Hope for a new beginning

  • Family
  • Thursday, 02 Jan 2014

‘I want to energise people to be happy every day. This is my No. 1 resolution for the new year,’ said Datuk Peter S.T. Tan, 63, managing director of Nu Lifestyle Sdn Bhd. He would also like to get people to laugh and smile 300 times daily.

Seniors too find purpose in life when they make resolutions during the new year.

FORMER CEO of a chemical company Datuk Peter S.T. Tan, remembers how a friend lost a bet with him and paid “heavily” because he did not fulfil his New Year’s resolution. Don’t we all know about that!

“Several friends were talking about losing weight. Then someone challenged this one Mr Chin to lose about 6kg in six months. If he succeeded, then there would be no penalty, but if he failed, he would have to fork out RM10,000. He took up the challenge under peer pressure,” said Tan.

“After six months, he failed and lost the bet. Actually, he lost a few kilos and was 20% away from his targeted weight.” Good naturedly, Chin paid his penalty by donating RM10,000 to various charities.

Tan, 63, managing director of Nu Lifestyle Sdn Bhd, a company promoting good health and wellness, is a believer that one should make resolutions.

“If you don’t have resolutions, you tend to lose direction. With resolutions, you stay more focused as you know what you want to achieve,” Tan said.

‘It’s good to have New Year’s resolutions. You can work towards your objectives and make life more meaningful,’ said M. Thavasothy, 61, who was born blind but is still dedicated to his teaching profession even though he has retired.

“I want to energise people, to make them happy every day. This is my No.1 resolution for the new year,” he said.

Tan likes to get people to laugh and smile 300 times daily. Impossible?

Well, his reason is that it only requires minimal effort.

He said: “Just look at things and issues positively. Smile always, even if you’ve no reason to smile. If a baby can smile beautifully without a reason, so can we.”

His retirement four years ago initially left him without a purpose in life, but after settling into a pattern of making resolutions once again and sticking to them, he’s now happy to be on the path he’s on.

“Life is more meaningful now. Don’t think making resolutions is a stressful affair,” Tan said.

After retirement, seniors can devote more time to their grandchildren, too, and share with them the meaning of life.

“Do social or voluntary work, or enrich yourself by reading books and travelling,” Tan advised, cautioning against leaving the mind idle.

Tan, a free thinker, has new resolutions for 2014 – to have good health and happiness, even though he couldn’t be in better shape at the moment.

“I have regular walks at Mont'Kiara. I want to become even more diligent with my walking and jogging,” Tan said, on his recipe for an active life. He has also indulged in performance exercises, which encourage optimal function of the internal organs.

Diet is no less important.

Badariah Mohd Salleh wants to travel more in 2014.

“In the morning, I eat a bowl of mixed fruit and a glass of a freshly prepared vegetable drink. To control my food intake, I adhere to the 1,500kcal dietary requirement. I take a moderate amount of protein – eggs, tofu, meat and fish. Twice monthly, I indulge in seafood and lots of vegetables,” he said.

Tan reckons that he used to be impulsive but now, he is more patient. “I want to be close with people around me and be a good listener.” He confessed that he used to cut in during conversations, but these days, his approach is: “Tell me before I express my opinion.”

Not everything Tan does is for his benefit or well-being – he also has time to think of the less fortunate.

“I have been giving financial assistance to an abandoned one-year-old girl. She is under the care of a foster relative,” he said.

Other than resolutions for “personal wishes”, he also has “business wishes”.

Leong Teng Yong prefers to take life one day at a time than make resolutions.

In 2014, he plans to look into investment opportunities, such as property and stocks, as well as expand his own business, a vinegar bar in Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur. If all goes to plan, five more outlets should see the light of day soon, including one in Paragon Mall, Penang, this month.

His plan to educate people on health issues includes the launch of 15 health products in 2014.

Living by good deeds

Rev Dr Hermen Shastri likes the quote: “Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”

“I like the way (the late) Hal Borland puts it when reflecting on New Year’s resolutions,” he said of the American author and journalist.

“As we envisage the days of the new year, we take cognisance of what we want to do to meaningfully live our lives. It’s how one manages time in order to find time to do those things that bring fulfilment to the heart and soul,” said Hermen, 60, general secretary of the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM).

“As I get older, I pause to first count my blessings! One can make a judgement about what was or what should have been, but in the final analysis, we lived through 2013.”

Hermen, an ordained minister of the Methodist Church, wants to make time to enjoy the outdoors and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

“It’s important to give the body time to rejuvenate, particularly when life at work becomes more stressful.”

He opines that one should appreciate and be thankful for life and do things that satisfy the soul. “Religious activities help us find focus, intention and inspiration,” he said.

There are many things to do in life, he reckons, and that list gets more crowded each year.

Hermen said: “Finding peace in one’s heart (like in the words of the hymn, It Is Well With My Soul) and showing love, kindness and compassion to all around us, surely brings extra blessings to make living beautiful. May goodness inspire our deepest desires. How we live will be the legacy we leave for ourselves when we die,” he reasoned.

Success rooted in effort

Even if his New Year’s resolution in the early 2000s to be a headmaster was not realised, teacher M. Thavasothy, 61, still believed in the concept.

Finally, in 2003, he got a promotion and became the English head of Taman Petaling Girls School, in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. After teaching for 28 years, he retired in 2008 at the age of 56.

“It’s good to have New Year’s resolutions. You can work towards your objectives and make life more meaningful,” said Thavasothy, a contract teacher who was born blind.

In 2005 and 2006, he made the same resolution. His hopes passed him by once again but his efforts were recognised, earning him the Tokoh Guru award in 2007, 10 years after receiving the Model Teacher award in 1997.

“Every one must have resolutions. Whether one succeeds at it or not is a different matter,” he said.

Thavasothy also volunteers at the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. He is a council member of MAB as well as chairman of the association’s library, braille production and sales unit.

This year, he resolves to upgrade the library and introduce more items for sale.

He said: “I hope to make MAB a three-star library in this country.”

Don’t worry, be happy

For Selvaretnam Vijayan of Johor Baru, Johor, her resolution, as with every year, is to be happy. She thinks that should be everyone’s resolution. And she has many ways of staying happy. “I’m 79 years young, and it’s a positive attitude that keeps me going,” she said. “I keep myself occupied daily because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, and moping doesn’t achieve anything.”

She doesn’t have a helper and does all the household chores herself. In the mornings, she takes walks with her friends, and later in the day, she tends to her vegetable plot in her garden. She often sings along to songs on the radio because she believes memorising song lyrics keeps one’s mind sharp. “It also brings back memories of my late, beloved husband because we used to duet as we cooked,” she said.

Selvaretnam often rearranges the things in her house, so that she doesn’t feel like she’s “living in a museum”. She also visits her children once a fortnight, and goes abroad on holidays to visit relatives.

She also keeps abreast of what her grandchildren are up to (she even has a Facebook account), and helps motivate them when necessary.

“This is why I need to be happy, because I need to have huge reserves of happiness to share with my loved ones,” she said, sharing her secret to happiness. “And that is why my resolution is simple. Be happy.”

Guided by religion

Badariah Mohd Salleh, 68, of Shah Alam also keeps her resolution simple. She tries to stay healthy by avoiding a sedentary lifestyle and living in moderation.

“With a healthy mind and body, I can continue to perform my religious duties and fulfil my obligations to my family, friends and the community, all of which are important to me,” she said.

She reminds her children that growing old is inevitable and youth will eventually disappear.

“That is why I have always lived my life guided by three principles: time, energy and money,” said Badariah. “For what do you use every minute of your time, every single ounce of your energy or your every ringgit?”

She keeps herself busy by taking morning walks and making handicraft while watching TV, something that provides her with some supplementary income.

“Together with my warga emas (senior citizen) group, I also try to keep my spiritual side occupied with activities such as marhaban (songs in praise of Prophet Muhammad), tadarus (reciting the Quran), nasyid (Islamic songs), religious classes and charity work,” she said. “Another important pursuit that I really wish to continue doing in 2014 is travelling.”

Here and now

Meanwhile, Leong Teng Yong, 70, a former branch manager with German stationery company Staedler, prefers to live day to day without any long-term resolutions.

“No one can predict what will happen tomorrow,” said Leong, who lives in Puchong, Selangor. “People make resolutions, but most don’t see them through. I think we should just do our best to stay healthy and active. Don’t set your goals too high, just live happily and healthily.”

In his younger days, Leong was very active, often indulging in his favourite activities, such as windsurfing, spear-fishing and sailing. Nowadays, he plays golf and badminton, goes bowling and trekking. He retired in 1998, and helps with a small family business every now and then. He is also the deputy president of the residents’ association of his housing estate, and that keeps him busy enough.

He says he lives by the Chinese principle of having the five essentials in life – good health, a good companion, good friends, financial independence and a roof over one’s head.

“Life is simple, why complicate it?” questioned Leong. “Just be responsible for your actions, be committed to what you want to do, and make sure you don’t hurt or offend others.”

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Hope for a new beginning


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