Thursday, December 14, 2017

Your Thinking Mind and Your Ego

Your “thinking” mind is responsible for creating not only your so-called “realities” based on your perceptions of your life experiences, but also your personality, which also plays a pivotal role in your living in a world of depression.

It is your human nature to identify yourself with your thoughts created by your thinking mind. This identity begins to relate to more thoughts, both past and present, as well as their projections into the future as desires and expectations. These accumulative thoughts begin to take shape and form your ego-self. which all of us have, because it is the identity that separates and distinguishes us from others.

But is that ego-self for real? Or what exactly is the ego-self?

Simply look at yourself in front of a mirror. What do you see? A self reflection. Is it for real? Can you touch it? Not really; it is only a reflection of someone real—the real you in front of the mirror!

Your ego-self is your self-perceived personality. Just like the reflection in the mirror, it is not the real you.

Now, do something slightly different. Place a baby—if there is one immediately available—in front of the mirror. Now. see what happens. The baby may crawl towards the baby in the mirror. Why? It is because the baby in front of the mirror thinks that the baby in the mirror is another baby, and not his or her own reflection.

Likewise, your ego-self may look real to you, but it is not real  It is only a reflection of your own thoughts; that is, your ego self is what you think or even wish you were. The ego-self is gradually formed over the years, transforming you into someone else that you are not. Therefore, your only one true life obligation is to be the person standing in front of the mirror, and not the reflection of that person in the mirror.

Your ego-self, which is formed by your thoughts, often become your attachments. Too many attachments to your ego-self may become problematic, leading to depression.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, December 11, 2017

Emotions and Physical Wellness

Emotions and Physical Wellness

Human emotions, in particular, affect the physical body. In Woody Allen's movie Annie Hall, Diane Keaton would like to know why he wasn’t angry. "I don't get angry," he humorously replied, "I grow a tumor instead." Indeed, toxic emotions can lead to a toxic body.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), human emotions are the major underlying causes of many diseases and disorders because for centuries Chinese physicians have believed that certain body organs are related to emotional activities; for example, the heart is related to joy, the liver to anger, the spleen to obsessive thoughts, the lungs to anxiety, and the kidneys to fear. Therefore, excessive emotions may disrupt the free flow of qi, the life-giving energy that flows through the body, and thus causing imbalance and disharmony that may lead to diseases and disorders.

In addition, human behaviors—often a byproduct of human emotions—affect the mind, just as emotions of the mind affecting the body. According to a study at Ohio State University in 2003, physical behavior, such as enhanced body language of nodding in agreement or shaking head in disagreement, may significantly affect how we think without our knowing it. According to that study, even posture, such as sitting up straight, may be conducive to remembering positive memories or thinking positively, because posture changes the production of human hormones.

The interconnection between the body and the mind is further evidenced by the indisputable notion that a healthy heart produces a healthy brain by pumping sufficient oxygen and nutrients to nourish the brain through its bloodstream.

Consciousness of Physical Wellness

At the physical level, your wellness is basically affected by what you eat, what you drink, and what you do with your body. It’s just that simple; its complexity is no more than distractions from your consciousness of doing the right things for your physical body.

Just be conscious of the right numbers: your body weight, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol levels. If you take good care of these numbers, which are inter-related, the rest of will take care of themselves. There is only one indisputable fact, with no exception: a centenarian is never obese. If you wish to live longer, not necessarily to one hundred years and beyond, you must do something about your body weight now, and not later.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, December 8, 2017

Simplicity Is Happiness

Simplicity Is Happiness

If you wish to be happy, just live a simple lifestyle.  

Epicurus, the famous Greek philosopher, had this advice on how to lead a pleasant life: avoiding luxuries, and living simply. The explanation is that luxurious living may make you into a “needy” person whose happiness always depends on things that are impermanent and easily lost. When they are lost, you naturally become unhappy and even depressed.

In this day and age, living in this complex world of technology is not easy: the complexity of this world has taken a toll on the human mind, creating undue stress, as well as many emotional, mental, personal, and psychological cravings in the material world that cause disappointments and unhappiness.

The late Robert Kennedy once said: “Sometimes I think that the only people in this country who worry more about money than the poor are the very wealthy. They worry about losing it, they worry about how it is invested, they worry about the effect it’s going to have. And as the zeroes increase, the dilemmas get bigger.” 
The bottom line: money does not and will not make you happier.

Learn to let go of all your attachments to the material world you are living in right now. Can you do that? It is more blessed to give than to receive. Can you stop your cravings and attachments that you think define who you are.

A classic example is Ann Russell Miller, a celebrated socialite from San Francisco, also known as Sister Mary Joseph, She, who had ten children and nineteen grandchildren, had grown up in luxury and privilege, and had been living a life of incredible wealth. Instead of shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, and decorating herself with jewelry from Tiffany, she suddenly decided to give up everything, and became a nun devoted to living in poverty for the rest of her life. That unbelievable event happened more than two decades ago, and was then widely reported in the media across the country. Why did she make such a drastic and incredible change in her life? She said she had a calling, a true vocation that was hard to understand for the general public, even for the close members of her family.

Live a simple lifestyle, deleting all the trimmings of life and living, as well as all the attachments that may have a negative impact on your mind.

 Do you have a lot of attachments to the material world you are living in right now? Take a look at your garage and basement. If they are packed full and loaded with many disposables, then probably you still have many attachments you are unwilling to let go of. Attachments are clutters that bring memories you are unwilling to let go of—memories that are reminiscent of your past accomplishments.

Stephen Lau      
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wisdom in Living

This is a completely updated website on how to live your life as if everything is a miracle.

The journey of life is long and unpredictable. We all need wisdom to guide us along the way so that we will not get lost; even if we do, we may still find out way back to where it will eventually lead us to our final destination.

This new website may provide you with wisdom as your compass and roadmap on your life journey.

Wisdom in living comprises seeking God's wisdom through understanding human wisdom in order to live a meaningful and purposeful life, even in the golden years. The ancient wisdom of Tao holds the key to applying these principles of life and living in this modern world.

Stephen Lau

Monday, December 4, 2017

Looking at Both the Bright and the Dark Side of Life

Look at Both the Bright and the Dark Side of Life

Life is always imperfect, and living is forever 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. This wisdom may let you see the bright side of life. Without this profound understanding, you will forever be haunted by the awareness of only 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 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, which is seeing also the light at the end of the dark tunnel. Remember, darkness and brightness co-exist, just like day and night.

The bottom line: look for your own imperfections, instead of denying them; be the imperfect you, instead of striving to be someone else that you are not. Being your true self is the art of living well, which is looking at both the bright and the dark side of life.

Tao wisdom is the essence in the art of living well. It is the profound wisdom of the ancient Chinese sage, Lao Tzu, the author of the immortal classic Tao Te Ching, one of the most translated works in world literature. The book has been popular for thousands of years due to its wisdom, which is simple but controversial, profound and yet intriguing. To fully understand it, you need to get all the essentials of Tao wisdom.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How to Be a Better and Happier Individual

Be A Better And Happier Individual

Is it possible to become a better person than you actually are? Mybe.

Always look at yourself and others from the whole perspective that anything is every thing, and you may then become a better and happier you.


Perspective and Judgment

Through repeated mental training, you may begin to change for the better: becoming less easily angry and more readily loving and forgiving. More importantly, you may become more capable of assessing and analyzing the long- and short-term consequences of your actions on yourself as well as those on others. 

Gradually, you may no longer identify anyone as your “enemy” because, according to Tao wisdom, there should be no judgment, which is no comparison. With no judgment, you may also begin to see anything and everything in perspective, and in its own reality. All material things, people, and even your own body may not be the sources of your happiness. Instead, the material things you always crave may make you sad, the people you love may give your trouble, and the body you own may give you pain. 

No judgment is part and parcel of letting go, one of the essentials of Tao wisdom, and an indispensable ingredient in eliminating anger and envy, among many other negative emotions that are the real destroyers of your happiness in life. 


Hope and Despair

Mental calmness, which naturally brings mindfulness and concentration, is not only a powerful mental tool to develop true human wisdom, but also a recurrent source of genuine human happiness. Mental calmness gives rise to joy. Any external enemy, no matter how powerful, is unable to strike directly at your mental calmness, which is formless and hence untouchable. Only anger can destroy your mental calmness. To overcome anger, hatred, and other related negative emotions, train yourself to smile when you look at yourself in the mirror on waking up every morning. Your smile will bring altruism, love, and compassion. As you develop your basic sense of humanity, hope will also be born. Hope is not expectation. 

There are two kinds of hope: authentic hope and false hope. Authentic hope is a genuine belief in the goodness of human nature. False hope is expectation of results due to human efforts; more specifically, it is based on the human ego believing that “extra” human efforts can achieve and satisfy human desires, which include greed. 

According to Tao wisdom, expectation is the source of all human pain, which includes disappointment, leading to anger, despair, and regret, among many other negative emotions that may ultimately become your toxic thoughts and memories that make you unhappy.

Stephen Lau     
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, November 6, 2017

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

Living well is more than a skill: it is an art in itself. To live well in this day and age is by no means easy, in spite of the advancement of modern technology. Life itself is complicated and challenging; to live well requires the art of manipulating the skills of living a happy and meaningful life.

To live a happy and meaningful life, you need to know yourself well. That is, how well do you know yourself? That might seem a silly question at first glance. The truth of the matter is that many of us do not really know ourselves, although we think we do.

Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, once said: "who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes." It is important to look inside in order to discover the ultimate truth of all things, which is the essence of true human wisdom. To truly know yourself, you have to look inside yourself to find out who you really are, not who you wish you were, and what you really need, not what you want.

Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now, in the beginning of the book, wrote:

“A beggar has been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. ‘Spare some change?’ mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. ‘I have nothing to give you,’ said the stranger. Then he asked: ‘What’s that you are sitting on?’ ‘Nothing,’ replied the beggar. ‘Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.’ ‘Ever looked inside?’ asked the stranger. ‘No,’ said the beggar. ‘What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.’ ‘Have a look inside,’ insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to prey open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.”

Indeed, you need to look inside you to ask all sorts of questions in order to get as many relevant answers as possible to find out who you really are.  Asking questions is introspection, which is a process of self-reflection, without which there is no self-awareness and hence no personal growth and development. A static life is never a life well lived. Therefore, asking questions is self-empowering wisdom—a life-skill tool necessary for the art of living well.

Why is that?

It is because the kind of questions you ask determines the kind of life you are going to live. Your questions trigger a set of mental answers, which may lead to actions or inactions, based on the choices you make from the answers you have obtained. Remember, your life is always the sum of all choices you make in the process.

The bottom line: knowing yourself well holds the key to knowing others, as well as understanding the reality of all things; this mindfulness of self  is true human wisdom.

Visit my site: Wisdom in Living to find out more about how to live your life as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Inter-Relationship of Stress and Depression

Stress and depression are inter-related. Stress is one of the causes of depression, while a depressive episode often creates undue stress that only further aggravates the depression symptoms and prolongs the depressive episode.

There are many factors causing stress.

Emotional Factors

Anger, bitterness, disappointment, and envy are some of the human emotions that often lead to anxiety, distress, and even depression. 

Environmental and Eventful Factors

A dangerous environment, such as walking alone in the dark or in an unsafe neighborhood, can be stressful.

A work environment with racial discrimination or sexual harassment can be stressful too. According to the American Institute of Stress, up to one million employees’ absence per day are stress related. In addition, work environment may create stress due to feeling unproductive, inability to concentrate on work, unrealistic and unreasonable demands from employers or co-workers.

Stressful life events may also lead to elevated stress levels. Special life events—whether they are positive or negative—can be stressful, such as getting married or planning a wedding, graduation, starting a new job, buying a home, or even going on a vacation.

Financial Factors

Finance is one of the main stress factors in contemporary life and living due to rampant unemployment, not having enough money to make both ends meet, debt from credit cards or reckless over-spending, bankruptcy, and home foreclosure, among other financial problems.

Health Factors

The American Academy of Family Physicians once estimated that two-thirds of all family doctor visits are stress related.

Health problems can be triggered by alcohol, sugar, and tobacco addiction. Chronic health problems, such as autoimmune diseases, cancers and heart-related health issues, are particularly stressful after diagnoses and during treatments..

Relationship Factors

Relationships are often a source of emotional and psychological problems, such as break-up in a love relationship, separation and divorce, dealing with teenager problems, and coping with aging parents.

William Shakespeare once said: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” John Milton, the famous English poet, also had this to say: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” Both spoke volumes of the perceptions of stress.

Therefore, subconscious energies of the mind play a pivotal role in stress management.

Stephen Lau     
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

No Attachment! No Depression!

No Attachment! No Depression!

Attachment is no more than a safety blanket to overcome fear—fear of change and of the unknown from that change. To cope with that fear, all attachments become distractions.

We are living in a world with many problems that confront us in our everyday life, and many of these are not only unavoidable but also insoluble. To overcome these daily challenges, many of us just turn to attachment as a means of distracting ourselves from facing our problems head on, or adapting and changing ourselves in an ever-changing environment. All of our struggles in life, from anxiety to frustrations, from anger to sadness, from grief to worry—they all stem from the same thing: our attachment to how we want things to be, rather than relaxing into accepting and embracing whatever that might happen after we have put forth our best effort.

Attachment is the source of human depression. No attachment, no depression!
Career attachments

Your career may span over decades, involving many ups and downs, such as promotion and unemployment, changes of career and pursuits of higher qualifications, among others. They may have become your problematic attachments.

Money and wealth attachments

Money plays a major role in life. You need money for almost everything in life. Attachment to money and the riches of the material world is often a result of an inflated ego-self. You may want to keep up with the Joneses—driving a more expensive car than your neighbors and friends.

Relationship attachments

Living has to do with people, involving agreements and disagreements, often resulting in mixed emotional feelings of joy and sorrow, contentment and regret, among others, and they become attachments to the ego-self as memories that you may refuse to let go of—forgetting and forgiving, for example, are hurdles often difficult to overcome.

Success and failure attachments

Success in life often becomes an attachment in the form of expectation that it will continue, bringing more success. Failure, on the other hand, may generate disappointment and regret—an emotional attachment often difficult to let go of. 

Adversity and prosperity attachments

In the course of human life, loss and bereavement are as inevitable as death. Loss can be physical, material, and even spiritual, such as loss of hope and purpose. You may want to attach to the good old days, and refuse to let go of the current adversity. Adversity and prosperity attachments stem from the ego-self.

Time attachments

Time is a leveler of mankind: we all have only 24 hours a day, no more and no less, although the lifespan of each individual varies. Attachment to time is the reluctance to let go of time passing away, as well as the vain attempt to fully utilize every moment of time, leading to a compulsive mind, such as texting while driving.  

Sometimes we are so busy in the outside world that we seldom have an opportunity to look inside of ourselves, to understand who we really are and what really makes us happy—probably not the material things around us.

Letting go of your attachments is the art of living well.

Stephen Lau     
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Origin of Depression

“Depression begins with disappointment. When disappointment festers in our soul, it leads to discouragement.” Joyce Meyer

Depression is as ancient as man. Man is inherently desirous of happiness. We all want to become happy; without happiness, human existence may have become meaningless. Therefore, we all want to avoid unhappiness, and this self-defense mechanism may then develop into addictive habit patterns that have ultimately become some of the characteristics of our individual personality, affecting how we think. In other words, to avoid unhappiness, we may subconsciously begin to "lose contact with our realities" and thus become the persons we are not supposed to be. Depression is a mental struggle against unhappiness that an individual wishes to avoid, and in the process becomes a different person—a person with ever-changing moods and temperaments.

To illustrate, a baby or toddlereven well-fed, dry, and comfortablemay cry because he or she wants happiness, which is not being separated from the parents; crying or screaming is the only self-defense mechanism against being separated and feeling unhappy. As that baby or toddler continues to grow, that normal child will ultimately learn the reality that to be separated from the parents is just a normal and necessary part and parcel of life and maturity.

However, the mental and emotional growth and maturity of that same child may not be consistent with his or her physical growth and mental maturity, and this inconsistency or disparity may subsequently lead to many mental and emotional problems later in life, such as recklessly driving a car, engaging promiscuously in sex, taking drugs or addicting to alcohol. If the mental and emotional problems are not properly and fully addressed and resolved, that same adolescent turning into a young adult may continue to develop more problems, such as compulsive gambling or shopping sprees. As that same individual continues to grow and mature, there may be many other problems that crop up along his or her life journey, including problems in career, marriage, family, health, money, and among many others. All these life problems and challenges may continue to create more behavioral patterns, which are only the manifestations of that individual's desperate struggle against the unhappiness associated with emotional, mental, and physical problems; they are just the self-defense addictive behaviors of that individual striving desperately to overcome depression. In other words, that individual simply wants to avoid un-happiness resulting from the many life problems and challenges encountered. 

But, according to Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China, more than 2,600 years ago, the only way to get out of depression is to fully experience and embrace it, thereby becoming enlightened.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Your Thinking Mind and Your Ego

Your “thinking” mind is responsible for creating not only your so-called “realities” based on your perceptions of your life experiences, bu...