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

The Lost Son

A young widower, who loved his five year old son very much, was away on business when bandits came who burned down the whole village and took his son away. When the man returned, he saw the ruins and panicked. He took the burnt corpse of an infant to be his son and cried uncontrollably. He organized a cremation ceremony, collected the ashes and put them in a beautiful little bag which he always kept with him.

Soon afterwards, his real son escaped from the bandits and found his way home. He arrived at his father’s new cottage at midnight and knocked at the door.

The father, still grieving asked: “Who is it?”

The child answered, “It is me papa, open the door.”

But in his agitated state of mind, convinced his son was dead, the father thought that some young boy was making fun of him. He shouted: “Go away!”, and continued to cry.

After some time, the son left. Father and son never saw each other again.

Moral of the story: Sometime, somewhere, you take something to be the truth. If you cling to it so much, even when the truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will not open it.

– Originally published in July 2012

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Our Little Lies

fox

A fox crept up to a vine. He gazed longingly at the fat, purple, overripe grapes. He placed his front paws against the trunk of the vine, stretched his neck, and tried to get at the fruit, but it was too high. Irritated, he tried his luck again. He launched himself upward, but his jaw snapped only at fresh air. A third time he leap with all his might – so powerfully that he landed back down on the ground with a thud. Still not a single leaf had stirred. The fox turned up his nose: “These grapes aren’t even ripe yet. Why would I want sour grapes?” Holding his head high, he strode back into the forest.

The Greek poet Aesop created this fable to illustrate one of the most common errors in our reasoning. An inconsistency arose when the fox set out to do something and failed to accomplish it. He can resolve this conflict in one of three ways: (a) by doing something to get the grapes, (b) by admitting that his skills are insufficient, or (c) by reinterpreting what happened retrospectively. He picked the last option.

We sometimes like the fox. We tell little lies to ourselves and we believe them. Suppose you apply for a job and discover you have lost out to another candidate. Instead of admitting that the other person was better suited, you convince yourself that you didn’t want the job in the first place; you simply wanted to test your “market value” and see if you could get invited for interview.

When the share we invested is not performing well, we convince ourselves that it still has the potential to bounce back. But the “potential” will be even greater if we had postponed the purchase of the share until today. There is nothing wrong to find excuses to make us feel better. But sometimes we need to get real. You can play the clever fox all you want – but you’ll never get the grapes that way.

The Bomb Maker

bombmaker

“The Bomb Maker” is the first novel I read from Thomas Perry. Without much expectation, it surprised me. The novel reminded me about movies like “The Hurt Locker” and Andy Lau’s “Shock Wave” (Hong Kong). There were a number of intense moments in disarming the bombs. The book itself can easily be adapted as a Hollywood movie.

After half of the bomb squad members were killed in a bomb trap set up by the bomb maker, the retired captain Dick Stahl was called back to lead the team. It seemed only Dick could read the bomb maker’s mind and defused his bombs one by one successfully. Dick soon developed a relationship with a female bomb squad member – Diane Hines.

As Diane had blocked one of the bomb maker’s attacks, he planted a bomb at her home. Diane was seriously injured and the bomb maker then threw a fake party and tried to blow up the hospital and kill more squad members – I think it was quite smart. At the same time, the relationship between Dick and Diane was revealed. As this violated the department regulations, Dick was forced to resign.

Another story line is about the bomb maker. Other than placing bombs around the city, he teamed up with a group of terrorists. There were a few chapters about the bomb maker visiting gun shows and purchasing guns for the terrorists – I feel they are unnecessary and just simply there for making up the pages. In turn, the terrorists tried to use the guns they got to kill Dick and Diane. But they failed and that’s how they were exposed.

Unlike the book title, Dick Stahl is our hero, not the bomb maker. The bomb maker does not even have a name, there was only a vague description about his life and no explanation about how he became a bomb maker. Worst, the confrontation between Dick and the bomb maker that I was looking forward didn’t happen. Similar to the terrorists, we don’t know who they were and where they came from. And they were far too easy to destroy at the end.

Although the story seemed running out of steam and ended abruptly, the novel is well-researched and includes in-depth technical details in bomb making. Midway through the book, I was fascinated with the idea that what a surprise it would be if Dick Stahl was the bomb maker at the end. Despite the dissatisfied ending and lack of character development, I will definitely check out Thomas Perry’s other novels.

Life is to Keep Smiling

If at times you feel you want to cry
And life seems such a trial
Above the clouds there’s a bright blue sky
So make your tears a smile
– Alexandra Skiathitis

Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it. It takes 64 muscles of the face to make a frown, and only 13 to make a smile. Why the extra effort?

– Originally published in July 2012

Saving the Children

Today, most news stories concern crime and corruption. With so much negativity in the world, it’s easy to feel jaded. Although superheroes don’t actually exist, the following story shows that one person’s extraordinary kindness and generosity can do an enormous amount of good for those around him/her.

It was 1938 in Czechoslovakia. In his late twenties, Nicholas Winton was a stockbroker from England on a trip to Nazi-occupied Prague. Although Nicholas had been baptized as a child in the Anglican Church, his parents were German Jews.

In Prague, he noticed that the city was filled with Jewish orphans whose parents had been killed. Nicholas took it upon himself to find families who were willing to adopt these children and he paid to transport them on the train from Prague to London. He managed to find homes for 669 children.

In 1988, the BBC program “That’s Life!” asked to interview Nicholas about the experience. He was so humble that it took years for him to get any sort of recognition. While the cameras were rolling, the BBC gave him a big surprise. “Is there anyone in our audience tonight who owes their life to Nicholas Winton? If so, could you stand up, please?”

Several rows of people surrounding Nicholas stood up. The entire audience was filled with the people he had saved and their families. In 2003, the Queen of England knighted him, giving him the well-deserved title of Sir Nicholas Winton. He passed away in July 2015. He was 106 years old.

gratitude

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal and add to it everyday.
  2. Tell someone you love them and how much you appreciate them.
  3. Notice the beauty in nature each day.
  4. Nurture the friendships you have, good friends don’t come along every day.
  5. Smile more often.
  6. Watch inspiring videos that will remind you of the good in the world.
  7. Include an act of kindness in your life each day.
  8. Avoid negative media and movies with destructive content.
  9. Call your mom more often.
  10. Cook meals with love, think of the people you will feed.
  11. Volunteer for organizations that help others.
  12. Don’t gossip or speak badly about anyone.
  13. Spend quality time with your kids.
  14. Remember to compliment your friends and family when they look good.
  15. Write a card to someone you haven’t seen in a while and tell them something nice.
  16. Add to your Gratitude List daily, at least one more thing each day.
  17. When you think a negative thought, try to see the positive side in the situation.
  18. Commit to one day a week when you won’t complain about anything.
  19. Try to take note when people do a good job and give recognition when it’s due at work.
  20. Reward effort, if someone does something nice for you, do something nice for them.
  21. Live mindfully, not worrying about the past or future.
  22. Thank the people who serve you in the community. The shopkeeper, the waitress, the bus drivers …
  23. Say thank you for the little things loved ones do for you, things you normally take for granted.
  24. Post quotes and images that remind you to be grateful around your house.
  25. Call your grandparents and tell them you love them.
  26. Embrace challenges and turn them into opportunities to grow.
  27. Send love to your enemies or people you dislike.
  28. Be thankful when you learn something new.
  29. See the growth opportunity in your mistakes.
  30. Help your friends see the positive side to life.
  31. When times are bad, focus on your friends who are at your side.
  32. When time are good, notice and help others.
  33. Practice gratitude at the same time everyday to make it a habit.
  34. Focus on your strengths.
  35. Share gratitude each day by posting a tweet, Facebook post or Pinterest.

Workplace Small Talks

“Married people are happier. Like our manager, he looks happy every day.”
“He only looks happy at work.”

“Why not you just walk faster?”
“You know, we need to waste as much time as possible here.”

“When do you want this done?”
“Yesterday, you are actually late already.”

“How many issues did you find from testing?”
“Just one, the thing cannot be powered on.”

“Why the internet in the office is so slow?”
“I think it exceeds the download limit and is throttled to a lower speed.”

“I assume your productivity is doubled as compared with others.”
“But my pay does not reflect that.”

“Why are you just staring at your monitor and doing nothing?”
“You are talking to my avatar and my body is sleeping at home.”

“Did you integrate your component into our system and do the test?”
“No.”
“Then how do you know your component works?”
“It works, if not, it’s your system’s problems.”

“Did you fix the crashing of the software?”
“Yes, it now restarts automatically when crashes and nobody will aware.”

I once chatted with my HR manager in the kitchen while I was washing my cup:
Me: Do you know one of our team members got the swine flu and his whole family needs to be quarantined for 2 weeks?
Her: No, that’s horrible. Are you close to him?
Me: Oh, he drove me to the train station the last day he’s here. You know, he coughed like he’s going to died inside the car.
There was a moment of silence. I turned and she had gone already.

Finally, an email from my boss:
Hi Guys,
For those of you that don’t know I will be on leave tomorrow, I will be on leave tomorrow.

– Originally published in July 2012