I first lived in Singapore 17 years ago. We had moved from Auckland on a two-year expatriate contract, and I thought my “real life” would be waiting for me at our next allocated destination: Sydney. I spent those two years in Singapore living in a state of looking forward, never settling, and always making (or avoiding) decisions that were based on a temporary mindset. When the end of the contract rolled around and we were relocated – not to Sydney, but to Kuala Lumpur – I realised I had wasted two years of my life.
In contrast, when we had moved to Auckland, I had assumed that we were going to settle there. I bought my dream home. I planted a rose garden, made good friends and allowed myself to fill my life with the things I love. We lived in that house for six months before being moved to Singapore. They were among the happiest, most settled, most celebrated months of my life.
Avoid future forecasting
The term “live in the moment” may sound superficial and cliché, but for your greatest wellbeing, this may be the most important mantra of your entire Singapore experience. You perhaps have a concept or vision of how long you are going to be here, what you need to get through those months, and what decisions are (and are not) important to make. You may be making choices as to what you can do without, or what is “worth” buying, doing or undertaking for that particular time frame.
But here’s the raw truth: you are only imagining how long you will be here. Sure, you may have current clues, or contracts, or plans … but in the end, your mental projections are not reality. They do not necessarily reflect how life (that little trickster, with its twists and turns) is actually going to play out. You are forecasting a future that is yet to unfold!
Living in the right now
As an expat, there is a very real, and very unhealthy, risk of living in what I call ‘temporary insanity’. This is when you make decisions based on the idea that you are living in a temporary home and, therefore, you place more emphasis on the supposed end-of-term, rather than your happiness right here, right now.So let’s get real. There is only one moment over which you have control, and that moment is NOW. For your greatest wellbeing, if you need to make a decision in order to feel happy NOW, secure NOW, comfortable NOW, settled NOW. Please, I beg of you, make that decision. Build a life for yourself here in Singapore: make good friends, decorate your home, adopt a pet if you want one, buy a car if you need one – be happy, settled and at peace for as long as life keeps you here. That way, when it is time to move on (whenever that may be) you will leave behind a life well lived – not some temporary existence in an uncomfortable limbo.
Kim Forrester is a holistic wellbeing author, consultant and educator.