Change your body, change your mood.

Yesterday, I wrote about gratitude and the practice of counting our blessings as a way of dealing with a ‘bad’ day.   We can’t change what had happened, but we could certainly change the way we feel about it.   And how we feel, our emotions, and mood, are functions  of two elements – the Mind and the Body. Altering any one of the two will necessarily alter how we feel. The logic is that simple.

The good news is … it’s often a lot simpler and quicker to change our body. By that, I don’t mean losing weight or looking more beautiful, but simply through changing our body posture and movement. For instance, when you are feeling down, sad, or even depressed,  try biting a pencil between your teeth, opening your arms and chess widely, dropping or relaxing your shoulders, hold your chin high, stand tall, and breathe deeply and gently, etc. Never mind if you look silly …  try it out and experience the effect on how you feel, and how your mind will naturally begin to function differently.  Keep experimenting, and find your favourite way to alter your mood as and when called for.  Personally, I find running and deep breathing tremendously useful.

Life isn’t a bed of roses always … there are good days, and there are bad days.  But the bad days  need not last longer than necessary. Try changing your body, and watch how easy it is to change your mood by simply doing that.

Love,

Your Experimenting Dad

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If you think you had a ‘bad’ day …

I heard on the radio today, where the DJ said “If you think you had a bad day at the office, listen to this … ”

An Aussie woman plunged into a crocodile infested river in Zimbabwe when the bungee cord snapped.  She blacked out on impact, but was woken up by the cold water. With the cord still wrapped around her ankle, she drifted downstream towards the rapids, and had to go underwater to disentangle it before swimming to shore. She survived with a broken collarbone and a few bruises. What a miracle!

Now, it got me thinking … we hear of interesting news all the time, and until it happens to us, they are just news. What if it happened to someone you know? What if it happened to you or your loved one? Then, it’s no longer just news, but possibly life-changing moments.

This story reminds me of what your mum and I did about two decades ago. Yes, we had jumped off the Kawarau Bridge in NZ  (thank God the cord was intact), visited crocodile infested rivers in Darwin, and done a host of other adventurous things. We got stung by bees, and one time, your mum almost drown when we swam across a river at Katherine Gorge, Australia. That near-death incident made her sign up for swimming lessons right after the trip, and she became quite a good swimmer since.

Back then, we never quite knew how to truly thank God.  We just counted ourselves lucky. Now, we know better who to thank.  We’ve learnt to thank God each day, be it good or bad.

So, whenever you think you had a ‘bad’ day … think again. It’s a blessing to be able to wake to a new day. Some never made it.  Learn to count your blessings. A little gratitude will make your ‘bad’ days much more bearable.

Love,

Your Thankful Dad

What Dad wants you to know about LETTING GO

I spent almost the entire day clearing the storeroom today, something that I had procrastinated for a long time.  My aim is to impress your mother with a storeroom that she could actually walk in and access the things she needs.  Before today, it is so full that the door could hardly be closed.  Now, there is actually leg room (although not a lot) and things are stacked more neatly.

Spring cleaning turned out to be more rewarding than I had expected, although I much prefer to be doing something else.  But I know that ‘doing the mundane’ is also part of life.  The day has been physically draining and mentally relaxing, but emotionally challenging. Conceptually, the process seems simple …

  1. Empty the storeroom
  2. Decide what to keep, i.e. Should I keep, give away, or discard?
  3. Place the items to be kept back into the storeroom, and get rid of the rest
As expected, simple isn’t necessary easy, especially with step 2.  There were several items  which I haven’t used for a long time and unlikely to ever use them again (e.g. the ‘doctor suitcase’ which I bought myself with one of my first pay cheques, old magazines that featured articles I had written, stacks of handwritten notes made as I was conceptualising my businesses, old name cards, etc.).
Eventually, sentimental value prevailed over practical utility. I ended up keeping most of them in a box labelled – memorabilia.  And I learnt that ‘letting go’ is an extremely complex endeavour.  While it is possible to put physical items into a box and store it away, we can’t do the same with memories of our past experiences.  Our memories are accessible anytime, easily triggered by external stimulus.  And when too much of the undesirable experiences are brought back to the present, it can leave us with a heavy heart – one which could benefit from occasional ‘spring cleaning.’
If our brains were functionally normally, we don’t easily forget, especially negative experiences, for they tend to leave a more indelible mark in our mind.  We can’t just empty the mind in the same manner as clearing a storeroom or erasing data from a hard disk. With matters of the heart, we need to practice the ‘art of letting go.’
To let go of something is to release our grasp. The most common ‘thing’ that ought to be let go of is resentment.  Resentment is essentially the result of unexpressed anger. It’s one of the most common barriers to happiness.  Left unaddressed, resentment is highly toxic and causes a strain on our relationship with another.
Is there anyone that you resent, even in a small way?  Try letting go of such feelings by inhaling deeply, holding the resentment in your tightly clenched fists, and letting it go as you exhale gradually while you release the tension in your hands. Repeat it several time and watch your anger or resentment dissipate each time you release your grasp.
Does your heart feel a little lighter now?  You now have a remedy for a heavy heart.  Letting go is a solo exercise, you could do it on you own anytime and anywhere.  Remember to use it when needed.
Love,
Your Lighter Dad

Happiness is just one choice away.

Everybody wants to be happy, and yet there are many unhappy people in the world.  As human beings, being able to experience both happiness and unhappiness is perfectly healthy.  What’s undesirable is getting stuck in the latter for a long time.  Life is too short to be filled with excessive sorrow or unhappiness.

Children are a lot more resilient when it comes to dealing with unhappiness.  Somehow, that ability gradually diminishes as we grow.  I want to share with you a little ‘secret’ that can help you bounce back up more readily … and experience more ups than downs in life.   Whenever you are unhappy with someone, particularly your loved ones, pause to ask yourself this simple question: “Do I rather be happy or be right?”

You see, human beings are inherently ‘wired’ to want to be ‘right,’ as if the survival of our ego depends on being right. We want to be right about our beliefs, judgment, assertions, etc.  and would put up a good fight to defend them when challenged.  However, having observed many unhappy people so far, I noticed something common in them.  They rather be right at the expense of their happiness.  They hang on to unpleasant experiences far longer than they should, hold on to grudges and resentment, secretly wanting to make other people ‘wrong.’  I often wonder what it would be like, if only they are willing to make one simple choice … to give up the need to be right, and let the possibility of happiness unfold again in their lives.

So, next time you get into a conflict or unhappy situation with someone, remember … your happiness is just one choice away.  Imagine Dad standing before you, asking “Son,  do you rather be happy or be right?”  I hope you will make the ‘right’ choice, and attract the butterfly (as Thoreau put it) to come and sit on your shoulder.

Love,

Your Happy Dad