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Posts Tagged ‘happy

Most people celebrate happy annual events like birthdays or marriages, but not sad ones like the departure of a loved one.

I left NIE at exactly two years ago today. I removed the labels of Head of the Centre for e-Learning, lecturer, and professor.

Before leaving, I made this goodbye video (Be happy, OK?) with the help of my motley crew.


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Watching the video brought a stupid grin to my face as I recalled working with a fine group of individuals.

Then again, as an independent education consultant, I smile every day now. I get to choose what work I do, which meetings to attend, and who I work with.

I might be pushing 50, but I am just two-years-old as far as renewed growth is concerned. This is because I stepped out of my comfort zone and am happier and wiser for it.

My son running on the beach.

Ask any parent what they wish their children to be and they will eventually mention “happy”. It might take a while to get there because you have to strip away good grades, good job, or good person. But they will get to “being happy”.

The pursuit of happiness is nothing to be sniffed at. Depending on where you look, Singaporeans are a happy (top 25 in the world) or an unhappy (ranked 81) lot.

The most depressing report of our sad state was:

In 2011, Singaporeans topped a Gallup poll for being the unhappiest and most emotionless people in the world. In the Happy Planet Index 2012, Singapore placed a lowly 90th.

We are so happy about being unhappy that we might be the first to have coined the phrase “under happy”.

So how do we get happy?

I look to the wisdom offered by a movie I caught on Netflix, Hector and the Search for Happiness. It starred the irrepressible Simon Pegg as Hector. (At the moment, the movie is available in the Netflix US catalogue, but not the Netflix Singapore one.)

Hector went on a whirlwind journey spanning China, Africa, and the United States of America, and came up with laundry list of how to be happy.

The most counterintuitive tip was not to pursue happiness at all.

In an inspiring speech on happiness, a fictional researcher on happiness made the case that happiness was a byproduct of what we do.


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The more we focus on our own personal happiness, the more it eludes us. We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but with the happiness of pursuit.

The thing to do then is to engage in activities or work that matter. That way you know that you have an impact or are otherwise making a difference.

As for me, I have long learnt not to fixate on happiness as a goal. Instead, I look for contentedness. I find it in the everyday and the unusual, the singular and the plural, the minor in the major. If it makes me smile, I am content, and that makes me happy.

The folks behind Oxford named “vape” the word of 2014.

If there was a word of the year in Singapore, it might be “under-happy“.

Only a place like Singapore would under-happy find acceptable and mockable [1] [2] use like “ponding” did the previous years.

 
“Under-happy” was used to describe Singaporeans because we were not quite happy nor were we very unhappy on a scale of happiness. According to the Today paper, the study and scale originated from the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI). There was a hint of political correctness in the description perhaps for fear that being labelled unhappy might make some important people really unhappy.

Maybe we are not as happy as we could be. Policymakers can examine the methodology, data, and conclusions of the SHRI study and suggest happy measures. But we need not wait for others to provide conditions for happiness when we can create our own.

I made myself happy by leaving a safe and secure work environment in favour of an adventure to the consultant’s universe. In doing so, I have created learning opportunities I have not experienced since my days as a graduate student in the USA over a decade ago.

At the moment, I do not make as much money as I used to, but I am not struggling financially. I continue to provide for and support my family. We still get to travel [example] and I take opportunities to speak overseas [example].

I have rediscovered that I can live comfortably and happily just like my wife, son, and I did when we were in the USA on a small stipend. The amount I received was so small we were technically under the poverty line, but those were the happiest days of our lives.

Ask any parent what they want their kids to be when they grow up. Once you get past the “good grades”, “good jobs”, and “good people” answers, you will invariably get the “I want them to be happy” reply. But to get there, some parents make their kids absolutely miserable.

How miserable? I do not know of any Singaporean child who has vlogged about their unhappiness with schooling, so I rely on this brilliant Korean proxy.


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I firmly believe that kids who discover their passions will find their own way regardless of what we do or do not do for them. I have met many young edupreneurial and entrepreneurial individuals in the last few months that bear testament to this.

I am learning from them. I put my money where my mouth is and I can smile because I am happy.

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I received feedback online and in person that I made CeL version of the “Happy” video sad at the end.

In true Singaporean fashion, my response was: Sad, meh?

It was designed to be poignant. After all, I was ending my CeL Monday video series after almost a year of experimenting with it. I was also leaving as Head of CeL after four years of leading it.

Today marks the end of my appointment as Head. So I think I had a right to make the video end that way. It is not an entirely sad note, but a happy one. The department is proud of what it has achieved over the last few years and I am proud to have been part of it.

I should repeat what I say to all the middle managers and leaders who take my MLS125 course: Often when leaders leave, many initiatives die or go with them. The only thing you can really leave behind is people who have changed for the better.

Where there used to be a group that knew the meaning of hard work, there is now a group that also knows how to adapt, to take the initiative and ownership, to think and act more broadly, and to be loyal.

I have shaped that culture and belief system, so I have no regrets. I am happy.


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I say goodbye to the CeL-Ed Monday channel in this video.

I also remind us to stay positive, smile, and be happy.

If you cannot, then watch the video. Our ridiculous behavior is bound to crack a smile or two.


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This is Pharrell Williams’ official Happy music video.


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The music was featured in Despicable Me 2 and this is the minion version of the same.


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The video above is by Pomplamoose and is a mashup of two songs.

The latter two creations must replicate the song, but they also create something new.

The minion version has lyrics and the minions. Pomplamoose has an elaborate setup done with one projector in one take.

Creating is much harder work than just replicating, but the value of the creative process and products are clear to see.

Why then do we focus so much on duplicating or replicating information in schools and tests?

I am not releasing a CeL-Ed Monday video today. I need to recover from the work that invariably follows a vacation.


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But like most folk, I look forward to the new year. I will not wish you a happy one because only you can make it so.

So here is willing you a happy new year whether or not you have minions to help you along!


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