Today is Eid, the end of the fasting month for Muslims. Here are some reflections by Imam Khalid Latif in NYC during Ramadan…here are some excerpts that spoke to me:

From Day 24: The Hunger of the Soul

Ramadan teaches me how to fill that hunger in a different way. I don’t need to always consume to feel satisfied, and when I do consume, it doesn’t really have to be as much as I am used to. I can gain a deeper contentment by understanding really what my heart is in need of in order for it to feel at peace. The company of good people from all backgrounds, the moments to break away from the day to day monotony of my working life, the ability, want and desire to give of myself and resources to those who are in need, they all feed me in a different way.

In Singapore, I think many of us turn to shopping, the internet or our mobile phones to fill this deeper soul hunger. I use books, silence and reflection, and conversations with people in which I try to connect to our deeper truths to fill my soul hunger. What do you use?

Day 13: The Blessing of Solitude

Moments of solitude are important depending on how we use them. It’s very different seeking solitude in order to remove yourself from frustration, anxiety, and irritation of people versus seeking solitude to grow and develop as you reflect upon and contemplate the world around you and how you fit into it. Setting aside time on a regular basis, whether it’s daily, even few days, or once a week, is important for all of us.

This aloneness is worth more than a thousand lives.
This freedom is worth more than all the lands on earth.
To be one with the truth for just a moment,
Is worth more than the world and life itself.
~ Rumi

Solitude helps me see myself fully, appreiate the beauty, be kind to what’s not so perfect and forgive, understand people and where their actions are coming from and make better decisions.

If finding time for solitude is hard, you could start with the toilet! Extend time there; make it work for you more so you can return to the world, not just more relieved but also a little more nourished!

In my favourite poem, The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, there’s a line:

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

In this way, solitude is about truth-seeking…

What are your ways of finding solitude?

PS: This blog is not tied to any specific religion. Where possible, I try to promote inter-faith understanding and harmony.

Resource: Message from The Vatican on Christians and Muslims working together for mankind’s spiritual dimension.

Videos: The Living Years

“The Living Years” by Mike and the Mechanics is about the sometimes conflicted relationship we have with our parents….and yet what we may feel when they’re gone.

I see people regret what they have not said and done when someone dies or has left their lives.  If we want peace instead of regret, then let’s express “I love you, I forgive you, I’m sorry, Thank you”….

“Say it loud, say it clear….it’s too late when we die…”

Christina Aguilera says something similar in “Hurt”…

“If I had just one more day, I would tell you how much I missed you since you went away”

Those closest to us are those we take for granted the most, such as our parents, partners, siblings and children….I wish us all renewed sight in seeing and appreciating what’s right under our noses…because one day it won’t be there…

Our relationship with our parents isn’t always smooth…but I think making peace with them is part of becoming whole, and enjoying other relationships more fully.  And making peace is most importantly done in our own hearts first.

Related: Forgiveness

London Riots and Happiness

I’m thankful for this analysis by Action for Happiness on the London riots.

The article shares the importance of reassessing our priorities and connecting the dots between something happening “far away” and our own lives. I am a strong believer that world peace starts in each of our homes.

Here are some gems:

“…no Wii console or iPhone can ever make up for an absent or abusive parent…”

“..we all need to look inwards and accept that all of us have some responsibility for creating the culture that has made this level of disengagement and anger possible…”

“Yes government needs to do more; yes criminals need to be brought to justice; but at the same time we all need to be the change we want to see in the world. An inspiring example of this attitude today has been the hundreds of ordinary people all over the country who have united together to clean up last night’s mess and start the process of rebuilding their communities. Let’s use this tragic and frightening turn of events to start a process of realigning our values and putting a greater focus on equality and the happiness of those around us, especially those at the margins of our society.”

Sometimes tragedies happen on the other side of the world. We may feel helpless or disinterested but we could use these as empowering reminders to look at ourselves, our homes, our workplaces, our communities and address the roots of similar challenges. Think Global, Act Local.

Video: Truth Happens

Here’s a catchy video, “Truth Happens” on the inevitability of some changes despite the initial resistance they face…built on Gandhi’s quote:

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.

What do you know in your heart as good, true and coming from Love, which is ready to be unleashed into the world, despite the resistance it may attract? 

(Thanks to Doug O’Loughlin for sending on the video!)

Special birthday wishes

Sending good thoughts to all in Singapore on her birthday…May we learn what choices bring true joy, the importance of emotional and spiritual intelligence and the transformative power of love… May we know when it’s time for silence and when it’s time to connect meaningfully with another….May we learn to say “Thank you”, “I forgive you” and I’m sorry” to ourselves and others….May we remember that we all suffer and also all have the potential to soar. May we come to understand money as a means and not as an end… May we remember to live consciously so we can die with peace and pride about how we have lived. May we grow in love and wisdom and radiate that to the rest of the world….

If you had a magic wand that could transform Singapore by the same time next year, what is the Singapore you’d like to see? What is one step you could take to make that happen in your own life? (If you’re not in Singapore, you could of course do it for your country!)



You don’t get the best ideas in front of the PC!”

I just lit up when Angela Koch of Invitro Innovation said this. It certainly looks like we’re productive when we sit for long hours in front of the computer. I used to think so and feel guilty when I was away from my computer till I started getting great ideas when I was away traveling/reading/relaxing/walking etc. You could call it play time because it certainly doesn’t look like work! We need a paradigm shift to identify where magic happens for work.

Angela Koch, sharing her ideas, which she has captured visually on her ipad.

Angela is an innovation consultant and this is what we spoke about. We often think play is the opposite of work, Angela says, when in fact, they go together. We also leave play behind in childhood when play is necessary, she says. Here are some highlights from our chat….

Why is play important at work?

Angela believes that play is linked with the ability to be creative and innovate. Angela says some companies are “engineered for misery”, for robots which have no emotion or creativity; where relationships don’t flourish.

What kind of culture allows for play? One with trust. People feel diminished when they are watched over closely and “put on a short leash” and managers are quick to point out when they have made mistakes. Companies that get it right treat each employee as an individual.

In play-restricting and trust-lacking cultures, no stars are born, according to Angela. People don’t often go beyond the call of duty.

Who are the stars at your workplace waiting to be unleashed to play, dream and create something extraordinary? (FableVision artwork on this website copyright by Peter H. Reynolds, www.fablevisionlearning.com)

A Question for Leaders by Angela – Is my company helping people be the best they can be? Or are we working against people?

What does play at work look like? How can one practise it? Here are some tips from Angela…

–        How do you relate to others during breaks? Jokes and banter help relax people. You have a choice in how you interact with people.

–        Use lunch-breaks to restore and bring balance back.  If you’ve had a busy morning, you could have some peace and tranquility during lunch.  If you’ve had a quiet morning, why not jazz it up during lunch? Connect more with people.

–        Use the Creative Whack Pack (I love this too!) which is available as cards and also as an app.  Innovation tools says, “The Creative Whack Pack is still the most impressive brainstorming tool in the AppStore, hands down.”

The Creative Whack Pack

–        Experiment with Lego as a brainstorming and creativity tool. Angela recommends it as a prototyping tool as well. Here’s an example of how it’s used in the workplace.

–        Introduce some randomness by rolling dice for certain activities. Try Story Cubes.

Throw a cube. Get an idea. Tell a story.

–        Have an inspiration wall/whiteboard at the office for people to share inspiring ideas. She introduced me to IdeaPaint – interesting..and environmentally-friendly…

IdeaPaint makes walls come alive. (Image credit: IdeaPaint)

–        Allow for people to be silly and for distractions (when you can). Angela says: “Detours may get you to your destination faster!” Sometimes in very outcome-oriented settings, there’s little room for deviation.

How do you practise this idea of play at work?

Angela shared this photo of an inspirational wall she’s created at home where she works from. She doodles on it, puts up inspiring ideas, allows visitors to draw on it etc.

Angela's walls speak!


IdeaPaint at home (Image credit: IdeaPaint)

Angela also doodles on her ipad.  (If you’re not an ipad user like me, simple sketch-pad and coloured markers work!!)

What resources do you recommend?

TED talk by Tim Brown

“Beyond Love and Work: Why Adults Need to Play” by Lenore Terr.

Inspiring offices designed for play:

10 seeeeeriosly cool workplaces – tons of great pictures to give you ideas

Innovation firm, IDEO’s office

Scrabble inspired bench

Thanks to Angela for sharing her ideas with me!

PS: I love Angela’s idea of using lunch-breaks to restore balance. So if you’ve had a noisy morning, a quiet and restorative break could help. My personal tip is that if there’s a park or place of workship near your office, why not step in for a while and sit and enjoy the peace or say a prayer. It could really shift the rest of the day to new heights.

PPS: IdeaPaint is sold in Singapore by Prospec Surfaces.  Alan Lee – (65)-67777 888 ext.29

alan[at] prospecsurfaces.com