A different twist to the spirit of giving this Christmas

An essential ingredient for experiencing Joy in life is having meaningful goals that stretch the self and benefit others at the same time. A life that is purely self-centered is claustrophobic and meaningless.

This brings to mind an old saying that it is better to give than to receive. When we help others, we realize two things: 1) we are very privileged and blessed to be in a position to help 2) helping gives us a big boost of happiness and purpose.

As Christmas is round the corner, consider helping someone this festive season to become happier. Quietly observe a need that they have or find out in an indirect way (this way, you can surprise them. Surprises give a big boost of happiness). To make it even more special, avoid just buying them something–that’s too easy and constitutes a capitulation to consumerism. We don’t need to fatten those merchants whose bank accounts are already bursting. Besides, most of us don’t need more possessions.

Instead, think of something personal that you can do for that person. Sure, it may involve having to…

Annual Review & Anticipating 2016

What comes to mind when the word annual review is mentioned? Chances are it has to do with work evaluation by our manager. This exercise isn’t always the most pleasant and many people, myself included, dread this exercise especially when the year has been fraught with many ups and downs. We start thinking of ways to boost our strengths and play down the mistakes that we made so that we may have a fighting chance to emerge with at a hopeful exceeding expectation assessment and clinch that coveted pay raise or promotion.

So you might be asking what has something so dreadful to do with Joy? The answer is coming right up. Let me set the background first.

Life has meaning and Joy when we have stretch or big goals that help others while improving all aspects of our lives.  Goals gives us something to work towards. It focuses our lives and allows us to derive a sense of satisfaction and Joy when we successfully achieve them. Without goals, we drift along in life and…

The Happiness Project & The Happiness of Pursuit

Lately, I’ve been on a happiness reading spree. I completed The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau within a span of 3 days and am now reading Matthew Ricard’s Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill.

Both books explore the topic of happiness and provide concrete suggestions concerning how to bring about more happiness in our lives. They make for light, enjoyable reading and quite eye-opening as well.

Happiness is a goal that most of us strive for once our basic needs have been satisfied. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I would dare say the pursuit of happiness is akin to self-actualization (the pinnacle of the hierarchy). Maslow has his fans and critics and his model has been modified, expanded or even repudiated by some. But for our purpose and according to general wisdom, there is some validity in his model. We can see a general trend in richer countries where people who have their basic needs met tend to look for ways to extract more from life–hence the popularity of…

The Power of Your Calendar (Part 2)

In the previous post, we explored the power of being focused and how our office calendars can help us carve out blocks of time for highly productive focused work. Today, we take the calendar out of the office into our personal lives and consider how it can empower us to lead more intentional and fulfilled lives.

Our lives consist of how we choose to spend the brief amount of time allocated to us. The outcome is important, but I would like to suggest that the process or the journey is just as, if not more important. After all life is the longest ride we are on and we should make it as joyful and meaningful as possible.

However, for this journey to be joyful, impactful and meaningful, we need to very intentional about it. Too often we passively allow the demand of our days and others to dictate how we live. The result is that we feel restless, tired and unfulfilled.

The solution is to carve out an hour and find a place where you can be alone with your calendar and…

The power of your calendar

Time is the currency of our lives. How we invest our time determines the quality of our returns. If we invest in intentional living that is personally meaningful, we will derive Joy. In this blog post, we will look at whether multi-tasking actually increases productivity and consider 2 powerful tips to increase productivity.

As the technology becomes faster, the pace of our lives also picks up. We squeeze more activities into our waking moments. To achieve this, we resort to multi-tasking and sacrificing sleep. From the surface it appears that we are productive and high achievers, but there is a catch.

When we multi-task, we are actually lowering our effectiveness by diluting our focus and capacity to respond. The truth is that in most cases (e.g. talking on a phone while answering an e-mail) we are not really doing multiple tasks simultaneously, but rather switching between them rapidly. Psychologists term it task switching. True multi-tasking happens (e.g. playing the piano and singing), but at least one of the tasks needs to be so practised as…


About 3 years ago, I was formally diagnosed with mental illness after battling on my own for nearly 5 years. Where I come from, any form of psychiatric condition is highly stigmatized and deeply misunderstood. This was why I kept my troubling symptoms under wraps for so many years till I gave way in my senior college year.

Since seeking medical help I’ve been prescribed almost every possible drug in my doctor’s arsenal but nothing alleviated my woes. I experienced side effects of varying severity, some purely irritating like massive weight gain and others more troubling like splitting headaches and dullness of mind. Life which was already very difficult became a living nightmare. I echoed the words of the Psalmist that “darkness is my only companion”. I felt the force of Blake’s poetry that I was “born to endless night”.

I was in a major crisis with the odds stacked against me. Grace alone has preserved and kept me at the edge of sanity. For that I am grateful—thankful for a second lease of life though it will be fraught with…