We tend to be constantly seeking happiness. Unfortunately, too many are looking for it outwardly in a materialistic way, while the answer lies within us. To me, it is all about the attitude that we can develop: appreciation of how amazing life is in Australia and contentment with what we already have. There is nothing wrong with striving for more, but it is so important to be grateful for what we already have.
I am most fortunate to have built up enough that will keep me comfortable but chasing money has never been my top priority. My parents gave me an education at Sydney Boys High School (I was accepted due to my sporting ability, not my intellect!). I then went to UNSW while attempting to major in mathematics, but I already knew my days in academia were numbered.
My serendipitous discovery of the fitness industry was my lifeline, my ikigai – a Japanese concept that roughly translates to ‘reason for being’. Ikigai is the union of doing what you are good at, doing what you love, providing value to the community, and making a living out of it. So, I am very lucky. Especially since it was terrifying dropping out of university with the rest of my family being so academic!
If you do not love your work, you need to question why you’re still there. Of course, there are situations where you may need to continue, but the transition could be worked on at a later point.
After I sold my first incarnation, Healthland Fitness Centre, I had a trade restraint that prevented me from opening a new health club. So, I tried working in my other passion – food. I soon discovered there was one key ingredient missing: the love of providing food as a business. I failed miserably, went into bankruptcy (divorce assisted with that) and this all triggered a bleak depression.
To get back on my feet, the priority was to look after myself. I tried all sorts of therapy. Finally, I was most fortunate to discover Journey Therapy that lifted my depression in a 3hr session back in 2000. (If anyone needs assistance for a therapist, please feel free to contact me as I am an expert in depression!)
Amazingly I have not fallen back into that dark space since then, and there have been many triggers and personal tragedies. Family and friends came to my rescue when I learnt to lean on others who cared about me.
Having spent 5 years in boarding school with my parents in another country, I had to learn to rely on myself. So I had to more recently learn that it is OK that there are good people who want to help me lighten my burden.
Deep grief does not ever go away. It is a matter of learning to carry that pain. I have chosen to see the beauty in life as I seek joy and pleasure in it. This is what I do to live up to my given Chinese name, which literally translates to “Blue Sky.”
As much as I dislike exercising, I have rediscovered my discipline as my desire to maximise my chances for a long life has surpassed my laziness. A healthy body creates internal happiness.
I try to find ways to accept situations that displease me. For example, rather than getting worked up over a traffic jam, my thoughts go to what would make me accept the delay. I often decide I would accept a traffic jam if there was an accident with people getting injured. So, since I am willing to accept that traffic jam, why not just accept any traffic jam?
Confrontations are rare for me nowadays, as I think of ways to discuss problems to resolve them, instead of allowing my negative emotions to dictate my actions. The key to me is to follow the advice of the philosopher Seneca: “The greatest remedy for anger is delay.”
Consequently, I allow anger to disperse before I speak my mind with my heart.
Whenever I experience a distasteful characteristic or behaviour, I reflect upon myself to ensure I am not a hypocrite. By no means do I get everything right, I will get it all right when I die – perfectly dead. Meanwhile, there is a lot of living to do.