first step to becoming happy is to feel comfortable in your own skin. Everyone was born with a flaw. No one is perfect. Accept yourself with what you’re born with whether it be your background, your skin, your nose, your eyes, your hair, your freckles, your breast, or the size of your private part. You have to accept yourself for who you are and LOVE YOURSELF. 

It is the number one happiness killer. Because if you are not comfortable in your own skin, this becomes your biggest concern that stays on the top of your mind everyday - it kills your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and the happiness that comes from within. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship of all and if you can’t make peace with it, it will keep bothering your mind. 

If you find it hard because other people discriminate or make judgements about you, distance yourself from people who are shallow and narrow-minded. You are better than that. Prove to them and to yourself that you are capable and talented in so many other ways. Surround yourself with people who value the same things as you and leave the people with bad attitudes behind. 


2. Appreciate what you have and never compare yourself with others

You will never be truly happy if you keep looking outside and wish you have what you don’t. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side but that does not mean it’s actually greener. If you keep wishing, hoping, expecting for something else and don’t feel happy with what you already have, you will always feel miserable and feel like something is missing in your life. Worse if you keep comparing yourself to others, wishing your life was like theirs; your face and body were like theirs; your family was like theirs; your partner was like theirs, you will feel the jealousy burning within you. While comparing yourself to others in a healthy dose as to set yourself a benchmark of success or accomplishment can be motivating, doing so with jealousy burning within is not. 

If you can live simply and appreciate what you have, acknowledge that everyone is different, and stop comparing yourself to others, you will experience joy and happiness in everyday life.


3. See the positive in every situation

You will always run into unfortunate situations in life that are outside of your control. You can choose to feel sad, annoyed, angry, or stressed about the situation OR turn it around and focus on the positive. You can choose to be stuck in a bad situation OR let go, move on, and start anew. Learn from a failure or a bad experience and never repeat the same mistake. Every setback and bad situation in life teaches you something. Growth doesn’t happen in comfort. Take it as an opportunity to train your mind to be stronger, more resilient, and more equipped to be able to deal with things life throws at you. 


4. Let go of your need to control 

Control makes you feel secure. But at the same time, with control you also lose freedom. Confusing isn’t it? When you try to control your life, situations, and sometimes others, you do so because you want to feel more secure. However, when you feel more secure because you take control of it, you lose control of yourself and very likely of those you try to control. This is because you become dependent on the feeling of having control. And it can drive you crazy because things don’t always go as planned. Trying to control things will not only drive other people away which will make you panic even more when that happens, but it also hinders you from achieving happiness from within.


5. Drop the resentment within

Most of the time you hold onto anger because you believe it would make the person you’re mad at upset and realize that they have done something wrong. But the fact is that you are actually hanging yourself up on something that’s burning you within. When you’re mad at someone, the pain is onto yourself more than it is onto the person you’re mad at. When you hate someone, the fire is within your own mind.

No matter what one does to you - hurt you, look down on you, underestimate you, backstab you, abuse you, or cheat on you - when you hold the hatred, you hold the hurt. Only when you learn to let go, you let your soul free from the pain. No matter what it is that caused them to do certain things to you, the best thing you can do is to let go. 

It will be hard to do if you’ve never done it before. But slowly, one day at a time, be patient, let it go, forgive those who’ve done you wrong, you will feel that each day you get stronger and more powerful. 

If you’re struggling to let go, start with meditation. Even meditation is hard because you need to control yourself not to think about anything while meditating - but that’s the key! Being able to control one’s thoughts and focus, and keep one’s mind at peace strengthens the mind’s muscles - this is the secret power of meditation. 

The fire is only within you.
 The person you hate doesn’t feel your hatred. Let it go. Let it go.


6. Live in the moment

I believe that one of the reasons little kids and happy couples on dates are happy is because they live in the moment. They focus on what is happening in front of them and pay attention to the person they are with. When you live in the moment and do your best, you just feel happy. Why wouldn’t you? You don’t worry about the future, neither do you feel sad about the past.

Take every waking hour as it comes and do what you are supposed to do and complete what you’re supposed to complete. Stop overanalysing or trying to predict and plan things too far. The only constant in life is change. Just live in the moment and do your best.


7. Avoid overanalyzing

This is what a lot of us do - overanalyzing things from relationships to career and finances. Overanalyzing is dwelling on the thought about something, thinking about it over and over, trying to dig deeper and deeper, because somehow you believe it could end up giving you a way out. When in doubt, overanalyzing somehow gives us comfort. Most of the time, we never actually get an answer but a set of worries. 

In order to avoid overanalyzing, we need to be more outspoken with people whom we have doubts about, take things as they come, and listen closely to our intuition. 


8. Stop worrying about the future 

Many of us worry. We worry about our future - about our career, health, living, finances, and about the people we love. We worry because we are scared. However, worrying doesn’t make anything better unless we stop worrying and start taking actions towards our goals. If you’re worried about your health when you get older, then you should start eating healthy and exercising regularly. If you’re worried about your finances, then you should start saving up for the rainy days. If you’re worried about your kids, then encourage them to take actions to help you ease your worries. Remember that worrying about your loved ones doesn’t actually make them better. It only affects your health and your blood pressure. Your loved ones will need to take actions themselves. All you can do is to encourage them and help them move towards the right direction.  


9. Drop your ego and be true

We have our ego as our security guard that protects our self-esteem from being attacked. However, sometimes we become a victim of our own ego. This is when the ego takes control and we become too arrogant and act above ourselves. We distort the reality about us. We live in an illusion. Sometimes we do so because we believe it will take us somewhere. Sometimes we do it because it makes us feel good about ourselves. 

Whatever it maybe, letting your ego become your front shield actually hurts you more on the inside because you can’t be your true self. You just live with lies. In the end, you just can’t take it anymore because you are just faking it and are attracting people who are also faking it. Over and over, you will become tired of it and feel like no one really understands you. This is when you will realize that you will never be truly happy unless you stay true to yourself and others. 


10. Have an open mind

Having a narrow mind can hurt you more than you think because naturally we as humans don’t like being disapproved of. We don’t like feeling like we’re wrong because it makes us feel rejected and unaccepted. 

So if you don’t have an open mind which means you stand firmly on your beliefs and ideas and oppose others who think otherwise, you will feel extremely agitated and uncomfortable when people with different beliefs and ideas are presented in front of you. On the other hand, if you have an open mind, you wouldn’t mind hearing about the different beliefs. In fact, you would embrace the difference, want to understand it better, and become adaptable and flexible in your approach. You wouldn’t have to fight with yourself in accepting others. You’d feel at ease with differences and feel positive about change.

Available now at TheHappinessPlanner.com.

7 PIECES OF ADVICE I’D LIKE TO GIVE TO MY YOUNGER SELF

 < Photo credit : Jasmine Dowling​ ​ >

Looking back to my younger years, I am sometimes amazed at how life has turned. Nothing is exactly what I had originally planned for. The only thing that stays the same is who I am, my values, and my interests. 

Fast forward to today, I have moved to a new country and to two different cities. Most importantly I have got myself involved in a lot of things I would have never thought of if I was living a mundane life and tried to stick to plans. Nonetheless, I have summed up what I have learned - the new perspectives on life. And if I could go back in time and hang out with my younger self for a day, here’s what I will tell her. 

1. Everything happens for a reason.

Whether it’s good or bad, everything comes into your life for a reason, even though at the time, something might seem to come into your life to hurt you. It is only natural to feel like things are not meant to happen this way - people are not meant to leave, you are not meant to get rejected, accidents are not meant to happen - and if you had done something differently, the situation might have turned out different. However, as time has passed, you realize that things were supposed to happen the way they did because one event led to another. People come into your life to teach you something. Things that seemed horrible, painful, or unfair at the time happened for a reason. And in reflection, you realize that they happened to help you become stronger.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self :

Everything happens for a reason - understand this. Without mistakes and failure, you would have never learned. Without breakups, you would have never met someone new. Without pain, you would have never grown. Once you understand this - really understand this - you will know that everything comes in to serve a purpose and then it will go. You will not dwell on disappointments or view unfortunate events as regrets. But rather, you’d see them as opportunities in disguise - only those with a sharp brain and a spiritual mind can understand the fleeting nature of events in life. So don’t stress or ever think that life is unfair, because everything happens for a reason. And only time will tell.



2. Focus on one thing at a time. You can have it all but not all at once.

It seems like we forever debate on the topic of productivity whether it’s practical for us to multitask. At one point in my life, I was multitasking like an expert. I got myself involved in 3 start-ups plus my own consulting work, another writing gig, and managing this blog. I was single and had all the time in the world to myself. So why not keep myself busy right? I thought I could manage. I thought I could wait to see which startup would take off first and that would become my main focus for years to come. But I was wrong. I felt overwhelmed. I was multitasking too much. At the end of the day, I realize that none of the startups was my true dreams. This blog is my true passion. Having my own brand is my true passion. Nonetheless, the experience I had while I was at the start-ups taught me quite a few things. I learned what it’s like to pitch to investors. I learned about growth hacking and a bit of coding. I met so many talented people during those times whom I’m still friends with and can ask for business advice. I don’t regret my decision for taking on too many things. Although none of them succeeded because I did not focus, I learned a great deal. And I believe the process which you may feel like you have wasted time in is actually needed for you to grow and learn so that you can be ready.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self :

Focus on one thing at a time. You can have it all in life, but not all at once. And if you don’t keep your focus right, you might not achieve anything.

It is not surprising that many of us are doing too many things at once. We need to make ends meet. Working on a start-up that is our dream can be an emotional burden for us in the early days. But doing three jobs at a time, rarely you will succeed at any of them. You need to put all of your energy towards it - whatever it is you want to achieve the most in life. You have to keep your eyes on the big picture. Extra few hundred dollars might help you make ends meet but the opportunity cost might actually be worth thousands. Can you move back to your parents’ to save rent for half a year? Can you sacrifice eating out to work on your dream? I got distracted several times over the past few years because every opportunity presented in front of me seemed great. They seemed interesting, seemed to have potential, and seemed to align with my interests. However, opportunities will keep coming in. You have to ask yourself what exactly is it that you want to achieve for the next 10 years? What is that one main goal? Make it a priority. Focus on one thing at a time. Achieve your goal one by one. Make a to-do list and a bucketlist and work towards ticking them off ONE BY ONE.



3. You can plan ahead but your plan will definitely change when the time comes.

I remember so vividly that when I was a kid I used to dream of going to an Ivy league. I wanted to go to the US for college. I wanted to work in branding in New York. I had it all mapped out in my head and I was working on the plan to achieve those goals. Fast forward to today - my plan has changed completely, as if there was never any plan. My goal to go to the US fell through. I ended up in Zurich, Switzerland, and instantly fell in love with the place. But then, I had to leave. I cried really hard on my flight back. Then, never did I thought I would actually move to Australia for college (well, they call it university here) …. or actually, for good. I didn’t even know where Melbourne was. I’d been to Sydney and I loved it. So, I moved to Australia to study Marketing and half way through it I ended up studying Entertainment (Music) Business Management instead. I became a club promoter to make new friends and happened to become one of the most well-known promoters in 2010. Everything happened like the snowball effect. One event after another - life was flowing like crazy. I had the happiest years of my life. The next thing I knew, I started to adopt the Australian way of life and started to “go with the flow” instead of planning things too far ahead. I learned to be spontaneous and embrace life as it comes. I found myself opportunities and jumped into them without fear - like becoming a promoter even though I didn’t know anyone to start with.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self :

You can plan ahead because sometimes planning ahead can give you a clearer direction of where you want to go, drive you, and motivate you. The planning process can teach you something. However, don’t be too fixated on a plan. Plans will almost definitely always change -be prepared! Live life with open arms. You will go where you’re supposed to be headed. Don’t stress.



4. Trust your instincts.

Doubt occurs several times throughout our lives. It could be in the job you’re not happy waking up to doing everyday, in the relationship you wonder whether it will last, in the people you’ve just met and whether you can trust them, or in the move you have to make and whether you should go left or right.

Prior to writing this article, I asked 20 friends of mine “what life lessons would you like to give to your younger self?”. This is the one answer I particularly like, 

The sooner in life you realize that you gain more from feeling your way through than thinking you way through , the better life is and the more you can achieve.

There are a lot of factors that influence the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we see the world. A lot of it has to do with our upbringing. Some parents are more logical than other. Some are free-spirited, artistic and creative. Some are practical and pragmatic. This has become the way of life for us and how we react to things in life.

I myself grew up with a conservative Asian mother who is very pragmatic and practical and a father who is a creative thinker. Even though I possess innate artistic abilities, I am still heavily influenced by my mother’s practical nature which makes me more inclined to find logic in things. However, as I get older, I realize that no matter how logical some things are, if they don’t feel right, sooner or later you will realize that they are not right. And if you ever have any doubt between two choices - one choice follows logic; the other follows heart - always follow your heart.

Having lived overseas over the past 7 years without my family in this new city, I’ve learned to embrace autonomy and make decisions on my own. With so much freedom in hands, it’s sometimes hard to pick between choices. However, after several trials and errors, I can assure you that your gut instincts never lie. They are always right. Even if you follow logic in the beginning, you will change your mind later, and let your heart win.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self :

Don’t worry too much about a decision you have to make. Don’t try to weigh pros and cons and follow logic. Just do what feels right. Do what you believe would make you most happy. You know what you want. You might consult other people. But deep down, you know what you want. You don’t need to seek outside assurance to confirm what your heart knows best. Do what makes you happy. Because at the end of the day, even if you follow logic, you will want to quit and follow your heart.

Always. If something doesn’t feel right or you have doubt in it, even just for a little bit, it’s probably not right.



5. It’s okay to be unsure about your purpose in life.

At one point in life, you might stop and ask yourself “what is your purpose in life?”. The thing you’re working on doesn’t seem to give your life meaning anymore. You feel like you have lost your purpose. You try to search for it. And… as you keep going, you might feel a bit lost, confused, and unsure.

I was one of those super determined kids who tried to map her life out and plan ahead in the best possible way. I was passionate about a lot of things and I was very good at all of the things I was passionate about. However, when I graduated, I felt a bit lost. Suddenly, there were so many options to choose from. Even though I knew exactly what my passions were, picking that one career path I thought was going to fulfill me on a deeper level and make me feel like I’m living a purposeful life wasn’t so easy. I had to dip my toes into quite a few different things - each took at least a few months until I realized it’s not my purpose in life. With pressure from parents and the society - where some people seem to be sticking to one career path - can make you feel a bit like a loser. However, without trying so many different things, I wouldn’t have known what I know now. I wouldn’t be the confident and assured person I am today.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self:

You might be graduating or have hit a turning point in your life with career. You might feel a bit lost and not sure where to go. It’s okay. Go out there and try as many different things as you can. Don’t ever feel like you’re wasting your time. The process that you’ll be going through will shape you into who you will be. If you let your intuition guide you, you will almost certainly be in your most fulfilled place in the future when your find your purpose in life. Enjoy the journey. Don’t rush. Every little path you have to go through will lead you somewhere. And looking back, you will be able to connect the dots. It will all make sense.



6. Don’t try too hard with people

Dating can sometimes feel tiring when you have been going on dates for a while and feel like you don’t meet anyone that you really like or get along with really well. Once in a while you meet someone who seems to tick all of your boxes. However, you still have to work hard to make it work. You try to impress them. You learn about their interests. You make sure that you portray yourself as the person of their dreams as well. It’s all hard work, isn’t it? Then a couple of months down the track, you realize that this is never going to work - it’s too much work!

Besides dating, entering college, starting a new job, and moving to a new city, you will certainly have to make new friends. It can sometimes be a little awkward when you don’t know anyone. Sometimes you try very hard to get along with people. You try to fit in - only to end up feeling uncomfortable with yourself and have to go back to who you truly are. Making new friends is not easy especially if you are not very outgoing. You may sometimes feel like you have to make a lot of effort with people - in trying to be friends and get close to someone. However, this can be tiring and sometimes you just want to back off and be home alone.

I’m sure you have been in a situation where you feel like the people you meet are not like you. You have to try hard to get the conversation going. It doesn’t flow. It’s like going on the first date with someone you don’t feel like kissing at the end of the night - it’s a little awkward and uncomfortable. And even though you manage to become friends with them, deep down, you don’t feel very happy. You just hang out with them for the sake of going out, for that you can feel like you have an exciting social life. However, you’d rather just be home curled up in your PJs and watch your favorite TV shows. You feel much happier….but you feel a little bit like a loser with no social life.

Yup, I’ve been in that kind of situation several times. Sometimes it’s because you tag along someone and you don’t particularly get along with their friends. Sometimes it’s your work mates, so you have to try very hard to get along with them. Sometimes it’s the people you meet and go on dates with. Things just don’t flow naturally. The conversation doesn’t flow - you have to THINK ABOUT what you should talk to that person about.

One day I got tired of this process. I decided that I was not going to go to any work drinks I don’t particularly enjoy anymore. I was not going to try to make friends with people whom I have to THINK ABOUT what to talk about. Weirdly enough, by stopping putting up with this and trying too hard with people, I started to attract people who are similar to me. All of a sudden I started to be surrounded by people are similar to me, share the same world view, and have similar interests. The conversation just flows. There’s no hard work required. Work drinks just seem to go on forever until late hours without me trying to find an excuse to leave.


So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self:

Don’t worry if you feel like it’s hard to make new friends. Don’t worry if you feel like you haven’t met anyone who’s like you and you feel absolutely happy to be around. Just be yourself and be as open as you can. Never stop going to events or attend Meet Ups of your interests and do your thing. The people who are compatible with you will find their ways to you. They will instantly be attracted to you as much as you are attracted to them. The conversation will flow. Both of you will feel like there’s no hard work.  It might take a while until you find those people - new best friends and a mate for life - but when you do, you will know it. It’s not hard work. So, just do your thing and be yourself.



7. Take of leap of faith in yourself

It can be scary to feel like we have nothing else and no one else to rely on but ourselves. But if you have a dream, whatever that may be, you cannot rely on someone else but yourself to make that come true. The bigger our dreams are, the scarier it seems to take a leap of faith in ourselves and jump. If you have never achieved anything in your life, it can be very hard to take a big jump. However, starting from small steps, you will slowly gain self-confidence and self-esteem. And one day, you will be ready to take a big jump.

For me, it started from applying for smaller competitions. However, the first big jump I had to make was the move to Australia on my own. It was scary. I didn’t know anyone. However, with my independent nature, I did not have a hard time moving somewhere on my own. The bigger jump I had to make was in convincing myself that I could achieve anything I wanted to achieve. I decided to be a club promoter. As a foreigner, that was almost the most foolish idea. I didn’t know anyone - how would I get people to go through the door so I could get paid for it? That was the first leap of faith I took in myself, in taking initiative and making things happen. I just took that challenge up and found a way to make myself become well-known in the area at the time. That success led me to transition into Australia smoothly. My life became extremely exciting for a few years. Most importantly. it’s the first step I took where I took a leap of faith in myself and I made it. I then know if I want something to happen, I have no one else to count on but me - I have to believe in me and trust in my own ability to make it come true.

The second jump I made was to become a writer. For anyone who has always wanted to write “publicly” but has only just started or still hasn’t started yet, you know how hard it is to actually start your first official blog post where you pour your heart and brain out without the fear of being judged. That’s right, we are all scared of being judged and that’s the fear most artists face. I always dreamed of becoming a writer. As a child, I used to write a novel and passed it around to my classmates to read. I used to write stories and submit them to comic books. As I got older, I got busier with school and didn’t have time to write novels or poetry anymore. However, I still enjoyed writing essays - I really did. And only just about two years ago when I first started writing my own content without sharing other people’s quotes, I dreamed of one day becoming a writer with articles published on big publications. To be honest, I didn’t think I would make it. But somehow when I have a goal in mind, I like to strategically think about how I can reach that goal. So when I decided to become a writer, I spent time crafting my writing skill. I looked up how I could have my articles published on big publications and took another leap of faith in myself again. What else did I have to lose? I could only just try again and again until I succeeded.

The third jump was when I decided to invest money in my current business, The Happiness Planner. I have always loved stationery, design, and branding, but somehow I was never sure how I was going to make my dreams come true. My blog has given birth to the idea of The Happiness Planner. I knew there was something missing in the market and I was sure there was a demand for it. I started doing some research, designed the pages, and took a leap of faith in myself by investing in it. After achieving smaller milestones in my life, I now believe that I can achieve anything I set my mind to and give it all I’ve got. The sale has been great so far and I’m even more excited about how I can expand the product line and inspire more people with this beautiful unique stationery line that focuses on self-development.

So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self:

Take a leap of faith in yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain. If you fail, you’ll become smarter, If you succeed, you’ll gain even more self-confidence and the emotional and financial rewards. You’ll never know the limit of how much you can achieve until you take a leap of faith in yourself and try. Keep your focus right. Invest in yourself. Accelerate your learning curve. See life as a progressive journey. And you’ll most certainly always achieve anything you set your mind to. 

COMFORT IS AN ILLUSION.

We all love comfort. Wealth gives us comfort. We work hard for a comfortable life - whether it’s for ourselves or for those we love.

But comfort is actually an illusion - an illusion that we shouldn’t be sucked into; an illusion that we should not become slaves of.

A girl friend of mine who is also a mother of a one-year-old boy said on her Facebook status,

If you love your kids, don’t raise them to become slaves of comfort.

Kids these days don’t understand why we have to struggle in life, why we have to live really simply, why we don’t consume the finest things in life we could afford and have as much fun as we possibly can.

It is because…
comfort makes us weak.
comfort makes us reckless.
comfort ropes us into becoming its slaves.

Once we’ve become slaves of comfort, we become unhappy when life starts to struggle; we become prone to unhappiness and misery which make us become resistant to happiness.

When we are slaves of comfort, we never know when enough comfort is enough. We keep wanting more. We keep seeking for more. We never feel satisfied.

But if we train our mind to be conscious of this - knowing when enough is enough and when we should stop demanding more comfort out of life - then we will be able to handle anything life throws at us. We become prone to happiness and be resistant to misery.


Don’t lose yourself to the world of comfort.

At one point in my life I was extremely broke. I had to face the harsh truth of life - what it’s like to struggle to pay rent and bills.

Two thoughts came to my mind;

  1. I could borrow some money from my parents and friends.
  2. I could give this struggling life a go.

I picked the latter as I wanted to test if I could really survive.

It was tough - real tough for about half a year. However, I really enjoyed the process because it made me realize that I am actually capable of living uncomfortably. My mind got stronger.

From that point on I lost my fear of failure because the fear of failure is actually the fear of having to live an uncomfortable life. But I survived. I was fine. I now have no fear because I know that no matter what happens in life, I will find a way to survive. Moreover, the uncomfortable period of my life actually enabled me to search for happiness from within, rather than from external sources.

I liked the new mentality I adopted so much that I aimed to push myself into the habit of living with less - no shopping, no taxi’s (only public transport and walking), mostly eating in and staying in. Because I had to be as stingy as possible with my money, I started to find “free things” to do - things that I could enjoy without having to spend any cent. I started to read more, write more, go to the park and the beach more often and just enjoy the nature, and go to Entrepreneur Meetups to meet new people instead of going out partying.

As a result, I become happier from within. I don’t need external factors to make me happy. Reading makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. Catching up with close friends and family makes me happy. Cooking makes me happy. Walking through the park makes me happy. People watching makes me happy. I don’t need a lot of comfort to make me happy.

Sometimes the uncomfortable things in life are there to teach us lessons because to go through a change of habit, we need to feel uncomfortable. 

- Mo Seetubtim

Give it a try if you can.
Learn to live with less.
Become comfortable with living uncomfortably.
Then you’ll realize that there’s more to life than finding comfort.
Because after all, comfort is just an illusion.


<Photo source : unknown via Pinterest>

6 Little Reminders to Help You Get Through Life’s Challenges

Don’t let your busy life get in the way of your happiness 

Life is full of ups and downs. Even though we try to stay positive and happy, sometimes we just can’t help but feel a little down. Things don’t always go as planned. Disappointments, rejections, hurt, worries, illnesses, jealousy, annoyance - all of these things can occur to make us feel very uncomfortable in our own mind. We know it’s not good to feel this way but somehow it’s hard to stop thinking about it. We internalize our thought about a certain thing that annoys us or hurts us because it gives us comfort. However, by internalizing that thought in our head, thinking about it over and over, we reinforce the negative feeling we have and fill ourselves up with negative energy.

Here are the 6 tips of what you can do to get yourself out of the habit of internalizing negative thought patterns. So that you can easily let go off negative thoughts whenever they hit you and feel happy again. 


1. When you find yourself over-thinking about something, take your mind off it  with “meditation”.

It’s hard to switch from a negative thought to a positive thought right away. So instead of trying to do that, use “meditation” to help you transition. Because when you meditate you need to have a clear mind - you should not think about anything but just focus on your breathing. Meditation sets your mind and your brain to default - to a blank state. Doing this for 10 minutes your head will be clear and you will feel relaxed - ready to start thinking about something that gives you joy again. 


2. When you face a struggle in life, instead of feeling you’re unfortunate or life is not fair, see it as an opportunity to learn and to grow your mental strength.

Because without a struggle, you wouldn’t get to grow your mental strength. It’s a blessing in disguise. When you start thinking life is unfair, you’d then have a tendency to circle that thought in your head - telling yourself so over and over which is only going to make you feel worse. Instead of wasting time feeling sad and sorry for yourself, accept the situation and see this as a challenge for yourself. Forget about the future. Just focus on your next step. Then your next step. Inch by inch. Eventually you claw your way out. 

When the worst happens, you can’t worry about the rest of your life. You can’t even be worrying about the rest of the month. But you can usually handle one day at a time. And whenever 24 hours is too tough, bite off five minutes at a time. Tackle one problem at a time. Take a step. You get a little confidence… take another step, and another. Eventually you find that the worst is over.  

- Andrew Matthew, author of Happiness in Hard Times


3. When you feel stressed because you feel overwhelmed with work and things you have to do, make a clear to-do list and tick them off one by one. 

Even just by writing down the to-do list, you feel much more relieved and organized already. The next step is to follow through. Focus on one task at a time. Complete it one by one. By doing it this way, you’ll feel less stressed and get more things done. 

 

4. When you feel grumpy and negative because the people around you are negative, start treating yourself as a priority and step away from those people.

If they’re family, try helping them in a subtle way if you can. If they’re friends, spend less time with the negative ones and hang out more with the positive ones. Your time, energy, and feelings are precious. So don’t let anyone think they have the right to destroy your good mood, positivity, and happy vibes with their negativity. 


5. When you feel tired from work, try to focus on the simple joy in life. 

Focus on the little things you can do that make you feel relaxed and happy. Stop thinking about work and how stressful work is. Focus on the little beautiful things that you get to enjoy - like spending time with your kids, drinking your favorite tea while reading your favorite book, watching your favorite tv show, or having dinner with your lovely husband.


6. When you’re sick, don’t see yourself as unfortunate. Instead, feel thankful for being alive.

You should feel happy that at least you’re sick - you’re not dead or suffering from a more chronic or more serious illness. There are many more people who have worse conditions than you. You are very lucky that you are recovering and that you will be well soon. Take this opportunity to think about who you feel thankful for in life, the things you’d like to do before you die, and make plans to achieve those things so you won’t have any regret when your time actually comes. 

____________________________________

The Happiness Planner is a planner designed to help you plan your life around things that truly make you happy. With The Happiness Planner as your sidekick, you can use it as a daily reminder to always put yourself into a positive frame of mind, to be mindful, and to always set exciting goals for the better you. 

HOW TO FOCUS WHEN THERE SEEMS TO BE A MILLION THINGS ON YOUR PLATE

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the work that you’ve got to do?

There seems to be a million different things that need to be done. We feel overwhelmed and out of control because we don’t know where to start. Should I start with project A? What about project B and C that need to be done as well? 

We all know that focus is incredibly important to productivity. But it’s almost impossible to be working on just one thing and one task in a given month or week or even just day.

From being a student to a professional working in the corporate world or a freelancer, you will find that there’s no difference in juggling tasks. Some of us are better than others. Some suffer from it even more as scatterbrains.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the past twenty years in how to reshape my focus when working on several things at once. 

(This trick has helped me successfully lose 20 kg (44 pounds) in 5 months, scored A’s in exams, and won several competitions.)


1. Create a to-do list

Create a list of everything that you need to do - both major and minor tasks - and the time required to finish each task.  

Type or write it all down on a Google Doc, on your phone’s Note app, on a white board, or on a notepad. 


2. Prioritize tasks

After writing it all down, you might feel a little less overwhelmed as you feel more in control of what needs to get done.

Now you need to reassess what to focus on - where to pay most attention to and pour your energy towards. 

This can be complicated when you feel like everything requires the same amount of attention and energy, everything needs to be done at the same time - and then you just panic. 

Use this matrix below to help you prioritise tasks.

Urgency:

  • What is the deadline for each task?
  • Which one needs to be finished first? 

Importance:

  • How important is the task? What would happen if the task is not done in time?
  • What is the effect that the task will have on the other or consequential tasks?
  • Is there any other thing that relies on this task to be done first? Is it absolutely crucial for you to do because otherwise the other tasks can’t be done?  
  • If the task is left unfinished, uncompleted, incomplete, or done poorly, how is it going to affect you and what’s the cost of that? 
  • What is the opportunity cost? If you spend your time on A and not B, what will it cost you? What will you miss out on? 
  • Can you assign someone else to do the task for you? 

After evaluating all the tasks based on these factors, you will know what to prioritise - what task you should do first, what you should do right after, what you should reschedule, what you should delegate, and what you may cut out completely if possible.  


3. Schedule and allocate time for each task

This is what I did best when I was a student. Because I was able to effectively and efficiently allocate time, I finished all my studies and did really well in the exams. My close friends even relied on me to help with scheduling. So why not bring this childhood trick and skill into adulthood right? 

Grab a calendar, either on your phone or a notepad, and start allocating time throughout the day. I plan my schedule week by week. Sometimes two weeks at a time. I normally do this on Sunday so I can fully focus and get right into it from Monday through to Friday. 

This is what my calendar normally looks like. 

8 - 9 : Write a blog post

9 - 10 : Meeting with Mr. B

10 - 12 : Work on Task A 

12 - 1 : Lunch break

1 - 3 : Work on Task E

3 - 4 : Gym

4 - 6 : Work on Task D 

6 - 6.30 : Finalise and send off Task D to client

Make sure you stick to your schedule.

If you’ve spent too much time on one task or got distracted at one point and it affects the rest of your schedule and plan, re-schedule and move everything back a few hours as required. 

There’s no need to stress. Just go to bed late for a couple of nights and you’ll catch up on work. 


4. Get in the zone

  • Disconnect and go offline

When working on a task that doesn’t require an internet connection, go offline. Social media, email pop-ups, and SMS can distract you more than you may think. You eyes will keep wandering off every ten minutes. Pretty photos, interesting articles, text messages from your partner, emails from unhappy clients - all these can affect your mood and emotions which affect your ability to focus. 

  • Find your sanctuary

If you don’t have a fixed desk at an office, find a cafe or a place where you can go to for a few hours and really focus without any distraction or interruption - if could be a cafe, a library, or a corner in your house. 

  • Block out noise

Some people can work with music in the background. But for me it’s best to be in a quiet place where I don’t hear the lyrics repeating itself in my head or overhear the conversation of the people sitting in the vicinity. I use noise-cancelling in-ear headphones to block out noise and distraction. Even in a library, sometimes people talk and it’s very annoying and distracting!


5. Optimize your time

There are a lot of inevitable activities that waste your time in your daily life - from commuting, to running errands, and everyday routines. 

Time is a limited resource so I try to optimise my time as much as possible and make use of the inevitable wasted time. 

  • Commute time:

We have to commute - everyday - either by bus, train, or foot. I find commute time to be one of the best to focus because no one is trying to talk to me and I can’t do anything else but to do some work.

Use the morning commute time to read the news or websites related to your industry for inspiration and knowledge. 

Smart phones and light laptops now make it easy for us to do work on the go. I always find myself reading work-related stuff while waiting for the train or the bus, getting my laptop out to do work when on a 30-minute train ride, and writing things down while power walking home from work. 

  • Waiting time: 

Waiting time is annoying but inevitable  - from waiting for the bus or the train, to waiting for coffee or food, waiting for a friend or a colleague who’s late, being stuck in traffic, and queueing at the bank or the post office. It is usually short (5-15 minutes) and not long enough to let you do work that requires a lot of focus and a long thinking process. 

I use this period to do a little brainstorming or research. Just take out my phone and reply some emails and do some reading and browsing - whether it be on websites, Flipboard, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook. Sometimes I use this period to reschedule or plan my day/week and think about the little things that I need to do - the little tasks I need to add to my to-do list and my calendar, the things I need to buy, and people I need to call or email.

Believe it or not but I usually find that my best creative work gets inspired on the spur of the moment during my commuting or waiting time. 


6. Keep track of each task

Once you’ve allocated time for each task, make sure you stick to it and that each task is on schedule. If one is left undone, re-arrange your schedule again and make sure you catch up on it as soon as possible to avoid procrastination or postponing. 


7. Reap a habit

Finally, it might sound quite easy to do but incredibly hard to follow through. Starting a new habit is hard but repeatedly you will reap a habit. Over and over you will be able to prioritise your tasks, focus, and maximise your productivity without feeling confused, burnt out, or tortured. 

The mind has a memory and it subconsciously recognises patterns. Only if you understand the trick to manipulate your own mind, you’ll realise that it’s not hard to do or achieve anything that you set your mind to. 

Whatever it is you’re trying to change - a habit, a mindset, or an attitude - take it one day at a time. Focus on making each day a great day. Over and over, you will have a great life.

5 FACTS ABOUT LIFE I'VE REALIZED THIS YEAR

This year has been one of the most nomadic and itinerate years of my life. I was constantly on the road - from Sydney to Melbourne, Bangkok, Ho Chi Mihn city, Hobart, Singapore, Brisbane, and back in Sydney again. Although it has been one little loop around this side of the world, it has given more some perspective about life - mostly on living simply, having less, and doing more. 

There have been some major changes in my life - both in terms of self-development as well as changes that happen in the lives of those close to me. Below are the facts I’ve realized about life and I’d like to share them with you.

1. Life is about trial and error.

When you’re a teenager, you feel like searching for who you are is the key psychological change that’s going on in your life. You seek to establish your identity and find out what you like and dislike doing. You think that as you get older you will be more sure about who you are, what you do, and what you should do. But as you get older, you realize that you’re still trying and not feeling certain about the outcome of what you do. You change jobs. You move countries. Your relationships fall apart only to start blossoming again with someone new. You give something a go, you try your best, it may fail, and you move on.

Everyone is trying to figure out their sh*t just like you. Even ones that seem most assured are as confused, dazed, and unsure deep down inside as you are. They just pretend that everything is okay. Some people feel ashamed of displaying their feeling of uncertainty, thinking that it’s showing vulnerabilities and a sign of weakness. Some people are open about their trial-and-error path, believing that it leads them to finding themselves more and more as they go.

Whatever your path might be like, you realize that as you get older, you still have to keep figuring things out and don’t really know where you’re actually going. You might think “No, this is bullshit. I know exactly what I want to do and what I’m doing.” But no, deep down you still feel uncertain and unsure - you just suppress the feeling.You may have thought that as you get older, you will become more assured and know exactly what you’re doing, but it doesn’t seem that way. Your parents who you thought were the most assured when you’re growing up are probably as confused as you are. They’re still figuring out what to do with their retirements and when they should retire. They get more and more scared of illnesses that are creeping up to them. Some are also looking for new love to replace the old one that has died and are probably more confused than you are about relationships, love, and life.

When you realize that life is trial and error and that it will continue to be that way, you feel more acceptant of life and circumstances that life throws at you. No matter what comes into your life, it will go. No matter what you decide to do, it will either make your heart grow fonder or languish - you live and learn. No matter what risk you take, you will be okay.

Instead of trying to feel certain about life, you learn to embrace uncertainty. Because once you do, you will feel the most certain about yourself and life. After all, that is the only constant in life.

So take risks…. because it’s not a big deal if you fail. It’s just another error. You can try again.

2. Life has its own flow.

Have you heard of the saying that timing is everything? Well, that’s what I’m talking about here. As you get older, you realize that you can’t force time. Life has a way of unfolding at its own pace. Life has its own natural rhythms.

Every little thing in life is building you up for something bigger. Those achievements you had at school built your self-confidence and self-esteem. The junior roles you had when you first graduated prepared you for the bigger roles even though you felt like you were doing minor tasks most of the time. Those people you dated led you to knowing more about yourself, what you want and don’t want, and what you’re compatible with.

Life has its own pace. You can have it all but not all at once. And if you don’t keep your focus right, you might not achieve anything.

3. Life has its own energy.

Everyone wants to be happy. In the path to happiness, you seek to understand who you are, where you stand, what your nature is, and what your interests and passions are. When you get to do what comes naturally to you - whether it be handy tasks, creative hobbies, or adventurous activities - you feel most alive.

Unfortunately, many people don’t allow themselves to flow with life. They fight life. These people may be working hard towards some goal - maybe academic or professional success. They put aside their flowing, their natural love, and their passions in life in order to reach this goal. They haven’t let life run at its own pace and fuelled by its own energy. As a result, they feel stressed, tired, worn out, and drained which leads them to find something that could help bring them back to a normal state of energy. Some rely on sports, meditation, yoga, and a moderate amount of alcohol consumption. Some have lost their souls to overindulgence in alcohol, gambling, cigarettes, and drugs.

Life has its own energy and when the energy flow is blocked or abused, you feel stressed and lost - you feel like you need control. Turning to bad influences for emotional uplifts, you feel like you’re in control once again - that you can control how you feel. However, regardless of how good the emotional assistance makes you feel, relying your emotions and energy on them only leads you to losing control of yourself and your life even more.

4. Life gets easier when you can manage your emotions better.

In the early years of your life as an adult, you might feel like you’re still finding your feet and that life will get easier as you get older. However, as you get older you realize that life doesn’t get easier. In fact, what gets easier is managing your own emotions as your mental strength develops. 

My Dad always said to me …

Everyone was born with the ability to become successful. But on the path to that, the obstacles and challenges everyone has to face are their own emotions. The ability to manage one’s emotions and develop self-discipline is what determines whether they will be successful.

On another note, if you have signed up to my mailing list, you would have gotten a prompt email asking you for topic suggestions. I have received quite a few responses and most of them are related to how to deal with stress and negative emotions and thoughts.

Life gets easier when you become more positive and more resilient - when you know how to bounce back from setbacks in life, combat negative thoughts, stay calm in irritating situations, and let go of bad people whom you may have loved.

Being self-disciplined is not easy. It requires a lot of self-control. However, I believe that when you live life in flow - when you do the things you love and are naturally good at and move at your own natural pace - you don’t feel like you need to heavily rely on something that can instantly fix your energy. You just flow. You feel energized. You feel passionate - and in this case, you work hard towards your goal because your passion intrinsically motivates you. You feel happy.

5. Life’s end goal is not to find happiness.

The goal in life is not to search for happiness. In fact, all you have to do is to stop trying to find happiness and just be happy. When you feel like the current state is not good enough, you’re not happy enough, you start looking else where. This is when the search for happiness keeps going on forever and you wonder why you never feel happy.

It all starts with acceptance - the acceptance of self, of circumstances, and of situations.

Life will never be perfect. But life seems perfect when you’ve accepted that life is not perfect. Happiness comes when you accept the imperfection, the flaws, the ups and downs, and enjoy the moments in life. Realize that everything is fleeting - the good thing will pass, the bad thing will pass - just accept life as it is. Adjust and adapt yourself to situations as much as you can - if you’re tight on money this month, then spend less; if you hate your job, then quit or plan to quit; if your partner is abusive, then break up with him/her; if you’re prone to sickness, then start exercising and eat well. 

Life is not meant to be perfect, nor is it meant to be easy.

Life is a game. You are the player. And the players pride themselves in their ability to beat challenges.

You may not realize this but we seem to constantly find challenges for ourselves to get through - whether it be getting to the top of our career, buying a car, owning a house, moving to another country, having a kid and then another kid, starting our own business, investing in businesses, learning another language, or doing triathlon. 

Life has its own flow. Find your natural self. Do what you’re good at. And let life take its course. 

Personal Branding - The Secrets to Managing the Brand called YOU!

Branding is the mechanic behind why you buy the brands you love. 

Regardless of age, position, and the business we’re in, we need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me co.

To be in business today, we are the Head of Marketing of the brand called You. 



How can you become like your favourite brand? - be it Apple, Virgin, Nike, Audi, Coca-Cola, Hugo Boss, Rolex, Converse, Chanel, etc.


1. Start by asking yourself the same question the brand managers at Apple, Nike, or Audi ask themselves

  • What is it that my product or service does that makes it different?
  • What are the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues?
  • What is the “feature-benefit model” that the brand called You offers?
  • What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value?
  • What do I do that I am most proud of?
  • What have I accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about?
  • What do I want to be famous for?

2. Increase the visibility of your brand

If you’re McDonald’s, Cadbury, or Lays that usually means a full flight of TV and print ads designed to get billions of “impressions” of your brand in front of the consumers. If you’re brand You, you’ve got the same need for visibility — but no budget to buy it.

 So how do you market brand You?

 There’s literally no limit to the ways you can go about enhancing your profile.

  • Sign up for an extra project inside your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills — or work on new ones.
  • Take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people.


  • Try teaching other people. You get credit for being an expert, you increase your standing as a professional, and you increase the likelihood that people will come back to you with more requests and more opportunities to stand out from the crowd.
  • If you’re good at writing, blog and contribute a column or an opinion piece to a publisher in your field. Create a slideshare. Tweet. Once you get started, you’ve got a track record that you can use to snatch more chances.
  • If you’re good at talking, try to get yourself on a panel discussion at a conference or sign up to make a presentation at a workshop.
  • Create your own channels! There are several channels you can broadcast your expertise for free; Tumblr, Wordpress, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on.

3. Maintain consistent communication messages

When you’re promoting brand You, everything you do and everything you choose not to do communicates the value and character of the brand –What you have to say and how well you get it said. Your business cards also matter. Is the design of your card and logo YOU and demonstrating who you are?




4. Use your own power. Create influence and reputational power.

One of the things that attracts us to certain brands is the power they project. As a consumer, you want to associate with brands whose powerful presence creates a halo effect that rubs off on you.

Remember that power is largely a matter of perception.

If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you’re thinking like brand You, you’re leading You!


5. Increase your brand’s value

Think like big brands do. Imagine yourself a brand manager of Apple: When you look at your brand’s assets, what can you add to boost your power and felt presence?

  • Would you be better off with a simple line extension — taking on a project that adds incrementally to your existing base of skills and accomplishments?
  • Would you be better off with a whole new product line?
  • Is it time to move overseas for a couple of years, venturing outside your comfort zone, tackling something new and completely different?

6. Regularly check up on your brand value and brand perception

Instead of making yourself a slave to the concept of a career ladder, reinvent yourself on a semiregular basis. Start by writing your own mission statement, to guide you as CEO of Me co.

  • What turns you on? Learning something new? Gaining recognition for your skills as X? Shepherding new ideas from concept to market?
  • What’s your personal definition of success? Money? Power? Fame? Or doing what you love?

Search relentlessly for job or project opportunities that fit your mission statement.

Review that mission statement every six months to make sure you still believe what you wrote.




Remember that YOU are a BRAND. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today.

Some people live in the moment. Some people live in the past. But what is most exciting is when what we do today, at this moment, is planting seeds to create a beautiful botanical garden…when each brick we’re laying is to build something that could potentially become Rome. To me, this is what makes life worth living for.