Tips on dealing with difficult persons, part II


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!



Tips on dealing with difficult persons, part I


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”)

(5) Liars
(6) Bullies
(7) Manipulators
(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.



Religion, secular communities, and your happiness


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.



While good habits yield lifelong benefit, bad ones do the opposite


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.


Avoid things that make you feel bad


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.



There are four things that you cannot recover…


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.


Focus on what we have, forget what we have lost


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.



You create your own happiness


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.



Religion, Rick Santorum, and Quality of Life


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.



Physician’s Profile in Happiness


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.



Many People Do Not Survive Retirement


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.



New Year Resolution, Different Approach to Life and Happiness


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.



Reflection, Know Yourself and Confidence


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.



The Song of Do-It-Yourself


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.



Happy New Year to All!


Another year,
Another new;
Another beginning;
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!



Clothes, Happiness, a Relative from China


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.



Positive Factors and Your Happiness


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.



“The Days Are Long, But the Years Are Short…”


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.



Whatever Things Are True, Honest, Just, Pure, Lovely…



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.



Happiness, Marriage, Partner, Mistakes You Should Avoid


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.



Think positive, Find Happiness from Within


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.

Think positive
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



Science, Fantasy, Poetry, Machine and Happiness, Part II


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.



Science, Fantasy, Poetry, Machine and Happiness, Part I


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…



Weight To Go or Easy to Gain, Hard to Lose



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.



A Good Deed on a Friday Evening


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.



Donation, Doing Good, Exercise, Small Amounts Count


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.



True Happiness is Hard to Find


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?”



Seeking Soul Mate? Six Clues to Character


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.



Boys Meet Girls, Love, Honesty and Responsibility


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.



Prioritizing, Organizing, the Order of Things Part II


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.

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