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I wish you abundant happiness, health & wealth

Gratitude exercise: Food that makes you happy

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Since food is one of our essential needs, I ask myself why not enjoy them more and let them make me happy.

On the last Thursday of August 2013, l squeeze a South African orange that tasted so sweet. A previous orange from the same batch tasted sour. In an analogy, l hope that sour relationships in our life turn sweet, when we are patient. Being patient is an art.

On the 2nd Monday of September 2013, I had a lunch with Thai friends. A guy who is returning to his home country praised my hard work, he often saw me also working in the weekends. During the lunch, I also tried stir fried fresh bamboo shoot, they taste crunchy, I like it!

In October 2013, I meet up with a mentor Keith Ferrazi, an Italian American. His surname sounds like Ferrari, the fast driving luxurious car to me. Keith’s main message of never eat alone is like a wake-up call for me. Up until 2011, I signed myself up for a challenging project with a deadline of 2011. I was struggling and stressing, I put extra efforts, energy, sweat, time, and even tears into my project. Since my time was limited, I often chose to eat during off-peak hours (I saved time on queuing and finding a seat), but that also means that I could not find someone to eat with (at weird hours). Gradually, I have learned to be comfortable with eating alone and be happy with myself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because we have to be independent. However, I sacrificed opportunities to develop my inter-dependent skills by eating alone. Now, it is time to form new relationships, to revitalize old relationships, and to sustain harmonious ongoing relationships.

Free food served in association with conferences / talks. Actually, there is no free lunch, someone else is paying for our food, so I can only be grateful. It often makes me think how to increase the production of healthy food to sufficiently and sustainably feed the fast-growing world population.

Simple, relatively bland homemade / home-cooked food after a day of eating strongly-flavored, mass-produced food, to detox and re-balance our body. I am not totally anti-junk food. It is ok to have the indulgence of e.g. desserts, ice cream, curry, etc, but not for every meal!

Some nights, I cook soup overnight using the slow cooker. Having a (sometimes 2!) bowl(s) of hot soup in the morning really makes me more grateful than ever, especially to Mom & Dad who bought the ingredients for us. Thank you for loving us!

In December 2013, I packed snack to work. My snack includes different kinds of fruit (including Thailand longan, Korean Jeju Mandarin, nectarines from Australia), bread, and KitKat Hazelnut! Sometimes, I got free snacks. Life is awesome.

Written by blueroselady

February 17, 2014 at 9:08 am

Tips from various magazines

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@~@
To reduce commute time:
www.workshifting.com

Personally, commute time can be used for doing other useful stuff.
Relax (when the public transports are not too crowded).
Listen to voice notes of inspirations and ideas.
Read: study materials, news, facebook.
Plan.

@~@
According to Sally Poon (a dietician from Hong Kong Nutrition Association),
food of eating out are high in SALT, FAT & SUGAR,
which increases the risk of obesity, heart disease & hypertension.
Yes, we know all these but many times we choose to satisfy our

Minimize fried food.
Avoid preserved meat, e.g. salami.

For pasta e.g. spaghetti: red sauce (tomato-based) is healthier than white sauce.

@~@
"The more time a person spends on the job, the more conflict there is likely to be between work and family."
Do you agree with this statement?

@~@ Things that I must do:
# live my life to the fullest.
# appreciate what I have.

@~@
Short-listed things that I find interesting to do:
# Learn copywriting. Learn writing to sell a strategic idea.
# read The happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (since January 2012)
# make DIY flash cards. First picture that I found: polar bear of Churchill, Canada. Remember that the cuddly-looking polar bear (thanks to its shaggy fur) can be dangerous. My friend J was given a polar bear soft toy as the first birthday gift from his man, and his man can be cuddly yet dangerous like polar bear!
# attend a Nobel Prize banquet @ Stockholm (since March 2012).
# eat Vosges Haut-Chocolat (chocolate with unlikely flavors like curry, taleggio, and wasabi), partly because Katrina Markoff is an inspiring entrepreneur!
# FIND TIME TO DO NOTHING. BREATHE. An advice by Tim Park, the author of Teach us to Sit Still: A Sceptic’s Search for Health and Healing.
# Remove dust! Dust can cause your TV, computer, laptop to overheat and reduce its life span. When you do house chores of vacuum cleaning, empty the dust bag when it is half-full. With a fuller dust bag, the machine has to work harder and risks overheating.
# To extend the lifespan of your mobile phone, use its appropriate charger, simply because the voltage is different. Do not charge your phone overnight.
# commit to 30-day challenge of writing a book. Thank you Matt Cutts.
# refuse to let work compromise what my body needs: nutritious, regular meals, 7-8 hours of sleep, 3×10-minute exercise.
# hit the road less traveled with a backpack like Paige Chua. She went for her first solo trip to Beijing & Inner Mongolia in 2007. Interesting reflection: city dwellers seek a simple life when travel, but rural dwellers (e.g. of Inner Mongolia) aspire to move to cities (e.g. Beijing).

Quotes that I like:
# "No one shoots you if you’ve got a smile on your face." ~ Alan Wicker, travel journalist.
# "When I visit somewhere new, I always absorb it first as a human being, then photography it as my hobby and then consider if it’s interesting enough to share with other people through Twitter, Facebook or my blog." ~ Ben Southall, Winner of Best Job in the World (2009), caretaker of Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
# "Don’t forget that frequent business travellers are often the most frequent leisure travellers." www.businesstraveller.asia
Blueroselady: The next time someone (e.g. CV) tells you and me that he is busy travelling on business trips, he is likely to include sightseeing and leisure activities too!

Written by blueroselady

January 11, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Taming the Tiger Within: advices from Thich Nhat Hanh to diffuse anger, conquer fear and cultivate love.

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Recognize & embrace your anger when it manifests itself.
Care for it with tenderness rather than suppressing it.

Many of us begin a relationship with great love,
very intense love.
So intense that we believe that,
without our partner,
we cannot survive.
Yet if we do not practice mindfulness,
it takes only one or two years for our love to be transformed into hatred.
Then, in our partner’s presence we have the opposite feeling,
we feel terrible.
It becomes impossible to live together anymore,
so divorce is the only way.
Love has been transformed into hatred;
our flower has become garbage.

If you see elements of garbage in you,
such as fear, despair, and hatred, don’t panic.
As a good organic gardener,
a good practitioner,
you can face this:
"I recognize that there is garbage in me.
I am going to transform this garbage into nourishing compost that can make love reappear."

Mindfulness means to be present,
to be aware of what is going on.
This energy is very crucial for the practice.
The energy of mindfulness is like a big brother or big sister,
holding a young one in her arms,
taking good care of the suffering child,
which is our anger, despair, or jealousy.

When you say something unkind,
when you do something in retaliation,
your anger increases.
You make the other person suffer,
and they try hard to say or do something back to make you suffer,
and get relief from their suffering.
That is how conflict escalates.

If it is your partner who is angry, just listen.
Listen and do not react.
Do your best to practice compassionate listening.
Do not listen for the purpose of judging, criticizing, or analyzing.
Listen only to help the other person express himself and
find some relief from his suffering.

If we are able to touch our ground of no birth and no death,
we will have no fear.
That is the base of our true happiness.

Written by blueroselady

January 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Recipe for a Happy Life : 44 ingredients and instructions prepared with love

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Towards the end of 2013, I am grateful that I have an serendipitous opportunity to meet & learn from Cheryl Saban. Her eyes, gaze, smiles and life experience reminds me on Louise Hay.

Cheryl introduced me to a coffee table book of her, which is beautifully prepared with pastel-tone, day-wedding-like photos. I am also grateful to Emily Westlake who was responsible for the picture research. Those charming, gentle and simple photographs and images of flowers, glasses, plants, seaside, nostalgic items are indeed heart-warming for cold December. Those soft, natural light falling gently on ordinary items make them look extraordinary.

Reflecting on Cheryl’s sharing, people do face financial woes, marital strife, and health problems. This perspective seems to connect with Michael’s view that it is rare for a person to have excellence in all areas of wealth, relationships, and health.

So, here are the ingredients & instructions for a happy life that I like:

@~@ LOVE & RELATIONSHIPs / CONNECTIONs
# Give love, create love, and receive love.
"There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved" ~ George Sand.
# Be kind & encouraging. "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi
# Practice random act of kindness.
"Always be a little kinder than necessary." ~ James M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan.
# Give to others.
"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed." ~ Maya Angelou.
# Give your time, talent, treasure to others.
# Connect to yourself.
# Connect to nature.
# Connect to God.
# Connect to others : family members, friends, colleagues.
# Find & cherish your soul mate.
"The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person, it is learning to love the person you found."
# Forgive yourself.
# Forgive others.

@~@ GRATITUDE
# Be content with who you are.
"To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson.
# Be grateful.
"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." ~ Marcel Proust
# Count your blessings.
# Respect the power of nature, be thrilled by the miracle of birth.
# Appreciate the special beauty that is present in even the most mundane & everyday things, e.g. the very air that you breathe, sunrise, sunset, moonlight.
"The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration." ~ Claude Monet.
# Be happy for others.
"This is not a competition — there is plenty of happiness to go around, once you know where to look." ~ Cheryl Saban.

@~@ HEALTH
# Eat reasonably.
# Sleep deeply.
# Walk.

@~@ BELIEVE & HOPE
# Pray incessantly.
# Nurture your spiritual beliefs
# Journalling / Keep a diary.
# Engage in positive internal conversations.
# Write your story (in encouraging ways).
# Meditate.
# Attract positive experiences.
"Remember the Law of Attraction, and make an effort to attract positive, happy experiences into your life."
# Develop inner strength.
"Be willing to live life to your fullest potential, and believe in the fact that you have plenty of it." ~ Cheryl Saban.
# Search inside yourself.
"The foolish man seek happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet." ~ James Oppenheim.
# Learn.
"Master a new skill. When you take the time to engage in activities that absorb your full attention, you’ll experience a sense of well-being and contentment." ~ Cheryl Saban.
Blueorselady : think of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow.
# Look for ways to be inspired.

@~@ INDEPENDENCE & RESPONSIBILITY
"Independence is happiness." ~ Susan B. Anthony.
# Choose happiness.
"50% of a given human’s happiness level is genetically determined (based on twin studies), 10% is affected by life circumstances and situation, and a remaining 40% of happiness is subject to self control." ~ Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness.
# Think positively. "The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts." Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.
# Learn positive coping skills.
"Avoid false fixes. Over-indulging in shopping, food, alcohol, or drugs won’t bring you happiness." ~ Cheryl Saban.
# Try to make at least three people smile each day — beginning with yourself!

@~@ PASSION
# Discover your passions.
"Explore. Dream. Discover" ~ Mark Twain.
# Improve your talents.
# Have purposes, dreams, goals.
"It is one of my dreams to publish a coffee table book, I believe I can. A book that can help myself, my loved ones & others to enjoy a lifetime of contentment and fulfilment. Thank you Cheryl for your encouragement!"
# Be proactive.
"Turn wishful thinking into positive action. Those who take a proactive stance in their lives tend to have an ample supply of joy and pleasure" ~ Cheryl Saban.
# Seek positive role models.
# Learn life-enhancing, esteem-building behaviors from your role models, heroes / heroines, masters, jedi / guru / mentors.
# Be persevered for things that matter. http://blueroselady.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/perseverance-why-does-it-matter-can-perseverance-be-learned/
# Work.
"Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others." ~ Buddha.

30 revealing ideas from social psychology that can help us to appreciate people and our lives

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Below are interesting points (sometimes with some of personal thoughts & reflections) that I have learned from a course on social psychology taught by Professor Scott Plous of Wesleyan College.

@~@ Know yourself. Seach inside yourself.
LaoZi : "He who knows others is learned. He who knows himself is enlightened."
Benjamin Franklin : "There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self"
Daniel Gilbert : "We seem to know less about the worlds inside our heads that about the world our heads are inside."

@~@ People often MISWANT.
Blueroselady :
How to overcome the challenge that we are remarkably bad at predicting of what will make us happy?
This question is very important because many of life’s big decisions involve predicting our future feelings.
Examples of life’s big decisions : marriage, career / profession, migration, vacation.
Funny real-life example : a friend J told me that her husband fluctuates between praising-in-the-form of question and complaining:
(1) "why a such a smart woman like you wanted to marry a jerk and stayed on?"
(2) "It’s a nightmare to be with you for the rest of your life, I was enticed by your physical attractions"

@~@ Most people are too preoccupied with themselves to notice our shortcomings (e.g. your pimple, your spiky hair because of having no time to comb your hair because of waking up late).

@~@ "Research has found that audiences can’t pick up on your anxiety as well as you might expect …
Other people are noticing less than you might suppose."
Blueroselady: The next time you have to deliver a public talk / give a company presentation / make a sales pitch, do not worry. Just do it!

@~@ Susan Andersen & Serena Chen, 2002: In our varied relationships, we have varying selves.

@~@ Much of our behavior is not consciously controlled but automatic and unself-conscious.
Blueroselady: Be mindful. We can choose to practice mindfulness.
Mindful breathing… Mindful eating… Mindful doing…

@~@ self-schema vs possible selves
self-schema = beliefs about self that organize & guide the procession of self-relevant information.
possible selves = images of what we dream of or dread becoming in the future.
self-schema strongly affect how we see / perceive, remember, evaluate other people & ourselves.

@~@ major negative events vs minor irritations
major negative events activate our psychological defense.
minor irritations do not activate our psychological immunity.

@~@ Role playing becomes reality.
As we enact a new role, e.g. college student, parent. salesperson, we initially feel self-conscious.
Progressively, the role playing becomes reality.
This reminds me on the message that Amy Cuddy wants us to remember in her TED talk on body language.
Fake it till you make it.
Fake it till you become it.

@~@ How do we decide if we are rich, smart, or tall?
The answer is social comparison (Festinger, 1954) in affluence, status, achievement.
Blueroselady: Many things in life (that I know of) are relative, particularly those that are measurable.
A reader’s question: "I have made a living comparing data in my job / career. Comparing has become my second nature. How can I stop comparing in life?"
Blueroselady suggestions:
# Gratitude exercises.
# Detachment exercises : Detach your emotions from the outcome of your comparisons. I hear you, it is easy to say, but challenging to do, that is why detachment is an art; for the sake of our happiness, we must practice the art of detachment.
# Mindfulness exercises : Remember that (1) social comparisons can decrease our life satisfaction. (2) 人比人气死人 (3) "There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self."
# Kindness exercises : Be kind & compassionate to yourself, leave behind comparisons with others.
# Affirmations e.g. It is better to be a first rate version of yourself than a second rate version of someone else.

@~@ Children whom other people label as as gifted, hardworking or helpful tend to incorporate such ideas into their self-concepts & behavior.

@~@ Self-reliance
Self-reliant individual is celebrated in Western literature, e.g. The Iliad, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

@~@ Classifying / pigeonholing / labeling cultures as solely individualist or collectivist oversimplifies.
The oversimplification is because within any culture, individualism varies from person to person (Oyserman et al, 2002).
Blueroselady: Remember not to do hasty generalization.

@~@ Interdependent self
# has a greater sense of belonging.
# is defined by social connections with family, colleagues, loyal friends.
# has many selves: self-with-parents, self-at-work, self-with-friends.
# disapproves egotism, whereas independent self disapproves conformity.
# e.g. collectivistic Asian & Third World cultures.
# persists more on tasks when they are failing because wants to meet others’ expectations (e.g Japanese)
# prioritizes WE over ME

@~@ "So far, most of psychology has been produced by psychologists in middle-class White American settings studying middle-class White American respondents."
However, there are ways of life beyond the one that each of us knows best.
Blueroselady: In other space & time context (e.g. sociocultural context), there can be different ideas & practices about how to live a meaningful life.

@~@ Tips: eat before shopping.
Gilbert & Wilson (2000) showed that hungry shoppers do more impulse buying

@~@ Why is your friend’s success can be more threatening that that of strangers?
According to Zuckerman & Jost (2001), you feel that your self-esteem is threatened.
How do people react to self-esteem threat?
High self-esteem people blame others or try harder next time.
Low self-esteem people blame themselves or give up.
According to Roy Baumeister, folks with high self-esteem are more likely to be obnoxious, to interrupt, & to talk at people rather than to talk with people.
Bonus: It is useful for parents to know that
# among sibling relationships, the threat to self-esteem is greates for an older chld with a highly capable younger brother / sister.
# many people could not escape their tough childhoods, which is a cause of low self-esteem.

@~@ Secure self-esteem
# is rooted more in feeling good about who one is than in grades, looks, affluence / money, others’ approval.
# is essential for long-term well-being.
# Blueroselady views secure self-esteem neither as high nor low self-esteem, but self-esteem in equilibrium / in balance.

@~@ self-esteem vs self-efficacy
self-esteem = if you like yourself overall
Self-efficacy = if you believe you can do something

@~@ How to be less intimated (by others) & less gullible?
# remember that personal testimonies are powerfully persuasive but they may also be wrong.

@~@ Self-serving bias?
# attribute positive outcomes to oneself (e.g. own managerial skill)
# attribute negative outcomes to other factors (e.g. a down economy)

@~@ Examples of self-serving bias
# Group members’ estimates of how much they contribute to a join task typically sum to more than 100%. For instance, husband & wife are members of a group.
# most business people see themselves as more ethical than the average business people.
# Pronin & Ross (2006) reported that we see ourselves as objective & everyone else as biased. No wonder we fight!

@~@ Feedback is best when it is TRUE & SPECIFIC.
Specific feedback e.g. You are good at maths.
General feedback e.g. You are great.
To encourage someone (e.g. children, mentees, students, subordinates), remember that specific feedback is more effective than general feedback.

@~@ To improve performance, give self-efficacy feedback instead of self-esteem feedback.
e.g. of self-efficacy feedback : You tried really hard.
e.g. of self-esteem feedback : You are really smart.

@~@ When to listen to criticism & not to listen?
David Dunning’s gentle rule: "if two people independently give you the same piece of negative feedback, you should at least consider the possibility that it might be true"

@~@ Terror management theory by Jeff Greenberg: the reality of our own death motivates us to gain recognition from our work & values, but not everyone can achieve such recognition.

@~@ Competence + perseverance = success

@~@ Success requires enough optimism to sustain hope and enough pessimism to motivate concern.

@~@ According to Jule Norem (2000), defensive pessimism can sometimes save us from the perils of unrealistic optimism.
Blueroselady: Negative emotions such as anger and pessimism are not entirely bad, we just need healthy ways to deal with them.
Tips: Whenever you feel angry, remember that the person you are hurting is yourself.

@~@ Tyranny of freedom? too many choices can lead to paralysis.
According to Barry Schwartz, individualistic modern cultures have an excess of freedom which leads to the tyranny of freedom.
# Choice may enhance regret.
# People have expressed greater satisfaction with irrevocable choices than with reversible choices. This is because when people can undo their decisions they tend to consider both the positive & negative features of the decisions they had made. When they could not undo their decisions, people tend to concentrate on the positive features & ignore the negative features. For example, people expressed more satisfaction with their marriages several decades ago when marriage was more irrevocable.

@~@ Love causes marriage, but marriage would also causes love.
Blueroselady: This hypothesis may explain why arranged marriages (in some cultures) have successfully worked and survived.

@~@ The 5:1 ratio of positive:negative activities
To sustain important relationships such as marriage and parental relationships, ensure that you strive to increase the ratio of positive to negative activities by at least 5 fold.
e.g. of positive activities : holding hands, giving a hug, lending a listening ear.
e.g. of negative activities : arguing, complaining.

More
# Book: Social Psychology. Chapter 2. DG Myers. 2012.
# Notes at the end of email

Written by blueroselady

December 26, 2013 at 3:55 am

Reflection: Why grade inflation (even at Harvard) is a big problem

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Recently, I read an article arguing why grade inflation (even at Harvard) is a big problem.

From the perspective of a student,
having good grades is essential for securing jobs and admissions for further / graduate studies (MBA, PhD, JD, MD, etc).

The median grade for undergraduates in Harvard (and possibly elsewhere) is A- and its most frequently awarded grade is A. So, how can we distinguish excellent and good students?

Being students, we need to take extra efforts to distinguish themselves. Get involved in leadership / voluntary activities, take extra courses / majors / minors / online courses (and complete them!), spend a semester / a summer overseas / undertaking internships, if possible, set up a company (be an entrepreneur!)

From the perspective of an employer / a judge / a recruiter,
it is highly important to be aware of the grade inflation.
Compare students in the same batches. Minimize comparing students across batches.

"At a minimum, a college education should develop in graduates the knowledge, skills and character to lead successful lives. It should identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses, seeking to augment the former and diminish the latter. Grade inflation is harmful because it cheats students of the opportunity to understand what they do and don’t do well."

Written by blueroselady

December 22, 2013 at 6:50 am

Posted in study

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How to remove petrol / gasoline from clothes?

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It was the second Friday night in November (the year our first baby was born).

We got a visitor from England and went for a sumptuous dinner.
In a rush to bring our visitor to the airport,
I just quickly placed my backpack at the trunk of taxi.
Actually, I saw a white container but did not think much of what it is.
Alas, my bag was stained with the heavy smell of petrol!

Fortunately, I have spare bag to bring for a wedding the next noon.

Here are my attempts to remove the petrol smell (though I could not find where the stain is):
Baking soda
Keep on washing with detergent for multiple times, drying with wind and sun, re-washing.

Lessons:
# Next time check if the trunk is clean.
# It is safer to just bring your bag with you instead of putting at the trunk. A fellow traveler of mine put his wallet in his bag in the trunk. I would not advise doing so, what if the taxi driver just drives away.

Written by blueroselady

December 4, 2013 at 5:07 am

Posted in family

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