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

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.

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