I love social media. Everywhere I go, I am always flipping and scrolling away on my iPhone; keeping up with the latest news in the world and in my friends’ lives; always trying to be the first to grab the hottest articles and retweet or post them on my Facebook wall – so that I would receive the gratifying thumbs up appear in my notifications on my iPhone or computer.


I admit, I would be incredibly uncomfortable not being able to access my usual social media channels for a couple of hours. My hands would constantly be grasping the sides of my jeans pocket, searching for my phone. My eyes would dart back to my computer monitor, in hope of seeing a notification pop up at the side.


Why do I love social media so much? Well, they say that information is power (or was that knowledge?), so I get a kick out of knowing what is going on in the world beyond my physical vision at all times, and having it at my fingertips. Powerful, indeed.


And there is just something so addictive about it – scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling to find something new and interesting; clicking, and clicking, and clicking to pass that message on.


Not to mention that it keeps boredom at bay as well.


That being said, I really hate social media as well.


Here’s why: It hinders me from taking action on anything. And I mean real physical action, and not just clicking the thumbs up button at the bottom of an article you liked, or hitting the Twitter bird to retweet. 


I mean really doing something about whatever you just thought or read about. With the overload of information pouring forth from social media, we tend to skip over the action part, and simply enter and exit the agreement phase in record time. It goes something like this:


Step One: Read a compelling article online about a cause.

Step Two: Nod vehemently in agreement with it.

Step Three: Like it on your Facebook wall, retweet it, and comment on it, saying something like “This is brilliant! All of us should do it!”

Step Four: Move on to the next article.


What happened to taking action on something that you passionately agree on and feel for?


This is why I hate social media. It has shortened my response phase. I read, I agree, I move on. It’s safe, it’s fun, but at the end of the day, nothing gets done.


This is my note to self, as well as to you: Not to just read and forget, but to read and take action on something.


Do you face this as well? I’d love to hear all about your social media experiences. Feel free to post in the comments below, or drop by The Original Life Facebook page to have your say.

The street is chock full of complaints about how life is too busy, too boring, too normal, too purposeless, too meaningless.


Forget the normal life – these people and organizations have taken the liberty of taking control of their own destinies and found their passions outside of the box in various refreshing ways. For some, it is often for a cause much larger than themselves.


Need inspiration to do the same? Here it is – my top 9 list of unconventional passions you should check out right now.


1) The Art of Non-Conformity


My constant source of inspiration, Chris Guillebeau (Founder of The Art of Non-Conformity) is indeed the chief revolutionary of the non-conformity movement that is rocking the conventional world of yesterday.


Chris Guillebeau writes about personal development and life planning, entrepreneurship and unconventional work, with the theme of non-conformity linking all of them. He also has an awesome goal of visiting every country in the world, and has visited more than 150 countries so far – you can view his progress here.


Many of his thoughts and ideas are similar to mine – definitely worth checking out!


Recommended post to start with: Why You Should Quit Your Job And Travel Around The World


2) Youth Without Borders


A local non-profit organization founded by Singaporeans for Singaporeans youths, established to empower young people to Be Strong, To Serve. How are they doing that? Their aim is to bring together a community of Singaporean and Global youth leaders who are keen to use  new media, technology and their various talents and passions for good, and aid them in pursuing their various projects.


The projects undertaken by this community are pretty fantastic – some fairly unconventional: Dragon boating, shuffling, travelling without money, helping out at elderly homes.


More importantly, every project has a strong rationale behind it pointing it back towards society at large. For example, Jailbreak 2012 (travelling without money) aims to get people to do something truly out of their comfort zone and test their personal limits. They did this by travelling all the way to Bangkok without money within 48 hours – quite a feat in itself. You can find out more about this project here.


If you’re seeking to find a project that can put your talents and passions to work, or to create a project centered around your passions that can contribute back to society in one way or another, this might be the place to find or create it.


Recommended post to start with: Our Vision


3) Zappos


Zappos is an online store for men and women apparel. But that’s not what they are famous for. What they are famous for, is their incredible customer service and working culture. Check out this statement on their About page:


“We’ve been asked by a lot of people how we’ve grown so quickly, and the answer is actually really simple… We’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible. Internally, we call this our WOW philosophy.”


Wow! Usually companies would opt to place lines about how they have amazing revenue, best products around the globe, and so on. Not Zappos. These guys want to make it known that they have the best customer service in the world. Not only that, but their other focus is on “The Zappos Family Culture”, which can be found here. Definitely unconventional in the business world – a great example of passions beyond the norm.


The passion in this company isn’t solely in the making of money. It lies in amazing work and service culture. Brilliant, and out of the usual business box.


Recommended post to start with: The Zappos Family Culture Blog


4) Man vs. Debt


We all know how the typical Singaporean life path is a path of loans and debts that never seem to disappear at any point. Adam Baker and his wife Courtney were on that path a few years back – only theirs was the American life path (which is similar). With two car loans, several credit cards, loans from parents and student loans, it was a living nightmare for them.


In crisis, it seems, the most inspired and daring solutions seem to rise up. Within a few years, they aggressively cleared up their debt by sell everything they owned and living a frugal and credit-free lifestyle. At this moment, they still have debt, but they are well on their way – and enjoying the journey.


At the same time, they started this site with the intention of sharing their experiences in dealing with debt and personal finance, which will free one up to pursue his/her passions. Their message is simple:


“The first step to living a life of passion and purpose is to remove the barriers that hold you back.”


Trying to find out how to de-clutter your life? This is the ultimate example.


Recommended post to start with: 42 Ways To Radically Simplify Your Financial Life


5) Never Ending Voyage


Travelling around the world, living the life you’ve always wanted wherever you want to, while at the same time generating steady paychecks online. Sounds too good to be true?


Fact: Owing to the incredible connectivity of the online world today, Digital Nomads are popping up everywhere in the world in droves, smashing the established convention of the 9-to-5 job.


Never Ending Voyage is a blog started by a couple who have sold everything (!) to travel the world indefinitely (!!). In their words:


“It was awe-inspiring and beautiful and frustrating and scary and exciting – it was everything but dull.”


So far they have spent a year in South America (2010), before continuing onward towards Asia, bypassing Panama, Costa Rica, USA, Cananda, and England – all this while running their own web design and development business, in the style of the Digital Nomad.


Their blog features tips on long term travel, language learning, and becoming a digital nomad.


Recommended post to start with: How To Sell All Your Stuff – Part I


6) World Vision


As of 2012, almost 1 in 7 people in the world are hungry, with children being the most visible victims of undernutrition , playing a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of Singapore. Think about that for a moment, and let it sink in.


If you knew that the entire population of Singapore was going to die in a year, wouldn’t you scramble to find a way to save them?


This is where World Vision comes in. World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. They are in the business of transforming communities, responding to disasters, and seeking global change – world-changers in their own right.


Looking to help the less fortunate, and save lives? Find out how you can right here.


Recommended post to start with: Child Sponsorship Stories


7) Jeff Goins Writer


The life of a writer is traditionally known to be one where the writer in question is always struggling to meet the next deadline, bending over backwards to find his next client, and please him to find his next paycheck. It is an art that many enjoy, but few actually dare to dedicate their lives to.


Enter Jeff Goins. Armed with a curiosity as to how successful writers managed to make their living and be published, without giving up their creative lives, he opened this blog to showcase his thoughts and results of his research. This was what he found:


“What I found in this search was a community of like-minded individuals sharing many of the same struggles with the craft. Here is where we wage war on the blank page, where we band together to find purpose in our art and lives.”


What separates him from other writers online is his authenticity – in the words of one blogger, he “writes from his heart, and it bleeds over the screen”.


If you’re a struggling writer (or artist of any type), you will definitely find comfort and advice here.


Recommended post to start with: The One Fear That Will Destroy Your Art


8 ) charity: water


Scott Harrison’s (Founder of charity: water) story is one that one that exemplifies the principles expounded on The Original Life. His story began as such:


“In 2004, I left the streets of New York City for the shores of West Africa. I’d made my living for years in the big Apple promoting top nightclubs and fashion events, for the most part living selfishly and arrogantly. Desperately unhappy, I needed to change. Faced with spiritual bankruptcy, I wanted desperately to revive a lost Christian faith with action and asked the question: What would the opposite of my life look like?”


What he needed was a break from the conventional “high life”, and find a cause larger than himself. He managed to find this in West Africa, where he served as a ship photojournalist on board a floating hospital with a group called Mercy Ships. It was there that he came face to face with the incredible poverty in the world today, and a single solution that could make their lives better: charity.


From there, an organization that focused on the most basic human need was born – bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.


A brilliant example of looking outside the self, and finding a need in the world bigger than oneself, the story of this organization and it’s vision will spur you into action.


Recommended post to start with: charity:water Mission




Can you imagine being barefoot wherever you go, no matter where you are, and what you are doing? I couldn’t imagine it – it would probably be quite uncomfortable and dirty.


In 2006, while on a visit, American traveler Blake Mycoskie found out that children in Argentina were in that exact predicament, except far worse – they were developing soil-transmitted diseases through the skin on their bare feet, as well as infections through any cuts and sores. Adding insult to injury, shoes were a required part of the uniform of certain schools, and as a result, many children without shoes could not get the education they needed.


Touched by the need, Blake took action:


“Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.”


Again, another excellent example of a man seeing the need of the people around him, and reaching out, taking action to provide and remedy.


Recommended post to start with: Sunrise


Heard of any other extraordinary people and organizations that are unconventional in nature? Tell me about them and share the love!

This week is proving to be an incredibly tiring week, but also a week of many, many lessons. I’m back from church camp, but I’ll be off to the 30 Hours Famine Camp organized by World Vision this afternoon.


I wouldn’t want to rush out a sub-par post for the sake of filling this spot up here, so I will sit down on Sunday, reflect and journal the lessons I have learnt over this entire week in one sitting for you guys. Sounds good?


Off I go again, then!

I learnt this particular lesson (or rather, it stood out to me) over these past two days, hence I’m combining the two days.


The average adult makes about roughly 35,000 decisions in a single day. Most are fairly simple and no-brainers (i.e. whether to walk or run, eat or sleep). But there are a few moments of the day when you have no choice but to make a decision that will cause you to react in or feel a certain way.


I have been coming to certain realizations in my life about the people and circumstances in my life. Some are joyful (and Ikthank God for them), most are not so. Yet, I’ve come to realize that how it affects me (and my happiness) is largely a consequence of how I choose to react to it.


Some things are irrevocably tragic and downright sad. It cannot be helped – such things are unavoidable. What can be avoided, however, is how we let it affect us. I have decided that it is wise (and adds more years of life onto my lifeline) to focus on the happier things in life, than to waste energy lamenting the depressing.


Dwelling on the unhappy does not make it go away, after all.


One’s happiness depends on how one chooses to react to that particular event, or let it affect you. 


P.S. I will be away at a Leaders’ Retreat with my church for the next three days, so I will collate my lessons learnt over these days and publish them on Wednesday. See you in three days!

Today, I had the fortune of running an experiential session at a Boys’ Brigade camp in Fairfield Methodist Primary School, as part of World Vision Singapore’s youth engagement effort.


During our presentation on the plight of the Cambodian children, what I realized was that the primary school students could not sympathize with them. A lot of the usual reactions erupted (“Eee, drink water with worms in them??”) but few valuable insights made (“I also suffer a lot in Singapore what!”).


It made me realize that perhaps, we have gone ahead and instilled a wrong mentality towards values in the younger generation. Sure, we make Moral Education a compulsory subject, but the mentality the students take towards is becomes that of a purely academic sort – lots of knowledge on the wrongs, few true values or attitudes formed. This is the very reason why the rich can live alongside the poor and still continue their lives as it is, as if it were perfectly normal and natural.


This made me think about passion, and what ends it should reach toward. We all strive to be able to pursue our passions, but what is the result we are looking towards in the end? Does it edify the future generations, or have any social benefits whatsoever? Perhaps, we should strive to be compassionate rather than passionate.


Remember the phrase (by a certain spidey superhero), “With great power comes great responsibility”? Well, I believe that with great passion, comes great responsibility – to be greatly compassionate.


Lesson: Passion can end up being a selfish aim, if we do not see it as a vehicle to make this world a better place.