Mush Talks #9: Become Happier through Gratefulness

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:

  1. Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. –Charles Dickens
  2. Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. –Eckhart Tolle
  3. 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
  4. If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily. –Gerald Good
  5. 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
  6. He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. –Epictetus
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment. –Naomi Williams
  10. 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 🙂

Mush Talks #7: Three Essentials of Parenting

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!

Mush Talks #2: 4 Steps to Achieve Anything

This has been one of my most popular and effective training programs for over 20 years. It has helped students, fresh graduates, entrepreneurs, salespeople and managers. It’s a 2-hour workshop which I have condensed into a 4-minute video. Thank you for watching and sharing

You may want to subscribe to my YouTube channel or the Blog for auto-notifications of upcoming blog posts and videos.

Mush Talks #1: Gratitude

During a recent review of my ‘dreams list’ I decided to fast-track a few items to ‘goals, plans and action’. One of them was to share my knowledge and experience about happiness, motivation and success through short videos. These video will be 5-10 minutes, focusing on one topic. It’s a non-commercial activity, just for the sake of contribution. To ensure I can do at least two per month, I am doing my own amateur recording and editing. Thank you for watching and sharing…

You may want to subscribe to my YouTube channel or the Blog for auto-notifications of upcoming blog posts and videos.

Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation

I just heard one of the best TED talks about conversations. Celeste Headlee covers everything I try to include in my 1-3 hours of training on communication skills, and even more, in just 12 minutes!

The ten tips are:

  1. Don’t multi-task. Be fully present.
  2. Don’t pontificate. Set aside your personal opinions.
  3. Use open-ended questions.
  4. Go with the flow. Let your own thoughts come and go.
  5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. It’s not about you.
  7. Don’t repeat yourself.
  8. Stay out of the details.
  9. Listen! Be interested.
  10. Be brief.

I also loved these quotes from the talk:

  • “If your mouth is open, you are not learning.” -Buddha
  • “No man ever listened his way out of a job.” -Calvin Coolidge
  • “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand; we listen with the intent to reply.” -Stephen Covey

20 Chinese quotes that pack 4,000 years of wisdom

Year of the Monkey

  1. A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.
  2. Better to be a diamond with flaws than a pebble without imperfections.
  3. Be not afraid to move slowly; be afraid only of standing still.
  4. A gem will not be perfect without carving and polishing, nor a man perfected without trials.
  5. Deep doubts, deep wisdom; small doubts, little wisdom.
  6. When you drink water, remember the spring.
  7. If heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.
  8. Dig the well before you are thirsty.
  9. If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t do it.
  10. Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself.
  11. A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.
  12. A book holds a house of gold.
  13. A filthy mouth will not utter decent language.
  14. A thousand cups of wine do not suffice when true friends meet, but half a sentence is too much when there is no meeting of the minds.
  15. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
  16. Do good, reap good; do evil, reap evil.
  17. A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.
  18. One generation plants trees, the next enjoys the cool shade.
  19. Studying is like rowing a boat upstream; if you don’t move forward, you move backward.
  20. Be patient in one moment of anger, to save yourself hundred days of sorrow.

The image is of one of the best Chinese New Year cards I received this year, from none other than the most creative Stepworks team; click to see the beautiful animated version.

Wishing you a happy Year of the Monkey!

Dhinchak Life, free preview ebook!

201304 DL cover

I turned 48 today, and this e-book is a small gift from me! This is part of the first section of my book, Dhinchak Life. If you already have the book, this may serve as a reminder of the principals that can make you happier, and in full color. And if you haven’t got the book yet, this may inspire you to buy a copy.

The photos used in the book are from my travels during the last year. I hope they inspire you to go out and visit these beautiful places.

Thanks to Sara Mush, my brilliant daughter, for creating this e-book version. Just click on the image to download, or download from here, and don’t forget to share with friends. Wishing you many Dhinchak moments!

An exciting first week – after losing my job!


The only reason I posted the news last Friday, within hours of getting fired from my job, was because it was the fastest and most efficient way of letting everyone in my world know what had happened and that I was actually excited about the situation. I never expected to receive 200+ beautiful messages through comments on the blog, Facebook, emails, SMS, whatsapp and phone calls! I can’t express in words how thrilled, excited, blessed and grateful I felt reading those messages. I smiled, laughed and cried. It would be a huge understatement to say that ‘you made my day/week’. You made my life! Thank you.

To those who keep saying ‘is that true?’ ‘how did it happen?’ ‘but why?’ ‘i still can’t believe’ etc., I can only say, ‘get over it, move on’!

To those who think they have lost a leader, mentor, guru, hero (and all those amazing words I didn’t think I was worthy of), I am very much alive and will continue doing what I do best. Feel free to connect with me through this blog, Facebook, or Twitter. I will also continue to post my photos and videos on Flickr and YouTube.

So what am I up to?

  • I have freelance work from the company till the end of April, to complete the ongoing projects and fulfill my travel commitments to the distributors. That means I get to see some of you soon!
  • I am working on my first CV ever, while also developing certain business plans. Absolutely over the moon about the possibilities!
  • I am doing more reading, more writing and more thinking! I’m still following the diet, and have more time for exercise too.
  • We have leased a much cheaper apartment at one of the edges of Hong Kong, and shifting in a few weeks. It’s much farther from the city but a bit bigger and right on top of a beautiful beach!
  • The family is totally supportive and positive, and we have never been closer!

Thanks again for your wonderful support and encouragement!

You are not just ‘OK’, you are ‘incredibly blessed’!

DLOf all the things I have learnt about personal motivation, this is one of the most profound. I learnt this more than 20 years ago from the book Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins, and my life has never been the same:

  • English language has over 500,000 words, but our habitual vocabulary consists of 2,000 to 10,000 words. Less than 2%.
  • There are over 3,000 words to describe human emotions. About 1,000 for positive emotions and about 2,000 for negative emotions.
  • Most words, in addition to their literal meanings, convey distinct emotional intensity. This means our choice of words gives us the power to take the most negative feelings and lower their intensity to the point where they no longer bother us. And similarly, we can take a positive experience and move it to greater heights of pleasure.
  • What are some of the commonly used words to describe negative emotions? Now think of new words that help lower the intensity of the negative emotions e.g.
  • Replace ‘depressed’ with ‘not on top of it’
  • Disappointed with Under whelmed
  • Failing with Learning
  • Frustrated with Challenged
  • Pissed off with Peeved
  • I hate with I prefer
  • Insulted with Misunderstood
  • Painful with Uncomfortable
  • Illness/sickness with Cleansing
  • Stuck with Busy
  • Starved with Hungry
  • Similarly, what are some of the positive/mediocre words that you can replace with more powerful words to increase the intensity of the positive emotion e.g. Continue reading
  • I lost my job today, but I am grateful and excited!

    I lost my job today! Few immediate negative thoughts:

    • How could they do that to me? I’ve been working here for over 16 years!
    • What will I do now? There aren’t many opportunities in my specialized field and my set of skills!
    • How long can I survive without a job? The mortgage, bills, kids… and the bigger dreams!
    • Why did it happen at the worst possible time?

    Fortunately, there were a lot more positive thoughts that followed:

    • Most dynamic companies go through restructuring, reorganizing and cost-cutting. Nothing personal! 
    • Thousands of people lose their jobs every day around the world – there are over 197 million unemployed people. This is part of working life and can happen to anyone, any time.
    • There are endless opportunities if I look with an open mind, and beyond my current industry!
    • It’s an exciting challenge, and I am totally ready for it. I must stay focused, continue to believe and dream.
    • The timing couldn’t be better! I’ll be 48 in a few weeks. It’s time to do something even more exciting!

    And looking back, I felt even more grateful and excited that my job had allowed me to learn so many new things, develop different skills, almost master the art of training, travel the world, see amazing places, meet wonderful people… and above all, make a difference in the lives of so many people in so many places! My job is gone but all of that will stay with me forever! And all of that has prepared me for the next phase of my life.

    “When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change. At such moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back…” -Paolo Coelho

    Please feel free to share your words of support and encouragement through comments.

    Update (17th March): Thank you for such kind, nice, wonderful, amazing, surprising messages! I am deeply touched by your love. And also under a lot of pressure to do something big 🙂 I have no issues with the company, and do not wish to hear anything negative.


    6 months on Paleo: maintaining at 75kg and 32.5″!


    Paleo has become my favorite diet and lifestyle. Not only it allows me to maintain myself at my perfect weight and size, without regular exercise, there are lots of other benefits too!

    I first heard it from Hamza, my son who is a bigger health and fitness freak than I am. Then I read the book, The Paleo Solution. More on that here.

    I started following the diet in September, and lost 3kg and 2 inches of belly fat in 4 weeks, as reported here. By week 6, I had lost 3.5kg and 2.5 inches of belly fat, as posted here with a photo in November 2012.

    By week 8, I had achieved my target of losing 4kg and 3 inches of belly fat. I was down to my perfect weight of 75kg and waist size of 32.5″. Here’s the best part: I have maintained it for the last 4 months! Want to know what the diet really is? Read it here.

    It’s easy to follow. You don’t need to go find or cook anything special. Just remove carbs from your regular meals and add some more vegetables, nuts and lean meat.

    While on Paleo, I feel more energized all day long, even during late afternoon and after dinner. Sleep seems to have become more refreshing and it’s easier to wake up energized.

    If you are serious about weight loss, you must read more on Paleo and give it a try.

    [Photo of one of the best fruit salads I’ve ever had, during one of my travels to the Middle East]

    Bonus time


    “Bonus time” is an interesting concept that keeps me happy when I am supposed to be angry, frustrated or disappointed.

    If my flight is delayed by an hour, I consider it the ‘bonus time’ I’ve been granted. Full 60 minutes of no plans, no commitments, no schedules! I can do whatever I like – read, work, think, relax, eat, take photos, call family, or just sit and do nothing for a change. Of course, I have the alternative to get angry at the airline; demand explanations; get upset about the delay; think of the rest of the things that would all be delayed by an hour… but none of that is going to help. Next time you have a delay or a wait, try to think of it as a gift of ‘bonus time’ e.g.

    • You have an appointment with a dentist, or with anyone else, but are asked to wait for half an hour when you arrive.
    • It takes you longer than planned on the road, due to traffic.
    • You queue up somewhere and it seems to take forever.

    In each of these situations, you have a choice to get upset or consider the waiting time as ‘bonus time’ in which you can do something positive, productive and unplanned – like making that call to someone special or catching up on the news or thinking some good thoughts or just conscious breathing. Will you try?

    [Photo taken during a road trip in Yogyakarta last week]

    4 ways to feel unhappy and miserable!


    Feeling unhappy and miserable must be one of the easiest things to do, considering that almost every other person does that most of the time. Here’s how I think people get unhappy, sad and depressed:

    1. Think of all the things you do not have: more money, the perfect job, better relationships, great health, slim body, free time… that’s sure to make you unhappy and sad.
    2. Focus on all the imperfections in the people around you: she is not tidy enough; he is not obedient enough; they are not caring enough; people are inconsiderate; he never listens; she never understands… that will make you angry and frustrated.
    3. Imagine all the things that could go wrong: you could lose your job; the economy could get worse; someone you love could leave you; there could be another tsunami; the world could come to an end; you could get a major illness… that will make you worried and depressed.
    4. Blame everyone and everything possible for all the problems in your life, except yourself: your parents/upbringing, your country/government, your company/boss/colleagues, your friends, the economy/’market’, customers/buyers, the weather, gods… and see if you feel the helplessness and lack of control.

    I know these always work; I have done that quite a few times in my life. Fortunately, I have also learnt the antidote to depression and unhappiness: Be grateful for what you do have; focus on all the good things; do not worry about things that haven’t happened; accept responsibility. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s a fact that how we feel is totally in our control.

    “Just as your car runs more smoothly, and requires less energy to go faster and farther, when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings and emotions are in balance.” -Brian Tracy

    [The two photos on top and bottom were taken within 15 minutes of each other – Aberdeen Harbor, Hong Kong]


    Monday morning inspiration!


    “No one has ever talked himself (or anyone else) out of an undesired emotion by hurling insults or by delivery a moral lecture.” -Nathaniel Branden

    “Don’t worry about the whole world: if you do it will overwhelm you. Worry about one wave at a time. Please yourself. Do something for you, and the rest will fall in line. -David Seabury

    “You are not going to live forever. With the years ahead of you, why not start now to concentrate on making your life as meaningful, free, exciting, and joyous as possible?” -Harry Browne

    “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” -Alexander Pope

    “To be nobody but yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” -EE Cummings



    [Photo taken on the streets of Olango Island. I wondered what’s making them so happy]


    Don’t wait!

    201301 cakeDon’t wait…

    • for an occasion to bring flowers, buy gifts, send a card or say ‘i love you’ to the one you love
    • to say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’
    • for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect
    • for the right time; time will never be right
    • for people to be friendly, show them how
    • until your life is almost over to realize how great it’s been
    • for things to happen; make them happen
    • for next year; a year from now you’ll wish you’d started today
    • for the new year to make your resolutions
    • until tomorrow; it may be a day too late!

    What are you waiting for?

    The lies we tell…

    201301 sunrise

    The lies we tell ourselves and others…
    Lie: I am late because of traffic
    Truth: I am late because I got up late; I am late because I am not organized…

    Lie: I don’t have time to read/exercise/call…
    Truth: I am not really interested or committed

    Lie: I am not good enough for…
    Truth: I haven’t learnt how to…

    And some more…
    There’s plenty of time/life for…
    It’s just one bite…
    People are no good…
    I’ll be happy when…

    What other lies can you add?

    [Photo of sunrise in Hong Kong. Some more photos of the sun and moon between 31st Dec and 1st Jan here]

    “Un-inspiring” quotes about the New Year!

    201212 sunrise2

    • “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
    • “New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” -Mark Twain
    • “Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.” -Thomas Mann
    • “New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.” -Mark Twain
    • “Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” -Hal Borland
    • “Celebrate each new day, and be grateful for every moment of this wonderful life. Happy New Day!” -yours truly

    It’s that time of the year again – the happy new year wishes, fireworks, cheer, and most importantly, the optimism for the year ahead.

    How about greeting each new day with the same cheer and optimism. Isn’t waking up each morning a reason to be grateful and happy? Isn’t every day a chance to celebrate life and everything it has to offer? If that seems a bit too extreme, then how about ‘happy new week’? Could we not be as excited about the challenges and surprises that each new week brings?

    This year try new month resolutions at the start of every new month. I’ve tried and it works much better than new year resolutions.

    Two related posts about the New Year: You DON’T need New Year resolutions! and Make it happen in 2013 – without any New Year resolutions!

    [Photo of sunrise during an African Safari – December 2011]

    Make it happen in 2013 – without any New Year resolutions!

    2012listI started struggling with my dreams at the age of 15, when I suddenly learnt that I was on my own. I had to stop schooling and start working. It seemed like the end of the world – no education, no family support, no money… all I had were dreams and love for a girl who was going to be my soulmate. I also had  an extremely good luck to find the right people showing me the way and helping me along the way. [Some more of that story in my book introduction here.]

    For over 30 years, I’ve been following what I call the “4-step method” to fulfill my dreams and achieve my goals, big and small, long-term and short-term. I got to the top of my dream job, traveled the world, achieved the health and fitness that I desired, started this blog… and more recently, got my first book published! I have also helped hundreds of people achieve their dreams through the same 4-step method. It’s not easy, but it’s simple:

    1. Dream. It’s the easiest part. We all have dreams. It’s a pity that sometimes we stop dreaming. We ‘learn’ that dreaming is no good; dreaming doesn’t help; dreams don’t come true. If you want a dream to come true, you got to have a dream. To follow step 1, you need to write your dreams down. It helps to think of your dreams as
      • Things I want to do (learn… travel to… contribute to… experience… lose… quit…)
      • Things I want to be (a manager/director… volunteer… a better…)
      • Things I want to have (all the material stuff that money can buy…) [Inspiring quotes about dreams]
    2. Goal. Now that you have your dream list all sorted, pick one or two of them that inspire you the most. The things that can happen over the next 3-6 months. The things you are most passionate about. The things you’d do if you only had a year to live. And make that dream specific and time bound. E.g. ‘I want to travel’ is a dream; ‘I am going to see Guilin in April 2013’ is a goal. ‘I want to lose weight’ is a dream; ‘I am going to lose 10 kg in 10 weeks’ is a goal. You see the difference between a dream and a goal? This is often the hardest part because it requires you to make a commitment to your dream. [Related post] Continue reading