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May Pang 💖

Where Have I Been?

Published about 2 months ago • 3 min read

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A few months ago, while on a rock-climbing trip in a remote part of Asia, I drafted this beautiful email full of pictures and updates about where I've been on the (then) short break I took from writing.

So, why aren't you reading it now?

A little while before I finished the update, my ex-fiancé who had remained a close friend passed away. In the same week, my father's health also started rapidly deteriorating and I went back to Malaysia to spend some time with him. I ended up staying for several weeks. It's been one of the hardest things in life to watch my gregarious and charismatic father waste away slowly.

Two weeks after I returned back to the US, I got the 3 am call that I had always dreaded. It was my brother telling me that my dad's time was near. I booked the first flight back. As I was at the checking in for the flight, I received another call. My dad had passed away.

I've made the journey back to Malaysia from some distant place in the world dozens of times. This was by far the hardest. It was a strange dichotomy of being completely alone with my grief and yet having no privacy at all to grieve.

So, where have I been? I guess you could say I've been hanging out with grief the past few months. Grief is an incredibly demanding companion - leaving no room for other people, thoughts, or pursuits.

But fortunately for me, the people in my life refused to let me withdraw completely into my grief and continued to ask what they could do. I started asking for them to share something joyful in their lives. Big, small, mundane - I would welcome them all.

I began getting epic climbing pictures and perfect powder days in the snow but also smiling children, pets, gardens, and home cooked meals. Every time I received a picture, I would find myself smiling with genuine joy.

The Germans have a word for this phenomenon. It is called "Freudenfreude" which translates loosely to "taking joy from other people's happiness" and is the opposite of the more famous word "Schadenfreude" (taking pleasure from the struggles of others).

Having experienced the power of this phenomenon, I wanted to share it with you and help you tap into the collective joy of others. Selfishly, I also want more of it for myself because grief is definitely not a linear healing process.

So, if you too have gone through a period of grieving or simply need a little injection of unexpected joy in your everyday life, I'm starting a 7-day picture challenge on May 9th (my birthday!). The challenge is simple:

1) Join my Facebook Group - Please feel free to invite people in your life that you think may enjoy this challenge, too. You can do this by forwarding this email or the link. I intend to use this group for other facilitated social experiences and events in the future. So, if other experiments in connecting deeply with like-minded people interests you, feel free to join even if you don't want to participate in this particular challenge.

2) Post one picture a day of something that brings you joy - It can be a current or old picture. It really doesn't matter. Add a caption or don't. This challenge is simply being able to see the world through the joy of others.

3) Optional - Engage and comment on pictures by others that have made you smile.

4) Repeat for 7 days - If you miss a day or see this email late, just jump right in. The last day will be May 15th, 2024.

During the challenge, I will also be trying to answer private messages on Facebook.

For those who will not be joining us, here are some pictures for you anyway. Hope to see you (and a glimpse of your joyful life!) soon.

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May Pang 💖

Connection & Communication Coach

Your future friend. I write to help you create deeper connections with yourself and others. Storytelling + Hard Science + Actionable Steps + Humor. Often with a dose of rebellious personal growth. Join 22k+ people on this fun ride. I don't always know where I'll take you, but I promise you it'll always be fun!

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