Forest fires raging in Indonesia,
Smog, haze sweeping over Singapore.
The clear, clean blue sky that Singapore is famous for, is replaced by dirty, hazy and grey smog.
Everywhere you go, everyone is wearing surgical masks or respirators.
This is the setting that has been shrouding Singapore for the past 1 week.
The mood of Singaporeans has also become as grey as the weather.
Singaporeans are complaining about the quality of the air, or blaming the Indonesia for the situation.
Yet its under such a unclear and blurry setting that I found myself feeling awesome and wonderful!
“Shaun, are you crazy, you are actually enjoying this!”
No I don’t enjoy the smog, nor do I love to see people suffer.
Its just that I have learnt a lot of lessons and I will like to share them on “Live! With Fear”.
The first lesson is to be “present”.
Have you ever been at work physically, but your heart is somewhere else?
That used to happen to me, and it was quite a pain. Time crawled by painfully. Every single piece of work felt like a chore. There were only 2 things that I looked forward to: Lunch break, and knocking off time. Everyday at work was a torture.
Fast forward to present times: Things changed.
Nope, my job hasn’t changed. But what changed was my approach: I started having a daily “Just Do it” task.This task is one which is important but which I don’t do either because its difficult to do, because I find it “troublesome” or simply because I don’t like it.
I used to see such tasks as a chore but now I see it as a challenge.
For example, last week I had to update my company’s finance manual. To do so required me to first re-learn a software which I had only used once previously. On top of that I had to write and send out a circular which captures the essence of the update to the users.
Once I started on my “Just Do It” task, time flew by. At the end of 6 hours, I finally finished the update.
I was totally present, totally engaged, and the sense of satisfaction is immense. I had stretched my comfort zone (i.e. re-learning the software), and completed a difficult task.
What I learnt is that setting a “Just Do it” task to do everyday, increases my focus and presence, and it brings me much satisfaction when I finish the task.
The second lesson that I want to share is “Positivity begets positivity, negativity begets negativity.”
As I mentioned earlier, the mood surrounding Singapore is as gloomy as the smog casting over the Singapore sky.
Even with the smog around I was feeling great as I was present, but when I checked in on Facebook, I saw the rantings made by my friends on the haze. I started feeling cranky.
Have you found yourselves feeling negative because of the negative things people say?
I understand that its frustrating given the situation But I caught myself, I told myself if I focus only on the haze and the smog, I will see nothing but the smog and the haze. I stopped looking at the negative postings and instead started reading the positive messages that are shared on Facebook. It helped! I felt positive again.
I was tested at home too. One day my father suddenly lashed out at me, I was angered, I walked over intending to give him a piece of my mind. But bearing in the mind that negativity begets negativity, and that if I were to tell him off, that will only escalate into Word War X. (Not a typo error, as the war is expected to be that of words, and “X” represents the ….er hem…. descriptive words). Instead I gave him a hug, telling him that its going to be alright. He calmed down visibly. Yes, positivity begets positivity.
This is what I I learnt from this experience: if I focus on happy things, I will be happy, if I focus on the unhappy things, I will be unhappy.
The third set of lessons I learnt was that of not take things personally, and to celebrate myself and others. Yesterday, I was out with a group of friends. One of my friends (I shall call him John) commented that my club contest speech was not as good as another of my friend who was there (I shall call him Peter).
How would you feel if such a comment was given in a company of friends?
My heart was crushed. Even though I was the contestant who advanced to the next level of the contest, that statement threatened to take the victory away from me. At that moment I acknowledged the pain but I asked myself: “Do you want to stay crushed and allow your victory to be taken, or do you want to be happy?” I told myself: “I want to be happy and keep my victory.”
This is what I got from this experience: “I will be much happier if I stop taking things personally.” John’s opinion is his truth, not mine. My truth is as important if not more important. Even if the whole world don’t appreciate my speech, I appreciate my own speech. Encouragement and appreciation comes from within, not from outside. Furthermore, my speech was appreciated by the judges otherwise I would not have gotten first runner up. I celebrated myself silently at that point.
We moved on to another topic, we talked about how to deliver a good speech, Peter shared his speech template. I didn’t think much at that point in time. However while I was in reflecting on the events of the previous day, I thought that the template was awesome, and that the creator, Peter was even more awesome. I sent Peter a text this morning, thanking him for the tip. I had an “Aha” moment after I sent the text: When I celebrate an individual and his/her gifts, the gifts and the strength which I am celebrating becomes a part of me. Just as how I have internalized the template which Peter has shared.
Hence the lesson I learnt from this encounter was not to take things personally and to celebrate myself and others.
As I look out of the window, its clear! I hope it stays clear but regardless as to whether it stays the same, I am happy and grateful for the lessons I have gained this weird, and wonderful week. They are:
1) Be Present
2) Positivity begets positivity, negativity begets negativity
3) Don’t take things personally, and to celebrate myself and others.
Have a fantastic week ahead!
Your fellow human being:)