Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Be Better, Happier, and Wiser


Be Better, Happier, and Wiser

Living in this chaotic material world has much to do with order, which is a basic principle of the universe, without which chaos develops. To live well, you need to get your life in order; that is, you must align yourself with the principles of the universe. The first and foremost principle of the universe is alignment with the Creator of the universe. Once you have that alignment, you get faith that gives you spiritual strength.

Research studies have shown that people with a religious belief tend to get sick less often and get better faster than those with much less religious faith. Dr. Herbert Benson (Harvard Medical School) attributes this to the faith factor in his book Beyond the Relaxation.

Faith gives you peace of mind, which plays a pivotal role in longevity because peace of mind is the antidote to stress that often shortens life. To live longer, you need to de-stress yourself. But life is never easy, and living in this modern world is always challenging and stressful. 

To have faith in God is another aspect of living that may eliminate much stress in everyday life. However, living for a Christian; just like any other non-believer, you face the same challenge along your life journey. The only difference is that with faith you may transcend the limitations and losses that inevitably come with old age, as well as the difficulties and disappointments encountered in everyday life struggle. “All things work together for good to those who love God, and to those who are called according to His purpose.” Your life becomes purposeful, and living, despite its many setbacks, has a divine goal. Faith may help you overcome the many tragedies that may come with life and old age.

If you have faith, you live longer. The reason is simple: you take better care of your body because: your body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

If you have faith, you most probably belong to a church, and you may enjoy fellowship with other like-minded believers. Fellowship plays a pivotal role in alleviating loneliness, which is a serious problem among the elderly. Albert Einstein had to say about loneliness: “It’s strange to be known universally, and yet to be so lonely. St. Augustine wrote in his classic work The Confessions of St. Augustine, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find peace in You.”

If you are a believer, most probably you also actively involved in church activities after your retirement. Involvement with people with all ages holds the key to successful aging because you express your compassion and loving-kindness to others. By doing so, you also develop empathy, which is experiencing the feelings and emotions of others; in the process; you learn to appreciate what you have, and make the most of what you have left to help others. 

TAO The Way to Biblical Wisdom: This book is about using human wisdom to understand God’s wisdom so that you may live in this material world as if everything is a miracle.

The Book of Life and Living shows you the blueprint of living in this material world based on the ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu (an ancient sage from China), conventional wisdom, and spiritual wisdom, so that you may  become better, happier, and wiser.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, February 18, 2019

Imperfections of Life

Imperfections of Life

Life is always imperfect, and living is always a bed of roses with some thorns. We are imperfect human beings living in an imperfect world. As such, the art of living involves the wisdom of knowing who you really are, and how things happen and work in your life. Without this profound understanding, you will forever be haunted by the awareness of the darker side of life.

The Bible calls the darker side of human nature “sin.” None of us is exempt from sin. Life is always an inner struggle between what is perceived in an individual’s moral system as “right” and the dark opposing force inside to do just the opposite. To make matters worse, most of us are really quite good at self-deception. Either we deceive ourselves into thinking that the dark opposing force does not exist in ourselves, or we simply inflate our own personal virtues to overshadow the dark force within us.

Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous Scottish novelist, calls this darker side of human nature the duality of man. In his famous story of “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” he presents Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as both having a dark side within them, where evil is lurking to surface anytime. Both of them hide their evil away, pretending it never exists. In the end, it turns out that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are actually one and the same person.

If the darker of life is deemed as something “evil” as depicted by Robert Louis Stevenson, it may immediately lead to self-denial and downright rejection. The darker side is ideally described as a “not-so-good” quality, or just human flaws and weaknesses that we see in others as well as in ourselves. Whatever the definition may be, the darker of life, ironically enough, makes life wholesome, without which life is incomplete and unreal—at best, a self-delusion. Human darkness is part and parcel of human existence. Denying its existence only leads to more pain, regret, and resignation. But understanding the dualistic human nature offers a way to return to wholeness, which is an important ingredient in the art of living well.

Get the blueprint of life and living to live your life as if everything is a miracle: The Book of Life and Living.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Wisdom of Living for Life

The Wisdom of Living for Life

The Creator has given each of us a life to live. Each individual’s life is unique in itself, and everyone’s life journey is paved with his or her personal encounters and events to enrich that unique life experience. Therefore, there is no blueprint for living

Since the beginning of time, man has applied every means to attain longevity basically for two reasons—to defer the inevitable end; and to continue indulging in the pleasurable experiences along the life journey. Some prefer to ignore death and continue to indulge in life pleasures as if it would never come, while others are preoccupied with the impending fate that stresses the body and the mind. No matter what, death is inevitable.

Irrespective of the purpose of everyday living for any individual, the quintessence of living for life is health fitness, without which everyday living may become a daily struggle, a dream turned into a nightmare. Health fitness is a prerequisite for longevity.

Health fitness embraces physical fitness, mental fitness, and spiritual fitness—they impact how you think and what you do; they are the components of living for life. You need physical fitness to reduce the risks of becoming ill, disabled, or dying prematurely. Mental fitness enables you to adapt appropriately to negative changes brought on by diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease. Spiritual fitness may facilitate you to bounce back from the devastating effects brought on by sudden and unexpected changes, such as bereavement of spouse or loved ones.

Life is never static: everyday living is full of challenging changes from time to time. Many of these changes are welcomed and embraced, but some are dreaded and even painful. Being able to cope with these changes in life is fundamental to living for life. More importantly, the ability to bounce back from these undesirable negative changes holds the key to the art of living well.

What is living for life?

Living for life is living with passion and purpose. Nobody is born with the gift of living for life: there is no blueprint for this. It comes from thoughts, behaviors, and actions, and these attributes have to be acquired through mental and physical effort and deliberation. Only health fitness provides an environment for an individual to turn them into a reality.

Your Golden Years and Santa Claus shows you the wisdom in happy and successful aging through changing your perspectives in matters of aging, health, money, loss and bereavement issues. It is a holistic approach to living in simplicity with compassion and tranquility in the golden years.  

Stephen Lau
Copyright © Stephen Lau

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Science of Happiness about Health


The Science of Happiness about Health

There is no clear scientific consensus that health and happiness are inter-related. Of course, if you are more optimistic, you may have a greater sense of purpose to do what you want to do in life; however, that still does not guarantee greater happiness or better health.

Most researchers and psychologists believe that 50 percent of human happiness comes from genes, that 40 percent from human choice of behaviors in the form of exercising and socializing, and that only 10 percent from circumstances and external factors.

Remember:

Those who are happier are less likely to have a cold. Those who are obese are more likely to have a depression. Those who are happier may have a longer life. But they are no more than just assumptive predictions, and may not apply to YOU!
                                                                 
The bottom line: Get out of depression, not by avoiding it or suppressing it with medications, but by “going through it” with TAO wisdom in order to understand why you may have your depression in the first place. My Way! No Way! Tao Is the Way!


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Friday, February 15, 2019

The Science of Happiness about Marriage and Parenting


The Science of Happiness about Marriage

Most Americans still want to get married, not just because of legally binding themselves to one another, but because of marital bliss and happiness. According to the science of happiness, married people tend to the wealthier, healthier, and more sexually fulfilled than unmarried people. Of course, there are many exceptions.

Marriage can—but not should—make you happy. What you need to do is to invest a lot of time and energy into your marriage to make you happy by turning it into a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. In other words, a good and happy marriage brings out the best in each other, and thus instrumental in bringing happiness.

According to several studies, those who are wealthy and educated get divorced much more than those who struggle; also, splitting happens more frequently later in life than they once were. They are the realities of marriage.

Remember:

A good marriage makes you healthier and happier. Marital bliss lasts longer than the happiness of unmarried couples.

The Science of Happiness about Parenting

Parenting may bring you satisfaction only if you are intentionally starting a family. But parenting is undertaking a difficult new venture fraught with many responsibilities, which are often very unpredictable. In addition, you are forfeiting a lot of things that made you happy in the past.

Economist Andrew Oswald once said: “It’s not that children make you less happy; it’s just that children don’t make you more happy.”

But, according to a team of Californian psychologists, “overall, parents report happier, more satisfied, and thinking more about the meaning in life than non-parents do.”

Given that children create more work for those who love them, young parents, single parents, and moms may not find happiness in bringing up their children.

Remember:

If you are thinking of having kids to make you happier, think again! A parent’s first job is not to raise kids, but to enjoy them.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Science of Happiness about Money and Relationships


The Science of Happiness about Spending Money

Money may not “buy” you happiness. But, according to Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, “happy money”—which is spending the money on a concert, a ball game, or a dinner in a restaurant—can create more happiness than buying a material possession, such as a dress, because the pleasure from an “experience” is much more lasting and memorable than that of a material possession.

According to Norton, “the anticipation of an experience can be as valuable as a source of happiness as the actual experience itself”, such as planning for a vacation; his recommendation is: buy now, and consume later.

Remember:

Money cannot buy happiness, but it may buy a memorable life experience.

The Science of Happiness about Relationships

Human actions, especially negative ones, are always based on the knowledge of self and others, which is often incomplete, inadequate, and inaccurate. Human perceptions are based on attitudes, beliefs, and habits, which may be  biased and distorted because they originate from an individual’s unique past experiences, and perceptions of those experiences.

To overcome the above obstacles in good human relationships, you need to harness the power of gratitude. 

According to a scientific study, for every 10 years of life, gratitude may increase by only 5 percent. Therefore, you need to consciously increase gratitude in order to change your life to have better relationships with others, given that human relationships play a pivotal role in the happiness or unhappiness of an individual.

Gratitude may change your character, more specifically, your perceptions of people and happenings around you; it is all about your mindfulness of the presence of gratitude.

According to Robert Emmons of University of California, in life, you should always express your gratitude for people and experiences, rather than just things. Professor Emmons also says, “Being personal and specific about gratitude is more important than expressing lots of it.” You can always express your gratitude for your families and friends, your freedom of living and worship in America, and your health. In other words, always count your blessings, and express your gratitude to others in the form of love and compassion—the key to having stronger and healthier relationships for greater happiness.

Having good human relationships with others may not only afford you joy and happiness, but also heal you mentally, physically, and spiritually through your own connections with others. On the other hand, having bad human relationships may only make you feel sad, lonely, hopeless, and unhappy.

Remember:

People can make you happy only if they consciously choose to. Gratitude is an in- dispensable element in any good human relationship, which is the foundation of human happiness.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Science of Happiness about Career


The Science of Happiness about Career

According to scientific research, your career role in society affects where you may fall on the happiness spectrum. For example, according to several research studies, the top five happiest careers are: clergymen or pastors, firefighters, architects, film actors and directors, and air pilots; the top five least happy careers are: gas-station attendants, roofers, molding-machine operators, construction workers, and welfare service aides.

So, the career choice of an individual may ultimately play a role in the happiness or unhappiness of that individual.

But career may also involve workaholism—more to be done, or the forever-next-task mindset. According to Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, most people spend only 50 percent of their time on the present moment; but the truth is that only when we are in the present moment that we are also the happiest. Therefore, according to the science of happiness, delayed happiness or happier-later is not true happiness.

The bottom line: do not overwork yourself, and multitasking is always not the way to go for happiness. Staying in the present moment enables you to fully enjoy and experience all the things that are going on around you, giving you more concentration and creating better relationships that are predictors of success and happiness in whatever you are doing right now. Imagine you are texting while eating your favorite dish or talking to someone who is dear to you.

According to the science of happiness, big corporate companies are now providing their staff with free sessions on breathing exercise, mindfulness, and meditation to enhance the work performance of their staff, which is focusing on the present moment.

Remember:

Happiness is joy in the now, rather than later, so live in the present. Choose a career you enjoy doing, not one that will make you happy later.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Science of Happiness About Doing


The Science of Happiness


In this day and age of technology, there are many psychologists, researchers, and scientists dedicated to coming up with a comprehensive measure of human happiness aimed at helping the many who are unhappy. Understandably, there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to the universal problem of unhappiness.

According to the science of happiness, there are certain aspects of life and living that not only involve happiness but also demand conventional wisdom in life choices and decisions to avoid any predictable unhappiness, as well as  to enhance any predisposition to happiness.

The Science of Happiness About Doing     

Life is meaningless without a purpose. To pursue that purpose, there must be goals, involving much doing. All contemporary experts have one consensus: happiness comes from doing certain things.

In the Stone Age, living was simple: survival of the fittest, which was hunting for food and running away from any external danger. Today, living is much more than just survival; it includes pursuing careers, making money, and doing many other related things that may bring happiness.

Today, living is all about doing this and that, while under-doing or non-doing is often frowned upon by the contemporary wise. For example, work hours nowadays have become increasingly longer; 24/7 has even become the norm for many jobs and professions. The conventional thinking is that doing more is always better than under-doing, not to mention non-doing.

Remember:

Happiness involves doing certain things in life, not necessarily doing more, but at least doing them right.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, February 11, 2019

How to Become Enlightened


How to Become Enlightened

Enlightenment has its origin from emptiness. Irrespective of whether or not attaining self-enlightenment, emptiness is the way to go toward attaining profound wisdom of living in this material world.

Emptiness is a way of human perception: looking at life experiences without adding anything to them, or without taking away anything from them. It is the thinking of the mind with no assumption and no presumption—that is, only an empty mindset.

Emptiness can be either positive or negative (the glass half-full, or the glass half-empty). Positive emptiness can only occur when you allow yourself to surrender completely to any given circumstance or situation without any previous attachment.

According to Lao Tzu, develop an empty mindset, which is more than just “thinking out of the box”: it is your reverse thinking to create your own empty box of thinking.

An empty mind with no craving and no expectation helps us letting go.
Being in the world and not of the world, we attain heavenly grace.
With heavenly grace, we become pure and selfless.
And everything just settles into its own perfect place.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 3) 

An illustration

There was the story of a professor visiting a Zen master to find out more about Zen, which is an Eastern philosophy. In the beginning of the visit, the professor kept on talking, while the Zen master served him tea.  At some point, the Zen master kept pouring tea into the teacup held by the professor even though it was brimming over. The moral of the story is that you must have an empty mind before you can accept new and unconventional ideas. Likewise, to intuit true human wisdom, you must have an empty mind capable of reverse thinking to find out the ultimate truths of anything and everything.

An empty mindset frees you from the many shackles of life that may have enslaved you and kept you in bondage without your knowing it. To be the master of your own life, you must have complete control over your own thinking mind, which must be empty without any pre-conditioned thoughts.

How do you gain control of your life in terms of your career, human relationships, time management, and daily stress, and among many others? First and foremost, you must empty your pre-programmed mind of any beliefs, blueprints, and roadmaps that tell you to do this or not to do that.

To illustrate, in your subconscious mind, you must set goals; to reach your goals, you must exert efforts; after accomplishing one goal, you need to set another higher goal, and yet another one higher than the previous ones; in addition, you must also have a role model to follow. But to take complete control of your life, you must empty your mind of all these pre-conditioned thoughts that are no more than your own attachments in the material world. 

When there is abundance,
there is lacking.
When there is craving,
there is discontentment.
Striving for power to control and influence every aspect of our lives
is the source of our sufferings.

Obsessed with getting and keeping,
many of us never really live before we die.

Following the Way,
we must learn to let go of everything.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 75)

Life is always complex, and contemporary living is complicated with its many emotional and material clutters and attachments. To live well, you must learn to let go of anything and everything. The desire for simplicity may accelerate the process of letting go as life progresses. An empty mind with reverse thinking may help you let go of all your attachments in the complex and complicated material world you are living in.

Stephen Lau       
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Contrived and the Natural


The Contrived and the Natural

“The Creator has no wish to be powerful; and thus he is truly powerful. The ordinary man craves to be powerful; and thus he never has enough power.

The Creator does nothing, yet nothing is left undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things, yet there are always many more to be done.

With the grace of the Creator, we experience natural goodness.
Natural goodness requires no effort, no expectation of reward or recognition.
Contrived goodness requires great effort, with little or no accomplishment.
Compassion and loving-kindness seek nothing in return.
Fairness and justice demand results, with expectation of correct behavior.
Natural goodness comes from within, which is our essence, and not from without, which is only our appearance.

When we are separate from our true nature, we experience no natural goodness, no compassion and no loving-kindness.
Our goodness then becomes contrived, demanding fairness and justice, focusing on appearance and superficiality.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 38)
                                                                   
The Wisdom in Living for Life

Control and manipulation, fairness and justice, prestige and power, reward and recognition—they may all distort your perception of the realities of all things. They may seem to be what they are not.

So, do not seek them.

Being your true nature, you may see things as what they really are, and not as what you wish they were or should be.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Natural Laws


“Before we can shrink anything,
we must first let it expand.
Before we can get rid of something,
we must first let it flourish.
Before we can receive something,
we must first give it away.
They are called the natural laws
of the way things were, are, and will be.

The soft overcomes the hard.
The slow overcomes the fast.
Gentleness and flexibility
bring positive results
that force and rigidity
fail to produce.
Just trust the natural laws
of the mighty Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 36)

The Wisdom in Living for Life

The natural laws: everything eventually becomes its opposite—it is just a matter of time.  

Enlightenment is an understanding of this basic law of nature, and knowing how to apply it to your living for life.

Enlightenment lets you see your own folly and futility in your striving and struggling in the world to have everything your way or no way.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau