Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

20 Things You Will Learn In Your 20s – Deborah Tan

Officially well entrenched in her 30s, Deborah Tan wants to share the 20 things she learned in her 20s.

Last Tuesday, over beers and wings at our favourite pub, Lili, Vanessa and I got to talking about the important lessons we have learned in our 20s – although only one person present qualified as still being in her 20s. But nothing like a bit of “investigative journalism” to get the gears moving. Once I started wondering about the lessons I might have picked up in my 20s, I knew I had to make a list. So let me know how many of the things below resonate with you!

Cheers to your Terrific 20s!!!

Cheers to your Terrific 20s!!!

20 Things You Will Learn In Your 20s
(10 years in a looooong time .. some of these you’ll discover at 21, some of these will only hit you the day before your 30th birthday)

1. You will realize if being in control is your thing. Some of us prefer to be led, some, to lead. Nothing wrong with either; just don’t force yourself to take on a role you know you ain’t cut out for.

2. It’s better to screw up early so you’ll have more time ahead of you to fix it.

3. Also, it’s better to do all the embarrassing things in your 20s so you can later say, “I was young and foolish!”
[I still do silly things in my 30s but every time I think about what I did in my 20s …]

It will all be alright ...

It will all be alright …

4. Your heart will be broken, smashed, trotted upon … and you will survive.

5. Not all of us will get the guy/girl we thought would be our future partner, the one we really wanted for the father/mother of our future children. It’s all okay.

6. You will fumble and tumble between “fashion” and “style”. Then one day, you will wake up and realize what your style really is. Then you will stop trying with “fashion”.

7. If there’s just one hairstyle that makes you feel awesome, stick to it. If there is one hairstylist that makes you feel awesome, stick to him.

8. You can obsess about your career or obsess about your love life, but not both at the same time. The stress is simply not worth it.

9. People in their 30s and 40s will look at you with the “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about” expression on their faces. All the time. They are right.

10. Work hard on your character and personality. Style, appearance, talent, how to walk in high heels … all these you will pick up along the way.

11. The size of your paycheque is the wrong thing to worry about. Growth, opportunities and a good mentor … these are the things you want in your first job.

12. Learn to shut up. Learn to listen. Learn to admit to your mistakes. Learn to not lose sleep over your mistakes. Learn to forgive yourself.

13. If you are not into pop culture, comics, music, food, cafes, TV shows, fashion … it’s okay. The Internet exists for this very reason.

14. If you want to convince people, you have to convince yourself first.

15. You don’t always need to have the last say. It’s perfectly okay to agree to disagree. Make your point, support your argument, then go get lunch.

16. Buy insurance.You have to.

17. It can be hard to feel happy for friends who have found love. You will attend their weddings begrudgingly … but they’ll forgive you for that.

18. Love is hard. So hard. But you will crave for it nonetheless. It’s not because you are sucker but because you just want to make sure someone else is there with you to witness the most exciting decade of your life.

19. You will constantly feel that something is missing, that something in your life needs explaining, that something you’ve done before is responsible for something now … it’s only because your life has only just begun. It’s a work-in-progress. You’ll continue to learn new things about yourself so don’t be too eager to take that Question Mark away.

20. You’ll feel everything so acutely, so clearly, so intensely. Cry, laugh, go get yourself drunk … enjoy every molecule of emotion coursing through your veins because as you grow older, you’ll become more jaded, “harder” and less easy to impress. Don’t ignore what you’re feeling … have every bit of it imprinted into your emotional DNA. This will be what makes you an interesting person to date when you step into your 30s. In your 20s, you are like a notebook, taking down lessons and noting down experiences … in your 30s, make sure you are a novel.


About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She couldn’t have asked for a better 20s. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Career, Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

Why Are We So Afraid Of Working Hard? – Deborah Tan

We’ve heard them all – the reasons why one should not pour himself into work.

“Life is short.”

“There is more to life than just giving your all to work.”

“You need to spend time with the ones who matter.”

“Money can’t buy you happiness.”

“Are you living your CV or are you living your eulogy?”

So many statements that demonise WORK, so many articles telling us why it is a necessary evil, why it is something we humans put up with, why it is something that should be done within a set period of time every day and not be brought home. We get it … to a large number of people out there … WORK IS A VAMPIRE THAT SUCKS ON OUR SOUL UNTIL WE STAKE IT IN THE HEART.

We even have movies and TV shows playing up the workaholic stereotype: a person who has spent his every waking hour working, neglecting his family, and when he finally wants to spend them with them, they treat him like a complete stranger. Or, the stereotype of a parent who realises – often too late – that she has missed out on her children’s growing years, and now is regretting how empty and meaningless her life has become.

Here’s what I really think about this whole “Work is a monster that needs to be kept on a leash” mentality:

You are afraid.

Before I explain more, allow me a couple of lines to elaborate what I see as “working hard”.

quote_hard-work-makes-you-luckyDefinition Of Working Hard
I do not mean a person who slogs away with no idea what his end-game is. I do not mean a person who reports for work at the office at 8am and knocks off at 8pm just to clear his in-tray. By “working hard”, I’m talking about investing your energy into growing a career, into becoming a force to be reckoned with in your chosen field of work. By “working hard”, I’m talking about you pouring your all into becoming the best. You hating your job because your boss is demanding, you having no choice but to work because you have bills to pay … that is not the “working hard” we are talking about in this article.

So why won’t we work hard?

We Won’t Because We Are Afraid To Fail
Those who fall into this category will attempt to explain their “disdain” for working hard in one of the following ways:

“You can never finish work”

“I have a family”

“I have a life”

And I’m sorry you feel that your loved ones do not support you in your quest to becoming great in your career.

I don’t know if I’m alone here but why is it that so many of us think that “family”, “love” and “friends” have no place near “career”? That they can’t all exist peacefully side by side?

I think it is awful for anyone to believe that in order to have a semblance of a fantastic career, one has to “sacrifice” these heartwarming, gooey aspects of life, and become a cold-blooded robot with no emotional attachments. The idea that we all have to “go at it alone” if we want to have a kickass career is antiquated and due for a makeover.

We don’t have to choose. Why should we? Is it not possible to have a great career AND a great family/love life?

The picture that so many TV shows paint, that of an alienated family standing in the shadows while the protagonist toils away at his work desk, is … silly. It forces people to think they have to make a choice, it pigeonholes people, making them think they are either pro-family or pro-career, and it provides people with the convenient excuse to “opt out”.

If you don’t try, you would never fail. If you don’t give your 110%, you would never be disappointed if you don’t win. Choosing your loved ones over your work may seem like a noble reason for not excelling. But let me tell you one thing: you are making them look bad.

Your loved ones is not an excuse. They are your reason for excelling, your motivation, your cheerleaders.

The truth is: if you want it, you can have them both. Because as sure as the sun is going to rise tomorrow, your parents don’t want you to have a career that sucks. Because, for certain, your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend want you to be proud of your work. Because your kids need to be educated that you are working to be a parent they can look up to.

No one can ever fault you for putting love over career because no one wants to look like The Wicked Witch Of The West. But have you thought about how perhaps the ones you love would also take pride in your achievements and hard work? Stop using them as a shield to cover your fear of failure. If anything, they should be your reason for busting your ass at work so you can become the best.

How-Working-Too-Hard-Can-Hurt-Your-Site3We Won’t Because We Are Merely Existing
You are reasonably good at what you do. You are doing reasonably well. The only thing that you are not giving to your work is your soul. Why work so hard to exceed your target when you can meet it and leave the office at 5pm? Why go all out to convince the boss of your proposal when you can simply do what he wants and continue drawing a salary?

Once upon a time, in my life, I was told that I should stop putting up a fight and go with the flow, no matter how stupid I think the ideas may be. While it was tempting, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I either become a zombie or slit my wrists out of frustration.

If you have a better idea, why keep it to yourself? If you have to endure countless late nights making sure your plan is well-executed, why won’t you do it?

While it may be tempting to maintain status quo, it’s mind-numbingly boring too. I can never understand why people use SOP or paperwork to explain why they won’t try to do things differently? I can never accept “red tape” as an excuse for not being innovative or creative.

If your work is not making you feel you want to go the extra mile … why not leave it?

My ex-CEO used to say, “If it’s good enough, it’s not enough.” You comfort yourself by saying, “I just do my job and get out of here”, believing it’s no point working so hard to beat the system.

Well, I’ve got news for you:

If there is no fight left in you, there is no life left in you.

I leave you this Sunday with this to think about:

Is there something you want really badly? If so, what’s stopping you from working towards it?

Do you crave change? If so, what’s stopping you from doing things differently?

Do you want to be just a blip in this massive sea call humanity? If not, why are you so reluctant to pour yourself into your work and make something of yourself?

I’m not asking you to die at your desk working. I’m asking you if you are willing to die working for something you believe in, working for something you are good at, working for something that would make you count.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and works hard, plays hard, and fights even harder. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Character & Soul, Deborah Tan, Opinions, Self-Improvement

Stop Telling Me To Unplug! – Deborah Tan

I'm only bright when I'm plugged in!

I’m only bright when I’m plugged in!

I don’t know about you but with every article I read about “unplugging”, about “not working so hard”, about “being mindful of your free time” … I get more and more offended. Excuse me, successful people, but I believe once upon a time, you were all probably chained to your desk and buried in work! How is it possible to be as successful as you are if I were to work only 4 hours a day (yep, I’m not a fan of “The 4-Hour Workweek” as you can see)?

Perhaps with luck and sheer ingenuity, it is possible to work very little and still be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Perhaps with angel investors and rich relatives, it is possible to hire an army to help you look after your budding business so you can “unplug”.

I think it is hypocritical of successful people to go about dishing out advice, telling people that they take life easy, that they enjoy their Sundays by not checking Facebook, that they make it a point to not do anything work-related while on vacation. I think it is insulting my intelligence when a rich person say working hard is not the be all and end all of great entrepreneurial success. I think it is rude for those who have made it to say, “Success is not defined by money and power.”

Let’s Be Brutally Honest, Shall We?

The reason why we all work so hard is because we want to get promoted. We want to get promoted because we want the bigger paycheque that comes with it. While we may not be happy, while we may not be healthy, we are rewarded with something tangible. For most of us mere mortals, possessing spending power is one way of seeing success. Shallow? Yes. But you cannot deny it is the TRUTH. Don’t tell me footballers don’t give a shit about their insane paycheques. If so, why don’t they just donate ALL their money to charities instead of buying gorgeous houses and expensive sportscars? Don’t tell me that CEOs don’t give a shit about profits and bonuses. If so, why don’t CEOs just take home a $5,000 paycheque?

Money is important and, having a lot of it does not give you the right to tell the rest of us that “there’s more to life than money.”

How We Make Our Money

Why, by working, of course! In this day and age, work is omnipresent. It’s an undeniable fact. It doesn’t mean I live to work. It just means work is unavoidable. When you are a boss running a company of 1,000, of course it’s okay for you to “unplug” and fly off to the Bahamas for a holiday. When you are one of the 1,000 minions employed to keep the boss’ company running, DO YOU THINK YOU CAN “UNPLUG”? Of course not! Let’s be real. Let’s face it. “Unplugging” is a luxury not many of us can afford! When I was an editor, I checked my magazine’s Facebook Page at 3am to make sure people don’t leave spammy messages on my Wall. Now that I’m running my own business, I check my Facebook Page every six and half minutes to ensure people are continuously giving a damn about what’s going on at my website. It is NOT possible to unplug unless you have someone else plugged in on your behalf. I’m sorry but to ask me to unplug is to ask me to NOT give a shit about my business … and … HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BE SUCCESSFUL IF MY BUSINESS WERE TO LOSE TOUCH WITH MY CUSTOMERS?

When I unplug, my life goes into a tangle.

When I unplug, my life goes into a tangle.

Don’t Tell Me These Don’t Matter

Success, money and power. The dream tripartite every entrepreneur wishes to achieve. The thing is … we want them FIRST before we do a Bill Gates and give it all away to the less fortunate. When a businessperson has success, money, and power, I think it is incredibly rude to go, “Look at me, I used to be rich, but I was soooo unhappy. Now, I am the chairperson of a humanitarian organisation … and my life is sooooooo much better.” Hey, I think you forgot to mention that your house is fully paid for, that you have a huge trust fund set up to give you a comfortable allowance every month for the rest of your life, and that your best-selling self-help book is still bringing in huge royalties. Yes. While I would love to go into world-changing philanthropy work in Africa for good, my bank manager isn’t being very supportive at the moment. So money and power do matter.

The Hard Life For Now

Until the day we achieve success, money and power, it is safe to say that we are in for the HARD LIFE. A life of working past 6pm, a life of working on weekends, a life of checking emails at night and on vacation, a life of doing business calls at family dinners, a life of Facebooking at 4am, and a life of telling clients, “No … you are not getting me at a bad time. How can I help you?”

It is not depressing – mind you. I love my work, I love what I do, and I cherish every minute of a life led fully and fruitfully. I am passionate about my work but it doesn’t mean my loved ones are being cast aside. I may work while I’m on vacation but it doesn’t mean I’m losing my sanity. Facebook may be the first thing I look at when I wake up in the morning but it doesn’t mean the quality of my sleep is any worse. I exercise, I hang out with friends, I watch TV, and I still do the things I love.

The only thing I don’t do is … UNPLUG. And I really don’t think I’m being shortchanged by life here or that my life is soooo tragic.

Until I make the kind of money I want to make, until I get to where I want in life … I am not UNPLUGGING.

And I refuse to let anyone (successful or not) guilt-trip me about it.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She updates two blogs, three Twitter accounts, three Facebook Pages, one Pinterest account and two Instagram accounts every day. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.


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Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

If Life Were A Pinterest Board … – Deborah Tan

How do you throw a photogenic party??

How do you throw a photogenic party??

… I would be so damn stressed.

I look at pictures of beautiful table settings showing plates that don’t match … but still look good together. My plates and bowls are all the same colour and they look like crap whenever I throw a dinner party! Why?

Wow! Isn't it great when all your earrings kinda fall into the same theme?

Wow! Isn’t it great when all your earrings kinda fall into the same theme?

I have tonnes of accessories and knick-knacks that I don’t use anymore. When I go to Pinterest to see how people recycle their stuff into kitschy, adorable bookmarks, door hangers, coasters, wall art, etc, I’m amazed how they had the foresight to buy stuff that lend themselves so easily to recycling. I mean … wow! You actually knew that one day your scarves would come together to become a work of installation art?!? I want to know how too!

When I go on holidays, I try to capture those Pinterest-worthy moments that would make my friends go, “Awwwww …” but by the time I’m done fumbling around with my camera settings, the moment has passed. The sunset? That darn sunset that everyone seems to be able to capture, where is it?!!

How come I don't look this good when I work out??

How come I don’t look this good when I work out??

After a workout, I’d like nothing better than to have a mood-shot of me looking glowing and with sweat dripping off my face in an artistic way. A picture that’d inspire my friends to join me at bootcamp next week. A picture that would get comments like, “You’re so beautiful, keep doing what you’re doing, girl.” But when I do get someone to help me take a picture, I just look like a bulldozer has ran over me.

Oh! How about my OOTD shot? You know those shots of painfully stylish women standing on the street looking so nonchalant about having their pictures taken? These women just happened to be there, and somehow, their photographer boyfriends or talented friends managed to capture the moment (it’s always ‘the MOMENT’!) where they were looking at some bug on the road, or a bird flying overhead, or looking at their feet contemplating life. Whenever I try to get my boyfriend to help me with an OOTD shot, he has only one way of holding the camera – from a high angle and I end up looking like a cast member of The Hobbit.

Don’t even get me started on home decor. All that home office pictures make me so, so, mad. I have a home office and it’s surrounded by paper bags of products. My files don’t match because obviously I can’t afford to friggin’ shop at Kikki.K all the time! Vases of flowers, photos of friends and family (and they all happened to be cute!), beautifully upholstered chairs … seriously, where are the documents, the receipts, the junk mail … signs that work is actually being done in these home offices?

Are the pictures on Pinterest a big fat lie? Most people I know don’t even put up original content on Pinterest. Their boards are filled with repins of images they aspire to recreate in their individual realities. Brides-to-be repin pictures of wedding favours they see themselves giving their guests, mothers repin pictures of theme parties they want to organise for their kids, aspiring chefs repin pictures of orgasmic food porn they believe they’ll be able to recreate … do they ever?

"DIY"!?!?! HOW?!?

“DIY”!?!?! HOW?!?

Even if you’ve wisely observed that your friends are more repinners of beautiful pictures than pinners of original content, does Pinterest make you feel – to some extent – that your life needs to be “photogenic”? Do you continue to strive to compose that Pinterest-worthy snapshot, hoping that someday it will become one of those pictures that get repinned to death?

No other social media platform makes me feel more inadequate or inept than Pinterest. That’s the truth. I’ve been inspired by home decor pictures and gone and splashed out on expensive rugs and cushions … and still they were lacking. I’ve been inspired by fitness pictures and tried to capture images of people working out … but they never ever look like the toned, glowing, fitness models that populate Pinterest boards about health and exercise. No matter the camera I buy, no matter how much clutter I put away, I can never shoot the spartan, minimalist home offices that conveyed success, control and good taste.

There is Pinterest, and then there is Life. And, we need to get that the two really don’t belong together.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and is feeling really shitty that her couch does not look Pinterest-worthy. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Character & Soul, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Vanessa Tai

Goal For It! – Vanessa Tai

Recently, an 81-year-old Nepalese man was in the news for ditching an attempt to break the world record of being the oldest person to scale Everest. I don’t know what you took away from that piece of news, but for me, I was inspired. I don’t see him as a quitter at all. In fact, if you read the article, the elderly gentleman Mr Sherchan was actually a record-holder, having successfully climbed the mountain at age 76, but his record was recently taken over by an 80-year-old Japanese man.

As I read the article, I couldn’t help but marvel at the drive and determination of these older folk. It’s inspiring because most people would associate post-retirement years with round-the-world trips on a cruise ship (if you’re lucky) or gossipping with neighbours at the void deck. While there’s nothing wrong with the above two activities, Mr Sherchan and Mr Miura (the Japanese climber) are impressive examples of how rich and fulfilling our lives can be as long as we have goals.

Too often, I’ve met people who seem to be drifting aimlessly through life. They have no fixed plan and seem quite content living each day to the next. I get that there are genuinely happy-go-lucky folk who go wherever life takes them, and that’s fine. The aimless folk I’m referring to are those who are stuck at a station in life, and instead of trying to get themselves out, they resign themselves to their situation and start blaming everyone but themselves for their predicament.

You know what? It’s easy to navel-gaze and think of what could have been. If you really want to shake up your life in a major way, you’ve got to act. And the easiest way to bring about change in your life is to set goals. Take these elderly climbers, for example. I’m sure they did not cruise through life only to have a sudden desire to climb the world’s highest mountain when they were in their 70s. I’m sure they started by scaling smaller mountains first, and once they cleared those, they set their sights higher.

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." – T. S. Eliot

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot

The same theory applies to our lives. To avoid falling into the trap of humdrum existing (versus fulfilled living), we need to constantly challenge ourselves by setting up milestones throughout our lives. For example, right now my goal for 2013 (what’s left of it anyway) is to get my Advanced Open Water Diving License. Other plans in the pipeline include learning the keyboard and getting my driving license. Your goals don’t necessarily need to be major, world-changing ones. As long as you have something to work toward, it will give you a sense of purpose in life and that vigour is what fuels you to achieve amazing results.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

Life Moments Worth Celebrating – Deborah Tan

I didn’t even know why I was in such a horrendous mood this afternoon. It could be the weather, it could be because I found out our business bank screwed up an application, or it could be because I was forwarded a rather insincere email and was reminded of how horrible people can be to each other.

I was thisclose to hammering out an angst-ridden piece about why the world should not be treating me so shabbily. I know. Hissy fits from a woman trying to be a super successful media entrepreneur are rather embarrassing. So instead of focusing on the negative, I took my friend Howard’s advice and dwelt on the positive instead.

So I decided to write about this: Moments in a person’s life worth celebrating.

Cheng, the founder of Cedele. Her passion for her work is extremely inspiring

Cheng, the founder of Cedele. Her passion for her work is extremely inspiring

1. When Someone Asks You About Your Job …

… and you actually feel happy talking about it. I went to a tasting by Cedele this afternoon and met the founder herself, Yeap Cheng Guat. The lunch tasting began with her recounting how Cedele started, what her philosophy towards food and health is, her insistence on using only the freshest ingredients in her food, etc. When Cheng spoke about her business, her voice was filled with passion and belief. The happiness in Cheng was so genuine, I left the lunch feeling energised and inspired.

2. When A Cheesy TV Show … 

… makes you tear up like a softie. I shall spare you the details and not talk about the show, and why it made me cry. But think about the last movie or TV series that warmed the cockles of your heart and made your tear ducts work overtime … did you not feel more “human” after? And, did that not make you feel better?

3. When You Get Treated Unjustly …

… and your friends back you up and say, “I feel so angry for you right now”. If you asked me whether I would rather have powerful friends or friends with powerful emotions, my answer would definitely be the latter group. I want friends who would cry with me, cry for me, and make other people cry when they piss me off. I want friends who are “bias” – their loyalty to me is so strong, there is no doubt which side they will pick when shit hits the fan.

sandwich4. When A Kick-Ass Sandwich …

… was created by none other than yourself. You take whatever you have in the fridge and do the best you can. And the end product isn’t at all that bad. And then you go back for seconds – now, that’s validation nobody can give and no money can buy.

5. When Your Boyfriend Comes Home … 

… and marches right in front of you and plants a big, wet kiss on your lips. Then he drags you out for dinner and “orders” you to leave the “damn phone” at home so “we can finally have a good conversation”. Knowing that your man wants to spend quality time with you, it’s difficult to keep your heart from melting into mush.

What other life moments are worth celebrating? Share it with your fellow Material World readers here, or fill in the form below with a pseudonym and we’ll post up your answer on your behalf.


About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and spends 5 hours every Sunday watching HK drama series. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Character & Soul, Health & Fitness, Self-Improvement, Wellbeing

Living A Fully Engaged Life – Vanessa Tai

Do you feel tired all the time? Do you often find yourself checking the clock, counting down the hours till you can leave the office? And when you finally leave, do you find yourself squashed in public transport, getting increasingly miserable by the minute? The daily grind can be absolutely draining, both physically and emotionally. Sure, you may hit the gym every once in a while or even go on short vacations with your friends, but if you’re honest, your life feels pretty automated, without much passion or inspiration.

Are you going through life half-asleep?

Are you going through life half-asleep?

If the above sounds like you, don’t beat yourself up. It’s all too easy to live life on auto pilot. In fact, in a 2011 study of 5,000 adults in the UK, 52 percent of the population admitted to turning back unnecessarily on a journey because they could not remember locking the front door, and about one in five said they have drank a cup of tea … but have zero recollection of making it.

Automated behaviour is not always a bad thing. When your brain becomes accustomed to certain habits such as brushing your teeth or taking the trash out, performing these tasks become automatic, freeing your brain up for more important tasks. However, it’s when you find yourself falling into a rut at work or in your relationships that an autopilot life becomes a problem. So are there ways to be consciously engaged to your life? Sure there are!

1. Be More Appreciative 

You don’t need to start a gratitude journal to start appreciating the little things in your life you’re grateful for. One easy way to start is to offer a sincere “thank you” whenever someone does something nice for you. It could be your boyfriend who fetches you to work every morning, or your colleague who helped buy lunch back or even the bus driver on your daily commute home. Taking the few seconds to smile and offer gratitude will warm both your and the recipient’s hearts.

2. Shake Up Your Routine

Even if it’s something small like taking a different route to work or something major like visiting a country you’ve never been to before, it’s important to jolt your senses every so often. Not only will you feel reinvigorated, you start to view your life in ways you’ve never had before. Check out our guest writer’s post on how she goes on one adventure every single week!

3. Me-Time

15 minutes of daily quiet time does wonders for your wellbeing

15 minutes of daily quiet time can do wonders for your wellbeing

Our hectic lifestyles are often packed to the brim with work and social obligations, so much so that very often, the only time we’re truly alone is when we’re sleeping or on the can! Sad, but true. No matter how busy we are, though, it’s worthwhile to take 15 minutes out of your day to sit in quiet contemplation (no smartphones or tablets allowed.) Even if the bathroom is the only place where you can get a bit of privacy, it’s still very therapeutic to have that few moments alone where your mind isn’t wired to complete a task or engage in conversation.

It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit. – Denis Waitley

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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