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.


Your Experimenting Dad

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.


Your Thankful Dad

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.


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.


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.


Your Respectful Dad

Eat your veggie.

Last Sunday, during our annual New Year cum birthday celebration at Uncle Chong Teik’s place, conversations amongst the group of 40 somethings revolved mainly around a hot topic that most people tend to take for granted – HEALTH.  High cholesterol and high blood pressure seem to be the new norm.  It is not surprising that it takes about 4 decades for reasonably intelligent people to fully appreciate the truth behind Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words – “The first wealth is health.”

Uncle Kwang Hui shared about what he did after a shocking discovery – his triglycerides level is almost 3 folds of the ‘very high’ limit, so high that the ‘bad’ cholesterol count cannot be read.  Miraculously, in just a few months, he managed to lower that by two third, way beyond doctor’s expectations. The secret? A strict and steady diet of dal, rice, and oat.  It’s amazing what a man can do when survival is at stake. He had to literally ‘eat to stay alive.’

My cholesterol level isn’t pretty either. 10 years ago, I was told that my ‘good’ cholesterol was too low, and ‘bad’ cholesterol was too high.  The doctor advised that I exercise more regularly and watch my diet. Did I listen? Of course, but only for a few months, before I reverted back to the usual habits – little or irregular exercise and an eat-anything diet.

Last month, the latest medical report revealed that my cholesterol count has now shot above the ‘high’ range, landing me in the zone of ‘high risk’ for heart diseases. The doctor gave me 3 months to bring that down to a manageable level, failing which she will start putting me on medication. What did I learn?

If you don’t change your direction, you are likely to end up where you are heading.  Unknowingly, I was heading towards ill health, despite being fit enough to run a half-marathon.  Fitness and health are two separate things. With a history of diabetes and heart disease in the family, I should have known better.  There is no excuse.

Now that I’m ‘awakened’ to this fact, I will change my direction. I will do what it takes to regain my health.  With half the battle being won (I’m already running 3 times a week), what’s left is to change my diet, before having to settle for a diet of rice, dal and oat, or be put on medication.  Your mother has already started making some double-boiled soup that is good for cholesterol control.  Son, hold me to my words, will you? And meanwhile, listen to your mother when she tells you to eat your veggie or go to bed early.  She knows what’s best for you. And yes, vegetable is good for you, and so is sufficient sleep.  You need to trust her, OK?


Your Health-conscious 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!


Your Peaceful Dad