Given all that has happened the past year, what makes Mohd Khairizal Mohd Khalif happy at this point of time is “just being healthy and having the ability and avenue to make others happy”.
Just like many others, his life has been badly impacted by the pandemic. The 45-year-old employee of an airline company admits that he suffered a huge loss of income from salary cuts. Also, his campsite business in Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor, couldn’t operate throughout the movement control order periods.
“But, looking on the bright side, I still have my job and can support my family, ” he says.
It’s with this kind of positive attitude that Mohd Khairizal looks at life.
“Despite all the negative and sad things that have happened in my life, going through the pandemic has made me mentally and emotionally stronger, ” he says.
Mohd Khairizal also lost his father during the pandemic and says that although he’s saddened by his father’s passing, he is thankful that it happened during a time when the restrictions were lifted and he could return to Ipoh, Perak, where his father lived, to make the arrangements for the burial and everything went smoothly.
“He’s no longer suffering now and we were able to pay our last respects. If it had been during the MCOs, we wouldn’t have been able to,” he says, feeling grateful.
“I always try to focus my energy on positivity because life can be very uncertain. We should focus on living happy,” he says. “So, I try to not let anything negative impact me, at least not for too long,” he says. “While it’s ok to be sad and to cry, you’ve got to pick yourself up and move on,” he adds.
Although Mohd Khairizal was born colour blind, he says that he has always led a colourful life and it has never stopped him from achieving his dreams and being happy.
He has travelled both locally and to many parts of the world, including backpacking in different parts of Indonesia such as Pulau Padar in Flores, Pulau Seram in Maluku, and even taking a train ride from Bandung to Jakarta. Locally, he has also been to many places in both East and West Malaysia.
He has also involved himself in volunteer work, including going on an earthquake relief mission in Lombok and helping victims of the Palu earthquake-tsunami in Sulawasi, Indonesia, in 2018.
According to Mohd Khairizal, being involved in charity work makes him happy because it helps him to stop focusing on the problem, and instead be part of the solution. It also helps him to appreciate what he has.
“My friends know me as someone who’s always not at home. Before the pandemic, I could be in KL in the morning, and by the afternoon, I would be in Terengganu or someplace else, doing whitewater rafting or something else,” he laughs.
During the pandemic restrictions, Mohd Khairizal says he “kept himself happy” by doing the “regular stuff that people do”, such as exercising and learning how to cook, but reveals that he also did “silly, crazy stuff” like trying to swim in his koi pond at home because he missed outdoor activities so much.
“Fortunately, during the recovery MCO, I managed to do some (motorbike) ride-and-camp activities,” says Mohd Khairizal who is also a part-time whitewater rafting-river guide.
Focusing on the positive has helped him to stay happy during the pandemic.
“People become frustrated or upset when they focus on being in a lockdown mode. But if we focus on the little positive things in our life, we can get through it one day at a time,” he says.
“During the MCO, I got to spend more time with my kids because everyone is at home,” says Mohd Khairizal.
“I also took the opportunity to start exercising every morning since I didn’t need to commute to work every day,” he says, and notes with amusement that he was accompanied by his pet rabbit.
“While I was on the treadmill, rowing machine or doing HIIT, following YouTube as a guide, she will be active and run in circles around me,” he laughs.
Before the pandemic, Mohd Khairizal also gave motivational talks to corporate organisations and educational institutions.
“I love giving motivational talks, especially to schoolchildren and helping to steer them on the right path in life, and I really miss doing that. During the (first) MCO, I started giving motivational talks online and learnt to present using ‘green screen’, ” he says.
“I always tell them to ‘smile’. By that, I mean the acronym SMILE which stands for: S – strive to help others, M – money should not be your main aim in life, I – Inspire others, L – love yourself first, E – Enjoy life! Do what you love to do as long as it is not against religion and legally allowed,” he says, with a smile.