One year in Pakistan, and no looking back! (3 Tips to Manage Change)

Mush Panjwani with Shanzeh

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 🙂

 

 

The three symptoms of killing our dreams

IMG_0395

A repost from Paulo Coehlo’s blog, it’s a piece from one of my favorite books, The Pilgrimage.

The first symptom of the process of killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the Good Fight.

The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the Good Fight.

And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we have refused to fight the Good Fight.

When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being.
We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.

And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoon.

[Photo from this year’s best collection, taken at Sai Kung, Hong Kong]

3 more tips to avoid clutter

 

IMG_1967

I continue to believe that a minimalistic and uncluttered life can lead to more productivity, increased efficiency and greater happiness. I’ve written several blog posts on my experiments with minimalism and tips to reduce clutter – at work, at home and life in general. Here’s a short version, because I think it all starts with buying stuff…

Buy 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 your style, size or color, otherwise you may be discarding it too soon.

Discard ruthlessly:

  • Once you buy a new something, get rid of the old one. Not tomorrow, not later, right now.
  • Find local charities or Salvation Army stores where the old stuff could go. If it’s too bad or old or broken to go to charity, then recycle it.
  • Give yourself limited space to keep your stuff. Once that space fills up, you know it’s time to reduce.

Use gratefully:

  • Whether it’s clothing, gadgets, books or other possessions, be grateful every time you use them. Remind yourself that millions of people do no have access to such luxury.
  • One of the biggest reasons for buying and accumulating stuff is being ungrateful for what we already have – that feeling of not having enough.
  • When we are grateful, we take good care of our stuff, and don’t discard/replace them easily.

If that sounds too difficult, just take one step at a step. And perhaps developing the attitude of gratitude would be a good start.

50 Life Lessons by Mush Panjwani

Mush PanjwaniI’ll be 50 in a few hours! And as a gift to my children, family and friends, I started writing my life lessons a couple of weeks ago. It started looking like another book, so I cut them all down into one-liners and still ended up with about 65. Thanks to Sara who helped keep the best 50. I hope these inspire you to change your thoughts and take some action towards making your life more dinchack

  1. Life is fair even when it doesn’t seem to be.
  1. You are not supposed to be like everyone else.
  1. When in doubt, listen to your heart, and take a small step.
  1. Change your actions, reactions and the way you put yourself out there, and you will change the way the world responds to you.
  1. Three things change your life: love, suffering and dreams.
  1. Focusing on all you have rather than what you don’t have is far better use of our brainpower. Gratitude is the first step to positivity and happiness.
  1. Holding a grudge is like holding burning coals in your own hands.
  1. Life isn’t perfect, but it has perfect moments.
  1. Nobody has extra time. You just have to make room for what’s important.
  1. Dreams are important, but only when we follow them with goals, plans and actions.
  1. The less stuff you have, the freer you are.
  1. You don’t have to win every argument.
  1. Accept and expect that failure is part of the experience. Learn from it and move on.
  1. Don’t let your past mess with your present.
  1. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  1. Success with people comes not from being interesting but being interested.
  1. Make exercise a daily priority. It makes you physically, mentally and emotionally stronger. It improves your health and your outlook.
  1. It’s hard to live a high performance life in a low performance body.
  1. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  1. Friendships need time and attention. Nurture them.
  1. Anything can change in the blink of an eye.
  1. Change is good; don’t resist it. Embrace it and consider it an adventure.
  1. Life is too short for pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  1. Angry outbursts result in regret, stress and unhappiness.
  1. The only way to overcome a fear is to jump right in.
  1. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  1. If you haven’t found your passion, make it a mission to find it. The joy it brings reflects in every aspect of your life.
  1. Don’t wait for special occasion to do or say something special. Today is special.
  1. Plan well but be prepared to go with the flow.
  1. Follow-up and follow-through are critical, though few people practice either.
  1. Work harder and smarter – not one or the other.
  1. Travel enlightens you, expands you, and makes you more interesting, insightful and accepting. Spending on travel is an investment in yourself.
  1. Learning is our most powerful leverage in life.
  1. Thoughts become things. Whether positive or negative, limiting or liberating, our thoughts can become our reality.
  1. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
  1. Forgive everyone everything.
  1. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  1. Your job won’t take care of you when you are old and sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.
  1. Believe in miracles.
  1. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
  1. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  1. You can teach them, love them and support them, but you can’t change them. They are unique individuals who must live their own lives. Let them.
  1. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  1. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  1. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  1. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  1. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  1. Everything you want is out there and everything you need to achieve it is inside you.
  1. Age is a number. Don’t allow a number to hold you back from being the person you are inside.
  1. The best is yet to come.
  1. Have faith. (Sara suggested to add this to the list)

Please let me know through comments which one did you find most useful/inspiring, and also feel free to share your own life lessons. Thanks!

Inspiration from Hal Lasko: 98-year old Pixel Painter

Also check out the other blog for news and updates on Dinchack. And the Dinchack Facebook page for daily tips on happiness, motivation and success.

Bonus time

Jugja

“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]

What does your profession demand?

I met a fat doctor. Though I don’t like to judge people by their appearances, I wouldn’t quite trust him with my own health and well-being. What will be your first impression when you see…

  • A dentist with bad teeth?
  • A tailor in shabby clothes?
  • A teacher who doesn’t like kids?
  • A beautician who is less than beautiful?
  • A manager who is not organized?
  • An educationist who doesn’t like to read?
  • A banker or financial expert with no money?
  • A motivational trainer who gets depressed easily?
  • A salesperson who doesn’t use her own products, or worse still, uses competitive products?

These are examples of people who are in the wrong jobs/business; who don’t believe in what they do; who don’t practice what they preach. Every profession comes with certain demands and responsibilities, fulfilling which results in success and happiness. And so does every relationship. As a spouse, we must find the time for our partner. As parents, we have to be the role models. As friends we have to be there. And what about our responsibilities towards the community, towards our fellow human beings and towards the world we live in?

“It’s easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”