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Perseverance: why does it matter? Can perseverance be learned?

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People have focused on measuring cognitive skills such as intelligence.

However, others skills, beyond cognitive skills, contribute to human development and success.
A form of essential non-cognitive skills is perseverance / tenacity / grit.

"Never, ever, ever give up. Never give up. Never give up." ~ Winston Churchill, Battle of Britain.

Angela Lee Duckworth defines grit as "sticking with things over the very long term until you master them."
Her research results indicate that grit mattered more than intelligence, leadership ability or physical fitness.

People who are not as bright as their peers "compensate by working harder and with more determination." Good friends of mine such as KS and SL seem to belong to this group of people.

Napoleon Hill listed perseverance / persistence as the 8th step toward Riches.
Perseverance is the sustained effort necessary to induce faith.
Perseverance is based on the power of will.

Death is a sad event for many people.
I remember how I still felt sad when my grandmother passed away, after living a long life worth celebrating instead of mourning.
Death of those who are too young to die, is even more saddening for their parents.
I remember the severe heartache I felt when I lost my first brother,
and have since promised myself with great perseverance that I will live much longer than my parents,
so that the white hair do not have to bid farewell to the black hair (this is an Eastern saying).
Ideally, it is the black hair who bid farewell / bury their parents / grandparents (those with white hair and have lived long lives).
The story of Adrian Misic’s mother, Parto Khorsidi of perseverancefoundation.wordpress.com indeed, reminded me on the sorrow of my mother. She wrote perseverance "means to go on when nothing makes sense, when the pain of living is much larger than the fear of death."

We need perseverance not only when things go wrong, but also when things go right, so that we can push ourselves to learn more as highlighted by Jill Gough and kate Burton.
How far could and should we push ourselves?

In our spiritual lives, we must also persevere in prayer, like the persevering widow told in Luke 18:1-8. Andrew Murray, a famous 19th Century South African write, once said "Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need for persevering prayer is one of the greatest."
If we are discouraged, pray.
If we have lost heart, pray.
If we don’t know the way forward, pray.

Remember that persevering prayer activates our frontal lobes and anterior cingulate gyrus, resulting in increased compassion, memory function (through neuroplasticity), and stress reduction.

Perseverance is essential to sustain our lives, our marriages, our families, our work, our spiritual quest.

Other inspiring posts:
http://painfighter.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/quote-of-the-day-perseverance/
http://classicbookreader.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/the-tenacity-of-the-human-spirit/

Written by blueroselady

November 1, 2013 at 2:35 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. https://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

Tips on how to make a small talk from Keith Ferrazi

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I came to know Keith through Michael, and my encounter with Keith, an Italian American somehow reminded me on an experience when an Italian teacher of mine unexpectedly saw me in a professional conference in US, was so happy and rushed to kiss my cheek. Well, as an Asian, I was not used to such a very warm of greeting, but I do appreciate his warmth and caring attitude.

My Italian teacher is a famous professor in his field of expertise, and he remembers me because I am one of his weaker students. I asked him more questions, so like it or not, he ended up remembering me (at least my face). But I guess I have a good attribute too though I am not among his smartest students, it is never give up.

I am grateful to Keith for sharing a lot of useful advice. Herein, I share tips that I learned from Keith Ferrazi on how to make a small talk. They are particularly useful to me because I want to expand my network of friends and acquaintance for my new endeavor next year.

"Friendship si created out of the quality spent between people, not the quantity."

How to make small talks?
1. First, give a person a hearty smile. It says "I’m approachable"
2. Start a conversation, keep it going, create a bond. Be proactive (as Stephen Covey advices).
3. Relax. Unfold your arms.
4. Be yourself. Your uniqueness is your power.
5. Maintain a good balance of eye contact. Unblinking stare 100% of time = leering (scary!). Eye contact less than 70% of time = disinterested and rude.
6. Nod your head and lean in (without invading duifang space).
7. Be sincere, without pride nor insecurity. Do not be an eye darter.
8. Share your passion (e.g. food, cooking, writing, reading stories for children), but do not preach it.
9. Vulnerability is one of the most under-appreciated assets in business today.
10. Adjust your Johari window.
11. Learn to listen.
12. If all else fails, "You’re wonderful. Tell me more."

See also
email "Keith Ferrazi"

Written by blueroselady

October 28, 2013 at 6:49 am

Learning preferences and strengths: sharing my method in 4 words

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Since we were born, we have started learning.
Learning and living are integral processes.

Different people have unique preferences and strengths in learning. The secret is to identify our own preferences and strengths,
and optimize them to develop our talents and creativity,
so that we can be of great service to others (while earning a livelihood simultaneously).

Here are quick reminders for myself to effectively, efficiently & effortlessly learn:

1. Intelligence = nature (genes) + nurture (environment). But, better methods / strategies for learning can boost up intelligence. In an analogy, before dyes and color contact lenses, hair color and eye color were entirely genetic too respectively.
2. Learn from how nature works, when one path gets shut down, we can take a different route.
3a. Must build construct / architecture / framework / blueprint. When we have a construct, we can solve difficult problems even when there is a lot of missing information.
3b. Must summarize / make notes.
4a. Must link concepts / ideas with visuals / feelings (synaesthesia).
4b. Try to link together ideas that do not normally connect (use metaphor / analogy). With patience & perseverance, we can connect any subjects.
5. Must use both: repetition / rote memorization + holistic relating / inter-linking.
6. Must create: write, draw, take photos, make videos.

In 4 words:

Summarize
Memorize
Link
Create

Final remark: I appreciate that my ability to understand things effortlessly is improving everyday.

See also:
http://zenhabits.net/how-to-learn-more-and-study-less/

Holistic Learning by Scott Young

Written by blueroselady

October 24, 2013 at 3:51 am

Posted in study

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6 Inspirations from David Ash to survive & strive in real life roller coaster

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Thank you to Michael Ellsberg (the author of The Education of Millionaires)
for introducing me to David J. Ash
& telling his story
on how mastering the art of selling
has allowed him to help people.

David has bought a boarding house that he has turned into The Vivian: a transitional housing for at-risk, chronically homeless women living with concurrent mental illness, addiction and other challenges (severe sexual / physical abuse).

The Vivian is located in the middle of Downtown Eastside of Vancouver,
1 of the poorest & most crime-ridden neighbourhoods in North America.

Many times,
people have positive perceptions on Vancouver,
one of the most liveable cities worldwide
in terms of safety, education,
hygiene, health care,
culture, public transportation,
but not cost of living!

However, based on my limited experience of living in Vancouver,
and having done a bit of voluntary work at Downtown Eastside,
I am aware of the dire circumstances of people living there.

To quote David,
“These people could be our sisters or mother.
We should not be too quick to judge these people.”

The main inspiration of David for setting up the Vivian is his own mother.
His mother Vivian Grace Ash
died alone on the streets
in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

I still remember my friend HW
who grew up in the tropical region
remarked that
it is extremely challenging to be poor & living on the streets in Canada,
because of the cold weather.

At that time (in 1999),
David wanted to help his mother but he could not.
Fast forward ~ a decade later,
David have the capacity (his new-found wealth) to help women like his mother,
and he is deeply committed to it.

Although at a particular point of our lives,
we cannot help someone whom we love,
instead of blaming ourselves,
or burying ourselves in regret,
we can focus on giving / helping other people.
(Inspiration #1)

The story also reminds me on
how the rail-road tycoon Leland Stanford
founded the Stanford University in 1891
in memory of his son who died at 15 years old.
The founder’s vision of
“The children of California shall be our children”
has contributed to the birth
of a world-class university.

David’s and Leland’s stories indeed illustrate
老吾老以及人之老 幼吾幼以及人之幼
which literally means to honor old people as we do our own aged parents, and care for other’s children as one’s own.
(Inspiration #2)

When David was 12 years old,
his mother suffered from nervous breakdowns,
frequented the psychiatric wards,
attempted to commit suicide,
left home,
& finally ended up on the streets.

David ended up dropping out in grade 11 of high school.
He moved to Ottawa to take on a job as a pot scrubber,
which Michael refers as a dead-end job.
Most people will think that this is the end.
On average, drop-outs do worse in life
than people who complete their formal education.
However, remember that everything popular is not always right.
(Inspiration #3)

David’s life changed when he met a real estate salesman in Ottawa
who encouraged him to be a real estate salesman.
David committed to passing the course to be a real estate salesperson,
his first educational endeavour in his life.
Every day,
David studied & revised,
made his own notes.
“I studied 4x harder than most of my classmates who were mature adults.
Many were educated professionals with university degrees”

David passed the course &
got a sales job at Century 21.
He had a revival and has since believed in positive mental attitude.

You can do something with your life,
no matter who you are,
no matter where you are from,
no matter what your background,
if you work hard,
as mentioned by Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich,
& many similar books.
(Inspiration #4)

David became committed to self-teach himself
motivation & success,
through books, seminars, workshops.

David learned & mastered the craft of sales,
in real estate,
in life insurance sales.
In his 20s,
he was earning $100,000 annually!

However,
he became bankrupt at the age of 29,
because he did not manage his spending & saving.

He learned his lesson,
started to save 10% of his income.
invested it for the future,
by purchasing a little rental property,
& now he owns office buildings, retail centres & a huge hockey arena.
(Inspiration #5)

David’s life sounds like a roller coaster,
yet many people love roller coaster
(that’s why theme parks are always popular)
but to survive the real-world roller coaster
it takes hard work, discipline, resilience, & perseverance.
(Inspiration #6)

I pray for David (& many people like him)
to have a happy ending for his life story,
unlike his mother.

Written by blueroselady

August 27, 2013 at 10:26 am

8 Life lessons from dog

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Dear my beloved readers,

Are you a dog lover?
Do you have a lovely, cute, or naughty puppy or dog as your pet?
Personally, I have lived with a lovely yet naughty dog (she was only 1~2 years old when we began our relationship).
I walked her sometimes,
we played and jumped at a trampoline,
and she would always rushed down stairs when I returned from work at almost midnight.
She would look at me and pant with happiness (just for my returning home).
Her action was very heartwarming,
especially at the chilling night after a long day of work.

Or have you had a bad experience with dog?
I heard a story that in a developing country,
where the social gap is relatively wide,
a beautiful girl was bitten by a dog of a rich family.
Consequently, she suffered serious fever and died few days later.
Such a precious life had gone just like that.
Although I could not ascertain if this story was true,
it serves a reminder to us that not all dogs are good to us.

A good friend was once complaining about his neighbor’s dog.
It barked suddenly and shocked his father who has heart medical condition.
It barked fiercely at delivery men, babies and children, including those of neighbors.

In my current conclusion, dogs can be our friends (to some people dogs are their best friend) or foes.

According to BBC reports by Jonathan Amos, dog has actually evolved from wolf ‘on the waste dump’.
After knowing about this finding,
would you want to keep a wolf as a pet?
What come to your mind when you think of the word ‘word’?
Dracula.
The Red Riding Hood.
Wolves have not been positively portrayed.
On the other hand,
when we think of our pet dogs,
they are so docile and appear to be permanently stuck in a kind of innocent puppyhood.

What make (some) dogs so lovely as compared to wolves?

1. LOVE is powerful.
Dogs love unconditionally.
Once the dog wins over the love of the master, the master is willing to sacrifice / spend for / to serve the dog.
For example,
Roy Chong was helping an expatriate to look for a bungalow to rent in Singapore.
The comfortable monthly price range of the tenancy that the tenant looked for was SGD25,000 (paid by his company), and the tenant had only a request.
He wanted a pool to be available for his Golden Retriever dog to swim around.
Most landlords rejected his request, except a landlord who asked for SGD27,000.
The tenant happily spent the extra SGD2,000 so that his dog can swim / play at his home.

2. LOYALTY
Some wolves had evolved into our best friend: our dogs that protect our home from the most dangerous animal in the whole world and that is human.
For my experience, S always faithfully welcomed me when I just returned home.

3. NATURE heals. Go outdoor, walk / stroll at the park / garden, breathe in fresh air, let the tree and birds cheer us up!
To quote Threesia Goff, a little fresh air goes a long way to brighten your day.
Note : exception exists. If you live in a heavily polluted city or when haze affects your city, perhaps staying indoor combined with a weekend getaway is an option.

4. TIME is the best gift we can give to others, because even money cannot buy back the lost time.
Always make time for the people in your life.
There is a saying that you choose your friends but not your family.
So where do colleagues fit in?
Many of us who are employed spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our family or friends yet we cannot choose who our colleagues are.
In my humble opinion,
there are situations where we cannot choose who our associates are.
If our colleagues are good, we try our best to maintain harmonious fellowship, learn from them, and emulate their strengths.
If our colleagues are bad, we also try our best to maintain harmonious fellowship (not to turn anyone into a foe).

Some people said that we do not choose our parents.
I also heard that before we were conceived,
God asked us which (biological) parents we want to choose, just that when we arrived as a newborn, we forgot everything.
However, we can choose who our Godparents are.

5. be PRESENT.
Dogs live in the moment and don’t hold grudges.
Christina Villa suggests us to slow down and notice the sights, sounds, and smells of our everyday life,
as inspired by our dogs which stop to smell the roses and little children.
Although planning is important, sometimes over planning may lead to unnecessary worry. I once read from the National Geographic "Don’t worry so much. Worry is praying for what you don’t want.".
Here is some suggestions / reflections on how not to worry.

6. PERSEVERANCE : never give up!
Ever see a dog try to chase a squirrel up a tree? They jump, claw at the tree, and bark their heads off.
Personally, I have had some challenges sometimes while walking S (a golden retriever),
when we just left the gate,
she would half running half jumping instead of walking.
Once a guy remarked,
"It seems like your dog walk you instead of you walk your dog!"
S also loves to chase ducks and pursue them until S fell into a dirty drain,
and we had to spend an evening completely bathing her.

7. KNOW YOURSELF
Don’t go out without your tag. Always remember who you are, where you come from, and the name and number of someone to call if you get lost.
At minimum requirement, know how to return home after running out from your home.

8. Be genuinely INTERESTED in other people.
Being interested in other people here refers to being caring, not interrogating.
Story 1:
Z was sharing with me once she met a President’s Scholar, who interrogated her (at their first encounter) on a train.
Story 2:
When my friends visited me, S would stand on her 2 legs against my friends to welcome them.

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Written by blueroselady

June 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Posted in experience, lifestyle

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Reflections on Coursera: 7 reasons I love it

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This post is not a review of Coursera.

My sincere appreciation to Coursera for providing me an opportunity to learn many interesting subjects and to improve the quality of my life.

These are seven reasons I love it (as of summer 2013).

1. FREE.
Coursera courses are free as of summer 2013.
Some of the best things in life are free,
for example the love of parents to their children.

2. An opportunity to practice GRATITUDE.
According to Thomas Paine, human beings tend to take things for granted.
“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.
It is dearness only which gives everything its value.”
By being grateful, we can live happier and more fulfilling.

3. FLEXIBILITY.
The Coursera lectures are presented in short videos which are ideal for the following people:
workers who want to improve their knowledge and skills.
breastfeeding mothers who have to attend to young babies.
commuters who have to travel far on public transports.

4. SOCIAL & ECONOMIC ENABLERS for those who cannot afford to o for schooling due to their earlier life circumstances.
A friend of mine mentions that he prefers to hire those who have completed Coursera courses* (and are able to apply what they have learned) to those who present traditional educational certifications.
He reasons that those who strive to upgrade their knowledge & skills on their own initiative, need to put efforts & discipline.

* Statement of Accomplishment can prove that one has completed a Coursera course.

Indeed, MOOCs such as Coursera have a great potential to unlock career and educational opportunities, and find new life pathways for people of all ages regardless of current social economic background.

5. an opportunity to practice perseverance, discipline, the art of prioritizing (doing first thing first), and to experience the joy of learning.

Top Ten Reasons Students Didn’t Finish MOOC:

  • Takes too Much Time
  • Assumes Too Much Knowledge
  • Too Basic
  • Lecture Fatigue
  • Poor Course Design
  • Clunky Community/Communication Tools
  • Bad Peer Review & Trolls
  • Surprised by Hidden Costs
  • Shopping Around
  • Want to Learn, Nor for Credential

6. MEET NEW PEOPLE.
Coursera offers a community of fellow students / learners hailed from worldwide.
This satisfy human beings’ need to socialize.

7. ENTERTAINING.
Some of Coursera courses that I have attended have offered a delicious treat to our senses: visual, audio, tastes, odor, and touch.
For example,
(i) from the Coursera course on child nutrition & cooking instructed by Maya Adam (Stanford University),
I have learned how to cook delicious & healthy pasta with homemade sauce.
While watching me cooking in the kitchen, my baby experience the fragrant smell of pasta,
and in the near future he will be able to taste it too.
(ii) Coursera videos feature instructors from different regions worldwide (mostly Americans as of summer 2013).
These videos also serve as an avenue to learn e.g. American English.

What’s next?
Udacity
edX

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Written by blueroselady

June 2, 2013 at 6:34 am

Songs that I sing to my children & their inspirations : 1. 男儿当自强

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Once Upon a Time in China soundtrack.

Message: perseverance

Once upon a time in China
〜男儿当自强〜
傲气面对万重浪热血像那红日光
胆似铁打骨如精钢
胸襟百千丈眼光万里长
我发奋图强做好汉
做个好汉子每天要自强
热血男儿汉比太阳更光
让海天为我聚能量
去开天辟地为我理想去闯
看碧波高壮又看碧空广阔浩气杨
我是男儿当自强
昂步挺胸大家作栋梁做好汉
用我百点热耀出千分光
做个好汉子热血热肠热比太阳更光
让海天为我聚能量
去开天辟地为我理想去闯
看碧波高壮又看碧空广阔浩气杨
我是男儿当自强
昂步挺胸大家作栋梁做好汉
用我百点热耀出千分光
做个好汉子热血热肠热比太阳更光
做个好汉子热血热肠热比太阳更光

Written by blueroselady

May 26, 2013 at 9:34 am

Posted in music

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Dear Dr Douglas Prasher, You are my Hero

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A friend of mine who is a scientist shared with me about Douglas Prasher’s story. When I was a little kid, I consider the following careers very cool / glamorous / glorious : pilot, adventurers (e.g. Columbus, Everest), scientists, astronauts, … and many others.

However, my friend said that being scientists is not all glorious, there is no guarantee that one can meet one’s basic survival needs (according to the Maslow’s hierarchy) of food, clothes, shelter / home, even after one has done high quality work that deserves Nobel Prize like what happened to Douglas Prasher.

In brief, the Nobel Prize I am referring to is for the discovery and engineering of fluorescent proteins – molecules that can glow in the dark. Sound so fun!

The fluorescent proteins are powerful research tools and have become the foundation of a multimillion-dollar industry.

Prasher was not included among the Nobel laureates, as only 3 individuals can share a single Nobel Prize. “The glow of the GFP gene may have illuminated biology, but Prasher has remained in the shadows.” The humble ^ Laureate Martin Chalfie credited Prasher’s contribution:
“(Douglas Prasher’s) work was critical and essential for the work we did in our lab. They could’ve easily given the prize to Douglas and the other two and left me out.”

^ To share the best of the best to you dearest readers, I have carefully studied Nobel Laureates and summarize their strengths that worth emulating.

My friend J, who is also a scientist and used to work 7 days a week from 9 am to 11 pm daily, shared with me that there are sadly numerous unacknowledged contributions in science. She told me that a lady called Rosalind Franklin also deserves a Nobel Prize but she died too early. J told me that she cried reading the story of Prasher.

To quote discovermagazine, the vanishing act of Douglas Prasher “provides a glimpse into what it takes to flourish in modern-day science, where mentorship, networking, and the ability to secure funding can be as important as talent and intelligence.”

Dear aspiring scientists (especially graduate students), I hope that my sharing provide you with additional perspective. One of a leader of a science research institute sadly told me (in a chance encounter in a public transport) that in the past only the rich can do scientific research because they do not have to trade their time to earn a living. These people were for example the landlord who receive passive income ; they have the time (one of the most priceless commodity in the universe), the brain energy & physical energy to carry out scientific experiments.

He also shared with me about his personal experience, he was previously trained as a medical doctor (a career that may guarantee a better earning), but later switched to become a scientist. Few years down the road after he has children, he woke up in the middle of night sweating and worrying on how to finance his mortgage. The good news is his children are now grown-up.

Dear aspiring scientists, your professors and successful scientists you meet would rarely tell you such stories because they need workers. Graduate students are very cheap to the extent that they are free to the professors. You will rarely meet unsuccessful scientists because they are no longer around in the labs / meetings / conferences to warn you / to be naysayers for you who will eventually become successful scientists. Do not give up on your chosen career easily. After all, scientists will meet countless failures (positive people prefer to refer a failure as a learning experience) because they are at the frontier of discovery and innovation. You really need perseverance in the pursuit of science, science needs you, our world need you ; but one must not neglect what is entrusted to him by the Universe / the Creator / God, e.g. young children to feed, nurture, take care.

Dear aspiring scientists, do not be disheartened by what I share here because if you are really passionate about science, you want and you should give it your best, until you really meet dead ends. You can be like Douglas Prasher, to be humble and willing to take other kinds of jobs, including being a bus driver at $8.50 an hour. I respect bus drivers, they provide essential service to many people, and I personally rely on them often. I view them as my everyday heroes who courier me safely from a place to another. But to be honest, one who had worked as a scientist must have to endure the words of their past colleagues on becoming a bus driver. If you master the art of endurance, are willing to work hard and have integrity in life, no matter what you do / your career / job, you will have inner happiness, which is much more important than prestige (e.g. awards) / glamor. If you want to be successful in a particular career, perseverance * and resourcefulness ^ are essential.

* “Doug doesn’t have the ‘Goddammit, you’re not going to stop me’ attitude,” Ward says.”
^ “It was the kind of resourcefulness that Prasher seemed to lack.”

After all, there are many things that Prasher can be happy and grateful about: his supportive wife, his children, his home-grown vegetables & finally a return to science.

Dear my readers, all careers are similar in the chance of success; they just vary in the steepness of the climb. My kind friend shared that the climbing field for being successful scientists started relatively easy for students who have done well academically / with exceptional scholastic ability, but become very very steep toward the higher place(s).

Final reflection:
Let the (use) value that we bring to ourselves and others through our work / pursuit / career / vocation shine itself.
Do not pursue recognition / award as a goal because it is beyond our control.
Even one of the most deserving Nobel Prize winner – Gandhi, never receive it.

Dear Dr Douglas Prasher, thank you very much! You are my Hero!

Related:
http://discovermagazine.com/2011/apr/30-how-bad-luck-networking-cost-prasher-nobel
http://galette86.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/the-inspiring-story-of-douglas-prasher/
http://www.bio.purdue.edu/lab/leung/blog/?tag=douglas-prasher

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