5 Quotes for Living a Happier Life, Chosen by Oon Shu An
Oon Shu An has a following on Instagram of over 80,000—and every Monday for the last two years, the thespian and Generation T honouree has been sharing her favourite discoveries, stories and observations on her Instagram feed, posting screengrabs of thought-provoking content she'd come across on social media, her thoughts on it, and then leaving space for comments and discussion.
You have been doing your Monday posts for the last two years! What is the motivation behind doing it?
Oon Shu An (OSA) Yes! Can’t believe it’s been so long! I was looking for things that gave me hope and made me feel better. Mondays are like the weekly version of getting out of bed. And one Monday, I just thought: I’d like to start this week with some hope.
I found this story of someone who thought he was gay and called an LGBT bookstore considering self-harm. The manager stayed on the phone, talking to him answering his questions, even though there were customers there. Then one of the customers, a 50-year-old lesbian, stepped in to take over. Then the other customers began to form a line behind her to talk to this person. All of them knew that feeling, and all of them wanted to help. It was a beautiful example of what it looks like to look out for each other, and also, a painful reminder of how much harm discriminatory systems can do to those whose humanity they refuse to recognise. So I shared it.
Two weeks later I found another beautiful story, shared it—then I just made it a commitment to myself. I’ve learnt so much about how to human from the internet. I love posting them because then I too get to see how other people feel and think about them, what they’ve learnt, and that really moves me, because we all learn from each other, don’t we?
Any favourite posts?
OSA I have a lot of favourites. Right now, it’s the rewrite of The Giving Tree. Topher Payne rewrote it and titled it The Tree Who Set Healthy Boundaries. Boundaries are one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn; a lot of us have learnt that we have to give until we have nothing more to give, but that actually isn’t very balanced, and there are healthy ways to give and also take care of ourselves.
What does being happy mean to you? Does it mean being positive, or do you feel that there is more to it?
OSA It would be a feeling of being deeply connected to people and the world, a sense of hope, learning to be my best self for myself, to those around me and the community we live in, a sense of fulfilment, and ultimately being at peace.
I’ve become slightly wary of the way positivity is, sometimes, almost enforced? You know, that pressure to ‘be positive’ even as someone may be undergoing something traumatic, or healing from it, or the systems they are living in fail them, or they’re just being human and having emotions that we are taught to judge ourselves for. I resonate more with the idea of hope! That helps me to hold space both for what currently is and also where I would like it to go.
We asked Oon to share her favourite quotes on happiness and hope:
Stop saying ‘it’s ok’ when it’s not ok. Diminishing your truth for their comfort is self-betrayal and it denies you both an opportunity for authentic repair.
I think one of my favourite feelings is laughing with someone and realizing halfway how much you enjoy them and their existence.
Being able to admit when you are at fault is one of the most important relationship skills you could ever develop. Being able to hold your ground when you’re not at fault is one of the most vital individual skills you could ever develop.
Don’t set yourself on fire trying to keep others warm.
I’m releasing relationships not rooted in mutual care and respect.