Category Archives: Life Coaching

Why We Decided to Own a Dog

Today’s post is a little different from my normal subject. However, it does relate to mental health indirectly. This post is about a new member in our family, Tofu, a small Havanese puppy.

When I was growing up in Malaysia, it was quite common for every family to have a dog or two. All of the dogs were either stray or mixed. My family owned several dogs of which some were docile and some were difficult. So I had my fair share of dogs.

After moving to the US my family had no urge to own any dogs because we were having difficulty adjusting to the life in the US. Plus, dog’s life in the US is very different from those in Asia. Dog’s life in the US is like heaven because they are pet and pampered, and not to mention very expensive. On the other hand, dogs in Asia serve a purpose. They are used to guard the properties. None of the dogs that my family had were pampered nor treated like pets; they were used as tools.

The past week was perhaps history in the making because we decided to purchase a dog for ourselves. Now that my children are all grown up, I feel that it is the perfect time to add this new family member. I understand that taking care of puppy is a lot of work but the family is ready to put their efforts to make this a successful journey.

The question is why would we own a dog?

Quite simply the reason we are getting the dog is to help my daughter getting over her anxiety attack. After speaking with her and understand her feelings a few weeks ago, I felt that there could be more things I could do to help her to overcome her trouble. One of method is to encourage her to love someone or something and share her feelings. A puppy could be the best remedy because a dog will love you back unconditionally if you treat it well.

So what has changed in the past few days after we brought the puppy home? My daughter is now spending more of her time outsider her bedroom. She also has become more jubilant as well. I also observe a markedly improvement how she carries herself.

Tofu is considered a toy dog, but she has her own adorable behavior as well. There are goods and there are a few bad with the tiny puppy. One of the things that we are learning is how to teach her to behave. Unfortunately, dogs are animal and they do not understand human language. With practice and some positive reinforcement I believe we can teach Tofu to behave. Only time will tell. Just like life – there are ups and downs; with enough practice and patience we shall overcome the difficulties in life.

I told myself years ago that I will never own a dog because I have no need for it. Now I need it to help my daughter. Will spending that kind of money to own a pure breed toy dog be worthwhile? We shall see.

Mental Health Issues Today

I have the privilege of working for a one of the major corporations in the world who cares of mental health, particularly the well-being of its employees. HSBC, is a global bank located in the UK and Asia, tackles this public issue head on.

For the past several years there is an increase concern as mental health is taking the forefront of public health issues. The pandemic accelerates this concern as majority of the world went into lock down. As of today, the pandemic continues to impact a large portion of the world. Most people will not be handle the isolation well and the pandemic causes tremendous damage to the mental health. If you do a news search today there are multiple instances where some decided to take their own life rather than be a hermit.

Most companies consider human capital as an important asset for them. HSBC is not any different. For the last several years the company pivot towards ensuring the employees’ well-being. There were a lot of internal communication on the issue and what the company is doing. Some of the things that the company offers include workshop, trainings and outside programs to assist the employees. I recently joined a program called Headspace, offered by HSBC. I haven’t had the chance to use it yet but I do appreciate what the company is doing.

Unfortunately, mental health cannot be solved if the victims do not acknowledge that the issue exists. Regardless what the company does, if the victims are not taking advantage of the options available, the problem will only get worsen. There are may symptoms of mental health. However, I’m not licensed to identify any of them but I can only provide my observations and how I personally address the issue.

Mental health issue really hits home when I had a chance to talk to my daughter recently. She has always been doing well at school. The pandemic forced the school to use remote learning. On top of some of the issue she had with a friend, she hit a wall last year. I knew she was at risk but I never knew how serious it was until I had a lengthy heart to heart talk with her. I felt I failed my job as a parent for not identifying her issues sooner. With that being said, I am spending more time with her now to ensure she feels she is being supported. It has been a week now and she is feeling a lot better. If you are interested in how I helped her in the addressing her issues, do follow my blog. I plan to share them with you.

In the meantime, take care of yourself and do seek help if you feel helpless. No one will think you are weak; admitting that you have a problem actually makes you stronger.

How to Channel Stress

I recently took a virtual workshop at work on the subject of leadership. One of the question that came up was how to deal with stress. I’ve never really given much thought on stress because I deal with it head-on. But as I consider the question more I realized that I have using stress by channeling it into something more production. In the workshop I remember the answer I gave to the group, “without stress, life is boring!”

So what is stress? Stress is a feeling when we feel uncomfortable when we are not able to solve the problem at hand. Or that we feel of failure if we are not able to complete the challenge satisfactory.

It is true that without stress, our life would be uneventful. Just imagine that sitting in front of TV for the entire day relaxing because we are stress free. Instead of thinking of all the things that require us to work on we just stare at the TV and not moving an inch. I don’t know about you – I know I can’t sit more than 2 hours not doing anything because I become restless and feel useless.

Stress is important and can help us if we know how to use it to our advantage. We can channel the stress and convert it into something productive. However, needless to say that if we less stress overtake our ability to handle them, then it becomes dangerous. To me stress is like the grass on my lawn. I know the lawn is pleasant to look at when it is green and lush. However, if I fail to mow it every few weeks, the grass will grow longer and weeds will start taking over.

Plan and Produce

No one in the modern society can say that they were never stressed. There is always something that would need our attention. Paying bills, getting ready for tomorrow’s project or even getting kids ready for school can be stressful. Most of us would take the easy way out by getting them done grumpily. Over time we would think of them as chores and start to hate them. My solution is plan ahead, get them done and learn from them. As an example, instead of making the same school lunch for my kids everyday I would plan ahead the night before on what to make. Instead of rushing in the morning to get it done, I would get the ingredients ready so I can jump right on to it. I challenge myself by making healthy lunch because not only my kids need it, it is also because I believe I can do it.

Keep Brain Active and Healthy

Sometimes we do feel tired after a long day of work. It is not because of all the work that we do but it is because of all the brain activity required. During my time-off I would usually spend most of my time doing housework inside and outside the house. By the end of the day my body ache because of all the physical activity involved. Even after a full night sleep my body would continue to ache the next day. However, it is entirely different when I work on my full-time job. I actually feel more exhausted at the end of day because of responding and solving problems at work. After a good long sleep I feel more refreshed because I was able to re-energize my brain. The stress of challenges at work actually help in keeping my mind healthy.

Stress Helps Us to Innovate

Stress can actually help us innovate. Think about it – stress is a result of difficulty in solving a problem. However, if we continue to solve the problem the same way we did it before it becomes a chore. Instead, we should find new ways to solve the problem more effectively. I work for the reporting function at HSBC. Every month our team must complete a series of reports within a week. Instead of doing the same thing every month, our team continues to make improvements on our process to complete the reports more effectively. We use macros in Excel to repeat the steps; we build templates to making data changes easier. In short, don’t use stress as an excuse; use it to help you to be better.

Everyone takes on stress differently. Some may deal with stress negatively and some may take it as a challenge. I am the latter. I never like monotony because life becomes boring if we repeat the tasks everyday. I have been working professionally for almost 30 years now and I have my fair share of challenges. Most of the challenges come with different level of stress. Over the years I have learned how to face the stress and I believe I have been successful in using it to help me.

Is This a Start of Another Journey?

I’m over 50 years old and I believe I have enough life experience to be a mentor. However, I consider myself as an introvert and rarely put myself in front of people and advertise myself. But my inner-self continue to nudge me to do better by helping others. With that being said, I’m on a new journey to become a Life Coach.

The bigger question that anyone who reads this may ask, “Are you qualified?” After much pondering and self-reflection, the answer is unequivocally “Yes!”

Stress and Mental Health

Mental health has become a big issue in recent years and anyone who may have experienced it continue to have lingering effects. I consider myself to be mental-health free because I love my life. I learned from experience how to tackle some of the stress away and I have a loving family to walk the life journey with me.

Career Advice

Another angle that I have expertise is my work experience in corporate America. I started as a lowly entry-level employee at Arthur Andersen. After spending over 5 years at Andersen (renamed from Arthur Andersen), I went to Citigroup where I spend 13 years going through all kinds of changes. This year will be my 7th year at HSBC and I love where I am. Over the years I learned to go through the intricacies of corporate world and be successful. Having said that, I believe I could be a great help for anyone who maybe interested in “making it” at big corporations.

Happily Married

Finally, I’m happily married to my wife of 24 years (that’s a quarter of lifetime!) There are ups and downs in our marriage but none came close to be severe enough to end our marriage. My wife and I learned to enjoy each other company and we learned to cherish each other. Without these commitments we would not have lasted so long and have 3 young adult children.

Enough of my self-proclaimed successes. Now let’s put my experience to work by helping other. As I continue to investigate how to “sell my service”, do keep a look out as I provide more tips on how to enjoy life (after all, that’s what my blog is about!) If you are interested in being my first client or if you need anything on the subjects that I noted above, please do let me know.

Let’s the journey begin!