Happiness and Success

You don’t need to look very far to realise that the correlation between happiness and success isn’t what you might’ve guessed.

It’s super rare to bump into millionaires who are happy. They can buy all the things they want. Yet we see many who kill themselves, even with money in the bank.

In fact, accquiring things almost never gives us happiness because we stop desiring it immediately. The things become part of our life; we forget about it. We move on and look for the next thing to desire.

And almost as rare, are the people in poverty who are depressed. The kids in Thailand and Cambodia playing in the dirty river, are some of the happiest kids I’ve ever seen in my life.

What we are taught in school is a linear direction of desire. Good grades, great college, a high paying job, a car, a partner, and a house.

What happens when you get to the top? Maybe a bigger house? More friends; cooler friends?

If you want to find happiness, there are two questions:

1) What is happiness to you?

2) Is that sustainable?

External things are unrelated, except for one reason: have enough till you’re comfortable. The thrill of a next level disappears quickly, but the pain of not getting what you want lasts a very long time.

####

The photo was taken in Manazura, Japan – where I learnt the design code of the town.

Keep a Small Identity

Years ago, I was 23 years old, I had nothing under my belt – no companies, no money, no rings (still none). But, I had a dream. I wanted to run my own wedding planning studio.

I spent months to decide on a business name, design a logo, and make a website. It’s done, it’s called Beautiful Gatherings.

I had to convince people to trust me with the most important day of their life, their wedding. And pay me for it.

I can’t tell them my gender – every other person in the business is the opposite sex.

I can’t tell them my age – they would think I’m too young.

I can’t tell them I’m not married – they would think I don’t have experience.

So, I came up with the idea to keep a goatee. It worked, it gave me confidence. This is me, Bryan the wedding planner with the goatee.

I became one of the top 10 wedding planners in town.

Onwards, I proceeded to give the wedding studio away, founded an animation studio, started a podcast, and a Youtube channel.

At 28 years old, I want to start dating. So, I sought advice from my female friend. She told me to shave off the goatee.

I said to myself, “Not the goatee! I love it, I became a great wedding planner because of it.”

I asked another friend. And another. They all said the same thing.

So, I shaved it off grudgingly.

I finally realised that it’s an identity that I’ve been defending but it is no longer serving its purpose. I have no reason to keep my goatee, it became useless. What got me here is stopping me from getting me there. I had to keep my identity small. The plan is to hold on to as few things as possible.

Do you have an identity or label that you are holding on and it is holding you back?

####

The photo was taken in at a house party where I was couchsurfing in Oakland, California.

Army Admin Clerk to Entrepreneur: 10 Things I Do Differently Now

6 years ago, I was an admin clerk in an army camp.

To be honest, it could have been a great job but I landed with the wrong Company Sergeant Major: I stayed in-camp while watching my clerk friends go home every day. In case you are wondering, the computer was not connected to any internet and my only luxury was a “dumb” Nokia phone. I made a total of $500 each month. That life, for 2 years.

Somehow, I managed to save $10,000 while moonlighting on the weekend. I used that money and backpacked around the world for a year. It changed my life. (I highly recommend everyone to do that once in their life.)

After coming home, I took my interest in wedding planning and started a studio, Beautiful Gatherings. One thing led to another, I became one of the top 10 wedding planners in Singapore and now, I run a 2D animation studio, Sage Animation.

I thought an appropriate end of this chapter would be to share 10 lessons I learned along this journey (More on the chapter ending next.)

Stop Growing my Business

I once interviewed a hospitality mogul. After the interview, he said to me: “Bryan, I’m so jealous of you. You can just take off anytime and travel anywhere”.

Did he felt trapped by the business of his own making?

It made me reflect: “What the most important point of the business?”

Continue Reading

Gratitude 2018

It’s easy to forget about things to be grateful. I used to go on a morning walk, like an old man, and go through a list that I’m grateful about in my life. Life goes on and I forgot all about it.

Last week, I met with my primary school teacher, Mr Au. Over the years, he had a couple of bad accidents. He is now in the midst of recovering from a surgery. He mentioned that every time that he moves his arms – pins and needles will be sent down his entire arm.

I asked him: “How do you feel now?”. He answered: “Much better”.

I replied: “Well, that’s great!”. He responded: “but I still feeling a little pain and I have to stretch every now and then”.

I noticed how he kept focusing on the pain. Why isn’t he happy with his progress? Wouldn’t he be healed with time?

It got me thinking that it is easy to forget about the good things that happened. My health, my relationship, having no debt, air to breath and so much more.

Continue Reading

Dreams and Reality

I had an idea to live and work in a van.

I imagined all the nature that I would enjoy.

I gave my wedding studio away and spent the year building Sage Animation so that I can work from anywhere in the world.

In Oct, I flew to Las Vegas and bought a cargo van. I spent the next month building my own travelling home.

Randy lent me his tools. I found Nick and Alisa, who had just finished converting their van and they gave me great advice.

Every day, I tell myself: “I can’t wait to finish this and finally be able to live my dreams.”

Continue Reading