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Life’s a mystery

We all know that we can’t predict what the future holds. Things in life are getting messy and blurry. I realised i can only do this much to control what’s ahead of me.

Widened Perspectives

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up hope yet. My perspectives are a lot wider now. I see things from many angles that I didn’t see before. I was really stubborn in some sense. Always believed that things that are built in a certain manner should be done only in a particular manner.

A challenge is worth embracing

Just like this roly-poly doll, we embrace new challenges and scenarios, even when they hit us hard, we still stand up and embrace it. Roly-poly dolls will stand up no matter how you hit, drop, or even slap them. They’re determined things that we should look at and self reflect.

Next Destination: Challenge!

Just think about how it relates to real life and our holidays, we do things that excite or thrill us because of its novelty. We go on holidays to new places because we have that sense of adventure in us all along.

All i could sum it up with is:

I remain a mystery to myself and others.

Be grateful again!(and again)

You must be thinking about the academic aspects of gratitude as you read this post. it’s not really one, I’m here to show you my journey after a year thinking hard about it.

It was a journey of a book “Gratitude in education” by Kerry Howells(The video can be found above). The obvious reasons were cause there wasn’t much literature focusing in depth on gratitude. The other reason was that I am focused on the education aspect of gratitude.

You think about gratitude as something obvious, a process that goes through your mind each day without thinking much about it. Gratitude is this invisible partner you see often but just neglect it because you are preoccupied with your daily activities in life.

You spend maybe 1/4 of your day being grateful to God, being grateful to the ones that helped you when you needed them most. You feel grateful when there is a positive outcome from an important occasion like passing your examinations, Drivers license or get promoted.

On the other hand, there are times where we really take things for granted. For example, we assume that we will get the service we expect because we paid for it. Anything below that standard, we express anger and frustration, questioning the standards of the service provided.

This sense of entitlement is what holds us from gratitude and even expressing it. I felt how it creates the negative energy that deters people from showing their true-self in being gracious and kind. You feel a lot less grateful when you missed a train, get blamed for something that isn’t directly your fault, etc. These events drain your energy and affect your mood for the day/week/month.

So to get you started on your journey, my clear intentions are providing some perspectives that you should consider as part of a new year resolution.

Is this about Positive thinking again?

Gratitude is a strange feeling that occurs to you. According to Dictionary.com,It is the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. It is an emotion that makes you feel good!

Positive thinking is deeply embedded in gratitude because you are feeling grateful for the things that happen around you. Both positive thinking and gratitude are emotions that take up your time, and with it effort. It requires changes to your daily routine, if you are a pessimist or if you never feel grateful about anything. Positive thinking is about the die-hard attitude of believing you can perform a certain task or overcome a difficult situation too.

Deep within gratitude, it is more than just having optimism. It is a deep appreciation of things/situations that occur around you and how you react towards it. Being positive doesn’t make you grateful for anything, it just makes you able to overcome anything! Howells did mention how emotions are interconnected and separation was not possible. It implies that we cannot remove just disappointment and feel happy instantly. What emotions we feel is an interconnected chain of thoughts. Separation is never possible!

What do I need then?

You will need to develop the appreciation of the things that you have, not the things that you don’t. List down the things that you feel happy and grateful for. Here are some things that you will overlook(non-exhaustive):

  1. Being able to see clearly each day
  2. Have a mode of transport to and fro (Work/Home)
  3. Being able to wake up everyday
  4. Having a Job!

You can pause for a moment and think about these before reading on. I advise you to identify some of them that made you rethink about being grateful. It is an important moment to think about.

Howells reminded me that gratitude cannot happen every single day and moment. It is impossible to overturn an unhappy situation and feel grateful for it (Although it is possible to feel positive about it). So let’s prepare ourselves to feel gratitude.

Don’t expect anything in return

Don’t you hear phrases where people tell you:

”You ought to be grateful that someone celebrated your birthday!”

You would also hear phrases like:

” Why doesn’t John says anything about the present I gave him last week?”

Or maybe:

“I gave up my seat to this guy and not even a word of thanks! What an I’ll mannered person!”

If one of these sounds familiar to you, congrats! It’s time to step out of it, or even tell someone that you should not expect anything in return. Strange to say this, but it’s a phrase in life that I go through myself.

My dad used to tell me about this terminology called unconditional love, where you love someone without a condition, without expecting anything in return. Bear in mind that it is something you feel uncomfortable about because you feel self-entitled. It is a feeling to love yourself more than others.

Sometimes when you give something or offer your seat on the train, you’re always expecting something in return, as to make you feel ‘rewarded’ and happy. Life is kind of different, it doesn’t always work that way. Because of that, you will accumulate lots of disappointment and feel that gratitude just isn’t worth it. To make things simple.

Don’t expect anything in return when you give. Be appreciative of what is given.

It requires perseverance

I personally feel that gratitude can bulldoze and drain your emotions easily. Within weeks, I foresee you might be exhausted and start reverting back to your habits. For once, to conquer and feel gratitude, you might have to overcome social norms and culture. It means that your personal belief system will be tested. I challenge you to bring your perseverance to another level, it will take time, but it is highly rewarding! It can be daunting and makes you feel powerless. This stretched goal can be a long and tedious journey. But, don’t sulk because you are not alone in this journey.

Keep being grateful, and the world will be grateful to you!

Be intentional about it

We are subconsciously aware of gratitude as it feels habitual. It is a feeling that we can overlook easily.

One of my best advice for you is to do something differently that’s related to gratitude. I never ever thought of getting a good luck charm certificate to provide well wishes for my boss for her upcoming conference. I was very sceptical about my idea because I thought of things like, “What if I can’t get everyone’s signature?What if nobody wants to sign this card?” This list goes on and on and on…

But deep within me, I had to do it, because I wanted to express gratitude in a way that I never did. The important lesson here is not only being intentional about gratitude, but also doing something out of the ordinary so people might become aware of the differences. Take the recognition as a bonus, but rest assured that the gratitude feeling that comes after doing something different is intrinsically rewarding. Remember that we always feel good when we do something good for others!

Create good intentions to make good things happen!

In Summary…

To sum it up, I took an example from Kerry Howells, whom I read about in Gratitude in Education as she speaks about how a downstream effect that gratitude has when you express it on a daily basis. What I’m saying is that gratitude flows down to our students.

I would believe that gratitude is something very holistic and pure, not easily achievable and overlooked at times. It was actually a reminder that your role, as parents, as educators, as a professional has a great deal on whatever you do. Being grateful to the things you have, as mentioned above, helps you to develop gratitude in many subtle ways.

Your tale of wonder will unfold as you express gratitude to people in your life. – Kathryn Sievert

As a self-reflection, I have taken the initiative to express gratitude each day, to be thankful for the days and things that I have and for the journey that God has given me. It can be a very rewarding journey, but it could really be lonely. There are a lot of things that you could benefit from. My last take away for you is:

Start small, dream big, you will succeed!

How are you from the past to the future.

Dear Son,

This is your dad, writing this so you could take a look in 10 years and understand if this blog is still around. I’m using a MacBook if it still exists in 10 years time, or typing away on my iPhone to make this as meaningful as possible. I’m not Howard Stark who could give you a formula to success. I’m just a dad who wants the best for you. We certainly love you dearly and as much as we could. I’ll be your best friend for a while, the one to keep you company. The one to read you some bedtime stories so you could sleep better. Your mum or I would also be the one who tugs you to bed when you feel uncomfortable, alongside with your mum. I’m sure your mum thinks the very same way as I do. We’ll be there until you slowly fade off and find your friends and clique to hang out with.

How’s the world like now?

It’s in the midst of change. We’re all changing in a world. We call it:

Change is always a constant

You’ll live in a world that automation is on its way, we’re not in a world where robots will take over the world. It’s more like they will take over mundane work(boring work). We’re in an aging population, where many of people similar to mum and I will be working through old age, slowly seeing retirement fade off our eyes. Barbara Kingsolver once said:

The world shifts under our feet, the rules change. Not the Bill of Rights, or the rules of tenting, but the big unspoken truth of generations.

Everything is so easily accessible now my Son. You could get a taxi by clicking a few buttons and even know how many minutes will it take to arrive. We live in a world so connected that I could still see you even when I’m overseas. In Mark Zuckerberg’s recent Harvard speech:

You are graduating to a world that needs purpose, it is up to you to create it..

He challenges not only you, but both mum and I to take on New challenges. So, be afraid to fail not once, twice, thrice maybe a thousand times. As many times as you can to reach what you aspire to do. I hope one of us could be a pleasant role model to you,

We’re in a tiny red dot, we need more grit, determination and understand that every of us in whatever age you may be, there will still be setbacks that will prevent you from moving forward. But your mum and I will try our best to mould you into what you are and want to be. So whatever we give, we always offer the best like what parents usually do. If we can’t and as you age, try to understand why it is so.

How’s school?

Schools will be digitally enabled. There will be a variation of technology such as augmented reality and virtual reality for you to experience. Examinations may not require teachers to administer examinations. You might be sitting in front of a computer to take your test and examinations. The people around the world are all trying to make it better all for you. The Teachers in schools are working very hard for your future. So do respect them, as they are trying hard to impart mathematics, science, English or Mandarin to you. Don’t be disheartened when your grades are bad at times, we’ll try to find ways to improve on your weakness. I had times where I felt I worked pretty hard but still failed somehow. It might have been the way I studied last time.

I’m not sure how homework is going to evolve, will it be meaningful work and not mindless problem solving such as spotting keywords in mathematic questions that will get you distinctions. We will find out as we work it out together. I’m sure your teacher will know what’s best for you. Sometimes both of us maybe upset at how things turn out, how you might think homework is irrelevant and unnecessary and rather engage with the latest video games, toys and gadgets. Mum and I will then be upset and may start scolding or nagging because you chose ‘entertainment’ over seriousness. Do understand we are upset at you not for the moment, but for your long and bright future ahead of you. There are many careers choices and things that we wish you could do to help the world be better to live in. We love you, and that’s why we chose to intervene instead of leaving you alone.

We’ll bring you to places that you could try out the career that you aspire. Will you be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or a programmer? I’m not really sure too. But whatever you want to achieve, go all out to get it for us. We’ll be proud of you when you reach there, we’ll also support you at the lowest point of your life.

We’re your full time coach and mentor to overcome the smallest or biggest problems you face. When we’re not, gather up your strength and overcome it. Cause you know there are times we want you to be independent. Don’t despair if you wonder why you can’t always get the sleekest and best toys at times. Sometimes you just have to earn it. There are many things you should treasure more than just toys.

There will be lots of digital tools for you to experience the world around you by the time you’re in school. You will be immersed in 3D technology, playing with virtual items more often than your toys at home.

Don’t worry, there will be time for you to see nature, smell the breeze near the beach and feel the wind passing through the pores of your face. My Son, many friends of yours will forget this experience and only recall the fun and excitement technology offers them.

Your friends, choose them well. For some will lead you astray, some will lift you up when you are down. Friends are important as you collaborate in projects, work together to solve a problem. Play in a Soccer team that you love. Hang out after school and reflect on how fun it was. Work alone and you achieve your goal, but work together and achieve a miracle together.

Discover new things with your friends And both of us, it will help you learn a lot better. Treasure your childhood like how your mum and I did, these are important moments in your journey, to make meaning in your life. There are lessons to learn from your peers, friends and people you communicate with.

Lastly, don’t give up on whatever you strive to do, even if the whole world goes against your thoughts. I take one of the finest quotes from Steve Jobs during his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech:

Stay Hungry, Stay foolish.