Wise Mag caught up with Tay Ai Leen for a Q & A where she shares some insights on herself and her life now. She also gives some advice on how we can live in a happier, more fulfilled way. One of the inspiring quotes she shares is one she heard from her late dad. He used to say, “There will always be someone richer than you and someone poorer than you, so be happy with what you have!” Read on to find out more about Tay Ai Leen, who is well-known in the corporate world and social circles as well.
- Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How would you describe yourself as a person, professionally and personally?
I’m easy-going, love my food and outings with friends and will look at the glass half-filled and how to top it! I’m always learning and always game to try new things, especially being experimental with food.
- You’ve had a lot of experience in life … Is there any advice you could share that will help people live life in a more fulfilled way?
Self fulfillment is very personal. As my late dad used to say, “There will always be someone richer than you and someone poorer than you, so be happy with what you have!” But there’s nothing stopping you to go out and get a better life for yourself. Moderation is the key to everything … give respect to others as karma is real. Choose to be happy everyday!
- What is your philosophy in life? Who are the people you admire the most?
It’s important to be happy and accept what you have and make the best of it!. Perhaps I’m at a different stage in life as I’m retired so my priorities are different than when I was still in the corporate world.
Everyone faces their own challenges – people with a beautiful home, a great career, lots of money but they still have their own problems. We think we are the only ones who have challenges but it’s not true at all! I admire families who have little but are very happy with each other and the young show respect to the elders.
- What are your plans for the next 10 years? Will you be travelling more, spending more time with loved ones, friends, etc.?
10 years is a long time to plan … we should live our life fully every year. I don’t have a bucket list, yes I do enjoy travelling, but I’ll continue to play the piano (only took classes when I was 60 years, not to excel in exams but to play the songs I like).
I have a few groups of friends who enjoy food, get-togethers and that’s good for now. I get different joy and enlightenment with different groups of friends.
I have an aging mum and she is my greatest challenge, ‘How to live with your mum with minimum conflict!’
- What do you feel will add value to everyone’s lives?
I’m so grateful to be gifted with 3 amazing books which I refer to every now and then.
1. The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down
2. The Daily Stoic
3. Ikigai, The Japanese Secret to a Long & Happy Life
Some of the learnings I take, especially in my relationship with my mum and the conflicts we face daily:
‘Being Right isn’t important, being Happy Together Is’
( I’ll find the middle ground where we both can share and that’s good food and experimenting with new restaurants!)
‘The Journey of Forgiveness’ is to free yourself so you can be happy and you can go on living your life.
‘The Art of Maintaining A Good Relationship’ is to put more effort into cultivating relationships with family & friends who matter!
Ikigai talks about our purpose in Life. For me, “Not to live a long life but to live a meaningful life!”
- As the years have passed what would you say is something you’ve learnt that is a gem of knowledge?
We are learning every day. I started taking lessons & playing the piano at 60. Knowledge comes from everywhere … the books you read, the movies you watch & pure observation of friendship and what’s going on in our surroundings and life.
- We feel that people are still in their prime after they reach the age of 50 and more. Would you agree? What do you feel people who have reached this age have that the young generation may lack?
I think the young are very advanced as they are more exposed than we were in our times. The access to handphones and the web opens many opportunities and knowledge which they can access.
The young may not have “eaten a lot of salt” and they may not have gone through the many experiences as their elders.
My only concern is the use of social media. While it is great to celebrate and be in touch with friends, it exposes oneself. With careful private settings hopefully you are protecting your personal info and not sharing too much for those perpetrators who are watching you closely on social media.
- If you could change something in your life or change something in the past, what would it be?
I would be an accountant because the possibilities are so many for accountants.
- What do you feel most passionate about?
I’m passionate about food and movies. I watch a variety of genre except horror and I love dramas & thrillers. My favorite series this year is, ‘All the Light We Cannot See’. It is a series about goodness, love, hope and innocence – all of which are things you cannot see, but you can transmit and pass on to someone else… A story that is wonderfully told and based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel
- Can you tell us a bit about your life? How you started out as a young adult and where you are now, etc.,
I come from humble beginnings. Dad was the sole bread winner, mum a homemaker and 2 siblings – a sister and brother. We started with very little when we were young, not privileged, didn’t go to international school nor study overseas but that helped to keep us grounded and be grateful for everything we have. I started working when I was 19, doing all sorts of promotional work and saved enough to pay for my fees to college. And we worked every time there were school holidays. There were no fancy holidays for the family but we were happy. All I have today was built over the years and I’m thankful for the opportunities and exposure working in multinational companies like Coca-Cola & L’Oreal and advertising agencies. I learnt a lot in corporate life, there are corporate friendships and friends who love you for who you ARE and I’m glad I made more friends after leaving the corporate world. Friendship is important as you start to spend more and more time with friends who keep each other going.
Tay Ai Leen is at a stage of life where she has had many interesting experiences that she can share. Her perception about the corporate world and life in general is vast and this makes her a lady who has gems of knowledge she can impart.