Helping a miserable being…


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.



Karl Marx, still a hero in my mind


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



Take a break and leave room for your brain to think and imagine


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, to add joy to your life


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.



Keep the spirit up…


“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



They will provide you lifelong benefits


two of each

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.



Not that many ADHDs, try behavior management


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.

Behavior management/self-management:
(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



The highest level of …


The highest level

I will translate it later…



5 things to avoid in life


5 things to avoid in life



Money, travel, and regret or no regret


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.



Notes from reading Original Goodness…


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

On Mercy:
“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.

On Peacemaking,
“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

On desire:
“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

The end.



Too much sitting and early DEATH


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.

Work out
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.

Sit less
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.”



Why doing the right things is more difficult than doing their opposites


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.



Gone is a middle school classmate of mine…


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.



The road not taken, the path that differs…


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.



Thought on Valentine’s Day


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.”



Don’t ignore your dream, no matter who you are…


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.



Thoughts and tips on New Year Resolutions


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…



The way to get ahead and go above and beyond…


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.



Be nice if you want to live a long life


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.



Inner strength and a more positive life


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.
leverage your strength



It was somber and gloomy on Veterans Day 2013


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.



Don’t wait for things to happen. Make it happen


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.



You are judged not by how you are treated but by how you treat others


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.



What is the question that could change your life?


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?



Are you secretly an introvert? Fun to check it out


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.



What is on my plate when my daughter is off for college


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.



“The fact I am not in the office matters most”


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.



The first day of August, with only 5 months left for the year


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.



Addiction hard to get rid of. Addiction kills..


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!

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