27/4/2013

While boarding the bus back from an interview for a History project, a Caucasian lady, carrying her newborn, extremely adorable, sleeping baby and a paper bag, and an elderly lady boarded. The bus driver immediately got out of the driver’s compartment, and asked politely for two young ladies to stand up and give up their seats (which were priority seats) to them. And of course they obliged. I think most of the people around them were watching as this scene unfolds, myself included, and I couldn’t help but smile at the graciousness the bus driver (and of course the two cooperative ladies) showed. I was just so happy and touched and heartened by what I saw. I wanted to say something to show my admiration or appreciation to that bus driver, but was at a loss of what to say, so I decided to make it a point to write this beautiful moment down in my blog/journal. To this amazing man, merci beaucoup(thank you very much).
Shortly after, a group of rambunctious teenaged boys boarded, in jerseys and high spirits. Through the journey, some of them attained seats at the back whereas some remained in the front. Two boys managed to sit on two priority seats, and I immediately judged them. I was internally criticizing them for being so ungracious (even though there was no one in great need of those seats). But when one elderly man boarded, they immediately stood back up and said, “Er Uncle, you can sit.” And immediately, all my criticism directed towards them vanished without a trace. I smiled again. And even though they went to sit on the engine (I think) afterwards although it wasn’t really meant for sitting, I didn’t have the heart to judge and criticise them. As Gretchen Rubin wrote, “Cut people some slack.” For all I know, they might have just came back from a soccer practice, and their feet were aching. Thank you to this two boys. You made me learn to think before I judge, and I’m glad I witnessed your actions.
In a short span of 20 minutes, I witnessed two powerful moments, and the world seemed brighter… (Okay who was I kidding?) The world remained the same brightness, but I felt lighter, happier. And I’m thankful for it.
I’m also thankful that I am loved by my parents and brother and helper and my family, and that my parents cared enough to ferry me from one place to another. I know I don’t show my gratitude or love often (it may even seem nonexistant, giving the fact I’m a grumpy cold-blooded person), but that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful. I am. I’m also thankful for all that I have, especially the chance to read and possess The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin is amazing.

27/4/2013

Thoughts on The Happiness Project

In The Happiness Project’s chapter of July, Gretchen mentioned “Spend out!” as one of her resolutions of the month. This made me realise how alike Gretchen and I are, in terms of characteristics. She’s an under buyer, a “satisficer” and a “maximiser”. I am, too. I like to calculate and compare prices and criteria of things and see which is most worth it.
But after reading that chapter, I realise that I, too, want to “spend out”. I like to hoard things because I don’t want to waste it and I want to keep it for some other time in the future (which probably will never ever come). Or I don’t like to buy things, because well I want to wait for something better, that might or might not come. But now, I want to change this. I want to spend out.
I’m not really meaning buying anything I want or doing anything I want on a whim, but I definitely want to stop hoarding things. I want everything to be more organized in my life, so that I can be in control of one aspect in my life, even if the rest (such as school) is falling apart. I think it’ll give me a sense of security.
I’m also going to keep a happiness and gratitude journal (which I learnt from the chapter of August). I’m going to post things that made my happy, or things I’m thankful for on this blog. And through this I want to take note of all those happy moments, be it little moments or large ones, and be more grateful, and through this be more satisfied with my life and learn to forget all my troubles. I hope this will help.

I think, Gretchen Rubin is my spiritual teacher.

Thoughts on The Happiness Project

Realisation

I’m still in the midst of The Happiness Project. It’s taking so long because of school work and block tests, but now I’m finally realizing that I can squeeze in so much reading even in a hectic day. It’s amazing how happy I am everyday because I can finally read and not just wish to read.

So Gretchen Rubin mentioned in her book (chapter of May) about the “sadness of a happiness project” she felt after realizing that what she is passionate about limits her from doing other things the world has to offer, because she won’t be able to appreciate or enjoy them as much.

First, I am pretty sure I know what I like to do for fun. Gretchen took some time to figure that out, but I think, as a thirteen-year-old, I got that figured out. I like to read. I like to take photographs. I like to read blogs that blog about books, photography, musicals, movies and school. I like to watch musicals. I like to watch movies. I like to think. I like to explore things individually.

Of course, all these might change as I mature and grow older, but I am 85% certain that I would still be who I am now twenty years later. Gretchen’s friend has said, ““What you enjoyed as a ten-year-old is probably something you’d enjoy now.” Change the ten-year-old to thirteen, and there you have it.

Of course, I feel the sadness too. I’m sure everyone will or have felt it while growing up.

The realisation didn’t strike me so vividly. I think it crept up to me and I learnt to accept it. I realised I would never be able to be a forensic scientist, because as much as I enjoy biology, I’m not passionate about it. I realised I would never be a dancer, because I’m not flexible and I’m clumsy and not graceful and elegant. I realised I would never be good at table tennis, or tennis, or badminton, or swimming. And sometimes I wish I was different. Sometimes I wish I was not me, and I could be someone else. Someone I define as perfect or ideal.

But sometimes I think, “Who cares about perfection or ideality?” I’m comfortable in my own skin, and I actually like being myself. I’m proud of being me.

Once, my mother asked me if I wanted to wax off my bikini line (a line of thin hair down my body) and I asked, “What for?” She said so I could wear a bikini and people won’t see the bikini line. But I told her that it was not as if I was going to wear a bikini in the future. The future is unpredictable, yes, but I’m very sure I’m not going to wear a bikini so often I have to get rid of something that isn’t hindering anything. I’m pretty sure ten years from now, I would still rather curl up in my room to sleep, read, blog or watch some musical or movie for the hundredth time.

I probably will not be a forensic scientist, a dancer or an athletic, but i will be who i was meant to be. To sum up today’s post, I’ll leave a quote by a commenter on Gretchen’s blog who wrote,
“One day—I was about 34 years old—it dawned on me: I can DO ANYTHING I want, but I can’t DO EVERYTHING I want.
Life-changing.”

Realisation

Getting To Know Myself Better with the help of Gretchen Rubin

So I decided I like reading multiple books at one time. Did I mention that nowadays non-fiction, self-enrichment, inspirational books are my cup of tea? And did I mention my love for fun quizzes? So other than Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, I’m also currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, who I realised is a very intelligent young woman. The following questions was a quiz she had posted on her blog The Happiness Project to help readers to reflect and get to know themselves more thoroughly.

If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more?
Most likely I would want it less, because I’m a goody-two-shoes. But if I really really have a burning desire for it, I might want it more.

Is there an area of your life where you feel out of control? Especially in control?
Oh yes. I think my time management is totally out of control. I’m addicted to Googling and doing unimportant things instead of taking care of my priorities. I know this is something I should be able to stop, but I just can’t. I also feel as if I’m very unaccomplished and lazy (which is probably the truth) and unorganized.

If you unexpectedly had a completely free afternoon, what would you do with that time?
I guess I would read, take photographs, edit pictures, Google or watch movies or videos on Youtube. And listen to music. Just relaxing things in my room with air-conditioner and the blinds drawn down.

Are you comfortable or uncomfortable in a disorderly environment?
Sometimes I feel comfortable, sometimes not. I guess it depends on my mood for that particular time.

How much time do you spend looking for things you can’t find?
A lot of precious time. If I lose something, especially something really important, I will ransack my entire house just to find it. I’ll look for this object relentlessly until it is found or declared gone.

Are you motivated by competition?
Oh yes, competition is my main motivation. Even ambition is second to this. But sometimes, competition is so stressful to me (most likely because I stress myself).

Do you find it easier to do things for other people than to do things for yourself?
Yes, definitely. If I know someone’s expectations of me or that they are expecting something good from me, I’ll put in a lot of effort to do it. But if there’s nothing to push me on except for myself, I’ll feel more lax.

Do you work constantly? Or think you should be working?
I don’t work constantly, but I constantly think I should be working.

Do you embrace rules or flout rules?
Embrace rules. Refer to point one about me being a goody-two-shoes.

Do you work well under pressure?
Yes, but then again sometimes pressure will drive me nuts.

What would your perfect day look like?
In the morning, I’ll wake up early but not too early. Have English breakfast, and spend my morning and afternoon reading, taking and editing pictures, listening to music and watching movies in my bed in my air-conditioned room.

How much TV do you watch in a week (include computer time spent watching videos, movies, YouTube)?
Hmmm… Approximately around one hour per day, some more some less, so around 8 hours a week.

Are you a morning person or a night person?
Night. I like to think myself as an owl.

What’s more satisfying to you: saving time or saving money?
Both are satisfying to me. But if I have to choose, it’s the former, because it’s more difficult for me to accomplish compared to the latter.

Do you like to be in the spotlight?
I like being in people’s attention, but I’m easily nervous. So no, I rather not be in the spotlight.

Is your life “on hold” in any aspect? Until you finish your thesis, get married, lose weight?
My life is always on hold when I have homework or examinations around the corner. The typical life of a student.

What would you do if you had more energy?
Organize my room, exercise.

If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it?
Turn it into a cozy corner with shelves of my books, and prints of typography and photography. There will be beanbags and sofas, and the floor will be hopefully carpeted. I will spend my time in there reading, dozing, sleeping, and reading.

What people and activities energize you? Make you feel depleted?
Normally activities that interest me energize me, and activities that is boring to me makes me feel depleted. People don’t affect my energy level. I’m immune to people. 😀 But do take note, activities that interest me or depletes me isn’t always the same as most people. My classmates think I’m weird because of my preferences.

Is it hard for you to get rid of things that you no longer need or want?
YES. I’m a hoarder, and what do hoarders do? Hoard. If I’m really determined on getting rid of things, I can manage to get rid of unimportant, useless things. But normally I’ll manage to find am excuse for every single object, and at the end of the day I got rid of nothing.

Do you get frustrated easily?
YES. I’m easily frustrated and easily provoked and almost always grumpy.

On a typical night, what time do you go to bed? How many hours of sleep do you get?
Normally I’ll sleep around 11pm, and probably get a nice seven hours of sleep.

If at the end of the year, you had accomplished one thing, what is the one accomplishment that would make the biggest difference to your happiness?
I guess it would be organizing my life and getting my life on track. Which means no clutter, good studying skills and grades, systematic and efficient life with time for relaxation and fun.

Getting To Know Myself Better with the help of Gretchen Rubin