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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.

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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

A life lesson from a fallen fruit cart: resilience

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The inspiration below is adapted from the story shared by Subroto Bagchi, a co-founder & CEO of MindTree Consulting.

Imagine a busy road junction in a developing country (e.g. China, India, Indonesia) during the peak hour.
The smoke from vehicles.
The burning hot sun.
The dust that hurts eyes.
Everyone is rushing and rushing.
But it has become worse on a particular day.
A fruit seller’s cart has overturned.

His fruits are everywhere on the street floor.
The rushing vehicles are crushing his fruits.
His business for today is over.

Everyday, he woke up at 4 am before dawn or sunrise,
to buy his commodity from the wholesale market.
Then, he walked pushing his cart over a long distance.
Commodity like fruit is easily perishable,
he must sell them by the day.
Sometimes, he has not been successful because of bad weather.
Sometimes, he consumes the left-overs.
Sometimes, he just gives them away.
When unfortunate things like today happen,
he losses his capital,
and has to borrow more money from moneylender – who normally charges neck-choking interests.

Reading his story is like a wake-up call for my friend S who forward it to me.
S has a comfortable job, with stable salary, bonuses, and health insurance.
However, she often finds herself worrying about the future.
Her progress has been slow mainly because of her maternity leave and feeling of inadequate.
I asked S what the worst that can happen?
Her job contract will not be renewed.
Then, I asked S if this means that she can explore possible endeavors that she always dreams of but was too afraid to explore.

Unlike the fruit cart seller who has no financial safety net,
S still has some savings that can last her for at least half a year,
a supportive spouse.
What S needs more is resilience that she can learn from the entrepreneurial fruit cart seller to deal with life.

Written by blueroselady

October 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Happiness exercise: Describe yourself in positive ways

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Happiness means differently to different people.
To some people,
happiness means a combination of the followings:# Finding love & happily married
# Having children, grandchildren, great grandchildren
# Good health
# Be financially well-off
# Enjoying a successful career
# Ability to maintain work-life harmony
# Happy relationships with extended family (ie. parents, grandparents, siblings, nephews, etc)
# Fulfilling friendships
# Making a difference to the world. You laugh … yes, many people, including me, set their dreams so high (and hence raising the standards of attaining their happiness).

To sum up, happiness is fundamentally related to health, wealth, and children.

Since happiness is related to so wide and diverse areas of our lives, how can we work on each area of importance to us? How to prioritize?
I believe in exercises / practice. It takes 10,000 hours of practice to give birth to a real talent.
Sincerely, I want you to master the art and science of happiness,
so that you can choose to be happy
even in the face of difficult circumstances and being overwhelmed by negative emotions.

In my designed series of happiness exercises, I would share numerous effective and tested exercise to enjoy happiness in your life.

Today exercise is to describe yourself in positive ways. Write to yourself. List your favorite attributes, your achievements, your roles, your love, and anything elseo about you.

Herein, I do the exercise on myself (in the autumn of 2013)

I am …
# a mother
# a daughter
# a wife
# a student of Coursera, edX
# a researcher
# a storyteller
# an author
# an ex-artist

I love …
# people who love me & whom I love.
You can never replace anyone because everyone is made up of such beautiful specific details.” Before Sunset (2004)
# food (especially healthy affordable food and desserts)
# simplicity
# diversity
# reading (and writing) and hence books
# gardens & parks in spring & summer, in early mornings & late afternoons
# philosophy of life
# giving smiles, talks in front of groups
# learning diverse things. I believe in the “See one, Do one, Teach one” model.
# dreams
# personal development, making a syllabus for life / bucket list / life planning
# entrepreneurship + unconventional work
# (and honestly sometimes fear) change / dynamics.
The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” Isaac Asimov

I used to love …
# travel
# photography
# fireworks
# movies
But now they are not on top of my priorities.

People who have inspired me (non-exhaustively) include:
# Anthony Robbins
# Cayden Chang
# Chris Guillebeau
# Danah Zohar
# Dale Carnegie
# Dong Mingzhu 董明珠
# Goldie Hawn
# Jean Maalouf
# Jessie Louise Yancey-Siegel, affectionately known as Weezie
# Josh Kaufmann
# Joseph Murphy
# Leo Babauta
# Leong Kaiwen
# Louise Hay
# Luciano Passuello
# Michael Ellsberg
# Napoleon Hill
# Robert Cialdini
# Tahir
# Thich Nhat Hanh
# Tim Ferriss
These people are my brothers / sisters, my mentors, my dearest friends.

Things that I want to have / have more / give more to others:
@~@ Happiness
@~@ Health
@~@ Optimism & Hope
@~@ Gratitude
@~@ Kindness e.g. smile
@~@ Empathy e.g. a listening ear
@~@ Wealth
@~@ Wisdom
@~@ Courage e.g. to make new friends

Things that I want to remove / reduce :
@~@ Fear
@~@ Sadness
@~@ Anger
@~@ Envy / Jealousy
@~@ Clutters
@~@ Disappointment

Written by blueroselady

October 2, 2013 at 11:20 am

DO what you LOVE, LOVE what you DO

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Do what you love and love what you do sound simple, but appear complex in practice.

How many of us do what we love for most time of our lives?
How many of us love what we do for most of our doings?
For many people across different ages and roles of life, here are possibilities:
Dreams change.
Goals change.
Plans Change.

Do you love a doing because you are good at the doing?
Would you still love the doing if you are not (yet) good at the doing)?
Would you still love the doing if you are not (yet) good at the doing (even after 10,000 hours of practice)?

A quote by Steve Jobs shared by Jeff Moore:
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.
Don’t settle.
As with all matters of the heart,
you’ll know when you find it."

When I was in high school,
I love (or perhaps prefer) science subjects because my linguistic skills are limited (reason #1).
Apparently and consequently, I did better in maths, chemistry, biology, physics than in language subjects. People love doing things whereby we have a sense of mastery, do you feel so as well?

My native Chinese-speaking classmates who have learned writing and reading since early age, are at ease in the Chinese class.
My Eurasian classmates who have a native speaking father / mother, or those who have English-educated parents, seem to write English so fluently.
They had read thick novels / non-fiction books and easily won the essay writing and elocution competitions.
For me,
to write an essay in English or Chinese,
I had to start from simple structures.
When I have an exam topic of essay to write,
I would quickly jot down some ideas in point form and elaborated on them later as my writing progressed.
Normally, I would write explanatory or argumentative essays, and very rarely narrative essays, simply because of my limited vocabularies.

Reason #2
There are high certainty in science subject exams.
1+1=2. If the answers are right now, they will be right tomorrow.
We love things that we do well.

But in real life (including the real scientific fields as my scientist acquaintances point out),
the rules of game are uncertain.
The rules are not constant; change is the rule of the rules.
That’s why life is the only known example of infinite game is life, according to James P. Carse.
On contrary, examples of finite games are debates, sports, schools, receiving a degree from an educational institution, belonging to a society, or engaging in war.

The surprise in infinite game is the triumph of the future over the past.
So, when you are uncertain about what to do next, an easy step is to
always choose infinite games.

Winning should not be the final goal because after winning, the game stops.
Life is a game that is meant to be continuously played.
Aunt Florence shared some profound advice on how to play the game of life, you may want (and I need) to revise and remember them,
as resilient shortcuts in the moments of negative feelings and events.

Although I honestly feel that my writing is still not up to standard (set through social comparisons with people of similar professional credentials to mine and authors whom I admire),
I will continue writing.
I think this is an example of "DO what you LOVE".

Sometimes we may have to do things that we are not interested, so it is hard to love what we do.
However, the good news are interests are malleable,
they are formed through our past experiences (including education),
so we can change them through learning and unlearning.
Revealingly, you can re-program your minds and interests through conscious efforts,
this attempt will also beneficial to discard some preferences that we would not want to have if we think carefully about them but others manage to incept on us — think of the 2010 science fiction film entitled Inception.

For example, I know a number of people who have focused greatly on their careers,
hate doing house chores or parenting tasks,
but I believe that if they want to,
with right conscious efforts to shift their interests,
they can love what they do.

How to continue love what you do (even if you feel tired / bored / disappointed / frustrated) ?
My friend Tracy suggests using positive feedback loop.
You can establish positive feedback loop when the rewards / pleasure of your doing outweigh the sacrifices / pain.

To DO what you LOVE, you need willpower and courage.
To LOVE what you DO, you need positive feedback and inner security.

Inner security that I means here is not worrying so much about achieving certain levels of success.

More real-world examples:
# Joanna: becoming a mother at age 48
# My friend Leo highlights that people rule out the possibility of great change, because it appears unrealistic.

Finally,
"Do what you love, love what you do & deliver more than you promise!" ~ Harvey Mackay

Written by blueroselady

September 25, 2013 at 4:56 am

How to use quotes to better your life? 4 empowering tips

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Do you love quotes?
Do you have a collection of quotes that you love?
Would you please share one or few with me those that you love most (in comment below)?

When I was a high school student, like other boarders, I was assigned to a particular class room for 7-10 pm self-study every Sundays to Fridays, and Saturdays too when it was near the exam period!

I was fortunate that the class room where I was assigned to had inspiring quote written on the black board.
坚其志,苦其心,劳其力,事无大小,必有所成。

Since then, I started to collect my own quotes.

I also learned that by including quotes in my essays, I can improve the quality of my writings, and received higher marks. So, I started to memorize some useful quotes.

Agreeing with my friend Passuello of Litemind, quotes can instantly transform our moods, feelings & emotions, like a keyboard shortcut. Being short & succinct, quotes act faster than books, music & movies.

Toni Robbins highlights the importance of being able to instantly switch our mood, it is a relief to realize that quotes can be one of our arsenals.

We may have already known about the idea that a particular quote expresses, but sometimes we may have forgotten about it. The quote can serve as our reminder.

Sometimes, we may subscribe to popular ideas, but not everything popular is always right. Quotes of different (if not opposing) ideas can challenge our perspectives.

Sometimes, we have an idea on particular issues, but we are struggling to find the right words to express it. Herein, quotes come as a shortcut & springboard for explaining our ideas / established views / formed perspectives to others.

To summarize,
1. quotes are useful to instantly transform our emotions.
2. quotes can make us happy and hopeful.
3. quotes challenge our perspectives.
4. quotes enable us to communicate (write, speak, talk) effectively.

Bonus:
# Quote of the day:
Do our Best
Let God do the Rest
# Quotes at the end of my email

Written by blueroselady

September 9, 2013 at 10:56 am

Exercises to hone public speaking skills inspired from Toastmasters

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Once, I had the opportunity to attend a sample club meeting of a Toastmasters Club.
Although I found such a meeting provides a platform to develop & hone our public speaking skills, I decided not to join immediately because I had other priorities at that moment.

However, whenever we have the opportunity (time & audience) to give a speech (e.g. to an audience of strangers), we should cherish it.

Below are some exercises to improve our communication skills, especially for giving public speeches / talks.

# Storytelling : You can tell a story to your (younger) family member, this activity nurtures companionship & communication. A friend’s Dad used to tell stories to her until the age of 10 – that is when her father died due to lung cancer, but to her, who chooses to believe in every cloud has a silver lining, her father lives forever in her heart.

I have also been telling stories to my baby from the lovely books written by others, but how I wish I could tell him more on personal stories, something related to him, his family members, the place where he was conceived & born. To many of us, the most meaningful stories are those that are personal or those that we can relate to personally.

# Prepare & practice : Remember the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice that the best in every field have diligently undertaken. When you practice more, your create new brain connections, you become smarter, stronger, & healthier.

# Count Ah : While you practice delivering your speech / giving a talk, record it. Then re-listen to your speech, count how many times you make the audible pauses such as "ah," "er," "um," "well," and "you know". Try to minimize it next time.

# Impromptu : Get a collection of common topics. Give a 1-2 minutes or 5 minute speech about it. This exercise trains your mind to think fast & clearly, to organize your thoughts well in a very short amout of time.

# Timer: Besides using timer to keep track and manage time while cooking, heating up food for your baby, you can also use timer to refine our speech, so that we do not over talk & give other people a chance to speak.

# Record & Review : You do not need an expensive gadget, you can simply use your mobile phone to make a video.

Bonus exercise:
# Listen to inspiring talks (e.g. TED talks, BBC documentaries), note down the main points, re-deliver the talk using your own words & illustrations (personal / local examples) & if you can, add your own reflections. Be innovative!

Written by blueroselady

August 29, 2013 at 8:13 am