Monthly Archives: November 2017


Do you agree comic artists are philosophers? 

I really love this comic by Sarah Andersen. Do check out her works.

My neighbour, a renowned cardiologist in a hospital in Singapore, told us of a public health talk he conducted last Sunday. He asked a group of adults. “How many of you tell your children to eat more vegetables? ”
Many hands shot up.

“How many of you personally eat more vegetables?” As many hands came down.

That’s the real measure of motivation if we are honest.


Do you have a personal mantra? Someone once sent me a joke about a dad, son and donkey who went to the market. Along the way, passers by gave them different opinions as to who should be sitting on the donkey. Eventually they went to the market carrying the donkey.

Moral of the story, you can’t please everyone.

What do you stand for? Many companies have personal mission and vision statement on their websites. Some have been found wanting in living out those statements.

But such statements have been useful in guiding companies at crossroads and reveal if they are authentic or not.

What rules do you live by to maintain sanity if not happiness in this detached world?

On occasion of Amb Koh’s birthday this week, I will include an attachment  someone sent me of some 10 rules he lives by. If you may find it useful.


I am still struggling to come up with my person mantra. Prof Koh’s book is certainly going to be on my reading list for the year end. 

It was said that when he was Dean of the Law School, he knew the names of every law student in the class of 40.

That’s a good challenge  for me to start with in 2018.

Translated by Coleman Barks

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

Photo taken by Himself.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jeladuddin Rumi

from Rumi: Selected Poems, trans Coleman Barks with John Moynce, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson (Penguin Books, 2004)


Source: Happy faces carved from bamboo, photo taken by me in HoiAn, Vietnam

The “As if Principle” by Richard Wiseman

When you get angry in the workplace, how would you react? Some anger management programs suggest an anger management room where employees can kick a do-do doll and get it out of their system, rather than bottle everything inside.

Psychologist Brad Bushman from Iowa University carried out several experiments on how feelings of anger can be squashed by acting like a calm person.

Bushman demonstrated the calming power of prayer. He angered a group of Christian college students by giving them extremely negative feedback about their work and then asked them to read a newspaper article about a woman with a rare form of disease. Next, he had 2 groups.
1) some were asked to spend 5 min putting their hands together and pray for the woman.
2) some were asked to think about her

The experiment showed that those who prayed were significantly less angry than those who thought about the woman.

Wiseman suggested:
1) Acting in a relaxed and calm way produced relaxed and calming thoughts
2) Smiling can make you feel happy. Acting in a calm fashion will quickly make you feel calm
3) Try deep breathing.

Have you noticed that when you’re having a bad day, everyone seems to be out to get you and irritate you?

According to John Bates from “The Art of People” by Dave Kerpen, we all have mirror neurons that mirror the emotions of the person speaking to us.

Someone’s bad mood can rub off on you.

A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another animal.

We are social
Thus the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting.

If you’re a public speaker and you take the stage in a bad mood, your audience will likely sense it and become a “bad” audience, Dave Kerpen advises.

Point to note when going for your next interview. If you’re nervous and tense, the interviewer can sense and become a bad interviewer.

However, if you happen to chance an interviewer who’s not in the best of mood, my suggestion is to resist the temptation to mirror his/her mood.

Instead, rise above the situation and hopefully your positiveness will be mirrored by the other person’s mirror neuron.

Photo: Taken by me at the 2017 Edible Gardens Festival, Hort Park, Singapore.

Life is a shipwreck but don’t forget to sing in the lifeboats. – Voltaire

Those who approach life like a child playing a game, moving and pushing pieces, posses the power of kings.
– Heraclitus quoted in #A whack on the
side of the head#.

Enthusiastic people seem to have access to a spirit inside them.
Enthousiasmos = “the God within you”


A fruit/vegetable scuplture of the crimson sunbird by Harijanto at the 2017 Edible Gardens Festival. How many types of vegetables can you spot?

Allow me to introduce two men, Alan and Ben. You can decide whom you prefer.

Alan is smart, hardworking, impulsive, critical, stubborn and jealous. Ben, however,is jealous, stubborn, critical, impulsive, hardworking and smart. Who would you prefer to get stuck with, in an elevator?

Most people choose Alan, even though the descriptions are exactly the same.


Your brain pays more attention to the first two adjectives to the lists. The first traits outshine the rest. This is known as the primacy effect. Similarly known as “the halo” effect in interviews.

Sometimes, the recency effect matters as well. The more recent the information, the better we remember it. For instance, if you listened to a series of impressions formed some time ago, the recency effect dominates. For instance, if you listened to a speech a few weeks ago, you will remember the final point or punch line more clearly than your first impressions.

If the series of impressions was formed some time ago, the recency effect dominates.


  1. As an interviewer, randomise the sequence of interviews so no one has an unfair advantage.
  2. Jot down evaluations so that the middle counts as well.
  3. If you’re a candidate, practice your intro and importantly, at the end of the interview, help your interviewer summarise in a few points what you represent.

Source: The Art of Thinking Clearly, Rolf Dobelli