April Fool’s Day, how we often fool ourselves in real life

Not long ago, while I was working on a writing on student loan crisis, I bumped into this article –“Calculating a College Degree’s True Value.”

The article lists the salaries after graduation for 25 majors from the highest paid job (system engineering) to the lowest one (biology).

While I understand that not everybody is interested or is capable of taking the highest-paid major, it strikes me as pure dumbness or self-deceiving when some people take a heavy student loan and go for a major that doesn’t pay at all or that doesn’t even promise a job upon graduation.

It is one thing if your family can pay it all for your low-paid major. It is another thing when you get that major by taking out heavy student loan.

On this April Fool’s day, let us wish people stop fooling themselves when they go to college.

The end of last month and the end of one doctor at our site

Last day of February saw the leaving of one of our doctors at our clinic. I learn that he was one of the founding physicians for our practice, like over 20 years of seniority here. His experience seems a familiar story.

He came from Seattle area, that is, he grew up there and his family is still there. He went to medical school in Kansas, stayed here for residency, then worked here till the end of last month.

Even though he has been in Kansas for over two or even three decades and has raised his own family here, when both of his children have gone to college, leaving him an empty nest, he still wants to move back to Seattle, being closer to his first home.

When I learn about his story, I think of many people who left home when they were young adults, venturing out for their more opportunities. As they became old, they returned to the place of their origin. Isn’t it something universal?

Trash picker, catalogs, and dreams

1st prize contemporary issues by Micah Albert

It seems so incongruent when we mention dream together with a picture like this. People often associate dreams with something unrealistically beautiful and ideal. This picture is anything but that.

I don’t know who she is or what specifically her life looks like or what is going on in her mind when she is reading the catalog among trashes or what dream she might have. I do know that people live a different life. And I am sure that’s not the kind of life most people want to lead.

This picture reminds me of those humanities who live in a totally different environment from me, that we should count our blessings for having been delivered from this environment, that, whenever we can, it is our responsibility to alleviate our fellow human beings from miseries and hardships that have been inflicted on them.

P.S. I talked to my daughter about this picture and my thought on it. She said dream could make things happen, if not this generation, life would be better for the next. Without dream and effort, things would remain the same for generations.

Saturday encounter at Central Library

Last Saturday, I went to our Central library in the morning, to get some help for filing tax return. There I met a Chinese couple in their 60s. They were there for the same purpose.

This was the first time that they came to library for tax help. Since their English is not adequate, I helped them with some of the forms.

The man came from Taiwan to the United States in 1979, having worked all the time on Chinese restaurant and his wife, the second one to be sure, was on the same line. They have been here for so many years and worked hard all these years, yet they don’t seem to be affluent in their lives. And they really carried the appearance of a life of hardship.

As I went through their tax forms, I felt sad and was wondering how they could live on this little. While we need to work hard in our lives, we really need another form of hard work, definitely not this restaurant one. Of course, after I got back, I shared this story with my daughter.

A friend’s facebook is all about his children

Last Saturday, while my daughter was in Manhattan, I went out doing some grocery shopping. The weather was so warm inside the car that I felt like some time in June or near summer days, which once again brought to my mind memories that I hold dearly about summer, either driving my children to summer school or myself in a relaxing mood. Oh well, another illusion.

While I was searching for a plant that I just bought, I thought of going to facebook, where, for the first time, I went to a friend of mine just to take a peep at his latest career development.

To my surprise, his facebook site consists nearly all pictures of his sons, mainly the elder one who seems to be the source of great pride to his father. In fact, I did not see anything about his career.

I thought of the facebook sites of some of my colleagues here, which display the pictures of their children. Maybe this is what facebook is supposed to be. Or maybe at our age we don’t have anything to display other than the pictures of our beautiful daughters and handsome sons. Or maybe…

I don’t know why. I just think it interesting.

27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part VI

(23) Philanthropy. Teach the child the importance of engaging in philanthropy work and develop in her the habit of giving as a social activity. Set an example for the child by volunteering time into charity work

(24) Focus on the present. While the past is gone and the future is not here yet, present is all we have right now. Only by focusing on the present can we not only fully enjoy life but also have a better chance of a future in which we are less tortured by regrets for having wasted time.

(25) Enjoy life. While we work hard to prepare for the future, don’t forget to enjoy what life has to offer now.

(26) Seek a goal in life. Have a goal and work toward it, be it in career or in health or in family.

(27) Learn how to develop and maintain an intimate relationship. Learn to resolve conflicts by open communications, understanding, and compromising.

27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part V

(16) Savings.
(a) Teach the child to live within his means instead of living on borrowed money;
(b) put aside a little of the income into a saving account;
(c) plan well for any big purchase, e.g. if a child wants to buy an expensive item, teach him to set a saving goal, say $10 per week, and wait till he has saved enough for the purchase.

(17) Learn to budget.
(18) Expense. Teach your child how to pay bill.
(19) Investment.

(20) Thrify.
(a) Before making a purchase, always compare at least two stores the quality and price of the goods;
(b) Avoid waste of any forms;
(c) Avoid impulsive shopping;
(d) Eat home cooked meals whenever possible
(e) Avoid shopping sprees, especially during holiday season

(21) Debts. Teach your child the responsibility of a loan, how to avoid getting into unnecessary debts or getting deeply in debts. Learn how to use credit card.

27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part IV

(9) A kind heart which is filled with good wishes for others, with which you are ready to extend your helping hand to the needed.

(10) Listening and understand what others are saying and how others feel.

(11) Communication. Good oral and written communication skills are very essential to a child’s success. Schools are not designed to help students develop strong communication skills. Hence, you should help your child to develop this skill at home.

(14) Clean and orderliness. The child should learn to keep his room clean and in good order. Carry out a weekly or monthly cleaning.

(15) Organizing. Teach the child to be organized, put things back to where they belong after the child uses it, and establish a proper procedure in completing a task.

27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part III

(4) Motivation, the start of everything. Nobody can push you forward all the time. Your self-motivation is the ultimate push and energe to your goal.

(5) Efficiency. Learn to manage your time. If it must be done, do it without procrastination. Don’t always wait till last moment.

(6) Passion. Find out what you are interested in and good at, and want to spend as much time on it as you are allowed. Go for your passion at full speed.

(7) Cooperation. Learn to work with others and aim at a win-win result. Make friends in competition.

(8) Empathy. Learn to see situation from other’s perspective, to put yourself in other’s position so that you will be able to gain a better understanding of others.

27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part II

I might not go into great detail on each of them, as I myself have not learned all of them yet. To be sure, it is hard for the children to learn them all, especially if the parents cannot claim to have done them all.

(1) Critical thinking ability. This is not something you learn at school, which confirmity is the norm and you are not encourage to challenge authority. Both teachers and employers like obedient students and employees. But if you don’t want your child to become someone who only know how to follow the rules and obey authority, you need to teach the child this crucial skill — critical

(2) Read to develop the ability to make associations, to determine the reliability of the information presented by the author, or decide if the conclusion is logic and truthful, and finally engage in dialogue or debate with the author.

(3) Stay positive. Especially in time of setbacks or hardship or facing obstacles, instead of complaining, actively seeking solutions, maintain self-confidence and do everything to keep at bay negative thoughts.

27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part I

4 summary
A friend of mine sent me the above on 1/4/2013. I am sure I have read something similar to that effect, but good things always worth repeated attention.

Here’s the list in English:
(1) critical thinking ability
(2) reading comprehension
(3) positive
(4) motivation
(5) efficiency
(6) enthusiasm
(7) cooperation
(8) empathy
(9) loving
(10) listening
(11) conversation
(12) car
(13) housework
(14) clean
(15) organizing
(16) saving
(17) budget
(18) debit
(19) investment
(20) thrifty
(21) debt or loan
(22) retirement
(23) philanthropy
(24) seek the moment
(25) enjoy life
(26) have a goal
(27) develop intimate relationship

The year 2012 is becoming old as we welcome the new year

rush-rush by Zhu ziqing

I still remember a friend of mine sent me this short essay by Zhu Ziqing at the beginning of this year. I thought this one was a bit depressing as I was embracing the new year and ready for new challenge ahead. But before long this new year is on the way out, as another new year is coming in.

With the end-of-holiday blues, no matter how buoyant I have tried to be, I cannot totally shield my mind from the depressing tone that Zhu Ziqing expresses in his essay.

Let us remember the message in Zhu’s essay and value every moment in the coming year. That is, make something happen before this new year becomes old one.

Three questions one needs to think hard in life

During last weekend, during my early morning walk, I was listening to a Modern Scholar book, Ethics: A history of Moral Thought by Peter Kreeft. To be sure, this is not the first time that I listen to his book. It is simply worth re-listening.

At some point, the author mentions three questions that all of us need to treat seriously in life.

(1) What do you believe? This impacts everything you do — your motivation, your treatment of others, your attitude toward your work and people around you. Basically, this is true.

(2) What life partner do you choose? This is important not only because your partner can bring either happiness or misery to your life, but also because, like it or not, we are all, to certain extent, influenced by the partner we choose to live with, just as your company can change you. Alas, this is also very much true.

(3) What job? This is an easy one as we have to throw one-third of our life into a job. It is as important to our mental and emotional health as the life partner that we choose.

Now, are you convinced?

When the going gets tough and when we cannot handle it alone…

On 10/25, when a colleague of mine from another office came over to do some work at our office, we talked about the time when she had her chemotherapy and radiation treatment for her breast cancer.

She was divorced at that time. So she was all alone facing work, treatment, heavy medical bills, and all other life’s challenges. She was thoroughly beaten by the chemo, so much so that she could hardly take care of herself. She had not filed her tax return for two years because she couldn’t do it.

She is the kind of woman who has been doing everything all by herself and was fiercely independent. The thought of asking for help had never cropped up in her head, even though she has two grown-up children and even though she needed help desperately.

I told her when she couldn’t handle it, she needed to surrender herself to others, her adult children. She knew she should but she was just not used to asking others.

I think it good to everybody if we move to the passenger seat when the driving becomes too difficult for us. After reading this, my daughter said she should be flexible. “Don’t worry, mom, I will be there for you.”

The effort to keep spirits up with the change of the season

I cannot say I have not noticed that the days get shorter and the nights longer and the year is coming to the end. I noticed it when fall semester started, when I had to take a flash light during my morning walk, when I had to put on an extra layer of clothes.

The change of the season always reminds me of a poem on carousel, with words like round and round, ups and downs. When I was in college, long long ago, I understood that the poem refers to the change of the season, the year goes round and round with spring after winter, summer following spring, next being fall, the winter once again.

But for some reason, the poem always gives me a sad feeling. Perhaps I had sensed that seasons come and go, then back again, but not human life, not the youthful years when we were healthy and strong. Once the springtime of a human life is gone, it will never come back like natural season and we eventually advance to the winter phase of our lives which only leads to the end of all. Perhaps this association has made me sad.

This year I kept telling myself I should feel good if I can make each day a productive one, if I have not wasted each of the days in my life. That’s how I ward off the sad feelings associated with seasons.

Enjoy your life, keep it simple, get over the cliff…

This is from a friend of mine, 10/10/2012. Love it. I know you would say “It’s easy to say, but difficult to act upon.” True, it all depends on your personality. No matter what happens to you, don’t get to the point when you want to jump from that height like this girl. Get it over.

Listening to Public Radio in Waco, Texas in 1984

I liked listening to NPR National Public Radio and that was in 1984 when I first came to the States. At that time my English, especially listening ability, was far from being adequate. I would ask people to repeat at least once before I got it.

At first I got a small black and white TV, not a new one, trying to expose myself to more English. Later, since I spent so much time away from my apartment, either in school or in library, I spent $20 getting a Radio Shack radio. A very solid one. I still have it now. I would plug in for news and other programs of NPR whenever I got a chance. I wasn’t able to follow the news at first but I did get better as years went by.

Of course, I also listened to music and songs like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and a better one “We Are the World” and country music “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” I can still sing some of the songs that I learned back then.

To this date, public radio still keeps my company when I walk in the morning or when I am cooking at home. Thanks, public radio, a great service!

Work is an honor, laziness is the real shame

When I was at DMR back in 1998 and ’99, I worked with a lady whom, for some reason, I cannot forget. She tried to play the role of manager, even though she was not. She used to work for KCPL. I remember she was panting heavily when we walked fast.

At that time we lived at Corinth apartment. Once, on the way to a Sprint building on Ward Parkway, while chatting randomly, I mentioned that I washed my undergarments by hand. I forgot what brought up this topic but I do remember vividly the shock on her face.

“You wash your clothes by hand!?” she exclaimed. “Yes, we live in an apartment and use public laundry facility. You never know who used it prior to you and what they put in that washer.” I explained.

“Oh my! We never wash anything by hand. We have laundry washer, dish washer, and all kinds of this stuff.” she said proudly, though not without contempt. Indeed, her hands were well-preserved, like those of a baby’s.

I didn’t know what to say at that time and I even forgot how I felt then. Now, when I mention this to my daughter, I want her to understand that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Work is an honor. Laziness is the real shame.

We settle wherever our career leads us

The other day we went to friend’s house. While chatting about the colleges that the children would attend next year, my friend expressed the wish that her child would come back home after college.

I was a bit surprised to hear that. I understand that it is only natural that the parents want the children to live close by so that they can often see the children, which means a lot to senior parents.

Yet, when we ourselves traveled thousands of miles away from home, crossing the Pacific ocean and leaving behind our parents and everything we grew up with, in order to build a better life, how can we expect the next generation not to do the same?

To be sure, I miss my son greatly. Still I encourage my children to venture out, seeking their own fortune, establishing themselves before anything else.

Life’s advice from an old classmate

This is a rough translation.
Life gives each of us equal proportion of everything. Don’t fight for more than your share.
There is a limit to how much happiness you are to enjoy. Don’t push your limit.
Don’t covet beauty that belongs to others.
Don’t become weary of your spouse.
Children are here to demand payment. Don’t refuse them.
Don’t seize power as there is no permanent absolute one.
Don’t try to shun responsibility.
Don’t attempt to hoodwink your boss as they can often outsmart you.
Don’t try to hoax the rank and file as they know right from wrong.
Count your blessings as there is no limit to one’s desires.
Take care of your own body.
Do your share of work and let others take care of their shares.
Don’t feel intimidated by temporary difficulties.
Don’t hoard money when you should consume it.
Enjoy your vacation instead of exhausting yourself.
Enjoy the colorful life instead of feeling bored.
Maintain your integrity instead of compromising it.
Appreciate the feeling that is pure and true.
Don’t forget to keep in touch with your best friends forever.

A 22-year-old was determined to lead a life of celibacy

This happened in China when I was meeting two of my former colleagues at China Daily. I cannot forget this because I was thinking of telling her but didn’t have the chance. Here it is, hoping she will read it.

She told me that her 22-year-old daughter was determined to remain single. That’s right, not marry at all. She said her husband felt like the sky was going to collapse and the two had a huge fight over this.

I would tell this to the young woman. Don’t make any resolution on this. Don’t artificially impose any unnecessary restriction on yourself. Let nature take care of its course.

If you find yourself being attracted by someone, let yourself go. Life is too short to deprive yourself of the joy that is naturally bestowed on you.

How not to have these regrets

I read this article a few weeks ago –“Top five regrets of the dying” written by Bronnie Ware, a hospice nurse. She listed the most common regrets of the dying patients. The article was posted on her Inspiration an Chai website. The top five regrets are:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
In other words, most people don’t have the courage to live a life true to him/herself. That is a rather sad case as you think of the fact that we got only one life to live.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
That is to say, people have worked too hard and have let life go by without enjoying it.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Does it mean most people have concealed instead of expressing their feelings?

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
By the end of the day, friends make it to the list.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Think of this, most people don’t think they have had a happy life.

The author ends with these words “Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

The list of regrets reveals things that people care most by the end of their lives and things that truly makes people happy. It is not surprising that people, having too much of “eat, drink, smoke, or even sex,” care more about something spiritual and emotional, that is, their unfulfilled dreams, lost friends, and being true to themselves.

Now, the question is how not to have these regrets.

Experience of Hardship in Younger Years

On the first day of my daughter’s arrival in Pittsburgh, PA on 6/30, she found the heat unbearable and was even considering of coming back. There was no air conditioner for summer program on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University.

As she is used to air-conditioned house and has never experienced hardships of any kind in her life, I can perfectly understand how she feels. I let her know it would be up to her to decide what she would do next. I even checked her air ticket back home for the next day.

At home, she has a low threshold for any physical discomfort. I thought it beneficial for young people to experience some hardship while they are young in order to prepare for any unexpected ones after they grow up.

There is a phrase in Chinese, chi-ku, which literally means eat bitterness, and which means “experience hardship.” As I see it, young people nowadays are well-provided, sheltered from any hardships, which is a good thing but like a plant growing up in a greenhouse, they are too tender to stand any possible tough life ahead, which is worrisome to me.

The taste of sweetness is enhanced with a touch of bitter taste

During the week of my return from China, I felt the full force of concentrated attack of allergy, cough, and jet lag. For the whole week, I was miserable and not productive at all. I was keenly aware of it. All the time I kept telling myself that I would double my effort after I recovered from this distressed situation.

Last Friday evening, when I took my daughter to a local store, I told her, “You know people can better appreciate sweetness after they have tasted a tiny bit of bitterness. Same can be said of health. You often don’t know the value of your good health until you are sick. Or you don’t know how to save until you are in need of money.”

Sometimes, it takes something opposite for us to appreciate that something.

There are four things that you cannot recover…

I received this from a friend of mine in New York on 5/15/2012.

There are four things that you cannot recover. Well, not really, with the exception of the last one.
1) The stone…after the throw
2) The word…after it’s said
3) The occasion…after the loss
4) The time…after it’s gone
Did anyone ever tell you just how special you? The light that you emit might even light a star.
Did anyone ever tell you how important you make others feel? Somebody out there is smiling about love that is so real.
Did anyone ever tell you that many times when they were sad your email made them smile a bit, in fact it made them glad?
For the time you spend sending things and sharing whatever you find, there are no words to thank you, but somebody thinks you’re fine.
I believe that without a friend you are missing out a lot in life.

Focus on what we have, forget what we have lost

Last Thursday, 5/10, was my sister’s birthday. I called and wished her happy birthday. She told me she did not want to mark her birthday any more because she felt so old.

I told her not to think of what she didn’t have, in this case, her youth. Think of what she has now. Compare to those who were not lucky enough to live this long, we have to count our blessing. I told her about Andrew Breitbart who died of heart disease at age 43 and some of the patients at my work place who died in their 40s.

Sometimes, when we think of what we have, we might feel blessed and content. And no more complaints.

Remembering Violinist Roman Totenberg who Died at age 101

5/8/2012 saw the passing of Roman Totenberg, a violin instructor from Poland.

What is remarkable about his life is his 9 decades of violin teaching career. He started teaching when he was 11 and he had a student who was 10, until the day before he died at age 101.

I told my daughter of his long teaching career. “The man must enjoy what he was doing,” she said. “Absolutely,” I said. “It must have given him tremendous joy doing what he loved everyday. I hope you can find something you enjoy and keep doing what brings you joy as long as Totenberg.”

Religion, Rick Santorum, and Quality of Life

We have learned so much of Rick Santorum’s three-year-old daughter, Isabella who was born with a rare genetic condition call Trisomy 18.

The disease, referring to a baby born with three number 18 chromosomes, is often fatal. That is, most of them die within the first year of their lives. Before the baby dies, she/he often suffers from “kidney problems, heart defects, developmental delays, and issues with the intestinal tract and esophagus.”

Good news is Trisomy 18 can be screened and diagnosed during pregnancy. The question is why people keep bringing into the world babies with severe genetic disease.

In cases like this, I often wonder whether the parents have made the right decision or done the right thing to the baby. I believe by bringing a baby to this world, first and foremost, the parents should have the happiness of the baby in their minds and do everything to give a happy life.

If the baby comes here only to suffer from various disease and to die soon, what is the quality of life for this baby? How can she be happy when she is consistently tortured with life-threatening disease? Do parents bring them to the world for their own happiness or religious belief or what? If that’s the case, I would think these parents are the most selfish ones.

Thomas Kinkade, a Famous Artist, Died at age 54

On 4/7/2012, I learned of the news that Thomas Kinkade, a famous landscape artist born in 1958, died suddenly in Los Gatos of natural causes.

I am sure many people, like me, would like to know how he died or what is it that killed. I searched and learned from wikipedia the definition of death by natural causes.

As “recorded by coroners and on death certificates and associated documents,” it is caused by natural agents: usually an illness or an internal malfunction of the body, as opposed to death of unnatural causes. The unnatural one is caused by either accident or homicide or suicide, anything but disease or old age.

When a man of 54-year-old died at his home, we always think of something else, not of natural cause. Rich and famous as he was, nature has taken him away as relentlessly as she has done and will do to all humans.

Her Being Headstrong and Unreasonable Killed Her

Last weekend, I read the story of Shonnie Medina from Discover magazine, a young beautiful Hispano woman (a member of a New Mexican ethnic group descended from Native Americans and Spanish colonials) and how she died of breast cancer at age of 28. The cancer that killed Medina was caused by a genetic mutation.

What struck me is the doctors’ opinion on what killed her. “Being headstrong or unreasonable was the quality that the doctors in Alamosa and Denver blamed for her death—for Shonnie was right about dying young. She carried in her cells a dangerous genetic mutation and died when she was 28, after refusing surgery for her aggressive, inherited breast cancer. Jealous of her body, oblivious to the gene, she insisted on another style of care.”

Shonnie Medina’s story reminds me of some patients that I have worked with. One of them died at age 40 of breast cancer. She had it when she was 31 years old. After surgery and chemo, she refused hormone therapy because she wanted to have more children. After 8 years, the tumor came back with a vengeance and took her life the next year.

I would say being headstrong and unreasonable could kill many patients like Shonnie.

Andrew Breitbart, the 43-Year-Old, an Unexpected Death

A few weeks ago, I learned that one of my uncles passed away at age 75, of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. A few days ago, I learned his wife, my aunt suffered from something similar to transient ischemic attack (TIA), like a mini stroke.

I have long before learned that my aunt’s family had a rather unhealthy lifestyle. They would eat to their heart content whatever they like, without caring for the consequence.

Now we learned of the unexpected death of this famous conservative activist at the early age of 43, seemingly of heart failure.

At this age, who would expect this would happen. I guess people at this age do not pay due attention to their health simply because they have never expected death could occur to them at age 43. A heavy lesson to all.

Easy Said Than Done, Easy Planning Than Implementing

On 2/16, last Thursday, when I talked to my mother over the Skype, she shared with me an article about New Year Resolutions. I told her many articles that I have read here on how to keep your resolution. The so-called 5-minute enthusiasm seems an universal problem.

My mother quoted the above saying, emphasizing that people from ancient time to now, from China to America all have this problem, all because saying is easy than doing. We all know too well that it is far too easy to write a resolution or a plan. In fact, everything seems easy before the actual implementation.

What Do You Get for Working Hard?

Last weekend, when I was at Barnes & Noble’s in Town center, I met an acquaintance of mine. I know someone from her work place went to our clinic. So I asked her about this patient. From there, she started talking about the importance of enjoying oneself while we can. She talked as if it was all futile to try our best in life. “What’s the use of working so hard without enjoying yourself?” she asked. “What do you get for all your hard work? Nothing.”

Sound rather discouraging, right? As if all your efforts were for nothing. On the way back home, I shared this view with my daughter. I told her “Even if our future is uncertain and there is no guarantee that we can reach our goal, whatever that may be, still we need to make efforts and need to try our best. Because that’s the only sure way to get closer to our goal and to make the most out of our life. That should also make you happy.”

For both of my children, if they don’t try, they will never know if they can make it or not. Only by trying their best can they have the hope of accomplishing something. Other than reaching your set goal, you get excitement and an enriched experience for working hard. After all, life is a process and an experience. You want your experience to be as rich as you can possibly make.

Of course, there is a risk in venturing out, like if you quit your well-paid job and start your own company, the risk is your own company might not succeed as you expected and you might not be able to find a good job as the one you gave up. Still, it’s better to take the risk while you are young, even if you could fail. So be it.

Enjoy the Present, the Happiest Moment of All

On 1/30, a friend of mine sent me a long piece on healthy living. This is part of it. The rough translation is like this.

While the past is gone forever, the future is as unknown as mirage in the sky. The present moment is all we have. Treasure what you have and enjoy each day, which is the happiest and the most important of all.


Build Your Underpinnings, Spiritual and Emotional

Build your underpinnings, either spiritual or emotional or both that you can always find meaning, peace and comfort.

A friend of mine, who was married, without children and quit her job to join her husband, has found herself unable to get over the sadness over the loss of her mother in March 2009. She came over to visit us in July 2009.

She has since tried many mechanisms to pull herself out of this sadness. Recently she tried some church association. I told her to go for it as long as it helped. Whether or not she will be converted to Christianity is not the issue, at least this can be something that keeps her occupied.

I have no doubt her period of grief would be much shortened, had she had either children or her career or a strong belief. I believe a person needs some type of support system to tide over any crisis on his life’s journey, be it his children, career, church, or whatever that may play that function.

Build your own system before you are in actual dire need of one.

Old Postings and Memories of the Past

On 1/9, the day before I went to KC Star, I went through postings here, thinking I could better organize them and then archive the old ones. As I read some of them, the contents seem so familiar, as if I wrote them a few days ago. But when I looked at posting date, I was rather shocked to find them coming out either three or two years ago.

My mind was instantly filled with memories of sitting in HyVee grocery store, reading magazines, waiting for my daughter’s art lessons or chatting with some friends while my daughter was skating.

I remember vividly when I was in elementary school, I avoided touching old notebooks for fear of the memories associated with these old stuffs. For some reason, starting from very young age, I was keenly aware of the fact that the past would never be back.

Oh well, I still cannot believe we are already in year 2012. It is rather sad to realize that pretty soon the 2010 and 2011 postings will join those before them and become part of the historical past.

“Time and tide wait for no man” — the warning rings in my ear, almost automatically. Therefore, value today, enjoy every minute of what we have, cram more into our limited time as if we can stretch it longer.

“Life is an IQ test and a personality test”

Thus said Dr James Thompson.
I read it on 4/25/2011, “IQ tests measure motivation – not just intelligence” Dr James Thompson, senior honorary lecturer in psychology at University College London, said it had always been known that IQ test results are a combination of innate ability and other variables.

“Life is an IQ test and a personality test and an IQ result contains elements of both (but mostly intelligence)… If an IQ test doesn’t motivate someone then that is a good predictor in itself.”

Researchers from the US also confirmed that intelligence tests are as much a measure of motivation as they are of mental ability. They found that a high IQ score required both high intelligence and high motivation but a low IQ score could be the result of a lack of either factor. Incentives were also found to increase IQ scores by a noticeable margin.

This is an interesting observation as I am sure I won’t go far from bottom if IQ is purely a matter of intelligence.

Humans Live in Both Present and Past

Yesterday, during lunch break, I went to get prescription for my daughter. The weather felt like summer. For some reason, the driving reminded me of so many summer lunchtime when my children went to summer school and I fetched them back at this time of the day. The feeling and the experience that I found myself in are so familiar that it makes me feel nostalgic.

For sometimes, while I was driving, my mind went back to those summer drives when my son was having lunch on the way back home because he was very hungry after five hours class. I seemed to relive those moments when I was in a familiar situation. It quietly dawns on me that we actually live in both present and past time via our memories whenever we hit the familiar scene or experience. This must be the experience of déjà vu.

Last summer might be the last one that I was needed for this task, as my daughter plans for some other activities for this summer.

Live a Life that is Worth Living, A Year End Reflection

When I shared with my friend my thought on issue touched on 12/16/2009, my friend suggested that very often we do good thing without enough passion. Exactly so. When I told my children to live a life that’s worth living, find your passion and go for it with full speed, we ourselves have not provided a good model for them in this aspect.

Look at our own lives, do we exemplify the kind of life that we expect our children to live? No. I am not content with my current position, neither are many people that I know of. Just look at our New Year Resolutions at the end of each year. At best, my life consists of many dreams, goals, tons of efforts to advance and to overcome any adversities, and then is often followed by a series of compromise and another compromise.

All we can say is we try our best and won’t suffer from regret and guilt when we are old and fragile.

P.S. I talked to a former college classmate last weekend and learned about more of our classmates. The seven of us were roommates for four years. We were young and immensely stupid, yet happy for no reason at all, leaving endless laughter beyond ourselves even after so many years.

Take Control and Take Charge of Your Life

This is an email that I wrote to a friend of mine on 10/8/2009.
“What you describe in your email — ‘the fact that I have full control of the way things go around here, (including my pace, and happiness) which has made my life much less complicated and stressful!’ – reminds me of a definition of happiness that I learned back in graduate school. That is, happiness means the maximum of control over one’s life. The more control you have over your life, the happier you are.

Based on this definition, I cannot say I am as happy as I want to be when I would rather do something else but I do not have other choice or I would rather spend my time on what I enjoy, which is not what I am doing right now. But It is up to me to reconcile, compromise and make life easy for myself. It is up to me to make sense of and give meaning to my daily experience. If I cannot control factors outside me, I can at least control the way I think, which holds the key to my happiness.

If anything, you might find me often talk on a higher level. That is because I think a lot, but I make this clear to myself that I am responsible for making myself happy. If I am not, I don’t blame anyone else but myself. This may be called taking control of our lives, thought and action.

I have talked too much for this cloudy day and hope our minds are bright and sunny, regardless of clouds outside.”

Live A Life That Matters, Sent by a Friend

Below was sent to me by a friend. Too beautifully written to keep it to myself.

Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten,
will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from,
or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

While you meet something beautiful,
the first thing you should do is to share it with your friends anywhere.
So that these beautiful things will be able to spread out literally around the world.

Life Is Simple and Beautiful If We Don’t Mess It Up

Recently when the weather is cooperative, my daughter and I take a walk in our neighborhood in the evening, chatting and laughing with me dragging my feet trying to catch her up.

Yesterday while walking outside in the evening, I talked to her something happened during the day.

In the morning I introduced the word “humble” to the 10-year-old nephew. I emphasized the benefit of being humble and unassuming in interactions with people, specifically in making friends at school. He argued with me, saying being proud and assertive helps you boost up your self-confidence. He knew that I was referring to his “kuang” (an exaggerated expression of assertiveness and arrogance). He suddenly became very defensive of his “kuang.”

One example of his “kuang,” he practically looks down upon everybody in my house because he believes he knows a lot more than all of us. Lately, he gave up a little bit, saying “Well, I must admit the only thing you are better than me is your English, but once my English is good, you are not better any more.” I appreciate his frankness and bold thinking.

I calmed him down, saying, “It is okay whatever, if you think kuang is good and humble is bad. I am not enforcing my view on you. I am only sharing it with you. You can turn a deaf ear if you think it nonsense.”

Then I asked him, “Do you like people who are boasting, arrogant or pretentious, going about like a VIP when they are just a small potatos? Do you think it easy to make friends with these kind of people?” He admitted he didn’t like it. He learned that he would be ignored by others and be without any friends if he insisted on being “kuang.” Still, he thinks being humble is not a virtue. I told him it was good that he had his own opinion and I respected his way of thinking. We ended the conversation happily for both of us.

Later I was asked if the 10-year-old was a kind of burden to me. I told my daughter that I was least disturbed by things like that.

“There are not many things that are really important in our lives. This has never been one of them.” I told her of three things that I cared most at this point of my life. Yes, only three things. When you think it through, we really have only a few important things in life. The difficult task is to leave out of our minds anything that is not important, resulting in a lot simpler life. Life is really not that complicated if we don’t mess it up like one of our ex-presidents with one of his interns. I know I have been unkind in mentioning those ex-ex.

An Exercise of Self-Evaluation

Indeed, nobody likes to be pointed out his/her mistakes or weakness.  A child who specially cares about face-saving specially dislikes criticism, especially after the child has been adored 99% of times in the past.  Yet, I find it hard to extend compliments when I see much room for improvement, that is, truth must be told without diluting it with praise.

Yestoday I gave my nephew a task — to make a list of his strength and the areas where he thinks he needs to improve.  He asked me, “Do you want me to write about my weaknesses?” I knew he was over-sensitive over the word weaknesses so I don’t want him to get defensive upon this word.  I made my point clear to him.  “I never say the word weakness. I think we all need to improve ourvelves, including me. Don’t you think so?  This is what I want you to write, if you want to be a better person.”  “What do you mean, auntie?  Do you mean I am not a better person now?” he asked.

“You know what kind of person you are.  I just want you to get better than you are now. You can write it if that’s what you want.  It is up to you.  Your sister also must write one.”  Finally he agreed to work on this task.  I was hoping of finding a way for him to know himself instead of being always told of this.

He completed the task in no time. At first he covered it up and would not let me read it. I said, “Ok, you can keep it to yourself. I will just read your sister’s.” Then he offered to let me read. Next he kept pressing me to judge whose writing is better.  I would be too naive to fall for it. “They are different, no good or bad,” I told him.

It is not my intention to challenge the validity of their writings. They are true as long as they believe so. As for me, they serve as a historical reference for their own evaluation at this point of their lives.  If I remember it, I will ask him to make another one in one year. Very interesting indeed!

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