I have been wondering why I seem happier than some people that I met. Now I found the answer from this article, “The 5 Personality Traits That Make for a Better Life” Not surprise that I find myself high on all five traits.
Here are the five traits from the article:
2. Low withdrawal
5. Intellectual curiosity
Enthusiasm: This is a trait defined by such phrases as “has a lot of fun” and “laughs a lot,” and so it is not surprising that the human golden retrievers who score high in enthusiasm would also report leading more enjoyable lives. This aspect of personality falls under extroversion, and as such, it also has to do with how you relate to others: enthusiastic people tend to make friends easily, and they warm up quickly to others. They also tend to get carried away by their excitement.
Low withdrawal: This is rather inelegantly named, as it’s primarily defined by what it isn’t. Withdrawal is an aspect of neuroticism, and people who are high in this trait have an uneasy relationship with themselves — they are easily embarrassed, easily overwhelmed, and easily discouraged. A low score in this trait makes for a better life (which, of course, makes a lot of sense).
Industriousness: Here’s where this new paper starts getting interesting, particularly for those of us who find ourselves drawn to the life-hacker-y corners of the internet. According to this paper, the getting-shit-done personality also tends to be linked to greater well-being. Industriousness is a side of conscientiousness, and it’s marked by a tendency toward planning ahead, working hard, and finishing what you start, without wasting time or getting distracted in the process. Leave me to my lists; I am happiest with them.
Compassion: This is an aspect of agreeableness, and it describes the sort of person who is interested in other people’s lives and problems, and who likes to do little acts of kindness for loved ones and strangers alike. An interest in others’ well-being seems to spell good things for your own. Who knew?
Intellectual curiosity: This is a trait defined by a love of complex problems, difficult books, and meandering philosophical conversations. People with intellectual curiosity — a facet of openness in the original Big Five — are quick learners and thinkers, with rich vocabularies and the capacity to handle high volumes of information at once. Curiosity about the world around you turns out to predict your happiness within it.
On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. H. L. Mencken
It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.
It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.
In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
Before a man speaks it is always safe to assume that he is a fool. After he speaks, it is seldom necessary to assume it.
Communism, like any other revealed religion, is largely made up of prophecies.
To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia – to mistake an ordinary young woman for a goddess.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
A bad man is the sort who weeps every time he speaks of a good woman.
We know being nice ourselves is very crucial to maintain good relationships in life. In case, you might ask what I mean by being nice, here are some examples of being nice.
(1) Never say hurting words.
(2) Never raise your voice even in anger or madness
(3) Respect all
(4) Don’t hold a grudge against anyone
(5) Be considerate of others
(6) Speak out calmly when you are upset.
I am thinking of my father when I make this list. He was all of them except the last one. He kept it all to himself when he was upset or felt hurt because he’d rather hurt himself than hurting others. That’s why he died young 29 years ago.
Some people may say, “I have to shout it out when somebody makes me mad.” Here are three quick facts.
First, the world abounds with people who are for some unknown reason either unfriendly or hostile by nature. Their life mission might be out to upset others and trigger mad reactions. This much you cannot control and do not have to worry about.
Second, nothing can be resolved by shouting. Instead, losing your cool only result in making things worse.
Third, you have to learn anger management so that you can express yourself nicely when you are upset. Angry people cannot be happy themselves and cannot make others happy.
Here’s one trick about anger management. It works for people of all ages, very basic and nothing fancy. When you are angry or mad, tell yourself, time to take a deep breath and count. Count slowly until you know you have calmed down, easy and effective. It’s not difficult to do it if you get into the habit of doing it. We are all product of our habit.
Don’t expect other people to be nice all the time. Don’t expect others not to provoke you. Don’t find excuses for yourself, like I have a bad temper, etc. Don’t blame others for your bad behavior.
Being nice is both easy and difficult. It is easy if you internalize it and have your temper or rather bad temper under control. Difficult if you let go yourself without self-discipline.
Here’s the good news. It’s easy to teach your child to be nice when you start young. To do that, a parent need to present himself as a living example of a nice person.
Start teaching your children to be nice persons if you wish them a happy life.
Here’s something that parents seldom talk about when their children are young. Consider this question– what is the ultimate thing that you want your child to have in life? A happy life, right? Next, what is the key to a happy life? Wealth? Success? Fame? None of them. Many studies have confirmed this one — a good relationship. And I totally concur with it.
Yes, you are right. Having and maintaining a good relationship is something parents seldom or never talk about to their children. How do you maintain a good relationship? Easy. Just do one thing: Be a nice person yourself. Do parents often tell their children how to be nice persons? From my limited observation, I don’t think so. Probably because most parents assume their children are nice already. Parents may ask, why do we need to teach our children to be nice when they are as perfect as angels? Is it really?
Here’s the cognitive trap that parents don’t realize. A good son and a good husband are two totally different things. A filial child does not automatically make a loving spouse. A parent might praise a bold act of his child while others might see the same act as being brazenly impolite and void of proper upbringing. Like one person that I know of, he is considered by his parent as a perfect man but is seen by others as just the opposite. As the old saying goes, love is blind. It is especially true when it comes to parental love.
That’s why parents ignore teaching their “perfect angels” to be nice persons.
To be continued…
(1) Clean your room or house. The old stuffs can remind you of the past which is here no more. It can only aggravate your sadness. The best thing to do is to leave the place that is associated with the past and get into a place totally new and unrelated.
(2) Look at old pictures. In fact, stay away from anything that is associated with the past. Don’t do this unless you think you are not depressed enough.
(3) Keep everything to yourself. Instead, find some outlets, like sharing your feeling with your friends or someone who faces similar situation. A great camaraderie is very essential here.
(4) Lock yourself in your room. The isolation only serves to make you more focus on your sad sorry existence, which is suicidal. Don’t do that.
(5) Writing can be cathartic and therapeutic to some people, but essentially writing is a lonely act. It sometimes makes me feel worse. If you are like me, stay away from writing until you think you feel better.
I will get back to this later with some explanation.
1. Happiness is not defined by the size of your house but by the sweetness of the laughter in the house.
2. It is not demonstrated by the luxury car that you drive but by the fact that you drive home safely.
3. Your abundant savings in the bank won’t bring you happiness. Instead, your freedom to do what you please every day is what makes you happy.
4. It is not the beauty but the beautiful smile on the face of your loved one that makes you happy.
5. Being in a high position won’t make you happy. Being praised as a good person wherever you go makes you happy.
6. Being free from illness and disaster makes you happier than simply being well-fed and well-clothed.
7. Happy is he who receives encouragement when in defeat, not he who is loudly applauded in victory.
8. Happiness does not come from the too-often heard sweet talks. Instead, it is when you are sad and weeping, someone tells you, “That’s okay. I am here.”
I will translate this later.
Again, I will translate this later, that is, when I have time.
Don’t be a one-up guy because a person who always tries to one up others is not happy either in a group or with others or in his family. This is the definition from urban dictionary on one-up guy—
“A guy who always has to one-up everything anyone says or does. If you say you ran a 5 minute mile, he ran a 4 minute mile. If you say you went swimming this weekend, he’ll tell you he’s a certified lifeguard and swims every weekend. If you say you made coffee this morning, one-up guy will tell you that he grew, harvested, roasted, ground, and brewed his coffee. Usually the one-up explanations are long-winded, boring, and self-serving. Most of the one-up explanations are probably lies.
“e.g. I was telling him about my ski trip to Taos. One-up guy over there spent 20 minutes talking about how he used to be a ski instructor in Taos. I hate one-up guy.”
The bottom line is this:
(1) A one up guy tries to show he is better than or superior over others.
(2) Why? Because a one up guy is insecure. He always feels the need to impress others with his superiority and the need to make people like him or accept him as being the best.
(3) The fact is nobody is stupid and nobody likes one up guy. Consequently, the more one tries to impress others, the more people find him annoying, see through him, dislike him, and the more miserable this one up guy is.
(4) For your own happiness, don’t even try to one up anyone but yourself. The ultimate source of your happiness is this: you impress yourself with your own achievements.
Get it? Yeah, get your happiness from within, not from outside!
This is a rough translation of last post.
(1) Be in good health
(2) Have a realistic goal
(3) Have self-respect
(4) Have self-control over one’s emotion
(5) Be optimistic
(6) Be generous and forgiving towards others
(7) Have a circle of friends
(8) Get along well with others, being able to integrate in a team
(9) Have a challenging job and proper pastime
(10) Belong to a team or be aware of the group you belong to
No. 6, 7, 8, and 10 talk about our relationship with others. As social beings, our ability to be comfortable with others is essential to our happiness.
I am at my office right now. Hang on there. I am going to translate this in my next post.
When I cleaned my old documents lately, I dug out an email that I sent to a friend of mine on 3/11/1999. I remember she just gave up her teaching job in order to join her husband. She was feeling rather depressed when she couldn’t find another teaching job in her new home. Here’s part of what I wrote to her,
“Glad to talk to you yesterday, though we didn’t finish what we were talking about…
I feel deeply that it’s difficult for us Chinese in America to be happy. We work extremely hard and we are not afraid of hardships. We live comfortably, yet, we are not as happy as we should be and we feel depressed easily. Why? …
1. We never have a sense of home here. It seems any place can be home for us, but we cannot form emotional attachments to any place, no matter how long we live there… People call it ‘sense of rootlessness.’
2. We are cut off from our family, the one we were born into, where we are related by blood and, cut off from an important source of social and emotional support…
3. Because of this, we rely heavily on our small family, the one formed by marriage. This form of family is the weakest one in a sense, the most easily broken one, considering one in two marriages in America ends up in divorce, and thus the least reliable one. We expect greatly from this small family. Yet, no matter how much we try, we still don’t feel happy.
4. Perhaps we can never feel as happy as we wish just from our small family. Perhaps it is still not enough to make us happy when we are so isolated socially and sometimes emotionally… Or perhaps the real happiness is found within each of us, no matter where we are, … and we shouldn’t expect it from outside…”
This friend of mine doesn’t have children. I further told her that “I have two lovely children who are very much attached to me and are the greatest sources of happiness. So I feel completely blessed and happy when I’m with my little ones… I’m not thinking of anything else, just enjoy what I have now. Let future takes care of itself.” I probably shouldn’t tell her this when I already knew how much she longed to have a child.
I ended the email with these words for her–
–We come to this earth to enjoy, not to suffer.
–Enjoy to the fullest what we have today, because we only have one life to live.
–Life is so short that we don’t even have enough time to enjoy. Why waste time feeling depressed.”
I can’t believe I wrote this 14 years ago and I still need to be reminded of these words today! Also, I have found how true these words are from my experience with other Chinese living in America.
On 4/17, I received an email from a friend of mine, who asked me “Can you give me your he-xin-jia-zhi-guan (core value) with a limited words?”
Never mind why he asked this and why it has to be “with a limited words” and I know I have the tendency to get lengthy. I wrote the following,
For myself, do the right thing, do my best and have a goal to live by every day, enjoy what I have at the moment.
Towards others, be nice and respect human beings for their intrinsic value.
I have tried to live with less prejudice but it’s hard to be free from it.
The only justification for them is, they make me happy. Indeed, do the right thing is the only way that will leave me happy. I will be tortured and unhappy by my own wrongdoings.
During the last weekend of March, I met this article while I was on the internet “Where Are the Country’s Least Happy and Healthy Americans? Of course, I was curious to know who are the happiest and least happy Americans.
As you have probably guessed, Hawaii is the happiest of all! The opposite to Hawaii is what they term “Sadness Belt,” which means those least happy states are all clustered in Central and Southern Appalachia, and the region’s neighboring states, with West Virginia (50) and Kentucky (49) being the saddest two states for the fourth year in a row.
The Well-Being Index compiles surveys in six categories:
1. Life Evaluation: how a person’s current life compares with their expectations
2. Emotional Health: deals with the respondent’s experiences and feelings on a given day
3. Physical Health: encompasses diseases, physical pain, sick days, body-mass index, etc.
4. Healthy Behavior: addresses both positive behaviors (i.e. exercise) and negative (i.e. smoking)
5. Work Environment: questions for workers on job satisfaction, treatment from superiors, etc.
6. Basic Access: includes access to food, housing, healthcare, etc.
There is no doubt that states that registered lowest in economy and education also show as lowest in happiness.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I like this quote. When I read about positive psychology, it seems positive psychologists are confirming that assessment. Although some of our temperament might be genetic, a large percentage is under our control. In short, our happiness is up to us.
Positive psychology helps us use our strengths and heighten our awareness to develop happiness and fulfillment. It promises to help us identify our unique strong points.
The role of gratitude is also very important in making us feel happy. Another key word is “mindfulness,” the ability to live fully in the moment without judgment.
Negative thoughts are the obstacles to happiness that we should try to sidestep. Accumulate and practice your happiness-building strategies for staying “in the flow.” and savor the treasures in life, both big and small at all moments.
Why are so many people unhappy now, even with modern conveniences? Aristotle believes it is because they confuse “pleasure” for “happiness.”
Aristotle’s “Pleasure” is more like what we call today “immediate gratification.” Pleasure is associated with the physical or bodily part. “Happiness” is the opposite of that, more spiritual part. It is more about individual growth with a long term goal to reach.
Life always has ups and downs, not an all the way smooth sailing. We gain insights while growing emotionally and intellectually as we savor through ups and downs in our lives.
Aristotle believed living and realizing your fullest potential as a human is the highest form of true happiness.
Isn’t that a wonderful thought and, of course, a very insightful one, too.
Here’s another quote from Aristotle:
“We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts not breaths; in feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.”
Live in deeds, not in years! Nothing is more insightful than this on the essence of our living. We don’t just live through our years without accomplishing any deeds. This reminds me of many famous persons, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and facebook founder. Their names are always associated with the achievements of their life: Microsoft, Apple products, and facebook.
I also think of my son who gave up his job with a comfortable pay and lifestyle in order to concentrate on producing something that is more long-lasting than what he enjoys at the moment.
I will continue tomorrow along the same line of thought.
Not long ago, I read this article from Psychology Today–“A Happiness Tip From Aristotle: Do you know the difference between pleasure vs. happiness?” by Karen Salmansohn, 2/7/2010. Here’s what she has to say.
Quickie Question: If you could live 10 years of your life in total bliss – with NO pain – but in the end, not remember any of it – would you do it? According to Aristotle – the answer should be NO.
Aristotle says true happiness comes from gaining insight and growing into your best possible self. Otherwise all you’re having is immediate gratification pleasure – which is fleeting and doesnt grow you as a person.
In a way the above scenario is a description of someone who does crack or drinks into oblivion. At the time it feels like you’re avoiding pain and seeking bliss – but in longterm you’re NOT really enjoying real life — with life’s inevitable ebbs and flows which give you needed insights and exciting experiences which grow you and let you know more about who you are and what you love and who you truly love!
That’s interesting enough for today. I will continue on the topic and Aristotle tomorrow.
Last weekend, I was whining about not being able to take my weekend walk in the morning because of snowy ground and I felt like being under house arrest, unable to go out taking in fresh air. Then by accident, I read an article “The 25 Most Miserable Places in the World,” by Lisa Mahapatra. Boy, that is really miserable!
Here’s the list of the 25 Most Miserable Places in the World
25. Mali, Misery index score: 36.5;
24. Mauritania, Misery index score: 37
23. Iran, Misery index score: 39.1
22. Maldives, Misery index score: 40.8
21. Gaza Strip, Misery index score: 43.5
20. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Misery index score: 45.5
19. Yemen, Misery index score: 46.4
18. Haiti, Misery index score: 46.5
17. Swaziland, Misery index score: 48.4
16. Afghanistan, Misery index score: 48.8
15. Marshall Islands, Misery index score: 48.9
14. Senegal, Misery index score: 49.5
13. Kenya, Misery index score: 50.1
12. Lesotho, Misery index score: 51.1
11. Sudan, Misery index score: 51.5
10. Syria, Misery index score: 51.7
9. Kosovo, Misery index score: 53.6
8. Nepal, Misery index score: 54.3
7. Namibia, Misery index score: 57
6. Djibouti, Misery index score: 63.3
5. Turkmenistan, Misery index score: 70.5
4. Belarus, Misery index score: 71
3. Burkina Faso, Misery index score: 81.5
2. Liberia, Misery index score: 90.5
1. Zimbabwe, Misery index score: 103.3
After reading through the stories of their miserable existence, I feel like on the top of the world. I guess we need to read about other people’s sad stories to count our blessings.
I read an interesting article on 12/27/2012 –“Why Latin Americans top the happiness rankings” by Rich Basas.
A global index on happiness shows several Latin American countries topping the list. The report cites centrality of family as a key reason. Experts offered many explanations for the results.
(1) The ability of Latin Americans to look beyond immediate problems and live life day-by-day, despite what is going on externally.
(2) Constant problems make people adapt and live positively.
(3) One explanation points to the cultural aspects that teach Latin Americans to keep a positive face on things, even if there are personal problems.
I would go with the explanation that centrality of family is the key reason for their high level of happiness. We know Hispanic culture is very much family-centered one, which must be a healthy contributor.
The interesting part is very often people associate happiness with the amount of wealth they possess. Obviously it is not so with Latin Americans.
A friend of mine sent me this song a few weeks ago. Since then, I have been listening to it whenever possible because it is so beautiful and it has stuck in the back of my mind. I have this tendency, that is, when I am exposed to either audio or video beauty, I tend to forget all the unpleasant things around, reach to a surreal stage and see the bright sky again. Here’s the lyric of the song. You have to listen to it to appreciate the song.
Some say love it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love it is a flower
And you it’s only seed
It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying
That never learns to live
Not long ago, I learned that my sister’s son was going to buy an ipad for his girlfriend using his hard-earned delivery money, his first paid job. I thought of Liang Jizhang’s note to his son, especially those underlined words. I feel unspeakably sad as young people today fail to understand that the only people who truly and unselfishly love them are their parents, who not only give their lives, raised them up, but also have sacrificed so much time and resources for their happiness. It is sad that these young people forget their parents when they get their first paycheck.
The Chinese saying “A man forgets his mother after he gets a wife” should change to “A man forgets his mother after he gets a girlfriend.”
For a long time, I cannot get over the sad feeling over it. I share with my children how I feel about this incident.
I love all these profession-sounding forbidden words, especially from Harvard Medical School, another intimidating one.
Dysthymia refers to “a long-term drone of low-grade depression that lasts for at least two years in adults or one year in children and teens.” It is not as dark as the real depression but too far away from bright color of cheerfulness.
Yet, because of its prolonged tormenting effect, it could keep you from feeling good about everything and keep you from being healthy and productive. You tend to go about your daily life without enthusiasm.
You are suffering from dysthymia if you feel your depressed mood having lingered for more than two months at a time, and you have at least two of these symptoms:
–>overeating or loss of appetite
–>insomnia or sleeping too much
–>tiredness or lack of energy
–>trouble concentrating or making decisions
–>feelings of hopelessness
Of course, with America’s super-trust of authority, Harvard Medical School suggests that you “talk with your doctor. He or she may recommend that you see a mental health professional for the most effective approach.”
I would suggest you read comic books or do something that once brings you joy and excitement or mix with some friends or seek some social gatherings of your kind or set a new goal and get yourself busy or do something good for a change like volunteer among children. Do these activities not once in a while but constantly. In fact, fill your life with anything cheerful and positive for at least a month to see the result.
During the week of 9/24, with many cloudy days and uncertainty coming from one hiring manager, I felt rather low-spirited, eager for some good news to cheer me up.
I learned one young relative of ours just changed his job and doubled his salary in China, which is not enough to change my spirit. They talked about how beautiful girls would be chasing him because of his fat paycheck, etc. I feel so selfish when I should have felt happy for him. Not really.
On Wednesday, my daughter told me she had some good news. She had a test that day. She did not know the result yet, but her teacher told her she made it to the team. That is, her grade is good enough for the competition team.
Upon hearing this, I feel a lot better now. In fact, the news did lift me up for the day.
Today is the third anniversary for my son and his girlfriend. I guess they started dating on 9/3 three years ago. My son delayed coming back because he wants to mark the day with his girlfriend.
It is indeed something to celebrate when you consider the fact that both of them were really young at that time, one being 19, the other 20, and they have moved from college to New York. After three years, they are still together! Sounds amazing.
I once wrote to my son “open communication and understanding are the key to a good relationship.”
Neither of them know if they can be in the same place next year as both plan on making some career change within the year. One might go to graduate school; the other might move out of the area. Indeed, there is no urgent need for any long term plan as both plan on change and that means so many uncertainties. Still, I wish them happy when they are together.
I can’t believe it is already September. Then again, I love September. This came from a friend of mine. I would think the message fits senior folks more than the younger ones. The message reads like this.
(1) Live a simple life: within one’s means and without being a burden to others. This calls for not having too much desire for material possession.
(2) Go with the natural flow. Don’t force yourself. The boat will straighten itself when it reaches the bridge.
(3) Happy with yourself and with what you have. Keep the child in your heart and understand the tao of the world. Let cheerfulness be your company forever.
What a cheerful one!
–Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
–Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. –Stay in touch.
—Forgive everyone for everything.
–What other people think of you is none of your business.
–However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
—Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
–Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
–The best is yet to come.
–No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
–Don’t overdo. Keep your limits.
–Your inner most is always happy. So be happy.
–Do the right thing!
–Call your family often.
–Each day do something good to others.
–Try to make at least three people smile each day.
—Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
–Don‘t have negative thoughts about things you cannot control.
–Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
—Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
–Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
–Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. This will ruin your present happiness.
–Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.
–Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
–You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
–Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
A friend of mine knows I like to collect nice words, at least like to be pampered by nice thoughts. So she often sends me something to warm my heart and soul, as if they are not warm enough. I can’t think of a nicer way to start August than presenting these nice words and thoughts here.
Tips for Better Life for 2012
–Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day. And while you walk, smile.
–Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
–Sleep for 7 hours
–Live with the 3 E‘s : Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
–Play more games.
–Read more books than you did in 2011.
–Drink plenty of water.
–Dream more while you are awake.
—Smile and laugh more.
–Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
–Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
–Make time to practice meditation, yoga, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
Continued from yesterday. The author offers some tactics on dealing with these unreasonable, crazy people. They are self-defense mechanisms. Some of them really work!
1) Minimize time with them. Minimizing your exposure to pathology goes a long, long way.
2) Keep it logical. Keep communications fact-based, using minimal details.
3) Don’t drink around them. That’s easy.
4) Focus on them in conversation. A way to avoid being the target of demeaning comments, manipulation or having your words twisted is to say as little as possible.
Offer minimal information and get them talking about themselves (if you have to be around them or talk to them, that is)—they are a far safer conversation subject than you are.
5) Give up the dream that they will one day be the person you wish they’d be. Giving up the hope and fully accepting this person for who they really are can be an unbelievable relief after what is sometimes a lifetime of wishing.
6) Stay away from topics that get you into trouble. Before going into an interaction with a difficult person, review in your mind the topics that invite attack and be proactive about avoiding them.
7) Don’t try to get them to see your point of view. Don’t try to explain yourself or try to get them to understand you and empathize with your perspective. They won’t, and you’ll just feel worse for trying.
8) Create a distraction. If you absolutely have to spend time with someone who typically upsets you, try to be around them in circumstances that offer some sort of distraction.
I love these great tips! Real lifesavers!
During the weekend of 7/14, I bumped into an article “Don’t Try to Reason with Unreasonable People — Simple strategies for dealing with mean or crazy people” by Susan Biali, M.D. I list this under happiness category because you won’t be happy if you don’t know how to deal with unreasonable yet also unavoidable people.
The title of the article looks interesting. The author presents a list of “unreasonable people,” who certainly seem capable of ruining your happiness and even life.
(1) Those you can’t have a reasonable conversation with; they somehow twist your words or totally confuse you and then tell you that you’re the one who doesn’t know how to communicate
(2) People who make subtly or overtly demeaning comments or say cutting things to you disguised as a “joke”
(3) Those that don’t respect boundaries and seem to enjoy stepping all over one after you’ve placed it
(4) The types that aren’t willing to consider your point of view or listen to your side of things (or just stare at you blankly, or laugh, or explode, when you try to explain “how you feel”)
(8) Verbal or emotional abusers (these can also range from subtle to overt)
(9) People who leave you feeling bad, sad, shaky or feeling sick in the pit of your stomach
(10) “Crazymakers,” a.k.a. people who provoke you into acting crazy or unbalanced, when your behavior across the rest of your life is proof that you’re not
(11) The excessively charming who are too good to be true and have an ulterior motive.
Life is so interesting and spicy because of these people.
We have learned that people with a religious belief are happier than those without. One of the reason for their well being is religious institution (church) that provides a support system.
Now we learn that this is true only if the society they belong to values religion highly. In very secular society like China, this may not be true.
I read this early this year. “For atheists and the growing ranks of unaffiliated individuals, these findings bode well. Scientists are now finding that secular communities of like-minded people can offer similar social support.”
The take-home message is this — it doesn’t matter whether or not you belong to a church or something similar, establishing a strong social support is the key to your level of happiness.
On 5/23, I worked on an expired patient who was 58 at the time of death, of lung cancer, with over 40 years smoking history. Like many hard-to-quit smokers, she started smoking when she was a teenager.
One of my co-workers has tried getting rid of smoking many times and still has not succeeded. I can see how hard it is for her to quit. From this I think of the long-term impact of habits on our lives.
It is very hard to change one’s habits, good or bad, once they have been formed early in one’s life. The impacts of those habits developed in our early years will reach over half a century. Hence, it is extremely important to get into good habit when a person is young. Life will be easy if you end up with many good habits and no bad ones.
Feeling good is one of the key ingredients to good health. I remember when I was in graduate school, the moment I found myself rather depressed was right after I finished a term paper or completed a big project or the end of a semester.
Here’s my list of things or occasions that make me feel bad.
1) when I feel like drifting away each day without a goal;
2) when I realize I have been busy but have not accomplished anything;
3) when I don’t know what to do with my time;
4) when I lose a competition and realize my time and efforts have yielded no result;
5) when I give up some plan but have not formulated a new one to replace it;
6) when I feel trapped in one position and see no future, no life, no way out;
7) when I feel hopeless no matter what I do;
8) when I am physically sick.
I shared with my daughter this piece right after I wrote it. She said she wholly agreed with me. Find out what makes you feel bad and make plans to avoid putting yourself in that moment.
I received this from a friend of mine in New York on 5/15/2012.
There are four things that you cannot recover. Well, not really, with the exception of the last one.
1) The stone…after the throw
2) The word…after it’s said
3) The occasion…after the loss
4) The time…after it’s gone
Did anyone ever tell you just how special you? The light that you emit might even light a star.
Did anyone ever tell you how important you make others feel? Somebody out there is smiling about love that is so real.
Did anyone ever tell you that many times when they were sad your email made them smile a bit, in fact it made them glad?
For the time you spend sending things and sharing whatever you find, there are no words to thank you, but somebody thinks you’re fine.
I believe that without a friend you are missing out a lot in life.
Last Thursday, 5/10, was my sister’s birthday. I called and wished her happy birthday. She told me she did not want to mark her birthday any more because she felt so old.
I told her not to think of what she didn’t have, in this case, her youth. Think of what she has now. Compare to those who were not lucky enough to live this long, we have to count our blessing. I told her about Andrew Breitbart who died of heart disease at age 43 and some of the patients at my work place who died in their 40s.
Sometimes, when we think of what we have, we might feel blessed and content. And no more complaints.
It was uncomfortably hot yesterday. My daughter went to a recycling center in the afternoon to do some volunteer work. I went to bank, then to a doctor’s office, then to Costco. The heat hurt my head and made me feel dizzy.
In the evening when I was driving my daughter to Target, my daughter and I had a conversation on happiness. Actually, it doesn’t take much for us to feel happy.
First, we are on top of our tasks or successful at our role. Second, we are physically fit, that is, in good shape, in a comfortable environment, not tortured by any extreme weather.
No amount of material possessions can make us happy if we are not as successful as we expect or not physically fit. That’s why there is a saying that goes like this: you create your own happiness.
We have learned so much of Rick Santorum’s three-year-old daughter, Isabella who was born with a rare genetic condition call Trisomy 18.
The disease, referring to a baby born with three number 18 chromosomes, is often fatal. That is, most of them die within the first year of their lives. Before the baby dies, she/he often suffers from “kidney problems, heart defects, developmental delays, and issues with the intestinal tract and esophagus.”
Good news is Trisomy 18 can be screened and diagnosed during pregnancy. The question is why people keep bringing into the world babies with severe genetic disease.
In cases like this, I often wonder whether the parents have made the right decision or done the right thing to the baby. I believe by bringing a baby to this world, first and foremost, the parents should have the happiness of the baby in their minds and do everything to give a happy life.
If the baby comes here only to suffer from various disease and to die soon, what is the quality of life for this baby? How can she be happy when she is consistently tortured with life-threatening disease? Do parents bring them to the world for their own happiness or religious belief or what? If that’s the case, I would think these parents are the most selfish ones.
I read this survey medscape “Profiles in Happiness: Which Physicians Enjoy Life Most?” by Carol Peckham, 03/22/2012.
The characteristics of the happiest physician include the following.
(1) Live the American dream.
(2) Born in the United States
(3) Of normal weight and excellent health.
(4) Exercises 4 or more times a week
(5) Having1 or 2 drinks a day, and doesn’t smoke.
(6) Being in great financial shape, with more than adequate savings and no debt.
(7) Married, actively practices his faith, and volunteers for his religious organization.
(8) Mostly over 60 years of age
Those of the unhappiest physician are the following.
(1) Being in poor health, and being obese
(2) Exercises less than once a week
(3) In his mid-50s
(4) Came to the United States as an adult
(5) Finances are in terrible shape; no savings and unmanageable debt.
(6) Being separated and doesn’t volunteer
(7) Has a spiritual belief but doesn’t attend any services.
Not surprisingly, ordinary people and physicians share a lot in their values. That is, they all feel happy when they enjoy good health, financial security, or involve in group activities.
Last Saturday, 2/25, while my daughter was with a school activity at JCCC, I went to the main library to seek help from the tax preparation volunteers. I got there shortly after 9 AM, right after the library opened. Still, I was late and ended up being the last one on the list.
While I was waiting for my turn, the front desk guy sat by me, eager to chat with me. When we talked about retirement savings, he came out with these words, which was a bit surprising.
“Many people do not survive retirement,” he said. I asked what he meant. He said, “Statistics show there is a very high percentage of people who die within one year of retirement.” This is shocking. “Why?” I asked.
“Because retirement upset their routine. They don’t know what to do with their lives. Also, many people keep working until they either get cancer or are too sick and weak to work.” He gave some example to prove to me.
Upset routine? It reminds me of yesterday’s posting. It is rather sad when you have worked hard and planned for retirement, yet in the end, you cannot survive it.
On 2/6/2012, I shared my New Year Resolution with a friend of mine, in that I sound more ambitious this year than before. Mainly because I want to keep myself busy and start getting myself more involved. I must be sub-consciously thinking of preparing for the time when my daughter leaves for college and I will find myself having too much time on hand after work. I want to involve in something instead of spending time thinking and wondering what my daughter is doing.
That friend said, “I only focus on small things like, a good book, a new film, an interesting dinner. You do plan on a yearly basis. And me: daily basis.”
Upon hearing these words, I realized there are something missing in my New Year Resolution, that is, learn how to enjoy life with good friends, family, and everything I have in life. “Most important,” this friend said, “we all enjoy what we do.”
He is absolutely right. Each of us may have our own way of living and our definition of happiness. But we all share one common denominator, that is, a good health, the basis for everything else.
1/8/2012. It was already 8 days down into the new year and I was still pounding on my daughter for her 2011 year-end reflection. We had some busy days last December when my son and his girlfriend came back and my daughter went to NY with them. And that put a brake on many things.
I explained to my daughter the importance of this reflection. When you look back, over the past year, there must be something that makes you smile and proud of yourself and something you’d rather forget.
If you want to keep doing things that have made you happy or avoid doing things that has made you feel the opposite, this reflection will help you chart your future path with clarity, knowledge and confidence. I also want her to get into the habit of this kind of reflection.
When you see something not done right or
When you see something broken or
When you see something done not your way or
When you see something that should be done but not done,
Instead of playing blame game or
Making others uncomfortable or
Showing your displeasure or
Finding out who did it or
Yelling at someone or
Gossiping around or
Simply being grumpy,
Do it yourself —
Be it at home or
At school or
At office, for
That’s the sure way to make you a happy person.
Another new promise;
My heart is full
Of hopes and excitement once again!
And with lots of good wishes.
Let us hope, you and me, our new resolutions are kept, and
The end of this new will find us a new person once again.
Yesterday afternoon we went to the airport to get my daughter back from her New York trip. She certainly had a wonderful time with her brother and his girlfriend in a big city. She said she would record her experience there.
Both of us have been working on our new year resolution. We promise ourselves that we will do better regarding our health, career, and we will get rid of one more bad habit in ourselves.
What a wonderful time and a beginning!
In early December of 2009, a relative of ours came from China to stay with us for her son’s graduation. When she went through my closet, she made this remark, “Throw away these old clothes. They are so old.” I told her, “No, they are still good and still fit me. There is no reason to throw them away.” She shook her head. I guess I had confused her or she couldn’t understand why.
Throwing away good old clothes and buying new clothes do not make me a happy person. On the contrary, the thought of wasting tortures me. I didn’t tell her this. If she understood me, she would not say these words in the first place.
In the evening, another adult in the house often took her out shopping. She came back telling me it was so much fun. For me, I try to get all shopping done on weekend so that I don’t have to go out during week day.
Nearly two years have passed since her visit. Amazing people are so different.
On 10/16, about a month ago, I was cleaning the room and found this happiness factors paper. I am sure I have posted something similar to this long ago. Still, I see no fitting topic than this one during this holiday season. I divided them up based on their points.
Add 0.5 to your happy equation for each of these qualities–
sunshine, community spirit, contact with nature, gender (f), money, beauty
Add 1 point
extrovert, vitality, curiosity, luck, humility, acceptance, emotional intelligence, education, sharing good news, creativity, mental well-being, lifelong learning
Add 2 points
adaptation, forgiveness, coping well, positive illusion (dream positively), make music, playing, getting things done, go to church, owning a pet, high self-esteem, appreciate excellence, job satisfaction, feeling healthy, good nutrition, vocation, volunteering, matching values and actions
Add 3 points
positive time perception, dancing, gardening, visit art gallery, personal growth, have children, hope
Add 4 points
resilience, have a hobby, smile, laughter
Add 5 points
feeling good, optimism, gratitude, finding the flow, keep a diary, savoring, love, successful in marriage, close friends, acts of kindness, have a goal, use your strength, religion, meditation, finding meaning
I am not sure if you can substitute five 1-point qualities with one 5-point quality, making it less efficient. And I am also surprised that the unselfish community spirit only earns you half a point.
I guess being unselfish won’t make you as happy as we have been told. Hmmm… makes me wondering if I have done my children an ill justice when I have over emphasized on their being unselfish.
During the last weekend of October, while I was at Barnes & Noble bookstore with my daughter, I picked up a NY Times bestseller called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, 2009. I must be bored and tired then.
Before I opened the book, I was wondering “Why would a person write this book?” The author must be insanely unhappy and in dire need of happiness. It turns out the opposite is true. I believe she wrote it because she was a writer and must find something to write about.
Here’s a tiny bit from the book,
“A ‘happiness project’ is an approach to changing your life. First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse.
Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. …Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions.”
I like this one — “The days are long, but the years are short. Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.”
Everybody has his/her limitations, but few people realize it, even fewer attempts to go beyond it. Expect to outgrow your limitation.
Throughout the book, the author asks readers to count their blessings, putting things in perspective. A great message for this Thanksgiving and holiday season.
I have a Bible sitting on my office desk, the safest object there, as I assume no one can accuse me of reading something not related to work.
This is my favorite quote from Bible, Philippians 4:8. It gives me such a warm-fuzzy feeling when I read this. I go back to this quote when things do not go well, as if these things did exist and I had been to the place where these things prevail, as if I were back to this imagined place filled with truth, honesty, justice, … Keep this in mind. After all, whatever makes you feel good works.
On 9/24/2011, I read an online article “5 Mistakes I Continue To Make in My Marriage,” by Gretchen Rubin, coming out on Thu Sep 22, 2011. Here’s the author’s list and my comments.
(1) Demanding gold stars. A typical elementary school behavior. Oh, how I crave appreciation and recognition! As if no praise means your work is unappreciated.
(2) Using a snappish tone. Have a very short fuse and become irritable extremely easily, as if you were talking to your parents who can always tolerate whatever nasty attitude you throw at them. Or expect your partner to tolerate or baby you as your parents once did.
(3) Not showing enough consideration. In other words, inconsiderate and selfish. I don’t care if I hurt your feeling as long as it makes me feel good to pour out whatever in my mind.
(4) Score-keeping. Afraid you do more than your partner does or you are at losing end of bargain game.
(5) Taking for granted either your partner or the kindness of your partner, or as if your partner should serve you. A revised version of entitlement.
As a rule, the only one who is willing to serve you whole-heartily without any complaint is your mother. Another golden rule: your partner is not your mother.
To be sure, a good marriage helps create great people, bringing out divinity in each other. A bad one brings out the beast in human. If you want happiness, do your share of good job and avoid the above five mistakes.
Yesterday evening, Friday, 10/7/2011, I talked to my mother over the Skype. She told me, “You cannot count on anyone for your happiness, not your spouse, not your children. You have to find happiness from within yourself.” Such a sensible person. I think she talks from her own experience.
Notes from readings on Barbara Fredrickson and Shawn Achor
(1) At the end of the day, think of something that you are grateful for
(2) Meditation, thinking nothing, let your mind fly freely
(3) Keep fit. Exercise helps you stay positive
(4) Do good deeds whenever you can
(5) Develop happy habits
(6) Keep a diary
Continue from yesterday’s.
On first reading, Darwin’s words seem to reveal a touch of regret for not having read poetry or listened to some music, which had diminished the amount of happiness that he could have enjoyed and much more… I don’t think he knew what he was talking about.
First of all, he would not change a tiny bit if he had to live his life again. His life was determined and driven by his character and what he observed and experienced in his life. If he observed and experienced the same thing next time around, he would live the same life.
Secondly, throughout Darwin’s life, he had worked unremittingly, being motivated by a higher order of calling, undergoing tremendous hardships, gathering mountains of information in order to understand human evolution. For what he had gone through and what he had accomplished, he must have his moment of joy and his level of happiness, which no trivial mind can understand and enjoy.
In our lives, we all pursue our definition of happiness. For some, money makes them happy; for others, achievement and accomplishments; for some others, discovery and innovation. Regardless of these differences, reading poetry and listening to music are the side orders to the main entree, adding a finish touch to the total feeling of our happiness. Even for a poet or musician, he/she feels the real joy at the moment of creating them.
A few weeks ago, while reading Will Durant’s The Lessons of History, I found it necessary to read something about Charles Darwin. So I did, just want to find out how dreadfully boring Darwin could be.
Darwin’s laser-focused concentration on human evolution had changed his mind. Consequently, his “mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts.” And as he recalled, “for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry… almost lost any taste for pictures or music.”
However, he said, “If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week… The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”
What do you think of this? To be continued…
It would be cute if this were a little baby’s cutie tummy. We all know it is not.
Yesterday marked the end of 8-week long weight-to-go class. See my posting on 9/16 and 9/17. By the end of the class, we were asked how many pounds we have lost during these eight weeks. The majority reported between one and four pounds. For all these efforts, that meager weight loss really doesn’t make a dent to that extra layer around the middle. So pathetic.
Don’t we already know that weight, like all bad habits, is easy to obtain but hard to get rid of? Now you get the message — make extra effort to avoid putting yourself in that situation in the first place.
Today is Mid-Autumn festival. I found no fitting story than this one for this occasion.
Last Friday evening, 9/9/2011, my daughter and I went to Macy’s on Metcalf Ave. There, we were approached by four 18-year-old UMKC students from Vietnam. They were here for less than three weeks.
From their apartment on KC plaza on 47th street in Missouri, they took a bus to this Macy’s on 95th street in Kansas. By the time they came out of the store, they couldn’t find any bus home. So I took them to my house in my small Toyota, then loaded them on my highlander and sent them back.
Both my daughter and I felt great after sending them back. We left our phone number in case they need help. I hope they can experience kindness among strangers in an alien land, just as the following Chinese saying goes.
I read this article on BBC on 8/16/2011, “Just 15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by three years and cut death risk by 14%, research from Taiwan suggests.” “You can get good gains with relatively small amounts of physical activity. More is always better, but less is a good place to start,” said Prof Stuart Biddle, an expert in exercise psychology at Loughborough University.
On the evening of 8/15, the day before I read this article, I talked to my son over the phone. Now that he is an MIT alumnus, he should start donating to MIT. He doesn’t have to be a big donor at first. A dollar per day and keep the ball rolling. Just like this 15-minute-per-day exercise, the benefit of this good deed will be immense and immeasurable in the long run.
On 3/27/2011, I read an article on what makes people happy. Here are some interesting findings, though some of them are not totally new.
Happiness is an attitude, a perspective, a positive way of looking at things. “Happy people are far more focused on the little victories and miracles than the problems,” says Dan Baker, a medical psychologist.
While happy people see possibilities at every corner, unhappy people are likely to see impossibility.
Count your blessings, that is, focus on what you have not what you don’t have.
Be nice to yourself.
Be generous to others. Giving makes both giver and receiver happy.
True happiness comes when you do what you enjoy doing and do it everyday. Take me for example, I enjoy reading, writing and gardening and do it all day long, except no one pays me for doing it. Focus on doing what you enjoy gives you a sense of purpose in life. Not many people can afford this, especially when you dislike sitting in your office cube for the whole hectic day waiting for the end of it. A funny joke at my office is asking this question on Monday — “Is it Friday now?”
This also happened when I was at HyVee on 5/28/2011. I read this in Psychology Today, June 2011, “Six clues to Character” by Hara Marano. It is interesting to know. I wish my children pay some attention to these six aspects.
(1) Intelligence: the biggest boon. It’s no fun messing up with someone with negative IQ. Make sure a person knows the difference between how he feels about something and what he thinks about it. Pay attention to how a person thinks. Listen to how he or she develops an argument.
(2) Drive: the goals you set and the potential of growth.
(3) Happiness: the capacity for finding satisfaction. If you tangle up with a grumpy, you have to play the role of comedian all day long and are still unable to bring a that million-dollar smile. Life is too short to waste on this.
(4) Goodness: the legacy of mama Madoff. It is always safe to be around nice person.
(5) Friendship: the capacity for reciprocity
(6) Intimacy: the capacity for vulnerability and trust
How does a person talk about the problems in his or her life? An unhealthy person rages against ill luck.
When my daughter came back from summer camp, she told me gossips that she learned in the dormitory. It seems to be a norm for boys and girls to pair off in high school. It is no surprise when most of the students emerge from college going out seriously with someone special, even though they are not thinking of any long term relationship, let alone of marriage or family.
A friend of mine once asked about my attitude on this. This is what I told my son.
1. While staying away from narrow-minded trivial bickering, never compromise on the major when it comes to your significant others.
2. Be honest to each other. If you find yourself out of love, which is natural sometimes when there are changes on either side, let other know. Truth may hurt at the moment, but you will hurt people more with dishonesty.
3. As with everything in life, think of your responsibilities before anything else.
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I used to keep close-by anything that I don’t want to throw away or anything I thought I still use but in fact I don’t. This created a crowded, disordered and even disruptive environment for the dwellers.
Cleaning means prioritizing, organizing and distinguishing the useful from the useless, so that the room is void of anything you don’t need at the moment.
This is my solution– divided stuffs into four groups: (1) throw-away the absolutely useless; (2) donate things I don’t need but still good (3) put away anything I honestly find useless but I am not ready to say goodbye to; (4) keep around things I am currently using.
Your material possessions should best serve your will. If not handled properly, you become the slave of your possessions, living the absurdity of being plagued by what you pay with your hard-earned money. Avoid this absurdity; choose luminosity; do cleaning in a timely manner and with good judgment.