Take care of the temple of your soul

For many years, I have been fascinated with the mind, and have worked primarily in the domain of paradigms, mental models, beliefs, values, etc.  The intense focus on the body over the past few days (partly influenced by the freshness of New Year resolutions) has certainly heightened my awareness of a vital aspect of life that I had long neglected – the Body.  The consequences for neglect? Chronic backache, mild obesity, dangerously high cholesterol, lethargy, occasional pain in the knees and neck, and a host of other minor ailments.

After all, the body is the temple of your soul.  Unless you also take good care of your body and keep it in good health, the joy, peace or satisfaction from your achievements will be short-lived.  It’s hard to be sustainably joyful when you are sick or when your body is in pain.  Attending to the soul’s longing, needs and dreams while neglecting the body is like shopping for beautiful furniture to fill a broken house.  It is still sub-optimal, if not dysfunctional.

So, son, learn to take good care of your body.  You have only ONE body, and it is with you wherever you are.  Start young, and develop some good habits now.  Sleep early, maintain good posture, don’t slouch, watch your sugar intake (avoid excessive sweet drinks – I know you love them), eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, wear protective gear when you attempt dangerous stunts (I know I can’t stop you from doing that), rest when you are tired, drink lots of water (even when you don’t feel thirsty).

I’ve got a feeling that I might start sounding ‘naggy’ or peachy about this …  like how your grandparents did to me when I was young.  Trust me, as you will soon have no shortage of life experiences teaching you that when it comes to caring for our bodies, prevention is definitely far better (less painful) than cure.

Love,

Your Body-caring Dad

Small change, big impact

Day Five into the new year, and the strength of my resolution to lose weight, cut down my cholesterol level, and get sufficient sleep are constantly being put to a test.  Changing one’s daily habits, be it dietary or sleeping pattern, certainly isn’t easy.  This is when the ‘3 P’s for Making Sustainable Change’ are called for – patience to stick to the new routine despite little visible impact in the early days, perseverance in the face of obstacles and temptations that make giving up an attractive way out, and persistence to soldier on, one day at a time, just like how a marathon is completed – one step at a time.

When it comes to fixing the body to regain health and well-being, making drastic changes is seldom desirable or sustainable.  What I’m learning, like how the chiropractor once realigned my spine by making minor yet regular (twice weekly) adjustments over almost a year, the secret of success lies in making small changes in a consistent manner, bit by bit, so long as it is in the desired direction.  It’s the small daily changes that will create the big impact we desire in the long term.  I suppose, this applies to other endeavors as well, especially the worthy ones.  What do you think? What small changes are you making daily?  No matter what it is, remember: You need to put in the work to make life work.

Love,

Your Slowly-changing Dad

The Secret to Great Relationships begin with the letter ‘R’

I was watching a video titled “boy slaps his brother with the ipad” that has been showing up in various Facebook posts lately, and couldn’t help thinking of you boys.

While I think it’s perfectly normal for brothers to occasionally get onto each others’s nerves (mum and dad do the same too), the behaviors exhibited by the brothers in the video isn’t OK.  I’m thankful that this hasn’t happened at our home, although it reminds me of the frequent ‘mutual irritation’ that occurs between the two of you.

I want you to know that there is one fundamental ingredient that when missing in a relationship, will most definitely spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.  This applies to all kinds of relationships, be it between siblings, parents and children, couples, friends, neighbours, or colleagues.

What is this secret ingredient that is vital to having great relationships?

Just remember the first letter in ‘relationship’ … ‘R’ for R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Put in another way, without mutual respect, relationship won’t work.  To respect another is to honor his or her dignity and choices.  And when you genuinely respect a person, you will also avoid behaving in disrespectful manners such as criticizing, blaming, complaining, irritating, making fun of, shaming, threatening, and inflicting physical, psychological, or emotional harm.  Are you guilty of any of the above? Simply STOP doing it, BE respectful, and experience the magic that such simple changes can bring to your relationships, especially with people who matter to you.

Love,

Your Respectful Dad

Let there be PEACE on earth.

It’s Day One of a brand new year – a rare occasion in which the 1st of January falls on a Sunday.  This year, New Year’s Day takes on a new meaning for me too, as I learnt from today’s mass that the 1st of January is also the day Christians celebrate the naming of Jesus.

I left the service with two things. The first, is the significance of living up to one’s name.  As you grow up, do remember the meaning of your Chinese name, and periodically review if you are living in a manner that is consistent with the name that your mother and I have thoughtfully chosen for you.

The second, is the powerful lyrics of the final hymn that we sang today, which begins with … “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”  Enjoy this beautiful version and may the voice of this little girl inspire you to BE the beginning of Peace on earth!

Love,

Your Peaceful Dad

The Power of WHY

“He who has a WHY to live can bear almost any HOW.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

I first came across Nietzche’s words some years back in Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl survived the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust, and later founded Logotherapy – a form of psychotherapy centered on helping people find meaning, especially in difficult situations.  In essence, what struck me the most was the profound simplicity in the relationship between HOW and WHY.

Put in another way, if you could get clear on WHY you want to do what you do, the HOW will naturally follow.  Also, if your WHY is big or strong enough, no obstacle in the HOW can possibly stop you. And if you find yourself losing momentum in what you set out to accomplish, it might be worthwhile to pause and revisit WHY you wanted to do it at the first place.

Keep asking yourself “Why am I doing this?”, “Why does it matter?”, and “Why now?” … and experience the power from gaining clarity on the WHY – the true underlying reason for your actions.

Love,

Your Inquisitive Dad

What Dad wants you to know about GIVING

I was thinking about the notion of ‘giving’ during my late night run today.  Perhaps it was triggered by the spirit of Christmas … with images of Santa delivering gifts to kids who are eagerly waiting.  And then I pondered about my attitude towards giving … how selfish or selfless I have been when I give, when I have been generous and when I held back, and how I feel towards professional fundraisers who earn a living by taking a commission out of the donation they collect for charity organisations that otherwise may not have benefitted, who will I give or not give to, how much will I give, etc.

As I kept on running and pondering, a familiar message came to mind: “You can only give what you have.”  How true. Give what we have. It need not always be MONEY (in fact that’s the easiest thing to give away, especially excess money).  Something else that we all have is TIME, except that we get so busy these days that we hardly have enough time for ourselves, let alone to give some away.  But unlike money, time isn’t something we could physically handover to another.  When we dig deeper, it’s  actually ATTENTION that we are giving. When we make time for people whom we care about, we give them attention. And what do we really attend to?

Here’s my conclusion: it all boil down to attending to another’s NEEDS.  In essence, the act of giving becomes truly meaningful and fruitful when in doing so, we attend to the needs of the recipient, and not our own need to be generous or charitable.  If we were to put all these insights back into the context of the earlier message of “You can only give what you have,” one of the most important thing that we do already HAVE is the capacity to attend to another’s needs as well as our own.

Now, I know this may sound a little circular and perplexing … try something out, will you? Look around you and pick someone, think about what this person really need right now, and do something to attend to this need (it could be a hug, a smile, a helping hand, or even a few dollars).

Enjoy the gift of giving … that’s my gift for you today!

Love,

Your Giving Dad

What Dad wants you to know about COMMITMENT

Son, Dad is extremely tired and sleepy tonight … but I didn’t want to go to bed without leaving you a post.  When I set this blog up as ‘Daily Conversations with Dad,’ I really meant daily. And I intend to keep my word, for as long as I could.  That brings to mind something I wanted to you to learn, a quality I find so fundamental to a person’s success – commitment.

Commitment - the Gear Shift

Commitment makes life work. Commitment is the secret ingredient that translates our words and intentions into actions, which in turn bring about the results we experience in life. It’s like the ‘gear shift’ that distinguishes a Ferrari stuck at neutral (roaring loudly but going nowhere), from an engineering wonder fulfilling its potential as intended by its designer.

Without commitment, promises remain unfulfilled, dreams not made real, and life not fully lived out.  Without commitment, projects remain incomplete, goals unmet, and businesses fail.  Without commitment, conflicts remain unresolved, relationships stay broken, and families fall apart.

Commitment enables your mum and I to stick together for over 15 years, through thick and thin, goods times and bad.  And commitment enables her to wake up early every morning to send you to school, even on her worst days.  It is a force that is to be reckoned with, tapped into, and properly harnessed.

I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes on commitment from a passage taken from Scottish explorer W.H. Murray’s book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. Speaking of the beginning of his expedition, he expressed that they hadn’t done anything yet, but then clarifies:

But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money–booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.  I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

Today, I want you to think about something that you dream of doing or becoming, commit yourself fully to realising it, and begin it boldly but taking just one small step towards it. Now, go do it!

Love,

Your Committed Dad