(Sunrise in Canggu, Bali)
“Methods have to change. Focus has to change. Values have to change. The sum total of those changes is transformation.” — Andy Grove / Intel Corp. Founder
On paper, it was supposed to be easy – leave Bali at 2:35pm for a 3-hour flight to Kuala Lump – wait a few hours at the airport, then hop back on the 8:30pm flight and get back around midnight – all within the same day. But as usual with visa-runs – things did not go as planned. The flight was delayed by 5-hours. When the plane finally returned at 4:30am, I still had to wait through the immigration line, then drive another hour to my villa. Thus the unexpected 6am sunrise which was still a sight to see 🙂
Earlier in the night while waiting, I flipped through my passport to see when my last trip to Malaysia was. By living a nomadic lifestyle – your passport becomes a mandatory diary of all your travels, where memories get mashed together and sometimes blurred or forgotten. Upon further inspection, I found the last Malaysian visa stamp which shockingly said 2013, nearly three-years ago – crazy!
It made me realize how much has changed in my life – and how much I have changed. This then brought a sense of deep gratitude.
So instead of sulking about the delay, I ate delicious Indian food with the the free food voucher, some ice-cream and decided to focus on the positive that’s come to fruition. I’ve found that visa-runs are always a good time to slow-down, take a step back and use the opportunity for introspection.
Looking back and comparing the past to the present, this is what I’ve noticed and grateful for.
I’m grateful for this incredible & unpredictable journey called life – for this path that’s been carved out in the last three-years. It’s given me so much more than just pretty pictures to post on social media. These once foreign & exotic lands are now called my home.
This experience has transformed me into a completely different human being through personal-growth and healing.
My daily emotional wellbeing is at a level I never experienced in the past. Although I am still growing and always will, most of what I initially set out for has finally manifested.
A lot of pain has been let go – emotional wounds, self-limiting beliefs and toxic social programming. Those old mental habits and poor images of myself are gone and almost laughable. It’s hard to remember that grief, low-self esteem and a lack of self-love used to plague me constantly.
I’ve never shared this publicly, but in 2012 I actually hired a dating coach specifically geared towards helping Asian men and the negative stereotypes that had affected me. Yes, I was terrified of dating women and had zero-confidence.
As I’ve grown to accept myself, I feel comfortable in my own skin. Now every morning I smile at myself, content with who I see in the mirror (not just physically, but more importantly on the inside) and repeat this affirmation “I love myself and deserve happiness”. No more guilt about having positive experiences or for being happy. Just acceptance and a lot of inner peace.
I used to experience so much stress and anger on a daily basis. I’ve learned to let go of the small stuff, as well as past hostilities & resentments – thus allowing me to feel lighter.
Future events ie. a house, wife, family, job and life-path trajectory used to give me anxiety. Questions like: Am I going in the right direction? Am I where I’m supposed to be in life? Am I missing something? I didn’t know how to answer these and they would give me knots in my stomach.
Now they don’t really weigh on me as I come from a place of strength, stability and inner-wisdom.
I’ve also learned to trust my gut, heart and intuition to figure things out.
And if I can’t, I’m grateful for the close friends and mentors who can help guide me. This all lets me sleep easier at night.
I am so thankful for the aspect of my journey that’s involved learning about consciousness and the sacredness of life.
If you had asked me to try to explain these, I wouldn’t have been able to answer this 3-4 years ago. Now I can give a pretty good answer, but more importantly, I know how to live out these values – to embody and embrace them. It’s helped me be present and find the joy in life.
It’s brought me appreciation, compassion, empathy, inner-peace, connection & depth’s to my relationships, as well as kept me grounded – especially during the tough-times.
And speaking of tough-times, a big part of this experience has been about how to endure them.
We can read all the philosophical texts and self-development books on how to do this, but without really going through a sh*t storm, then we can’t apply the knowledge – nor would we learn the lessons that needed to be learned and understood.
All the adversity I’ve experienced in the past three-years have transformed me into a stronger, more resilient version of myself.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to partake in ritual initiation to face my fears and inner demons.
Now when I Iook back at my earlier childhood, it’s not with bitterness. All the wounds and obstacles I had to go through – they were there for a reason. And for these past hardships – I am grateful for them too. Without them, my character would not be forged into what it is today. Through these trials and tribulations, I’ve learned how to get back up.
Like Steve Jobs said – you can’t connect the dots looking forward, only backwards. Thank you God for opening my eyes and helping me to see the good in the bad. Everything truly does happen for a reason.
Through this journey, my previously closed-heart has been able to fully open up and I am grateful for this amazing gift – for being able to feel at deeper depths, to have intense relationships & connections, and to be completely open & honest with myself and others.
To experience emotions and feelings that go far below the surface. “Negative” or “positive” – either way it’s a blessing that I can be in touch with them.
I’ve recently discovered that I have the Highly Sensitive Person trait (Google Dr. Elaine Aron for more info and to take the self-assessment test) which in the past would overwhelm me – from sensory overload to extreme emotions. I’ve learned to balance it out and now I treasure it as another gift to experience life with.
I am very grateful for my purpose in life. I used to wonder what mine was or be in awe at other people who had “found their calling”.
I remember seeing a meme “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
And now it makes crystal-clear sense to me.
From this journey of self-discovery and healing, I’ve been able to find my gift – helping others, shining my light and being a positive force for change in this world.
I’m doing work that’s in true-alignment with my core-values and vision for the future.
If you had told me this three-years ago, I doubt I would’ve believed it.
And by discovering my gift, I’ve been able to find my purpose in life – To give it away.
And most importantly, this journey has crossed paths with so many unique individuals that I never would have met, if I had just stayed in the US – Life-long friendships, soul-mates, lovers, teachers, mentors, business partners & other kindred spirits.
They say that happiness and success is more meaningful and enjoyable when shared with others – I can’t agree more with this.
There’s 7-billion people on this planet and no doubt we are all different – so don’t expect a one-size fits all Dream to apply to each one of us. Go and figure out your own definition. The journey is more than worth it.
I will end the same way I do with my daily gratitude journal – I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY LIFE & ALL THE BLESSINGS
“If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.”