To be or not be: happy

When I read the news or turn on the TV I don’t really want to know all the details of beheadings, attacks and killings.  I can’t get away from it though. It’s everywhere, it’s sad and I pray for all affected. No one should have to experience such horrific events.  Yet they do because there are unhappy people everywhere.  What makes people happy or unhappy?  Alex and I discussed this recently in one of our many discussions.  Countless books have been written on this topic and gurus abound, but here is our take on how to be happy.

1 Acknowledge and accept that one cannot be happy 100% of the time, but believe that you can have more happiness than unhappiness. Like anything in life, accept the truth and move on.  It’s impossible to be happy all the time.  There will be times when you are sad, angry or feel blue.  These emotions will pass.  How fast they pass by depends on you.  This is a fact of life. When you acknowledge this and are no longer fixated on being happy all the time, you will have less stress.

2 Search for the true cause of the problem that is making you unhappy.  For each ‘unhappiness’ that you want to fix, you need to be able to find the true root cause of it.  If you don’t find the root cause, it will be like cutting weed without taking out the root.  The weed will come back. It may expand underground and resurface in different areas, but it will be back.

For example, most people, myself included, have some form of insecurity. As the german psychoanalyst Eric Fromm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Fromm) said, “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” We must find the cause of our insecurity and face it.  Insecurity can take many forms. A lot of people hide their insecurities through accumulation of material goods.  If they have so and so , x and x with this much value, people will ‘love’ or look up to them.  They don’t think they can be liked without their possessions.   Sometimes the insecurities come in the form of defensiveness.  I bet we’ve all experienced this where the other side just cannot accept any form of constructive criticism.  They feel insecure and threatened.

3 Really believe you can fix it.  It is in your power to fix it. The important thing is to ‘believe’ and make a plan.  A lot of people make the mistake of believing that problems can be fixed right away and result in immediate happiness, but more often than not results take time. A lot of time.

For example, a lot of people complain about work. They are unhappy and complain day after day, wishing that things were better, but do nothing to fix the problem.  Years go by and the unhappiness intensifies. What do you do to fix the problem? You could start by taking small steps to make it better.  See if you can improve the situation. Can you make the environment or do something to make it better?  Little by little the situation can and will be improved.  Be patient. The responsibility is in your hands.

What do you think makes one happy or not?

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Dangerous Emotions

I’m sad today for a number of reasons.  Tension has escalated with a bomb thrown into groups of protestors. Things are turning more violent.  I have no idea who is behind the bomb or who is behind the protests.  It’s your word against mine.  I am also sad for other private reasons I’d rather not discuss in public.   All these happenings undoubtedly result in emotions and emotions can be dangerous. 

When I get stressed, all worked up about what’s happening, sad that bad things happen to good people, I sometimes unknowingly let out my emotions in the wrong way.  I succumb to human nature and believe that what I think, what I do is proper and right.  Others are wrong, other’s thinking must be flawed, why do they not see it, why do they not do as I do?

I do this and that.  What do you do?  Why don’t you do as I do?

I get lost in my thoughts and end up erring in thinking that I am better than the other person.  I am “good” whereas the other person is “bad.” I don’t want to be like you.

It’s a dangerous thought and dangerous emotionally.

I become someone I don’t like.  I feel blessed to have Alex remind me hey, stop it.  Stop and listen to yourself.  Listen to the other person. Listen to what they have to say.

The fact is, you don’t always know what is going on in someone else’s life.  You don’t know every aspect of their lives.  You don’t know what is happening.  Everyone has different battles they are battling.   What you see is only the exterior.  What they let you see.  Don’t judge others.

So today, this post is to remind myself in my goal to be a better person, that no one is better than someone else.  We all have our own battles.

Good night!

A Balancing Act

Sitting in my study looking out the window, I am still thinking about “The Descendants” I wrote about yesterday.  That movie was about a man, a successful lawyer and a land baron who had devoted all his time to his career, to making money only to later realize he had “lost” his family.  Although his wife was now seriously ill from a boating incident, he had lost her years ago.  They had ceased to talk, to spend time together, to go out and enjoy each other’s company.   They had grown apart.  His daughters, he had hardly seen and could hardly remember the last time he was alone with them.  They too had grown.  So that was Matt King who spent his life focusing on himself.  Then there are opposites:   those who spend their time completely devoted to other’s lives until they forget to have a life of their own.

It happens sometimes.    It happens more often than I would like to acknowledge.

It happens in relationships and in families.   They believe that family is number one and that nothing else is more important.  They find themselves unconsciously assimilated into the other person or persons.  They forget everything about themselves and focus entirely on the person or persons.   They must spend their time taking care of the family, taking care of their needs and anticipating their needs.   They serve each and every need in the belief that this is right.  This is the “right” thing to do.  This is what is “expected” of them.  They devote their entire time, their entire life to others.   Guilt prevails if they want to do something of their own.  Guilt, self-inflicted.   So the cycle continues, on and on.

Now do not get me wrong, I am not saying that it is a bad thing to care of others, it is good to take care of loved ones and people around us.  What is most important though is that there needs to be a balance.

There needs to be a balance between taking care of others and taking care of your own needs.

Your own needs are equally important, and your life is equally important.  You have dreams, you have desires and there are things you want to do, places you want to go.  Don’t push all your own needs out of sight and hide them somewhere deep inside your soul.  One day you might just erupt like Mount Vesuvius.

And when your erupt, or if you just stay dormant.  One day you may find yourself on your deathbed looking back on your life and thinking about all the things you could have done, all the things you wanted to do, and all the places you wanted to go.    You might feel a resentment at others, why they had done the things they wanted to do and did all they wanted to do.  Yet all these emotions come too late and your life has passed you by.  You will just have to wait for your next life to do the things you want to do.

Find a balance in your life.   Have some time of your own, have some time for others, have some time for your dreams.

The Descendants

 

I love the weekend.  It’s time for relaxing and for thinking about how to relax.  It’s been awhile since I last watched a movie and it’s been an even longer while since I last sobbed watching a movie.  Watching a movie on DVD at home where there are not another hundred or so people next to you, you find yourself fulling immersing yourself and embracing the emotions that come with it.   You can cry and laugh as loud as you want.  You aren’t going to be disturbing the person next to you.  So yes I cried when watching “The Descendants”, but it was a good one.

“The Descendants” isn’t one of those action movies that keep you grabbing to the edge of your seat or hiding behind a pillow, when it gets all bloody.   It’s one of those movies where you watch a family, lives and emotions unfurl.  It’s harsh reality beautifully portrayed.

It’s about a family, a husband and two daughters and what happens after the mother is seriously injured in a boating accident.

You might think, so it’s another one of those movies when everyone sobs and gets through it.  Well there’s more.  A possible death of a loved one or family member brings up all kinds of emotions.  There’s anger, denial and most often regret.

In the first scene of the movie, the lawyer husband and land baron, sits by his wife who is laying in bed in a coma and hoping that she wakes up.  They had not spoken in days and months.  He wished he had lived his life differently and spent more time with his wife.  But life has passed by and he cannot bring her back.  Their marriage had quietly disintegrated despite a seemingly happy life with a large house and money for all their needs.

There is no one cause, but a mixture of reasons.   He was probably too focused on his work and his wife busy raising the children.   Matt King discovers he hardly knows his daughters.  He doesn’t know what they like, don’t like nor what kind of persons they have become.  He didn’t know his wife in the past ten years of their life together.  He had neglected her needs. He had been too self focused.  He lost touch with the personal and emotional aspect of his family.

It makes you think really.

What is it you want out of life?  What is important in your life?  Families like a tree require regular pruning and watering.  Once absent, they will wilt and die.   Relationships and emotions have to be handled with care and nurtured with love.  Only then will the tree blossom into a strong and beautiful one.   Think about what you really want.  Once you have it, focus and do not lose sight.

Life once lived cannot be taken back.

Don’t end up sitting by the bed of someone you love full of regrets about all you hadn’t done, thinking about all you should’ve done.   Live your life and do what you want to do, but don’t forget about those most important to you.   There’s more to life than just fame and money.

It’s no wonder this movie won an Oscar and several other awards.  It’s reality beautifully made.

Sleep is good.

I need my sleep but sometimes I wonder, why do we sleep? Do I really need to sleep? If I didn’t sleep I could spend more waking hours doing a million more things.

Why we sleep though is a question that has been asked for centuries and still no one really knows the answer. I do not know why I sleep, but I know that if I do not get enough sleep, the next day becomes a waste of a day. I get headaches, feel groggy and my concentration level is low. This lack of sleep is what scientists have been studying for centuries in an attempt to better understand why we sleep.

Scientists study these various effects of sleep defiency to better understand sleep. Without it, our cognitive skills would be harmed and brain development probably affected. If you think humans sleep to save energy, the BBC article “The Science of Sleep” mentions that for eight hours of sleep, we only save about 50kCal which is very minimal. One piece of my Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie is already 60KCal. A cup of non-fat yogurt is 80KCal. I suppose we don’t sleep to save energy.

According to the article, continued lack of sleep will result in a shut down of part of the brain that controls language, memory, planning and sense of time. Actually going 17 hours without sleep decreases your performance to the equivalent level of if you had drank two glasses of wine.

No wonder my brain feels tired after a long day. Judgements are not as good and people respond slower to situations.

The article also mentions that lack of sleep is detrimental for emotional and physical health. I agree. On days where I did not get enough sleep the previous night, I am more emotional. If I’ve been sleeping little, I also find that my weight gain is faster. This is because hormones and chemicals that control appetite and weight gain are released during sleep.

As the clock is now ticking, I think I shall have to end here and get a good nights sleep. Have a good night dear friends. Enough sleep for a person is “when it is enough not to make you sleepy during the day time”. Some need 4 hours, some need 8 hours. How much do you need? Do you know?

The 5 Stages of Emotions

In life, in dealing with problems and losses psychologists generally say we go through five stages of emotions:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Most commonly we experience this from heartbreak, losing a loved one, going through a crisis, business problems, etc..  The list is endless.. We humans have a lot of problems and we deal with them through our emotions.

Sometimes we do not acknowledge that these are our emotions.  Yes, we feel hurt, feel sad, feel angry, feel serious, feel resentment.  We try to act “civilized” and push these emotions aside.  We ignore them. After all, we are all grown ups and grown ups do not succumb to their emotions.

It’s dangerous.  Psychologists mention that it is not good to ignore these emotions for it can cause “emotional indigestion.” It can cause us to be tense, stressed and ready for a fight. Our heart beats faster and our natural instinct sets in.  We want to survive. We are ready for battle.

It’s dangerous to ignore our emotions, because if we are not aware of our emotions, it can cause a wide
variety of problems in our lives.  If you are stressed and tired, you may end up shouting or relieving your stress on those around you.  People who had nothing to do with your stress and were instead trying to help you.  We lose our sense of judgement.  We decide things differently, than we otherwise would have if we had a healthy mental state.  As a result, bad feelings arise and things can go down hill.  Relationships, work and things can easily go bad.

This historical flood in Bangkok too is causing those in Bangkok to experience the stages of emotions : denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.   I’ve witnessed this around me and have to admit I too am going through this five stage emotional process.

Denial: At first when talking about the flood with friends I said, “No way, Bangkok will not flood. The government is protecting us, and even if we did flood, it will be minimal. Nothing to worry about. Don’t
worry about it.”  I am denying the fact we will flood.

Anger: If you follow the online social network, Twitter, Facebook, etc.. you see this many places.  At one stage when the “water” first entered Bangkok, many were angry.  I was angry.  How could the situation be handled so badly?  How could the authorities not have seen this coming? How could they not have prevented this?  Anger, anger, anger. Anger at the authorites, anger at the news, anger at everything. Anger at having to empty the first floor of furniture, wrap up everything in plastic, use sandbags and plastic to turn the house into a bunker, take out the curtans and evacuate.  Yes, I was angry.  One should not have to go through this.  Life is too short to be spent worrying about floods.

Bargaining: Even after over a month of flooding, some people still believe that “inner Bangkok” will not flood.  Everyday, some good news give hope. I hate to break the good news.  From the data, I think it will definitely flood.

Before, authorties said the domestic airport would be saved, it succumbed to dear water.  Water now
fills the runway up to airplane bellies.  It has turned into a beautiful lake.  Then they said 7 industrial estates would survive.  They all flooded.  We are bargaining that perhaps it isn’t true. It’s not true that an entire capital city will flood.  Something must be wrong here.  Maybe things will be different.

Depression:  After awhile, we get depressed.  We get sad. We realize that we are indeed in a crisis. We indeed have broken up, lost a job or seen our business gone bankrupt.  I was depressed for a while about this flood and ate more chocolate cookies than I should have.  I went through an entire bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies.  (Yummmm) Yes, these are my favorite cookies!

Acceptance:  In the end, we have to admit it.  The sad and hurtful truth is that Bangkok will be flooded.  We will be flooded for a month.  Now I think I’m in this stage (but I could be wrong).  I know my house is going to be flooded.  I’m less than a kilometer away from the canal that is fighting a losing battle.  I know it’s just a matter of time.  I cannot do anything about it, so I just do the best I can and live life each day as best I can.

Yes, Bangkok citizens are going through these stages of emotions.  If you feel yourself going through this, please allow it to run it’s course and be aware of it.  Don’t let it ruin or run your life.

Rest, take time for yourself and recooperate.  Heal and relax.  Reach out to those around you.

Then take a deep breath and accept the fact.  The house will be flooded.  The business will be flooded.  The factory will be filled with water.  I shall have to evacuate. I shall be uncomfortable.  I shall have to spend tons of money on renovation and rebuildng. I shall have a year ahead of dealing with contractors. I shall be tired. This flood may happen again next year.

Do not fear these emotions for they are normal and they are a part of who we are.

Stay healthy my dear readers. Both emotionally and physically.  Take care!

Love Thyself

Many people think health comes along when you have another “half” another “soul” to be by your side. Some say “love” will make you lose weight, be healthy.  There is some truth to it, but I think that is somewhat oversimplified.  You do not need to have “someone” to get healthy.  The only reason you should get healthy and lose weight is because you dearly want to yourself.  Because you love yourself and you think that you are worthy of the attention.  Once you have found that love for yourself, then love for another comes more easily.

Health is a great cure for the soul. It rejunevates, energizes and gives you strength you previously didn’t know you had.  You can somehow run those few kilometers and walk up flights of stairs without feeling tired. Walks that were once unappealing, now seem like a little walk in the garden.  The hot weather becomes less annoying, and the chair more comfortable. Yes, even just sitting on chairs becomes a more enjoyable experience. One can now twist and turn around in the chair without feeling restricted by its side. (If you’ve been stranded in a small chair, you’d know how uncomfortable it can be)  It feels great to not have to worry nor be tired out by little daily tasks.

Shopping becomes a whole new experience.  Now the question is not whether A or B will fit me, but whether A or B will look better on me?  The choice is limitless.  I no longer have to settle for the shirt that fits, over the style I’d rather be wearing.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  A new found happiness.

To enjoy all these benefits I think are a few of the gifts of good health.  You don’t need any other “incentive” other than a love for yourself.  If you lost weight only when you were in love, and only for other people, does this mean that the rest of the time you will regain that weight and forever remain chubby ?  It’s a vicious cycle.  If even you do not love yourself, who then would love you? Since no one loves you, then you’d eat and gain weight?

So love yourself, love the wonderful person you are and take care of your health.  Have a good health everyone!  Who knows what could happen then? Lightning could strike.