20 Chinese quotes that pack 4,000 years of wisdom

Year of the Monkey

  1. A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.
  2. Better to be a diamond with flaws than a pebble without imperfections.
  3. Be not afraid to move slowly; be afraid only of standing still.
  4. A gem will not be perfect without carving and polishing, nor a man perfected without trials.
  5. Deep doubts, deep wisdom; small doubts, little wisdom.
  6. When you drink water, remember the spring.
  7. If heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.
  8. Dig the well before you are thirsty.
  9. If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t do it.
  10. Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself.
  11. A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.
  12. A book holds a house of gold.
  13. A filthy mouth will not utter decent language.
  14. A thousand cups of wine do not suffice when true friends meet, but half a sentence is too much when there is no meeting of the minds.
  15. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
  16. Do good, reap good; do evil, reap evil.
  17. A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.
  18. One generation plants trees, the next enjoys the cool shade.
  19. Studying is like rowing a boat upstream; if you don’t move forward, you move backward.
  20. Be patient in one moment of anger, to save yourself hundred days of sorrow.

The image is of one of the best Chinese New Year cards I received this year, from none other than the most creative Stepworks team; click to see the beautiful animated version.

Wishing you a happy Year of the Monkey!

Bonus time

Jugja

“Bonus time” is an interesting concept that keeps me happy when I am supposed to be angry, frustrated or disappointed.

If my flight is delayed by an hour, I consider it the ‘bonus time’ I’ve been granted. Full 60 minutes of no plans, no commitments, no schedules! I can do whatever I like – read, work, think, relax, eat, take photos, call family, or just sit and do nothing for a change. Of course, I have the alternative to get angry at the airline; demand explanations; get upset about the delay; think of the rest of the things that would all be delayed by an hour… but none of that is going to help. Next time you have a delay or a wait, try to think of it as a gift of ‘bonus time’ e.g.

  • You have an appointment with a dentist, or with anyone else, but are asked to wait for half an hour when you arrive.
  • It takes you longer than planned on the road, due to traffic.
  • You queue up somewhere and it seems to take forever.

In each of these situations, you have a choice to get upset or consider the waiting time as ‘bonus time’ in which you can do something positive, productive and unplanned – like making that call to someone special or catching up on the news or thinking some good thoughts or just conscious breathing. Will you try?

[Photo taken during a road trip in Yogyakarta last week]

3 rules for guilt-free shopping, and an uncluttered life

In an earlier post, less stuff = more happiness, I shared how and why I started simplifying my life, five years ago, by reducing my possessions. Once I had done that, the challenge was to keep it that way and ensure that the old habits don’t creep back in.

My short shopping spree today made me realize how religiously I follow certain rules that have allowed me to keep my possessions to the minimum and continue to have a clutter-free life. These rules can be summarized as three simple strategies that anyone can follow. Simple, but not easy…

  1. Shop Mindfully:
    • Only buy what you need – really need. If it’s a temporary need, see if can be borrowed or rented.
    • Go with a shopping list and stay focused. Don’t be distracted by displays or special offers.
    • Don’t buy anything ‘just in case’ you might need it. Trust that you’ll find it ‘just in time’.
    • Always buy quality. It lasts longer, so costs less in the long run.
    • Don’t compromise on the style, size or color, otherwise you may be discarding it too soon. Continue reading

8 Happiness Facts

I just read these interesting facts on Action for Happiness site:

  1. Our happiness is not set in stone: Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. So the good news is that our actions really can make a difference.
  2. Optimism helps us achieve our goals: Research shows that people who are optimistic tend to be happier, healthier and cope better in tough times.
  3. Positive emotions make us more resilient: Our emotions affect our long-term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads to a tipping point beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things.
  4. Happiness is contagious: Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know. Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend’s spouse) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%. [Related post]
  5. Together we’re stronger: Having a network of social connections or high levels of social support has been shown to increase our immunity to infection, lower our risk of heart disease and reduce mental decline as we get older. Not having close personal ties has been shown to pose significant risks for our health.
  6. Happier people live longer: Happiness doesn’t just feel good. A review of hundreds of studies has found compelling evidence that happier people have better overall health and live longer than their less happy peers. Anxiety, depression, pessimism and a lack of enjoyment of daily activities have all been found to be associated with higher rates of disease and shorter life spans. [Related TED video]
  7. Happiness is a skill you can learn: Western neuroscience has now confirmed what Eastern wisdom has known for a long time: happiness is a skill we can learn. Research shows that happiness, compassion and kindness are the products of skills that can be learned and enhanced through training, thanks to the neuro plasticity of our brains.
  8. Happiness leads to success: Most people think that if they become successful, then they’ll be happy. But recent discoveries in psychology and neuroscience show that this formula is backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we’re positive, our brains are more motivated, engaged, creative, energetic, resilient, and productive.

I was a bit surprised to read about genes contributing up to 50% of our happiness, and have started reading some more about it, but the rest of the facts seem to support most of my views and other posts about happiness. What’s your take on the above?

What does your profession demand?

I met a fat doctor. Though I don’t like to judge people by their appearances, I wouldn’t quite trust him with my own health and well-being. What will be your first impression when you see…

  • A dentist with bad teeth?
  • A tailor in shabby clothes?
  • A teacher who doesn’t like kids?
  • A beautician who is less than beautiful?
  • A manager who is not organized?
  • An educationist who doesn’t like to read?
  • A banker or financial expert with no money?
  • A motivational trainer who gets depressed easily?
  • A salesperson who doesn’t use her own products, or worse still, uses competitive products?

These are examples of people who are in the wrong jobs/business; who don’t believe in what they do; who don’t practice what they preach. Every profession comes with certain demands and responsibilities, fulfilling which results in success and happiness. And so does every relationship. As a spouse, we must find the time for our partner. As parents, we have to be the role models. As friends we have to be there. And what about our responsibilities towards the community, towards our fellow human beings and towards the world we live in?

“It’s easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”

Diana Nyad: precious life, extreme dreams, accepting defeat…

In the 1970s, Diana Nyad set long-distance swim records that are still unbroken. Thirty years later, at 60, she attempted her longest swim yet, from Cuba to Florida. She talks about how to prepare mentally to achieve an extreme dream, and asks: What will YOU do with your wild, precious life? Extremely inspiring!

10 Inspiring Quotes by Super Achievers

“I struggled just getting the ball up to the rim level. I couldn’t do it at first.” (Kareem Abdul Jabbar – basketball champion)

“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it.” (Edward Albee – 3 Pulitzer Prizes for Drama)

“If you don’t fall down, you are not trying hard enough.” (Tenley Albright – Olympic Gold Medal Figure Skater and Surgeon)

“I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory.” (Maya Angelou – Poet and Historian)

“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I would regret is not trying.” (Jeff Bezos – Founder of Amazon.com)

“I do not know the word ‘quit’. Either I never did, or I have abolished it.” (Susan Butcher – Champion dog-sled racer)

“There is no such thing as an average human being. If you have a normal brain, you are superior.” (Benjamin Carson – Pediatric Neurosurgeon)

“I have always felt that I did well as a student because I lacked confidence.” (Denton Cooley – pioneer of heart transplants)

“The Godfather was a very under-appreciated movie when we were making it. I almost got fired.” (Francis Ford Coppola – filmmaker, producer and screenwriter)

“My parents telling me to stop doing it is probably what caused the company to be created.” (Michael Dell – Founder of Dell)

Selected from Academy of Achievement – one of my favorite inspiration sites.

[Photo taken in Hong Kong during MacLehose 6-7 and the ‘Needle Hill’ climb]