Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Change Your Life: Experience Your Work as a Calling

Don't like your job?
1) Find work that is meaningful, or
2) Find something meaningful in your work
This is the true joy in life –
being used for a purpose, recognized by yourself as a mighty one
(George Bernard Shaw)

We spend a good part of our working hours at work, and yet many people derive little meaning from what occupies them for several thousand hours each year. If we do not experience a sense of purpose in our work, we can choose to do one of two things (aside from resigning ourselves to being unhappy): find work that is meaningful or find something meaningful in our work.

We don’t all have the luxury of having the perfect job – the one that reflects our values, where we work only with people we like, and whose atmosphere precisely suits our temperament. But even if we do not find ourselves in that ideal setting, we have a great deal of choice as to how we experience our daily work. Whether as a CEO or a salesman, an investment banker or a community organizer, a minister or a manager, a janitor or a cleaner – not complete control, perhaps, but some – over what elements of our work we focus on, and consequently, on how we experience our working life.

We can, for example, remind ourselves how our work is making a difference in other people’s lives; we can focus on the elements that we find exciting and interesting, the meaningful interactions that we have with colleagues and customers; or we can appreciate the opportunity our work gives us to develop or expand our professional skills. If we can find no inherent value in our current occupation, we can tell ourselves that our work is our current occupation, we can tell ourselves that our work provides for us and for those we care about, or that it enables us to engage in meaningful activities after hours.

Researchers have found that those who made the choice, conscious or not, to see their work as merely a job, were less happy, were less satisfied with their life, than were their colleagues who viewed what they did a calling. “Even in the most restricted and routine jobs,” the study concluded, “employees can exert some influence on what is the essence of their work.”

Don’t treat the work you do as a job,
Experience your work as a calling.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

1. Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012) Buy this book!

2. The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life by D. William (New York: Free Press, 2009).

Monday, September 28, 2015

Change Your Life: Just Do It!

A thousand-mile journey begins with a first step

Procrastination – putting things off, dragging one’s feet, unnecessarily postponing what can and needs to be done today – is a pervasive phenomenon. Over 70 percent of college students, for example, identify themselves as procrastinators. The temptation to put things off is understandable, but the price we pay for procrastinating is high – studies show that procrastinators have higher levels of stress, a weaker immune system, poorer sleep, and unsurprisingly, given all of that, lower levels of happiness.

Fortunately, the research into procrastination has also identified practical ways that can help overcome the tendency to procrastinate. The single most important technique is called “the five-minute take-off.” It consists, simply, of starting to do the thing you have been putting off, no matter how little you feel like doing it. Procrastinators often believe that to do something one has to truly want to do it – to be in the right mood, to feel inspired. This is not the case. Usually, to get the job done, it is enough to begin doing it – the initial action kick-starts the process and often brings about more action.

So, for example, if you have difficulty getting yourself to exercise, just make the choice to put on your running shoes and start running: more often than not, the action will reinforce itself. If you have a project that needs to be done, don’t wait for that “right moment.” Choose to act, now! This approach can serve you well on a larger scale too: Commit to your vision, your dream, don’t procrastinate. Find ways to start moving forward the life you want to be living right now.

Don’t procrastinate,
Just do it!
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

1. Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012) Buy this book!
2. Overcoming Procrastination: Or How to Think and Act Rationally in Spite of Life’s Inevitable Hassles by A. Ellis and W.J. Knaus (New York: Signet, 1979)

Change Your Life: Make a Difference

Pay It Forward is a 2000 American drama film based on the novel of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
Committed people can changed the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has
(Margaret Mead)

Don’t resign yourself to the status quo – make a difference. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of serious problems that our world is facing. The falling standards in education, the rise in corporate scandals, the economic crisis in Malaysia and the world – not to mention wars, pollutions, and terrorism. How can I, one person among so many, make a difference? How can I, with my shortcomings and insecurities, possibly bring about meaningful change? While it is true that much of what happens in the world is beyond our control as individuals, our capacity to bring about change is greater than we imagine.

I can make a world of difference – if I choose to put my mind and heart to a cause, and take action.

Tal Ben-Shahar writes: In the movie Pay It Forward, a schoolteacher assigns his class the task of finding a way to bring about positive change in the world. Trevor, one of the students, decides to do three good deed for others – three acts of random kindness – and in return ask them to do three good deeds for three other people, who will be asked in return to do the same for others, and so on. If every person who has just been helped pays this help forward to three others, then within twenty-one rounds, everyone on earth would have been helped. The movie follows Trevor and shows how his acts create a positive ripple effect that touches numerous people whom he never meets in profound and meaningful ways. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can changed the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Make a positive difference in the world. Pay forward what has been given to you, and encourage others to do the same. You can make a difference!

Don’t resign yourself to the status quo,
Make a difference.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

1. Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012)

2. Change the World: How Ordinary People Can Achieve Extraordinary Results by R.E. Quinn (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Change Your Life: Carry Yourself with Strength and Confidence

A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind
(Morihei Ueshiba)

When we walk into a room with slumped shoulders, dragging our feet, or with our head down, we communicate lack of confidence and energy. When we enter with a natural posture, with a strong stride, shoulders open and relaxed, we send a very different – and positive – message to those around us. So crucially, the way we hold our body sends a message not only to others but also to ourselves. When we walk like someone who is confident, we actually become more confident; the physical act of sitting up straight actually boosts our motivation and increases our energy; when we shake hands firmly, we become assertive.

Assuming the posture of how we would be if we were more assertive and energized in fact boosts our confidence and invigorates us. Our behaviour changes our attitude. Sit up straight. Walk confidently. Carry yourself in a way that communicates to the world – and to yourself – strength and confidence.

Don’t neglect your posture,
Carry yourself with strength and confidence.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

1. Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012)
2. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field by N. Branden (New York: Bantam, 1994).

Change Your Life: Think and Act Purposefully

Rumination inevitably backfires. It merely compounds our misery.
It’s a heroic attempt to solve a problem that it is just not capable of solving
(Mark Williams)

We often ruminate about a problem we face, obsessively playing and replaying the scenario in our mind. We tend to believe that rumination will help us overcome discomfort or unhappiness, but in fact replaying the scenario over and over in our mind usually makes things worse. In the words of psychologist Mark Williams and his colleagues, “Rumination is part of the problem, not part of the solution.” On the other hand, purposeful thinking – whether through writing in a journal or verbalizing our thoughts – is a much better way of dealing with psychological and emotional challenges. Purposeful action – actually doing something that could make us feel better – is a lot more helpful than allowing chaotic and usually very negative thinking to wreak havoc on our emotions.

Do this: Instead of focusing on the helplessness of your situation, which gets you nowhere, you could choose to engage in an activity that will help you feel better as well as perform better. Begin by creating a personal blog or/and writing your thoughts and feelings about the situation. Writing will help you feel better, and the clarity you reach will help you commit to taking concrete steps toward meeting the challenges you face today.

Don’t obsessively replay a scenario,
Think and act purposefully.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

1. Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012)
2. The Mindful Way Through Depression: Feeling Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness by J.M.G. Williams (New York: The Guilford Press, 2007).

Change Your Life: Be Mindful of the Wonder

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth
are never alone or weary of life
” (Rachel Carson).

What we see in the world around us is to a large extent a matter of choice. Do we take time every day to look, really look, at things? To find the beauty, or the humour, or the charm, or the mystery in them? When driving car to work or better at traffic light, do we stare aimlessly out the window, or do we make an effort to look at the colour of the sky, the shapes of the clouds? Do we look closely enough to allow ourselves to be delighted by the funny little dog trotting along the sidewalk? Or to feel sympathy, or admiration, or sadness when we watch an elderly woman walking slowly and carefully out her front door?

It is natural to be preoccupied by our own thoughts, or to be lulled into not noticing all that is around us while we do routine errands. And there is nothing wrong in daydreaming from time to time (in fact is it good). But the more we can be mindful of what we are doing as we doing it, the healthier and happier we will be.

Mindfulness is a choice, and it is something we can practice: When our mind wanders – whether while eating, doing the dishes, writing a report, or walking to our car – we can gently shift our focus back to the wonders that are everywhere to be found.

I like what Helen Keller (she lost her sight and hearing when she was 19 months old as a result of an illness) noted in her essay, Three Days to See:
I who am blind can give one hint to those who see – one admonition to those who would make full use of the gift of sight: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind… Hear the music of voices, the song of the bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object you want to touch as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of every sense: glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty which the world reveals to you.”

Don’t overlook life’s treasures,
Be mindful of the wonder.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

1. Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012)
2. Full Catastrophe Living” Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness by J. Kabat-Zinn (New York: Delta, 1990)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Change Your Life: Choose to Choose

Don't just go with the flow in choosing college: What's your interest?
What's your dream? What's suit your talent and passion? Choose to choose.
Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege.
Use it. Dwell in possibilities
” (Oprah Winfrey)

Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of conversation about dealing with the stresses of modern life seem to conclude with someone advising that we should all stop worrying so much and trying so hard, that we should go with the flow and “just live our life.” Sometimes this is good advice, as many things are beyond our control and worrying about them will not make any difference. And we can often be so focused on the future that we miss out on all there is to enjoy in the present moment. But this advice has a serious downside: “Just live your life” can lead us to turn our back on our most sacred privilege, our ability to choose our own path. In the guise of freeing us from stress and struggle, “just live your life” can actually have the sinister effect of preventing us from making the most of our life.

When the injunction to just live our life becomes a license not to choose, we end up being pulled along by other’s choices, simply behaving the way we always have in the past, passively reacting to life rather than actively creating the life that we really want to be living. To make the most of our life, we must first of all choose to choose – this is the fundamental choice underlying all other choices. We must commit ourselves to the idea that there are far more possibilities than we normally see, and then to the effort that it takes to examine these possibilities and choose the one that is best for us.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

1. Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012)
2. Think! Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye by R. M. LeGault (New York: Threhold Editions, 2006)


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Creative Mind: The Creative Environment

Just as any plant needs a specific setting in which to strive, your mind needs a nurturing environment in which to maximize its creative abilities. The right creative environment will vary from person to person. Use these ideas to find yours:

Choose the best atmosphere. T.M. Amabile says that people are more creative and imaginative when they spend time around other creative folk. Hang out with people whose thinking inspires you. Find locations that energize you (Starbuck? Mine is State Library, surrounded by books already make me think smart and creatively). Play music that puts you in your desired mental state (Mine is Jason Mraz’s songs!). Paint your study walls your favourite colour. Experiment to find the atmosphere that most seems to free your mind.  

Give yourself time to “sit” with a question. Rushing can stifle your creative ability. When you allow time for thought to percolate, or you take breaks when figuring out a problem, you may increase your creative output. Change your environment, get some exercise, sleep; talk with a friend, work on something else. Some of the best ideas pop up when you have given your brain permission to go “off the job” for a while.

Let yourself play. People often hit upon their most creative ideas when they are exercising or just relaxing. Often when your mind switches into play mode, it can more freely generate new thoughts. Mental play can allow you to find a brilliant discovery in what seems like a crazy idea. For example, the idea for VelcroTM came when an inventor examined how a burr sticks to clothing.

Write it down. Many people think of ideas while exercising, driving, or in the shower, upon walking, or even while dreaming. When an idea occurs – a solution to a problem or a new thought – write it down as soon as possible. To make sure your creative environment includes a way to write ideas, try keeping a pen and paper by your bed, your smartphone in your pocket (Do we need a reminder?), a marker attached to your notebook, or a notepad and pen in your car. Try it, make it a habit!

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

References and Suggested Readings:
1. Roger von Oech, A Whack on the Side of the Head (1998)
2. J.R. Hayes, Cognitive Psychology: Thinking and Creating (1978)
3. T.M. Amabile, The Social Psychology of Creativity (1983)

Creative Mind: The Characteristics of the Creative Person

Creative thinkers combine ideas and information in ways that form new solutions, ideas, processes, or products. “The hallmark of creative people is their mental flexibility,” says creativity expert Roger von Oech. “Like race car drivers who shift in and out of different gears depending on where they are on the course, creative people are able to shift in and out of different types of thinking depending on the needs of the situation at hand.” Look at table below to see some primary characteristics of creative people. Underneath all these qualities lie a desire to learn, a drive to question, and a commitment to keep an open mind.  

Willingness to take risks
Taking a difficult, high-level course
Tendency to break away from limitations
Entering a marathon race
Tendency to seek new challenges & experiences
Taking on an internship in a high-pressure workplace
Broad range of interests
Investing new moves on basketball court and playing guitar at an open-mike night
Ability to make new things out of available materials
Making curtains out of bedsheets
Tendency to question norms & assumptions
Adopting a child of different ethnic background than the family’s
Willingness to deviate from popular opinion
Working for a small, relatively unknown political party
Curiosity and inquisitiveness
Wanting to know how a computer program works
Source: Adapted from T. Z. Tardif and R. J. Sternberg, “What Do We Know About Creativity?” in The Nature of Creativity, ed. R.J. Sternberg (London: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

Try some or all of the following strategies to boost your creative abilities.

Be curious. The more information and ideas you gather as you think, the more perspective you have to build a creative idea or solution. Collect information and ideas from reading materials, people, the Internet, anywhere – and record them on smartphone or in writing. Branch out and cultivate new interests. Seek out new experiences and take in the ideas and perspectives that you encounter.

Shift your perspective. At first, a problem may look like: “The house isn’t quiet when I study.” If you take a wider look, you may discover hidden causes or effects of the problem, such as “I haven’t chosen the best time of day to study” or “I haven’t let my housemates know that I need quiet.” Question your assumptions; ask people you trust for their perspectives; read in order to discover new ways of looking at situation.

Don’t get hooked on finding the one right answer. There can be lots of “right answers” to any question. The more possibilities you generate, the better your chance of finding the best one. Also, don’t stop the process when you think you have the best answer – keep going until you are out of stream. You never know what may come up in those last gasps of creative energy.

Break the rules sometimes. All kinds of creative breakthroughs have occurred because someone questioned a rule or an assumption. Women and members of minorities can vote and hold jobs because someone questioned a rule – a law – many years ago. Even the rules of logic don’t always hold – following strict logic may cause you to miss analogies or ignore your hunches. At one time in the not-so-distant past, for example, it made no logical sense that two people could talk to one another while in different cities – and now the telephone is a fact of life (Just thinking, how logical it was for you to read my blog from you smartphone or laptop from the invisible World Wide Web in the year 1800).

Ask “what if” questions. Set up hypothetical environments in which new ideas can grow. “What if I knew I couldn’t fail?” “What if I had unlimited money or time or energy?” See what idea, however outrageous, comes from a “what if” question – and then think about how to make it happen. Don’t necessarily make it happen, but – think. Just by asking the question “what if” you can boost your creative ability.

Take risks and, when necessary, embrace failure. Even though failure is always a possibility, taking risks is the only way to make your highest goals reachable. If you insist on playing it safe, you may miss out on the path – often paved with failures – leading to the best possible solution or situation.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

References and Suggested Readings:
1. Roger von Oech, A Kick in the Seat of the Pants (1986)
2. Roger von Oech, A Whack on the Side of the Head (1998)

3. J.R. Hayes, Cognitive Psychology: Thinking and Creating (1978)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Genius is 99 Percent Inspiration

The celebrated inventor Thomas Edison is well known for his statement: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” While I believe that hard work is essential to a life of real success and fulfilment, I think that being filled with a deep sense of inspiration and commitment to making a difference in the world is an even more important attribute.

All of the great geniuses of the world were inspired and driven by their desire to enrich the lives of others. When you study their lives, you will discover that this desire became almost an obsession for most of them. It consumed them and occupied every cell of their minds. Edison was inspired to manifest the visions he saw on the picture screen of his imagination into reality. Jonas Salk, who discovered the polio vaccine, was inspired to help others from suffering from this dreaded affliction. And Marie Curie, the great Nobel Prize-winning scientist, was inspired to serve humanity through her discovery of radium. As Woodrow Wilson said, “You are not here to merely make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

How inspired are you in your own life? Do you jump out of bed on Monday mornings or do you simply lie there with a sense of emptiness flooding through your body? If your level of inspiration is lower than you know it should be, read a good self-help book or listen to a motivating audiocassette program. Attend a public lecture by someone you admire or spend a few hours studying the biography of one of your heroes. Start spending time with people who are passionate about what they are doing in their lives and dedicated to making the best out of life. With a healthy dose of inspiration, you will quickly raise your life to a whole new plane of living.
[From Life Lessons from the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma]

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Top 10 Most Read Idea(s) Last 7 Days


Thinking Creative Question Action Change Your Life Essential Thinker Series Focus Positive Secrets of the Millionaire Mind Harv Eker Success Attitude Choice Learning Nurture Creativity Play Mindset Perspective Time Experience Habit Observation Curious Different Failure Hardworking How-to Generate Ideas Imagination Problem-Solving Wealth 12 Rules for Life Children Inspiration Jordan Peterson Relax Rich Break the Rules Change Perseverance Reading Risk-Taker Seeing Albert Einstein Barriers to Creativity Confidence I Wonder Series People The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck (Mark Hanson) Connection Happiness Money Possibilities The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Thought With Winning In Mind Asking Books Character Characteristics of Creative Person Is Technology Changing Our Brains Knowledge Practical Process Writing Believe Challenge Childlike Criticism How to Choose Optimism How to Nurture Your Child to Be Creative Innovative Listening Purpose Relationship Responsibility Story of Idea Thomas Edison Value 7 Climate Facts You Need to Know Communicate Control Enjoy Freedom Fun Idea-Quote Meaning Mistakes Open Mind Opportunity Optimistic Original Resourceful Roger von Oech Talent As A Man Thinketh Combination Commitment Discovery Don't Give Up Dream Energetic Environment Friendship Genius Give Up Growth Leonardo da Vinci Picture Playground Quiet Space Random Reason Start With Why (Simon Sinek) Steve Jobs Understand Walk Wisdom Yew Kam Keong Ability Ambiguity Behavior Crazy Daydreaming Decision-Making Example Facts about Creativity Faith Fear Feeling Goal Hearing Humour Improvement Independence Intuition Isaac Newton Lead Love Motivated Nature Non-Conformist Passion Potential Respect Savor Life Self-Image Stephen R. Covey The Power of Habit Word Alternative Application Awareness Common Blocks to Creativity Conversation Discipline Dynamic Emotion Encouragement Expectation Feedback Flexibility Idealistic Jack Foster Leader Logic Mindful Music Negative Performance Persistence Physical Reinforcement Result Right Answer Sixth Sense Society Talking The Human Body Tony Buzan Vincent Ryan Ruggiero Vision Adventurous Appreciate Attention Be Yourself Beautiful Christopher Columbus Conscious Daring Desire Edward de Bono Empathy Excuses Exercise Financial Galileo Goodness Hardship Help Henry Ford How to Be Innovative Humble IQ Jesus Kindness Laugh Let's Get Started! Memory Mental Rehearsal Michael J. Gelb Multitasking Nicolaus Copernicus Patient Pen and Paper Planning Power Praise Prejudice Proactive Progressive Quality Reality Recording Rejection Routine Sharing Simplicity Sleep Social Media Stand Firm Starbuck Stimulate Strength Stress Studying The Internet Theology Think like A Fool Touching Unpopular Usefulness Victor Hugo What If Win-Win Zig Ziglar 6 Common Creative Killers 9 Types of Intelligence A. Samad Said Affirmation Alexander the Great Aristotle Association Assumption Austin Kleon Balance Benedict de Spinoza Benjamin Franklin Bette Nesmith Graham Bill Gates Blessing Brainstorming Business Carpe Diem Chaos and Order Cicero Colonel Sanders Compliance Concentration Contribute Copernicus David Hume Descartes Desiderius Erasmus Development Diversity Don't Try Download Drug Elaboration Eleanor Roosevelt Enthusiasm Error Ethics Eurika Experiment Explore Extrovert Fluency Francis Bacon Free Book Generalist Giving Back Heroes Hopeful Hormones How to Spark Your Creative Mind How-to Maximizing a New Idea Howard Schultz Hunting Illustration Information Integrity Intention Interruption Introvert Investment James Webb Young Jason Mraz Jean-Jacques Rouseau Jim Carrey Jogging John Locke Jurgen Wolff Juxtapositions Legacy Leon Ann Mean Leon Trotsky Light Liquid Paper Machiavelli Management Manifestation Manipulation Marcus Aurelius Mark Zurkerberg Martin Luther Marty Neumeier Maturity Mental Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Mind Maping Miracles Mission Statement Modeling Money Blueprint Mood Move On My Top 17 Book on Innovative and Creativity Lists Navigation Skills Niccolo Machiavelli Offline Ontology Ordinary Pablo Picasso Pain Paracelsus Paradigm Paradox of Creative People Parenting Passive Income Peace Perception Philosophy Plato Political Practice Priority Privacy Procrastination Productivity Promote Pythagoras of Samos Rational Rebellious Receiving Reformer Rene Descartes Resilience Resource Myopia Rest Reverse Robert Korn Running Safe Saving Say No Scientific Method Scott Belsky Self-Gratification Selling Seneca Skeptic Slow Down Smelling Social Skills Socrates of Athens Soichiro Honda Specialist Spider-Man St Anselm St Augustine of Hippo St Thomas Aquinas Steal like An Artist Stubborn Suffering Synergize Tasting Technology Thales of Miletus The Creative Environment The Empiricist The Mozart Effect Thomas More Tok Nan Toy Tradition Truth Uniformity Unique Universe Unorthodox Volunteer Walt Disney Wildlife Wonder Xenophanes of Colophon