It’s been more than a year since I left half my family and a very comfortable life in Hong Kong, and moved to Pakistan, in September 2017. And I am often asked how can anyone willingly move back after spending over 20 years abroad; how has the experience been; and how do I manage to stay so happy and positive. It was a combination of things I’ve learned over the years and have applied in many situations, particularly in dealing with any change…
Manage your expectations: I didn’t expect anything in Pakistan to be similar to HK – effective government, efficient systems, easy public transportation, organized traffic, law-abiding people, beautiful weather or the basic stuff like security, electricity, water, Internet etc. Those are the luxuries that most countries/people do not experience in a lifetime. So I rarely found myself getting frustrated about the weather, traffic, government or lack of any of those things I often took for granted in HK. Everyday I experienced what I had expected, so there was no disappointment.
Focus on the positives: An essential part of being happy in any situation is to be grateful for what you have, which is only possible if you are always looking for, acknowledging and appreciating all the good things in your life. And there are a lot of good things about life in Pakistan, which we did not have in HK, or may not have in many parts of the world e.g. local fruits, vegetables and meat (instead of imported); varieties of great food from around the world; beautiful country with lots to see and do, from Karachi to Kashmir and everything in between; lots of opportunities for entrepreneurs (and businessmen too); good people (mostly nice, kind, friendly, helpful, awesome); hardly any natural disasters like earthquakes, tornados, typhoons, volcanoes, tsunamis, or even flooding!
Be the change: Instead of complaining about things, we can try to be the change we want to see in Pakistan. At a personal level, it’s things like following traffic rules (very difficult though), reducing power/water consumption, being more tolerant with people who are different (Sindhi, Panjabi, Pathan, Shia, Sunni, less educated or civilized). At business level, we can do that by supporting good causes – e.g. equal opportunities for the transgender, women empowerment; minimizing disposables and reducing waste. And most importantly, being positive and spreading cheer!
Few other things that made the change exciting for me were:
- Starting Coffee Wagera as a hybrid of social-commercial enterprise that becomes a force for good and a model for other businesses.
- Introducing the concepts and teaching the principles of ‘Happiness at Work’ in Pakistan for the first time, through my training programs.
- Supporting Hur with his training at Special Olympics – one of the best non-profits in Pakistan! They are preparing him and many others for the Special Olympics World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
- The excellent support of family, friends and the business community. And finally, the secret: the love of Shanzeh (my granddaughter) and the opportunity to spend time with her 🙂