Shift your mood in 30 seconds or less

We all have those moments when we feel low, unhappy or a bit depressed. Somebody said something that hurt. Someone didn’t notice your good work and you felt bad. Your actions didn’t produce the desired results, and you got depressed. The problem with such feelings is the negative cycle they create, so it’s important that you quickly reverse the emotions. There are many ways to do that, but the one that takes the least amount of time and effort is gratefulness.

Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and think of 30 good things in your life that you may be taking for granted e.g.

  1. Waking up alive in the morning – thousands die every day
  2. Seeing everyone else in the family also waking up alive and safe – no disasters
  3. Having running water for brushing, shave and shower – millions in the world don’t
  4. Having a choice of hot or cold or warm water for shower
  5. Wearing nice clothes, with lots of choices and matching shoes and bag and jewelry
  6. Eating breakfast and other meals – millions are starving to death
  7. A job to go to – how many are jobless in your city/country? Continue reading

3 rules for guilt-free shopping, and an uncluttered life

In an earlier post, less stuff = more happiness, I shared how and why I started simplifying my life, five years ago, by reducing my possessions. Once I had done that, the challenge was to keep it that way and ensure that the old habits don’t creep back in.

My short shopping spree today made me realize how religiously I follow certain rules that have allowed me to keep my possessions to the minimum and continue to have a clutter-free life. These rules can be summarized as three simple strategies that anyone can follow. Simple, but not easy…

  1. Shop Mindfully:
    • Only buy what you need – really need. If it’s a temporary need, see if can be borrowed or rented.
    • Go with a shopping list and stay focused. Don’t be distracted by displays or special offers.
    • Don’t buy anything ‘just in case’ you might need it. Trust that you’ll find it ‘just in time’.
    • Always buy quality. It lasts longer, so costs less in the long run.
    • Don’t compromise on the style, size or color, otherwise you may be discarding it too soon. Continue reading

4 reasons why today is your best day!

A piece from “Today is Your Best Day” by Roy Lessin:

It’s not your best day because you feel like it is, or because you prevent that it is. It is not your best day because everything is going perfectly, or because you are living in ideal circumstances. It is not your best day because you are in optimum health, or because everything is going you way.

Here are four reasons why today is your best day:

  1. Today is your best day because you are here. God has placed you in this moment of time for a purpose, and the things that happen to you today will be an unfolding of that purpose.
  2. What happened to you yesterday, however easy or difficult, was used by God to help prepare you for what he has for your today.
  3. God will use what happens today to prepare you for what he has for you in future days.
  4. God has used your past and worked it all together for the good, and he will use this day to add to the good that he has already worked on your behalf.

God doesn’t make bad days for your and good days for you. God makes each day fit perfectly into his plans for you.

[Photo of sunrise from one of the McLehose Trails in Hong Kong]

Read more inspiring pieces in my new book, Dhinchak Life

37 things we take for granted, every day!

‘Take for granted’ in the sense that we don’t notice, acknowledge, enjoy these things fully, and even complain about sometimes…

  1. Waking up alive in the morning – thousands die every day
  2. Seeing everyone else in the family also waking up alive and safe – no disasters
  3. Having running water for brushing, shave and shower – millions in the world don’t
  4. Having a choice of hot or cold or warm water for shower
  5. Wearing nice clothes, with lots of choices and matching shoes and bag and jewelry
  6. Eating breakfast and other meals – millions are starving to death
  7. A job to go to – how many are jobless in your city/country?
  8. A car, or other means of transport that allows you to get to work on time
  9. Traffic that keeps moving
  10. Weather that’s live-able – would you rather be at the poles or Sahara?
  11. People trusting you with their problems at work
  12. Appliances and technology that (seem to) make life easier – imagine life without a microwave, washing machine, mobile phone, computer…
  13. Stable electricity – many places have daily power cuts
  14. Getting paid on time
  15. Our ability to see, hear, taste, touch, read, write, think, walk, talk, work, pray, love…
  16. Our education, knowledge, skills, experience, values…
  17. Having a home with furnishing and comforts
  18. Someone waiting for you at home, someone to wait for
  19. Someone that loves you, someone you love
  20. Kids – so what if they are not like us
  21. Friends, and people who care about you, people you care about
  22. Home-cooked meal
  23. Enough clothes to change a couple of times within a day
  24. The air we breathe, water we drink, the variety of food we eat
  25. Money in the pocket, money in the bank, credit cards – millions live under $1 per day
  26. Newspapers, magazines and books to read
  27. TV with 100 channels, and movies to watch
  28. Games to play
  29. Clubhouse or gym to workout
  30. Parents – they are the reason for our being
  31. Good health and fitness – thousands of hospitals in the world full of millions of sick
  32. Functioning government
  33. Good school for kids
  34. Weekends, public holidays
  35. Faith, religion, beliefs and values
  36. Nice bed to sleep in, pillows, blankets, reading lamp, alarm clock…
  37. Trees, flowers, sunrise, sunset, stars, moon, sea, mountain, rivers, breeze…

How different would our days (and therefore life) be if we noticed, acknowledged, enjoyed and were grateful for even half the things we take for granted every day? Would we be happier, more cheerful and have more enthusiasm? Would we complain less? You bet.

Right now, I am grateful for the long battery life on my mac, the comfortable sofa, the cushion on my lap absorbing the heat from the notebook, the lamp, the cool breeze from the window, the family sleeping quietly, the calm of the morning (4 AM), WordPress, Facebook, people who ask me when they don’t see a new post on my blog… a fridge full of stuff, mostly healthy!

Please share through comments (here or on my Facebook page) what else we usually take for granted, every day. Thanks for reading and sharing.

[Self photography during a beautiful drive in Surabaya yesterday, feeling the rain and breeze]

Why not a “Happy New Day”?

It’s wonderful to see most people getting excited about the new year – the greetings, fireworks, cheer, and most importantly, the optimism for the year ahead.

I wonder why can’t we greet 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 can tell you from experience, they work much better than new year resolutions.

Next time you get a ‘happy new day’ or a ‘happy new week’ greeting from me, you’ll know why 🙂

PS. I started a Mush’s Page on Facebook to spread the ideas about enhancing life further. It also makes it easier for you to ‘like’, ‘comment’ or ‘share’ with just one click. Check it out.

[Photo of sunrise this morning by Sara]

Flower Girl in Vietnam

She is a 15-year old girl who goes to school in the morning and sells flowers at night. She lives with her aunt who gives her ten bouquets every night. And she can’t return home until she sells them all. It can take her anywhere from two to six hours to sell all ten bouquets, depending on the day of the week and time of the year. The price of USD1 per bouquet doesn’t make it any easier. She goes to the road-side restaurants and coffee shops around the Cathedral in HCMC (Ho Chi Minh City), where she can find foreigners who are usually better customers.

She considers herself fortunate to be be living in a city, to have an aunt who takes care of her, to have a job that pays for her food and school, to have customers who buy her bouquets.

Do you feel a little more fortunate, if not incredibly blessed? Please share your thoughts through comments.

[An estimated 300 million children worldwide are subjected to violence, exploitation and abuse including the worst forms of child labour in communities, schools and institutions. As reported by UNICEF]

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Over 100 million homeless people!

Over 100 million people are homeless throughout the world, the majority of them women and dependent children. Overall, at least 600 million people live in shelters that are life threatening or health threatening in developing world cities. Every day, some 50,000 people die as a result of poor shelter, polluted water and inadequate sanitation. Some 70 million women and children live in homes where smoke from cooking fires damages their health. There are over 23 million refugees worldwide, and 27 million internally displaced people- within their own countries.

Please remember this, the next time you feel like complaining for lack of space. Another reason to be grateful.

[Photo taken in Bangkok yesterday]

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Great day or lousy day?

It was one of those days when I was able to notice most of the good things in life – big and small.

Waking up to a new day – alive and healthy! Running water, hot and cold! Nice clothes to wear! Fresh juice to drink! A job to go to! Beautiful weather – neither hot nor cold! Train station close to home! Train that’s always on time! My favorite corner seat! An hour of thinking and reading time! Nice office – with a sea view! The old cleaning lady who cleans with a passion and greets with enthusiasm! Clean pantry with filtered drinking water! Lots of work to do – mostly enjoyable! A Mac that’s always reliable – no virus, no spam, no hanging up! High-speed Internet access! An email from Hamza recommending another productivity software! Lots of people who trust me with their problems and impossible deadlines! An unexpected lunch meeting in a nice and quiet restaurant with the most divine tempura! New things to learn! Central air-conditioning to keep us cold, and a portable heater under the desks when it gets too cold! Lots of things to laugh about! Coming home to a loving family! Still being in love with the same person after almost 30 years! Kids (many) that we are proud of! Amazing home-cooked food for dinner…WOW!

What kind of a day do you think I had? Amazing, exciting, wonderful, of course! There were some problems for sure and a few challenging situations, but somehow they all looked small and insignificant! On any given day we all have more good things than bad things. But when we fail to notice and acknowledge them, even small problems and challenges look big and we end up having a lousy day! If our days make up our life, we can pretty much control the quality of our lives, can’t we?