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

Live on the Path

peace

In order to find the path that offers a peaceful life, spiritual teachings recommend instead of trying to control a million little variables, one should simply let most of the events of one’s life seek their own equilibrium. Every factor that affects your life behaves like the swing of a pendulum. As a physical system, a pendulum seeks its point of equilibrium – the point of balance where the pendulum is effortlessly still.

You need to apply a force to take a pendulum out of equilibrium. Once the force is removed, the pendulum will rush back to its natural state, swinging back and forth until it finally settles at the zero point. There, where no effort is needed, the pendulum can peacefully stay in balance forever. If you want to keep thousands of pendulums steady all the time, let each of them find its own equilibrium. When every pendulum is at its equilibrium point, the line connecting all points is the path.

No effort is needed to keep any system at its equilibrium. When everything you do feels effortless, you’ll have found your path. Extremes exhaust us. Work too much, and you lose the joy of living; work too little, and you suffer from a feeling of worthlessness. Spend too much time with a loved one, and you’ll get bored and start arguing; spend too little time, and your relationship will fade. Talk too much, and you’ll never listen; talk too little, and you’ll never be heard and understood.

Every single thing we do has a point of balance. If you move beyond that point, you’ll need to exert effort to keep the system in an unnatural state. Little as it may be, the effort needed to live an unbalanced life adds up exponentially as the number of systems you need to handle increases and eventually becomes impossible to manage. Let everything seek its natural balance. We often throw ourselves into a fight against life. When the fight is lost, we will then complain that life is tough. Life can be easy. It’s the path we choose that’s tough.

In the movie “Forrest Gump”, Tom Hanks plays the slow-witted Forrest, whose “simplicity” allows him to go through life with minimal resistance. As a result, he ends up being on the All-Star American Football and Ping-Pong teams, meets 3 U.S. presidents, wins the Congressional Medal of Honor, becomes a shrimp boat captain, creates a large business, and becomes one of the early investors in Apple. Sometimes, like a feather blowing in the wind, the best you can do is travel as the wind takes you. The balance we should be seeking surely lies somewhere in between our hectic modern lives and Forrest’s.

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What I Learned

richard

Richard Jenrette, who co-founded the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in 1959, spent four decades on Wall Street. When he died in April 2018 from complications of cancer at the age of 89, he left behind on his desk 24 rules to succeed – in finance and in life. The list, titled “What I Learned”, was shared below:

What I Learned (How to succeed and have a long and happy life)

  1. Stay in the game. That’s often all you need to do – don’t quit. Stick around! Don’t be a quitter!
  2. Don’t burn bridges (behind you).
  3. Remember – Life has no blessing like a good friend! You can’t get enough of them. Don’t leave old friends behind – you may need them.
  4. Try to be nice and say “thank you” a lot!
  5. Stay informed – keep learning!
  6. Study – Stay Educated. Do Your Home Work! Keep learning!
  7. Cultivate friends of all ages – especially younger.
  8. Run scared – over-prepare.
  9. Be proud – no Uriah Heep for you! But not conceited. Know your own worth.
  10. Plan ahead but be prepared to allow when opportunity presents itself.
  11. Turn problems into opportunities. Very often it can be done. Problems create opportunities for change – people willing to consider change when there are problems.
  12. Present yourself well. Clean, clean-shaven, dress “classically” to age. Beware style, trends. Look for charm. Good grammar. Don’t swear so much – it’s not cute.
  13. But be open to change – don’t be stuck in mud. Be willing to consider what’s new but don’t blindly follow it. Use your head – common sense.
  14. Have some fun – but not all the time!
  15. Be on the side of the Angels. Wear the White Hat.
  16. Have a fall-back position. Heir and the spare. Don’t leave all your money in one place.
  17. Learn a foreign language.
  18. Travel a lot – around the world, if possible.
  19. Don’t criticize someone in front of others.
  20. Don’t forget to praise a job well done (but don’t praise a poor job).
  21. I don’t like to lose – but don’t be a poor loser if you do.
  22. It helps to have someone to love who loves you (not just sex).
  23. Keep your standards high in all you do.
  24. Look for the big picture but don’t forget the small details.

Without You

hope

No I can’t forget this evening
Or your face as you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile but in you eyes your sorrow shows
Yes it shows

Your first relationship failure may be the first significant setback in your life. I had mine when I was studying in the university in UK. That year, I was in final year and lived in the university accommodation. It was a mixed flat – 6 boys lived in one wing and 6 girls lived in the other wing while the kitchen and lounge are for common use.

That Christmas break, all the local students went back home to celebrate Christmas. As the only overseas student in the flat, I stayed alone during the break. Two weeks into the break, a girl lived in the opposite wing came back. She claimed she needed to study in advance to prepare for the exam after Christmas. I knew she just broke up with her boyfriend who was also a student of the university.

Since there were only two of us in the flat, we talked more and knew each other better. Then we went shopping, watched movies, studied and even cooked together. At one time, I thought we were dating. But I was wrong.

No I can’t forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
When I had you there but then I let you go
And now it’s only fair that I should let you know
What you should know

After the break, she met her ex-boyfriend in the library, they talked, laughed and gone. Within ten minutes, they were back together again. I saw they left happily together and knew that I misunderstood or simply thought too much. She might just need someone to kill the time. The reserve needs to disappear when the selected player back on the court. I should read that “Idiot’s Guide to Dating” or email Dalai Lama regarding human relations.

People have different ways to deal with setbacks in life. For me, I run. That night, I ran around the campus for long, long time. I didn’t understand why other students looked at me strangely when I ran past them, until I found out later that there was a mentally sick man who occasionally appeared near the campus and harassed the students. They might admire my bravery in running at night or think that I might actually be that guy.

After the run, I was exhausted, short of breath and lying on my bed. Sometimes you can just sigh, throw your despair to the world and let go. I would be alone tomorrow but those beautiful memories stayed. I could even feel the happiness one more time.

I can’t live, if living is without you
I can’t give, I can’t give any more
Can’t live, if living is without you
Can’t give, I can’t give any more

Soon I graduated and prepared to leave UK. I was clearing out my locker in the flat the last time I saw her. She asked when I would be leaving. I told her the date and other than “all the best”, I couldn’t find other more meaningful things to say. She might feel the same way and we didn’t say anything. There was a brand new bottle of pepper powder in my locker that was never been used and I gave it to her. She smiled and I thought this might be the oddest gift she ever received. I wanted to tell her that I was fallen for her that Christmas but I just couldn’t pluck up the courage.

Some of us learn things the hard way – adding experiences through welts, bruises and assorted psychic and emotional pratfalls. For those of us, life must be lived to be learned. It will be a fine day tomorrow and life has yet to unfold.

– Originally published in April 2012

Life is Now

life

The start and end of our life are like the covers of a book. They are significant but neither of them really matter as much as the story that fills the pages in between.

How will you live if you know that today is your last day? If you know for certain this is going to be your very last meal, will you be upset that the waiter is not friendly? Or will you slowly savor and enjoy every bite? If this is your last traffic jam, will you spend the time cursing? Or will you wish it took longer? Will you honk the horn in anger, or will you switch on the radio and listen to your favorite song one last time?

Why does it have to be the last time for you to choose to relish the moment? And why are you not living that way today when you know that it may be your last? Live this moment as if it is your last. Every day a version of you dies. It leaves and never returns. Please don’t let it pass unappreciated. We rush through life and delay living it. We keep adding things to our bucket list, forgetting that the time to live that list may never come. Life is one long bucket list. Live it while you still can.

Understand that when the time finally comes, you will leave everything behind: material wealth, the people you love, and everything you hold so dear. So why do we hold on so tight when sooner or later it will all be gone? Life is a zero-sum game – we come into it with nothing and leave it with nothing. Nothing can be gained that will not eventually be lost. Life is a rental. So let things come and go, and experience them while they last. Rent a full and happy life. Live before you die.

Look Down

We always strive for higher, farther, bigger, and more. We measure our worth by how much we achieve in competitive and comparative terms, what matters is to achieve more than others. It’s not good enough just to learn; you have to score higher than a peer. It’s not good enough to have an enjoyable and rewarding life; you should have a better life than your neighbors do. It’s not good enough to enjoy playing football; winning is what matters.

But we also set ourselves up for disappointment because there will always be someone who’s gone farther or done better. We’re each dealt a different hand by life. Some are taller and some are shorter, richer and poorer, healthier, funnier, and prettier. That’s why there will always be someone who has “more” than you. We forget the flip side of this distribution curve – each of them has also “less” than you in at least one other thing. It’s just how the game of life is designed.

As we look up at others, we focus on the parts where we fall short. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to advance in life, but looking up, to compare, will end in vain. There will always be a reason to feel that what you may have achieved is not good enough. I look up at my manager, and he looks up at the chief executive. Models look up at prettier supermodels, and millionaires look up at billionaires.

Focus on becoming a better person regardless of how you compare to others. Work hard, grow, make a difference in this world, and feel good about yourself. Stop looking at what you don’t have. What you don’t have is infinite. Instead of looking up at those who appear to have more than you, look down at the others who have less. If you can afford to buy a coffee for a couple of dollars, be grateful, because there are people who live on less than the cost of a coffee a day. If you can drink a glass of water, be grateful, because there are people do not have access to clean water. If you have a home, be grateful, because there are homeless people freezing on the streets.

Looking down helps you appreciate the good things in your life. You may even learn to be grateful for your own sorrows when you see that there’s always someone with deeper wounds. In comparison, you realize that, by a stroke of good luck, you have been spared. While you may not be the luckiest, you surely aren’t the unluckiest. If you are not so sure, then please look down.

Live a Better Life

Brush twice a day.

Dress right for the weather.

Visit the dentist regularly.

Get plenty of rest.

Eat right.

Get outside in the sun every once in a while.

Always wear a seatbelt.

Don’t over indulge yourself.

Read to exercise the brain.

Surround yourself with friends.

Use the bathroom regularly.

Get plenty of exercise.

Have your eyes checked regularly.

Eat plenty of vegetables.

Believe that people will like you for who you are.

Forgive and forget.

Take vacations.

Pick up a hobby.

– Originally published in April 2012

waiting

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
– Wayne Gretzky

When the Pope asked Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel in 1506, Michelangelo felt so overwhelmed with self-doubt that he not only wanted to wait but actually fled to Florence and hid. The Pope had to stalk Michelangelo and pester him for 2 years to get him to agree to paint it. Just imagine how many Michelangelos in this world who never pursued or showed their genius because they were not dragged into the spotlight.

Whatever reason you use to hold yourself back – you are wrong. It’s not safer to stay quiet. It’s not better to keep the peace. It’s not futile to try. It’s not risky. All your excuses and reasons are wrong. There is no “right time” to improve your life. The moment you move, you’ll discover your strength. That’s the way to bring the real you to the table – by pushing the real you out of your mind and into the world. And the best time to do it, is right now when your heart tells you to move.

We waste so much of our lives waiting for the right time to have that conversation, ask for the raise, bring it up, or start something. Life is already hard, yet we make it so much harder when we listen to our fears, we convince ourselves to wait, to hold back. We all do it. We hold ourselves back at work, at home, and in our relationships. We fear of rejection, failure or looking bad. We hide because we are afraid even to try.

Are you waiting for someone to ask you, drag you, pick you, or catapult you into the spotlight, or are you willing to find the courage to push yourself? Sometimes there is no next time, no second chance. You get one life. And it’s not going to happen again. It’s up to you to push yourself to make the most. We can never be too careful, the time to act is now.

Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
– Thomas Jefferson