Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Oct 8, 2018

How productive you are at work depends on your perception of your work

Filed under: work — admin @ 10:40 am

How productive you are at work depends very much on your perception of your work and how you breathe meaning into your office life, how your work is related to your larger picture of life, above and beyond the temporary paychecks you get.

You spend one-third of your day there with some people who happen to accompany on your life’s journey. I want to make my daughter see life at work transcending paychecks and people around.

How do we do it?

First of all, never perceive your office hours like a physically confined inmate waiting for the end of the day.

Secondly, connect your work to your career development and your life mission. Yes, you must have a mission in life that answers why you are here.

Thirdly, demand a better you from yourself with each passing day, and make sure today’s work will lead to a better you tomorrow, with sharpened skills and increased intangible assets. See everyday as the process of your becoming that better you.

Finally, to rise above the crazy daily mundane that constantly screams for your undivided attention, you must never lose sight of the goal that you set for yourself, the ideal that you have held dearly, the larger picture, and of course your mission in life.

1, Sep 30, 2018

My thought on Severance by Ling Ma

Filed under: Book — admin @ 3:32 pm

Severance by Ling Ma is for sure not a pleasant read, at least not for me. It makes readers heavy-hearted.

Candace Chen, the protagonist of the novel, 5-year New Yorker, first generation American, both parents dead, millennial work-bee, found herself pregnant without any intention of letting her boyfriend know. The boyfriend is leaving New York. Then Shen Fever shrouds New York apocalyptically like a real doomsday. People drop dead like flies. Nothing is more depressing than this! Candace joins a group of survivors headed by Bob.

The book shifts back and forth from memories of her parents to pre-Shen Fever life, and to present life after Shen Fever.

The book is saturated with memories of her life in China and her parents. But she wants to tell you that she had an unhappy childhood because of her mother. Through her memories of her mother, she basically accused her of being an abusive parent. No loving memory of a dead mom, even though her mother keeps coming back to her in her dream, urging her to escape the Facility before the baby is born. (pp. 185-190)

She is dead against looking back at one’s past. “It’s too depressing, too soul-crushingly sad, to reminisce. The past is a black hole, cut into the present day like a wound, and if you come too close, you can get sucked in. You have to keep moving.” (p. 120)

Bob’s Facility is like a religious cult. “The Facility means more to Bob than just a place to live. It is the manifestation of his shoddy ideology. He dictates and enforces the rules, rules that only he fully knows and understands. He sees us as subjects, to reward or to punish.” Bob imposes on Candace solitary confinement after he learned that Candace intended to leave his cult. The book shows how easily people surrender themselves to the arbitrary dictator like Bob!

The book also throws some light on the life of millennial in New York. They impress me as shameless, purposeless, free yet rootless, smoker, heavy-drinker, and irresponsible.

The book also provides a glimpse of globalization of capitalism. Work, no matter where you are, is tedious, jarring, mechanical, senseless, and dehumanized. Those who succumb to Shen Fever perform repetitive tasks until they drop dead, as if describing people on the modern assembly line, doing repetitive work until they drop dead.

Jonathan, Candace’s begone boyfriend seems to be the author’s voice, “If you are an individual employed by a corporation or an institution, … then the odds are leveraged against you. The larger party always wins. It can’t see you, but it can crush you… I’ve never worked a full-time job again,.. I work enough to get by, doing part-time or freelance gigs. Most of all, I want my time and my efforts to be my own.” (p.137) “I don’t want to hustle 24/7 just to make rent.” (p.200)

In many ways, the book is a good example of show and not tell.

Lastly, let me tackle the meaning of the name of the book–Severance. It comes from severance package or severance payout that a company gives to its laid-off employees. It could means “action of ending a connection or relationship” or “the state of being separated or cut off.”

In this book, it means many things:
(1) Candace’s parents separating from the land of their birth and culture when they moved to America(p.188)
(2) Candace separation from her past and boyfriend, from herself, and finally from the prison-like Bob’s Facility.
(3) Symbolically, it could mean soul and feeling being separated from numb bodies in modern city. (pp.136-7)

1, Sep 14, 2018

My birthday, the day after, and the truth

Filed under: children — admin @ 7:57 pm

Yesterday was my birthday. Some friends sent me their birthday wishes, which was very heart-warming. I mean it would be a lie if I acted like I didn’t care. I was disappointed that my children were not among them. Oh well, my bad. I didn’t raise them well. My explanation.

Today my children sent me their belated birthday wishes and profuse apologies. I was going to tell them what I truly think. The other adult told me not to continue. I asked my children if they wanted me to tell the truth. Of course truth is better of the two. So I proceeded.

I want to be honest with my children. I am sure my children want me to open up with them. After all, what our relationship would be if I cannot even tell the truth to my children? They know it would be detrimental to my health if I bottle up emotions.

I want my children to remember this incident, not the forgotten birthday, but to always open up what they have in mind, to always tell the truth to your loved ones. In the long run, truth always win. Don’t dismiss it like “Oh well, I don’t care” unless they truly don’t care.

For me, I do care, especially when none of my relatives in China remember my birthday, even though I am always the first one to shout out “Happy birthday” to them.

1, Sep 13, 2018

The Less said, the better, at office

Filed under: work — admin @ 8:05 pm

Sometimes certain phrase is pegged in my brain and refuses to go away. Today that phrase is show-and-tell. I think of the picture of my daughter doing show-and-tell at kindergarten. That always brought back my years at China Daily when I learned to show and not tell.

I learned that writers should always show and not tell. Don’t act like you know best. Always assume readers are smarter than you. Because language can both conceal and reveal our inner self. For a long time I developed a deep-seated aversion to show and tell.

When I was at KCCC, I witnessed a colleague performing daily show-and-tell. Every time she did some work, she must make it known to all. This adult version of show and tell reinforced my previous dislike.

Let us leave show-and-tell to where it belongs — kindergarten. Office is adult world. Do your job. The less said, the better, at office.

1, Sep 11, 2018

Trust, the heart and soul of the hiring manager

Filed under: Daughter,work — admin @ 10:35 pm

Once again, I shared this with my daughter as she started working for a new company.

I have heard of many factors that help people get the job. I think one key element involves trust, a leap of faith in opening your door to a stranger. My son involves in all hiring in his company. He knows very well the risk involved. People are the most complicated entities. You never know what is really going on behind their smiling faces.

When I look back, trust always played the key role. When I applied for my first IT job in 1990s, the hiring manager said, “If you can get a PhD and make the switch from humanities to computer programming, I have no doubt you can do anything.”

The second time I made a career change I took a course and passed the certification exam. The job I applied required three years experience. The hiring manager said, “If you can become certified without any work experience, you can certainly do the job.”

In both cases, I had not a single day of experience. Still, I got the job. Because of the trust that the hiring managers had in me.

It’s a good feeling that people trust you. That’s why I have tried my best not to let people down.

1, Sep 6, 2018

However you spend your time at office, it is your time, your life, do it right

Filed under: Daughter,work — admin @ 8:29 pm

This is what I wrote to my daughter today.

There are all kinds of birds in the forest. At my previous work place, we had some people who have a shockingly negative attitude at work. They complain a lot, gossip profusely, blame others for their own mistakes, and desire to do as less as possible. One of a co-worker is even very manipulative and controlling, acting like a boss over me. They truly create a negative work environment. I say “they” because there were at a time three of them like this. Be prepared.

I remember one definition of happiness is how much control we have over our time. It is true that we want to be able to have total control of our time. Too bad not many people have this.

My attitude is this, however we spend our time, it is our time, our life and we want to make sure we do it right by not wasting time, by proving our worth of the pay, by treating others with due respect, and by leaving a solid footprint wherever we go.

1, Sep 3, 2018

One advice on how to stay focused and productive

Filed under: Daughter,Life,Time management — admin @ 1:05 pm

This is what I wrote to my daughter today.

It is better to use different devices for working and consumption.

e.g. use your expensive laptop to learn, to create, and to work; use your iPhone to consume content (read articles, social media fun, and other nonproductive activities).

If you mix up those two activities in one device, it is far too easy to get sidetracked and become non-productive.

Never use the same screen for production and consumption. Watch yourself against reading unrelated stuff and becoming non-productive when you are supposed to be productive.

Most importantly, set a timer when you are on iPhone.
Always remember it is your time and your life that you must keep an eye on.

1, Aug 30, 2018

People tend to overestimate how much time and motivation they will have

Filed under: Fun,Life — admin @ 9:03 pm

This is a too familiar situation: you initially bought some materials for some big project that you planned to do. But as time went by, all you have is the parts or an incomplete project scattered around, collecting dusts. Because you either don’t have the time for this or lose initial energy to see it through.

Perhaps it’s not good to buy supplies too far in advance. People tend to overestimate how much time and motivation they’ll have in the future.

Perhaps it takes time and perseverance to complete a big project.

1, Aug 19, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians book and movie

Filed under: Book — admin @ 2:55 pm

I have read the books by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, Rich People Problems. Yesterday I watched movie adapted from Kwan’s novels. As always, movie runs at a faster pace and with less time than novels, therefore it gives much less details than books.

The main thing is: the central theme shifts when it is adapted to movie. The movie is more on the cultural conflict between east and west.

Family always comes first in the east and individuals need to make sacrifice for their family, while in west as represented by Rachel Chu and Nick Young, individual passion and happiness take precedence over family. Of course, in the end the western value prevails.

The novels are more like a satire on the shallow rich, materialistic, and snobbish Asians than east-west cultural conflict.

To my surprise, I found out today that this movie even makes it to Time cover story. I have no doubt that Crazy Rich Asians is about to elevate the images of Asians, much faster than anything else.

What can we say about movie and culture? Movie uses visual images to convey messages. Never underestimate the power of images as here presented by these Asian movies stars. They are a much stronger force in improving Asian images than all the hard work by Asians to outperform academically. Of course, because movie stars get more publicity than Nobel price winners.

1, Aug 5, 2018

5 keys to your success in a decade

Filed under: Success — admin @ 9:07 pm

If you want success or want to get somewhere in your career, five or ten years down the road, you’d better possess the following five crucial abilities.

1. Ability to control your mood and emotion, instead of allowing yourself to be controlled by them.

2. Ability to endure pressure, resiliency. It’s not how high you can climb. It’s how deep you fall and then climb out of it that is the real strength.

3. Know the value of money, know how to earn money, not just how to spend.

4. Self-confidence. You must first believe you can make it. Never doubt yourself, no matter what others say.

5. Independence in your thinking and in life. Never allow yourself to follow others blindly.

1, Jul 21, 2018

A thought of the day: Parenting is a contract

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 9:09 pm

Parenting, at a time, is a covenant, a promise. We promise to treat each other with love and respect. If a parent loses his cool, raises his voice and treats the child with disrespect, the parent breaks the promise, which gives the child the reason to behave similarly.

If the parent asks the child to read more, he should spend as much time reading as he can. If the parent tells the child to have a goal in life, the parent should not live like an aimless loser.

Though the contract between parents and the child is unwritten, both sides should behave as similarly as possible. The key to this is: parents should first be the kind of person they want their child to be.

1, Jul 11, 2018

Remembering my father today, the summer of 1987

Filed under: Father — admin @ 12:51 am

I remember the date July 11, 1987 when my father left us. But only this year I realize that he left in a summer. Perhaps because it has been very hot this year.

On this day, as I have done many times in the past, I tried to gather some flowers for him. This year when I thought of summer, I would like very much to share with him some summer scene, green grass and wild flowers under the blue sky. I wish he could see this lovely scene. I wish… so many of my wishes and so many words about what I have been doing. I hardly know where to begin.

In short, for me my father has always embodied the best qualities of man. I am still trying to live up to this model of mine.

Each year when I go back to China, I ask my mother to tell me about my father. I will do more of this next year.

1, May 19, 2018

Writing is Always a Means to an End

Filed under: Writing — admin @ 8:20 pm

There exists a widely held misunderstanding among Chinese parents. That is, writing is for those majoring in humanities. It is not as important as STEM majors when, in reality, one’s emotional intelligence (EQ) is closely related to one’s writing skill.

The good thing is you can acquire a high level of EQ through proper training. And writing is the most effective ways of improving one’s EQ. Writing involves the following abilities:

(1) Ability to imagine
(2) Ability to create
(3) Ability to put yourself in other’s shoes.
(4) Ability to put in words your thoughts and feelings. If you find it difficult to write, it is often because you have not completed the task of good thinking
(5) Ability to think critically
(6) Ability to reflect upon your own life
(7) Ability to discover and systematize your findings
(8) Ability to observe and see what others can’t see
(9) Ability to collect and process raw materials.
(10) Ability to understand humans feelings and thoughts, the feeling of loneliness, of helplessness, of pride, of despair, of triumph…
etc.

For example, a child is asked to write a story, using the third person view, about the conflict between a teenager and his single-parent mother. He will not only describe what is going on between them, their dialogues and all the spoken words, but also go beneath the surface to narrate the goings-on inside each of them, that is, the unspoken inner activities, the misunderstanding between them. This writing exercise will help the child see things from parents’ perspective. Of course, parents will benefit from this exercise, too.

Regardless what your child will major in the future, he will inevitably need to express his thought or communicate with others clearly and logically. He won’t go far without a good written communication skill.

Another example, a scientific paper will be more effective and well accepted if it is well written. It is no exaggeration, a well-written paper can make or break in one’s career path.

One’s IQ is relatively stable when comparing to EQ. Therefore, it is a rather effective way of self-improvement when we make efforts to increase our EQ. Unfortunately, the training of one’s EQ is often neglected.

Among reasons for this neglect are:
(1) It takes a long time to raise one’s writing skill and EQ.
(2) Unlike math class, it is difficult to quantify the results of writing training and efforts on developing one’s EQ.
(3) Most importantly, writing and one’s EQ do not see relevant when it comes to college application.

Education is not a sprint. It is a marathon. If parents and their children cannot see beyond their immediate gains and losses, they will most likely lose the battle of life in the long run. Therefore, we should devote more time on sharpening our writing skills and developing our EQ, so that the accumulation of those little quantitative gains will eventually yield a qualitative leap.

Keep in mind, writing is always a means to an end. The end gain will be bigger than life when you look back.

1, May 13, 2018

What Motherhood means?

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 6:54 pm

I wrote this to a first time mom. This is also to all mothers.

1, May 11, 2018

Life would be easy, if parents set rules from very beginning

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 9:37 pm

When I talked to my mom over wechat today, she told me an interesting story.

My youngest sister keeps a cat. She trained the cat to pee and poop outside her apartment. Every morning she would take the cat out and bring him in after he’s done using restroom outside. So the cat now never mess up indoors.

On the other hand, my sister has a neighbor who has a pet dog. It was a tiny puppy when they first got it. From very beginning, they trained the puppy to use restroom at a certain spot inside their apartment. Now the puppy has grown up. But it refuses to pee or poop outside when they take it out walking. It insists on using its assigned spot at home.

My mom comments, “It’s all a matter of setting rules from very beginning. So is it with human babies.” Very true!

1, Apr 29, 2018

You don’t have to be perfect now, you just need to do it each day.

Filed under: Daughter,Life — admin @ 1:24 pm

This is what my daughter told me yesterday when I talked to her. While we were talking about daily exercise, my daughter asked me how many pull-ups I could do now. I said I had not started yet. “It’s so hard.” This is when she said this,

“You don’t have to be perfect now, you just need to do it each day.”

I kept thinking about it even day after it. It is so true, as with many other things in life. If we wait till we can do a perfect one, it will take a hugely long time to get there. That is, if we ever get there at all. Chances are we might never.

Life is too short for waiting. We just need to start doing what we plan to do now. This very moment is the only moment we have. It will be behind us before we grab it. Just do it now.

1, Mar 27, 2018

Talking to a college graduate about self-improvement

Filed under: Career,Daughter — admin @ 1:56 pm

Happy Birthday, my beloved daughter! Today is her birthday.

You will need to have a long-term view, like five years or a decade down the road. With the advance and wide application of AI and computing technology, job market promises to be changing more rapidly than we can imagine. It’s hard for us to predict what this market will look like in ten or twenty years.

At present you can do at least one thing and that can put you in a favorable position in the age of rapid change. That is to develop an open mindset, believing that nothing is fixed, that everything is in the process of changing, including you. Prepare yourself for and embrace the incoming change.

Take for example the girl who worked in customer experience section at my son’s company. She has a bachelor and a master degree. If you hold a narrow view about learning, growing and self-improvement, you would think that you cannot learn anything with an English degree doing customer service work.

But with an open mindset, you will realize that your growth and development involve not just skills but also in term of character-building, problem-solving, patience, empathy, and many other qualities which will help you in the long run.

The key is be aware of your surroundings and never miss an opportunity to grow and develop as a person.

1, Mar 26, 2018

How to Curb children’s desire to buy and buy

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 11:42 am

Both of my children have moved to their own respective apartments since they left home for college. My son moved to NYC in 2011. I don’t know how many times he and his girlfriend have moved within that area. Each time they move, my son is keenly aware of the burdensome piles of things they have bought and accumulated over the years. Same experience with my daughter.

So I keep telling them, “Be careful when you buy and bring in. Anything you buy takes not only your money but also your time and space which are not unlimited.”

This is something that I should have taught them when they were little. I don’t think I have done a good job in this regard.

I remember a saying: anything you bring back home loses its value. This is especially true with toys for children. My son always remembered what toys the stores had that he didn’t.

Perhaps I should have taught him that our resources and the space were limited. Perhaps I should have told him to enjoy what he had instead of thinking about what he didn’t have.

I am not sure which trick would work for young children. But if I had a chance to start all over, I would do the following.

(1) Give the child small space for himself, so that he doesn’t have room for too much stuff.
(2) Insist on having the child putting in order his own toys and restrict toy to his room only.
(3) Share with him the experience of those who cannot afford even food on the table.
(4) Involve the child with family budget.

1, Mar 24, 2018

Don’t make your child a victim of your expectations

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 9:28 pm

“I expect you to pass all the courses this semester. I won’t accept any fail.” Recently I heard this from one parent. This reminds me of so many times when parents tell their children, “I expect you to …” I myself was not free from this until my daughter was in high school.

First of all, in the long run, it will benefit children more if parents encourage children to have their own expectations of themselves. Instead of saying “I expect you to,” parents encourage children to think this way.
—“What do you expect to get this semester?”
—“What do you expect to accomplish this year?”
—“What do you want to do with your life?”

By shifting emphasis to children, parents are saying to them, “You own yourself an expectation. What really matters is your expectation of you and not mine. What is it that you want to become?” Of course, by the time you say all this, children already internalize your expectations.

Secondly, it would be nice if parental expectation coincides with that of children’s. Otherwise, it will be too burdensome and unfair to the children that they carry on their lives trying to live up to parents’ expectations, as if they didn’t have their own.

Make no mistake. Parents’ expectations are important since they support children financially. But if parents insist on their expectations all the time, regardless of children’s interests, dreams and even children’s resistance, parents are trying to make their children victims of their expectations. Nothing less than this.

A sensible alternative to always telling children what you expect is to encourage and consider what the child expects of himself.

Don’t punish your child with your rules

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 12:38 pm

Initially parents set the rules for their children, regardless they like it or not. Because parents believe these rules are good for the children, like rules regarding their sleeping time or TV or cellphone or game time.

The children are normally not thrilled about any rules imposed on them. Who would be? They might feel even less thrilled if rules are enforced by certain punishment for violation that you define. Rules are necessary, but it will make a huge difference if punishment does not come from you.

Instead of telling your child the consequence of breaking the rules you set, you ask your child what the consequence would be, that is, inviting your child to come up with his own punishment. Right. He knows clearly what punishment he should get. He will be really thrilled and harboring no trace of resentment if you are receptive and lenient toward his version of punishment.

E.g. if the child says “No TV for a week,” you would say, “That’s too harsh. How about 6 days?”
This is how you hand over to your child the punishment for violating your rules. And make him a happy one at the same time.

1, Mar 19, 2018

The work ethic that we all should have…

Filed under: work — admin @ 2:52 pm

This is what I learned from my son last weekend. He has to let go one employee, which is the toughest job of all.

This employee works in customer experience section. The company paid her handsomely considering her lack of experience and the living expense in NYC. In her late 20s she got her first job from my son’s company.

I learned that she got both bachelor and master degrees in English. The job seemed ill-fit for her. Still, a paycheck is better than without. No one can live on an empty stomach for long. What she could do is to apply for other fitting jobs while working for an ill-fitting one.

But I heard that she hated the job and was not subtle about it. Plus she didn’t treat customers professionally, which damaged the company’s reputation. And her negative attitude became contagious at work place. Something got to be done in this case. This is how she became out of job at age 30.

I thought of my experience at my last post. I never really liked doing what I had to do most of the time. And the high-IQ-low-EQ manager was no better than a nightmare. Still smile everyday and no complaint. I did an excellent job for what I got paid and had never stopped self-enriching and looking for other opportunities while holding down my paychecks.

I think people should have this work ethic. The bottom line is hold dearly to your paycheck until you find a better replacement.

1, Mar 18, 2018

Aristotle: Moral goodness, rationality, choice and habit

Filed under: Happiness,Reading — admin @ 10:06 pm

Recently I was trying to read Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle. To be honest, it’s not a fun read. There are many concepts tossing around, like choice, deliberation, rational, voluntary and involuntary, teleology, “rational animals,” which means us humans.

First of all, humans are not rational all the time. Just look at all these mass shootings in the US. How can they be rational when they take drugs, knowing the danger and the damage of addiction? Why don’t they always make the right choice, like no addiction to smoking, alcohol, drug, and even smartphone?

Secondly, even if we voluntarily make choices, not all choices are made based on rational thinking. Often we knowingly make undesirable choices because we got into the habit of doing it and we are more creatures of habit than of rationality.

Lastly, it is really an illusion to believe that we are rational, as if we knew what we should do and always choose wisely when we are fully aware of the consequence of our choice. The harsh fact is we cannot be trusted to do the right thing all the time.

I believe very often in our daily life we follow our habit and fall into our default choice, whatever that happens to be. So it seems to me the key to our happiness is to form the habit of making right choices.

1, Mar 15, 2018

Let the children decide as early as possible…

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 9:52 pm

On Monday, 3/12, I went to a friend’s house where her daughter gave birth to a baby boy about two weeks ago. The daughter mentioned one event that her friend told her.

What happened was her child wanted to do something that was not allowed. The mother said, “You will not watch TV for a week if you do it again.” The child never did it from then on.

It is a small event happened to a small child. However I would not recommend this parenting style. Because I doubt if the same method would work to a bigger child or dealing with more troublesome event. Plus the child needs to learn to make decision, to choose the right option by themselves.

From early on, in fact, as early as possible, instead of deciding for the children, parents should encourage children to make their own decisions. Let’s call it giving them the right to choose and the chance to be responsible for the consequence of their choices.

In situation like this, parent should let the child decide the consequence or the punishment for doing thing that’s not allowed. If you allow the child to make decision, to have choices, he will learn, with your help, how to choose among various options and the consequences associated with his choice.

I think of many Chinese parents who tend to decide on the children’s behalf, so much so that the children either become dependent on the parents when it comes to making decisions or make wrong decisions later in life because they have not learned how to make decisions when they were at home.

1, Mar 13, 2018

Children pressure on parents

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 7:26 pm

Yesterday I went to a friend’s house to see her brand new grand-baby. Today she told me the boy’s height was “100 percentile rank.” He must be the highest in the range, though I don’t think one can have the perfect 100 percentile.

“He will be a tall boy,” I said.
“Looks like it. When he grows up, we will be small old men and women,” she said.

It doesn’t sound upbeat. So I said, “Don’t think about it now. Enjoy the present. We will be lucky to be around when he grows up.”

Even better. I told her if you think you have a wonderful grand-baby, don’t you think the baby deserves a wonderful grandmother? Think about what kind of grandma you want to be for this baby? Of course you will be a great grandma! But in what way? I don’t think he will be in want of any material things. Here’s the niche that you can fill in — you are the key to his being bilingual [given the fact that the baby’s father is an American]…

This reminds me of the time when my daughter told me about her friend who was an inspiration to her. I said to her, “Don’t you feel you want to do something to prove you are as worthy a friend to her as she to you?”

Perhaps we all feel this way when we are among good friends. Call it peer pressure. But I don’t know how many parents or grandparents ever feel the pressure to be equally great when they are holding a great baby.

1, Mar 9, 2018

Morality is a shared experience

Filed under: _Today I learn... — admin @ 12:40 pm

Morality is a shared experience. I learned of this before but didn’t give it much thought. I used to think that morality existed everywhere, alone or in a group. This is true, but we behave morally only after we have internalized the socially defined moral rules.

This shared experience came back to me when I prepared for my trip home, when I came back and recalled how I felt at home, when I said nice things to people and see their happy reactions, or when I tried to have kind thoughts toward those whom by default I tend to think negatively. I realize I have intentionally tried to make others happy. Because I feel happy when I make others happy. I feel miserable if I do the opposite.

We have to make others happy if we want happiness ourselves. It seems a paradox, though it is not. Because morality is a shared experience of all social beings.

Be very careful and selective when purchasing

Filed under: _Today I learn... — admin @ 11:52 am

While I was in China, my folks there carried out spring cleaning as part of preparations for Spring Festival. Part of the cleaning involved throwing away unwanted stuffs.

Boy, that’s not an easy task. My youngest sister has stuff crowded here and there. One’s space is limited but what you can buy and bring in is unlimited. Once brought indoor, they are hard to be disposed.

Lesson learned: be very careful and selective when purchasing. They will cost you not only money but time to clean and dispose.

For any gain, you have to initiate the effort

Filed under: _Today I learn... — admin @ 11:44 am

Yesterday at Beijing airport, as people started boarding, I checked my boarding pass to see which group I belonged to, group 4, seat 44B, middle.

I felt dreadful at the thought of the long trip sandwiched in between. So I approached a girl working at the desk, asking if it was possible for me to change to an aisle seat because I needed to use restroom frequently. This is true. I normally drink plenty of water on the flight.

She checked and reassigned me to 38C. It turned out to be a bigger favor than I asked. The seats from 38A to 38C were all empty, so that I was able to lie down most of the trip from Beijing to Chicago. No more leg sore, feet swollen, and back pain from long sitting. Good thing I asked.

Lesson learned: for any gain, you have to initiate the effort. Nothing good will come to your way without your asking for it.

1, Jan 20, 2018

Education is a lifelong pursuit

Filed under: Learning,Life — admin @ 11:05 pm

Today my daughter asked me, “Are you upset about the re-education? Going to the countryside at age 18.” I told her, “Not really.”

“I think it made me value the opportunity to go back to school years later. Also it made me tougher and able to undertake hardships.

When looking back, I wish I had some proper guidance when I was 18 years old. I was told to get re-education in the countryside, but I didn’t see the good qualities that I was supposed to learn, because I had no idea what to learn and what education really meant.

If you were to spend a year or two in the countryside now, I think I could give you better advice than what I received. At that time my definition of education was very narrow.

There is no such thing as re-education. Education is supposed to last lifetime and knows no restriction regarding when and where. For those with an open mind, they educate themselves wherever and whenever they find themselves.”

Learning without teachers and classroom. Learning anywhere, anytime. This is what I want to share with my daughter now.

1, Jan 18, 2018

Keep a log tracking how you spend your time

Filed under: Daughter,Parenting 2018 — admin @ 1:47 pm

This is what I write to my daughter today.

“You want to get more things done. You want to get a paid job. You want to get more skills. You want to be on your own. Since you got nobody but yourself to watch over your shoulder, you really need some mechanism to meet your goals.

I suggest this
(1) keep a log to track how you spend your time. You must be honest with yourself as we all must. If you spend one-third of your time on your cellphone, it is good for you to admit your addiction to whatever you’re on and you must wean it off. HONESTY is the key.

(2) When you were home for holiday, you bought something from online shopping and also tried to get something from second-hand stores. I hope you have stopped online browsing by now. This is what I suggest: every time you do so, associate spending money with making money.

(3) Try to get into the habit of asking yourself to learn something new each day, each week, each month, and each year. I believe this is a better habit than spending time on your cellphone.

You will soon be 23 years old. I spend time thinking about your situation and writing to you, all because I care and I know you are not happy with your current situation and you eagerly want to see a big change. I want you to be happy. And you want to be happy, too. So please do the right thing for yourself.”

1, Jan 17, 2018

Lady Bird, teenage girls, challenges to parents

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 8:40 pm

Today I read this article on Time magazine, “Lady Bird: the pains of being pure at heart,” by Stephanie Zacharek. At some point it reminds me of my daughter when she was in high school, and some of my friends’ daughters.

“At one point, Saoirse Ronan, as disgruntled high school senior Christine, begs her mother, Laurie Metcalf’s Marion, for a magazine at the supermarket: “It’s only $3! I’m having a bad week!” Marion brushes her off, and it could be the usual mom move of just saying no–until she reaches the cash register and you realize that this respectable-looking suburban woman can barely cover the family groceries.

…Metcalf’s face betrays nothing so obvious as frustration or anxiety. Instead, it’s as if every molecule of her body has been, out of necessity, trained to count money. Meanwhile, when you’re a teenage girl wanting a magazine–so you can look at makeup ads, or pictures of rock stars, or fashion spreads featuring clothes you can’t afford but want to ogle anyway–it it among the world’s most straightforward, achievable desires. This measly dream costs $3, and Christine’s mother won’t–can’t–let her have it.”

I’m not here to make any judgment on either the mother or the daughter. I see myself as the mother, the parent and can see the same challenge facing thousands of parents like me.

On the one hand, we want our teenage children to be happy, healthy and ready for their life ahead, and we don’t want to upset them by saying no to them.

On the other hand, I can definitely understand the need to say no to this trivial thing when a mother can “barely cover the family groceries.” Also I can see a capricious teenager would want something else tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. There’s always something new that she wants everyday. Obviously, $3 magazine will make her happy for long, won’t buy her appreciation, won’t buy peace and won’t make us happy. In fact, it will do more damage than help in the long run.

If I had a chance to start all over again, I would teach my children before they turn teen about finance and the need to save for the rainy days and for their college expenses. I would ask them to save for their own expenses.

I would share my financial worries with them, trying to win their sympathy and understanding. With this understanding, they would be less selfish and would be willing to make sacrifice for the whole family. I would teach them the value of learning, the need to eye on the bigger prize, and focusing on the important things at this point of life, etc.

I can’t say I will be better off with this preparations. But I will keep trying and talking and making sense with the teenage children, and always keep in mind they won’t be teen forever.

Good luck, parents of teenagers!

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