We have general elections every five years in Singapore. And of course these are important times.
But we don’t need to wait such long periods to vote.
We vote when we
- buy. How often do we buy green or ethical products? For those of us who can, are we prepared to pay more for things which have have been produced so people who produced them were treated with dignity? How often do we buy more than we really need? How often do we shop to numb realities we don’t want to face? How often do we buy branded things to make ourselves feel like we matter more?
- eat. How often do we eat healthily? How often do we eat humanely? How often do we eat so it helps instead of hurts the environment?
- make our career choice. Do we learn about our gifts, strengths, passions and let them guide us towards what we could do? Or do we do what others expect us to? Do we work for money only? Or do we create meaning and purpose through our work?
- start a relationship – any kind of relationship. Do we have fairly positive relationships with ourselves before we seek romantic relationships? Or do we expect someone to make us happy? Do we spend more time planning for our wedding than our marriage? Do we blame the other or take responsibility for our lessons? Do we learn about marriage or parenting or think it will come naturally? Do we express gratitude, forgiveness, apology and love when it is time?
– spend our time in a myriad of ways. How much time do we spend on TV/shopping/facebook/zoning out on the internet/checking emails or the mobile phone/reading and watching things that don’t enrich our lives in the ways we truly yearn for? How much time do we spend truly connecting with friends and family? How much time do we spend helping others? How often do we say we have “no time” to do the important things and then at the end of our lives, when there is really no time, we wish we had done less of what had taken up most of our time?
– speak. How much we do criticise and how much do we appreciate others’ strengths and our own? How much do we focus on what is above the surface and how much do we speak of underlying feelings and needs that give rise to conflict? How conscious are we of our tone? Do we know when to be silent and when to speak?
- how we treat ourselves and others. Do we leave people feeling better or worse off after we interact with them? Do we love and feel compassion for ourselves so we can love and feel compassion for others? How often do we focus so much on the destination that we forget how we treat our fellow travellers on the way there?
- how we respond when people hurt us or life deals us harsh blows. Do we shrivel up in pain but put on a hard armour and hurt others with it? Or do we let the pain open us up to a new and brighter way of being; forgiving, loving and growing?
Let’s be awake to how we vote everyday.
A friend, Karen Loh, recently pointed out, “I agree that happiness is a choice. However, there are times when an amalgamation of environmental and social factors can overwhelm the individual, and the individual becomes incapable of choosing and feels somewhat helpless. The result could be depression, or any other host of emotional problems we see nowadays.”
I am grateful to Karen for reminding me of this. Sometimes we need other kinds of support before we can access our choices. My post is aimed towards those of us who can access choices now.
We have tremendous power over our lives. And we can be leaders of our own lives. As Barack Obama said:
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.