10 inspiring quotes about travel

  1. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
  2. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
  3. “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
  5. “All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” – Samuel Johnson
  6. “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
  7. “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
  8. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
  9. “People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert D. Runes
  10. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Which one did you like best? And would you like to share any other inspiring quotes?

[Photo of sunset at the Monkey Temple in Bali, during a 12-hour holiday. Some more amazing photos here.]

The best tips on productivity, motivation and dealing with depression

I recently had the privilege of connecting and interacting with one of the happiest and most successful people I’ve ever known. He started as a salesman and built one of the biggest direct sales companies in the region. I always admired how he found time for leisure and everything else that he enjoyed doing, even during the busiest times of his business. He retired early and rich, while the company runs on the systems he had built. In the following note, he shared with me his thoughts on motivation, productivity and dealing with depression:

Books: Two books that helped me greatly are:

  1. How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne
  2. The Happiness Purpose by Edward De Bono

And my favorite now for ageless wisdom is The Portable Thoreau edited Carl Bode.

Work Habits: 

  • Keep a ‘time diary’ for 10-30 days. Log everything you do from wake-up to sleep – every phone call, every meeting, every cup of coffee. Review and you will find there is much wasted and unproductive time, which could be spent constructively on work or quality leisure. Make the adjustments.
  • Do jobs IMMEDIATELY and FINISH them.

By doing these two things I accomplished the same in one third of the time than most people! Now I am stress-free and have lots of leisure. Continue reading

Trick your brain into happiness

It’s not often that I get a forwarded email with good content. This came from a friend yesterday, without the name of the author or the source. And I am copying it as is, because I believe this is true. I have been practicing and preaching this concept for many years. Try it…

Did you know that you can actually “trick” your brain into thinking you’re happy? Dr. David Lykken, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at theUniversity of Minnesota says, “Emotions are a combination of internal feelings and physical responses that provide feedback to your brain.” In effect, you can consciously initiate or provide the mental and physical conditions that your brain will naturally translate into feelings and emotions — you basically have the power to influence your mood. Try it for yourself.

Smile even when you don’t feel like it. You’ll think it’s silly but studies have shown that people who force themselves to smile eventually develop a more positive attitude towards challenges and setbacks. Smile the moment you wake up. Smile as you put yourself to sleep. Smile at everyone you meet.

Laugh at the pettiest things. Get some air into those lungs! More oxygen, more energy, brighter day! Ten minutes of laughter a day –- that’s all you need to ensure a life of contentment. You’ll be surprised that in Asia, some companies have employed a daily “laughter break”. Employees have to walk to a park, form a circle, and force themselves to laugh non-stop for 15 minutes. Company executives swear that this relaxation break has caused worker enthusiasm and productivity to soar!

Stand tall and walk fast. Remember your teacher in second grade? She tapped you with a ruler, screaming, “No slouching! Chin up! Walk tall!” You had no idea that she wasn’t just insisting on good posture, she was also making sure you developed a bright and confident outlook in life!

Stretch – better yet, exercise! Don’t “think” about your workout, just do it! If you pause, to think about the sweat, the pain, the monotony and the time, you’ll find one excuse or other not to do it. So, don’t rationalize. Just get up and do it. You know that at the end of the workout, you’ll feel good you did it. And if you’re not exactly the workout kind, try dancing!

Think only positive thoughts, speak only positive words. Every time you start to think or say something negative, stop. Change your sentences into the positive. Pessimists complain about their problems; optimists think of solutions. Advise, rather than criticize. Encourage, inspire, motivate –- yourself and others. Pick up a lesson, rather than blame. And always count your blessings.

These are just a few of the many ways you can jumpstart an overall feeling of happiness and contentment. Remember that your emotions are dictated by your perception of the world around you. And your reactions are a product of choice — you can “choose” to be happy, angry or sad. As Ecrivain Lesage wrote in “Histoire de Gil Blas” in 1735, “I am happy and content because I think I am.”

[Photo from the window seat while flying from Dubai to Colombo]

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We love you, Zain!

Our dear friend Zain Naqi passed away this month, at the age of 22. We all remember him as an extra-ordinary young man who was very loving, friendly and always full of life. Zain used to spread cheer and laughter wherever he went. He was always ahead of the others in studies, sports and any other activities that he participated in. Zain always made his parents proud. Everyone dies, but not everyone lives. Zain lived every day of his life, which was rather short.

I have put together some photos and a video of Zain, though his smiling face will always live in our hearts. These were taken during 2002-2006 in Hong Kong. If you were fortunate to have known Zain, please leave your thoughts and prayers as comments.

“You can shed tears that he is gone, or you can smile because he has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that he’ll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left. Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can remember him only that he is gone, or you can cherish his memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what he’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.” (By David Harkins – British poet and painter)

35 Steps to an Enhanced Life

We all want more happiness, better health, increased productivity and improved relationships. We want to be able to motivate ourselves to do the things we know we should do to enhance our lives. I try to help myself and others to achieve all that through this blog.

Here’s a collection of posts from the last couple of years that I consider to be the best, considering the popularity and comments from the readers. Most articles are short, and take only a few minutes to read. Please let me know through your comments if this collection could form a useful ebook…






Please take a few minutes to tell me about your most favorite articles, through comments below. Thanks.

[Photo of Kuk Po hike near Tai Po in Hong Kong, taken last week]


Lately, I have been wondering about the contradictions in our thoughts and actions:

  • We want to be slim but we eat too much
  • We want to be smart but we miss the class, or don’t read the books
  • We want happy relationships but we sabotage them with our actions
  • We have dreams but we don’t set goals
  • We want to achieve our goals but we don’t plan
  • We plan but don’t take the action
  • We worry about retirement but we don’t save
  • We want to finish the project but we don’t stay focused
  • We want to wake up early but we don’t go to bed early

The list goes on. Are human beings lazy, indisciplined, indecisive and stupid by nature? Do our genes not have the willpower to fight temptations, to persevere, to do the right thing?

What do you think?

4 Tips for Instant Happiness!

The happy cobbler“If you want to be happy, be.” Leo Tolstoy

Feeling sad, depressed or unhappy? Does life look gloomy, and the world seems dreary? Try one of the following tested and proven tips to achieve an instant shift in your emotions and feelings:

1. Be grateful for the things you usually take for granted…

  • Being alive and healthy
  • For the basic stuff: food, water, clothes, shelter, electricity…
  • Your skills: reading, writing, thinking, driving, writing, and other
  • People in your life: family, friends, people you love, people who love you, those who had a positive influence in your life

2. Make someone happy…

  • Compliment people: for their appearance, intelligence, skills…
  • Appreciate others: for what they do for you, for their helpfulness… your family, co-workers and others; say ‘thank you’
  • Listen without interrupting, without offering advice, without judging Continue reading

Choose to Live!

Last night I got an email from an old friend. She wrote:

“Someone I loved for 12 years broke up with me to marry someone else. I am shattered. How can I be normal? In fact, I don’t want to be normal. My positivity is not working. All self-motivation formula are failing. I just want to commit suicide. You said, choose to live, no matter how miserable life is… accept the things you cannot change. But I have lost all hopes… what can I do? My mom has a lot of dreams for me, but I have no hope…”

I am sure she must have already heard all forms of consolation and advice from family and friends e.g.

  • He wasn’t meant for you. He was not good enough for you…
  • Things could be worse: People break up even after marriage…
  • There’s someone for you; you will find him if you allow yourself…
  • It’s OK to be depressed, but for how long, is your choice…
  • Forget positivity; just acknowledge the good things you do have…
  • Don’t worry about motivation; just try to focus on other motives in life, besides having a partner you love…
  • Suicide is the surest way to end all misery and grief, but it also ends all hopes and possibilities…
  • There are people who love you, who believe in you, who look up to you for inspiration, who have hopes and dreams for you… don’t let them down.
  • Right now you have made a choice: to be depressed, to think and feel in a certain way, to not let any positive thoughts enter your mind… tomorrow you can choose to think differently and feel differently.

So I am not going to tell her any of that. Instead, I said a little prayer for her. What would you say to her?

5 Most Popular Posts

Following are links to the five most popular/favorite posts on this blog so far – considering the number of views, forwards and comments:

  1. How to improve the quality of life, one day at a time: Have a great day!
  2. The top three excuses for not exercising, and how to handle these: What’s your excuse?
  3. Lesson in patience, persistence and positive attitude from a uni student: Must read if you are in sales!
  4. A book recommendation with an excerpt: Make Today Count!
  5. Too much to do and too little time? Then this one’s for you: Do less, get more done!

I’ll look forward to your comments.

LIFE by Paulo Coelho (Selected Quotations)

lifeA book full of selected quotes from Paulo Coelho’s many top selling books, including The Alchemist, The Zahir, Brida and Manual of the Warrior of Light. Some of the quotes from the chapter, The Path:

  • In order to have faith in his own path, a warrior does not need to prove that someone else’s path is wrong.
  • In order to arrive you must follow the signs. God inscribed on the world the path that each man must follow. It is just a matter of reading the inscriptions he wrote for you.
  • When we postpone the harvest, the fruit rots, but when we postpone our problems, they keep on growing.
  • In order to live fully, it is necessary to be in constant movement, only then can each day be different from the last.
  • There are moments in life when we need to trust blindly in intuition.

Leadership, Uncluttering, and Your Worst Enemy…

Another week has gone by, and with another week comes another interesting list of posts that you should check out in your spare time.

Here are 5 articles worth reading for the week ending Sunday, 19/04.


Coffee with David

I shared a table with an old wise man while having coffee today. After telling me a lot about himself, he asked me the two questions that I think every Chinese asks every non-Chinese in Hong Kong: How long have you lived in Hong Kong? And do you speak Cantonese? My answers are: More than 10 years, and no. David went on to ask the dreaded question: Why not? I explained why it’s never been my priority. He then offered the most profound advise: Just learn two new words every day!

Achieving big goals through small steps has long been established as a success principle. Imagine what could happen if every day we

  • exercised for just half an hour
  • replaced just one unhealthy snack with a healthy one
  • walked down the stairs instead of taking the elevators just once
  • spent just 15 minutes to breathe, or think, or unplug, or pray
  • noticed just five good things in our day/life
  • complimented just one person, or said one thank-you, or one I-love-you
  • saved just x$ for that special something or that special someone
  • read one useful piece of information or inspiration
  • took one small step towards one of our goals

It all starts with one small step! What will be yours?

The Weekly Round-Up: An Introduction

First post by our new contributor, Hamza:

How’s it going readers? Starting from today, I’ll be putting up a couple of links from around the blogosphere of articles that are either a must-read, extremely useful, or just plain interesting. These will of course be sticking to the themes of healthy living, productivity, business, personal finance, inspiration and life in general.

Without further ado, here are 8 interesting articles for the week ending Sunday, 12/04.

Stay tuned for the next weekly round-up!

The Dash by Linda Ellis

This poem continues to be one of the most inspiring pieces for over ten years. It’s been published in many forms. Here’s part of it:

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth…
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars….the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

Read the full poem here. And watch a short movie here.

Randy Pausch’s last lecture

I am sure most of you have heard or read about Professor Randy Pausch by now. But just in case you haven’t… his work is not to be missed!

Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the Carnegie Mellon University on Sept. 18, 2007. In his moving presentation, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. His book, “The Last Lecture” which was based on this presentation was also a bestseller. You can watch that lecture here. It’s about an hour, but very inspiring from beginning to end:

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?

Time Management: do less, get more done!

We are all so busy. We have so many things to do, and so little time. We can’t get everything done. And even if we do, we don’t always get the sense of fulfillment. Most time management books try to teach you how to do more in less time. I think the secret to fulfillment is doing less, not more, but doing it with passion and attention and focus. To do less, I use the “4 D’s Principle”:

  1. First D is for ‘Drop it’. Some things don’t need to be done at all. E.g. what would happen if you don’t take that call while having dinner with your family? What if you don’t go to pick up that friend from the airport? What if you stopped washing the tub before and after every shower? What difference would it make?
  2. Second D is for ‘Delay it’. You notice your car is dirty. Do you have to wash it right now, or you can do it tomorrow? That email doesn’t have to be answered right now; you can do it after completing the proposal you are working on. You don’t have to open all the mail as soon as it arrives. Are there things you do every day that can be done once a week? Or things you do every week that can be done once a month?
  3. Third D is for ‘Delegate it’. So here’s something that can’t be dropped or delayed e.g. Your child needs to be taken to a doctor. The air conditioning needs to be fixed. The customer needs a product replacement or a refund. Ask yourself if you have to do it yourself, or whether you can get someone else to do it for you. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to do things for you, only if you ask (nicely).
  4. Fourth D is obviously ‘Do it’. Your daily exercise. Time with your kids – reading, talking, playing, helping them with their school work, or just listening to them. Being with your loved one – the dinner, movie, walk or just being together. That course you have been wanting to do. That customer you need to call. That paper you need to write. The books you want to read. The friend you want to call. The vacation that you need. These are some of the things you won’t have to drop, delay or delegate if you follow the 4 D’s.

Look at all the stuff you do and see what can be dropped, delayed or delegated. How much more time you’ll have to do the things that really matter – that are important, as well as urgent! Please share your own examples.

Patience, Persistence and Positive Attitude!

One of Sara’s odd jobs is to sell FM radios at Rugby matches around London. The company pays a fixed allowance of GBP40 for selling a minimum of 100 and additional commission for everything over. Last weekend Sara had a good earning of 50 pounds, but then she lost her bag at a shopping mall with all the earning and other valuables. That’s like losing a quarter of your monthly paycheck! She was obviously quite depressed, but only for a little while, until somebody reminded here that there was nothing in that bag that couldn’t be replaced. She hoped for another Rugby match to make up for the loss.

This weekend, the group was taken to a small Rugby match in Coventry. The company didn’t expect to sell many, so they offered a commission of 1 pound per radio – no fixed allowance, no minimum target. There were about 15 students in the group and everyone thought they’d be lucky if they sold 20. That’s what the company expected too. But Sara saw a real opportunity and aimed to sell 50. Just before they arrived at the venue, the weather turned nasty – rain, hail, snow and all! The turnout of the spectators was very low; nobody wanted to listen to a student trying to sell a 5-pound radio; the sellers were freezing with cold! The group ended up selling about 300 pieces, as opposed to a 1000 at regular matches. But Sara had sold 67 of these! That means the rest of the group had averaged 15 pieces each. This was perhaps the first time the company had paid a commission of 67 pounds to an individual at a match in Coventry! We can learn quite a bit from this 22-year old student.

Please feel free to leave your comments for Sara right here.

Problems vs. Situations

The idea that I am about to share seems too simple, but it has changed hundreds of lives, including mine: There are things you can change (problems) and there are things you can’t change (situations).

Most people seem to go through life fighting with, and agonizing over, things they can’t change e.g. weather, traffic, economy, their appearance, sickness, death, accidents. The result is frustration, depression, anger, anxiety, lot of stress and general unhappiness in life!

On the other hand, focusing on things we can change, improves the quality of our lives. We can change our attitudes, health, fitness, quality of our relationships, spending habits, level of our knowledge and skills, and many other things in life. Life is too short to try and change others.

A favorite prayer of mine: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference!