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.
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.
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.
I thought of this today. It sounds true even though I forgot where I read it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
This is what happened yesterday after work when I was at the gas station on Holmes a little north of highway 435. An elderly lady with her car hood popped up was moving around and her car parked at one spot where people normally fill the gas. She kept popping up and down the car hood. I thought there might be something wrong with her car, that is, her car would not start or something on that line.
I drove in front of her car to take up another spot. While I was filling the gas to my highlander, I heard her talking over the phone to her child, loudly.
This is her story. She was obviously handicapped when she moved around. Her face reveals a life of hardships, miseries, poor health, anything you want to avoid. Her husband was admitted into hospice, dying of AIDS. She spent all the money on her husband’s medical expenses. Now she ran out of money after she spent all on her car. She didn’t even have money to buy grocery. There was a toddler in her car, whom she also kept talking to. She was talking and crying, and kept going to grab car wash paper towel for her nose and eyes. She is a total picture of sadness and dejection, reminding me of Hugo’s novel les misérables. I kept thinking “How could anyone fall into this wretched state of living in today’s world?”
I knew I must do something before I drove away from her. I reached out to my purse and gave her a $20 bill that I normally kept for emergency. She grabbed my hand to express her gratitude. Honestly, her hands looked very unclean.
As I drove away, I saw her starting her car and was leaving, too. My heart was too full to think of anything. Now when I looked back, it was obvious that there was nothing wrong with her car. Most likely she was there begging for help.
There should be many government agencies that take care of people like them. At least I know there are many food banks serving them who cannot put food on the table. What else does she need if food is not the issue? Drug or what? I don’t want to think about it. I can’t imagine people can mess up their lives so miserably.
I felt excited when I read this paragraph during my youth years. Today, the paragraph still serves as a reminder. That is, I should not waste time, my precious life, on trivial in life.
“Man’s dearest possession is life, and it is given to him but once. He must live so as to feel no torturing regrets for years without purpose, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, when dying, he can say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world…” — Karl Marx
“Man’s mind stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.” –O.W. Holmes
On the evening of 6/29, I was reading while my daughter was on the computer doing her project. It was this way for many evenings. Before I left for bed, I told her, “You need to give your brain a break after some times. If you spend all the time on the computer, you leave no time for your brain to think, digest, create and imagine…”
This is what I want to say to many people, especially younger generation. Their time on the computer is way too long to be good and healthy to them.
Use your time to create value and to add joy to your life.
I post these words on the wall in my office, initially to remind myself not to waste time. On 8/26/14, I looked at these words again and found it extra helpful when something unpleasant cropped up.
I shared something on patient locations with a colleague of mine, thinking she might need it. Instead of showing gratitude, she wrote back, “Do you seriously think I don’t know where these patients are? Give me a break…” I wrote back, “…I don’t know, so I dug them out and just thought of sharing with you…” Obviously, sharing is not always welcome and offering to share can be a slap on your face.
I don’t know how that colleague of mine feels after saying these words. For me, I feel like totally wasting time when I thought I was creating values and adding joy to my life by helping others. I guess I have made a poor judgment when I was trying to be nice and helpful.
In this culture, the best route to happiness is to focus on your own happiness, keeping your eyes and nose off anybody else… Call it selfish. You have to be this way in this extremely individualistic culture.
“What I like most about change is that it is a synonym for hope. If you are taking risk, what you are really saying is ‘I believe in tomorrow and I will be part of it.‘”
— Linda Ellerbee, an American journalist
Frequent two places throughout your life: playground and library.
Able to go through hardships and endure grievances.
Possess both dreams or goals and the will power to reach your goal
Two best doctors in life are: exercise and optimism
The key to good health is in the morning; the key to success is in the evening.
Is it ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or behavior problem? Parents, try behavior management before heading to the doctor’s office. Medicine may seem an easy solution, but good discipline will last longer.
(1) Daily routine, having boundaries and consistency in expectation
(2) Positive reinforcement for the effort made not just for the result
(3) Clear rules, instructions, and expectations
(4) Consistent consequences to unwanted behavior
I will translate it later…
Early last Sunday morning, 5/25, a friend of ours and her whole family went on a three-week tour in some European countries. While they have been to Europe many times, our family has never been there once. I felt a bit sad that we were not able to go while both of my children were home with us. The trip really is expensive. Compared to some of the Chinese here, we are relatively less affluent, which is why we have not travelled outside the country as much as some of our friends. I told my son that I felt like a loser, in economical sense. I feel my children have been deprived of a lot of fun in their childhood because of this.
Shortly after I was laid off from Sprint, I had opportunities to go back IT job and maintain my IT salary if I were willing to travel to other places and take on short-term contract positions. But if I did, it would mean leaving the children behind. So I chose to give up these opportunities and stay with them till they are able to be on their own, believing I could always made money but the children needed me for only these few years. I am glad I have made this decision. Still, I feel like finding lame excuses for my financial failure in life.
No matter what happened, I have tried my best to provide a protective and well-guided life to both of my children. When looking back, the only big comfort to me is to see both of them have turned out well-bred and well-educated and are well on their way to a much better life than mine.
I regret not having traveled widely while my children were home with me, but no regret for my past decision.
Original Goodness: Strategies for Uncovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources by Eknath Easwaran, 1989. I bought this book in spring of 1992 at Bowling Green State University. I don’t know why I bought it and even read it. There must be a need for this book at that time. Or I must have a strong sense to master the original goodness.
Before my daughter gets back home, of course, I cleaned the house once again, as if I hadn’t done it for a long time. I tried to get rid of some book, this one being one of them. I not only read this book but also left underlines throughout the book. Below are part of what I have underlined.
The book has 229 pages. My original plan is to get rid of the book after I finish taking down the notes. But as I was typing, I changed my mind, at least for now. I plan to keep the book for my children, even after I have taken most of the underlined notes. Let’s see what they will do with it. For now, let’s try to enjoy these reading notes.
“Our supreme purpose in life is not to make a fortune, nor to pursue pleasure, nor to write our name on history, but to discover this spark of the divine that is in our hearts.” p. 9
“Though we are born of human clay, it reminds us, each of us has the latent capacity to reach and grow toward heaven until we shine with the reflected glory of our maker.” p. 10
“… It was as if they [shoppers] had come looking for something to want — something that might fill a nameless need, even if only for a moment…” p. 13
“Making things, buying and selling them, piling them up, repairing them, trying to figure out how to get rid of them permanently: for sensitive people, boredom with this carnival cycle began some time ago. A consumer culture is not the goal of life.” p. 13
“…wealth, possessions, power, and pleasure have never brought lasting satisfaction to any human being. Our needs go too deep to be satisfied by anything that comes and goes. Nothing but spiritual fulfillment can fill the void in our hearts.” p. 14
“…for a person who can think only of himself, someone who explodes when things do not go her way, is fragile, alienated, and very lonely individual. …In the end, it is this driving sense of separateness — I, I, I; my need, my wants, apart from all the rest of life — that is responsible for all the wars in history, all the violence, all the exploitation of other human beings, and even the exploitation of the planet that threatens our future today.” p. 19
“We want to love and to be loved. We want happiness and fulfillment,… We want a place in life, a way of belonging, a sense of purpose, the achievement of worthy goals — whatever it takes; otherwise life is an empty show.” p. 19
“…what we say we believe in is not so important; what matters is what we actually do — and,…what we actually are. ‘As we think in our hearts, so we are.'” p. 23
“…meditation is essentially an interior discipline.” p. 25
Meditation “is the regular, systematic training of attention to turn inward and dwell continuously on a single focus within consciousness, until,… we become so absorbed in the object of our contemplation that while we are meditating, we forget ourselves completely. In that moment, when we may be said to be empty of ourselves, we are utterly full of what we are dwelling on…we become what we meditate on.
“Meditation,…means training the mind: teaching our thoughts to go where we tell them and to obey themselves while they are there…” p. 26
“…when you have this kind of mastery over your attention in everything you do, you have a genius for life itself: unshakable security, clear judgment, deep personal relationships, compassion that no adversity can break down.” p. 26
“…we see not so much with the eyes as with the mind, for it is the mind that arranges and interprets the information of the senses according to its own conditioning.” [I would say head instead of mind] p. 33
“It is in the mind that we experience life, and the mind is never really clear.” ??? p. 37
“…the mind is often compared to a lake, whose waters become clouded with mud when the lake is agitated. Only when the murk of our thoughts, desires, and passions settles does the mind become calm and clear.” [use head instead of mind] p. 39
“We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold. As a man is, so he sees.” p. 40
“Intellectual study cannot be of much help in this transformation. Only meditation, the systematic turning inward of attention, can take us deep into consciousness where the obstacles to a pure heart hide.” p. 43
On humility, “Whenever we get swept away by a selfish urge or a wave of anger, we are in hell; we can almost feel the sulfurous fumes of insecurity and fear. If we get so angry that we can’t sleep, we are overnight guests in hell’s hotel.” p. 53
“Hell is no metaphor and neither is heaven. Hell and heaven are states of consciousness. Doesn’t Jesus say the kingdom of heaven is within? And mental states are real — in fact, in some ways they are even more ‘thing’ than things…if I said something unkind and you couldn’t stop thinking
about it, your resentment might burn for years. It might even aggravate your ulcer.” p. 54
“…when you go on saying ‘I’m a sinner,…’ you’re actually thinking of yourself as a sinner. You expect yourself to do wrong thing. I like to emphasize original goodness: ‘I’m a saint,…” p. 54
“We don’t have to have somebody punish us for doing wrong; we punish ourselves. Sin its own punishment…anger is its own punishment.” p. 54
“…dwelling on yourself is its own punishment. All of us find ourselves a fascinating, satisfying subject to contemplate…until the results begin to accumulate… the person who thinks about himself all the time, who can scarcely think about anything except in connection with his own needs, becomes the most wretched creature on earth. Nothing really goes the way he wants, and that preoccupation with himself that seemed so pleasant and natural becomes a wall that keeps everyone else outside. It’s a lonely, tormented life. Perhaps the most painful irony is that this wretchedness too is just dwelling on oneself. Once a habit is formed, the mind cannot stop, even when it makes us miserable.” p. 55
“All these habits of mind that can make life hell,…can be traced to one central flaw of attention. To call it self-preoccupation comes close: the habit of dwelling on my needs, my desires, my plans, my fears. The more deeply ingrained this pattern of thinking is,…the more we make ourselves a little island isolated from the rest of life, with all the unhappiness that has to follow.” p. 55
On Self-forgetfulness: “All of us have tasted the freedom and happiness that self-forgetfulness brings,… In watching a good game of tennis or becoming engrossed in a novel,…the satisfaction comes not so much from what we are watching or reading as from the act of absorption itself…” p. 60
“…there is only one way to be completely happy, and that is to forget ourselves in working for others. It’s a perplexing paradox: so long as we try to make ourselves happy, life places obstacles in our path. But the moment we turn away from ourselves to make others happy, our troubles melt away.” p. 61
“…in that absorption all the burdens a person might carry in such work were lifted from his shoulders …” p. 62
“As preoccupation with ourselves diminishes, security builds. We find we have greater patience – and not just with others, but with ourselves as well. Things that used to cause stress and agitation no longer ruffle us, and people we used to find difficult start to show a brighter side.” p. 66
“When there is no past, then no ghosts from the past …, no anger or resentment – can come to make your life miserable… It is not that you forget what happened yesterday when you lose the bond with the past; you just don’t think about yesterday.” p. 66
“…the unburdening of the memory.”
“It is heaven to be free of worry about tomorrow. I have many responsibilities, but I don’t worry about them. I plan, I work hard, but I don’t get anxious about results. When you develop this marvelous capacity to hold attention steady on the present, like a flame of a candle in a windless place, most anxieties evaporate. There is no reason to worry about what tomorrow may bring. If you live today completely in love – hating no one, hurting no one, serving all – then tomorrow has to be good, whatever comes.” p. 67
On Slowing down:
“All negative thoughts are fast. Fear, resentment, greed, and jealousy rush through the mind at a hundred miles per hour. At such speeds we cannot turn, cannot stop, cannot keep from crashing into people.” p. 67
“Fast thinking has implications for the body too. People whose thoughts spin faster and faster become victims of the speed habit of their minds.
“This kind of turmoil takes a heavy toll on health, and evidence suggests that emotional instability may leave the body more vulnerable to illness and reduce its capacity for healing. Uncontrollable anger … seems to be associated with hypertension and heart disease and is a component in severe breathing problems.” 68
On Putting Others First: “A third way to dissolve the strata of self-centered conditioning is by learning to think of other people’s needs before our own. This is perhaps …the most rewarding challenge on the spiritual path.” p. 70
“Putting others first is an infectious example that affects everybody around… All of us maintain a free university of our own, where we teach by what we are. Especially where children are concerned, the home is a 7-day-a-week school of education for living.” p. 71
“…the very best way to change someone is to begin with your own example.” p. 71
When people use hurtful words to you, “if you remember not to retaliate in words and actions, eventually you will find it impossible even to think hurtful thoughts.” p. 75
On Simplicity: we need to remind ourselves “that the real meaning of simplicity is singling out what is worth living for, then shaping our lives around what matters and letting go of everything else. Thoreau tells us, ‘I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.'” p. 79
“Simple living is the art of using minimum means to attain maximum results – just the opposite of what happens when we get caught up in the obsessions of a consumer society.” p. 80
“To enjoy everything, desire to get joy from nothing.” p. 81
On Patience: “Even immersing ourselves in hobbies, intellectual pursuits, or relationships can be attempts to create a little world where beauty and harmony are permanent, where disorder and distress cannot enter.” p. 98
“Training the mind to stay steady brings another precious benefit: it protects us from the physiological impact of negative emotions and stress.” p. 100
“…full health is more than just the absence of disease. It means a dynamic harmony of body and mind which allows us to live at our full physical, emotional, and spiritual potential.” p. 101
“…it is not so much events that subject us to stress as the way we perceive and interpret those events. …stress is defined as a relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering his
or her well-being.
“…those who know how to keep their mind on an even keel will respond to life’s challenges with calmness, alertness, and even eagerness… what makes the difference is not personality type but evenness of mind.” p. 104
“…keeping calm in the face of excitement is even harder. Pleasure makes the mind race too…” p. 105
One possible connection between stress and illness is that psychological stress drains energy – energy that the body needs to stay vital, resist disease, and heal.” p. 106
“…no physical regimen can counteract the energy-wasting habits of the mind.” p. 106
“Human beings do not need excitement; they need meaning, purpose, a higher goal and some way of getting there. Without these, for those who are sensitive, life may soon lose its value.” p. 108
“‘Will I get a chance to help others?’ All that is important is that you can make a contribution; that is what gives life meaning and value.” p. 110
“…patience is not only a mental virtue; it is an asset even for physical health.” p. 111
“…if you can strengthen your patience to such a degree that other people’s behavior never upsets you, your heart, lungs, and nervous system will be on vacation.” p. 112
“Patience attains everything. Through patience, every goal can be reached.” p. 112
“Patience means self-mastery: the capacity to hold on and remain loving in a difficult situation when every atom of your being wants to turn and run.” p. 113
Instead of asking ‘Please give me more patience,’ keep in mind help always comes from within.
“We do not really get satisfaction out of hurting people who hurt us. We have simply fallen into the habit of brooding on wrongs done to us, blowing them up to the proportions of enormous antipathies, until we finally explode.” p. 127
“…personal suffering always comes from self-will…Nothing burns in hell except self-will.” p. 127
“Goodness may taste bitter at first, but it is found at last to be immortal wine.” p. 128
“Compulsive thought patterns exists only so long as we support them with our belief in their power to propel us into action…If we are bothered by certain thoughts, we should remind ourselves that it is we who rent out the precious space within the mind…If we shut the door of the mind right in their face, they will soon tire of knocking.” p. 133
“…just as chemicals in the air around us can bring on ailments like cancer, there are thoughts in the unconscious which can pollute our inner atmosphere and bring on illness in mind and even body.” p. 133
“Judge not that ye be not judged” Jesus. When we keep pointing a finger of judgment at others, we are teaching our mind a lasting habit of condemnation. Sooner or later, that finger of judgment will be aimed at ourselves.” p. 135
“I don’t make any demand on life at all. All I need is opportunities for giving, which life has no power to withhold.” p. 146
“When we are kind, tender, compassionate, and forgiving, we get a glimpse of the healing power of this reservoir of mercy within.” p. 150
“As we sow, so we reap.”
“Indulging in anger in pointing a poison-tipped arrow inward, aimed straight at ourselves. It taints our thinking, poisons our feelings, turns our relationships adversarial. If we continue to think resentful thoughts, mistrust spreads in consciousness like some toxic underground chemical until we have a permanent disposition for suspicion.” p. 153
“Energy conservation is the basis of spiritual engineering, for vital energy provides the power we need to tap the infinite source of goodness and mercy that lies at the core of consciousness.” 154
…a close connection between mental states and longevity..
“Security, compassion, patience, forgiveness — all these are accompanied by a relatively slow breathing rhythm and heart rate. Positive states of mind like these conserve energy and lengthen the life span, leaving a reserve of resilience and resistance for facing challenges.” p. 155
“Learning to control attention is the key to gaining access to this energy and using it wisely. …the ability to direct attention is the very root of judgment, character and will.” p. 155
“…the best way to help our young people discover and harness their inner resources is by teaching them to master their attention, beginning with our own example. Giving children our full attention is the best way to make them secure; and with the steadiness that comes from a trained mind, we will not lose faith when they run into the problems that young people run into everywhere.” p. 156
“Most of us carry strong personal attachments and sincerely believe that we love deeply. But when we are emotionally entangled with someone, we cannot really be aware of that person’s needs or how we affect his life. Our preoccupation is with ourselves: that our feelings not be violated and that our wants be fulfilled.” p. 158
“…anything that depletes energy reserves regularly is likely to take a toll on health.” p. 159
“What we are looking for in others is generally what we find. ‘Such as we are inwardly, so we judge outwardly,’ Thomas Kempis said.” p. 162
“The memory of past letdowns can weigh down any sensitive human being, making trust an elusive commodity to acquire. Worst of all, when negative memories cast a shadow of mistrust over our relationships, we lack the vitality we need to withdraw our attention and act with kindness, as if those shadows were not there.” p. 162
“In the heart of every human being lies a noble response to anyone who will neither retaliate nor retreat: a deep, intuitive recognition that here is someone who sees in us all the inalienable good in human nature.” p. 170
Always remember what life is for.
“Peace is not an absence of war. It is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, trust, and justice.” Spinoza. … We must actively cultivate peace as a virtue, trying to make it a permanent state of mind.” p. 177
There is a vital connection between the peace or violence in our minds and the conditions that exist outside. When our mind is hostile, it sees hostility everywhere, and we act on what we see. … Acting in anger is not just the result of an agitated mind; it is also a cause, provoking retaliation from others and further agitation from others and further agitation in our own mind. If negative behavior becomes habitual, we find ourselves chronically in a negative frame of mind and continually entangled in pointless conflicts – just the opposite of peaceful and pacifying.” p. 178
It doesn’t really need a reason to lose its temper; anger is its chronic state. … They are simply people whose minds have been conditioned to get angry, usually because they cannot get their own way. Instead of benevolence, they have developed a habit of hostility.” p. 178
If your mind is not trained to make peace at home, how can you hope to promote peace on a larger scale? p. 179
Stirring up passions, provoking animosity, and polarizing opposition may sometimes produce short-term gains, but it cannot produce long-term beneficial results because it only clouds minds and hurt both sides. p. 179
When push comes to shove, unless we have trained ourselves to harness our anger – to put it to work to heal the situation instead of aggravating it – it is monumentally difficult for most of us to resist the impulse to retaliate. p. 180
“We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold.” If we have an angry mind, we will see life as full of anger; if we have a suspicious mind, we will see causes for suspicious all around… p. 180
…use the right means and not worry about the outcome.
Instead of blaming our problems on some intrinsic flaw in human nature, we must squarely take responsibility for our actions as human beings capable of rational thought. p. 183
Trust is a measure of your depth of faith in the nobility of human nature, of your depth of love for all. If you expect the worst from someone, the worst is what you will usually get. Expect the best and people will respond. p. 184
When you give toys to children, or allow them to buy them for themselves, you have to consider that you are not just giving them something to entertain them; you are giving them an instrument that may influence their thinking and living for decades. p. 190
“You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your deep, driving desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.” — Perennial Philosophy p. 205
When we think we decide to buy something, go somewhere, see someone, all too often the choice is being made not by us, but by unconscious desires. p. 205
…indulging such desires for a moment of dash of wickedness, like smoke and drug, only leaves us hungrier than before, and a moment stretching to a day, a month, and many years… Keep in mind there is no long-lasting joy in yielding to a compulsive desire. p. 207
All yielding can do is give us a little respite from desire’s demands – and make them stronger the next time. Joy comes not from yielding, but from gaining freedom from them, freedom to choose. p. 207
There is combativeness in our makeup not so we can fight others, but so we can take on these urges and see how much satisfaction we get in beating them. p. 208
Compulsive desires are part of the human condition, but today we have an additional problem: for almost all of us, our desires are exceptionally well trained. p. 208
Leading to death! This is not kidding. It is again from Harvard Health Publication.
Too much sitting linked to an early death, 1/29/2014. In case the link is not active. Here’s the article.
“I spend most of each workday sitting in a chair, my fingers the only part of my body moving with any intensity. Technology lets me—as well as millions of other people—earn a living from the relative comfort of our desks, without having to break a sweat or even stand up. Once the workday is done, we can transition straight from desk to car to couch, taking barely a step in between.
The ease of our modern workday could come at the expense of our longevity. A new study of older women in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that sitting for long stretches of time increases the odds of an untimely death. The more hours women in the study spent sitting at work, driving, lying on the couch watching TV, or engaged in other leisurely pursuits, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.
And here’s the kicker: Even women who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if most of their daily hours were sedentary ones.
“Even if you are doing the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise, you will still have a higher risk of mortality if you’re spending too many hours sitting,” says Dr. JoAnn Manson, one of the study’s authors, and chief of preventive medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Each of these behaviors is important and has an independent effect on cardiovascular disease and mortality.”
How exactly sitting contributes to reduced longevity isn’t clear, but there are a few possible mechanisms. “Sedentary behavior is associated with an increased risk of the development of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
When you sit, you expend fewer calories than you would while standing, and you demand little effort from your muscles. Sitting too much can also lead to other behaviors that contribute to obesity and heart disease. “Many times when people are sitting, what are they doing? They’re often watching TV and snacking,” says Dr. Manson.
One way to avoid prolonged sitting during the workday is to switch to a standing desk, or one that can adjust to sitting and standing positions. Some companies are piloting the use of treadmill desks, which let workers walk at a leisurely pace while they type or answer the phone. However, these machines are pricey, and if you set the speed too high your legs will wear out before 5 o’clock rolls around.
An easier, no-cost solution is to set your smartphone timer to go off every 30 to 60 minutes during the day. When the alarm rings, “Stretch and move around the office to avoid any prolonged sitting at one time,” Dr. Manson recommends.
How much sitting can you safely do in a day? In the study, women who were inactive for 11 or more hours a day fared the worst, facing a 12% increase in premature death, but even lesser amounts of inactive time can cause problems. “Once you’re sitting for more than 6 to 8 hours a day, that’s not likely to be good for you,” Dr. Manson says. You want to avoid prolonged sitting and increase the amount of moderate or vigorous exercise you do each day, she adds.
When it comes to exercise, “Any activity is good,” says Dr. Lee. “Some is better than none, and more is better than less.” Ideally, work in a full half-hour or hour of exercise each day, while trying to be active—even in short spurts—the rest of the time. But if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes of dedicated exercise at a time, aim for that.”
If you think humans are rational animals, think again after reading this post. No, we are not as rational as we like to be all the time. Here’s one simple example.
We know it’s not healthy to over-drink or overeat or smoke or overwork or do drugs, yet we still do it. I have a patch of eczema on the back of my right hand. I know the only effective treatment in my case is not to touch it and allow it to de-sensitize itself. Yet, I just keep scratching it as if I wanted it there permanently.
People, I mean people who are old enough to be grandparents, know it is unprofessional to gossip in office and it is simply not a nice thing to stab behind people’s back, yet they engage this activity passionately whenever they got a chance. Some young people who put aside their homework or risk jeopardizing their grades spend hours on computer games or simply aimlessly internet surfing.
I used to attribute it to a lack of self-control. Things are actually not that simple. It seems vices or the so-called harmful activities yield more pleasure than their opposites. I mean people must get some kind of pleasure from activities like drinking, eating, smoking, drugs, gossips, gaming or patronizing prostitutes.
Doing the right thing means depriving oneself of the pleasure associated with the above-mentioned activities. It must be rather painful to some people who are thus addicted. Sometimes doing the right thing means exerting hardships on ourselves, like when I go out walking on winter morning, dark and cold with a stick in hand, like when I choose to spend hours on preparing for a certification exam.
Now you understand why I say doing the right thing is difficult. It takes a strong will to resist the temptation of these vices, no matter how pleasurable they promise. It takes much more than self-control to inflict hardships on ourselves, simply because it is the right thing to do.
Yesterday, while I was in the office, I read an email from a middle-high school classmate of mine. It is about another classmate of mine who passed away early this year. I was shocked at the news. I quickly replied to all,
“It is very shocking, to the point that I had to stop everything to re-read it, making sure I was not mis-reading. Though I have never tried to get in touch with him since I left Tianjin over 40 years ago, I still retain the vivid memory of him sitting just in front of me, every gesture and whisper just like yesterday. The news of his passing simply doesn’t fit the healthy image that I have of him back in our teenage years.”
I still cannot believe folks of our generation start to drop off the road so early…
Value what we have today. Nothing matters as much as health.
During last weekend, 2/22-23, I happened to bump into the whereabouts of a college classmate, whom we last met in 1987. We were good friends at that time. She has been living in one place since 1996, the year she got her PhD.
In 1996, I was in Indiana, where my daughter was born. From there, I moved to Virginia, then to Kansas till now. I have changed jobs from a sociology instructor to a database developer, then to my current position with research team. I am still trying to initial a change at this point.
I am sure life would be a lot easy if I had stayed on one job at one place all these years, less moving, less turbulence and less vicissitudes of life. I might have more time writing and be more productive. However, I am not sure if I were better off this way or that way.
One thing I am sure, that is, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I would not stop writing and I would always pursue some goals, be it realistic or not. And whichever way I choose to spend my life, I would still be what I am.
I wrote the following to my son prior to Valentine’s Day.
“There are many things in life that we take for granted, things we don’t appreciate when we have them.
On Valentine’s day and everyday, remember to appreciate the person who is willing to accompany you in your life’s journey, who accepts you as what you are or who might idealize you, who is there for you everyday when you are back to your quiet quarter, tired from work. For whatever reasons you can think of, appreciate that person for your mutual happiness.”
I was going to add this part to the title — “and at what stage of life.” It is not difficult to have beautiful dreams when you are young, knowing a bright future is waiting for you. And realistically speaking, your dream can come true at a younger stage of life.
Yet, other than motivating you to work hard toward some goal, dreams have many other functions in life. It represents something beautiful and idealistic. Without dreams, life would be a sad, boring and even depressing experience.
After half a century has passed when you are over the hill, you might often hear people around you saying things like dawdling away your life or in Chinese “hun-ri-zi,” the word I hear literally everyday, etc.
I have to keep reminding myself — hold on to your dreams, even if it’s rainbow in the sky, ’cause dream gives joys, beauty, meanings, hope, pillar, and everything to your existence. Imagine how depressing it is to go through days and years without them. Not me.
I have kept reminding my children of their New Year Resolutions. I even asked the young relative of mine here to work on his. It will benefit them if they can expect something bigger from themselves.
Here are some thoughts for you to consider if you decide to work on yours.
–find out specific ways of moving out of your comfort zone
–challenge yourself to think differently from yourself
–challenge yourself to find something new in your old way of life
–challenge yourself to learn something new everyday, be it a new word or a new skill, as long as you keep doing it everyday
–count one blessing a day and keep a record of your counting everyday
–if you set a goal for yourself, also break it into small feasible pieces, set specific deadlines for you to reach.
One final thought: refuse to be the same, day in day out, year in year out…
If you can run, don’t walk;
If you can walk, don’t stand;
If you can stand, don’t sit;
If you can sit, don’t lay down.
If you face two choices, always take the harder one.
In life as in everything, the best defense is offense.
That’s the way to get ahead and go above and beyond.
I read this article long ago. In fact, I am sure I would not let it go without posting it here, which means most likely I have already posted it before. Still, it doesn’t hurt to read it again just to remind people: How Being a Jerk Shortens Your Life by John Cloud, Feb. 28, 2011.
I hope it works this way. Here’s an excerpt from the article.
“Beware jocks and mean girls: you may be more popular in high school, but according to a new academic paper, it is the smart kids and conscientious glee-club types who will live longer. Not only that, they will suffer fewer diseases before they die. Only the good die young? Guess again.
The paper, which was published recently in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, summarizes data from millions of people studied in dozens of academic articles. The bottom line is that people who are smarter and more conscientious acquire fewer illnesses and die later than those who have the opposite traits.”
It is an interesting read.
I forgot where I copied this, but here’s what I read about our inner strengths — “built-in capacities for certain thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Everyone has these capacities to one degree or another. Your particular pattern of strengths is part of what makes you unique.”
“When you play from your strengths, you are likely to feel more energetic and perform better than when you are trying to use a capacity that comes less naturally.
Leveraging your strengths can help you accomplish many goals. Making your strengths work for you, especially when the task at hand is well-aligned with your personal values, can leave you feeling more competent and connected.”
This reminds me of a Chinese saying — yang-chang-bi-duan.
Yesterday was Veterans Day. It was rather dark, wet and gloomy, discomfort not just to the body but to the soul. I was groping up and down for some good news to cheer me up, but none ever came at the office during the day.
As I drove home in the late afternoon, I heard radio talking about Veterans Day. My mind was dragged to that topic. From there, I thought of army life, the hardship and the sacrifice, the bitterness, desperateness and the hopelessness with the dead threat like a dagger hanging around their necks. The more I thought about it, the more dreadful I was of that kind of life.
No wonder there is a high suicide rate among soldiers in service. I don’t know how I would survive that kind of life. I don’t know which way to look at this issue. All I know is I should count my blessing on this Veterans Day.
Thought of the day.
When you are waiting for something to happen, you practically pin your hope on the whims of others, like job hunting which depends on the hiring manager who will turn you down simply because she doesn’t like you.
Having others control your life is too risky and unreliable.
Try to have some control over your own life, and try not to subject your happiness to the whims of others.
Most importantly, don’t wait for things to happen. Make it happen.
A young relative of mine told me a few weeks ago that his girl friend jilted him when she found another one. To say he was upset is too much an understatement. I know whatever I say would not alleviate the pain that he has to endure.
With experience like this, people are very much tempted to have negative thoughts toward the other party or even toward people in general.
I am sure there are mountains of writings on this subject. After covering over a half century’s life journey, I have come to terms with some of realities in life that are beyond my control.
First of all, sometimes people make decisions based on their feelings, sometimes on other matters. No matter what justification that they can think out, it’s their decision. Live and let live.
Secondly, you are judged not by how other people treat you but how you treat others. Be kind, always.
I read this article —A Question That Can Change Your Life by Peter Bregman — on August 12, 2013. Again, I was thinking of sharing it here but didn’t have the time. Wait. I might have posted it but I forgot. Still, here it is.
“So here’s the question I’d like to propose you ask yourself throughout your day: What can I do, right now, that would be the most powerful use of this moment? What can I say? What action can I take? What question can I ask? What issue can I bring up? What decision can I make that would have the greatest impact?
Asking these questions — and answering them honestly — is the path to choosing new actions that could bring better outcomes. The hard part is following through on the answers and taking the risks to reap the full benefits of each moment. That takes courage. But it’s also what brings the payoff.”
Woody Allen famously said that 80% of success is showing up. Maybe that’s true. But, if it is, then I’d say the other 20% is the most important. Simply showing up and watching TV on a treadmill — that’s not enough. Your greatest opportunity is to use your time in a way that will garner the most productive return. To take risks that will shake things up.
What can you do, right now, that would be the most powerful use of this moment?“
I read this piece on 8/22, right after we got off from our monthly meeting. 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert The Huffington Post, by Carolyn Gregoire Posted: 08/20/2013. Surprisingly, most of them describe me perfectly, with few exceptions.
1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.
2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.
3. You often feel alone in a crowd. [not me]
4. Networking makes you feel like a phony. [not me]
5. You’ve been called “too intense.”
6. You’re easily distracted. [not me]
7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.
8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.
9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle.
10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.
11. You’re in a relationship with an extrovert. [not me]
12. You’d rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything.
13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation.
14. You screen all your calls — even from friends. [not me]
15. You notice details that others don’t. [not me]
16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.
17. You have low blood pressure.
18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s.
19. You don’t feel “high” from your surroundings.
20. You look at the big picture.
21. You’ve been told to “come out of your shell.”
22. You’re a writer.
23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.
We are going to send my daughter to college this coming Saturday, on 8/24/2013. My colleagues kept asking me what I was going to do with all the time after work. Of course, I am not going to answer them directly and tell them I was going to do the following activities. For one thing, I don’t want them to know what I do after work. For another, they don’t understand why.
Here’s the list of things that I have on my plate.
-> Prepare and take CPHIMS exam
-> Research and prepare for my next paper
-> Devote 30 minutes after dinner to planting
-> Learn to make bike with wire, fun thing for me, will wait till I earn it
-> Clean some of the rooms, whenever I need a break
-> Read about investment,
-> Work on my yard on weekend, when the weather permits on weekend
-> Of course, never stop checking with my children, especially my daughter.
Last week I was chatting with a friend of mine about job and children going to college, etc. How I wish I could transfer my job to wherever my children are. Or I could follow them wherever they go.
My friend mentioned retirement. To be honest, I am not horribly fond of going to the office everyday. Instead, I would rather go somewhere else whenever I want.
Also last Friday, when I asked an NP at our clinic, “What’s your plan for the weekend?” She said, “No plan. The fact I am not in the office matters most. That means I can do whatever I want.” That echoes my thought.
Last weekend, I happened to read something about retirement. Here’s an excerpt of the article.
“It’s not just a love of working that has kept Prosen toiling away 30 hours a week as an octogenarian. He also sees keeping busy as a matter of life or death.
Prosen said he is certain that if he stopped working entirely, he would literally die not long after.
He could be on to something. A number of studies show that retirement is, in fact, bad for your health.”
I am sure this is the case with those who don’t have their personal agenda or goals to go after during their employment years. For me, my plate is always full and I can always find something to keep me super busy.
I can’t believe it is already August. 7/12 of the year has gone.
I asked my mother yesterday over Skype if she still got something special for August First, the day celebrating the establishment of Chinese PLA. She said no. She had been out of the army for so long, over half of a century. It should be the turn of the newly retired army officers and solders. Nice thinking.
I set the goal of having two publications at a professional journal this year. I think I am pretty close to the goal now, with one already published in June, another having been accepted by and most likely coming out from the same journal.
Authors don’t get paid for their publications, but the greatly coveted honor and distinction associated with a publication at a professional journal is not something you can buy with money. That’s why both of my children say they are very proud of me.
The death of Cory Monteith on 7/13/2013 of heroin and alcohol overdose at age 31 reminds me of another young actor, River Phoenix, who died at age 23, also of heroin and cocaine overdose, and another singer Whitney Houston who died at age 48 and also of cocaine use, and actually many more of them.
While it is sad to see these talented and well-liked people passed away so young, it is also amazing how they could keep a clean public appearance while being hopeless addicts privately.
It was said the Monteith had struggled with addictions since his teens. Obviously addiction eventually conquered him. What a nightmare!
One week ago, I posted one commemorating my father. After that, I shared it with a friend of mine who wrote back the above.
That’s why we have stories to comfort us. Reality is all socially structured, true as long as we believe it. Happy is he who truly believes.
Ok, I read this article, “10 Crap Things About Adulthood” by Lizzy Shramko, on 4/18/2013. Here is the list.
9. Health Insurance. High deductible. Low deductible…
8. Your body.
6. Coffee addictions.
5. Business Casual.
4. The more money you make, the more money you spend.
3. Dreams are dead. You would think that more experience leads to higher aspirations and lofty goals. Not true. People have been beaten down with pragmatism and a shitty economy, when you couple that with having to pay your bills and health insurance copays, this one kind of makes sense. You no longer have time to dream about all the cool shit you want to do. You’re not going to Paris. Your shitty app company is never going to launch. This is probably the last year you will be jamming with the guys. So forget about your dreams.
2. Being a woman. You thought being a girl as a teenager was shitty and confusing, well buckle up and get ready for a never-ending crap ride of sexual harassment and double standards.
1. Racism. Police officers don’t stop racial profiling. Neither do TSA agents or people who work in department stores. In fact, it gets worse. As with the aforementioned dudes it’s as though white people grow more and more indignant and refuse to acknowledge their privilege. If you bring up anything about race they will crouch down in a defensive position and attack. You might even be accused of reverse racism. Actually you will most definitely be accused of reverse racism.
Next Page »
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.