0224 – The Happiness Revolution

This is it. This marks the beginning. The beginning of my happiness revolution.

All my life, I’ve tried so hard to contend with the challenges and emotions that I have been thrown at me. I’ve blamed my suffering on my karma baggage. I’ve blamed my depression on the unfairness of life. I’ve thought I suck for not knowing what exactly what I want to do in life, and for not being able to suppress my anxieties and concerns.

I will no more.

I’m devoting my life to the pursuit of happiness, and this means happiness before ‘success’. What is success anyway?

My Facebook status from yesterday:

Dear society,

For decades, I’ve been subjected to your control; letting you choose what I will do with my life, letting you tell me what success means, letting you turn every damn thing into some sort of competition, letting you make me feel like a failure. You know what. From now, I refuse to be controlled. I refuse to let you choose my path. I will control my own life, and I will not let you ruin my happiness.

So, to me, society is a bitch. It controls us, consumes us, leads us to fight and vie for our individual successes. As Tal Ben Shahar said in his book Happier, success of one becomes a failure of another. So we get egocentric and maliciously competitive at times, leading to an unhealthy society, who is amid the ‘Great Depression’; the extreme lack of happiness, that is. Happier points out to the fact that half of the college students said in a survey that they were so depressed they had difficulty functioning. That is not good, isn’t it? College is supposed to be the best time of your life, right? What are we doing wrong here?

We’re giving in to the society. Society defines success as getting the good grades, winning the most competitive awards, getting the highest paying, prestigious job and becoming wealthy. Is that success? Moreover, somehow, people with jobs related to the hard sciences are deemed smarter and better than people with jobs in anything else. Am I right, society?

Well, brace yourself, for I am going to stand up to you now.

For the longest time, I was subservient to you. I yearned for good grades in school because you like that. I have it. I yearned for a scholarship because you like that. I have it. I yearned to get into a good college because you like that. I am in one. I yearned to get a good internship because you like that. I don’t have it. I yearned to do more than engineering and be the leader of everything because you like that. I can’t. Everything – I mean, everything – was about you. Now it’s about me.

I’m asking the question of all questions now: How can I get lasting happiness?

I’m not listening to you anymore. I will do what I want to be happy. I will pursue my passions. I will do what I believe is meaningful in life. I am proud of myself for this.

And to my friends out there:

If you’re happy now and you think you’ll be happy in the future, good for you. If not, here’s what I have to say (adapted mainly from Happier): What are your goals in life right now? Why do you want that? Why? Why? Why? Keep asking yourself the series of why, and I believe in the end the answer is ‘Because I want to be happy.’ You will realize that happiness is, and should be, the ultimate goal. Yet, the path you’re taken now may be so out of touch with this. Happiness can be obtained by pursuing what matters to you on the inside, and knowing that every single one of you here is meant to add meaning and purpose to the world, and everyone of you can be happy.

It’s not easy I know. I feel bad dropping a class because now my schedule is not ‘intense’ enough. I feel bad being uncertain about my future, because that’s weak. I feel bad putting happiness first, because the society seems to disagree. I feel bad doing all this, because I still do care what the society thinks. The society is everywhere, and it has millions of eyes, but I will fight. Somebody’s got to.

We can do this together.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

-The Buddha

I’ll leave you with that. Light up, light up, because you have a choice.

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0222 – Happier

Sometimes I feel like my mood changes faster than a woman’s PMS cycle. That is why he quest for lasting happiness is my major focus currently. I’m reading books, Wikipedia, blogs, webpages and god knows what else to try to inch my way towards eternal happiness. Nothing has been miraculous, but I’m ‘inching’, or so I hope.

There are many things to think about when you reflect on how you are going to live your life. Will your parents be okay with what you choose (big deal for Asians)? Will your siblings look down on you? What will your friends think? Will anyone understand why you are doing this? Will you regret it later? Are you able to shut society’s face and do whatever you want? Will you be happier?

That last one is perhaps the most important. The book I am currently loving, written by Tal Ben Shahar, is titled Happier. I’m only 20 pages into it, but I’ve already gotten a lot out of it. Tal Ben calls the question ‘How can I get lasting happiness?’ the question of all questions. I think it’s true. I struggle so much currently because I fall into the ‘rat racer’ category; believing that I am suffering now so I can enjoy life later. That later part never comes. It’s a never-ending chain of rat racing.

Having been rat-racing all my life, I’m thinking maybe it’s time to change. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about the future so much. Maybe I shouldn’t want good grades. Maybe I shouldn’t care if friendships will last. Maybe I shouldn’t care if people will like me and look up to me in the future. Live in the present, they say.

So I’m trying to be happier, but courage and belief are lacking. I don’t quite dare to step on all the societal definitions of success yet. I don’t quite dare to disappoint my parents. I don’t quite dare to wander into the land of uncertainty, which also happens to be the land of possibilities and, perhaps, happiness.

One day, if I overcome my fears, I will wander. And I will tell you how it goes. It is with my utmost that I hope you will start to ask the question of questions, and start being a happier person.

0221 – Fleetingness

Just as I thought I’ve changed, it all came back at me.

I’ve been trying really hard to embrace the outgoing me and let it shine. I’ve done that to a certain extent in the past two weeks or so, but there’s that voice inside my head that never dies.

I’ve had fun. I’ve been happy. Very happy and entertained at times. For however long it lasted, I enjoyed myself. I am constantly being reminded of the fleeting nature of happiness. It’s really is temporary, isn’t it? The fear that happiness won’t last consumes me. It is very heartrending. I am troubled.

Nothing’s gonna last too; that’s just the way it is. Buddhism is right. Everything is fleeting, especially worldly happiness. Attachments make it worse. I am a sucker when it comes to attachments. Born that way. Shrugs. Can’t do anything with it unless I practice Buddhism more.

I’m still struggling with what to do.

Don’t you just wish you can make happiness last forever?

Welcome to fantasyland.

Please help me.

0220 – The Marvelous Thing That is Leadershape

So yes.. Leadershape. I said it was the best thing that happened to my life. And if you know me, you’d know that it really IS the best thing that happened to my life.

I started off feeling a little bit weary from my long journey from home. I didn’t expect anything much from it really. After all, I always felt that leadership training programs are lame and boring. Oh boy how wrong I was. It was like a little utopia up there. People are so welcoming, friendly and open-minded. We each had our own passions, and we never said no to any of them. People were passionate and supportive of each other. It was wonderful.

I needed to be reminded that people like this still exist: people who care for the world and have big goals for the betterment of the community. I needed to know that there are people with me – that ‘the value of one, the power of all’ theme still applies.

I also needed people to guide me in my introspection. I was lost and directionless. Leadershape just helped me figure out things like I never thought I would. I narrowed down my life enough to see a direction to it. I found resolve to not let the society decide what I will do, but to be the master of my own faith. And thank you so much Leadershape for that. Many of us fall prey to society – it is one vicious judging and controlling bitch. I am not letting it shape my life no more.

All the activities we had, the valuable discussions that were held, the facilitators and the participants just all blew me away. What an experience.

I really can’t explain much here. It is the experience that really is so memorable and life-changing. It would literally change your life. Please do it. Visit the website at least!

My heart smiles whenever I think of Leadershape. I like it. A lot.

0219 – Spirituality and the pursuit of happiness

Another horrible day today to end the week on a low note. Okay. Fine. Bye week. Time to move on.

Now.. a little something I love to talk about. Spirituality and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s a topic that rarely springs up in everyday conversations. It is sad, because I think a lot of people, when in solitude or in times of hardships and desolation, really would have benefited from spirituality discussions.

So at Leadershape, we had a very engaging spirituality discussion that revolved a lot around religion and also the search within the self. Introspection is wonderful – it has amazed me more than anything else ever will. The world today is so much about material, external pleasures and social acceptance. We are in a world where constant judging is taking place, and people become more and more insecure and worrisome as the days go by. Consequently, your inner being collapses. No confidence. No guidance. No direction.

So I feel it is crucial to regularly introspect and reflect on your thoughts on life. There is a purpose for everyone. Whether it’s big, lofty, small, noble, unique or reachable is another story. Finding the purpose and the reason why you live has been the theme of my life. I am still very much lost. Leadershape has indeed given me some direction, but life is so full of unpredictables and changes that I never really know what’s coming at me, or what am I to undergo.

Some people are lost. Some people are prevented from freely defining their own spirituality. Some people just never really thought about it before. Do we really each have a own purpose in life?

One of the things that I often tell myself is that nobody really knows the truth, so choose what you want to believe. In fact, it is this very fact that makes life so difficult. You don’t know what in the world is controlling this world, or perhaps it is just a state of randomness for that matter. So you never know what to look out for. There may be more than one truth, or there may be no truths at all.

I personally have chosen to believe in many Buddhist principles (not all of it) and also a set of self-scripted rules that I build up as I encounter more challenges in life. There are times when I really wish I’m not myself – I’d rather be a tennis superstar, a groundbreaking researcher, an amazing hot attractive guy or, most importantly, some extremely happy person in a beautiful world.

But.. I am myself. I suffer a lot, and I learn a lot. I may not be as fun as others, but I bring a lot to the table. One way I like to think of suffering is that it is not an unfortunate thing to suffer. In Buddhist tales, angels envy humans because they suffer! Why? Because when we suffer we learn so much about life. Suffering makes us reflect and propels us to better our lives and the world. So suffering can be a good thing. Although, too much of it is no good. I can testify to that. Does life seem a little brighter if you view suffering this way? I hope it does.

People never really believe in themselves anymore. Don’t let that happen to you. You are awesome. You have the potential in you. Tap it. Bring out your energy. Bring out your potential. Bring out your passion and walk towards it with all your might. Have a healthy disregard for the impossible.

We will walk together. You, me and Dupree. Just kidding.

P.S. If you’d still like to talk to me about spirituality, please please please do so. I’d loveeeee to talk more about it. Email/Facebook/Skype me.

0218 – A healthy disregard for the impossible

Sometimes I have days so horrible I just don’t have the motivation to do anything. I just wanna forget it all. Forget everything and let myself control my life and make only good things happen. But life’s not like that. In a week like this, which includes being woken up by my dream about my research professor firing me, waiting three hours in line at the Secretary of State office, having my camera died on me suddenly and losing all my files on my hard drive, life just seems bad, doesn’t it?

It is amazing how quick things change. I had a note jotted down last week that I wanted to blog about something else. Now I just don’t feel the same way anymore. Everything is so temporal, so uncertain, and so unsettling. I had the happiest week of my life last week at Leadershape (please check it out – it really is the best thing that happened to me). Yet, I can’t believe how fleeting that happiness is. Next week and poof… gone. This is all but a reminder that mankind has the tendency to overemphasize the bad things, and overlook the good things.

I am a pessimist, and bad things occupy my brain. It is very unhealthy. I’ve learned that. I’ve always stood my ground that pessimism has shaped who I am, and I will not change it. But if I take only one thing out of Leadershape, it is this: to have a healthy disregard for the impossible.

Profound. Ain’t it?

If you’re like me, life has mostly been filled what hopes, desires, what-ifs, fear and nay-saying. I have so many ideas, so much sentiment, and so much untapped potential. I have the power to change. We all have these in us. We all have the power to change. I am no longer going to let a bad day drag my life down the abyss for fifteen days before I recover. And I will absolutely not be subservient to incorrect societal norms and judgments. I am going to fight. I am going to remind myself that I am so great that I can overcome a bad day. I am so great that impossible might bow to me. I am so very great that I will support others who have this very same healthy disregard for the impossible, because together, we are so gonna rock this world. No more nay-saying, just contributions. And if I fail, it’s okay. It’s a fascinating failure.

More on that. More on Leadershape. More on spirituality. More inspiration. Soon to come, when I overcome my laziness.