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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Smile! Says Ellen

How I would love to see her live!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Make Good Bargains

The common saying is 'Count your battles' but I guess this is more on your well being. Enjoy the article :)

Courtesy of huffington post, article by Rick Hanson. His books are really cool too!

Life is full of tradeoffs between benefits and costs.
Sometimes, the benefits are worth the costs. For example, the rewards of going for a run -- getting out in fresh air, improving health, etc. -- are, for me at least, worth the costs of losing half an hour of work time while gaining a pair of achy legs. Similarly, it could well be that getting a raise is worth the awkwardness of asking for one, teaching a child good lessons is worth the stress of correcting her, and deepening intimacy is worth the vulnerability of saying "I love you."
But other times, the benefits are not worth the costs. For example, it might feel good to yell at someone who makes you mad -- but at a big price, including making you look bad and triggering others to act even worse. There are indeed rewards in that third beer or third cookie -- but also significant costs, including how you'll feel about yourself the next day.
We make a thousand choices a day, each one a bargain in which the brain weighs expected benefits against expected costs. Therefore, it's important to make good bargains, good choices, in which the real benefits are greater than the real costs.
Unfortunately, your brain lies to you all day long. (And to me and to everyone else.)
Here's why:
• The reward centers of the brain's limbic system evolved several hundred million years ago. Their relatively primitive processing pursues short-term gratification and basic sensual pleasures, and inflates apparent rewards -- all to get the inner bunny chasing the carrot. As a result, the brain routinely overestimates the benefits of things that are not that good for you, such as consuming sugar, carbohydrates, and intoxicants; playing video games; buying more consumer goods; looking for love in all the wrong places; pounding home one's point; or being one-up in a relationship.
• Even more ancient fear centers see shadows under every bush, hyper-focus on apparent threats, and over-generalize from past uncomfortable experiences -- all to get the inner iguana running from the stick. Consequently, your brain routinely overestimates the costs of things that are good for you, such as exercise, taking the time for well-being practices like meditation or prayer, going back to school, setting aside your own position to really understand someone else's, or exposing the soft underbelly of your deeper feelings.
Meanwhile, modern culture bombards us with the promise of inflated rewards -- thicker hair! thinner thighs! -- and the threat of exaggerated alarms: radioactive clouds coming this way! threat level orange!
So, let's stand up for the truth -- and make better bargains.
(To be sure, we can also make mistakes in the opposite direction, such as underestimating the benefits of getting more skillful at being a mate, or the long-term costs of global warming. But in this limited space, let's focus on the brain's bias toward overestimating the benefits of things that are bad -- broadly defined -- and the costs of things that are good.)
Try to be more aware of the little choices you make about what you will and will not do. Slow things down in your mind and unpack these bargains to be more aware of the anticipated benefits and costs that drive them.
Know your usual suspects -- the "carrots" you chase to a fault, and the "sticks" you needlessly run from.
Pick a desire that's been an issue for you (e.g., food, drink, pulling for approval), and ask yourself: Are the expected benefits really that good? Try to imagine them in your body. How intense would they be, how long would they last? What price will you pay later? Are there better ways to get these benefits? Are there better benefits to be found pursuing other aims?
Also pick something that's been a block for you (e.g., public speaking, asserting yourself in love or work, pursuing a lifelong dream), and ask yourself: Are the expected costs really that bad? Truly, how uncomfortable would you actually be, how long would it really last -- and how could you cope? Would you survive the experience? How would you feel about yourself, finally pushing through this fear? What other rewards would come to you?
Now, take two calculated risks -- and see what happens: Stop chasing some hollow and costly carrot, plus take some positive action you've over-feared, no longer fleeing a paper tiger. Notice that these are much better bargains! Open to and really feel the positive experiences you have earned. Link these good feelings to the specific steps you've taken, and to the general practice of being more conscious and realistic about benefits and costs.
And feel free to keep going -- making better bargains.
For more by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 23 languages) and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time (in nine languages). Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he's been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, FoxBusiness, Consumer Reports Health, U.S. News and World Report, and O Magazine, and he has several audio programs with Sounds True. His weekly e-newsletter -- Just One Thing -- has over 70,000 subscribers, and also appears on The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and other major websites.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Do not marry before age 30

[Note for the English version: This post addresses the much-discussed so-called problem of China’s “leftover women,” women age 25 and up and not married!]
Businessweek last week reported that Chinese women are driving up enrollment at business schools across the United States. So much female Chinese talent is going global! I’m excited by the potential for Chinese women to rock our world. Unfortunately, there’s still this problem of a society which defines women by marital status.
Leftover women are the modern urban women most of whom have high education, high income, and high IQ. They are nice-looking, but they are relatively demanding in choosing spouses so that they haven’t found ideal partners for marriage.  – China Ministry of Education, 2007
I got the career of my dreams, I got the man of my dreams, and I got the children of my dreams. I got married at age 38, which by governmental standards makes me a living miracle.
That’s my husband Dave and me on our wedding day. The fact is, in life there is a season for everything, and I got it allbecause I married late.
“Why aren’t you married yet?”
My parents were terrified that I’d end up a leftover woman. No matter how much I accomplished, our conversations revolved around “the big issue:”
Mom: Hi Joy! My friends in California mailed me some news clips about you.
Me: That’s nice.
Mom: But your father and I were talking. You’re not living with us anymore.
Me:  I haven’t lived with you for 15 years.
Mom: … and you’re not living with a husband.
Me: Because I’m not married.
Mom: So, can you please explain to me again what you’re doing out there in CALIFORNIA?
Me:  Mom! Did you read the news clips? I’m helping millions of people improve their lives.
Mom: But don’t you know that a woman’s job is to be a good wife and mother?
For our mothers and previous generations, it was OK to marry someone without really knowing him. Marriage mostly was for security and lineage. As a result, most of us have no role models finding and establishing a soul-mate relationship.
“Are your standards are too high?”
Do not slack off on your search for Mr. Right. This is the most important search of your life, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that the only thing at stake is your future.
Society tells us that since nobody’s perfect, we should lower our standards and settle for what we can get. We are to hurry and get married as insurance that we’ll never find anyone better. But marriage should be more than just an insurance plan. Nothing could be more depressing, or more insidious to our lives, than a society of loveless marriages and extramarital affairs. And as we lower our standards, we enforce this lovelessness on our children all over again.
This does not have to be you.  Whom you marry is life’s most profound decision. The fact is, unless you’re planning to have 15 children, there is no good reason to get married before age 30.
In your 20s, have fun, learn and grow
Most people lead lives plagued by a constant undercurrent of stress and anxiety. You can gain a deep feeling that your life is on track if you learn how to access and connect with the joy within yourself.
If you don’t love yourself and commit to your own happiness, then you’ll constantly change yourself to make other people happy. Until you really know who you are and what you want with complete confidence, do not commit your life to someone else. You can do more for other people when you stay connected to your own dreams.
So, build a life all on your own, and don’t dump it anytime you have a new boyfriend. Good men won’t appreciate it, and bad men will just manipulate you into giving up more and more.
Finding your soul mate requires that you first commit to loving yourself enough to make choices that make you happy. To measure how well you’re doing in loving yourself, simply stop running, and quiet the noise long enough to ask “am I really happy?” If you avoid this question, you’ll never create a good life for yourself.
Being fulfilled as an independent woman is the basis for finding Mr. Right and having a successful life.
In your 20s, learn to become independent
At some point in your journey, you must separate yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually from the influences around you. What does it mean to be “independent”? Implicit in the term are your parents, since they’re the “from whom” you are defining yourself. Your 20s are when you learn to see your parents as individuals and not just your parents. They learn to see you as an individual and not just as their child. This new relationship can allow you and them to establish an even closer of intimacy and friendship.
In your 20s, explore life’s possibilities
Soon, you’ll enter new long-term obligations, and those obligations will circumscribe your life forever. Now is the one time in your entire adult life that you’ll ever get to be a little selfish. Take advantage of this freedom. Explore the wide-open possibilities of your life, and experience everything you want to experience. Your 20s and 30s should be an exciting period of big dreams. Give yourself permission to spend a few years wandering about and figuring out what it is that interests you.
After all, your brain is still changing
Neuroscientists once thought the brain stops after puberty, but they now have found that the part of your brain that comes up with long-range strategy, that answers the question “Who am I and what do I want to do with my life,” actually keeps changing into your 20s and 30s.
That means that you are a different person now in your 20s than you will be in your 30s – and so is your boyfriend. Couples who marry early thus burden their lives with serious extra hurdles. Nobody enters a marriage thinking, “Someday we’ll hate each other,” but that’s precisely the experience of most of China’s born-post-1980 generation. This generation’s divorce rate already is 57%, and the oldest members are only 30!
When you’re 20 and the long-term-thinking area of your brain is still evolving, you look for “Mr. Right Now.”  When you’re 30, you’re better equipped to find a  “Mr. Right” for ever.
Why do you want to get married?
Why do you want to get married? Because your friends are getting married? Because society has bamboozled you to think you should be married by now?  These reasons have nothing to do with the man you’re marrying, and they bode for an unhappy future, a future where you’ll be only half alive. Without room in this relationship for the essential you, you will be lonely forever. And so will he.
So, forget about the fantasy of marriage and let’s get real.
Love is not enough
Love is only the starting point for a successful marriage. That’s because marriage is nothing like dating. Marriage is like a very mundane small business in which you are co-partners and co-employees. This actually can be really really nice, ifyou hitch yourself to the right partner. For the company to succeed, you and he must agree on the direction of your company and the values by which it will run. You must believe in each other completely and trust in each other’s good judgment. You must figure out how your company will make money and how to spend it. You must identify what tasks must be done and who will do what. Unlike in any other small business, however, you both must commit to being co-owners and co-employees in this company for the rest of your days on Earth.
Take a headhunting approach to finding Mr. Right
Don’t marry the first guy you date. How could you know it’s love when you have nothing to compare it to? Take a headhunting approach to finding your soul mate. For any given search assignment, my firm reviews hundreds of candidates. Once, to find the CFO of a Fortune 500 company, we spoke with over 1,000 people! If you worked as a headhunter in my firm, and I assigned you a search, and you limited your entire universe of candidates to just two or three, I’d fire you.
Do not slack off on your search for Mr. Right. This is the most important search of your life, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that the only thing at stake is your future.
When you kick off a new search, Step One is defining your ideal candidate. Do not lower your standards, but do make sure your standards are sound. Ask a guy what he’s looking for in a woman and he’ll say two things: good-looking and nice. Ask a woman what she’s looking for in a guy and she’ll say two hundred things:
•  Rich but generous
•   Knows how to treat a woman well
•   Knows how to order a bottle of wine in a restaurant, and what to do when the wine comes to the table
•   Wears Italian suits but is not gay
… and on and on. Ladies, please. If you were my client, I’d make you sort these qualities into two columns: “Must Have” and “Nice to Have.”  Your “Must Have” column should include only those things that are truly important, like  “makes me a better person when I am with him,” “makes my heart sing,” “shares my values,” “wants what I want in life.” and “financially stable.”  Move everything else over to your “Nice to Have” column.
Next step in your search is to identify, interview and evaluate a multitude of candidates. Falling in and out of love with different people is important to helping you better understand what you don’t want in a relationship as well as what you do want. Aren’t you curious about men? This is your only chance in life to have a range of romantic and sexual experiences, so get out there and have some fun.
Don’t put him in charge of deciding your fate
Sometimes a woman doesn’t even bother to conduct a search. This is the one who tries to force every guy she dates onto the marriage track. Who asks him: “Where do I stand?” Where is this going?” “Do you want to have kids?” By doing this, she’s telling him the relationship is entirely his to dictate. This behavior is really dangerous because she’s completely passive in the decision to marry. This behavior also is demeaning to her, and off-putting to him. She comes across as desperate. A man wants you to be with him because you choose to be, not because you need to be.
Don’t deploy The Ultimatum
After a certain amount of time without a marriage proposal, this woman may start to plot The Ultimatum. It goes like this: “Hi honey. Propose to me within x time (such as three months), or I will leave you!”
I don’t believe in The Ultimatum. When you’re with your soul mate, it should be so completely obvious to you both that wild horses could not keep him from running after you and making absolutely certain that you are his forever. He will be grateful for every day that he has with you. And he will commit to spending the rest of his days caring for you and any children that you have together.
There are great men out there
It’s nonsense, the idea that if you wait to marry, there will be no good men left, particularly given the gender imbalance in China. Any woman who thinks there are no good men out there simply does not know how to relate to men. It’s calledempathy. Men and women love differently, and if you learn how to love men the way they need to be loved, you’ll never be lonely. Perhaps I should write a headhunter’s guide to bagging the man of your dreams.
First become Ms. Right
How do you find yourself? Through your career! It’s through work that you discover your passions, and that you develop a greater understanding, love and respect for yourself. Spend your 20s working really really hard finding things you’re passionate about, as I did, and you can have an incredible career. And, ladies, nothing is quite as much fun as achieving.
Men respect women who make their own money, as one Wall Street man memorably reminded a beautiful young gold-digger. And a smashing job puts you in touch with the kind of man you couldn’t access if you were a dummy. The sexiest women are the achievers because they’re the most interesting and exciting.
… and that’s when the good men will appear
As I entered my 20s, I never had any trouble attracting men (Chinese women are very popular in America!), but the make-up of those men evolved over time. When I was in my 20s, I had boyfriends, but overall my love life was somewhat unsatisfying. Boys age 18 worshipped me, man-boys age 50 worshipped me more. Guys my own age seemed a little unfinished, like I was. Too often when someone asked me out, I’d think, “Thanks, but I think I’d rather curl up in my apartment with a good book and a glass of wine.”
As I grew into my 30s, as body parts sagged but spirit soared along with my career, something funny happened in my love life. I started attracting a narrower band of men, of much higher caliber. The man-boys disappeared and I was left with successful, self-assured real men. Dating became fun.
Married friends invited me over for dinner just to hear about my latest dating adventures. My first date with beloved Dave occurred on a Sunday night, while on the preceding Saturday night, I had another first date with another highly-eligible Dave. My friends thought I was the “bee’s knees” for having a “Saturday Dave” and a “Sunday Dave” both lined up in a single weekend.
Monday morning when they called for the after-action report, I informed them that going forward there would be only one Dave. My secretary, for years having juggled my busy work and social schedule, was surprised to hear that perhaps I’d even met my Every Day Dave.
It’s way better to be an older parent
Our love since has resulted in two baby girls, born when I was 39 and 41. On being an older parent, the world-renown parenting expert Dr. Vicki Panaccione eloquently sums up my own feelings :
Younger parents still have lots of life experiences to live, and can actually end up resenting the restrictions and responsibilities placed on them by virtue of having a child. Older parents tend to be more ready to settle down and focus their attention on the enjoyment of being parents and not feeling they are ‘missing out’ on other experiences.  Their lives tend to be richer, and their experiences with each other, their children and life in general, have deeper meaning and appreciation.
Older parents tend to be more financially stable and secure in their careers, and have completed their education. This tends to mean less conflict regarding how to parcel out time, not having to juggle school, family and job.  They also may be able to retire earlier, or be more flexible in their established work situation, affording them the opportunity to spend more time with their children.
Finally, older parents tend to be in more stable marriages, either because they have been together a long time, or have come together later in life with a clearer understanding of what they had been seeking in a life partner.  They are more apt to have greater ability to communicate with each other, and have learned the importance of compromise and establishing agreement.  In child rearing, this is particularly important.  Stable relationships provide greater stability for children.  And, relationships developing later in life tend to be more passionate…and passionate partners make better parents!
The rush to marry too young is what’s leftover from a previous era
All you educated, talented, passionate young sisters, for those of you going abroad and those of you staying home, YOU are China’s future. If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun. Do not ever let anyone make you feel you are less than a fully legitimate member of society simply because you are free. So, get out there and make all your dreams come true. You too can have it all. And then, ladies, through your shining example, show the rest of society how to really live.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Documentaries That Changed the Way I Think About Food

Worth checking out

For me, the shift in my way of thinking about food began after I saw the movie Food, Inc. It was a big slap in the face to all my beliefs about food because, like many, I was so far detached from where it came from. And even after watching Food, Inc, I was still in denial. 

At least I was, until I walked into my local supermarket. I clearly remember looking at the perfectly packed shelves, lined with processed foods and thinking, “This is so far from food.” 

When you open the door to the organic world, it can be so overwhelming! You find yourself feeling like you don’t know where to start or wondering if it's even worth the change.
Here are some documentaries I recommend to get you motivated to start the change: 
1. Food, Inc.

Looks into the industrial production of the food we eat, food labelling laws, Monsanto and organic farm practices. 

2. Food Matters

This documentary looks further into the food we eat and how consuming nutritious food could prevent diseases and treat a range of health conditions. It includes some inspiring speakers, such as David Wolfe and Charlotte Gerson.

3. Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead

Fellow Aussie Joe Cross changes his life through juicing. Although many do not agree with his extreme approach, I believe it's great motivation just to see how powerful juicing can be.

4. The Gerson Miracle

Looks at the Gerson Therapy and how this helps to treat cancer. It's an amazing movie that really makes you think about cancer and the conventional therapies being used in hospitals.

Like many, after watching these movies, I had the following thoughts;
  • What can I do, I am only one person?
  • There is so much to change! If I change I want to do it properly!
  • Changing to an organic lifestyle will cost too much.
Remember that one change is better than none at all. Vote with your money and support local farmers and organizations striving to do the right thing for the world.
If you've already changed to a cleaner lifestyle: Congratulations! The best thing we can do is to share our story! Educate one person; share the information you found most inspiring and helpful to keep the ripple effect going.
What about you? What documentaries did you find most inspiring? Which ones challenged you to think about the world differently? 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

7 Happy Life Events That Commonly Cause Stress

It's an unfortunate paradox that many of life's most momentous occasions are both the best of times and the worst of times. The events that should be some of the most joyful -– getting married, having kids, taking time off work to travel abroad –- can also be the most stress-inducing. Whether it’s the pressure of planning a major event or the anxiety of trying to live up to our own expectations of how happy we should be, once-joyful milestones can easily devolve into anxiety-filled occasions.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive for happiness to cause panic, anything that disrupts our daily routine and normal modes of interaction can cause a stress reaction. The body's stress response can be set off by any event that triggers asignificant emotional response, throwing off our physical and mental equilibrium -- thereby making a wedding practically as stressful as a divorce and a tropical vacation more anxiety-filled than a hectic week in the office. Click through the slideshow below for 10 pivotal life events that commonly cause stress -- and ways to ways to bring the joy back into your most memorable milestones.

Go on, click here to find out =)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Unless You Slow Down, Busy Will Catch You

We must really Sloooooooooooooooooowww down, and recover before getting back into it again if not it will definitely creep up and actually slows our effectiveness down.

Just like working out at the gym. The body not just needs its rest but recover, balance and reset. We can't just keep doing weights everyday as our muscle will definitely be in full contraction all the time. It also needs retraction with stretch so that it can eccentrically and concentrically work in the most effective way.

Despite the confused, doesn't make sense jargons....take a step back, be a sloth for at least one hour in one of your days :)

Thank you George Ambler for the wonderful post!

Photo Credit: Zemlinki!

In uncertain and resource constrained times, paradoxically slowing down rather than speeding up is the best course of action. In some cases even pulling over for a pause to reflect and consider the best way forward is required. When we feel lost, it takes courage to pull over, get feedback and consider the best way forward. However it’s only when we pull over to reflect that things become clear. Pulling over and looking at the big picture is often the best way forward.

Many of us work in environments setup to encourage people to transact, rather than to pause and think. This makes it difficult to get meaningful work done. There’s too much going on, the pace is frantic and unfocused.
“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.” – Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne, 1926
When last did you set aside time to think about how and why you’re doing what you’re doing? When last did you really take the time to stop and think? We often get lost in the day to day noise of work and life. Taking the time to stop and reflect is a critical leadership practice.
  • Unless we pause it’s difficult to keep our life and work in its right perspective.
  • Unless we pause we forget who we are, why we’re here and what we stand for.
  • Unless we pause we forget what matters!
  • Unless we pause we fail to learn from our experiences and are doomed to repeat our mistakes.
  • Unless we pause we remain reactive, falling victim to life’s circumstances.
The real work of leadership requires deep thinking. Our behaviour, action and results are the  products of our thinking. If we are not happy with the results we are getting we need to stop and think about what needs to change. It helps to retreat to a coffee shop or to go for a walk. Changing the pace to reclaim your thinking space helps to bring back clarity and perspective.

All change begins with a shift in thinking. A change in thinking requires time alone to consider one’s purpose and actions and how these might need to change. This requires us to slow down, to pull over to and pause and think.
“‘The world we have created is a product of our way of thinking,’ said Einstein. Nothing will change in the future without fundamentally new ways of thinking. This is the real work of leadership.” – Peter Senge
It’s important that we set aside time to pause and reflect, as busyness has a way of creeping in over time. The challenge for leaders is to decide what to do less of and what to stop doing altogether. This requires we step back and get perspective as to what matters and make the necessary adjustments.

Take Action

It’s only when we pause to reflect that we gain the space we need to regroup and move forward. To keep on track with your vision and goals requires you set aside regular time to pause, think and reflect.

Why not block time out regular time your schedule to pause and review?