Triple Lanterns Café is one of the stilt houses in Tai O Village (Hong Kong), offering beautiful views of the canal, the bridge and sunset, besides great pizzas, cakes and coffees. What makes this café really special though is Julia, the owner, who is always happy and cheerful, and ready for a conversation with every customer. During our visit to Triple Lanterns yesterday, we talked about the story behind the café, dreams, happiness, success, customer service and the importance of slowing down to enjoy life… parts of which were also captured on my phone. Here’s an edited version, and I hope it inspires somebody to follow through on their dreams…
I continue to apply the four steps to achieve anything with great results. I also get excellent feedback from people who have learnt this and accomplished much! When I see someone struggling with four steps without much success, it is usually due to a dream they don’t believe in, a goal not specific enough, a plan not detailed/clear enough, actions not consistent or persistent enough. The most common challenge is with the action (or lack of). So here are five additional tips to get result while working on your dreams, goals, plans and action:
- Make it a priority. Once you have figured out what you need to do every day, make it a priority. Allocate a particular time of the day for the action necessary to achieve the goal. Whether it’s time for exercise for your fitness goal, time for phone calls to achieve your sales goal, time for study for your personal development goal, or time for family for your relationship goal, you must block off the required time to do what’s necessary. And do nothing else in that time.
- Get back to routine. If you miss a day of the necessary action, get back to the committed routine the very next day, not next week or next month. It’s so easy to tell ourselves, ‘I missed a few days this week, so what’s the point; I’ll start properly next week, or next month.’ Never listen to that crap!
- Be persistent. You can’t plant a seed today and expect a tree tomorrow. You need to water it every day for a few days/weeks before you see the first bud. If it took years to put on that weight, it will take months to get rid of it. If you are learning something new, commit to the plan and stick to it until you succeed. Giving up is not an option if you are really committed to your goal.
- Change the plan. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal. If your consistent and persistent actions are not producing the expected results, stop and think, get some advice, check if you are doing it right. Maybe you need a different strategy, a change of direction or a modified plan. Make the necessary adjustment and go after your goal with renewed commitment.
- Stay positive and happy. Happiness is the foundation for all success, and positivity is essential for self-motivation. While you are working towards your goals, continue to acknowledge and be grateful for what you already have. Get inspiration from your dreams, and your ability to pursue them. Believe in your self and be positive about the outcome of your actions.
A little progress each day adds up to big results!
Two of my colleagues and best friends from the training at Woohoo Academy, Fennande van der Meulen and Maartj Wolff of Happy Office, have just created this fantastic and comprehensive ebook, together with Gea Peper of HappinessBureau. And you can download your free copy here!
Happy people are more productive, both in everyday life and at work. Paying attention to a happy work environment generates many benefits for employees, as well as the organisation itself.
Research shows that happiness at work results in less absence, fewer workplace accidents, reduced stress, more grati cation, happier clients and a higher quality of service. Reasons enough to put happiness on the agenda of every organisation. However one question arises: ‘How do you accomplish this?’ In this concise booklet, HappinessBureau and Happy Office will look at twelve topics that delve into the answer to this question. We provide a number of tools to achieve happiness at work…
The book covers many important aspects of happiness, including goal setting; measuring happiness; creating a culture of happy habits, fun and optimism; the value of passionate employees; leadership… and most importantly, how to get started on creating a happy office. Download it now, read it, apply it, share it… the world needs more happy offices 🙂
Over the last few years, I’ve tried quite a few apps related to different aspects of traveling. And deleted most of them. Currently I have nine apps in my travel folder, seven of which are extremely helpful:
- Hopper. This is one of the best apps I have ever used for finding the best airfare deals, and buying tickets straight from the app. Unlike most airfare apps, it starts with the date of travel and shows you the most expensive to the cheapest dates in that month, marked as red, green and yellow!
- Airbnb. If you are looking for inexpensive and unique places to stay, or a homestay with a local family, nothing can beat Airbnb. Also great for getting local advice from hosts through the built-in messenger, even before you book.
- TripAdvisor. Great to find local local attractions, restaurants and things to do in that city or in cities nearby. Or to read other travellers’ reviews about the suggestions you hear from the locals, and write your reviews to help other travellers.
- Google Maps. Indispensable whether you are walking, cycling, on a taxi or even on a public transportation. You know where you are, and where you are going, especially for people with poor navigational skills (like me).
- Speak & Translate. The fastest way to communicate to anyone in almost any language. Click, speak in your language, click. Then it repeats in the local language selected! I still have the Google Translate app when I want to practice speaking the local language, or showing the translation to the other person. But I miss the days of communicating just through body language, actions and expression 🙂
- PowerPlug. Helps you pack the right plugs for your devices. I don’t carry the bulky universal adapter any more. It also tells you the voltage and frequency for the country you are traveling to, though I don’t know what to do with that.
- Currency. Check exchange rates before changing money, or instantly convert local prices to your home currency, and multiple currencies at the same time.
The most recent addition to my travel apps is Travelpod, the online travel journal which I started using to keep all the photos, videos, maps and stories in one place. Needless to say, you need to have a local pre-paid sim with Internet access to make full use of all these apps 🙂 Hope you find this useful. Please share your most useful travel apps too.
The first time I wrote about ‘five reasons I travel solo‘ was in August 2012, after my trip to Chenzhou in China. Since then I’ve been blessed with many more solo trips and experienced the endless joys. Earlier this month, I was in Da Nang and Hoi An in Vietnam, for a week, all by myself. I got to experience for the first time…
- Living on USD20 a day, including accommodation, meals and transport!
- Riding a scooter, and that too on the right side of the road!
- Learning to make ‘Vietnamese fish rolls’!
- Homestay in the middle of rice fields (way different from the B&B above the rice terraces in China)!
- Taking a tour with a traffic police officer!
- Starting an online travel journal on TravelPod!
Most of these wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t traveling solo. So here’s my expanded list of benefits, and why you should travel solo at least once a year:
- Plan easily. Pick your own dates and destination. The places-to-see on your list are not the same as the places your family or friends want to see. And finding a time that suits everyone is not easy.
- Try new things – accommodations, means of travel, food – and get out of your comfort zone.
- Have conversations with fellow travelers and locals. You learn a lot more about the people and places when you are on your own.
- Be more flexible with your time, destinations and decisions you make. Wake up for sunrise or sleep all day.
- Overcome your fears. Whether it’s fear of new places, fear of being on your own or fear of darkness… the more you travel the less you fear.
- Gain confidence by handling problems and situations on your own. You take your own risks and learn.
- Indulge in whatever you want, without being judged.
- Stay within your own budget. No compromises or overspending.
- Become a better traveler by observing more. You engage more fully with the people and places when you are on your own.
- Get to know yourself better. When you are on your own, it’s easier to listen to your heart and focus your mind. The extended me time is an opportunity to dream, plan, think, and even reflect on your travel experiences.
That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy traveling with family, friends or groups… solo travel just a different kind of great experience!
PS. One of the most common questions I got asked by fellow travellers and locals: ‘Your wife doesn’t mind your solo travels?‘ And the answer is, one of the reasons we have been so happy with each other for over 30 years is that we accept, understand and appreciate the differences between us. And we allow each other to do our own things. [Thank you, Salma!]
Yesterday I completed three years with Learning Time, and these have been some of the most exciting and fulfilling years of my life! It’s been an opportunity to work with distributors and sales teams in many countries, participate in and organize international events, contribute to the development of some amazing new products, set up a distributorship company in Pakistan, learn many new things, touch the lives of many more, help parents become better and children excel… above all, do what I love doing! Here’s a collection of some of the photos from three years…
Thanks to the founders/partners of Learning Time: Shad, Zishan and Waseem
Thanks to everyone else who have/had been part of this exciting journey:
Bahrain: Ranjan, Abdul, Senthil…
Egypt: Samir, Raghda…
India: Parul, Sagareeka…
Indonesia: Ema, Toni, Efa, Wulan, Akmal, Sylvi…
Mauritius: Armoogum, Keshan, Vidu…
Pakistan: Salima, Jahangir, Sheeraz, Madiha, Sumaira, Sana…
Philippines: Rene, Nic, Ferd, FM, Bernie, Flor, Kaye, Mark, Rahm…
Sri Lanka: Amila…
UAE: Ketaki, Kanchan, Joseph, Naushtath, Ener, Edmond…
To the support team: Nagu, Emad, Zameer, Rini, Albin, Azmath…
And to Jamal and Zoher too!
I am extremely encouraged and humbled to see that Mush Talks have had over 36,000 views on YouTube since the first one in May 2016! This one was recorded at Hong Kong airport this morning, edited during the flight, and uploaded during transit at Dubai airport…
This talk was inspired by how Mashal (my 19-year daughter) fulfilled her dream of going to the US with her own money, through the 4-steps I’ve been using and teaching for many years: Dream, Goal, Plan and Action. She had been working part-time and on weekends, with her full-time studies, and saving for over two years. What made it possible was her focus on small goals – the number of hours she needed to work every week and the amount she had to save every month – and doing it consistently. She left yesterday for three weeks of holiday and three months of studies at the Savannah campus of SCAD!
Here are some quotes about ‘small steps’ for further inspiration:
- Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. ~Vincent Van Gogh
- Each step you take reveals a new horizon. You have taken the first step today. Now, I challenge you to take another. ~Dan Poynter
- It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward. ~Old Chinese Proverb
- Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. ~Robert Collier
- Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still. ~Chinese Proverb
- Have a bias toward action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away. ~Indira Ghandi
- I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. ~Helen Keller
- It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. ~Confucius
- The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~Lao Tzu
- The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking you complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one. ~Mark Twain
I could script these talks, do a few rehearsals, record professionally with mics and lights, edit better, put music and effects and titles and captions… but then I wouldn’t be able to do one a week. I hope these zero-cost productions are still good enough to inspire some.
You may watch Mush Talks #1-10 here. And please feel free to leave comments below 🙂
Wow, I am so happy with myself – 10 videos in 12 weeks! Also quite surprised and extremely grateful at the number of views, particularly Mush Talks #2 (6800 views) and Mush Talks #9 (4100 views). Thank you for watching and sharing!
Five related quotes:
- The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up.
- The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. And the way to be happy is making others happy.
- The happiest people are the ones who make others happy.
- If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.
- Give what you want to receive. If you want happiness, make others happy.
You may watch Mush Talks #1-9 here.
While packing for the move, I saw some of my childhood pictures that reminded me how scared I used to be, of so many things – darkness, loneliness, dogs, water/drowning, heights and more. And I realised how so many people go through their entire lives with one or more fears. That inspired this blog post. Sorry, no ‘Mush Talks‘ this Sunday.
I am not an expert on overcoming fears, but have successfully applied a simple strategy for anything I was scared of: Jump right in. That’s what made it possible not only to overcome many of the fears, but enjoy some of the most memorable adventures like scuba diving, skydiving, zip-lining, swimming with whale sharks etc. I hope these quotes and the skydive video inspire you to overcome at least one of your fears. If they don’t, then just jump right in!
- There is no illusion greater than fear. Lao Tzu
- The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela
- He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life. Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out. Karl Augustus Menninger
- Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. Unknown
- I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today. William Allen White
- Fear is only as deep as the mind allows. Japanese Proverb
- Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Helen Keller
- The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear. Gandhi
- Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the ability to act in the presence of fear. Bruce Lee
You may view some more of my travel videos here.
Last week I talked about how happiness affects our relationships, work, health and success in life. So this week, I start talking about ways to increase our level of happiness – starting with gratefulness. Not mentioned in the video, but being happy and grateful for everything we have doesn’t mean we can’t strive for more and better.
Some beautiful quotes on gratitude:
- Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. –Charles Dickens
- Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. –Eckhart Tolle
- If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get. Frank A. Clark
- If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily. –Gerald Good
- Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. –Melody Beattie
- He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. –Epictetus
- Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. –Oprah Winfrey
- Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. –Buddha
- It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment. –Naomi Williams
- This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before. –Maya Angelou
You may watch Mush Talks 1-8 here, and please feel free to share 🙂
A decade of research reveals that happy people are 31% more productive, 19% more accurate, 37% more successful in sales… – Shawn Achor in ‘The Happiness Advantage’
We don’t go to work to be happy… you are at work to do the best possible job you can and to constantly excel and improve your performance. But we happen to do that much better when we are happy at work. -Alexander Kjerulf in ‘Happy Hour is 9 to 5‘
I look forward to the next three talks in which I’ll share the three steps to increase our happiness. Thank you for watching 🙂
You may watch Mush Talks 1-7 here.
Yay, I just completed a 4-day program on ‘Happiness at Work’ by Woohoo Academy in Copenhagen – the only happiness academy in the world! Besides gaining in-depth and latest information on the subject, I have also learnt to pass on the knowledge and tools to professionals and leaders through short keynotes or full-day workshops.
The following 5-minute video captures some of the many exciting moments of the 4-day program. It was one of the best training events, and included field trips, sightseeing and lots of fun and games, while constantly focusing on the concepts of relationships and results to achieve happiness at work.
Today’s talk was recorded in Hong Kong, during a long drive with the family – Salma driving, Mashal recording, Hur fully entertained! Then edited and uploaded now from the airport, just before I fly out to Dubai and Copenhagen. I know all this effort is worthwhile because there are many of you who are now looking forward to these Sunday videos, and finding them useful or inspiring.
Thanks again to Salma, for being such a great parent and role model to our four wonderful kids! Happy Father’s Day… thank you for watching!
I just read this amazing article by Deepak Chopra that not only confirms but also explains what I believe, preach and try to practice all the time: Gratitude. Chopra also talks about the three stages of gratitude. Here’s an excerpt, followed by a link to the full article…
The mind-body connection is quickly coming of age. We’ve moved from the early stage when researchers were challenged to prove that our thoughts affect our bodies. The next stage was focused on how toxic mental patterns can harm us. Now a new phase has dawned, where “positive psychology” is the main focus. To see how this works, a perfect example is gratitude.
In one 2007 study a group of subjects kept a personal journal for ten weeks in which they rated their mood, physical health, and other factors that contribute to being happy. They were told either to describe five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week (the gratitude condition), or they did the opposite, describing five daily hassles from the previous week (the hassles condition) that they were displeased about.
Those in the gratitude condition reported fewer health complaints and even spent more time exercising than control participants did. Similar studies have shown improved emotions when someone who has a chronic illness focuses on an “attitude of gratitude” instead of feeling negative. Similarly, gratitude leads to lower levels of stress hormones.
Now that we know gratitude is good for you, it joins the list of things, including love and empathy that create a biochemical shift in the body. Since gratitude is a mental activity, it’s a powerful finding to show how something totally non-physical can alter the physical activity of the brain. The general lesson here is that the brain responds to positive input and sends life-enhancing messages to every cell in the body.
How can you activate the power of gratitude in your own life? There are three stages of gratitude, each one more effective than the one before. These are:
- Feeling grateful for the good things in your life.
- Expressing your gratitude to the people who have made your life better.
- Adopting new behavior as a result of interacting with those who have helped you.
Today’s talk was recorded in Laguna (Philippines) when I and the Learning Time team stopped for lunch, on our way back from the gorgeous Pagsanjan Falls! I hope to blog about that amazing experience soon. Right now, let’s watch this 3:36-minute talk…
One of the most common examples of blaming something or somebody is when people say, ‘I am late because of traffic’ (or rain) instead of saying, ‘I need to plan better’ or ‘I should leave on time to reach on time’. It’s just a small shift in the attitude that can make a huge difference to everything in our life!
One of my ‘contribution’ goals is do pro bono talks for organisations I support or an audience that’s keen to learn. Dream Careers fulfils both. They provide university students in the US with summer internship programs in many parts of the world, including Hong Kong. It’s a unique experience for students, an opportunity for employers and good business for the company!
Last night I spoke to this year’s interns about ‘the 4 Steps’ and went away quite excited myself – about the opportunity to make a difference, about the potential of students who learn the principles of goal-setting and planning at an early age, and about the beautiful business model of Dream Careers!
I was extremely encouraged when so many of you asked about the ‘Sunday video’ that I missed last Sunday. I had done a blog post instead, which is here, if you missed it. For today’s video, I am posting a recent interview in which I talked about happiness, motivation, success… goal-setting, planning, prioritisation and part of my life story. This is a 7-minute version about the foundation for all success.
Karishma is a Philippines-born Indian, based in Hong Kong. Karishma coins herself as a “multi-passionate” creator, as she is a designer, performer, presenter and has a great interest in human potential and the power of the mind. She runs a digital design & videography business, Kranberry Studio. One of Karishma’s current projects, Koffee with Karishma is a show that dives deep into ways to stay inspired and making your dreams come true, in a fun, light-hearted manner. And I was happy to be her first guest 🙂
Thank you for watching!
Sorry, no video today! I decided not to spend the last Sunday in Karachi recording, editing and uploading another video. But here’s one of my popular posts from a year ago.
‘Hector and his Search for Happiness’ was a movie about a psychiatrist who feels guilty of dispensing recommendations to his patients that never change their conditions or make them any happier. So he sets out on a journey to find out what makes people happy. During his interesting and inspiring trip, he makes the following 22 observations:
- Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.*
- Happiness often comes when least expected.
- Many people only see happiness in their future.
- Many people think happiness comes from having more power or more money.
- Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.
- Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains.*
- It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.*
- Happiness is being with the people you love; unhappiness is being separated from the people you love.
- Happiness is knowing that your family lacks for nothing.
- Happiness is doing a job you love.*
- Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own.
- It’s harder to be happy in a country run by bad people.
- Happiness is feeling useful to others.*
- Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are.
- Happiness comes when you feel truly alive.*
- Happiness is knowing how to celebrate.*
- Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love.*
- Happiness is not attaching too much importance to what other people think.
- The sun and the sea make everybody happy.*
- Happiness is a certain way of seeing things.
- Rivalry poisons happiness.
- Women care more than men about making others happy.
- Happiness means making sure that those around you are happy.
* These are my favourites. Which one is yours?
4th Sunday, 4th video… though it seems to be getting harder every week. In this 3-minute video, I share a principle that I’ve lived for over 20 years. It’s about differentiating between problems and situations, and focusing all our focus, time and energy on problems instead of situations. Fighting with situations can only lead to anger, frustration and disappointment. This simple practice has the potential to change your life by increasing your happiness, motivation and success. Have a look and let me know what you think.