Don’t punish yourself with other’s inconsideration


It is a bright autumn day, a very comfortable day until I had these two encounters.

I went to Barnes & Noble’s today to check some books for a newborn baby, my idea of gift, no matter what age you are at.

I bought some cotton books for babies. The salesgirl told me I could save 20 percent if I signed up for $25 membership. I would have 20% instead of normal 10% membership saving if I signed up today. So I did.

When I was sitting in my car, I thought of CloudBit Starter Kit by littleBits Electronics, which I liked very much but was discouraged for its price. Even at 50% off now, I still see it an unnecessary luxury. But wait. Now with membership, I can get 70% off the original price. I should grab this deal.

So I went back to the store. After confirming with the same salesgirl that 20% would be taken off whatever I bought today, I went back to grab the CloudBit Starter Kit, already feeling guilty for this indulgence.

When the salesgirl told me the final cost, I thought she made a mistake. It doesn’t sound like 20% off. She told me it was correct and I couldn’t get 20% off clearance goods, which was not true. Because I did get one from my previous purchase that day.

She talked fast and sounded rather impatient, which made me very comfortable, as if I caused her to be so unpleasant to me. When she asked if I wanted it, I said “Oh, forget it,” and left the store.

As I drove back home, her unpleasant manner and attitude were with me all the time. I couldn’t sweep it out of my mind.

Unbeknown to me, more unpleasant thing was waiting for me.

When I approached the front door, I saw the pot that I asked to be returned sitting at there. “Why didn’t she contact me before coming over?” I searched my cell phone and wechat to see if she had contacted me for this visit. She always does. No, not this time.

So I wrote to her, “You came over today when I was at the bookstore. When are you leaving for China?” She didn’t reply. Of course.

About two weeks ago, I gave her husband some plants. But I forgot to tell them to return to me the fig plant pot after re-potting. So I wrote to her later, asking if I could have the pot back after they re-potted the plant.

That pot is actually the best one that I have now. So I thought it better that I tell her this honestly. To my surprise, she sounded unhappy when I asked. The fact that she came today without telling me beforehand only confirmed my previous feeling.

For a moment I was tortured by a wretched feeling. I can’t say I don’t care. Then I realize that I have done nothing wrong. They threw bad attitude toward me without caring how I feel. It is actually they who should feel bad now.

Finally I told myself that I should stop punishing myself for other’s inconsideration.



Things that can hurt you, potentially


Among many things that can do huge damages to you in the long run, here are some that young people should not ignore.

(1) You don’t know what you want to do with your life. That is, you don’t have a goal in life.
(2) You tend to be pessimistic. When you always think “It’s impossible,” you place a limit on what you can do.
(3) You can’t persist to the end. You give up halfway when things get tough.
(4) You lack objective self-evaluation. That is, you don’t know yourself, your strength and weakness.
(5) You rely too much on others. You are not independent enough to be on your own, mentally and psychologically.
(6) You are hesitant and indecisive, spending too much time balancing cost and benefit. You dare not risk taking a step into the unknown, the unfamiliar. You remain in your comfort zone as long as you can.
(7) You indulge too much in the past and regrets, which only ends up wasting your time and life.
(8) You try to avoid headaches and problems. Problems won’t go away by themselves. Often you experience a leap forward by taking on challenges in life.



An unforgettable meeting with an old friend


It’s been nearly two weeks since I came back from China. I was in China between 4/4 and 6/20. While I was in China, I had many gatherings with friends and old classmates. Some I met more than once.

I met up with Bin at 11:30 on 6/3/2017, our second meeting. We initially planned to meet at Fangjia hutong, but we changed the place because it was too crowded with a wedding activity. We ended up in a small coffee shop on Beixinqiao avenue, close to san-tiao.

Before saying goodbye, he gave me some advice. He said I am at the best time in my life–free from financial worries, free from parental responsibilities, free from physical constraints, free to do whatever I want to do previously but was held back due to this or that reason.

That’s so true! I keep asking myself this question: what is it that I want to do? I know I still have a lot to contribute and to share with. I have this or that plan. But what is it that I’m so passionate about? Teaching? But where? Writing?

In order not to waste time, I have been pouring efforts on Italian language since I came back.

Time is running out like crazy. I need to roll up my sleeves now. More on this later.



Things you cannot overdo


Here are something that you’d better not overdo:
(1) Social media: it is better to make connections with people who provide support, instead of racking up the biggest number of friends

(2) Parenting: avoid coddling your children, allow them to experience healthy failure that you can grow and learn from.

(3) Housing: don’t obsess over square footage. Not bigger is better. Bigger means more expensive in heating, cooling, cleaning, and of course money.



Can we create more from what we already have or get more from less?


This is what I read at Barnes & Nobel’s on 2/25/2017. Below is the note from reading Time magazine.

“The science of stretching offers an effective alternative for us to do more without getting more, see potential rather than worrying about perceived limitations.

The habit of stretching readies us to work through the challenges. With too many resources, we become distracted by our accumulations, focus on the wrong goals, become wasteful of what we do have already.”

I have to add something else here. Sometimes when we are surrounded by too much stuffs, more than we need, we are rendered unable to enjoy life. We have to spend time organizing stuffs, trying to decide which we will keep and which we will dispose. The more time we have to spend on our stuffs, the less time we have for our life, the more miserable we feel, the more we wish we had not bought them home in the first place! Lesson learned too late!

Question for ourselves: what can I do with what I already have, instead of waiting to get more in order to do more?

Stop comparing with others! Sometimes, it is difficult to be productive and content with what you have when you are constantly making comparison with others.



Your character determines your destiny


You are responsible for the direction of your life’s journey. Don’t blame others when you become adults.
Your experiences are the most valuable asset of yours, especially when you hunt for jobs.
Your character determines your destiny.
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I thought of this today. It sounds true even though I forgot where I read it.



From my office to my home office


Months before I left my office, I took down all these from the wall of my office. I didn’t throw them away immediately. How I love these words. Today I copied them down once again, saved it on my computer and posted them here.



You first need to please one person — YOU


I wrote this great piece today. Please go to LinkedIn to leave your comments.

About two weeks ago, we learned that our manager’s husband is very ill. I know her parents have passed away and she doesn’t have any children of her own. So when I think of the coming holiday season, the time of family gathering, I feel like reaching out to her and letting her know that we care, even though she is a rather private person. I shared the idea with a colleague of mine and went out to get her a blank thinking-of-you card.

After I got the card, I typed these words on a piece of paper, printed and pasted it on the card– “… hopefully, knowing that someone cares will help you going through the difficult time in your life….” Both of my colleague and I signed on the card, then I emailed to a colleague at another location, asking her if anyone wanted to sign the card.

This week that colleague of mine wrote to the whole team, “I was wondering what (if anything) the … staff has done for [our manager] in the past around the holidays?” The ideas of sending the boss this or that gift rushed in.

Giving the manager a holiday gift? We have never done anything like this before. I feel uncomfortable doing it simply because she is the boss. No one ever gives me, a rank and file employee, anything on holiday, even though I have more than once gone out of my way to help. It disturbed me even more when I thought of the fact that the team had done nothing when another colleague’s mother passed away. Not that they didn’t know. The double practice brings to my mind words like curry favor with, ingratiating, efforts to please the superior.

Make no mistake that we all start our lives trying to please others like our parents so that we can be taken good care of when we are too small to survive on our own. I remember clearly that I was so eager to make my parents happy by trying to do well at school, even though I seldom did well there. Also years ago when I got back from office, the first words that my son shouted out to me through the door were like this, “Mom, I got another 100!” I was very pleased that he cared so much to please me. But still I keep telling my children that I am pleased as long as they are pleased with themselves.

As we grow into adulthood, we realize that we have our own journey to cover, and our own dreams and passion to fulfill and to follow. Pleasing others is no longer the priority because we no longer latch on other’s pleasure for our happiness. We create our own happiness through our own accomplishments and attainments. In adulthood, it is crucial that we understand that we need to please ourselves first if we want to please others. If you are not happy with yourself, it is difficult to make others happy.

Of course, I am not naive to the point of not knowing modern day politicians. Pleasing voters at any cost is just the means to their end. Their end is winning the election. Winning makes them happy. Perhaps, gift-giving to one’s boss alone is also a means to an end, ulterior or not.



If you need a good laugh, read H.L. Mencken


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.



At work, we are first and foremost living beings


I just published this article on LinkedIn today.
After I put down the phone with a colleague, I went to the infusion room. The sights of patients and the words of my colleague suddenly seem so discordant. There is something so not right. My colleague just told me over the phone, “These red queries make my blood pressure shoot up.” I could almost see her anxiety level skyrocketing from the way she talked. Oh dear.

Here I see patients fighting for their dear lives. I imagine they would give up anything if they could get back their health. And there my healthy colleague run the risk of getting hypertension over a few queries.

Once a colleague of mine requested a patient’s chart from medical record department. When she didn’t get what she requested in due time, she marched to the medical record supervisor’s office and reported the incident. When the medical record person came over to explain how busy she was at the time, the two got into a raucous and truculent fight. To me, any kind of fight is detrimental to health and to life.

Very often when people work themselves up emotionally and make a gargantuan deal out of something very trivial or when they entangle themselves insignificantly in the office, they are doing disservice to their health and they lose sight of the big picture, that is we are living beings, which are also called lives. Life means many things. Like all living beings, life has a beginning and an end. On top of everything else, life means vulnerability.

Anytime people place trivial things above their health and their lives, they actually put the cart before the horse. The patients in our infusion room have taught me that nothing, not even wealth, fame, and power is more important than life.



Know Yourself, know your pitfalls


This is one of the articles that I published on LinkedIn. You can leave comments there, if you have any.

When my son was small, he would make a face-losing scene at the store if his wish was not met. The remedy for this was not to take him to the store until he could behave himself in public.

Sometimes, while I am in the middle of a task, I find the need to get on the internet for a brief search. Very often that 5-minute sidetrack quickly runs out of control as I click one link to another and then I forget what my initial intention is. This is what happens when time flies by without getting things done. The cure is, instead of stopping for each search, write on a paper notepad what you want to search. Do it at the end. If you need to get answers now, set a timer.

Sometimes, I feel very lethargic after eating too much. The cure is to avoid heavy food intake if I know I still have work to do.

Some people lose focus and become distracted when they get bored sitting in a not exciting classroom or meeting. The trick is how to keep them intrigued.

When I related the story to my daughter, she totally got it because that’s what happened to her, too. Most of us have our particular pitfalls or traps that lead us to the opposite of where we want to go, and to the waste of time and life. The question is how to hold yourself from falling into these pitfalls. I told my daughter this. You need a self-check mechanism.

To act proactively, you need to know yourself, know your pattern of behavior, know when you have your peak hours in a day so that you get serious things done in those hours, know under what situation you are most likely to lose focus. This way you can foresee what will happen in certain situations and proactively avoid getting into that situation, just like what I did with my young son.

The earlier in life you know yourself, the better.



One big SECRET about Young People


I thought of outpouring more articles this year. But I have not kept my plan so far. My birthday reminds me of time running away and I need to do something. Writing is one of the things that I will keep doing. Here’s one article published on LinkedIn.

I learn this from the conversations with my children.

Let me share with you one big secret about the wealth of young people. Most people do not associate assets and wealth with young people, especially when you think of college graduates with huge loans and unemployed. Instead people tend to think of many senior folks with millions of savings under their mattress.

The fact is both young and the old have their own resources. With the old, theirs is money; with the young, theirs is TIME.

Right. Time is the resources of the young, which the old don’t have. With time, the young are not afraid of learning and trying new ideas, venturing out on a thousand-mile journey. They are not afraid of making mistakes. If one idea doesn’t work out, they have time to start all over again. That’s OK as long as they learn from their experience and keep moving ahead. The old do not have this luxury.

The sad reality is many young people are not aware of their resources. They have not fully utilized their resources while they are young. Some become a lifer at one place, like Robert Frost’s poem, “being shore to ocean –Holding the curve of one position, Counting an endless repetition.” For some, they don’t even realize they were once rich in their lives.

Yes, young folks are rich in TIME. Keep in mind TIME is something money cannot buy and TIME has an expiration date.



Appearance matters a lot but you have other options


I shared this short piece with a colleague of mine today, “Appearance Does Matter but you have other tools” In case, this link is not working, here’s the URL,
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/appearance-does-matter-you-have-other-tools-yanwen-xia?trk=prof-post

To my surprise, my colleague said it was well written because it is absolutely true. She said, “Often people don’t tell the truth. I like this article because it is true.”



Be your own cheerleader, always, nobody will cheer for you, if you don’t


Sociologically speaking, we all see things from our own perspective and we are all loaded with pre-conceptions. Call it prejudice. I have my own prejudice which is in my favor. That is, I see myself better than what others see me. Because I know myself better than anyone else since I am basically an introvert type, probably with the exception of my parents. I know what I have been through — coming to a foreign country, earning the highest degree in humanity while teaching sociology courses at college level, raising a baby boy. Then I gave up my teaching job and turned to programming when my baby girl was two years old. No matter how formidable the challenge was, I have without exception met it with triumphant.

Be your own cheerleader, always. If you don’t, whom can you count to? Others might have prejudice against me, no matter how the facts show the otherwise. The truth is we never work with facts. Instead, we always work with prejudice.

Realistically, people are seldom free from prejudice. Therefore when we meet, we have exchanges of prejudice. e.g. I can come up with plenty of facts to show I am far better than some of the people that I work with. But once again, this statement is not shared by those who, given their prejudice against me, consider me nothing but an impostor or think I am fit for no better than a sidekick for someone else.

Never allow yourself to be disturbed and punished by other people’s prejudices. Hold high that great image of yourself, always! And constantly work toward a better you tomorrow. Meanwhile, never forget to enjoy yourself.



10 Don’ts — part of your efforts to be a nice person


1. Don’t act as if you are always right.
2. Don’t make promise or commitment easily. Once you promise something, keep your promise.
3. Don’t ask for help easily. Always try your best first.
4. Don’t impose upon others. Respect others.
5. Don’t make fun of others. Respect
6. Don’t lose temper easily. You gain nothing from losing it.
7. Don’t interrupt others. Respect.
8. Don’t underestimate appearance. That’s how you are first judged.
9. Don’t be close-minded.
10. Don’t bully the weak ones. Be nice!



The price for being lazy. Always do your own homework.


I went to our north clinic today to get a patient’s lab that was returned by the unreasonable FedEx. I got lost on the way there. It was almost 11 AM when I got back. The google map says 35 minutes, 34.1 miles via I-435. But I spent around two hours for the trip. It’s all my fault. No use to blame anyone else.

I googled it, got directions and printed it all, without actually going through the directions. I wanted to make sure that’s the north clinic, so I asked a girl from north pharmacy how to get there. She told me it was really easy. She drew a map, telling me to turn at Green Hills. She even wrote Green Hills on the paper, saying you could see it from the road.

But after I got back from her, I became lazy, mentally relying on her instruction only. So I kept looking for Green Hills while I was on 425 west. I couldn’t see it even after I reached the airport. So finally I got off the car and asked for help at the airport. A good-hearted lady told me to get on I-29 south, exit at 9A on route 152 east, turn right on Green Hill Road.

It turned out that I should exist at route 152 when I was driving 435 west, and from Rt-152 (not from I-435), I could see the big sign of Green Hills and exit there.

Lesson learned today is never rely on instructions given to me by others. Always do my own homework! I will have to pay a big price for being lazy. 5-minute homework can save a lot later on.



If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on — Kant


These words remind me of a saying. That is, if you make yourself a rat, the other will become a cat. Obviously, there is no peaceful co-existence between the two. I don’t like this dominant-subordinate human relationship. But sadly to say, isn’t it the reality that we have to live in?

Here are some beautiful quotes from Kant.
Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.
Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.
Ingratitude is the essence of vileness.
All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions:
1. What can I know?
2. What ought I to do?
3. What may I hope?

A person is only a person when it has the power to make sense of its surrounding.
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There are three things that can relieve life’s hardships: hope, sleep, and smile.

A person’s weaknesses comes from his environment and his time. His virtues and greatness belong to himself.

The busier we are, the more keenly we are aware of our being alive, the more we are aware of the existence of life.

A man without confidence does not even have the desire to get up in the morning.



Life is a journey, guided by your dream, motivated by a passion


On my children’s birthday, I wanted to share this with them. In fact, I also want to remind myself that life is a journey, guided by a dream and motivated by a passion to do something greater than ourselves.

A dream is a goal that you want to achieve. No matter what age you are at, never give up life’s dream.

Like Hillary Clinton running for American presidency, not once but twice, when she is on the way to be 70 years old next year. Some call it ambition. Others call it aiming high. I simply call it dream.

Life is full of unexpected twists, turns, obstacles and hardships. The passion to rise above and achieve greatness motivates one to learn, prepare and endure however it takes to get closer to our dreams.



Life is too short to not feel great…


I have been feeling low for the last few days, perhaps because of weather plus the departure of a good colleague plus having efiled federal tax. Sadness always comes to me when I finished something.

However today this thought suddenly hit me while I was still lying in bed — life is too short to feel sad, too short not to enjoy every minute of it. I quickly rejected myself out of bed and started feeling on top of the world.

Always remember this when you feel sad again. Life means nothing less than enjoying every minute of it!

By the way, it is a rainy day starting in the morning. When the sun refuses to come out, be the sun yourself. Be the sun for yourself. I will go to bookstore and library. I need to finish Kansas state tax return today.



A gloomy day, made sadder when being alone


It is two days after my son’s birthday and three days before my daughter’s. In between their birthdays, I am thinking of them and missing them a lot more than before.

Strange it was a cold gloomy March day, with spark of snow in the morning. My mood is always impacted by lack of sunlight. I tried to find reason for this. This is what I read today — “Unraveling the Sun’s Role in Depression –More Evidence That Sunlight Affects Mood-Lifting Chemical in the Brain.”

To be sure, I had a busy day at work, with a morning meeting at OP and a diligent monitor to keep me extra busy. Still, I felt the day being heavily blanketed with an unspeakable sadness. It is the last day of one of the colleagues who came to share the office with me in January 2015. We have had a good working relationship. Plus both of us are book lovers. We talked more about books and our own lives than about work during her stay here. Being aware of the fact that today is her last day surely makes the day sadder. Tomorrow I will be alone in this office.

I have to philosophize the day. In our life’s journey, we don’t know who we will encounter or when our path will cross or when we will part our ways. The only comfort is leaving a place, knowing that we have treated all in our path with honesty and respect.

The real boost of the day is — bringing out the very best of ourselves wherever we are and feeling no regret when we have to say goodbye.



Do the right thing always, no matter what you do


I chatted with a colleague of mine (sidekick) about doing the right thing today. She shared with me how she felt after going to the gym yesterday. Before that, she felt a bit reluctant, like “En, I don’t feel like going on treadmill today. I’m a bit tired. I’ll do it tomorrow, etc” But with a little effort, she conquered herself and did go. She said she felt great after exercise, even if she didn’t start this way. Her husband felt the same way.

I shared with her what I told my children. That is, do the right thing always because that’s the only way that makes you happy in the end. No matter what you do, either drinking or eating or smoking or exercise or gossiping or working, make no exceptions.

Sometimes, when we yield to our weakness we might experience a transient moment of pleasure like when we are over a buffet or when we indulge in gossiping about others or when we spend hours browsing aimlessly on the internet or when we drink or smoke or simply being lazy and skip our daily exercise. But what counts most is how you feel in the end.



“The good life is built with good relationships” by Dr. Robert Waldinger


I read this piece by Dr. Robert Walinger today, What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness. Immediately, I want to share it with my children. Then I thought I’d better wait till they are married and let them know the importance of a good relationship to the happiness of their lives.

What keeps us healthy and happy as we go through life? If you were going to invest now in your future best self, where would you put your time and your energy? There was a recent survey of millennials asking them what their most important life goals were, and over 80 percent said that a major life goal for them was to get rich. And another 50 percent of those same young adults said that another major life goal was to become famous.

And we’re constantly told to lean in to work, to push harder and achieve more. We’re given the impression that these are the things that we need to go after in order to have a good life. Pictures of entire lives, of the choices that people make and how those choices work out for them, those pictures are almost impossible to get. Most of what we know about human life we know from asking people to remember the past, and as we know, hindsight is anything but 20/20. We forget vast amounts of what happens to us in life, and sometimes memory is downright creative.

But what if we could watch entire lives as they unfold through time? What if we could study people from the time that they were teenagers all the way into old age to see what really keeps people happy and healthy?

We did that. The Harvard Study of Adult Development may be the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done. For 75 years, we’ve tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, and of course asking all along the way without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out.

Studies like this are exceedingly rare. Almost all projects of this kind fall apart within a decade because too many people drop out of the study, or funding for the research dries up, or the researchers get distracted, or they die, and nobody moves the ball further down the field. But through a combination of luck and the persistence of several generations of researchers, this study has survived. About 60 of our original 724 men are still alive, still participating in the study, most of them in their 90s. And we are now beginning to study the more than 2,000 children of these men. And I’m the fourth director of the study.

Since 1938, we’ve tracked the lives of two groups of men. The first group started in the study when they were sophomores at Harvard College. They all finished college during World War II, and then most went off to serve in the war. And the second group that we’ve followed was a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, boys who were chosen for the study specifically because they were from some of the most troubled and disadvantaged families in the Boston of the 1930s. Most lived in tenements, many without hot and cold running water.

When they entered the study, all of these teenagers were interviewed. They were given medical exams. We went to their homes and we interviewed their parents. And then these teenagers grew up into adults who entered all walks of life. They became factory workers and lawyers and bricklayers and doctors, one President of the United States. Some developed alcoholism. A few developed schizophrenia. Some climbed the social ladder from the bottom all the way to the very top, and some made that journey in the opposite direction.

The founders of this study would never in their wildest dreams have imagined that I would be standing here today, 75 years later, telling you that the study still continues. Every two years, our patient and dedicated research staff calls up our men and asks them if we can send them yet one more set of questions about their lives.

Many of the inner city Boston men ask us, “Why do you keep wanting to study me? My life just isn’t that interesting.” The Harvard men never ask that question.

To get the clearest picture of these lives, we don’t just send them questionnaires. We interview them in their living rooms. We get their medical records from their doctors. We draw their blood, we scan their brains, we talk to their children. We videotape them talking with their wives about their deepest concerns. And when, about a decade ago, we finally asked the wives if they would join us as members of the study, many of the women said, “You know, it’s about time.”

So what have we learned? What are the lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that we’ve generated on these lives? Well, the lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.

We’ve learned three big lessons about relationships. The first is that social connections are really good for us, and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic. People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And the sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely.

And we know that you can be lonely in a crowd and you can be lonely in a marriage, so the second big lesson that we learned is that it’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health. High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.

Once we had followed our men all the way into their 80s, we wanted to look back at them at midlife and to see if we could predict who was going to grow into a happy, healthy octogenarian and who wasn’t. And when we gathered together everything we knew about them at age 50, it wasn’t their middle age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old. It was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. And good, close relationships seem to buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old. Our most happily partnered men and women reported, in their 80s, that on the days when they had more physical pain, their mood stayed just as happy. But the people who were in unhappy relationships, on the days when they reported more physical pain, it was magnified by more emotional pain.

And the third big lesson that we learned about relationships and our health is that good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. It turns out that being in a securely attached relationship to another person in your 80s is protective, that the people who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people’s memories stay sharper longer. And the people in relationships where they feel they really can’t count on the other one, those are the people who experience earlier memory decline. And those good relationships, they don’t have to be smooth all the time. Some of our octogenarian couples could bicker with each other day in and day out, but as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.

So this message, that good, close relationships are good for our health and well-being, this is wisdom that’s as old as the hills. Why is this so hard to get and so easy to ignore? Well, we’re human. What we’d really like is a quick fix, something we can get that’ll make our lives good and keep them that way. Relationships are messy and they’re complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends, it’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s also lifelong. It never ends. The people in our 75-year study who were the happiest in retirement were the people who had actively worked to replace workmates with new playmates. Just like the millennials in that recent survey, many of our men when they were starting out as young adults really believed that fame and wealth and high achievement were what they needed to go after to have a good life. But over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships, with family, with friends, with community.

So what about you? Let’s say you’re 25, or you’re 40, or you’re 60. What might leaning in to relationships even look like?

Well, the possibilities are practically endless. It might be something as simple as replacing screen time with people time or livening up a stale relationship by doing something new together, long walks or date nights, or reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in years, because those all-too-common family feuds take a terrible toll on the people who hold the grudges.

I’d like to close with a quote from Mark Twain. More than a century ago, he was looking back on his life, and he wrote this: “There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”

The good life is built with good relationships.



Keys to a long and healthy life…


Here’s what I learned today about keys to a long life:
Be social. Loneliness kills.
Smile often. Grumpiness hurts yourself most.
Be moderate. Don’t go to extreme.
Get a higher education,
Be friend with healthy people. You tend to gain weight when you are with fat ones.
Don’t sit for long,
Cultivate hobbies,
Be a good person, which is a reward in itself.
Be a great neighbor. Kindness to others comes back to benefit you more than you give to others.
Be positive in life.

Now we know better.



First class cruise in life


I read this piece in Chinese last month. I thought it a good one for my children, so I translated it into English. I also shared it with some friends. Here’s the story.

There is a couple who have been very thrifty raising 4 children who have turned out to be very successful in life. On their 50th wedding anniversary, the children planned to give their parents a special gift. Because the old couple enjoy walking on the beach, they decided to fund the most luxurious oceanic cruise, fashioned after the TV show The Love Boat. They bought for the old couple first class for everything, the best accommodations, etc.

The ocean liner was huge, with a capacity of up to a few thousand people, with swimming pool, evening parties, theater, etc. They were full of huh, aha, wow. The only thing that bothers them is everything is terribly expensive. The old couple has been thrifty all their lives. They have not taken with them much money and cannot bring themselves to enjoy anything. So they spend most of the time in their five-star cabin or walking on the deck and enjoying the oceanic scene. Luckily for them, they brought with them a box of instant noodles as they were afraid they were not used to the food on the liner. Since everything is expensive on the ship, they live on their noodles. Occasionally, they would buy some bread and milk from stores for a change.

On the last night of their vacation, the old man was wondering what they would say if their neighbors asked about the meals on the ship. They wouldn’t know what to say if they had not tasted any. So they made up their mind to have dinner at the ship’s dinner room. After all, it was their last night on the ship.

They had a wonderful time in the candle-lit dinner room with music around, which brought them back to the time when they first dated. Toward the end of dinner time, a servant approached them asking them politely for their ship ticket.

The old man was rather upset, thinking “Why do you check my ticket for a meal? You think I was smuggled in, right?”

The servant checked on one of the boxes on the back of the ticket and asked them with a surprise, “Dear gentleman, you have not consumed anything with this ticket after you got on, haven’t you?”

The old man became even more upset, “It’s not your business if I consume or not.”

The servant patiently explained to the couple, “You have first class cabin ticket, which means you can enjoy everything on the ship, free of charge. Because it’s paid. All you need to do is to show your ticket each time you enjoy them and we would put a check on the back.”

The old couple was utterly speechless, recalling how they tried to save by living on their instant noodles everyday on the ship.

What does the story reveal to you about life?



One of my favorites, Marie Curie’s quote


We had our monthly CTO meeting at CRC today. During the meeting, the person presiding the meeting mentioned a quote of Marie Curie, which happens to be my favorite,

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

On the way back to office, I took the road less taken. I think of the fact that the other adult in the household always takes Ward Parkway to KC plaza, averting the unfamiliar ones. I like to try different routes, the unfamiliar one, the more adventuous, the more chance to discover something new, the better. Try and learn something new everyday. Isn’t that what life is all about!



The ebb and flow of the year


I know time and tide wait for no man and people have to do something even when they are at a low ebb. They cannot wait for their peak creative moments to be productive because time is marching on regardless.

The first part of this year is quickly rushing by. For this year I have decided not to look for a change of job any more. I am trying to find something else more meaningful to fill my time.

The plan is I will quit the job and engage full time in whatever I have found. Well, so far, I have not been successful.

Because my day job has long become irrelevant to my personal agenda, I have tried to squeeze as much time as possible for myself during the day, reading, thinking, finding and injecting meanings, and enjoying what I have.

I will certainly work harder to create something, even though I don’t know if I will be able to do something different in the months to come for this year. In fact, I am more motivated when I think of the end of year, the time when my son comes back home for holiday. I am more motivated because I want to do something for them, something they are proud of.



Time’s flying… the year’s rushing by…


Yesterday when I talked with my son over the phone, I shared with him a sense of urgency as the so-called new year is rushing by. The spring semester is ending next month. With that comes summer break. After summer, the fall brings us closer to the end of the year.

Oh my God, the thought makes me so anxious, more so as I remember the same feeling that I had last year and the year before. I didn’t want to share my anxiety with my son, but I could tell he felt it as I spoke out my thought.

There’s so much that we want to do but so little time! I wish my son could get more done while enjoying life as it rushes by rapidly before our very eyes.



Thought of the day — No need to care what others think of you


When my manager learned of my applying for the IIT protocol writer and CM Specialist positions, she called last Thursday to make sure that I knew I needed to use my vacation hours for these internal job interviews, which I had known.

I don’t really want her to know that I am applying for these positions, because I know she doesn’t think highly of me. She might think… Well, I don’t even care what she or others think of me. It’s totally irrelevant to me.

Life is too short to waste on that sort of stuff. Go your own way and let others talk their talks.



Thought of the day — Life is a one way journey, forward only.


Life is a one way journey, forward only.
Make each step a solid one.
Make everyday count.
If you waste your time, don’t even regret.
Because regret itself is a waste of time.



Listening to “The Road of Life” filmed by David Lindberg


This is narrated in this short video clip.

Each journey requires an understanding of the essential:
what do we bring,
what do we leave behind,

what helped us soar yesterday,
that might hold us back today,
choices written and re-written,
changing by the second,
not that simple, external like destination.

These are the decisions of soul, character and essence. Because it’s not where we are going that defines us truly. It’s how we go there. From the first and the last of ….that is the epics of our lives.

And if we are lucky, there are special characters in this epic, co-conspirators that we share the spoilers of our great tasks, the partner of today, tomorrow and onward into the days beyond, for our best, our worst, … and the knowledge that together, we make each trip an adventure and enjoy every moment of the journey.”

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