Belinda Lee is one of the most inspiring celebrities we know. From her heart-warming info-ed TV programmes to her never-say-die attitude and her deep, abiding love for her late mum, she's a ray of hope to those around her.
Fresh from releasing her book Larger than Life: Celebrating the Human Spirit, which chronicles some of the people she's met during her travels for her TV shows, Belinda says it is not difficult to live each day with gratitude and happiness.
"These inspiring people in my book have something in common - they carry an air of greatness which stems from love and humility.
From them, and the ups and downs I've experienced in my life, I've learnt that you don't need to have a lot to be happy," she says.
Her goal: "Be someone who takes pride and has integrity in what you do for a living - someone who lives life with passion, meaning and purpose.
It doesn't matter whether you're a hotel owner or a student, we all have the ability to do something great in our lifetime."
The 38-year-old, who is also an ambassador for beauty brand Astalift, hopes that by recounting her experiences in her book, she can sow the seeds of hope in others, especially those going through a rough patch in life. Foremost in her mind is to be an encouragement to someone else who's also experiencing hardship.
"If, through these stories, I am able to save someone from killing himself, I've done my part as a human being."
A Change in Perspective
She recalls the time she interviewed a man who exhumed graves for a living.
"I was scared and hesitant about picking up the bones of the dead. But I told myself to just do it. The moment I touched the skull from the grave we were digging up, my perspective changed."
What she had initially thought was a lowly job became "sacred", she says.
"I realised it didn't matter if this man was in a poorly paid job - he was helping both the dead and the living reunite," she says.
"The value of what you do is not determined by how much you earn, but how much you respect yourself, your job and your life."
Staying Positive in a Personal Crisis
Belinda, who's currently working on a 170-episode Channel 8 drama, Peace and Prosperity (which debuts April 4), feels it's easier to pick yourself up after a work or business setback compared with bouncing back from something personal, such as losing a loved one.
"One has to take the time to grieve and rest. Slow down. Don't plunge straight back into work.
It's harder to acknowledge and deal with the pain compared with running away from it, but you'll recover faster."
Her method for dealing with life's curveballs? She compartmentalises her pain and focuses on the positive.
Surround Yourself with People Who Love You
"In a personal crisis, it also helps to have faithful and loyal friends around you, to have moral support from your loved ones, and to be in a non-toxic environment," Belinda advises.
When she was going through a difficult break-up a couple of years ago, it was her late mum who picked her up.
"It was one of the lowest points in my life. I wanted to end my life," she shares.
"I was crying at home alone when my mum walked into the room and told me 'Bel, you have walked Mum through the most difficult time of my life when I was ill and undergoing treatment. I was in the darkest valley and you held my hand and walked through it with me. Now that you are suffering and walking through this valley of darkness, please allow me to do the same for you.'"
Belinda says she realised then that whatever a child is feeling, the mother experiences tenfold.
"My mum was always telling me that I'll never understand how a mother feels until I become one myself," she says.
"I am really looking forward to that day too. I think it will be when I truly comprehend what it feels like to be a mother."
Belinda appreciates the fact that even though her mum worried about her, she trusted that Belinda would take care of herself.
"Whenever I went home, she would be very happy to see me. She used to give me a hug and stroke my hair, and say in Mandarin, 'It's been hard on you' or in Hokkien, 'Poor thing'," she says.
Once, Belinda had to learn to dance for one of her TV shows. She trained for more than four months.
"I danced until I couldn't dance anymore, and developed this huge blister on my ankle. I was in so much pain, lying in bed and crying while my mum applied medication for me.
"I told her no one understood how torturous it was.
Then she said in Hokkien, 'Bel, when you are in pain, it's not the others who hurt, it is Mum's heart that feels it.' That made me cry even harder, of course," Belinda adds.
When The Going Gets Tough
Belinda shares her top tips for staying upbeat on long, tiring days on set:
1. Laughter is the best mood-lifter.
"On long days, the energy on set can become low and demoralising. So I find the silliest things to laugh about. I'm grateful to have great chemistry with my fellow cast members to be able to laugh so much at work."
2. Make sure you are comfortable
"I drink a lot of warm water to keep myself warm because the set is always so cold. I have my heat pad with me to stay comfortable the entire day."
3. Rest whenever possible
"There can be long stretches of waiting in between scenes. So whenever I can, I go to my 'bedroom' on set and just close my eyes and rest for a while. I don't go on social media or use my phone during that time."
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