Happiness Commandments : the prolog.

After laying down two big posts about happiness and a dare to change, I am enticed to have a go myself. There’s this urge to take the challenges, and to actually write some more, toning up my writing muscle (and my eyes’ muscles, since I tend to write till dawn).

so, Happiness Commandments.

The background story is the one of the blogs that I regularly visit nowadays; Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Every day Gretchen will have an article or a video that touches on the subject of happiness, to then be explored from different perspectives. From my mini manifesto about happiness, I am intrigued to come up with my own list of happiness commandments.

What I have in mind is, by having the list of things or suggestions on how to be happy, I will have to at least learn to know about myself. What makes me happy, what makes me sad, or annoyed, etc. Sometimes we have to be asked the right questions that in order to answer them, we’ve got to really think and open up who we really are. To be brave and be not ashamed of what matters to us and what doesn’t. And by committing to this list, hopefully, I will have an exciting journey of rediscovering myself and, fingers crossed, be a better person.

Gretchen, in her page on how to start your own happiness project, wrote that the first step is to write your own version of happiness commandments. These commandments can easily end up like a to-do-list, because we might identify where our problem is (e.g. I shall wash my plates right after I’m done with my food), and drop the pin like the ones on your GPS, and work excessively just on that one bit. We will end up with pages of lists if that’s how we’re doing it. We need to broaden up our target, and that one resolution may fall under a larger self-command, like “clean while you cook“, or “unclutter is cool”, for example. The process of constructing the commandments will take time, I’m sure, because I will have to identify what areas that I am more sensitive with compared to the others.

Anyway.

I don’t know why I’d need 400 words to start writing up my commandments. I guess I’m buying time, again, because I’m so NERVOUS!! *cold, sweaty palms*

Okay, my number one is pretty easy and straight-forward and it’s because first of all, I took it from Gretchen’s list. Hee.

Be Yuko.

As in, be myself. Easy, straight-forward, a tad too cliche perhaps, but at times proved to be a heck of a challenge.

You know what, I think I’m going to do what Gretchen’s done in her website. I’ll set up a widget somewhere on my blog site, list down my commandments, and link each of them to separate posts where I will explain myself why I choose to do or have that point in my list. Oh, and I also need to work out on naming the list. It’s gotta be catchy, you see. It’ll be easier to remember whenever I need some ‘help’ out there. So, my next post will be a “Be Yuko” post and why.

Alright! Enough for now. Have to get ready to go to church soon! We’ve got Om Djohan in the house tonight, for our Joint FA 😀

just being cheeky..

..but after squeezing my brain and milking all the buzzing ideas inside my head onto several posts for the past days, an old post from my early wordpress day came into mind.

Now that the red bowl has got a fairly good amount of turnover, I may or may not be confident enough to say that I can have some variations of rice dishes, just to see which one works and which doesn’t. Hainanese style? Mushroom risotto? Lamb briyani? Seafood paella?

Now I’m hungry.

This one red bowl is getting there. Steadily.

Change the world : OneWord 365

How do you change the world?

As Google is everyone’s best friend, I typed in “How to Change the World”, and it blurted out around 159,000,000 results in .12 second. Not even one whole second spent, and I’ve got more than enough sources on how I bring change to the world. There are organizations, songs, poems, videos on YouTube, Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres, movements, new age religions, indie and Hollywood movies and so many other platforms presenting their ideas on how we can make a difference to this crumbling world that we live in.

I’m not too good at multi-tasking. So now, being information overloaded, I asked myself, “where should I start?”. Moreover, I’ve never been one to be overly ambitious on asking myself how I can change the world. What can one small girl, um, woman, do that can be considered as vital enough to contribute to the better of the world?

I came across many encouraging blog sites while doing my research. One of them is OneWord 365, by Alece Ronzino, a Christian blogger. Started last year, OneWord 365 is basically a movement that believes that one word can change everything. It doesn’t need any complicated process to choose the right word. Just pick one word that “… sums up who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve…”, Ronzino encouraged. The deal is to focus on that one word for 365 days, or 366 since this year is Leap year, and to incorporate the word into your life as a guidance and a daily challenge for you. Many have jumped in on the wagon in 2011, and claimed that not only the project is exciting, it is encouraging them to be a better self. Some had Hope, Fearless, Humility, Listen, and other positive words. But some don’t seem to make sense, like Messy. The same blogger chose Vulnerable for her OneWord 2012. It might not seem to work for others, but it definitely worked for her, since it was the word that she needs for her to change her world.

One word, for one world. And when every one of us is working on our one word, do you reckon we can change the world?

And old phrase written by an Unknown, who enlightens us on where to begin our mission.

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. 
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. 
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. 

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself,
and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself,
I could have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

When the task of changing what’s around us become too overwhelming, we can always look in the mirror and say,

“we can start with you”.

So, what’s your word? 🙂

happiness : a state of mind ?

I bumped into this interesting blog last week. It’s called The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, a project-oriented, semi self-help blog with articles and videos and books in search for the meaning and the realization of what is happiness for us, both generally and specifically. The writer has weekly and monthly reviews and/or tips on topics raised by readers, with quotes and other pop culture icons to facilitate discussions and explorations on happiness.

After skimming through the pages on this website, there’s one section that tickled my curiosity the most, because I kept coming back at it. It’s called (Gretchen’s) Twelve Personal Commandments. It’s basically twelve kind of attitudes that Gretchen uses as her barometer in order for her to be happy, or happier in her daily life. Twelve actions that are easy to do, but definitely need some efforts for them to become habits. In her words, she explained that, “…your list of personal commandments are extremely helpful in working for happiness”.

And I thought, ‘working for happiness’ ?

There were several times in the past where I would ponder upon what happiness is essentially about. When you ask people on what they would like to do with their lives, most would answer with things that will ultimately make them happy;

“Good grades and have fun with friends”, a student might wish for his last year in uni.
A single woman in her 20s may think of, “Finding a job that you love, buying your own car, and a handsome boyfriend/future husband”
“Getting promotion, holiday in Bali, meeting pretty chicks and a sports car”, sounds like an ideal dream of a bloke in late 20s.
A 60-year-old grandma might think of going on a cruise with her husband, cooking good food for her grand children, and a good health.
What about kids? I bet they would say, “LOLLIES” or anything sweets that will ruin their dinner time 🙂

These are just some examples that I came up with on top of my head, so they may be way too simple. But as simple or as complicated as their wishes may vary, at the end of the day, everyone longs to be at the state where they can have this fuzzy, warm feeling in their hearts and says, “yes, I’m satisfied. I’m happy”. Now, the reality is, nothing is perfect. As we grow up, we come to learn that the world is not that simple. And to be happy is no longer as simple as when we were kids. Happiness becomes an object of pursuit, and many has taken it to the extreme and turn it into greed and obsession. “I have to have it, I have to do it, or else I will not be happy”. Have we made happiness as something so black-and-white?

For me, life is an art. You can learn and keep learning because it will never cease to give you something to learn. Happiness is also an art of living, it’s a state of mind. It is something that can be learned. You can learn to be happy, just like you can learn to love. In John 13:34, Jesus commanded the disciples to love one another. ‘Love’ in this verse doesn’t talk about feelings, it’s about acting, performing, exercising the love. You don’t have to be in love with someone for you to show love, compassion, care to them. The same goes with happiness.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,..” says Proverbs 17:22. A happy person is most of the time healthier compared to the grumpy one. Some may argue, “of course we want to be happy, but you can’t be happy all the time, right?”. I guess it’s true, but I believe that we can choose to have that state of mind. We can choose to be happy. Not far from the verse about a cheerful heart, in Proverbs 23:7, it is said that “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he”. In other words? You are what you think. You can become what you think you are! Of course, when you choose to do so 🙂

Now, do you still believe that we have to work for our happiness? You bet I do!

However much we try to think positive towards life, sometimes life takes the better of us. I’ve experienced in many occasions that just when I decided to choose to be happy and content, life hurled something at my direction and blew me off-track. And I had to work harder to build my happiness because now I was pissed I have failed to stay happy!

While writing this entry, I asked my husband what is happiness for him. Being a deep-thinker that he is, he answered,

“to be content, to have less expectations, and to be able to achieve things in life”
“So, are you happy right now?”
“Yes. I have you :)”
*cue wifey blushing and mumbling something to brush off the comment*
“No, I’m serious. Now that I have you, I have someone to share everything with. I feel content.”
“Okay.. So, is it safe to say that you will also be happy when you are able to achieve things throughout your life?”
“Yes, I would love to do that. But also by being content in what I have now, because when you don’t feel enough now, you will never feel enough anyway. So yes I would love to pursue some things in life, but I also enjoy what I have now”.

Marriage life came as a surprise for us; everything is different now. Well, at least for me. Combining two people who are imperfect, with different backgrounds and pasts and habits and perspectives, for the rest of their lives, can be a recipe for disaster. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many have chosen to be happy, not for themselves, but with their spouses. My husband and I have learned a lot about each other since our wedding day four months ago, and there have been challenges that pushed us to choose whether we want to be miserable, or to be happy in our marriage. To be happy should not be your only reason to be married, but you can choose to be happy in your marriage.

Happiness is simple. It’s pure, it’s straight-forward. But sometimes it’s not easy to be happy. On our quest to find ways to work on our happiness chart, it is best to consult the One who understand us the most. What I usually do is every time I feel annoyed or disappointed at something or sad, I will try to be still for a couple of minutes and calling my Father’s name, acknowledging His love for me. I found it worked most of the time; I grew calmer at the least, though the problem or the unhappiness don’t necessarily go away. As we are created unique from one another, I believe God also have unique ways in helping and sustaining each of us day by day. Happiness is not the most important thing in the world, it is not something that we have to pursue above everything else. But being happy surely lightens up our lives, it gives more energy to go through our days however hard it may be. Our free will and our decision to be happy can be a testimony of His grace in our lives, as He shows His ways to guide us to pure happiness that will bring glory to Him.

So, how do you work on your happiness today?

writing: unearthing self – the background

It was around 18 years ago, on one scorching afternoon in Surabaya, kids in white-and-red uniforms were all sitting in pin-drop silence, concentrating on their English test. The only sounds in the room was the ruffles of papers and the tapping of the teacher’s heels, slowly going around, eyes like hawk inspecting the room. I was 10 years old, bored and sweating from the heat, contemplating on what to do while waiting for the bell to ring. Having double-checked the paper for three times and was satisfied with my answers, I decided to challenge my English skill after the stress of the test, and wrote something, anything, in my new favorite language. So I grabbed a piece of tissue, opened the folds until it was completely flat, grabbed my blue pen and started writing. I wrote few simple sentences, (my name is…, I live in…, I have a brother, his name is…), and was about to fill in the last space of the tissue when, all of a sudden, a hand seized the white cloth from below my chin. It was Ms Lenny. She took a quick read of my creation (hah), and decided it wouldn’t do any harm on today’s test’s integrity, she put it back on my desk. I could feel all eyes were on me, and I could feel the heat rising up on my ears.

The next time the same thing happened was when I was in year 11. It was during a Bahasa Indonesia test, and I was bored. So I grabbed an empty paper, and wrote a song. Or a poem. This time, I didn’t even get to finish the piece, when the teacher snatched it from my hand. She had a read, and put it back on my table, and commented silently, “you should consider to be a writer”.

My childhood was filled with books. I’m pretty sure I had more books than Barbies or Play-Doh sets. My Mum bought me numerous book sets; from kid stuffs like Disney stories and fairy tales, to anthropology, astronomy, history and biology. Yes, she thought I would be interested in those kind of subjects at 10. But I really was. They’ve got the English version, and I remember I would marvel upon the wordings and the pictures and how amazingly colorful our world is. During my school time in Indo, my grades were always above average when it came to literature and art, and everything that involve human being, and I sucked so bad at Maths and anything else that has to do with numbers and logics. Oh, I sucked at athletics, too. I guess because it had to do with logic.

I was awkward as a kid (and I think I still am), so books were my refuge, my place where I could be myself. I wrote diaries, too, growing up, and was quite committed for some years. Man, where are those books, now. When I found out about blog, I was ecstatic. I started writing online using Friendster’s facility, which I can’t remember the name, and now I can’t find it on Google. Great. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the content transferred to my Facebook Notes, so yes, I hope everything is there.

In year 9, we were asked what kind of career we’d like to see ourselves in after we graduated. I answered, “anything to do with singing/music, writing, and movies”. My friends thought I wanted to be an actress or a singer, which was completely wrong because I hate being the centre of attention. So I figured I could be working along those lines, only behind the scene. That’s why I took Professional Screenwriting in 2006; writing, movies, behind the scene. Perfect. But somewhere along the way I realized that it was not my passion. Making movies is not my forte; I just love telling stories. Making movies have some limitations when it comes to creativity. First of all, it needs manpower for it to be made. It involves so many things to be considered, and it’s not cheap. Some may think I’m a coward, ‘you haven’t even try yet, and you want to quit?’. I said nothing about quitting, though. I just feel that when it comes to movie-making, ‘writing’ can be faked. In most cases, you write not because it’s what you feel, you write because you have to sell something. In the end, when you write you will pursue something that is far from what writing is about; honesty.

It is right to say that you have to work, to produce something. Some may say that money is not everything, but dude, without money you can’t do anything. Without money, I can’t pay the bills for electricity and internet connection, to buy a laptop and books and everything else that will help my writing. But whenever possible, I will stand my ground and be true to myself. Not to be liked, but to be hold accountable when needed be.

Writing has always been in me. And as I grow older, I learn that, for me, writing is about honesty. The stronger word, which I fearfully use, is integrity. When I unveil my thoughts and stream them down in words, concreting my hope and my fear, first of all I want it to be true. Not necessarily to be right, because I’m far from perfect, but to take writing as an act of unearthing myself; of finding and rediscovering myself. This much I owe to my Maker, and to those who will care to share my life (in person or in writing), that I am willing to give nothing less.

And let the journey of unearthing self begin.
Inspired by: The Writer’s Manifesto, by Jeff Goins.

crook.

as in being sick. Not a curve, or a bend.

So yes, another blow of gastric flu. I remember that I’ve recorded some of my ordeals with my overly temperamental gastro and intestinal organs last year, so nothing new. Or so I thought.

Maybe it’s just my state of mind, but I am most of the time nervous when I have to get ready to attend big events; weddings, performances, etc. And so it was for last weekend, too.

Man, it wasn’t even mine, but I guess my hormones still respond in a particular way whenever I hear the word ‘wedding’ xD They just went crazy that morning, and probably added by stress and irregular sleeping pattern, it went worse.

That was two days ago. Two days ago I couldn’t keep any food in my tummy; all went straight out after I had them. Now, not so bad, because hubby decided I had to take Imodium or he wouldn’t release me to go to serve at church haha. I wanted to serve so I took one tablet. Just one, small tablet, but wow it just worked right away. I just got clogged up right away! HAH! At dinner, I could still feel the tummy resisting food whenever I tried to eat something, so I wasn’t that excited about eating at all. No food, thus lower blood sugar, thus light-headed. Ay. Oh, and I’ve got my period this morning. Ayayay.

Thank God for a great husband. Thank God for a loving sister-in-law. Melissa cooked for the second night in a row tonight. Last night she cooked hainan-style congee. It was yummy, definitely. Andrew had two full bowls for himself, but o my lame tummy still couldn’t cope with even the soft food. Mel cooked us some soup with chicken and fish balls tonight, and I’m glad the food stayed in, I could even had slices of apples afterwards while we’re watching My Kitchen Rules on channel 7. Yay.

This is just one of those days. It has felt like a festival, minus the celebration, with strings of sickness one after another, with people attending not to enjoy but to cater for you. I want to get back to my full health, to be able to properly functioning. But in the midst of my unfitness, I praise God for His love, for the people He gives into my life, the family who loves me both when I am cheerful and witty or just too weak to even lift my head.

I am healed. By the blood of Jesus, I am healed!