Saturday, 14 May 2016

Sickness or Longevity having close association to a person’s character and the exercise he or she does! (Part 2)

In this post, I will focus on character and the exercise one does. 

On one hand, this post is partly a continuation of my earlier post. On the other hand, it was prompted by the recent collapsed our Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat during a cabinet meeting when he was hit by stroke. There are also other triggering points as well as listed below.

Few weeks ago, I was deeply saddened by the decease of my ex-corporate boss Mr. M from Europe. I was told he passed away after taking a rest from his jogging. He was age 65. In my entire corporate career, he was the corporate boss who commanded the most respect from me.  

Mr. M brought with him lifetime of experiences working in many different places in America and Europe. He is extremely knowledgeable and experienced, and it is not just in the work, but extended to many aspects of lives. Mr. M is extremely righteous and always holds high integrity and ethnics without failing to take care of his subordinates, me included. 

In another incident, a friend of mine in his mid-30s went into coma diagnosed to be caused by brain stroke. Yes, 30s of age with stroke!!! His wife and a little daughter are by his side. God bless, he is awake now, albiet still bedridden and unable to talk. 

Life is so unpredictable! 

2 years ago, my ex-broker who was then in his late 40s/early 50s also passed away abruptly due to brain stroke. Read: Shocking News - Life is unpredictable

Breach you limits in work, you go down! "So what if you excel in work?"

Minister Heng SK, only just took over one of the toughest ministerial jobs (Finance Minister) last October  and now he is nursing in ICU at an age of just 53. Not that old really. 

Singapore PM Lee HL was diagnosed to have lymphoma cancer in 1992 (age ~40 then). Last year he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery. Another minister Khaw Boon Wan also underwent artery bypass in 2010. 

If a person having responsible, hardworking and “difficult to let go” personalities, when faces with huge burdens on the shoulders, will almost coherently overwork until he/she is eventually undermined by illness. I was also a victim of severe sickness due to overwork in the past. 

Take things too hard, you go down! "So what if you are Steve Jobs or already financially freed?"

Steve Jobs died of cancer at a relatively young age of 56. Singapore Dennis Ng, who claimed to already achieve financial freedom and was a high-profile financial management expert died of heart attack during a seminar at an even younger age of 43. 

What do these two persons have in common? Overheating passion in the things they do. This is good!

What is not so good is both Jobs and Ng were also known to be having extremely high self-esteem, easily irritated and gets impatient easily when people disagree and refuse to listen or learn from them. In other words, they really take things too hard.

Perhaps the mojo is in the “Right Temperament Deep Down”!

"Deep down", meaning not just appear to have good temperament but truthfully with open mind and open heart! People who appear to have good temperament on the outside (just that they don't say out) but often think otherwise and keeping everything to themselves will inevitably fall into the trap of "taking things too hard!" as well. 

Look at the many successful investors who can control their temperament well and yet outspoken are still very active in the investment world even at a very old age. This is also explicitly explained in my Part 1 post. 

Breach your limits during exercise, you go down! "You really think you are iron man?" 

As I mentioned earlier, my ex-corporate boss passed away during jogging. The exact reason of his death was unknown to me. However I was previously told that he always enjoyed jogging long distance. He also had a competitive nature, always determined and always pushed for perfection.  Maybe he pushed too hard! 

By the way, he passed away after retiring about a year! I heard it was somewhat a retirement that was enforced rather than voluntary. This will mean that he did not really already plan what he wanted to do way prior to his retirement! Could this be one reason that can possibly make him less engaged in life and being weakened spiritually? 

Kishore Mahbubani, age 67 a former diplomat and currently Dean of Lee Kuan Yew school enjoys jogging as a way of relaxing his mind. He jogs regularly for 8 km and had severe chest pains at least three times this year. In believing that determination could overcome pain, he kept on running. Eventually he  went through bypass surgery last month because his arteries are blocked. 

Minister Khaw Boon Wan in 2010 initially denied that he had heart problem. In an interview after his heart bypassed surgery, he said the following:

“I felt that I was in top physical form,” wrote MrKhaw.“To prove it, I actually intensified my exercise routines. I used to run on (the) treadmill three times a week; I increased it to five. Each time, I ran at my usual pace of 8km per hour for half an hour.”

My cousin and my cousin-in-law with age in their late thirties and early forties were fanatics of Marathon running one to two years ago. They always post pictures of them in Facebook running and running, training and training. Finally my cousin-in-law collapsed and was in critical condition needing immediate admission into hospital in the midst of a race. Since then, I have never see any posts of them running again! 

Last year, Canadian Broker firm Canaccord Genuity’s CEO Paul Reynolds died after Falling ill during Triathlon at age 52. In 2009, Singaporean CEO of Deutsche Telekom Asia, Mr Calvin Lee Wee Sing, 42, died while competing in a Singapore International Triathlon event. 

When I was an NSF, my friend's father passed away in his 40s during a badminton match due to heart arrest. I was told my friend’s dad is always very health conscious and exercise regularly. Another friend of mine also saw his father, a regular shutter, hit by stroke during a badminton match. I was told by my friend that his father, despite the old age always have the "Ai Yan Ma Su" (Hokkien translation: want to win) attitude. So what if he won the match but almost lost his life! 

Even Liew Mun Leong, former CEO of CapitaLand a figure widely respected, still wake up every morning at 6am and jog 5-6 km each day, as mentioned by his speech last year at NUS. My own blood brother holding very senior position in corporate, always brag about how he can run long distance and exercise intensively for an hour or so, and how he can push himself to the limit. 

Forget that Ego for a second! 

So if you think that the harder you work, the harder you need to run to relieve your stress, better think again!  

Honesty, why do you have to put your body to intense strain when you are doing something that is supposedly relaxing and enjoying. And straining it "Everyday some more?" 

These are the so-called very successful and rich people in life, definitely not young and with abundance of life and work experiences.  

So what are they trying to prove? Is this really wisdom in life? 

There is this thing calls "Man Ego"!

No matter how old you are or who you are, or how wise you think you are, or how young you are already achieve financial freedom etc, when Man Ego is compromised, sometimes you will get blinded and cannot really see the "real" light in life. 

It's all about feeling good and having fun! 

My health deficiency, a blessing instead 
I inherited health deficiency since birth (I only know it in later years), and therefore I never have good stamina and never fancy long distance running as a boy until today. Looking back, it is definitely a blessing in disguise! For otherwise given my strong “always want to win” character in the past, I will definitely push myself to the limits. For e.g it can be during a run which I will then likely to collapse and never recover again!

Jogging and Swimming
Today, I go jogging or swimming often but it is really primarily to feel good and then to enjoy the greenery of the park or to indulge in the pool to ward off the heat. Most important of all, I enjoy my jogging or swimming together with my children. It strengthens our relationships and make us happy! 

Muscular training
At age 18-19, I started muscular exercise to “beef” up due to my skinny physique. I neither have “washboard” six packs nor very defined muscles now. Nonetheless going to gym for muscular exercise back then is one of the best choices I made in my life. It is a hobby that has sticks with me for almost twenty years now. It not just makes me feels good both physically and mentally, it also makes me happy. 

Please do not be mistaken muscular training for always dumbbell weights training. We can use our own body weight as well. For e.g. push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunge, planks etc. The mix of gym and personal body weight exercises give me more variety and very importantly a lot more "fun" during the exercise. 

Remember that it is more fun and NOT more pain! J

Pushing your muscles to the limit is a much safer bet, than pushing your heart to the limit! 

For many years now, I had seldom or never pushed myself very hard during my muscular training.  In recent times, it is always limited to 20 to 45 minutes duration. Frankly, even if I did stress my muscles during workout, I do feel it is perfectly ok for myself as long as there is no prolong “stressing” and there are sufficient rest in between sets and between days. For instance, antagonizing our muscle group within 1 minute maximum, intensively, then stop, and rest for two minutes and repeat for a couple of sets. 

Here you will learn more about “burst training made popular by Dr Pompa!”. This is an excellent piece of advice. Burst exercise according to Dr Pompa also anti-age. In the same post, I also mentioned about meditating which is an excellent way to relieve myself spiritually and surprising my illness just go away after that miraculously. 

Burst exercise for anti-aging is not vanity as many mistaken! Afterall, there is nothing wrong with vanity!  

Apparently, whether you are healthy or not, sometimes it is all written on your face if you look radiant or not? So if you think you are really healthy because you eat healthy and exercise a lot, think again! Instead, go take a look of yourself NOW in the mirror if you are really telling the truth? :-)

By the way, I hear lesser bodybuilders collapse or die during muscular training compare to athletes who push themselves to the limit for a prolonged period of time. Arnold Schwarzenegger actually has an inherent heart problem since birth and underwent heart surgery. He still “pumps iron” today and looks good at age 68. Likewise, Sylvester Stallone who is one year older still looks radiant.

Given a choice, I will definitely prefer to stress my muscles for less than one minute each time, rather than to stress my heart for hours!  Often times you can be rich and successful but it does not mean you have the wisdom in taking care of yourself. Very often “Man Ego” can be the cause of many health related problems! 

Why Lee Kuan Yew is different? 

Well, I also wanted to highlight that I cannot remember when did I ever read that our founding father Lee Kuan Yew fallen sick during his tenure as our country leader. Perhaps the job of leader is almost like his destiny! Nothing and nobody subjected him to do so!  

Moreover LKY had hobbies of golfing, swimming and in his memoir understood that he also have many friends all over the world. This strengthened him spiritually. He also always had an intriguing mind to learn. This strengthened him mentally. I have also not read him saying he will run long distance and push himself to the limit physically to achieve success (or ego?). LKY also wisely chose to step back early and hand the baton to Goh Chok Tong, while he can easily rule Singapore for another decade or so. 

Above all, LKY smartest move is to choose an incredibly capable and remarkably wise wife for him to share his burden. One burden, two people share….so it is effectively ½ the load!   

This is true wisdom! 

Rolf’s final thoughts

Ultimately I reckon that physical and spiritual exercise must go hand in hand together with a balance lifestyle and reasonably healthy diet with pleasure. In fact healthy diet is not just only eating healthy like fresh organic etc. I will touch on diet possibly on Part 3 later.

You may have thought where do I get all these “cock and bull” contrarian theory from? Lest not forget, I am not very old (like 60s?), and furthermore not very rich and not very successful.

Hmmm … I can only attribute it partly to my somewhat humble and roller coaster life experiences in relationships, health and work. Maybe also my understanding of myself well and essentially I am thankful for the exposures I received over my career travelling to many parts of the world and having the honour of working with people of different races, countries and across different society classes.

Last but not least, I reckon that I have one very strong trait or motto in life which has so far help me to enlighten in my life more quickly. See below: 

Non Mihi Solum!  
(Not for Myself Alone)


  1. "A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries the bones." - Proverb 17:22

    1. Hi Yaruzi,

      I read about your story and know via religious means u had enlightened and can already see the light ahead.

      I am happy for you. I know u will grow stronger and wiser each day!

      For wisdom is often truly misunderstood by so many people in today's society!

    2. Rolf,

      "Lest not forget, I am not very old (like 60s?), and furthermore not very rich and not very successful."

      Frequently "not" very successful can be a blessing in disguise.

    3. Hi Yaruzi,

      Yes, just like failure can be a blessing in disguise most of the times!

  2. Anything in life can be fatal. Even common flu when younger or older will make that different; but we tend to forget we are getting older and weaker with each passing day.

    1. Hi CW,


      These r different category. Of course death cause by instant virus attack or accidental which most times are inevitable. But look at the percentage compare to death cause by illness.

      What I aforesaid was in fact said n concur by my ex entrepreneur boss in his 60s who seen so much in life, travelled widely, was already pronounced dead by doctor with heart problem (later survived not seeing doctor), go thru near bankruptcy 3 times with him as sole bread winner and was a man who use to have high ego and self esteem. Eventually he got into enlightenment and his entire life changed!

      Today, he truly work to help only. Unlike human nature septics who think it's always for money or self interest! :-)

      Ten years past in his 60s, he is much more stronger and more energetic TODAY than 10 yrs ago when I use to work with him. I swear it's true and nothing but true!

      While another boss of mine after retiring and still thinking of money and thinking of do one more successful business in his lifetime is complaining age is catching up... Bla Bla Bla.

      Therefore I tend not to agree with u with not just these two cases but many I had seen in other people also.

      Me and him were discussing one day about the character illness and we both agreed that the more successful a man is, or if he think he is, the more difficult to convince that man to change. And almost not possible and better to leave it to them to realise it later thru their experience!

      Imagine I know Kishore and have tell him earlier that the way he push himself in jogging is not good. Will he listen to me? of course not, bcos he is always right in his own way! He will say "who r u small fry with so little experience in life to advise me on that." Even if my ex-boss told him, he will also not listen.

      I myself had seen the same happening within my peer.

      Good thing for me is today I will not be hinder by my male ego anymore if it makes sense.

      And what I am saying in the above article is truly from the bottom of my heart from things my ex boss and me truly can see. Whether it helps now or later, it does not matter, but at least what I am sharing now is Non Mihi Solum and that is sufficient to make me very happy!

      Hope one day this article will be useful to u or at least make u realise at least Rolf had said that before. But not now, not to worry!


  3. My ex boss also collapsed and died of stroke at age of 42 during their weekly management meeting. He overworked. His death was wake up call to those around him. Co-incidentally two of those directors in that meeting retired before 60 few years later. Seeing with their own eyes on colleague dropping dead in front of them might be scary and lasting.

    1. Yes incredible isn't it! Even touchwood if I have illness nowadays, I will never want or by all means do my every part to not have an illness that is work or money-inflicted!


      Maybe my illness is because kena 气死 by my wife or kids! hahhaha....At least more worth it than cause by work!

    2. Hi Createwealth8888,

      Your comment made me very worried for Singapore today. I think in the coming general elections, our PM Lee will be getting lots of requests for early retirement from our Ministers. It is selfish of me to think this way but ... I think the least some of the more critical Singaporeans can do is to show more respect to our Ministers next time when they make comments online.

      I wish Mr Heng Swee Keat a speedy and full recovery so that he can at least have the good health to enjoy life. Good men should have a good ending.

  4. Rolf,

    "Smart" and "successful" people often subscribe to: If I think I can, I can!

    Which works superbly well when they are in their prime. But they forget there's such a thing called wear and tear :(

    Funny how the Chinese holistic way to longevity (养生) is the opposite:

    Meditation (stay still)

    Slow walks (we don't race; just walk leisurely)

    Taiji (How's that for non-strenuous to joints?)

    Tonics (Years to see effect; not magic pill)

    Have you noticed the paintings of immortals and monks in Chinese paintings show lots of paunches?


    1. Hi Jared,

      I am first to vote agreement that does not mean ur body is fat or skinny u cannot have healthy life.

      But it's the radiance shown in the face, speech or even smiles and laugthers that tell more not just the body!

  5. Hi rolf
    I spend many years to understand everything is destined, eg whether you will be rich or not, whether you sick or not or when you die. Whom you will meet in your life etc.

    Everything is destined, by fate.

    So 既来之,则安之

    Have a peace in mind, then you will be more happier and live more meaningful.

    1. Hi Yeh,

      Hope u r feeling better. U know my style Lar.. always more direct. I am having a different view.

      I do not believe life are mostly destined or fated. I believe 人定胜天 as long as we are willing to take steps to initiate the change, and first the change has to start with "us"!

      Dreams are important, but I am seeing in Sg we are lacking it.

      Even as I am born not physically as strong and thin, the later years still can make the difference! Maybe Nick Vujicic can have a more convincing speech on this thing called "destined and fated!"

      But I do agree that if we have a peaceful mind, while we are pursuing our dreams, then our live can be more meaningful.

      Most important thing I kind of realise in life to be able to enlighten is we should never work just for ourselves only! If in our lifetime we can help many many people around us to lead better life, then I am sure we can conquer a lot!

      Of course, this philosophy applies to me and it does not mean it is workable for others! :-)

  6. My late FIL was heavy smoker and drinker. Eat unhealthy oil and salty food and yet die at age of 93. He ran a small shop selling mainly Chinese wedding related stuff, daily household items and Big Sweep tickets. His stress level is pretty slow. Smoke and drink while waiting for customers to buy then come and buy. :-)

    Stress at work is the potential source of many illnesses. Headache, heartache, tua tulan then pressure and temperature rising higher

    1. Ya lo. My Friend died at age 21 due to Lung cancer. No smoke and his room( hostel) used to be vey clean.

      I thought I will be the one die earlier age among my group of friends. Who knows after so many years I am still kicking:)

    2. Hi CW,

      Wow ur FIL is good. I am partially saying yes because my auntie is late 80s, smoking since 12 till today. Always sleep late and does not eat so healthy! Still very active and can go traveling in Taiwan alone!

      The difference is unlike ur FIL, her stress level is very high.

      Her husband (my uncle) kena stroke and was wheel chaired for like 15-20 yrs and was so bad tempered. She have to tahan him and clean him for so many years!

      She had to work as a cleaners for multiple offices. Her children (my cousin) are all not married eldest being early 60s. All have very low income and some even up to 50s still depend on my auntie. My smaller uncle also faced with loan shark problem in earlier years when my auntie got to settle for him using all her savings!

      My auntie had two adopted kids because others does not want to raise them in the 50s and 60s. but being kind hearted, she does not mind to help. Her adopted kids did well in life and love her a lot.

      To me, my auntie is a superwoman!

      So in this aspect despite my auntie life so tough, and so stressful, she always approached life positively! Today her adopted kids and me and my siblings doted my auntie like how she doted my father when my father still alive.

      The only reason I can think of my auntie's longer ivory is her positive approach in life and how she unselfishly help people around her, despite her own problems. she is always happy! I love her also!

      So maybe sometimes in life, we cannot everyday only think about ourself only. Guess I am sad that people are getting more and more selfish as time advances.

    3. sorry typo "longer ivory = longevity!"

  7. Don't run fast enough later fail IPPT, then tio RT. We are screwed both ends :p

    1. RT good mah... can siam work early.

      RT better than die right! haha

  8. From Early Retirement Extreme.
    The first person to run marathon passed away.
    Only slaves work but owners skive.

  9. Hi Blanc,

    Haha.. yes indeed as what was written in history that the person after running marathon died!

  10. Hi Rolf,

    Everything in moderation 就好. In my previous job, always piah-piah-piah and OT. "Good pay" but common to have gastric-related issues and chest tightness : obvious signs that all is not right.

    After a job change, all the ailments are gone! Miracle! Oh well, apart from feeling sleepy all the time LOL. I think my current job is not challenging enough. As I said, everything in moderation, always. Either end of the spectrum isn't good.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      "Everything in moderation" or "balance" is my all time favorite phrase. So simple to understand but yet so difficult to apply in life for many.

      Gastric-related problems are character-work inflicted. No doubt.

      Happy that is solved for u.

      I suffered from gastric problems for ages and eventually hospitalized too.

  11. Hi Rolf,

    Are you an alumni of AJC? Your motto seems to suggest that. I'm not although I was there for a few months. I have people close to me who was from there.

    1. Yes sir, I am ex-Ajcian!
      Class of 95!

    2. It is a good motto to live by. When a person starts living for others, he will find people around him start living for him as well.

      Non Mihi Solum is not just being self-less, it makes a lot of sense by creating win-win situations (assuming the network of people around are the decent type who remember kindness). 我为人人,人人为我。

  12. Hi Hyom Hyom,

    Same belief as u. like ur last sentence in chinese!