Breathe!

9 out of 10 people don’t breathe correctly. They only use their lungs and no their belly to breathe. Take a deep breathe. If your shoulders go up, it means that you don’t breathe correctly. Breathing affects your sleep, back, memory, digestion and anxiety level. Breathing is directly related to how long you will live and your health. You must learn to breathe horizontally and not only vertically – it means you must learn to expand your belly when you breathe in and squeeze when you breathe out. Doing a breathing exercise several times a day will positively impact your mood, stress, health and make even help you make better decisions. It will help you feel stronger.

3 times a day, breathe in with your belly (not only chest) for 4 seconds, then hold your breathe for 4 seconds, breathe out for 6 seconds and then hold empty for 2 seconds before breathing in again. Do 5 repetitions. When you breathe in, your belly inflates and when you breathe out, it deflates. You can just count in your head, use your phone timer or download the free app Breathe +. You can also adjust the length of each part and slowly increase them. The more repetitions, the better.

OPTIONAL – Watch this video to find out more!

Source: How to breathe – Belisa Vranich

“Believe you can and you are halfway there.”

Here is a powerful story about the importance of a positive mindset to make our dreams come true.

A group of frogs were walking in the forest. Two of them fell into a pit. When the other frogs saw how deep it was, they told the two frogs that the situation was hopeless.

However, the two frogs decided to ignore what the others were saying, and they to tried to jump out of the pit.

The group of frogs at the top of the pit were still saying that they would never make it out.

Eventually, one of the frogs listened to what the others were saying, and he gave up. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to just give up and accept his certain death instead of suffering so much.

He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?”
The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

What you believe has a big impact on what you can achieve.
And you, do you sometimes doubt of yourself?

“More than just a maid”, get inspired by these success stories of migrant domestic workers

get inspired by domestic workers sucess stories

You will find here links to articles and videos featuring migrant domestic workers who prove by their passions and realizations that being a domestic worker is just a job and does not define who you are! You too, start dreaming and building yourself a better future!

Domestic workers and … athletes

Liza Avelino, Filipina, domestic worker in Hong Kong but also mountain climber and motivational speaker

http://www.enrichhk.org/2017/03/empower-her-liza-avelino/

 

Jannah Pascua, Filipina, domestic worker in Singapore but also athlete, marathoner and fundraiser for charities

https://origin-www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/more-than-just-maids-they-re-athletes-who-bring-hope-to-others-9230164

Aleli and her team “Maid of Heart and Sole”, domestic workers in Hong Kong who ran an 100km ultra-trail

http://www.atimes.com/article/domestic-workers-team-join-100km-trailwalker-event/

Domestic workers and… artists

Xyza Cruz Bacani, Filipina, ex-domestic worker in Hong Kong now world-known photographer

Joan Pabona, domestic worker in Hong Kong who won 2nd place at a National Geographic Photo Contest

http://www.scmp.com/culture/arts-entertainment/article/2132392/pictures-filipino-domestic-helper-comes-second-national

Leeh Ann, Filipina, domestic worker in Hong Kong but also photographer

http://www.atimes.com/article/filipino-maid-changing-destiny-photography/

http://tv.on.cc/hk/index.html?d=1511060093&i=ONS171116-14357-75-M

Rolinda Espanola, domestic worker in Singapore but also poet and photographer

https://medium.com/photography-for-social-changes/rolinda-espanola-a-mothers-love-728d953dc3ee

 

Domestic workers and… entrepreneurs…

Nilushika, Sri-Lankan, ex-domestic worker in Singapore, entrepreneur and charity founder

Rebecca Bustamante, Filipina, ex-domestic worker in Singapore, now CEO

Rebecca Bustamante: The maid who made it

DOMESTIC HELPER BECOME CEO – The Rebecca Bustamante Story

Nova Fossgard, Filipina, ex-domestic worker now owner of a college in England

http://news.abs-cbn.com/overseas/02/06/18/a-pinays-journey-from-selling-fish-to-owning-a-college-in-england

Irawati, Indonesian, domestic worker in Singapore and bakery owner

Irawati’s Dream: A Success Story of Perseverance and Passion

 

 

The 5 most common regrets of people dying

regrets of the dying

Do you know the most common 5 regrets of people dying? Read about them and decide what your next steps should be to create a life free of regret.

Bronnie Ware was a nurse working in palliative care and she soon noticed that people who were going to die had all the same 5 common regrets.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. This is the most common regret of all. It’s important to try to fulfil at least some of our dreams and especially when we still have a good health. Many people take health for granted.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. People regret to have spent so much time working and not being with their loved ones. It’s especially true in the situation of migrant workers apart from their families. You need to discuss your situation with your family and come up with a plan so, you can go home quickly.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Many people don’t express their feelings because they are afraid to hurt others or to be rejected. But it makes them sick and accept things they should not accept. If people love you, they will appreciate your honesty. If they don’t, they will be out of your life and this is better to get away from these unhealthy relationships.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Many people are so busy that they don’t devote time to their friends or to make new friends. They find themselves lonely at the end.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. Many people don’t realize until the end that happiness is also a choice. Smile, laugh and appreciate the little joys of life.

“Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.” Bronnie Ware

Read more about it here: http://www.bronnieware.com/blog/regrets-of-the-dying

The two wolves in your mind

wolves in your head
An old Cherokee wants to give is grandson an important lesson about life.
Watch the video or read the lesson below:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is black – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is white – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith”
He added, “The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
His grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked him, “Which wolf will win?
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
The emotions we nurture determine who we will become. And you, did it happen to you to be caught in a negativity cycle?

The old woman at the door – Listen to your emotions as painful as they can be and then let them go

story of an old lady

Maria was very upset. An old lady that she did not know kept banging at her door all day and night and would not leave. She was very stubborn and would come more than 10 times a day, asking to get inside the house. Maria was scared of her, so, at first, she tried to ignore her.

She put music loud and organized dinners with friends. She kept herself busy with activities she enjoyed like cooking and reading. She even went on vacation on a beautiful beach in the hope that the old lady will not be there when she returns. But whatever she did, the old woman always came back.

Then, Maria got angry at her, shout at her, told her not to come. But the old lady kept coming back, banging at the door in the middle of the night.

As nothing was working, Maria tried to bargain with her, “it’s ok you can come but only between 4 and 5 pm”. But the old lady kept coming anytime!

Finally, she decided to let the old woman in.
The old woman started to talk about her life, she had a lot of things to share.
At some point Maria felt she had listened enough but she did not know how to make the old woman stop.
She listened a bit more until she was sure she had listened to it all. Then, she took the old lady by the hand, thanked her and brought her back to the door.
The old lady never came back.

Everyone in life faces hardships and sadness. What happens if you don’t listen to your emotions? What happens if you get overwhelmed by them? Keep the picture of this old woman banging at the door whenever you deal with grief, sadness and anger. Express them fully but then bring them back to the door.

Emotional First Aid – your kit to face life’s hardships

Practice emotional first aid to deal with rejection, failure, guilt and loss, and improve your mental health.

If you cut your finger while cooking, you would immediately clean the wound and apply a bandage. So why don’t we use first aid for our mental health?

Anyone who felt rejected, lonely or suffered the loss of a loved one knows that emotional injuries can be just as painful as physical ones.

Psychologist Guy Winch, author of Emotional First Aid, recommends 7 ways to practice emotional first aid.

1. First, know to recognize when you are in emotional pain and treat it before it gets worse. These are the common psychological injuries:

  • Rejection:  by friends, partners, employers…
  • Failure:  when we don’t reach our goals or make mistakes…
  • Loneliness: living abroad make us even more prone to loneliness but you can also feel lonely in your own home if you don’t feel connected to others.
  • Loss: when relatives pass away, a friend moves out of town. How we rebuild ourselves determine if we become emotionally stronger or weaker.
  • Brooding or Rumination: you keep having sad or angry feelings and find it difficult to think of anything else. But doing so doesn’t allow them to heal.
  • Guilt: Moderate guilt is normal but when it makes it difficult for us to concentrate on our work and responsibilities then it’s time to act.
  • Low Self-Esteem:  this is also normal to feel low and critical about ourselves sometimes but if we always feel like this it’s like having a weak immune system: it makes us more vulnerable and more likely to sustain further psychological injury.

Just like physical diseases, emotional injuries get worse if they are not treated. Untreated rejection for example can cause a low self-esteem, which can make us be defensive and push people away, which can makes us become more lonely at which point we find ourselves ruminating about how our friends have stopped caring about us, which can lead to a full depression.

2. Regain control after a failure. Failures make our goals seem even more out of reach and lower our self-esteem and confidence.

Once we feel that we cannot succeed, we become demoralized and lose our motivation. Instead, make a list of what was in your control: effort, planning, alternatives you could have taken, etc. It will help your fight against misperceptions and improve your chances to succeed in the future.

3. Protect your self-esteem as you would protect your own child from aggression. Self-esteem is like an emotional immune system that protects you from depression.

It is very important to monitor it and avoid putting yourself down, particularly when you are already in pain after a failure or a rejection. Many of us become self-critical in these situations, kicking our self-esteem when we are already down. Don’t make it harder than it is already! You are only adding pain to pain…

When you’re feeling critical of yourself, imagine a dear friend or your own child is feeling bad about him or herself for similar reasons and write a letter expressing your support. Then read the letter to yourself.

To revive your self-worth after a rejection, you can also make a list of your positive qualities that you value and read them to yourself.

4. Break the cycle of brooding and ruminating negative thoughts with positive distraction. Negative only brings negative. When you keep having negative thoughts, it only leads you to deeper pain.

To stop ruminating, ask yourself this question: “Can I do something about it?”. If yes, then do it. If no, distract yourself to stop thinking of it. The best way is to engage in a task that requires concentration (like doing a breathing exercise, recalling the names of the children in your school for example or completing a crossword). Studies shows that only two minutes of distraction will reduce the need to have these negative thoughts (it’s true as well if you are trying to stop yourself from eating chocolate by the way – all our urges reduce dramatically after 2 minutes).

5. Find meaning in loss.
Loss is a part of life, but it can keep us from moving forward if we don’t treat the emotional pain it creates.

Know the “normal cycle” of loss that psychologists have defined: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Sadness and Depression; 5. Acceptance. Read more about it here: the 5 stages of loss and grief.

If a lot of time has passed and you still can’t move forward, try to find meaning in the loss. It might be hard, but think of what you might have gained or understood from the loss (for instance, “I lost my husband but I’ve become much closer to my kids”). Think of how you can help others to appreciate life more, and the changes you can make in your own life to live more fully.

6. Avoid excessive guilt by repairing damaged relationships

We feel guilty when our action or inactions have hurt another person (often a friend or loved one) who has not forgiven us.

Often our apologies are not “good enough” for the other person to “let it go”. Apologies require “empathy”. The other person must feel that you totally understand how they felt and how they were badly impacted by you. (Read more about making effective apologies here).

7. Don’t think loneliness is your fate.

Loneliness is much more common then we realize – especially when living abroad as a migrant domestic worker.  It has a negative impact on our emotional and physical health. The worse is that when we feel lonely, we often want to minimize the risk of rejection by ignoring opportunities to connect with people.

Make a list of excuses you’ve used to avoid taking initiative —I won’t know anyone so why go?; They don’t call me so why should I call them?; They’re probably too busy to meet up; I can’t just introduce myself to a stranger. 

If this is not you, but your employer who doesn’t allow you to go out on your days off or calling friends or relatives outside of your working hours, look immediately for help from a NGO like Home in Singapore or Help in Hong Kong. This is not normal and it put yourself in a very vulnerable situation.

Now make a list of people whose company you’ve enjoyed in the past (go through your phone book, Facebook friends, and Email contacts) and reach out to one or two each day to initiate plans until your social calendar is full. Challenge yourself to avoid using excuses when you feel anxious.

“Mostly, get into the habit of taking note of your psychological health on a regular basis — and especially after a stressful, difficult, or emotionally painful situation. Yes, practicing emotional hygiene takes a little time and effort, but it will seriously elevate your entire quality of life. I promise.” Guy Winch

You can also watch this Ted Talk by Psychologist Guy Winch where he explains how he practices emotional first aid for himself.

And read this story about dealing with emotions

The old woman at the door – Listen to your emotions as painful as they can be and then let them go

 

 

Reference

Winch, G. (2014). Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other Everyday Hurts. New York: Plume – Penguin Group.

Know what your core qualities are and keep developing them!

Image to illustrate core qualities

Your core qualities are your specific strengths, what you are good at, or for what you are often praised by others. They are positive character traits. To know and develop them will help you define and reach your personal objectives.

Focus on the positive, it will give you motivation and energy while thinking of the negative will only lead to demoralization and inaction.

Make the list of your 5 top positive qualities and then ask your family and close friends to tell you as well the 5 positive qualities that define you best according to them. If you don’t understand their answers, ask them for clarifications.

You can use the list below to help you or choose other qualities as well.

  • Cheerful
  • Thoughtful
  • Practical
  • Proactive
  • Productive
  • Professional
  • Balanced
  • Achiever
  • Knowledgeable
  • Leader
  • Logical
  • Original
  • Outgoing
  • Patient
  • Positive
  • Consistent
  • Compassionate
  • Independent
  • With Integrity
  • Mediator
  • Emotional
  • Forgiving
  • Generous
  • Devoted
  • Candid
  • Rebellious
  • Cooperative
  • Meditative
  • Understanding
  • Competitive
  • Modest
  • Courageous
  • Enthusiastic
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Facilitator
  • Focused
  • Genuine
  • Open Minded
  • Wise
  • Sensitive
  • Sense of Humor
  • Sensible
  • Sincere
  • Solid
  • Communicative
  • Helpful
  • Fast
  • Responsible
  • Results-driven
  • Results-oriented
  • Self-reliant
  • Organised
  • Personable
  • Pleasant
  • Flexible
  • Adaptable
  • Persuasive
  • Perceptive
  • Insightful
  • Trustworthy
  • Easy going
  • Good listener
  • Imaginative
  • Warm
  • Ambitious
  • Diplomatic
  • Curious

Did you think of other qualities not listed here? How helpful is this exercise?

 

Make better decisions – Gala and Anna – Correction

featured image for post make better decisions

Help Gala and Anna make better decisions for their futures and then review your own decisions.

  1. Gala loves cooking. She wants to open an eatery in her hometown. Which questions should she ask?
  2. Anna wants to build a house to avoid paying a rent. Which questions should she ask?

You will find below some ideas of questions. Of course you can have different ones. The most important is to ask yourself questions and take the time to make some research.

Gala

Questions about herself, her needs and feelings

  • How much does she need per month to live? Can she make this amount of money with an eatery?
  • Does she have enough knowledge to open a business? Do she feel strong enough to do it? Does she need support from her family?

    Questions about the options: Costs/Benefits? Risks/Rewards?

    • Cost / Benefits: Is the eatery the best business idea? How much does it cost to open (cooking utensils…) and to run (ingredients…)? How much money can she expect to make? Explore some other options: open a boarding house or a grocery store for example.
    • About the risks: are there already a lot of eateries? Or if there is no other eatery, is there a reason why it would not work (not enough clients?)

Questions about the decision: back up plan

  • What should she do if there are not enough clients? Move to another location? Or open a different business?  At which point should she close the business before it loses too much money?

Anna

Questions about herself, her needs and feelings

  • Why does she want to build her house? For herself, her children?
  • What kind of house does she need exactly? What are her “NEEDs” and her “WANTs”?

    Questions about the options: Costs/Benefits? Risks/Rewards?

    • Cost / Benefits: Is it cheaper to rent until the end of her life or to build an house. How much does it cost to build a big house compared with a medium one and does she really need a big house? Does she have quotes from different constructors? Reviews of these constructors by different clients?
    • About the Risks/Rewards: Can a typhoon may destroy the house? Does she have enough money to finish building it even if she loses her job?

Questions about the decision: back up plan

  • What if the constructors are not reliable?
  • What if a typhoon comes when the house is not finished?
  • How to make sure there is no issue when building the house?

Your own decision sheet

  • My decision:
  • Why do I want to do that:
  • How do I feel about it:
  • What are the other options:
  • What are the costs and benefits of each option:
  • What are the risks and rewards of each option:
  • What do I do if I fail:
  • What do I do to reduce risks of failing:

 

Become a decision master! 6 steps to make better decisions.

featured image for post make better decisions

How to make better decisions especially financial ones? Everyone makes poor decisions at some point in his life. Sometimes it’s ok to let it go but for important decisions, it’s better to follow a rational approach. Analyze the situation, look for information, compare multiple options, make a decision, have a back-up plan and review regularly.

1. Analyze the situation

Make sure to know what your objectives are. Be aware of your emotions and don’t let them cloud your judgment. For example if you are considering buying a  motorbike to your husband, is it because he really needs it or because you don’t dare saying no?

In this situation your objectives are to keep a good relationship with your husband AND investing your money wisely. If your objectives are clear, it will help you be more creative and consider more options. For example, you could discuss your financial situation with your husband and decide than instead of a motorbike, you will buy a tuk tuk / taxi so he can start making some money himself as well.

2. Look for information

Give yourself time to search for neutral information and don’t rely on only one source of information. It’s not because someone is your friend that he knows best.

Look on the internet to search for information. If you plan to buy something, go to different sellers to compare prices and conditions.

If you plan to open a business, look around first and see if there are already of similar businesses. If there are already a lot of similar businesses, the competition may be too harsh but if there is no one it may also indicate that there is no potential market and buyers.

3. Weigh your options

Compare carefully your options. Weigh costs against benefits and risks against rewards. Some investments for example seem very good because they can bring a lot of money but maybe the risks are also very high or it actually requires too much time compared with the benefits.

4. Make a decision

You must be willing to make a decision. Don’t let life or others decide for you.  If you hesitate a lot, look for additional information if you need it but give you a deadline. For example give you one month and then make your decision.

5. Have a back up plan

When you make a decision, always take time to think what you will do if things don’t go as you planned.

For example if you decide to launch a business, what is your back-up plan if it fails? What will you do if things don’t work out?

6. Review

Review your decisions regularly, when you succeed and when you fail! Have a notebook and for each decision you make, note

  • Your objectives and feelings
  • The options you considered, their costs and benefits, theirs risks and rewards
  • The one option your chose and why
  • Your back up plan
  • And later the results and how to improve in the future

Conclusion: ask questions!

To take better decisions, the key is to ask a lot of questions!

  • Questions about yourself: what are my objectives, what are my feelings?
  • Questions about the options: what are the options available? Costs/benefits? Risks/rewards?
  • Questions about the decision: what is my back up plan? What do I do if things don’t work out? What can I do to avoid problems?
  • Questions about the results: what worked/did not work in order to improve your future decisions

Now help Gala and Anna make better decisions for their futures and then review your own decisions!

  1. Gala loves cooking. She wants to open an eatery in her hometown. Which questions should she ask?
  2. Anna wants to build a house to avoid paying a rent. Which questions should she ask?

And then, take your notebook and for your top 2 dreams, write down

  • Your objectives and feelings
  • The options you considered, their costs and benefits, theirs risks and rewards
  • The one option your chose and why
  • Your back up plan

Then share with us! Is the exercise helping you to feel better about your decisions?

Read the correction of the exercise below:

Make better decisions – Gala and Anna – Correction