2016 Reflection: I’m really grateful and happy

As we are two weeks away from the end of 2016 and the start of a new year, have you had the chance to sit back and think about what made you happy this year, what made you sad, what did you achieve and what did you fail to achieve?

2016 was a rollercoaster. There were bumpy, tough patches and there were moments when I was so happy to be live at that time and place.  It’s easy to focus on the hard times but I’ll choose to focus on the good – because I have the power to choose optimism. I made mistakes, a lot of them,  and learned something from them. I had times when I reaffirmed my determination that I’m working hard towards the right path for me. There were times when I questioned myself and felt unworthy to be where I was. Yet, I must remember that those feelings of “not enough” were the result of my choices to put myself into unfamiliar settings and situations to push myself to grow. So instead, I should be proud of myself out of my comfort zone. Overall, I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had this year and the people part of my life this year. Thanks 2016!

My life definitely is not perfect but I don’t need my life to perfect. Personally, most avoidable unhappiness in my life stems from pressure I exert on myself to do better and achieve targets I set for myself. I set goals that were too high and then felt guilty about failing to achieve them. I tried to do too many things at once. In other words, I get to determine whether I am or am not happy.

I’m still ambitious with my goals but I am also really content with where I am right here right now. Ada, someone I really look up for her balance between career ambition and living life to its fullest, perfectly expresses this when she said, “working hard makes having fun that much more fun, and sad times are necessary for good times.” (Credits to Ada!). I can be happy looking forward to spending the afternoon with my friends tomorrow because we’ve locked ourselves in our houses studying for finals the last while and now have a cause to celebrate. If it weren’t for finals, what would I celebrate?

I am happy that I get to do what I love – learn- and I get to learn as my full-time job as a university student. I learned this from Laura from alittlebitoflacquer: Change “I have to” to “I get to”. Studying, or doing to work, or doing other activities that can tedious at times are privileges not right and it’s up to us to be thankful.

Now, you tell me: what are simple pleasures that make you happy?



Yesterday and today were perfect days. Nothing extraordinary happened but it was the simple things that made me happy

  • I got to spend time with my volunteer program client which is just a pleasure to work with and always inspires me to work harder towards advocating for changes through Vision Health Volunteers.
  • I got to be in the lab to conduct research yesterday and today, which always makes me happy because I enjoy interacting with subjects and being a science nerd.
  • I got to go to the gym today (for free because yay Christmas time) and get in a good run. It feels SO good to run after sitting for hours studying.
  • I joined a hockey team for next semester! I’m looking forward to getting back in the sports team environment that I’ve missed from my old hockey days. And I’m looking forward to meeting new people- yipee!
  • I get to test out a e-course in January on perfectionism.
  • I got to be listen to and take in interesting conversation with fun people over  delicious Malayasian and Singaporean food today.
  • I got to enjoy the lovely presence of a good friend from high school who is now across the ocean in S. Korea via phone call. ( at 2 am because dealing with time difference is a challenge).
  • While on phone, I cleaned my room which makes me feel like I have my life organized and ready to take on 2017!
  • I got to pick up my adorable cousins, uncle and aunt from the airport last night and play with the wee ones and chat with my uncle and aunt. Family is one of the precious things to me in life and I’m thankful to be able to spend time with my family.
  • I also get to blog right now. I keep saying that my blog needs a sharped, my posts need to be more profound and well-composed, etc. But really, I should just focus on writing and producing to create content for those of you that read the Blog Squad blogs!


2 thoughts on “2016 Reflection: I’m really grateful and happy”

  1. Hi Shanna!
    In your blog post you mentioned that you were conducting research in a lab. I was wondering how you got this opportunity and what are you conducting research in?
    Also do you have any tips on how to get into a lab?


    1. Hi Shaddia, Thanks so much for commenting here! The organization that provided a grant to my PI linked my PI and I together, which I’m super grateful for! It was a program for high school students (based on your email address, I’m guessing you’re a university student though)I have multiple projects on the go, but right now I’m conducting research on face recognition.

      Do research only if you’re genuinely interested in research. I see people trying to get involved in research for the sake of filling in a box on your application. If you go in with the wrong intentions, you might have trouble finding the motivation to keep going when you’re doing the tedious stuff e.g. staring at excel sheets for days or your projects fail to publish. Go in with a genuine excitement for learning and you’ll be able to enjoy the process more. I repeat this a million times because it really really saddens me to see fellow students only see research as a stepping stone.

      My tips (my personal thoughts, may not be true for all situations) is that it’s easier to get involved in research if you get involved full-time when you first start to learn the ropes, have some programming/data analysis skills that will make you useful, and show that you’re willing to put effort in. Be humble, willing to try anything, willing to help your colleagues out as much as possible, and open to listening to advice.

      Hope that helps!

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