This blog will hopefully inspire you, warm your heart, make you smile and feel positive.

Wrong Address

An Illinois man left the snow-filled streets of Chicago for a vacation in Florida. His wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him there the next day.

When he reached his hotel in Florida, he decided to send his wife a quick e-mail. Unable to find the scrap of paper on which he had written her e-mail address, he did his best to type it in from memory.

Unfortunately, he missed one letter and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher’s wife whose husband had passed away only the day before. When the grieving widow checked her e-mail, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor in a dead faint.

At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:

“DEAREST WIFE: JUST GOT CHECKED IN. EVERYTHING PREPARED FOR YOUR ARRIVAL TOMORROW.
P.S. SURE IS HOT DOWN HERE.”

Inferno – The Novel

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I watched the movie trailer of “Inferno” and remember I didn’t write a book review about it after I finished reading the novel back in 2013. So maybe it’s time to do it. “Inferno” is the fifth novel from Dan Brown. After his last disappointing novel, “The Lost Symbol”, I really hope that he can get back in shape and come up with a book like “Angels and Daemons” or “De Vinci Code”. However, the outcome is even more disappointing.

“Inferno” did have an interesting start: Harvard professor Robert Langdon woke up in the hospital and lost his memory of the past few days. An assassin came and tried to kill him, with the help of a female doctor, Robert escaped. He found a hi-tech projector in his jacket that displayed a modified version of Botticelli’s Map of Hell, which was based on Dante’s Inferno. From the hints in the image, Robert retraced his steps in the past few days and regained his memory. He found that he had stolen Dante’s death mask in Palazzo Vecchio museum that linked to a geneticist, Bertrand Zobrist. Zobrist developed a biological plague that would kill a large portion of people to solve the overpopulation issue. The plague was hidden somewhere and would be released at a certain time. The problem was Zobrist was committed suicide the week before. So it’s a time game again for Robert to prevent the plague to be released.

“Inferno” has the similar storytelling pattern as Dan Brown’s previous novels – a time critical mission with a killer chasing in the background and a number of historical artifacts and buildings were involved in the process. No matter how unbelievable the previous missions were, they were achieved successfully at the end. But the mission in “Inferno” was a failure from the beginning, I think this leads to most of the disappointment to the book. The movie script may need to have a minor update to the story; otherwise the audiences will feel the same disappointment.

As always, Dan tried to create a number of twists – enemies are not enemies, friends are not friends, villain is not a villain, but it seems that he overdid it this time. For example, there was a person who developed a plague symptom – a large bruise on his chest. He was actually an actor who disguised as a doctor in an earlier hospital scene. His chest bruise was caused by the misfire of squib that used to simulate him being shot by the assassin. In another case, the assassin pointed the gun to Robert only wanted to show him that the gun was faked. Dan, you can do better than this, right?

The overall flow of the story is slow; a quarter of the contents can be trimmed off to make a faster pace. I am impatient and feel frustrated each time when Robert paused in the middle of a life-or-death circumstance to admire the building around him and describe its historical details. If you read all other Dan Brown’s novels, you will get nothing new from “Inferno”. “Inferno” probably has the least myths, secrets and symbols for Robert Langdon to resolve. Dan surely did his research on Florence, but the story should come first before the tour details, and the novel has the other way round.

10 Habits of Happy People

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1. They enjoy the moment.
When you enjoy the small moments – good or bad – you’re more aware of what’s happening around you. Happy people focus on what they can control and it’s possible to choose happiness in the moment, no matter the struggles you may be going through.

2. They have a growth mindset.
A growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure as a catalyst for growth and stretching beyond existing abilities. Those with a growth mindset had happier relationships, achieved more success, and were much more persistent through challenges.

3. They surround themselves with other happy people.
Who we surround ourselves with has a huge impact on how we think, feel, and what direction we head in life. It may sound harsh, but cutting out the negative people in your life or simply spending less time with them is necessary if you want to be happier.

4. They have a dream.
Whether your dream is to travel the world, start your own business, or learn a new language, having a dream is one of the most important things in remaining optimistic when things get tough.

5. They can wait.
Happy people are willing to wait for the rewards and focus on the journey, how far they’ve come, and what’s ahead for them. They understand that the best things in life come to those who are patient and can stick it out for the long run, whether that’s a job promotion, relationship, or a new skill they’re learning.

6. They schedule “me” time into their day.
Giving is important, but if that means taking up your time to relax, wind down, and learn new things, then you’ll have nothing to give over time. You can’t always be agreeable; that’s how people take advantage of you. You have to set clear boundaries.

7. They spend money on experiences – not material things.
That car that you just bought diminished in value the moment you drove it off the lot, but experiences are memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Happy people would rather go on a backpacking trip instead of buying a flat-screen TV that they’ll seldom use.

8. They give more than they take.
Since happy people live in a world of abundance where there’s always more opportunities to be had, more money to be made, and more love to share, they’re always giving when they can. They understand that this will actually make them happier in the end.

9. They embrace discomfort.
Happy people know how to bounce back from failure. Resilience is a padding for the inevitable hardship human beings are bound to face. Struggle is the evidence of progress, and happy people live by this. The rewards of becoming great at a skill far outweigh the pain they have to endure in the process.

10. They are always learning.
Happy people are all lifelong learners, constantly reading new books, exploring other cultures, learning new languages … It is an ongoing process because without growth there’s no life.

Attitude is Everything

Jerry was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

When being asked how he could be a positive, up person all the time, Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, ‘Jerry you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.’ I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”

“Life is all about choice,” said Jerry. “When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good or bad mood. The bottom line is: it’s your choice how you live life.”

Several years ago, Jerry left the back door of the restaurant open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the hospital. “As I lay on the floor,” Jerry said, “I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

At the hospital, the paramedics kept telling Jerry he was going to be fine. But when they wheeled him into the emergency room and he saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, he got really scared. In their eyes, he read, “He’s a dead man.”

A big, burly nurse asked Jerry if he was allergic to anything. “Yes,” Jerry answered. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for his reply. Jerry took a deep breath and yelled, “Bullets!” Over their laughter, Jerry told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital. Every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Back in Time

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The “Back to the Future” series are the classic in time travel movies. In part 1, Marty (Michael J. Fox) traveled from 1985 back to 1955 in the time machine built by his scientist friend Doc (Christopher Lloyd). In 1955, his mom accidentally fell in love with him and he had to encourage his dad to pursue his mom so that he wouldn’t be erased in the future. In part 2, he traveled to 2015 to save his future kid, but in the process Biff (boss of Marty’s dad in 1985) stole the time machine, went back to 1955 and gave a 2015 almanac to his younger self so that he could become wealthy by gambling. Marty and Doc then traveled back to 1955 to destroy the almanac and rewind the change. In part 3, Marty traveled further back to 1885 to save and bring Doc back from the wild west. Whenever they interrupted an event in the past, they changed the future.

If we can really go back in time, I close my eyes and visualize … I was 10 and mom was chasing me at home with a feather duster (a tool to beat naughty kids as punishment in Asia), I jumped from sofa onto table, rushed out through the door after a wall bounce (this skill is called parkour later), I heard my mom’s voice behind, Don’t study and work as a stuntman in movies, next time she would lock the door first … I learned swimming and was nearly drowned, when I was throwing up all the sea water I drank, my dad who was supposed to look after me was still chatting with the girl at the beach … I can’t hear you, grandma said, so I cupped my hands over my mouth and pretended to shout loudly, but without any voice, grandma was startled, Oh I’m seriously deaf … After the PE class I relaxed with drinking soda in a hot summer afternoon in the school playground, a football flied from nowhere hit my soda, the bottle shattered into pieces … I taught my friend how to play squash, he hit a backhand swing but I was hit in eye by the squash ball, I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, I couldn’t see for 2 weeks with a panda eye … At work, we celebrated the project delivery in the pub after months of hard work, a year later, we drank in the same pub on the day we were all being retrenched … Another year later I drank by myself in a different pub, we finally broke up, all I had given is not enough to maintain the relationship, I understood how people treat you has nothing to do with how you treat others, Fair enough, I eventually belong to myself, at the end my vision got blurry …

But the fact is that we won’t get any younger. One day when you look into the mirror, you’ll see the evidence that time passes. The world is different from what we first imagined. Throughout the years, you started to hide the rebel and start compromise. How many times did you pull yourself together after a sacrifice? What makes you to hold on and never give up? Think of your stubborn younger self in the past, the passion to the dreams that you believe. Let’s propose a toast with the bittersweet brewed by the memories, to everyone who had a brisk walk through life together with us.

Enjoy Your Journey Today

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Wake up. Eat. Commute. Work. Eat. Work. Commute. Eat. Sleep.

We follow an iteration of this same schedule and forget that we’re humans and not robots – designed to do one thing over and over again. If you find your days all beginning to look the same, you’re susceptible to falling into a rut. Incorporating change in small ways can do wonders. Switch up your morning routine, change elements of your diet, try a new hobby, take a different route to work, change up your social media profile. All of these simple changes can help you get out of a routine life.

When things don’t go our way, it’s easy to put the blame on others and outside factors. No matter what the situation is, you have two choices: either spend your time making excuses, or acknowledge responsibility and find solutions. You can’t do both. Just because something happens that we don’t like doesn’t mean it wasn’t supposed to happen or that you can’t turn the situation into a positive one. If you put yourself into a mindset that you are exactly where you need to be. Your mindset shifts from reactive to active.

Without a map, you are simply reacting to road signs and conditions. But sometimes even you set your course and the journey is still ended up where you hate. Knowing what you don’t want is as fruitful as knowing what you want. You need to make a conscious decision that whether you want to spend your time reveling in the past, fussing over future problems that haven’t happened yet, or enjoy your journey today. No matter what you decide, the world continues to spin through space at 1040 mph and your time on the planet continues to count down. Make good use of it.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein

A Real-Life Sherlock Holmes

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, told of a time when he climbed into a taxi cab in Paris. Before he could utter a word, the driver turned to him and asked, “Where can I take you, Mr. Doyle?”

Doyle was flabbergasted. He asked the driver if he had ever seen him before.

“No, sir,” the driver responded, “I have never seen you before.” Then he explained: “This morning’s paper had a story about you being on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi stand where people who return from Marseilles always come to. Your skin color tells me you have been on vacation. The ink spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you are a writer. Your clothing is very English, and not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduced that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

“This is truly amazing!” the writer exclaimed. “You are a real life counter-part to my fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes!”

“There is one other thing,” the driver said.

“What is that?”

“Your name is on the front of your suitcase.”