Being Patient Can Be Effortless…If Only We Know How

Patience is a virtue that not many of us seem to have. But I believe if we see it as a skill that can be acquired, it won’t be all that hard to be patient, both with people and situations.

Here are three ways to be patient that have worked for me:

1. Find worthwhile things to do while waiting for an undesirable situation to pass
I seldom get frustrated during traffic jams (unless I am late for an important event). It’s because I get to listen to my favourite CDs, and sometimes I make use of the time to learn a foreign language by playing an audio CD. And everytime I go to the bank, or anywhere that I may be required to wait, I usually have a book with me.

2. Practise counting to five before reacting when someone else’s actions rub us the wrong way
With enough practice we can make responding thoughtfully (instead of reacting viscerally) a habit. Walking away to give ourselves some space to regain rational thinking also works — if only we would just do this instead of giving in to the temptation to react.

3. Celebrate progress no matter how small, and see setbacks as part and parcel of the journey
This especially applies when we are waiting for major changes to take place or goals to materialize, like recovering from an illness, repairing strained relationships, losing weight, getting an MBA, and getting out of debt.

It’s like solving a big, complicated jigsaw puzzle. It’s exciting to fit a piece correctly, but there will be times when we get it wrong and then have to go back to the pile to search again for the correct piece. If we see every setback as part of the journey towards the end goal, we will be able to embrace the long haul more optimistically.

So being patient is actually not that difficult. We just have to find the right things and the right attitude to give us a sense of momentum–because as long as we feel progress no matter how small, we will cease to be frustrated.

My Little Sis and I

My sister is ten years younger than me. And I do not know what’s with the family and community that apple-to-apple comparison seems to be the automatic response the moment they are faced with sisters. Especially in my case where our age gap is so big.

It’s silly and destructive. We may have been borne of the same parents, but we are unique individuals in our own right.

Being the eldest, it is quite natural for me to have some active pursuits growing up — and poor little sis sometimes found herself having the same expectations placed on her. (Not by our parents, thankfully, they know better than that). But by nosy people around us, people who shoot off comments from their mouths the way old dogs suffering from incontinence fart ever so freely.

Little sis has been growing up and I am proud of her and see completely no reason for her to be like me.

We look different. I inherit strong features from dad’s side of family who have some Thai heritage. She inherits mom’s delicate features and resembles my brother more. At brother’s wedding, my sister was mistaken for the bride’s sister! Apparently little sis’s fair skin and sweet features make her look more Korean than Malaysian. (Our sister in law is Korean).

We both enjoy writing but my sister’s style is completely different from mine. I will never be able to emulate her catchy titles that use contrasting words so cleverly, not to mention her refreshingly candid voice. Even our cooking styles are different. When little sis began experimenting at the stove I was amazed how she made fried vegetables look almost like a complete meal with gravy from the juices and generous chunks of deftly cut carrots, pumpkin, capsicums and what have you.

And while I get lost easily, she has a superb sense of direction.

So there, the contrast that is us–the reason why no two sisters (or any two individuals, for that matter) should be compared. If anything, the ten-year gap simply means I serve as an example for her — good practices to emulate and mistakes to avoid.

While, of course, growing and spreading her own wings, making a difference in ways that only she could.

It’s Okay to Be Average

20140920-170618.jpgFor almost my entire life I had this fear of being average. In everything, almost everything. I had to be somebody, I had to stand out in some ways, else I felt like I did not matter.

Looking back I realize the drive to excel may not always come from the right place within ourselves. Like in my case, it came from fear…fear that I had to somewhat shine in some ways.

Today I still want to excel and give my best in everything I do. But at least now it’s motivated by the belief in my own potential, and also the desire to make a difference in my circle of influence and be a blessing to the people around me.

There is such a huge difference between striving to be outstanding because we are insecure, and just being motivated to reach for the stars because we believe we can. The latter journey is so much more fun.

This post is part of SoCS:
http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-september-2014/

The Eight Investments We Can Make in Ourselves

I write this as I feel the soreness on my hips and back and realized I have not gone for any massage this month. Yet.

And this gets me thinking of how some people I know seem to deliberately choose to invest in themselves–spending on things that would make them better physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. Suddenly this makes a lot of sense to me because taking care of and continuously developing ourselves is vital if we want to be effective in the long run, not only in pursuing the things important to us but also in our service to society and our loved ones. So in my opinion, here are the some of the best things we can invest in ourselves:

1. Massages
Okay, this may not appeal to everyone but I just have to put it on this list because I have a traditional Chinese masseuse who loosens my joints, eases my sore muscles and gets my blood circulation going to the extent that my cheeks glow! I happily spend on massages because they are great to loosen up physically and mentally, but it is important to get a skillful therapist.

2. Exercise
I am lucky to have access to a swimming pool and gym where I stay. But if there’s a need to get proper guidance on our workouts and also a proper gym, it can be worthwhile to invest in our health and fitness by paying for gym memberships and personal training sessions, like what my brother just did.

3. Holidays and getaways
I love these too because getting away from routine and familiarity broadens my perspectives and the resulting mental clarity pays off in many ways. It could lead to the next groundbreaking idea that causes a career quantum leap!

4. Laser corrective eye surgery
The people I know who had gone through this procedure and thus parted ways with contact lenses tell me it’s one of the best investments they’ve ever made. I finally had mine middle this year and while I can’t say it changed my life (though apparently it did change some others’!) I definitely do not regret waking up with a clear vision every morning and not having to worry if I have forgotten my contact lenses and cleaning solutions everytime I travel. I miss looking cool and nerdy with spectacles, though, but that’s a small problem.

5. Books (and other reading material)
Books! Of course! Book lovers would know why, and non readers won’t be reading my blog in the first place, so I won’t elaborate.

6. Language learning
It’s a globalized world, and learning a new language keeps my mind sharp and inspired. And with nifty interactive apps like Babbel, learning German at my own pace has proved to be a good way to unwind after a long day at work. Ich lerne gerne Deutsch! Ich mag Babbel sehr!

7. Psychotherapy
Yes, I enshrine this on my list at the risk of raising conservative eyebrows on wrinkled Asian foreheads. But virtually all of us have certain negative patterns we are caught in– and to invest in professional help that can help us uncover and overcome the root cause once and for all, why not? I realized I had a fear of rejection that made it hard for me to ask for things at work–and after just one session with my therapist the root cause was identified, and from a place of wholeness, boldness came naturally. I could have gradually overcome that fear on my own, with effort and growing maturity, but it might have taken much longer without therapy. I highly recommend this to anyone who struggle from things that we commonly dismiss as just ‘first world problems’ — endless debts, shopping addiction, stress at work, people pleasing tendencies, and so on.

8. Good clothing and personal care
I almost did not want to buy a pretty floral dress I saw online until I remembered that a good wardrobe is not frivolity but a necessity. (Note that I say ‘good’, not ‘lavish’ or ‘excessive’). I believe in looking neat and decent without having to break the bank on haute couture fashion and expensive skin and hair care.

And oh, how can I forget this — a good laptop/smartphone and connectivity! It’s the digital age after all…and I am blogging this using an ancient iPhone4 that I never thought I would buy.

Do you have anything to add to the list?

Foray into Art Collection?

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Last night I bought this piece of painting which I know close to nothing about. One that I am still trying to figure out.

I had been getting a little impatient with the plain walls at my dining and living halls so when I saw this hanging by a roadside stall at the touristy Batu Feringghi Night Market I decided to haggle for it. I am no art aficionado so I didn’t know what value to place on it but in the end MYR 120 (about USD 40) felt reasonable. It required no framing so I could have it hung and displayed right away.

I just realized there was no artist signature. All I know from the foreign worker manning the stall was that it came from Cambodia. I do not know what sort of paint was used, and the material it was painted on (definitely not canvas, though).

But it looks good to me. And it evokes a sense of relaxation in what seemed a rather grand setting — perhaps a cafe in an old, refurbished palatial mansion. There’s also an aura of mystery…this place seems to be out of bounds to the crowd depicted at the top portion of the painting. There also seems to be a suggestion of a contrast between the upper and middle class, the haves and have nots.

But I am still trying to make sense of the colourful ground, and the strokes of yellow which seem like rays of light. And the straight white-coloured line that started from the deck where the tables and chairs are placed. Viewed from a distance there is a three-dimensional effect to the painting.

I spent about 20 minutes looking at it after bringing it home, trying to make sense of it. Perhaps this could be the start of an interest in art.

Meanwhile if anyone could enlighten me as to what this painting is about that would be great.

Freedom to Love

“Freedom is the ability to pause.” – source unknown

Damn amygdala
And the failure that was me
To stop the primitive in its track.

Too many perceived attacks
Caused me to react
And hearts – including my own
To bleed, and crack.

My claims of love
Empty lip service
How could I love
And let my words
Pour out in torrents
Like a heavy nasty rain
Bringing forth a flood of sadness
I get drowned myself
In the end.

If a hug could tell you, and you, and you, and you
How sorry I am
It would be tight, long, moist with remorse
Resigned to damages done
And an unchangeable past
It would be warm with some strange comfort
That the villain of old…has awakened
I hope she hasn’t taken too much toll.

Those who hurt, hurt others
So they say
I had those inner landmines removed
The amygdala no longer reigns supreme
I seek freedom from me
Now I bow to choice
And it tells me to simply pause.

When I am at a standstill
That’s when I see you
And remember to love you
Despite me and you and everything in between.