Gilbert Goh

In this down time and over the festivities of the lunar Chinese New Year, it is good to take time to reflect on what we really want in our lives.

During the past few years of prosperity, many have concerned themselves with making money and precious time was sacrificed which could have been spent with our loved ones. However, what has gone cannot be unwound and we only can look forward now.

Moreover, in Singapore, the constant urge to upgrade ourselves is so strong that everything else takes a backseat. We upgrade our cars, houses, handphones, laptops, pets and even furniture. I remember once we had a good sized leather sofa set but was tempted to change it to the linen cushion kind as the leather sofa  was rather warm after a while when we sat on it. It was less than a year old and finally we decided not to change it as it would have meant coughing up at least a thousand dollars more. However, on reflection, the thought of changing a good sofa set me to think whether I was being spendthrift and wasteful.

As Singapore grapples with a severe downturn, we may also want to examine our life values. What really motivate us as we pursue our goals? Is it the tangible pursuit of wealth or constant chase after material stuff? Will we be happier if we had the cherished condominium or dream sports car?

While working in China, I often visited a tea shop owned by a mother-daughter team. Seeing how a Singaporean busied himself, even in a rural province in China, the Chinese woman owner often advised me:  “No need to be so hurried in life and also no need to earn so much money.” Though her words were simple, it struck a chord within me, especially when I felt the stress of adapting to life back here in Singapore.

I see that people here  rush about the whole time and in the process they also seldom find the time and to build relationships which will enrich their lives. Having worked and lived in both China and Australia for  short periods, I feel that we have paid a high price for our supposed prosperity. People here do not find the time to enjoy the finer things in life or even learn to slow down and smell the roses. Life simply rushes and passes them by.

In Australia, weekends are the best time to unwind and the locals head for the beaches or flea markets. They have learned the art of separating work from play and somehow I find that the Aussie lifestyle is very balanced. Shops all close at 6pm and the pursuit of materialism takes on a lower priority than here. Often, they work hard on the weekdays but also play hard during weekends. We can’t say the same for our locals here who sometimes sleep-in during the weekends to catch up on lost sleep after they have battled hard at work – often for ten hours or more to make ends meet. We are like slaves to our work.

As we take time to celebrate the festive season and catch up with friends and relatives, do also take some time for yourself to really ask, “What can I do to make myself a better person? Am I really happy with what I am right now? Are there things that I can improve on? What really are my life values and goals?”

Have a prosperous and healthy Chinese New Year!


Picture from: My Fortunate Cookie.


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