As I was cleaning last year’s calendar, I bumped into this — “Are you able to actually jump over habits? Are you able to actually work on a bigger scale than you normally think and feel that things seems to be impossible are actually possible?”
I forgot where I got it, but I thought it fit the occasion perfectly, when I was working on New Year Resolution with my daughter and also on my own.
Indeed, jumping over habits is what we need if we want to carry out our resolution for this brand new year.
Here’s another one on New Year Resolution. Here are parts of the article.
Even though “People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves, … people aren’t ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. Another reason is “that people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions,” which is also called “false hope syndrome.”
“Making resolutions work involves changing behaviors—and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking (or “rewire” your brain).”
Finally, the author offers some tips for keeping resolutions.
1. Focus on one resolution, rather several and set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be;
2. Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day;
3. Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too much effort and action all at once;
4. Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you to whom you have to report;
5. Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait the goal to be finally completed;
6. Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits;
7. Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
8. Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future.
Since I spend one-third of my day at office, something happens here keeps coming back, against my will. Americans are famous for being polite on the surface. You almost never see direct confrontations or any exchange of harsh words. No, they make sure they behave perfectly.
But wait to hear what people say behind curtain. I hear that a lot before I moved to another office in April 2014. Once one colleague at one clinic, a so-called well-bred one, commented on another colleague up north office, “Who does she think she is! She is nothing. Absolutely nothing! She doesn’t have any education, no education at all.”
I felt both shocked and speechless when I heard her making this comment, especially when I remember how friendly she was in front of that colleague.
We had meeting at 7 AM this morning. Any time we have meeting the next day, I always try to go to bed early so that I won’t either oversleep the next morning or appear tired at the meeting. But the more I try to sleep early, the more I fail to. Like last night, I went to bed before 10 PM and stayed awake after midnight.
One colleague of mine seems rather awkward dealing with me. That person just doesn’t seem natural when it comes to me. I don’t know why. A guilty feeling for what she has done behind my back or something else that I am not aware of. She is keenly aware of my strong background, my potential and my publications.
The only thing I know is she acts like she has not noticed me every time I come in and keeps on talking with others or appears busy doing something, when she does not behave this way with other people. I mean she would interrupt her chat and rush out a quick “Hi” when others come in. If it happened once, I would not have noticed it as I am such a careless person. But it is this way almost every time. Strangely funny how adults behave so awkward and lacking of self-confidence. Today it came too obvious not to be noticed. She blurted out a “Good morning, [a person’s name]” to that person who came in about the same time as I did. Why ignores me? No idea.
Ha-ha! Do I care? Absolutely not. Life moves on, with or without it, ’cause life is too important to be wasted on trivial like this. I thought it too funny that I have to share it here. All kinds of birds in the forest indeed!
On 3/30, I read something about why people stay at their job even though they don’t like it. A survey within a company indicates:
72% of people would rather work for themselves.
86% plan to actively look for a new job this year.
70% of employees in the company they work for and aren’t seeking it either.
58% of workers think they don’t need help in their careers and can figure it out for themselves.
The numbers tell us that out of 86% people who plan to look for a new job, only 2% are actively seeking job or looking for changes.
Some people say they are chained by the “Golden Handcuffs,” that is, the good pay and benefits. I would say they are very much the product of their own inertia, which is the only force that chains people to one place, one location, and one lifestyle.
Life is a lot richer than what we can possibly experience. Don’t let your inertia restrict you and limit you from developing your full potential.
Last day of February saw the leaving of one of our doctors at our clinic. I learn that he was one of the founding physicians for our practice, like over 20 years of seniority here. His experience seems a familiar story.
He came from Seattle area, that is, he grew up there and his family is still there. He went to medical school in Kansas, stayed here for residency, then worked here till the end of last month.
Even though he has been in Kansas for over two or even three decades and has raised his own family here, when both of his children have gone to college, leaving him an empty nest, he still wants to move back to Seattle, being closer to his first home.
When I learn about his story, I think of many people who left home when they were young adults, venturing out for their more opportunities. As they became old, they returned to the place of their origin. Isn’t it something universal?
My son gave me his kindle reader last time he came back. I connected to Amazon, did some search in its kindle store, got some free books and a chess game.
At first I played against Kindle at level one just to challenge myself. Pretty soon, I beat Kindle at this level and moved to level two. At this level, I won some games and lost others.
Each time I lost the game, I told myself I would be careful next time and would win the game and then I would quit, as I have realized it cost a huge chunk of time and I had better things to do than fighting Kindle chess.
But that quit seldom happens like I plan. And one game leads to another, so goes the time, an hour and two. When I examine the whole process and the actual goings-on in my mind, I realize this is how addiction develops and takes root. And that is how hours slip away.
One has to watch out as it is so easy to develop addiction.
River Phoenix died when he was only 23 years old. He died in 1993 of drug overdose. His final film was thus finished with his sudden death.
I read this piece on 10/7/2012. From wikipedia “Phoenix died of an overdose of cocaine and heroin. During the early-morning hours of October 31, 1993, Phoenix collapsed outside and convulsed for over five minutes. When his brother Joaquin called 9-1-1, he was unable to determine whether Phoenix was breathing. Sister Rain Phoenix proceeded to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to no avail.”
He was working on what history will record as his last film, Dark Blood. The movie finally premiered on 9/27/2012.
He was said to be a good person, having been involved in many humanitarian drives either for animal rights or for environmental protection. It is a tragedy that he left so young, leaving us a heavy lesson on drug abuse.
The South Korean rapper Psy repeatedly sings the words — “Gangnam Style.” His totally meaningless catchy tune even makes it to the top of the UK singles chart. Can you believe this! His famous horse-riding dance makes a global video phenomenon. I hear this Gangnam style tune in my house everyday, of course played by my daughter, much as I am against her following the crowd.
When this rapper is determined to make a total buffoon of himself in front of the whole world, I see equally ridiculous and seemingly unexplained thing happen. That is, his simplistic catchy tune can gather global momentum and even attract some celebrities to jump in the horse dance and even have the guts to show their vulgar taste on TV.
I have no doubt psychologists and sociologists will have a lot to say when they try to explain this gigantic simple stupidity spreading across the globe. For now, I think there must be something very primitive in human minds, when unguarded, that tends to follow any brainless catchy thing, even if there is zero meaning attached. Sometime, it is easier to gather forces when there is no meaning than there is. Maybe that’s how demagogue works. What can you say about this? Beat me.
After I returned from China on 6/18, I went through the pile of mails that came during my absent days. There was one letter from Massachusetts Department of Revenue regarding my son’s 2011 tax return. I need to respond within 30 days, that is, before 7/6/2012.
This is a headache to me. So I postponed till last Sunday. Before tackling this matter, I cleaned the room, thinking I needed a big clean space to work on this. I delayed facing the issue until I found no more excuse for my delaying.
As soon as I got it over, I said to myself, “I have enough torture for the day. Now I deserve a break.” By that I meant doing something I enjoy. In fact, I spent more time before and after this tax return issue.
After the day was over, I thought to myself. Gee, why can’t I spend the whole time doing something I don’t enjoy but I should do? Now I can understand how my daughter feels sometimes.
P.S. I contacted my daughter yesterday evening. She was doing beautifully there with some new friends around. Glad it turned out this way.
We are nearly three months down this year’s calendar. I checked my 2012 New Year Resolution last week. I was discouraged to find that I have not kept up with any items on the list. I think I have become one of the statistics on the failure-to-keep promise list.
While experiencing the failure in keeping my promise to myself, I found one interesting phenomenon. Every time I am aware of this failure, I can always come up with excuses for myself. And I found some kind of cheap comfort in these excuses, even if I know I am cheating myself.
Isn’t something that we all share, like part of our nature? Or is it just me? I don’t know the answer. But I know many people have not kept up their New Year Resolutions, which, of course, should not be my excuse for my failure, that is, if I don’t want to be like everybody else.
On 1/10/2012, I left home around 8 AM driving to KC Star in downtown area. As I was driving through the unfamiliar streets, though with a map, I had a rather uneasy feeling, not because of fear of getting lost but because the area looked totally strange to me. This uneasy feeling made me think of the time when my daughter was in New York.
Later that day, on the way to the main library, I asked my daughter if she had the same feeling when she was in New York. “No,” she said because she was with her brother and his girlfriend. She felt more excited than anything else.
I told her it was also because she was young, eager to have new experience and to taste adventures. Also, the younger you are, the more adaptable you are.
The familiar area seems to provide a sense of security or a comfort zone. As people get in age, it must be hard for them to break out of their comfort zone.
In line with my postings on 10/5-6 on comfort zone and choice we make everyday, on 10/9, Sunday afternoon I was reading Amy Chua’s tiger mom book again while staying at Barnes & Noble’s with my daughter.
Chua also talks about choice, how many American parents allow their children the freedom to choose while Chinese ones choose for their children. On the surface, it sounds like Chinese families are so void of democracy and freedom.
On the deeper level, if you consider the harm and benefit of freedom to choose, you will be able to appreciate Chua’s parenting.
When people are free to choose between fun and work, play and study, very few will forsake fun and play and willingly take up the hard work. In our tendency to avoid hardships, adults and children are no different.
Parents help their children choose the road filled with hard work when the kids are young. Consequently, the children are more accomplished, self-confident, and capable and ready for the challenges ahead. They make this choice for their children because they are responsible parents and they don’t want to trash or shortchange their children’s future.
“Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.” Speech at the Graveside of Karl Marx by Friederich Engel (1883)
It is so easy to forget this simple truth. Great civilization could not be developed without the abundance of material wealth. If a person or a nation is preoccupied with feeding his stomach and seeking shelters, he is left no time for anything else. This may explain why there is no similarly great civilization in Africa.
To create great art and music, one must first be able to rise above the need to scramble for bare existence. Without the extra material or the surplus time and resource, all remains empty talks.
For some days after I got back from China on 7/12/2011, I found it hard to stay awake in the morning. At first, I thought it normal jet lag. After two or more weeks, when things had not changed for the better, I started thinking of something else.
I tried to get up early, around 5:50, took a brisk morning walk or jog before I headed for office. As the result of this exercise, my morning yawning decreased and I started feeling energized.
From that time on, I make a point of having this morning exercise. To be sure, it is not without struggle, especially when the days get shorter in autumn. Every morning when the alarm yells and I am still very sleepy, I ask myself: shall I get up or skip this morning. When I am outside, I face another one: walk or run. I know I can find thousands of excuses for myself if I decide not to get up or not to run.
I notice throughout the day, I am constantly facing such choice, one being easy, the other being difficult. It is so easy to give in to the natural tendency of taking the easy one and to stay in our comfort zone. In the long run, the choice we constantly make defines us and determines our fate.
When I was in China, my sister told me the story of her friend’s daughter. The girl just came back from America after a year’s stay there as a high schooler. Her parents had to find an English tutor here to help with her English.
I think it ridiculous that she still cannot carry on daily conversation after living in America for a year. I should not be surprised over it as I realize this is not an isolated case.
What often happens is this. The Chinese students jump into the circle of their country folks, their comfort zone, as soon as they arrive in America. They have as little as possible contact with Americans outside classroom. The more they fail in English, the more they seek refugee in their mother tongue, thus perpetuating the vicious circle and forgetting what they venture out for.
As with everything in life, it is actually in human nature that we tend to take the easy option whenever that option is available. It takes some courage and maturity to break away from one’s comfort zone and enjoy a giant progress.
“I am working very hard on my ‘thank you.’ It’s not a bad way to open or close a conversation with someone you haven’t met before, who is your new partner or co-worker. And it lets them know that you appreciate the effort they have made to make your life a little bit better. So I am generous with my ‘thank you,’ my ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am.’ I may not remember all the names, but I remember the desire to take care of people.” These words came from the former CEO of our practice on our newsletter on 6/7/2011, that is, before the practice disappeared. Imagine how much weight this CEO has placed on being polite, most likely because of its shortage. I thought I were the only old fashioned one teaching this to my children.
Number one comment, this is a well said commonsense that we should all practice automatically, without being told or having to work very hard on. Too honestly funny.
Number two, it is easy said than done as I have observed the very lack of this in this CEO, which, sadly to say, is also common with all of us. That’s why, no matter how platitudinous it is, I still find it necessary to share with my readers.
When I heard over the radio on 6/11 that Rep. Anthony Weiner, under pressure to resign because of the scandal, announced that he was entering professional treatment at an undisclosed location and requested a leave of absence from Congress. He acted as if he could not control his libido and had to resort to professional help. I don’t think he is that sick. He must have plenty of idle time for those horrible acts.
His aberration so unfit his position reminds me of not only people in similar situation but also one high school girl. She is the stepdaughter of a friend of mine. When she was in high school, she was totally disengaged in class or any school work. To fill up the vacancy in her mind, she racked her brains seeking male companies and ended up hooking up with a young male convict. She must be bored to death.
For some reason, the proverb comes to my mind when I heard cases like Weiner, that is, “An idle brain is the devil’s workshop” or “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” Maybe the problem with all those trouble-makers is they have too much idle time on their hands. Maybe the trick to keep people out of trouble is to keep their minds crazily busy over their goals, if they have one or anything that is better than Weiner’s indiscretion.
On 1/24/2011, one of my colleagues told me that she was going to live on fruit and vegetable on one day in a week and she chose Monday. It was said that you would lose weight if you could keep doing that for sometime. My colleague said she planned to lose ten pounds, which seemed a very feasible idea.
Last Monday, she took the day off. This Monday, 2/7/2011, she had a huge yummy sandwich for lunch. When I asked her about her promise to eat only fruit and vegetable on Monday, she said she forgot all about it when she heard the mention of this Jimmy John’s gourmet sandwiches.
I shared the event with my daughter that evening. I am amazed but not really surprised to see how easy it is to make and break one’s promise.
Continue on the story of Hanhao Bird posted on 12/4/2010. The surface meaning of the story of Hanhao Bird is very obvious and that has been expounded in my previous posting. In the evening of 12/12/2010, I thought of another layer of meaning that can be extracted from this story, that is, fooling away your prime time and postponing to the last moment what one should do.
Imagine this, instead of frolicking around merrily under the warm sun like Hanhao Bird, we humans play away when we are full of energy. When darkness falls and when we start feeling tired and sleepy, we think of what we should have done during day time, e.g. homework or anything due the next day. As everybody is in bed sound asleep, we have to stay up late, cutting back sleep hours, practically fighting a losing battle against drowsiness, toiling on miserably hours after midnight, cold and dark. We may not end up like the frozen-to-death Hanhao Bird, but the quality of our nightly work and our energy level the next day will be compromised as the result of our procrastination and burning nightly oil.
It must be rather popular not just among some birds but also among human beings, as I see this behavior in my children and others. Shouldn’t we know better than this?
P.S. we were very glad to have my son back from school yesterday evening. I would have taken the day off if there were no monitor visit today.
On 11/2/2010, a Tuesday afternoon, right after we got home from her school, I told my daughter to come outside and take a picture in front of the maple tree in our yard. The leaves looked burning red under the afternoon sun. My daughter said we could take it the next day.
The next day she was sick and didn’t go to school. She was down with fever and was confined to bed for the rest of the week. By the time she was well and able to go out, the leaves were largely gone with the gusty autumn wind. The once glorious red maple leaves became past glory.
While my daughter was sick, she mentioned that she regretted that she had not made good use of her time when she was well. “Only when you are sick do you value the time when you are well,” she commented. I hope she will remember her own words after she gets well.
On 6/26, I shared with my daughter this famous streetlight story.
Late at night, a police officer finds a drunk man crawling around on his hands and knees under a streetlight. The man tells the police officer that he is looking for his wallet and he has been looking for it for a long time. The office also helps him look for it.
When the officer asks if the drunk man is sure this is the place where he loses his wallet, he says he has dropped it when he was crossing the street over there. “Then why are you looking for it here instead of over there?” puzzled officer asked. “Because the light is better here,” was the drunk man’s answer.
My daughter couldn’t help laughing at the story. Isn’t it true that we sometimes act like this drunk man, in that, knowing that’s not where the answer is, we still go ahead putting efforts into it? We tend to turn to places where light is better instead of where the truth lies. In so doing, we actually cheat ourselves by knowingly chasing something of no relevance, just because it is either easy or fun. Here’s something to think about while we laugh at this drunk man.
I must jot it down before I forget. While I was in China, I heard this more than once during numerous conversations with family members.
I love it. Not because I don’t have a kind heart and am in dire need of it. But because I cannot maintain a kind heart when dealing with people I don’t like or someone that hurt me in the past or someone I perceive unfavorably.
A kind heart can dissolve any discomfort or animosity that you might feel toward other fellow beings. A kind heart guarantees you a peace of mind. A kind heart uplifts your spirit to an angelical level.
With a kind heart, you are ready to wish people well, to tolerate people of all kinds, and to forgive any perceived injustices done on you.
I have a mountain of good words for having a kind heart. Trust me. It can work wonders in you. This is especially written for my children.