A Little Tip on How to Stay Positive

For my 50th birthday, I embarked on an experiment — I made one gratitude post each day for 50 days on Facebook.

Forcing yourself to write one authentically grateful statement each day was not as easy as I thought. By the 25th day, I started making posts about how grateful I was that this experiment would soon be over. But you only turn 50 once. So I persevered, and completed it!

My #50daysofgratitude is over and I have not made gratitude posts for about a week. I did not expect this, but I am beginning to sense a dimming of the silver-lining behind the clouds that come with the stressors and negative events of daily life. The little positive lifts that follow each grateful post that I did for 50 days are no longer there, leaving me with gloomier grey clouds. Although I did not realize it then, the 50-days of gratitude actually made a difference in how I felt overall!

We already know from scientific studies that gratitude makes a healthy difference. Take for instance this quote: “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.” [link]

My question to myself is: why do I have to stop making gratitude posts if they help me?

Answer: I don’t have to!!

So, I will be continuing to make little gratitude posts on my Facebook or Twitter to stay more positive and enjoy my life better. It may require some effort, but it’s worth it!

And since I am all about making our world a better place, I am inviting you to join me! Try #50daysofgratitude, hashtag it, and let me know how it goes for you!


© Johnben Loy, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Johnben Loy and www.johnbenloy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MBTI and Couple Relationships (and a little update on this very slow blog)

Source: Google images.

Obviously, my blogging has slowed down a bit — my last post was over one year and 10 days ago!

If you are looking for me and want to reach me, go here and have a look at what I am up to now. You will notice that my work is now focused on leadership development and working with family businesses in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region. If you wish to obtain my services, please contact Rekindle.

While this page has been slow to update, my Facebook page continues to be active, and it’s also public for anyone to follow. Please note that I will only add people as friends if they are people with whom I have had some meaningful interaction, and I may be slow to respond to messages.

In the meantime, you may be interested in hearing my most recent show on BFM radio 89.9, where I talked about the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indictor) and how it applies to couple relationships. Click on the photo below to access BFM’s podcast:

Source: https://www.bfm.my/johnben-loy-4-letter-personality.html


© Johnben Loy, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Johnben Loy and www.johnbenloy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Kuala Lumpur Guy Tais — Trailing Expat Husbands

Source: Google Images

At Rekindle, we’ve been running expat support group meetings for a good part of 2016. It’s the only expat support group of its kind that I know exists in Malaysia. What’s interesting is that it has mostly been attended by trailing expat wives, and typically those who have younger children.

Recently, I have had several clients who are Malaysian versions of “Guy Tais” — trailing expat house husbands whose wives are high level executives. The term Guy Tai was invented by Devin Silloway in Shanghai (video link), a clever play on the term “Tai Tai” which means “wife” in Mandarin.

During a session with one of my Kuala Lumpur Guy Tai clients this week, I got to thinking that maybe some of these men would like to have similar men to hang out with: stay-home men who have a bit more time on their hands than the busy executive, men who spend their time mostly in their roles as husbands and fathers, men who may sometimes struggle with how to present themselves in typical social groups where the majority of couples have husbands as the expat executive.

As a working husband and father, I can only imagine how challenging it must be for some of these men who sometimes may have left good jobs to support their wives’ career moves. And the male ego! It’s not easy for someone like me not to have a career with which to identify myself. So I respect these Guy Tais for their willingness to put their wives’ interests first.

As I discussed more with my client, I realised that there is an opportunity for yet another kind of expat support group: Trailing-Expat Husbands.

I thought of what that might look like. I could not imagine that husbands would appreciate the open-hearted coffee morning discussions once every two weeks that we have been running at Rekindle.

I imagined the gatherings to look more like socials that also have physical activities. I could see fathers coming to spend 2 hours with their kids building a small table. Or a small group of men going on a learning recce to find a safe adventure location for the family to spend in the coming weekend. I could see the men getting to know each other over several gatherings and slowly developing comfort with each other to speak more openly and honestly with each other about some of their challenges being the trailing expat husband.

Unlike the wives groups, I imagine the husbands groups would be a cross-over between something interesting, something physical, and something deeper (real men conversations) at the same time. That right mix to create the opportunity for social support that is really positive and encouraging.

I would like to put this out on the internet and social media to see if there is any interest to start up a Kuala Lumpur Guy Tai support group. If you can relate to this post (even if you may be a local Malaysia who is a house husband), please come to my Facebook Page, and drop me a comment, or message me.


© Johnben Loy, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Johnben Loy and www.johnbenloy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When Your Feet Don’t Quite Touch The Bottom [Alt: Happy 80th Birthday, Dad]

If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting!  ~ David Bowie

When I was a young boy of 5 or 6, before I had learned how to swim, my father would stand far out into the ocean (far for a young boy, that is) and usher me to swim out to him. I was deathly afraid of the big waves and the cold water at the bottom of my feet once I could no longer touch the warm sand. I would paddle quickly with my hands and feet until I was able to reach my dad. Then I would grab onto him and hang on for dear life. He would always let out a hearty, bellowing laughter when I reached him.

Today would have been my father’s 80th birthday. But he passed on too early, at the age of 62. Had I not heard David Bowie’s quote, I would not have even remembered it was his birthday.

Three years ago, I had just come out of a phase in my life when I had to let go of all the expectations I believed my father had of me. I called it my year of “double death” — my forty-fourth year (“forty-four” sounds like “die-die” in Chinese). As a result, the launch post of this blog then was all about discovering and following your own passion. It was an important lesson for me then.

Fast forward to last month.

While visiting an old friend I hadn’t seen in over 16 years, I was inspired by how his success and wealth enabled him to do so much good for his family and his community. He had donated millions of dollars towards education and spent a lot of time influencing environmental conservation efforts in his community. I watched my friend spend hours with his two sons — playing, motivating, and mentoring them — because he had the time to do so as a retired multimillionaire in his forties. I also listened to his many stories of pain and challenge as he relayed how he took on one risk after another to get to where he is today.

Coming back to Malaysia inspired, I decided that I would go beyond what I have been doing the last few years and stretch myself to grow new ideas and services. But it has been tough to embrace this change. Every now and then, I’ve had to remind myself not to slip back into my old, comfortable ways. It is as if I keep forgetting where I’m striving to get to and end up sitting down where I am.

Then David Bowie showed up, just days before my father’s birthday. Or perhaps, my father showed up, close to his 80th birthday, to cheer me on from the depths of the water where my feet will not quite touch the bottom. And perhaps he is saying to me, “now that you’ve let go of the weights you felt were my expectations, you can start to swim to new depths of your own.”

I would like to believe that in some mystical, metaphorical nexus where imagination influences reality, close to my father’s 80th birthday, the heavens orchestrated connections to allow me to savour a fresh birthday experience with my father — and to remind me that I am “just about in the right place to do something exciting!”


© Johnben Loy, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Johnben Loy and www.johnbenloy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Shout Out: Mary Kelleher, LMFT, PhD (cand.)

shoutout

We all have someone we look up to. Today, I want to write about a friend of mine for whom I have incredible respect: Mary Kelleher, LMFT, PhD (cand.).

In the field of psychotherapy, I look up to two types of experts: (1) those who work hard on the science of therapy, creating efficacious treatment models and then taking the models through to empirical validation; (2) those who work hard on themselves in their own development, and integrate personal life experience with clinical skills to become living, breathing therapeutic beings. The former emphasizes brilliance in thinking and the latter emphasizes depth in personal development.

When I meet a therapist who is both brilliant and has great emotional depth, I become an instant fan, and I want to be just like him, or in this case, her!

Continue reading

Expat Support Group in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)

[UPDATE: Rekindle’s Expat Support Group’s first meeting was a success, and from participant feedback, we will be running meetings twice a month. Click here for the latest brochure information.]

Most people think of the expat life as easy and filled with perks and benefits. What is not seen are the INVISIBLE STRESSORS of expat living:

– Difficulty adjusting to cultures and languages
– Inability to get the right foods for your family’s diet
– Concerns about physical safety
– Changes in lifestyle (e.g. “my husband is hardly ever home now”)
– Grief and loss of relationships with family and friends

…and the list goes on.

Continue reading

Now You Can Follow Me on Facebook [Alt: The Attention Economy]

I admit it. I suck at updating blogposts. It’s because I can’t stand bad writing — especially my own. And it takes too much time to write well and consistently. So I’ve decided on the next best thing. I’ve created a public Facebook page.

Johnben Facebook

I got this idea when I gave a talk in Hong Kong last month, and one of the co-speakers in the event talked about the Attention Economy.

Now, I can write pithy status updates and link it to real articles on cool topics like:

  • Marriage & Family Therapy
  • Leadership Development
  • Family Business
  • Systems Thinking & Practice
  • Social Science
  • Mental Health
  • Spirituality (of any kind), and…
  • Anything Deep & Awesome

In our new attention economy, there is nothing like short and pithy to cover a lot of new ideas and research. Come like me there ‘cuz… this blog is going to be for long reads. (But I haven’t made my 2016 resolution yet, so no promises.)

© Johnben Loy, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Johnben Loy and www.johnbenloy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rethinking Work-Life Balance: 3 Helpful Reframes

As I was leaving for work, my son came running to hug me. I had stayed out late working the last few days and did not see much of him. His eyes misted over while we hugged and a pang of guilt hit me. “I really suck at this work-life balance thing,” I thought myself. For the rest of the day, I mulled over why achieving balance can be so difficult.

Source: Google images

When we think of the word “balance,” the picture that comes to mind most often is that of a weighing scale. A weighing scale implies fairness — a static fairness. When one side dips down, it is necessarily unfair to the other side. Balance is a static state that is only achieved when both sides are equal.

With a scale in mind, I find that I need to have balance at all times — just the right amount work and just the right amount of family (or personal) time. When I have an extended time of one or the other (e.g. more than a week away at work, or away on vacation), both can feel “wrong” to me. And so I began to reason that perhaps the problem is not so much with achieving balance but perceiving it.

What if we used a different metaphor? What if, instead of using a scale to think about work-life balance, we thought of it as a wave? After all, real life is not static. We live in continual ebbs and flows, ups and downs, having less and having more. Thinking of work-life balance as a wave opens us to more positive and adaptive reframesdifferent ways of seeing something.

Here are three work-life balance reframes that have been helpful to me. Continue reading

My First Ramadan Fast (And What I Learned From It)

berpuasa
Source: Google images

Several year ago, when my Singaporean friend was stationed in Kuala Lumpur at Al-Jazeera, I remarked that Malaysia is a very diverse country and that it is quite surprising to me that we lived in such harmony. He then remarked that Malaysians generally live in parallel realities and we don’t fully intermingle culturally. It got me thinking.

He was right. At least for me. I live a subset of a Malaysian culture: westernised Chinese. And a sub-subset of that: westernised Chinese married to a western expat. I don’t know what life is really like for the Malays, the Indians, or the Orang Asli. In fact, I can barely pretend to be fully Chinese as I don’t speak it as well as I do English.

Two years ago, I wrote a post on fasting. It was my first time thinking about what it was like to fast during Ramadan. But I was not ready to actually try it out. This year, having made more Malay friends, I started to really consider trying it out. Continue reading

Should I Fast During Ramadan?

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Source: Google images

Living in Malaysia, you can’t avoid the month of fasting for Muslims. You hear it everywhere, you see it everywhere, from the closed Malay restaurants to the tired looks of Muslims. Practicing as a therapist in Malaysia for the last 5 years, I have become sensitive not to offer drinks to my Muslim clients during this month. And I am also sensitive to their differing levels of energy throughout the day.

As a non-Muslim, I am not physically affected during this month. Well, except for the increased traffic jams during the late afternoon when Muslims go back early to prepare food for breaking fast. I have the freedom to go about my day regularly. So why am I asking whether I should fast? For one reason: to learn what the experience is like for my Muslim friends and clients. Continue reading