Sunday, February 28, 2010

The beauty around us

Bright colours have a particular quality in lifting my spirits and reminding me of the positive side of life.

I came across this photo of beautiful flowers. It was taken during a visit to the Memories at Old Ford Factory. I was delighted when I saw these flowers as I was reminded that there's beauty around us.

May this image brings you a sense of beauty and hope as it did to me. Wishing everyone joy and good health.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Free Lease for a good cause

Many of us may have many ideas that come to us each and every day. Some of these ideas may seem raw and yet these ideas may be inspirations for greater and more refined ideas.

I am writing this post in the hope that maybe some of my seemingly strange ideas may be inspirations for greater ideas to come. This post is part of the ideas for a better world series.

There are a lot of shopping malls in Singapore. This idea isn't new. It is an idea of getting shopping malls to give a percentage (e.g. 5 %) of its space for free to a worthy cause. One example I can think of is The Giving Place, that Far East Organization has generously gifted to the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).

So, here are some of my raw ideas of how the free spaces could be used:

1) A practice studio for a strings quartet or double bass ensemble. The concept can be that of a sound-proof studio with see-through windows and some seats for members of the public to listen to the live rehearsal. This can served as a place for music-making and for the lay-person in the community to experience the process of music-making. The quartet or ensemble can even invite members of the public for hands-on session at stipulated time.

2) Provide free lease for enterprising people from low-income background to start a business on their own. Free lease for up to two years will be given based on a set of selection criteria and recommendations by social service agencies. This will enable people who want to help themselves start a business by giving them help with free lease. Perhaps the only sugestion is that if the business does well, the tenant who enjoyed the free lease could make donations to a fund that provides some start-up seed funding to other deserving beneficiaries.

In my work as a social worker, I have come across people from modest low-income background who have brilliant organisational skills, wonderful culinary skills, skillful hands and so forth.

3) A drop-in centre for youths managed by youth and community volunteers?

I shall stop here for now since it's time for me to turn in. Do add to the ideas please.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Read: Forgiveness and other acts of love

Stephanie Dowrick
Forgiveness and other acts of love
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 2000

ISBN 0670873608

I was reading Stephanie Dowrick's Forgiveness and other acts of love for the past few weeks. This is a book containing wisdom on how the humane qualities of courage, fidelity, restraint, generosity, tolerance and forgiveness could help sustain and support us, be it good or difficult times.

After a good read of Stephanie Dowrick's other book,  Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials, when I came across yet another book by her, I decided I could put time aside to read it. I like her wise and encouraging style of writing.

Here, I attempt to share a few of the learning points that I have gained from the book:

On the value of courage, I have found this section in the book to be noteworthy: "To step more fully into courage's embrace, it may help to discover that you don't need to give up fear. Fear may be an old familiar in your life, and fear itself can be courage's best teacher. Sometimes it is only courage that allows us to acknowledge that we are afraid."

If I were to put it into context of my own life, perhaps this quote on courage is a reminder to me that it is still possible for me to be courageous even when I am feeling fear. One can act in courageous ways despite experiencing fear.

From the chapter on fidelity, the gist that I have learnt is to be true to myself. Fidelity isn't just about being faithful to a sexual partner. The concept of fidelity also encompasses being true to oneself, one's destiny, one's beliefs, values and vocation.

The chapter on restraint contained many clear examples to illustrate this very value. I suppose one thing I would like to remind myself years after this book would be the concept that restraint and very different from the concept of "constraint". Constraint restricts a person's life. Restraint, however, is according to the author, "not a habit. ...It is an expression of your choice to act - or not. Your choice to be true to what you believe is important, or not. Your choice to be loving to yourself and thoughtful about the social good, or not."

From the chapter on generosity, I was reminded that it would be ideal that the impulse to generosity arises from unconditional love. Here, unconditional love is a commitment to love for love's sake, to go on believing that there is good in humankind. I particularly like to share a section from this chapter which suggests that generosity can teach us to cultivate a sense of trust that we do now have enough and in giving where giving is needed, one will have no less. In cultivating this sense of trust, we are led to experience freedom and love that is beyond riches. Having read this chapter, I could then better appreciate the generosity that many people in my life have showered me with. My words of deep appreciation to them. Thank you.

Tolerance is perhaps one of the more profound chapters to understand. Other than discussing about tolerance to difference, it speaks about being tolerant to that dark side of ourselves. It is quite a thought-provoking chapter to read.

Finally, the book concludes with the value of forgiveness. I would find it helpful to highlight this teaching from the Dhammapada, "Hate is not conquered by hate. Hate is conquered by love. This is a law eternal."

** *
I may probably need more time to appreciate the wisdom that is found in Forgiveness and other acts of love. Nevertheless, it has been a good read.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ideas for a better world

This evening, while I was commuting on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train, I came to my mind that it was time to start writing some of the ideas that I have had that may perhaps make the world a little better.

Some of these ideas may not seem feasible at this point in time. Some of them may even seem funny, absurd and crazy. Call them PY's ideas for a bettter world? Anyway, even if they may not seem at first relevant or feasible at this point in time, may they serve as springboards at the very least for more greater ideas to come.

There shall be no copyright in using these ideas. All that I ask is that if anyone has actually referred to or use any one of these ideas, please do give the necessary acknowledgements by citing this blog: or "PY's ideas for a better world"

Let's see what how these ideas may take off and contribute to a better world.

Monday, February 08, 2010

21 Suggestions for Success by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I came across the 21 suggestions for success by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I have found them to be worthy to consider. Here is to share them with you.

1. Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
2. Work at something you enjoy and that's worthy of your time and talent.
3. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
4. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
5. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
6. Be generous.
7. Have a grateful heart.
8. Persistence, persistence, persistence.
9. Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.
10. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
11. Commit yourself to constant improvement.
12. Commit yourself to quality.
13. Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
14. Be loyal.
15. Be honest.
16. Be a self-starter.
17. Be decisive even if it means you'll sometimes be wrong.
18. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
19. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did.
20. Take good care of those you love.
21. Don't do anything that wouldn't make your Mom proud.