Monday, April 30, 2018

The Role of Humor in Depression


While laughter is instantaneous, humor is always subtle, gradual, but infectious. The major role of humor in life is to change your perspectives of what is happening to you. It enables you to look at yourself in a less serious manner. Since you are approaching the end of your life journey, why should you look upon life so seriously? Weave humor into the fabrics of your life: let yourself find good humor in almost everything you do. Remind yourself that you are much more blessed than most people—for  one thing, you already have lived to a ripe old age—and that many things are beyond your control anyway, so loosen up your tight jaw and start smiling. Laugh at yourself by sharing some embarrassing moments in your life with those who are also fun and playful. Look for humor in any bad situation; if you look further, you will always find the irony and absurdity of life. Above all, make a conscious effort to overcome your daily stress, which is a major impediment to laughter and humor.

According to the 2006 International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, a sense of humor can significantly improve the survival rate of end-stage renal disease patients by as much as 30 percent. The reason is simple: positive distractions from stressful situations, such as dialysis, have salutary effects on the patient.

Remember, if you just continue to live, you will also continue to face many adversities. Laughter and humor will let you see only their positive sides, instead of becoming the problem yourself.

You do not have to be funny in order to have a sense of humor—just the ability to see the lighter side of everything in life. Now that you are nearing the end of your life journey, nothing can be that dead serious—not even death.

Stephen Lau

     Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Adversity and Pain


Adversity and Pain

“Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself, and awakens us to a courage and faith unrealized before.” Dr. Albert Schweitzer

Adversity is part and parcel of life. Adversity comes in different phases of life; it only becomes more intense and challenging as aging continues, causing more unhappiness. Adversity is like rites of passage, which come in three stages: the separation stage in which you feel separated from your comfort zone; the confusion stage in which you find yourself in no-man’s-land, at a loss of not knowing what to do next; and the transformation stage, in which you may initiate the life changes to cope with the adversity.

Human pain comes in different forms: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual pain. Inevitable as it is, pain also comes in different stages of one’s life, and most predominantly during the golden years as a result of loss of loved ones, loss of physical capability and functioning, as well as loss of health and wellness.

Adversity and pain cause human unhappiness.

The good news is that you may also learn from your pain and suffering. The most valuable lesson is awakening from the illusion that this physical life of yours will go on forever. This awakening may help you re-discover your connection to others and, more importantly, to God, and hence may deepen the meaning of life to you, as well as your relationship with God. If your life has a positive meaning, then human pain must also have its meaning for your body, mind, and spirit. You just have to look for its meaning.

Human suffering is caused by adversity and pain. Don't let your suffering continue. Get your happiness wisdom! Learn to let go of your adversity and pain.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Healthy Love Relationship to Overcome Depression

A Healthy Love Relationship to Overcome Depression

 Dealing with a failing relationship

 Hanging on to a failing relationship to change a man you want to change is unrealistic.

Hanging on to a damaging relationship to avoid heartache and pain is not worth the effort.

Confront the reality. Pain is painful, but learn to deal with it. It you don’t deal with a failing relationship, you become depressed.

According to the Oriental wisdom, in life, pain may not be an option, but suffering is often a choice. Sadly, suffering is often unknowingly self-inflicted through explanation, rationalization, and over-indulgence. With or without them, the pain is still there, whether you like it or not. According to Eastern wisdom, you need not welcome or reject pain in your life. But you don't have to turn your pain into perpetual suffering in the form of depression. The pain is there, but you need not prolong your suffering unnecessarily.

Just move on with your life! Put your energy on changing yourself in areas you feel need to change, such as your behaviors and your lifestyle. To initiate meaningful changes in your life for a better love relationship further down the road: your must see the reasons to change; you must have the right attitudes about changing; and you must change your behaviors to bring about the changes.

Meanwhile, look for another healthy love relationship, not just sexual fulfillment. You will not die from not having sex! Control your impulse, and stay hopeful and positive. 

Making a good love relationship better

 If you are enjoying a good love relationship of your life, continue to enjoy it. More importantly, cherish it, and turn it into a better and more fruitful one.

Do not expect your man to be perfect. Accept him for what he is and who he is. Remember, you, too, are imperfect.

Do not compare your man to other men. You must like him for what he is, for all his strengths and weaknesses. Remember, he is a unique individual, and don’t attempt to change him.

Do not nag your man if he does not do what you want him to do. Neither do you threaten him. Remember, both nagging and threatening may not get you what you want; they certainly do not contribute to a successful love relationship.

Do not be bossy. Do not tell him what to do. Remember, asking you what to do is not the same as telling him what to do.

Do not worship your man. Just appreciate him, and treat him with respect and dignity. Remember, you expect him to reciprocate.

Do not punish your man with your behavior, such as withholding sex. Remember punishing with behavior is a childish act that often turns a man off.

Do not always agree with your man. Hold him responsible for his wrongdoing. Men do not respect women who put up with anything and everything. Remember, your input or criticism should be given in a loving and constructive manner.

Do not see things only from your own perspective. Remember, there are two sides of a coin.

God gives you the freedom to choose whom you date and whom you marry. You have to decide how you are going to make that decision, and this is often reflected in how you live your life. It is your choice, and only you can decide for yourself.

Remember, a healthy love relationship frees you from depression.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Friday, April 20, 2018

Human Emotions and Depression

Human happiness has much to do with human emotions and feelings. Emotions and feelings are two sides of the same coin; they are closely related, but they are two very different things in that the former create biochemical reactions in the human body, affecting the physical state, while the latter are mental associations and reactions to the former.

The Seven Emotions

According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we all have qi (), which is the internal life-giving energy circulating within each and every one of us, giving us internal balance and harmony. Human emotions are also energy states, which either give or deplete our own internal life-giving energy, causing harmony or disharmony, and leading to wellness or disease.

In Chinese medicine, there are seven emotions that not only trigger feelings of unhappiness but also cause many internal diseases because they may adversely affect the different body organs associated with these emotions. For example, anger or rage affects the liver; fear and fright (the difference between fear and fright is that the former is due to things that may happen in the future, while the latter is due to things that are in the now) damage the kidney; sadness impairs the lungs; anxiety and worry weaken the spleen; joy, especially excessive joy, may dysfunction the heart.

Because Chinese medicine is all about internal balance and harmony, any excess in these emotions may be harmful. To illustrate, even excessive joy may dysfunction the heart, leading to mania and even mental disorders; it is not uncommon that many people experience winter blues right after the joyful celebration of Christmas and the New Year.

According to Western medicine, as much as 50 percent of human diseases may be psychosomatic. Dr. Caroline B. Thomas, M.D., of John Hopkins School of Medicine, discovered that cancer patients often had a prior poor relationship with their parents, attesting to the pivotal role of emotions in the development of cancer. In another study by Dr. Richard B. Shekelle of the University of Texas School of Medicine, it was found that depression patients were not only more cancer prone but also more likely to die of cancer than the other patients. If emotions play a pivotal role in cancer, by the same token, negative emotions may also adversely affect the symptoms or the prognosis of any other human diseases. Indeed, thoughts of anger, despair, discontent, frustration, guilt, or resentment are instrumental in depressing the physiological processes, including the human body’s immune response—a formula for promoting the development of an autoimmune disease.

To conclude, it is not an overstatement that the mind and diseases are inter-connected, especially when it comes to human emotions.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 16, 2018

Don't Compare Yourself With Others


There is a close connection between depression and happiness; therefore, understanding true human happiness may help a depressed individual overcome his or her depression.

Very often, we become depressed because we are not happy about who we are, or what we have accomplished to date.

There was an ancient Chinese fable of a stonecutter who worked so hard cutting stones that he often felt stressed and depressed.

One day, while standing behind a huge stone where he was cutting his stones, he looked up at the sky, and saw the beautiful sun. Then, he wished he were the sun that could give warmth and sunshine to everyone on earth. A fairy came to him and granted him his wish, so he became the sun.

For a while, he was happy and contented. Then, one day, a big cloud came over, blocked out everything from his view, and he could not see what was below. He became distressed and unhappy, and wished he were the cloud, instead of the sun. Again, the fairy came to his rescue, and granted him his wish. He became the cloud, and began drifting and floating happily and peacefully in the sky.

After a while, a strong wind came and scattered the cloud in different directions. Now, he wished he were the strong wind that could blow away anything and everything that stood in his way. Again, the fairy made his wish come true: he became the strong wind, blowing here and there. For a while, he was happy and contented.

Then, one day, he found out that he could not blow away the big stone behind which he used to cut stones. Worse, he was stuck there, going nowhere. Now, finally, he began to realize that was where he belonged. He made his one last wish to become the stonecutter that he used to be. The fairy granted him his last wish, and now he was contented to be the stonecutter again.

The moral of the fable: any comparison and contrast between self and others—or even between the current self and the self in the past—is often a stumbling block to self-contentment, the lack of which will direct one's thoughts inward and generate depression. Indeed, if you are discontent with what you have or what you are, while matching an area of your own deficiency with that of someone else’s obvious strength, you are in fact preparing the groundwork for your own depression. It is just that simple!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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.

The bottom line: your career can make you happy or unhappy. Get the wisdom to know how.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 9, 2018

Consciousness of Happiness or Unhappiness

Consciousness of Happiness or Unhappiness

Consciousness is everything; if you are not conscious, you are not living your life, if not already dead.

Well, what is consciousness?

Being conscious is a "special quality of the mind" that permits us to know both that we exist and that the things around us also exist too. Surprisingly, many of us may not have this consciousness.

Life is an inner journey that often requires consciousness of the body and the mind, together with that of the soul or spirit, to continue making its progress in the right direction in order to reach its final destination. Sadly, since the beginning of time, many people have traveled on the same journey of life but without reaching their desired destinations because they simply lack their consciousness of the body and the mind, not to mention that of the soul or spirit, to guide them along that long and winding life journey with its many detours and sidetracks.

Consciousness comes from the mind, which is created by the brain. The human brain creates the consciousness of the mind, and thus giving all humans their pleasures and displeasures, happiness and unhappiness, as well as other positive and negative feelings and emotions. These human perceptions then become their experiences which are stored in their minds as memories generating their subsequent thoughts—together they then become the byproducts with which they weave the realities in their lives, making them happy or unhappy.

Consciousness is the capability of your thinking mind to see how and why certain perceptions occur and affect your thinking mind, making you happy or unhapy. Without this consciousness, which is knowing what is happening in the mind, you just obediently follow what your mind tells you to do. That is to say, you have become a slave to your thinking mind, instead of being the master of your own thoughts.

You are conscious of your thinking mind only if you are also conscious of your breathing. Life is made up of many breaths. For thousands of years, the Chinese have believed that the lifespan of an individual is determined by the number of breaths assigned to that individual at birth. That explains why traditional Chinese exercises, such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi, focus so much on the art of breathing, especially on extending the breaths, which holds the key to longevity. Western science has already attested to the fact that tortoise, with the longest lifespan in the animal kingdom, has also the longest breath, while rodent, with the shortest lifespan, has the shortest breath. Therefore, the consciousness of your breaths is a reflection of your own consciousness of life, as well as of many other things in your life that make you happy or unhappy.

Consciousness of breaths begins with breathing. Are you constantly conscious of your breaths—your breathing in and breathing out? Most people are not. Breathing is the most subconscious and yet the most important moment-to-moment activity in human life. Unfortunately, many of us are not conscious of our breathing; we just take it for granted. The Bible has made references to the importance of the breath from God, which is not only life itself but also divine understanding.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man  became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

“But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.” (Job 32:8)

Consciousness of breaths also suggests consciousness of self. Self-consciousness is, in fact, everything in your life and living. Self-consciousness is your mental awareness of self, of others, and of the world around. Self-conscious is mindfulness of what is happening to you and around you. Without this consciousness of the mind, you are not living; you are simply existing, making yourself become more vulnerable to depression.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Does Money Bring Happiness?


Does Money Bring Happiness?

Does money bring happiness? To many, it does, especially if they have experienced the lack of it!

The poor little rich girl

Barbara Woolworth Hutton was one of the wealthiest women in the world during the Great Depression. She experienced an unhappy childhood with the early loss of her mother at age five and the neglect of her father, setting her the stage for a life of difficulty forming relationships. Married and divorced seven times, she acquired grand foreign titles, but was maliciously treated and exploited by several of her husbands. Publicly, she was much envied for her lavish lifestyle and her exuberant wealth; privately, she was very insecure and unhappy, leading to addiction and fornication. She died of a heart attack at age 66. At her death, the formerly wealthy Hutton was on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of exploitation, as well as her own lavish and luxurious lifestyle.

Barbara Hutton was the unhappy poor little rich girl! She was widely reported in the media, and her story was even made into a Hollywood movie.

Get-rich-quick

The love of money may entice many people to engage in many get-rich-quick schemes, high-risk investments, or compulsive gambling, leading to debts and many financial disasters in their lives.

There was the story of a fool who was told that to satisfy his hunger, he had to eat four buns; he ended up eating only the fourth bun when he thought he could take a shortcut instead. In life, you have to work hard to earn your money, just as you have to eat all the four buns to satisfy your hunger, and not just the fourth one.

Buying lottery tickets is also like eating the fourth bun—another get-rich-quick mindset that many people embrace and entertain.

According to some psychology studies, the overall happiness levels of lottery winners spiked when they won, but returned to their pre-winning levels after just a few months when the thrills of winning wore off. In terms of their overall happiness, the lottery winners were neither significantly happier than the non-winners, nor were they happier than they were before their winnings. Research has shown that affective forecasting, which is predicting human future emotions, often makes humans overestimate the duration of their future emotional reactions.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 2, 2018

Happiness Is Anti-Depression

Happiness Is Anti-Depression

Life is meaningless and purposeless if happiness is absent. The truth of the matter is that many people are unhappy. So, the leading question is: what makes you happy?

It is also a myth that happiness is something that can be pursued with willpower and effort. The Bible rightly says that pursuing happiness is “like chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11)

 

Effort does not necessarily bring happiness; it only creates the illusion of an environment conducive to creating temporary happiness.

One may work diligently in one’s career to excel and to get to the top of the profession only to find that one has a terminal illness, or has incurred a debilitating accident. To illustrate, Joe Paterno the former Penn State football coach, whose reputation ruined by a sexual abuse scandal at the peak of his career, was fired, and died shortly of cancer; Steve Job, the co-founder of Apple computers, had his life cut short by pancreatic cancer at the height of his successful business career. Extra effort does not always pay off.

Pursuing happiness may be only a fantasy fueled by temporary moments of happiness, because aging, illnesses, misfortunes, and ultimately death plague all alike; in other words, impermanence cuts short all human efforts to bring happiness. We are all aware of the fact that impermanence is a leveler of everybody and everything, but many of us still choose to delude ourselves into thinking otherwise. Denial only fosters the myth that if there is a will there must be a way to attaining happiness, and that all it requires is human effort to make any dream come true.

The truth of the matter is that true happiness is, surprisingly, effortless, because it comes from within, and not from without; it is part of self, and is natural to human life and existence.


This book shows you how to attain true human wisdom through asking self-intuitive questions, creating an empty mindset with reverse thinking to let go of the ego-self to become a better and happier you. 


This book shows you that true human happiness comes from human wisdom to understand self and others, as well as the world around, and thus deepening the innate spirituality that guides the body and the soul to live as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Are Natural Herbs Good for Depression?

Popular Natural Antidepressant Supplements

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort, a traditional European herb, also called the sunshine herb because of its yellow flowers, is one of the most popular natural antidepressants. Supported by controlled clinical trials, St. John’s Wort has shown its effectiveness in relieving mild mental depression. In fact, studies comparing St John’ s Wort to prescription depression medications, such as Paxil® and Prozac® demonstrate that it works just as well as these drugs, but with fewer side effects.

In addition, St. John’s Wort can help you restore self-confidence and regular sleeping patterns, as well increase appetite and avoid binge-eating.

Start with a dose of 600-900 mg daily, increasing to 900-1800 mg per day if necessary. 

Take only St. John’s Wort extracts that are standardized to contain 5 percent hyperforin.

St. John’s Wort requires at least three weeks to begin working, and may not produce its full effects for a month or two.

SAM-e


SAM-e is another natural antidepressant backed by scientific evidence showing it is effective against mental depression. SAM-e works quickly, and most people start noticing improvement in days rather than weeks. The down side of SAM-e is that it is expensive (costing as much as some prescription drugs) and that it is efficacious only in certain individuals.

5-HTP

5-HTP is yet another natural antidepressant shown by clinical research to treat mental depression effectively. Essentially, it is an amino acid that increases your body’s levels of serotonin, a mood-related neurotransmitter, in the brain. 5-HTP is not only easily absorbed and highly effective in raising serotonin levels, but also a good sleep enhancer. 

Taking 50-300 mg of 5-HTP may improve your mood in just a few weeks without causing side effects. 5-HTP may work best when combined with St.John’s Wort.

There have been concerns about the safety of 5-HTP, but scientific evidence remains inconclusive. 

Other Herbal Supplements

Kava Kava

Kava Kava is an herb that has been widely used for hundreds of years by native South Pacific Islanders. It is effective in combating anxiety and stress, which may lead to mental depression. Kava kava extract is marketed as herbal medicine for anxiety and stress.

Tiredness and decreased sex drive are some of the side effects of kava kava. 

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is a “calming” herb, which has been widely used since the Middle Ages to calm nerves and induce sleep. Due to its calming aroma and effects, lemon balm is also popular as a herbal antidepressant. Lemon balm has been used for centuries as an antibacterial ointment and also as an infusion or a tea by tearing the leaves, adding honey and hot water.

Rethink Herbal Supplements


Natural antidepressant herbal supplements may appeal to many due to the absence of side effects.

Rethink the quality control

Quality control is often a concern. For a natural antidepressant to be efficacious, it must contain proven ingredients in the proper doses and potencies with strict manufacturing procedures. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the production of herbal supplements. Even with strict control and regulation, many prescription drugs are unsafe; without the FDA, the safety of many dietary supplements remains a concern for many. 

Rethink your drug interactions

Some natural antidepressants may have significant drug interactions. For example, St. John’s Wort may reduce depression but may also trigger mania in someone with bipolar depression.

Rethink your doctor's approval and supervision

Although St. John’s Wort is prescribed in Germany ten times more frequently than is Prozac®, many doctors in the United States still have reservation about recommending St. John’s Wort to their patients. You should not stop your prescribed medications and opt for St. John’s Wort without your doctor’s approval and supervision. Always check for interactions with any prescription drug you may be taking currently.


Rethink your ability to monitor herbal supplements

It is probably best to start with just one product over two or three weeks, to establish if it is helping you and to what extent. If a little is good, it does not mean that more is better, and it is not wise to take more than you need. However, these products do have a synergistic effect and if you do not quite get the effect you need from one, you can then add in a low dose of another to enhance the overall effect. However, it requires a great deal of adjustment and observation - which, unfortunately, many patients may not have.

The bottom line: Natural herbal supplements are preferred to the toxic pharmaceutical drugs, such as Lithium, Paxil etc; but the best alternative is to use your mind to control how and what you think that are the underlying causes of your depression, causing you the chemical imbalance in your brain. Read my book: My Way! No Way! Tao is the Way!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

The Role of Humor in Depression

While laughter is instantaneous, humor is always subtle, gradual, but infectious. The major role of humor in life is to change your perspe...