The forgotten remote control.

Remember when your family had to fight over the remote control? Or at least, seen the same on American sitcoms? Ever wondered why we don’t care anymore?

It’s not because we can simply download the latest episode of Game of Thrones and whine about it on Facebook; well partially though.

It’s because we are slowly starting to live in our own individual shells.

Picture the typical family out on a nice Sunday dinner. Yup, they’re all glued to their phones. When they get home, they just get to use bigger screens: tablets and computers.

This happens when friends hang out too, even between couples. It’s sad if you sit opposite your “loved one”, Instagram your dinner and hashtag dinnerwithbaby when you’re better off doing it alone since you aren’t talking 90% of the time.

Are we truly “connected”?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting the blame on technology. My Master Sergeant in the army once told me: A good carpenter never blames his own tools.

I think there’s a shift (at least from what I’m seeing in Singapore) to more individuality; narcissism if you will. Everyone is looking out for number one: themselves.

Apparently, there is an inane need to entertain every possible second of your life, despite being in the company of loved ones. Or the desire to drown yourself in… well, yourself; either in selfies or Whatsapp group chats.

When was the last time you asked your parents how work is treating them? Or checked on your siblings’ school or career? How about your friend’s new horrible boss that came in just last week? Or your other friend’s wedding preparations?

Perhaps I sit on the tree of social interaction, the forgotten cousin of the now-hip social media. I believe that meals in company were meant to spark conversation and nostalgia. I believe advertisement breaks served to let everyone have a say as to what they think is about to happen next. I believe the best moments in life are shared in person, not on Facebook.

Normally, I’d leave a “Share on Facebook” button after every post, but this time, if you really want to, tell your friends in person.


Are you settling?

When was the last time you had a dream?

A deliberate daydream, to be exact. A dream fashioned purely from the pairing of ambition and imagination. A dream about surpassing your boss and being an industry heavyweight. One that is unfazed by car loan repayments and future home down-payments.

Perhaps you haven’t let go of those aspirations, but are you still steadfast in your beliefs? That you will succeed, whatever your definition of that coveted term may be. That you will persevere despite the odds, against the odds.

Or are you settling?

“The job industry is getting tighter.” “The economy is slowing down.” “Upper management doesn’t understand how I feel or help me towards my goals.” “I’m getting too old for this.” “I have responsibilities to my family and partner to fulfil.” “I’m too busy.” “Cost of living is increasing.”

Approaching the big 30, I’ve noticed many engaged or married couples at my age group starting to settle, becoming “realistic”. Money is exchanged for hours of their lives, which is exchanged for personal consumption, tiding over “bad weeks”. Long weekends would be worshipped, although Sunday nights would be painful revisits to decisions on quitting the current job.

Sooner or later, a baby will be make his/her into the world, alongside lost hours and money. “Maybe we shouldn’t have gotten the Mercedes, but we didn’t know nursery fees are so high!” “Better keep my job for the stability and be content with what I have.”

Whatever happened to your dreams? That youthful exuberance during university? That insatiable hunger to succeed? That determination to never just be a faceless cog in the behemoth that is your company?

Ah, success.

Easy on the lips, isn’t it?

Were you naive? Were you unrealistic? I would like to think not.

Success is never delivered on a silver platter, when you’re waking up on a late Sunday afternoon, post-Saturday night drinks. Not a single successful person was granted the status of immortality in his/her field by virtue of procrastinating, complaining or “settling”.

Ironically, there are many who were given the platform and tools for success, but appreciated them the least.

Want the key to success? Grit.

Work hard, but spend your hours wisely; work not for money, but for yourself and your skills. Work is never meant to be tiring, if you like what you do. Never be content with your current lifestyle. Never settle.

So, stay true to your dreams, and make strides only matched by hunger and ambition.

As a person whom I held high esteem for once said:

Stay hungry, stay foolish. – Steve Jobs


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7 Things A Man Can Do To Level Up

Hi guys, I’ve been invited as a weekly blogger/columnist for my friend’s dating app Love Out Loud Asia, check them out. This is my third post and you can read it here as well. 

If there’s one thing Final Fantasy and Diablo taught me when I was growing up, it would be the importance of Leveling Up. (And epic loot of course, but who’s going to find an Ultima Weapon in real life?) 

It’s a simple process really: Find weak enemies to kill for experience first, rest up to heal, then find stronger enemies to defeat. Rinse, lather, repeat.

How different is this from real life though? Finding a more difficult song to master or a more delicate dish to cook; it’s just like a tougher boss fight. Many practical skills and impressive feats are thoroughly achievable through hard work and patience, much like Mephisto runs.

While we can’t offer skill trees and stat distribution, here are 7 ways you can Level Up:

1. Playing a Musical Instrument

Most of us are absorbed in careers governed by efficiency and industry, but what ever happened to creativity, self expression and personal fulfillment? One of the true joys of life is creating something that you can share and people can relate to, for example a personal blog or musical cover of a song you love. So pick up that moldy guitar in the storeroom or start Googling “piano lessons”. I’ll even help out with guitar lessons, just ask!


2. Speaking a third Language


There is no disadvantage if you can speak a third language on top of English and your mother tongue. Firstly, there’s the obvious advantage when travelling to that country. It adds a dimension on the C.V. and impresses at the restaurant. Learning a new language also expands networking opportunities and allows immersion in another culture, another world almost. With free online resources, that world is only a step away.

Language learning websites:,

3Hittin’ the Gym

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

If you haven’t started lifting weights, here are the facts: it prevents heart disease, helps with sleep, improves posture, regulates testosterone levels, boosts self confidence and enhances your image. There are a ton of free resources available at your fingertips and with the convenience and low entrance fees of public gyms, there really is no excuse.


4. Take up a Team Sport

Photo credit: Tiger Street Football

Photo credit: Tiger Street Football

Besides obvious health benefits, taking up a new team sport can improve communication and problem solving, sharpen decision making, develop personal patience and for others and foster bonds with old and new friends. Also, you are more likely to commit to weekly sessions with friends rather than a gym session that can always be put off.

5. Dressing Up

I quote from my previous blog post: “I’m in the opinion that a fashionably dressed man will leave a better impression than a lady with good fashion sense.” It’s not difficult to start: just visit male fashion websites with regularity. Some tips from another of my previous post: Fit > Quality > Brand, get a nice pair of loafers/boat shoes, belt must match your shoes and invest in a tailored suit.


6. Cultivate EQ and Compassion

If there is one thing severely lacking in Singapore, it’s compassion. Start by volunteering for a cause and making it a weekly commitment. Too much? Bring your younger siblings out for a movie and get to know them better. No younger siblings? Your cute nephews and nieces. Visit your grandparents and talk to them.

You could also raise your EQ, which I personally value more than IQ. A higher EQ would  improve your relationships with your families, friends, prospective girlfriends and bosses. An excellent article by Karla Jennings on defines the Six Pillars of Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness, Empathy, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Social Skills and Happiness.

7. Cooking

I used to be impressed by guys who can cook, until I went to Melbourne for my Bachelor’s and realised how easy it is. Start with breakfast if you haven’t already. Scrambled eggs are a quick and easy fix in the mornings, and a great start to cooking. Move yourself up to pasta and sauce, before doing meats and vegetables.

It’s not going to taste nice on the first try, but Kurt Cobain didn’t compose a song on his first try either. A social aspect of being able to cook is sharing your dishes with friends; organise a potluck! Want a recipe? Google knows.


This guide serves to add dimensions and diversity to enrich your life. Do not partake in this leveling up to impress your friends or with ladies; do it for yourself and your well being.

Ultimately, a man should never be content with himself physically, mentally, socially or spiritually; this drive and fighting spirit should test his limits and go beyond them. Only then, he would know he lived a full life, not one of just dreams and goals.

We foolishly believe that our own limitations are the proper measure of limitations.

– Napoleon Hill

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Chinese New Year Survival Guide for Singles

Hi guys, I’ve been invited as a weekly blogger/columnist for my friend’s dating app Love Out Loud Asia, check them out. This is my second post and you can read it here as well. 

Chinese New Year is in the air (literally, being played in supermarkets and shopping malls) and I can practically smell the bah kwa already. Before you start to dread the inevitable “when are you getting a boyfriend/girlfriend/getting married/having kids” questions, here’s a guide to question sidestepping and ban-luck huating during this festive period(results may vary):

Auntie Interrogation 101

I used to wonder if every year, just before Chinese New Year, aunties would hold secret gatherings around Sheng Siong supermarkets to exchange ideas on ways to grill the “youngsters” with awkward, unanswerable questions in exchange for an angbao. Then, I realised the questions are pretty much standard. In fact, so are the answers:

  • “Got boyfriend/girlfriend already?”
    • “Waiting for you to introduce to me.”
    • “I’m dating someone already, but don’t tell my mom!” Proceed to fantasize with the auntie.
    • “Actually, I’m gay/lesbian…….Just kidding!” (This one’s my favourite, simply because aunties are so homophobic.)
  • “When getting married?”
    • “When you sponsor my wedding lor”
    • “Waiting for baby first, nowadays fashion to shotgun wedding!”
  • “When is the baby coming?”
    • “When you volunteer to babysit. You know childcare costs nowadays…”
    • “I don’t know auntie, the sex is really too good to give up.”

Side note: It is strongly advisable to collect your red packet before using these responses.

Photo credit: The New Paper

Photo credit: The New Paper

You are now entering a Fat-for-Free zone

With once-in-a-year snacks lying around the house, it’s so difficult to resist munching on just one. It always starts with one. Before you let yourself go on those devilish little things, here’s a friendly calorie reminder:

Snack (Portion size) – Calories
Peanut Crackers (3 rolls) – 418
Bak Kwa pork (1 slice) – 370
Pineapple Tarts (3 pieces) – 246
Kueh Lapis (1 slice) – 240
Love Letters (3 rolls) – 168
Yusheng (1 serving) – 145
Roasted nuts salted (1 handful) – 123

Jogging, 2.2m/s, 30 minutes, 60kg person = 200 calories. FYI, jogging at 2.2m/s gets you 18minutes on a 2.4km run. Go figure. (As in, there goes your figure.)

D-Day (or Day 1-15)

To Wear

Being finally able to wear that shirt/dress you’ve been saving since Christmas is another Chinese New Year highlight. Pro-tip: save your better pieces when you’re meeting new people. Your cousins have probably already seen the most unglam side of you.

To Bring

Besides the pair of mandarin oranges and mahjong investment capital, some might forget to bring an ample supply of name cards. Here in Singapore, it’s pretty full-on if a guy asks a lady’s number  a few hours after meeting her, so name cards are a good grey area to play around in. And throw him a lifeline, ladies; give him your name card if you think you might be interested.

Credit: David Coppini

Credit: David Coppini

To Do/Talk

  • Always offer to help the host with serving or cleaning up. A little goes a long way in improving impressions.
  • Be up-to-date with the latest happenings (i.e. Bangkok protests, Li Na and Wawrinka, Woodlands Checkpoint fiasco, Stephanie Koh, Juan Mata)
  • Go easy on the alcohol. The last thing you want to do is get drunk at your friends’ place.
  • Leave your thoughts on Anton Casey at the door.

That’s it for me this Snake Year. <insert generic, boring and narcissistic post about how this year had a lot of ups and downs (no shit, really?!) and hope that the new year will treat you better>

Have a good one, boys and girls.

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Top 10 Lies Singaporean Men Tell Their Women

Hi guys, I’ve been invited as a weekly blogger/columnist for my friend’s dating app Love Out Loud Asia, check them out. This is my inaugural post and you can read it here as well.

1. I’m on the way, but I’m stuck in a MRT delay/massive jam.

This is the male equivalent of the classic “5 more minutes” line. It’s so much easier to blame factors we aren’t in control of, and this excuse gets overused more often than not. Chances were, he lost track of time on his DoTA/FIFA game and left the house at 6.45pm for a 7pm date.

Obviously the best hero in DoTA.

Obviously the best hero in DoTA.

2. Looks aren’t important

Men are visual creatures; we like what we see. Except for that rare, select few of men, most of us are firstly attracted to the looks. Then the character assessment and chemistry might come later. But it’s primarily looks. Besides, it’s nice to have a trophy around the arm.

3. I’m working OT tonight

Another “oh-I-can’t-help-it” lie. This one’s really convenient to use though; there isn’t a set time for him to finish his work (when is work really ever finished anyway?), he has free play on whatever time he wants to end and he doesn’t have to answer any calls or reply any texts. Don’t fret ladies, maybe he’s really working overtime to buy that nice engagement ring?

4. Meeting a “friend”

When he says “I’m meeting a friend” without mentioning the friend’s name or whereabouts, you know something is up. Normally he would say “I’m meeting Jason later” or “I’m catching up with my army buddies”. So what’s with the minimalist approach this time? Although technically it’s not a lie; friends with benefits are friends too, right?

5. No, you don’t look fat in that.

Let’s be realistic: Before both of you started dating, y’all were working your asses off at the gym. So on behalf of the Singaporean male population, allow me to say it: “Yes you look fat in that dress, that’s because you’ve gained weight”. Please don’t kill the messenger.

6. I love you

Guys will say anything to get into your pants ladies. Men don’t take the word love as seriously as women. A lot of us use the word “love” loosely, some of us say it in a moment of flurry, only to regret the commitment later. Pro-tip: Don’t take the first “I love you” too seriously.

7. I’m just friends with her, I practically treat her like a sister.

Really? It’s funny, because I never had a crush on my sister, or brought her out on a romantic date before. It is pretty rare for guys to have close platonic friendships with the opposite sex without initial attraction first. He also wants to avoid all the unnecessary questions about her, so he simply uses a “sister” label.

8. I was in Commandos/Guards/<insert Combat Unit> during National Service, but got injured so I ended up being a clerk.

There’s nothing more important to a man than his pride (or ego). Very few men will openly admit to feigning injury, a.k.a. “chao keng” for an easier life during the NS period. Obviously a man wants to give his woman a sense of physical security and protection, so it’s always convenient to get “injured” in the line of duty for your country. Ah, so patriotic.

9. Nah, that girl’s not that pretty.

This is one of the good lies, or “calamity-avoidance” lies. You’re talking to him about a mutual friend or are with him when both of you see an attractive woman. If the girlfriend asks if he thinks that friend or woman is pretty, there is only one right answer.

10. Oh sorry, I didn’t check my phone/Whatsapp lagged.

When you’re with him, he’s on his phone ALL. THE. TIME. But surprisingly when he’s out drinking with his mates, he forgets to check his phone? Well if it really urgent, I’m sure he can pick up your call. But in the meantime, like most people, he would check his notifications drag down box on his phone to avoid being “online” or “last seen” on Whatsapp.

Before I end this topic, I like to give this humble bit of advice to any lady who is starting to suspect your man:

Action speaks louder than words. Don’t fall prey to his words so easily. See that he really follows up on his words. That way, you can separate the good eggs from the bad ones.

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Hope can be the most powerful force known to mankind.

Hope is the essence of dreams; it keeps us going every single day. We live for our dreams to come true. What dreams do you have?

Hope is nothing without action.

Hope is taking the leap and risking it all for a better future, be it your job security or your heart.

Hope is belief: Self-belief and believing in others.

Hope is the foundation of innovation, the catalyst for change and improvement: flying airplanes, a millions apps in your palm and rising cancer survival rates.

Hope is the absence of realism. Realistic people never have hope. They work within the boundaries of what they believe is possible and thus limiting themselves to such.

Hope is taking a new musical instrument, sport or language and practising day in day out.

Hope is watching your team play every week, even though they’ve been playing really badly lately. Because Hope is knowing that your team will have its day.

Hope is watching your younger siblings or kids grow up to be upright and compassionate people in society who can stand on their own feet.

Hope is asking her out for dinner, even though she might not seem to be interested in you. 

Hope is opening the door not just in your head, but in your heart.

Hope is changing the world into a better place, one small gesture of kindness at a time.

Hope banishes fear. Hope is saying no to that irrelevant word “impossible”.

Hope is not giving up, not surrendering.

Hope defies logic and reasoning. 

Hope trumps all.

Never lose Hope.


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For the love of all creation.

I like to start this blog post by saying a heartfelt Thank You to all who have visited this blog and complimented that I write well. Compliments are hard to come by nowadays. Whether I really write well or not is besides the point; I’m happy you enjoyed reading my posts.

I’ve had the occasional good-natured feedback about my blogging style and direction. Actually, I am more than happy to produce content that would have a positive impact on others’ lives and/or create a community for discussion on relevant topics. In a selfish sense, I’m not trying for mass appeal; Fame and money are bonuses.

I think our society (or Asian societies, in general) share this deeply embedded notion about life: making money. “Go to university, so that you can secure a well-paying job”. What happens after? You work for a company for a cause you may not believe in, only to be oppressed by old management, but to what end?

Now now, I hear you. Increased cost of living is making life tough nowadays. You only want to earn enough. But when has anyone looked at their bank account and said: “Yeah that’s enough?”

Credit: Stephan Pastis, “Pearls Before Swine” comic

So where does all this lead to? What gives life its flavour? To me personally, it’s about creating something that the world can enjoy. That’s where true fulfillment lies, being able to share your creation with the world reciprocating back.

Its also about being true to yourself. To produce something borne of your love for that subject. By creating something, setting your own rules and boundaries, I think there’s a lot of much-needed soul searching to be done.

This realisation hit me a couple of years back; I was performing with my friend Ryan Teh in front of 200 people, singing and playing the guitar, to raucous applause. That brief moment when you know someone is enjoying something you created, that feeling of connecting with the audience, is quite indescribable.

To borrow a top comment from a YouTube video:

“…that they have touched people and people touched them … just love, simple plain love. The moment when you feel that you are part of something beautiful and big, you belong. Just love.”

I always thought that artists have a better measure of life than others. Musicians, script writers, bloggers, authors, comic artists, game designers, chefs, fashion designers: all of them have a single common purpose: to create something that the world can appreciate, experience and associate with.

You can start! Write a blog (or book), compose a song, form a network, pursue painting or photography, learn to cook, to name a few. For those who abhor rules, shouldn’t you have started already, instead of complaining? Personally, I have two things I want to accomplish within a year from now:

  1. Performing weekly acoustic sessions at a pub. Hopefully I can perform enough songs on my guitar for a place to accept me!
  2. Writing, filming and producing my own YouTube mini-series, based on a love story where I aim for my audience can connect with and understand what the characters are going through, as opposed to a fantasy love story that will never happen in real life.

I decided to include my personal “creation” goals in this blog post for accountability, instead of just dreaming but never doing.

After being rampant consumers for most of our lives, when was the last time you did something that had a positive impact on a stranger’s life?

Once again, thank you for reading my blog. I hope you enjoyed this post. If this post, or any post, made you think a little, smile a little, or just pushed you towards happiness a little, then you’ve made my day.

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Confessions of a Singaporean.

It’s National Day, the time of the year to be proudly Singaporean. But have you ever (or, do you) wanted to leave Singapore for good? Go to another country where there isn’t so much stress and lower cost of living etc.

Well, I have a confession to make on National Day: I wasn’t always so patriotic as I am now. Hell, I actually managed to get an Australian PR. So why I am still here in sunny Singapore? Here’s my story:

Like many of you, I grew up reciting the Pledge and National Anthem every morning in school. I took National Education and Social Studies subjects and began to appreciate Racial Harmony at a young age, seeing a melting pot of cultures converge every year on February 15th.

Photo credit: Marsiling Secondary School

Photo credit: Marsiling Secondary School

You could say I was a success of the government’s education policies (or brain-washing propaganda, as some of you narrow-minded folks may call it), swelling with pride every year on National Day or in the company of overseas visitors.

Up until I started having Physics Tuition at Sec 3.

Every week, aside from teaching Physics of course, my Physics tutor would complain about the government’s rulings and methods. Now, I’m not a very big fan of going to jail for blogging, so I’ll stop here. But suffice to say, my tutor showed me the other side of the coin.

Soon, I began to see his argument with high COEs, ERP, tight media policies etc. The anti-PAP sentiment was exacerbated by compulsory National Service, two years of my glorious youth, shoved into a obscure location in Singapore, learning skills of (hopefully) zero practicality.

So when I was given the choice to go to Australia for university after army, I left Singapore without a second thought. I fell in love of Melbourne within my first year. The weather, the friendly people, the brunches and cafes, the lifestyle. What’s not to love?

My absolute favourite brunch place in Melbourne, MART130.

My absolute favourite brunch place in Melbourne, MART130.

Given my accounting major at university, I applied for and was granted my Australia Permanent Residency after graduation. I found an admin job at Commonwealth Bank (one of the Big 4 banks in Australia), where I thought I could kickstart my career. Even bought myself a AUD20,000 Toyota Corolla. I was finally doing it, leaving Singapore for good.

But soon, cracks were appearing.

If I went back to Singapore, I could save money on the rent (but lose out on the freedom, hi Pa and Ma, I know you read my blog). I could be surrounded by  friends and family again, speak in my fluent Singlish, walk the streets at night not having to look over my shoulder, have an equal footing in the corporate world, my peak hour trains would arrive once every 3 minutes, pay 3.5% tax for $3k/mth, and the best of all, I could have my chicken rice. And ba chor mee. And nasi lemak. And char kway teow. And ba kut teh. And Teochew steamed fish. And roti prata. And laksa. And claypot rice.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

What I’m trying to say is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s true: You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone. I left Singapore, not knowing how much I took it for granted. Now that I’m back, there’re so many small things that I appreciate now. I’ve been on the other side, and not every country is a bed of roses, Singapore included.

The irony is that being away made me realise what home really means to me.

Happy Birthday, Singapore.

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9 things I like to tell my brother on his 18th birthday.

To my little brother of 18 years,

Happy Birthday. June 30th will always be a special day for me.

I remember 18 years ago, on this day, I was running around the hospital announcing to all our relatives I’ve become a big brother (大哥). I was nine, oblivious to the responsibility that title would carry in the years to come. That was the least of my worries; a new member has joined the happy family.

I always smile to myself when I recall your kindergarten years; you were always so cheerful and chatty. Extremely chatty. Telling the whole family what happened in the day and although none of us were really listening, your infectious liveliness sparked cheer in all of us.

Did I forget to include your insatiable appetite?

Did I forget to include your insatiable appetite?

So much more to say: movies with 二哥 during the school holidays, the school bus bully, “your friend” reliably giving things for you that you weren’t allowed to buy, the box of pineapple tarts you unknowingly finished in an hour. I hate to say it, but it happened so fast. Sometimes I wish I had all those moments on camera, so I can relive them one more time.

Bros over hos.

Bros over hos.

So here you are now, on the cusp (I know you like the word ‘cusp’) of adulthood, the peak of your youth (they’ll tell you that again on your 21st). Your future, albeit hazy (too soon?), seems bright and yours for the taking. And rightfully so.

And yet, the journey’s just beginning. You’ve a lot to learn, still. I might just be a little ahead in this journey, and instead of being the reliably naggy 大哥 you’ve come to love, I decided to pen it down and hopefully you’ll come to this page from time to time.

Here’s 9 things you should always keep close to your heart:

  1. Follow your dreams. Wake up every day looking forward to working at your goals and dreams. Don’t live a life of “should’ve”; live a life of “could’ve and would’ve”.
  2. Communicate. Pride can sometimes be unnecessarily crippling. Speak out your feelings and thoughts, remove imaginary barriers and engage in honest discussion. If you don’t agree, ask and point out why. Most of the time, you can learn from the other side of the coin.
  3. Be proud of making mistakes. Mistakes are learning points, and you can only get better after making one.
  4. Learn to adapt. Sometimes, we are thrust into situations we can’t avoid. Embrace the surroundings and make the best of it.
  5. Spend more time with the family. No, looking at your phone whilst at the dining table doesn’t count. Soon enough, you’ll be doing National Service followed by attending university. When that’s done, I might already have started my own family, with the two of you bound to follow suit. Let’s treasure the time we have with Papa, Mama and 二哥 now.
  6. Play hard, work hard. I didn’t need to tell you the play hard bit actually.
  7. Never crumble under pressure. They say people are like teabags, you never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water. Perform under YOUR best circumstances. So what if you fail? Refer to point 3.
  8. Never forget the family is proud of you. We will always support you in whatever you want to do. And we’ll always be here if you have a question or just need a resting place.
  9. Love yourself, more than you can love anyone else.

Life beckons. But you’ll always been my little brother, who always happily tells me how his day went, in the cutest way possible.


Your 大哥

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The negativity of it all.

We Singaporeans are an unhappy lot.

No, it was not the Gallup survey that jolted me to write this post; I am not one to believe in labels. A partial yes to because I listen to my family’s, friends’ and fellow Singaporeans complaints on a daily basis.

I was inspired after seeing how a blog post complaining about Singaporeans complaining was the most shared-about link on Facebook during the recent haze situation (read: “Dumb and Dumber Singaporeans Reactions to the Haze“). I want to believe the author’s good intention was to hold a self-reflecting mirror against the ugly side of Singaporeans, but I fear he/she was just ranting against the ranters. Just look at his/her choice for a title.

Photo credit: 9GAG Singapore

Photo credit: 9GAG Singapore

Are we really unhappy? Sure, we complain a lot. But I think everyone needs a stress outlet. An emotional unload is much better than plotting someone’s death. But are we complaining too much?

I read an article in The Straits Times many years ago on the complain culture in Singapore. The author theorises that it is the deeply ingrained Asian teaching of humility that causes us to complain so much. Makes a bit of sense: You’re better off showing your shortcomings than flaunting your achievements… right?

If your company finally recognises the hard work you put in with a fat 10-month bonus, you’d hardly be taking a photo of your bank statement and sharing it on Facebook. What if the reverse were to happen? Coming in on hard times, your company decides to cut your salary by 10%. Your reaction? I’m sure the world will be the first to know, for at least a week.

But what does all of this unconsciously do to you? You guessed it: you’ll undoubtedly be miserable. All you’re exuding is unhappiness, I can’t see how you can be happy. You are what you speak. Somehow, humility can be a double edged sword.

Grumpy Cat.

Here’s my theory: A large number of Singaporeans react more strongly to bad news than to good news. Watch:

  • COE prices hit record highs: National uproar.
  • COE prices experience sharp declines across the board: *no reaction*
  • ERP raises by prices by $1: A death curse to the gahmen every time you hear the beep.
  • ERP slashes rates during school holidays: *no reaction*
  • Boss comments on your mistakes: Your boss doesn’t know anything and doesn’t deserve to be where he/she is.
  • Boss compliments your work: *no reaction*
  • Someone cuts you in traffic: Every fiber in your body wants to cut him back.
  • Someone gives way for you to cut him: *no reaction*

True story right?

So here’s my proposal: Reverse that. Over-react when something good happens; shouldn’t you be doing that? Good news doesn’t come by as often as anyone wants.

Bad news? Well, you could a) cast it aside and focus on the better things in your life, or b) try to make the best of a bad situation and learn from it. It’s a win-win situation, I’m telling you.

Examples you say?

The recent haze situation made me fall ill, but I didn’t go blaming neighbours and being miserable. Instead, I reveled in 9GAG Singapore‘s reliably good antics on the haze, proposed for friends to crash over at my place to watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals (every cloud has a silver lining) if gahmen were to issue a stop work order and warmed my heart when I saw this video.

COE prices went up? Good, take some of that saved up money to go to the Maldives. MRT delayed? Good, more time to complete level 4,830 on Candy Crush. Phone ran out of juice? Good, your boss can’t contact you for a valid reason.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Also, never forget the everyday, small things in life that make YOU happy. Your mom cooking your favourite dishes. Having a drink or two with your friends. Watching your favourite team win. Being able to listen to your favourite music. The trains arriving every 2 minutes. That cute guy/girl checking you out more than once. Being able to have all these at your doorstep: Ba Chor Mee/Ba Kut Teh/Chicken Rice/Char Kway Teow/Roti Prata/Nasi Lemak. A round of DoTA. A KTV session. Sunday brunch. An episode of The Noose. Saturday badminton sessions. A good glass of wine in good company. I could go on forever.

You will only have a bad day if you let it.

Happiness is a choice. Choose happy.

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