074 Fighting Phone Addiction II: Are You Also In Trouble?

Is Your Child The Only One Having Problem?

Last week’s article titled “073 Insights Gathered From Fighting Phone Addiction” garnered much interest. Many friends shared with me more stories.

A father A was concerned that his three-year-old son was becoming restless, irritable or even agitated when the phone was taken away. A mother B was dismayed that she had to resort to texting her teenage daughter who preferred to shut herself behind closed doors. Another mother C was upset that her phone-obsessed teenage boy hardly talked to her except when he needed extra money. A mother D pushed back her teenage son’s repeated pleas for hand phone amidst concerns over the peer pressure the boy had to face.

As a parent myself, I understood their worries for their children. But as I listened to them more, a big question emerged, “Is your child really the only person with a phone addiction problem at home?”

Source: WordPress Photo Library

Why Do Adults Frown At Children’s Phone Habits?

It was a tempting question that I fell short of asking.

From my observation, more often than not, children are not alone in having a phone problem. But I have yet to meet any adult who admits to being a phone addict. They would say, “I am a heavy phone user.”

Many adults easily rattle off a list of reasons to use phones frequently: for work, social network and to keep abreast of news. And who can blame them for wanting to spend a little time on online entertainment after a long day of work?

Source: WordPress Photo Library

Well, children use hand phones for exactly the same reasons: for school work, to be in contact with friends and to be in the know of what’s happening around them. And they, too, need breaks from the monotony of school routine.

So why do adults frown at children’s phone habits then?  The way I see it, we adults have a terrible habit of being too lenient to ourselves, and too hard on others.  

A Pot Calling The Kettle Black

I am speaking from personal reflection.

At the height of my complaints about the then twelve year old son, Conan’s excessive phone habits, the boy retorted, “Well, I am not complaining that you use phone a lot too.”

I defended quickly, “There is a difference…” before saying, “I know when to stop. But you do not.”

Seeing that Conan made no rebuttal, I went on, “Before you get started on anything, you must have an idea when to stop. Always begin with an end in mind. ”

It was a cliche that you might have heard a thousand times. The truth is people are easily carried away when they catch on to doing something.

Admittedly, there were sporadic periods of time that I became engrossed in all sorts of online entertainment such as latest dramas from a variety of sources. And there was also a prolonged period of time that I was messaging with friends so intensively that I was constantly on a lookout for new messages. Even for blogging, there were also times that I woke up in the middle of the night to do editing.

I was like a pot calling the kettle black. That probably explained why my early efforts to correct my son’s phone habits failed miserably.

Source: WordPress Photo Library

Where Had All My Time Gone To?

I should have noticed that my phone habits were spiralling out of control. The red flags were obvious when it began to disrupt the normal routine in my daily life. It was until I abruptly stopped all the time-consuming activities on the phone for several months that I finally resumed control.

We adults tend to underestimate the adverse effects of excessive phone usage on ourselves. If you have been feeling time-deprived, and think that you have so little time for work and personal life, I suggest you do a quick estimate of the hours you are spending on the phone.

In a recent survey by a global consultancy firm TNS, young Singapore adults aged 16-30, spends 3.4 hours a day on mobile devices. That amounts to spending a whopping 24 hours a week!  And those aged 46-65 are no better. They spend 2.3 hours a day on their phones, with an additional 1.5 hours of video watching online daily!

Do you now know where all our time has gone to?

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/tech/

Do Not Let Technology Consume You

More cause for alarm is how bad phone habits are hurting relationships between people.

A wife X derided her spouse as a useless father who only knows how to use his hand phone to babysit their toddler. A newly-wedded Y in her early thirties is dissatisfied with a husband who would rather spend long hours playing online games, than to cherish the evenings they have together. And a middle-age man Z stopped having conversations with his wife who is obsessed with watching Korean dramas.

Source: WordPress Photo Library

It’s an irony to see how people are becoming more disconnected with the proliferation of smart phone and social media apps that promise to connect people even more.

Technology promises progress, but it also comes with its downsides. Do not let technology consume you. Take charge of your life. Perhaps it’s time to heed a word of caution from Albert Einstein, the titan of modern science.

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

-Albert Einstein

William W K Tan

(aka Uncle William)

31 August 2019, Saturday


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060 Have these kinds of friends!

Have friends who feel for you

Last week, I wrote about the biggest worry of caregivers – what happens to a child who needs special care after the caregiver passes on? I wrote to encourage others. Instead, I received encouraging messages from others.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library

A friend HP felt the enormity of my worry. He revealed that his tears rolled involuntarily as he was telling his mom about my story. Another friend YS told me that he believed my elder son chose me as his parent for good reasons. And he could tell that I have found more purpose in life because of my son. My friend and mentor AD wrote to me, “Parents always worry about their children. Your advice is good: Take care of self. As for the rest, God will take care.”

It’s heart-warming to have friends who feel for you.

Have friends whom you can trust and talk to

Everyone needs a listening ear in times of need. A study conducted by researchers on 662 caregivers in Singapore found that having someone whom the caregiver trusts to talk to, whether to share sentiments, seek understanding or vent frustration, reduces the degree of depressive symptoms he or she faces. Having friends whom you can trust and talk to is a blessing.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library

But I have heard of contrary viewpoints. I have met people who said dismissively, “Friends? Who needs them!”

It is not uncommon to hear of lifelong friends who fail to step up when needed, while mere acquaintances give more than expected. Disappointment from close friends hurts. That’s why sometimes people choose to distance themselves to avoid getting hurt. However, if you cherish that friendship, surely it deserves a second chance of repairing.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library

For people who have our lives wrapped up around caregiving, I think we should understand more than anyone that there are inconvenient times in everyone’s life. Perhaps, your friends were too caught up with their own problems. And perhaps they did not know how much you needed their help.  Anyway, no one should not be faulted for not living up to other’s expectations.

Maybe friends who fail you do not know that a listening ear from a trusted friend is all that you ask for.

Have friends who are willing to go an extra mile

Friends can make real lasting difference.

Several weeks ago, I heard a sad story from a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) physician who was giving me acupuncture treatment. She said,

“I know it’s not easy raising an autistic child. My close friend’s son is about the age of yours. She confided in me that she might chose to jump to death with her son one day, rather than to leave the child behind. I reprimanded her for harbouring such dark thoughts.”

I was stumped for words before asking her, “How’s your friend doing now?”

“My friend had passed on some years back. She was in her forties, so it was most unexpected. She died of complications from a supposedly minor surgery. That’s life,” the physician sighed.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library

My heart sank. “How about the boy’s father?”

“The father didn’t care much about the son,” the physician continued, shaking her head sadly. “The boy has a younger sister. And the little girl told me that her brother had never been out of the house since their mother passed away. Hence, I take the siblings along on outings with my children from time to time.”

I was moved and looked up approvingly at the physician,

“Your act means a lot to the children. And it means a lot to your friend.”

“I should do that for her.” She said.

It’s blessing to have friends who are willing to go an extra mile.

The physician, the close friend she spoke of and two other girls have been the best of buddies since their pre-University days. (Picture from WordPress Photo Library)

Perhaps you would never know who these wonderful friends are. If you already do, cherish your friendship with them even more.

William W K Tan

12 April 2019

031 Friendship Rekindled: It Took Us Thirty Years To Reconnect

  • Meeting After 30 Years: A Déjà Vu Experience

Over the past six months, I had reconnected with many long-lost friends. The epitome was certainly the high school class reunion held on last Thursday. The last time we met was thirty years ago! It was a déjà vu experience of reliving the life of a teen, albeit in a much older body.

A classmate, Tai Teong who returned from Shanghai with his wife and kid remarked, “Our physical appearances might have changed somewhat, but the gaze and disposition have remained the same. I can easily identify each and everyone.” I felt the same about Tai Teong. He had the same determined expression and analytical tone in his voice. But he looked leaner and taller than before. We were about the same height at sixteen, but now he is the tallest.

Brenda and Gwendolyn, the only two ladies that evening, had a similar observation. They said,“Both of us were taller than any of the boys at that time. But now all the guys had grown taller than us.” Then Brenda turned to me and made a dig,“Whee Kiem, only you remained the same!” Everyone laughed as my eyes rolled. That’s not entirely true. Look at this picture! But I did not protest, I liked Brenda’s sense of humour. She sounded sincere even when she was teasing me.

(From left to right: Whee Kiem aka William, Zee Hong, Gwendolyn, Brenda, Yew Cheong, Ling Soon, Tai Teong with his wife and son in front, Boon Cheng and Sek Yeo.)

Gwendolyn, a corporate lawyer, is kind with her words. Almost every blogpost I wrote, she gave me encouraging feedback. I said, “I shared my blog with all of you, but only the gals responded, especially Gwendolyn. I was wondering if the guys have become illiterate?” They laughed. Then, Yew Cheong, one of the brightest and most competitive students in class, immediately pointed out an obvious fact: Brenda and Gwen were the best in English in class.

Here is one simple reason you should attend a class reunion: Enjoy Nostalgic Moments And Have Good Laughs.

  • Bask In The Joy Of Nostalgia

I was overcome with nostalgia for the days in New Town Secondary School as everyone quickly reminisced about the past.

I recalled many guys, including me, quietly had our long pants pleated by tailors outside, which were not exactly permissible by the school’s standards. Even Boon Cheng, the role model class monitor, admitted that he pleated his pants against the school rule. That was evidence of youth vanity that we all had but forgotten. Look at how smart-looking we were in our specially-tailored pants! I wonder if Boon Cheng, who is now a Vice Principal of a secondary school, turns a blind eye to such matters in his school. After all, we know how it was like to be young.

(Can you tell where I was in this picture taken at secondary four?)

Ling Soon, the good-looking and easygoing swimmer who later became the deputy head prefect in school, remembered being “punished” for speaking Chinese dialect with two other friends in school. The punishment meted out required them to sing a Hokkien song outside the teachers’ Common room. It was supposedly a public humiliation for using dialect in school. The boys sang loudly in pride, winning applause and laughter from on-looking students. An unintended message was delivered: no dialect in school unless you could sing with pride in public (laughs).

Nostalgia fills us with happiness as it reminds us of the wonder of youth. If you have no other reason to join a high school class reunion, then do it for the sake of the smile it’ll bring to your face.

  • Be Fascinated By How Much/ Little You and Your Friends Have Changed

Sek Yeo, my high school best friend and NPCC (National Police Cadet Corps) comrade whom I have met for a third time since we reconnected 3 months ago, told me,

“You are definitely beefier-looking than before. One thing about you never changes. You are still so honest. If we were to be cast for roles in a drama, I always knew that you’d be chosen to play the upright one while I have to settle with the role as the crafty one.” He laughed.

Sek Yeo is still the same old person I know. He has an ability to laugh at himself to make others feel good.

( I missed those days of camaraderie at NPCC.)

Another good friend, Zee Hong who engineered the reunion by tracking down one-third of the class single-handledly demonstrated a side of him that I never knew: mindfulness and resourcefulness. Zee Hong, was nicknamed “Fat-Cute” for being the life wire who brought much laughter to the class. Now it becomes apparent that he has more endearing qualities that were overlooked in the past. No wonder he is doing well as a “towkay”, a boss in his family-run business.

It is interesting to find out how the classmates perceived you at that time. Most classmates remember me as a studious and serious student who was always in the teachers’ good books. Yew Cheong was candid about how he felt about me,

“Whee Kiem was “Tao” ( a dialect colloquial to describe an arrogant person) lor. He was like in his own league, didn’t even talk to me. I remember he was good in his studies, especially in Chinese.”

I had to explain. It was because I was predominantly conversant in Mandarin and struggled to make friends with those who spoke mostly English during secondary school days.

Yew Cheong left me with a deep and positive impression at that dinner when he spoke about how he was driven to study really hard to secure bursary and scholarship in order to lessen his parents’ financial burden. I came from a poor family too, but I did not have the same maturity as he did at that age.

  • Do You Have Someone You Wish To See Again?

The reunion was an invaluable experience not to be missed. Yet, if it was held six months earlier, I might not have gone. Caught in a blind of work and family commitments, I couldn’t even make time for a simple after-work dinner with friends for more than a decade (See 006: Lessons on Friendship).

Personal setbacks in later life such as health, career and relationships also made it harder to attend class reunion. A year ago, I wouldn’t know what to say if certain sensitive questions about my career setbacks were asked. I had early big success in my career but little did I expect that it would later resemble a snake and ladder game, which took me years to reconcile myself with laughs. I can emphatise with those who may not be comfortable to attend class reunion at certain stage of their lives.

But one question may suffice to make you rethink,“Do you have someone in the class whom you genuinely wish to meet again before the opportunity slips away totally?”

Are you missing your long-lost best friend, or was there a special someone you once had a secret crush on, a rival in studies or sports, or someone you wanted to apologise? How about friends who had made you laughed a lot during those younger days?

And you might be surprised that someone in the class whom you least expected, genuinely wanted to see you as much.

Life is short. Before it becomes too late, make time to see these people who mattered in your life before. Our lives may have diverged into different paths over these years, but it would converge once again if you are open to receive and learn from your old friends.

William W. K. Tan

11 Feb 2018, Sunday

025-R1 That’s What Happens When Everyone Wants To Do Something For Others

  • Do you have time for others?

Who has time for an evening of cooking and silly games with friends at home? Forget it, it’s too much of a hassle.

The preferred option nowadays is to eat out at a restaurant. Leave the preparation and chores to others. We have become too busy to spend time doing things for others.

Thankfully, some friends and I chose to spend time doing something together one evening.

  • When Everyone Starts To Do Something For Others

It all started with a friend A who had an idea of having some friends to dine and chat in his house.

His wife, Q skilfully demonstrated how to make Okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake topped with ingredients like cabbage, green onions, bean sprouts and sliced pork. My friends quickly learnt to make this savoury dish, while I was quietly working on another dish.

It was my first time whipping up a dish in someone’s house. Determined to make an impression, I prepared my signature dish of broccoli and egg white with crabmeat (赛螃蟹, pronounced as saipangxie, literally translated as “As Good As Crab”). Too bad nobody seemed impressed.

That’s because we were spoilt for choice. F, another friend came with a Michelin awarded soya sauce chicken and roasted char siew, and not forgetting otah from Muar. A third person Y came with her home cooked mushroom fried rice. S came potato salad, wine and cherries. Too much food for a small gathering of five. But that’s what happens when everyone wants to do something for others.

The best part came after the dinner. One after another came ideas of silly games. Everyone played and sang along in good spirits. We laughed at each other’s silliness. And we shared sincerely the things we cherish in life. To our surprise, Y even came prepared with gifts for the games we played. That’s what happens when everyone wants to do something for others.

  • Get-Together Reduces Stress

For many reasons, people have ceased to make friends gathering as part of daily life; we have to fabricate excuses to get together. We have overlooked the power of a regular gathering. It takes away the stress of every day life.

Spending time with friends feels good, and it improves our health. When people get together, oxytocin, the “feel good” hormone is secreted to eliminate stress. So, even if it is just for yourself, make time to do something for others regularly.

William W K Tan

30 Dec 2017, Saturday

Personal Notes

This year end ended with a string of gatherings and fond memories.

Prior to the above-mentioned gathering, my family of four went to a heart-warming church Xmas party at the invitation of a kind neighbour Linda. We enjoyed the party games and line dance tremendously.

It was quickly followed by a gathering of my senior high school friends. It was a held in a cosy terrace in a friend Lishan’s penthouse. I marvelled at how much the children had grown up and how little the adults had changed.

Right after that, we spent plenty of family time together in Johor Bahru. I enjoyed most jumping on a mega trampoline with my children while my wife probably enjoyed watching the movie Jumanji with them most. Kids loved go-karting in Mount Austin Adventure Centre with their cousins. And we enjoyed feasting on durians and signature seafood porridge with my siblings and their families, and of course, with our parents.

And finally, I caught up with three old friends from secondary school times who had not met for ages. I was surprised to find them describing me as “a serious and studious student who was quiet.” When did I start talking so much? I thought to myself.

The good news is I am feeling more relaxed than ever. The bad news is I had been having a bad flu for days that almost made me abort many plans. It is a timely reminder that no matter how good it gets, it is always prudent to do things in moderation.

No more gathering for now. Time to get ready to clear some new challenges in the coming 2018. I’ve got 52 weeks and 365 chances to make it a better year, and make myself a better person. You too.

Happy New Year!

024 Express Love And Feel Loved

  • What To Give Our Loved Ones?

It’s time for Christmas. Everyone says Christmas is all about giving. What are we giving? Mostly gifts, I think. I’ve received more gifts this year alone than all the previous years summed up.

I am thankful, of course. But as the number of gifts grew, I started asking myself a bigger question, “What is the most valuable gift to give our loved ones?”

The answer is obvious — love. The less obvious part is how do we give love?

  • Five Ways To Express Love And Feel Loved

Some people love to receive gifts from you, while others love to be in your company more than anything. A mismatch in the expression and experience of love can become a constant source of conflict in any relationship.

I didn’t realise how inept I was in expressing love, until I started learning from my past mistakes.

For a long time, I was exasperated by repeated failures to buy the right gift for my wife in spite of my best efforts and intentions. It was only after I read Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” that I realise where went wrong.

My wife and I were interpreting love in different ways. While I saw giving gifts as an act of affection, she deemed it merely as making a choice of purchase. What mattered more to her at that time was the quality of time we had. Clearly, there is more than one way to express and experience love.

Chapman suggests that there are five ways, which he calls “the five love languages”, namely gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch.

1. Gift Giving

Do not take gift giving lightly. In this week that preludes Christmas, there were a lot of gift giving going on at the workplace. C remarked,

“Everyone knows that I don’t take coffee. So guess how I felt when I unwrapped the gift from this other colleague and found coffee.”

Gifts are symbols of thoughtfulness to people who appreciate gifts. A thoughtless or hastily-bought gift may be disastrous, especially if it is for your significant other.

2. Quality Time

Quality time means spending time together on an activity that both parties find mutually enjoyable. Do you have like-minded friends who enjoy an outing or a conversation with you?

If you have, make time for them. Nowadays, everyone seems time-scrapped. But surely you will make time for the person who truly matters in your life.

Giving your undivided attention is all you have to do. People who cherish quality time have little tolerance for distractions, postponed dates and poor listeners.

3. Words of Affirmation

People thrive on the encouragement and heartwarming words from their loved ones. Unfortunately, it seems that the closer people become, words of affirmation turn scarce.

I remember having a nice dinner with a friend. Our nice conversation was dampened by her abrupt switch to annoyance towards her mother who called her over the phone. She said, “That’s how we speak to each other at home.”

Words are powerful. Hearing your affection in words is powerful enough to skyrocket a person’s spirits. Conversely, curt remarks from loved ones can shatter confidence in a relationship.

4. Acts of Service

Can washing toilets really be an expression of love? Absolutely! A friend told me that she is always the one washing the toilets at home because her husband’s back hurts. I bet her knees hurt too, but she does it willingly. To be a supportive spouse is her language of love.

Anything you do to ease the burden weighing on your loved ones is an act of service. After years of trials and errors, I’ve become convinced that any act of service speaks more volumes than compliments or gifts for my wife. The words she most love to hear: “Let me do that.”

On the other hand, forgotten promises and making more work for people who speak this language of love is a sure way to damage the relationship.

5. Physical Touch

Physical touch is not all about bedroom intimacy. Hugs, pats, holding hands, and light touches on the arms– they are ways to show excitement, concern and love.

Many years ago, I used to feel uneasy when friends from overseas welcome me with their big, warm hugs. But over time, I’ve grown to appreciate the sense of closeness physical touch fosters.

I experimented doing the same with my parents. Probably because I am already a grown-up man in my forties, I felt embarrassed at first. But the embarrassment was quickly dispelled by the smiles of my parents. Physical touch provides security, while neglect can be destructive.

I hope you find my sharing useful and apt for this joyful occasion of Christmas. Now you know that there is more than one way to give love, rethink how others experience love and not what you think is the best way to love.

Merry Christmas! Make This An Occasion Of Giving Love!

William W K Tan

24 December 2017, Sunday

Written between 3-6 am.

023 Borobudur: A World Heritage Site Not To Be Missed

Would you visit an UNESCO World Heritage site that promises an exotic view of an ancient Buddhist enclave in an Islamic territory?Welcome to Borobudur, an ancient Buddhist site in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Having attended an education conference near Borobudur last Saturday, it was a chance not to be missed!But would you wake up as early as 3 am in the morning to catch a glimpse of the stunning view of Borobudur at sunrise? My friend Mr Chen did that. Look at the beautiful pictures he took.

I wanted to see the sunrise too, but there was a risk of missing the early morning return flight if I did. The alternative was to visit at sunset. The place was filled with visitors by the time I reached at 4.30 pm.The temple is built on several layers of rock platforms, stack on top of one another. It looks tall from the bottom but less so in reality. No one seems to have trouble climbing up to the top quickly.

Built in the 9th century, the Borobudur temple withstood the test of time for 500 years. It fell into oblivion following the decline of Hindu kingdoms and the Javanese conversion to Islam in the 14th century. This explains the intriguing presence of a Buddhist heritage site in a land of Islam worshippers.

If you are a history buff, you may be interested in speculating the stories behind each artefact on the walls. For example, there are many decapitated Buddha heads. It set you thinking if it was the result of religious persecution or theft by profiteers over the long passage of time.

The stories on the walls go beyond religion. They depict the menial work of ordinary people inside households, as well as the grandeur of procession outside on the streets in one thousand two hundred years ago.

And you might be just as surprised as I was to find out that Borobudur was a well-kept secret of the natives until it was rediscovered by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1814, five years before he set his sights on the island of Singapore, my home country.

This historical coincidence is an interesting reminder of how closely connected people of different countries really are.

William W K Tan

17 Dec 2017


Personal Notes

In its magical ways, Borobudur also helped friends to connect closer. I was amazed by how much fun my friends had in taking pictures there.

Look at them! Soo prayed with a blissful smile behind the protection of Buddha.

Wong looked deep in his spiritual thoughts.

Loo seemed totally at home with sitting on the ground.

Julie looked every bit like a teenage model having a school excursion.

And Foong Hsing, together with Melanie looked like two like-minded friends taking a stroll on a quiet lane.

As for me, I am clueless about posing in front of a camera. But I bet you can tell that I was really happy in the company of these wonderful friends.

When was it the last time you had an outing with your friends?

Life is short. Find a place of interest and just do it.

020 Week 20: Thoughts on Friendship

  • The Top Ten Posts In 20 Weeks

Twenty weeks have passed since I first started blogging. Still, I am writing. I guess that’s discipline to some people. But again, like I’d explained before (019 Is There An Easier Way To Become Disciplined?), I am merely doing what I enjoy.

Thanks to you, here is a chart of TOP TEN POSTS. The corresponding number on the right indicates the number of views.

  • Making A Difference, I Hope

I am most encouraged by the response to last week’s post on discipline. It had outstripped the rest and made it to No. 1 rapidly.

Shortly after its publication, I received notification of a spike in readership.

That day alone, it generated twice the usual rate of 70 views on the first day of release. I knew immediately that the article must have struck a chord.

A friend Z wrote, “Your article is interesting. Please continue to write, inspire and remind us of the things we had before but long forgotten .”

Two other friends B and J coincidentally said that the article was a timely reminder to get their lazy bums to the gym. Another friend L thought that my home secret to discipline could be applied to getting her daughter to enjoy learning Chinese.

Your words are great confidence boosters. I start to believe, maybe I can make a difference to others through honest sharing.

  • You Are The Reason I Blog

Friends are the reason I blog. Not only do I get to reflect constantly through writing, I also get to know them better. Indeed, sharing from friends has become a constant source of motivation.

A patriotic friend T shared his personal vision, “LKY* served Singapore till the age of 91. We will do him proud by serving this country up till the age of 100. Let’s make each year onwards meaningful. Imagine the joy of celebrating Singapore’s 100th birthday (in 2065) together!”

I have the exact sentiments. I have known T for more two decades. It is only after his sharing that I realise how much we have in common in our affection towards this country.

Alone, I would have just kept a diary to myself. Together, my friends, I believe we can find better ways to live healthier, fuller and longer.

* LKY refers to Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Father of modern Singapore.

  • Have More Like-Minded Friends

Some friends asked if I mind that they share my blog with others who I do not know. Not at all, look at the spread of readers across continents! By all means, if you find the content thought-provoking in a positive sense, please spread it to your family and friends.

I am curious to know how people of similar values lead their lives in different circumstances and environments. It would be great to know and learn from those who are reading my blog!

I believe strangers today may become friends tomorrow. Whether you agree with my views or not, that does not matter. Because views may change over time. Values, however, are the constant compass in our life. I find it a blessing to have more like-minded friends.

  • Based Your Friendship On Something More Enduring

Given the long hours we spend at workplace, I always wonder if like-minded friends can be found among colleagues.

Unfortunately, friendship fostered at workplace is often based on convenience, not on shared values. The moment such convenience is removed, the friendship gradually slipped into oblivion. Too bad for people who realise it only too late.

A neighbour and friend L told me, “My husband devoted his entire life to work. At retirement, he was devastated to find himself both out of job and friends at the same time. I had to encourage him to restart making real friends.”

I do not think that there is no real friendship at workplace. On the contrary, I believe authentic friendship is good for both the organisation and the individual.

My optimism is despite the very fact that I was in a similar plight as L’s husband. When I was transferred out of a familiar work environment of nearly 15 years, I was distraught to find almost all previous ties were severed, especially with those I valued most.

Upon reflection, I realise I’ve failed to understand the true essence of friendship. If friendship is based on something more permanent, surely it will become more enduring.

  • Friends Or Just Colleagues?

I consider myself fortunate to realise my folly late than never. Rather than confining myself to knowing people who are closely associated to me at work, I made two changes:

  1. Make effort to understand people individually, one at a time.
  2. Cherish opportunities to bond with people of similar values.

The acid test of workplace friendship is whether the friendship continue to flourish even after either party leave the company.

Finally, I’ve found a few colleagues-turned-friends this year. In jubilation, I said to one of them,

“Although we are no longer colleagues, I am so happy that we continue to be friends.”

Then, I got a ludicrous reply with a witty and wicked smile, “No. That only makes you my EX-colleague!”

Ouch! That hurts. Maybe I should just count this person out. *laughs*

William W K Tan

25 November 2017, Saturday

Personal Notes:

I am now having a vacation break with my family in Malacca for the first time. A beautiful place with nice food and unique architecture.

Today, in between activities, I was either busy re-writing this article or preoccupied with thoughts.

Luckily, I have a book entitled “Living Every Moment” with me. It is a good reminder telling me to let go of past thoughts and future concerns, but focus at the present. Simply said, learn to give full attention to every moment. And to the people and things around us.

It is only after this realisation that I appreciate fully the joy of a family trip and the unique charms of Malacca. I have still much to learn about living in the present.