How 7 days in Okinawa pondering its secret of longevity change my view of the future.


1. Keep active
Many in their 60s and above are still working, selling simple essentials with low margin. Perhaps out of necessity and certainly the opportunity for social interaction, out and about, walking and driving.


Outside of hotels, shopping belt of Kokusai Street (and international brands) most of the service staff by local outlets are above 50 yrs old. In the exceptions above, where ability to speak a foreign language to cater to tourists is a must, young people are employed.


In the supermarket near my hotel, 60 yr olds were serving as cooks in the takeout counter or cashiers/packers at the checkout.

In “Making a living without a job” by Barabara Winter, she wrote about a tiny restaurant, the Milky Way ran for 25 yrs by Leah Adler, mother of Steven Spielberg, who at the time of the writing was 81 yrs old. She was at the restaurant from 830am till closing and seemed to have a good time making her customers happy and chatting with everyone. Adler recently passed away this year at 97.

2. Simple living
Simple needs, simple food and vegetables. Practicising hara hachi bo or 80 percent full.


3. Outdoors island living with fresh air and sun


4. Slow pace of life
Lights out by 7pm. No street lamp, not much electronic entertainment. Sloooow.


First world amenities of Japan without too much social restraints. Less outwardly polite than Tokyo which may be less stressful



I chanced this write up at Brightside. #What $1 brings you#. A snicker bar in Japan, a bowl of chicken rice in Indonesia, a can of coca cola in a hawker centre in Singapore.

This year I am inspired to do more. My students in SMU inspire me. Many of them genuinely want a career in helping profession.

Watch Corine Tiah’s documentary on an Inspiration Asian Ken who trekked the hills to bring light to the villagers.

Incidentally, Corine is a journalist whose documentaries are about #people who bring hope to others#.

#Fragrance lingers on the hand that gives flowers#

#CNA#, #InspirAsian#, #$1#

As a lecturer, I have realised that a “problem” kid/person may be going through personal issues at home. I am reluctant to whitewash the behaviour.

Similarly, an person may be so fixated with how unkind others have been to him/her that pointing out their behaviour may have worse consequences.

If the person is not under your authority, and the remark is not targeted at you, let it pass. (If bullying is involved, get someone of higher authority – like the School Administrator in the loop. Sometimes the bully can accuse you of bullying. )

Videos on Kindversations

How to be kind? Dave Kerpen offers some suggestions.

1. Never give out criticism in front of other people. It never works. (Only leads to shame and fear.)

2. Instead, set up a time for one on one private discussion with the person with whom you want to share feedback.

3. Offer up a “praise sandwich”: start with something you like about the person and/ or the job he’s doing, continue with the negative feedback, and close by affirming how much you value the person and how confident you are in him.

4. Make sure to offer positive solutions to the issues at hand and get alignment on the solution of choice.

5. Don’t dwell on the negative and look for future opportunities to publicly praise the positive about the person as soon and as much as you can.

1. Make a list of five kind authentic things you can say about each person you encounter on a regular basis.
2. Practice doling out praise publicly and increase praise you give out each day. Remember it’s free and powerful.
3. When you have to deliver criticism do it privately and try doing it with a praise sandwich : praise , criticism and then deep praise.

Dave Kerpen, “The Art of People”


Do you agree comic artists are philosophers? 

I really love this comic by Sarah Andersen. Do check out her works.

My neighbour, a renowned cardiologist in a hospital in Singapore, told us of a public health talk he conducted last Sunday. He asked a group of adults. “How many of you tell your children to eat more vegetables? ”
Many hands shot up.

“How many of you personally eat more vegetables?” As many hands came down.

That’s the real measure of motivation if we are honest.


Do you have a personal mantra? Someone once sent me a joke about a dad, son and donkey who went to the market. Along the way, passers by gave them different opinions as to who should be sitting on the donkey. Eventually they went to the market carrying the donkey.

Moral of the story, you can’t please everyone.

What do you stand for? Many companies have personal mission and vision statement on their websites. Some have been found wanting in living out those statements.

But such statements have been useful in guiding companies at crossroads and reveal if they are authentic or not.

What rules do you live by to maintain sanity if not happiness in this detached world?

On occasion of Amb Koh’s birthday this week, I will include an attachment  someone sent me of some 10 rules he lives by. If you may find it useful.


I am still struggling to come up with my person mantra. Prof Koh’s book is certainly going to be on my reading list for the year end. 

It was said that when he was Dean of the Law School, he knew the names of every law student in the class of 40.

That’s a good challenge  for me to start with in 2018.


Source: Happy faces carved from bamboo, photo taken by me in HoiAn, Vietnam

The “As if Principle” by Richard Wiseman

When you get angry in the workplace, how would you react? Some anger management programs suggest an anger management room where employees can kick a do-do doll and get it out of their system, rather than bottle everything inside.

Psychologist Brad Bushman from Iowa University carried out several experiments on how feelings of anger can be squashed by acting like a calm person.

Bushman demonstrated the calming power of prayer. He angered a group of Christian college students by giving them extremely negative feedback about their work and then asked them to read a newspaper article about a woman with a rare form of disease. Next, he had 2 groups.
1) some were asked to spend 5 min putting their hands together and pray for the woman.
2) some were asked to think about her

The experiment showed that those who prayed were significantly less angry than those who thought about the woman.

Wiseman suggested:
1) Acting in a relaxed and calm way produced relaxed and calming thoughts
2) Smiling can make you feel happy. Acting in a calm fashion will quickly make you feel calm
3) Try deep breathing.

Have you noticed that when you’re having a bad day, everyone seems to be out to get you and irritate you?

According to John Bates from “The Art of People” by Dave Kerpen, we all have mirror neurons that mirror the emotions of the person speaking to us.

Someone’s bad mood can rub off on you.

A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another animal.

We are social
Thus the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting.

If you’re a public speaker and you take the stage in a bad mood, your audience will likely sense it and become a “bad” audience, Dave Kerpen advises.

Point to note when going for your next interview. If you’re nervous and tense, the interviewer can sense and become a bad interviewer.

However, if you happen to chance an interviewer who’s not in the best of mood, my suggestion is to resist the temptation to mirror his/her mood.

Instead, rise above the situation and hopefully your positiveness will be mirrored by the other person’s mirror neuron.

Photo: Taken by me at the 2017 Edible Gardens Festival, Hort Park, Singapore.

Life is a shipwreck but don’t forget to sing in the lifeboats. – Voltaire