Thursday, July 12, 2018

Depression Is Affected By How You Process Your Life Experiences

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” John Homer Miller  

Living for life is simple if you know the simple basics in life; more precisely, if you can just simplify life’s complex problems by knowing how to process your experiences and expectations.

You are where you are in life today because of the choices you have made to date. Your experiences are simply the outcomes of the choices you made early on.

The art of living well requires you to ask many self-probing questions as you continue on your life journey. Some of these questions may include the following:

Has my life been simple so far?
Have I been overwhelmed by its complexity?
Do I have many expectations in life—of myself and of others, including my spouse, my children, and my parents?

Life experience is a good teacher. We all know that we can learn from our experiences, but most of us do not want to learn it the hard way through failures and misfortunes. Ideally, we can learn from the experiences of others—which are less painful, to say the least. But the life of any individual is uniquely his or hers, so what is applicable to the life of another may not be relevant to yours. In addition, where you are today is a result of your own choices, and nobody can make those choices for you. You have made your choices, and now you must learn how to process the experiences and expectations from those choices.

The happenings in your life are real to you, but how you process them in your mind creates thoughts about those experiences, and these thoughts may affect how you are going to live the rest of your life.                            

How you live your life depends on how you process your experiences in life, or how your mind thinks about what happens to you. Processing all those experience requires knowing the basics in life.

The Book of Life and Living (2nd edition) is a 200-page book that explains what true wisdom is: it is a process of asking meaningful questions and getting relevant answers from them to empower your mind to think differently. After all, life has to do with thinking -- how you think, how you react to your life experiences, and how you process and internalize them to become your memories. The brain is a complex organ. The book explains in simple layman language how the mind works, and how you may weave the fabrics of your realities acquired from your life experiences encountered.

To get the Amazon Kindle version of The Book of Life and Living, click here; to get the paperback edition, click here

Also, visit my website: 
Wisdom in Living


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Monday, July 9, 2018

Pleasure Is Not Happiness


Many people who are depressed seek pleasure to overcome their depression. But pleasure does not bring happiness, nor does it help them get out of their depression. Therefore, it is important to know the differences between pleasure and happiness.

Pleasure is having fun at a party, the excitement of new experiences, the thrill and passion of sex, or the delights of a fine meal. They are all wonderful life experiences to be cherished and cultivated by any individual, but they are only life pleasures, not human happiness.

The truth of the matter is that all our wonderful life experiences are only to be enjoyed, and then to be let go of, just as a delicious meal is to be enjoyed, savored, and then to be digested, and ultimately eliminated from the body. Therefore, any life pleasure is fleeting and must be so—if it is to continue to please again in the future.

Happiness, on the other hand, may be less fleeting and more enduring than pleasure; but, still, happiness never lasts forever because nothing in life is permanent, and every thing remains only with that very moment, whether it is happiness or pleasure.

Remember:

Happiness and pleasure are life experiences to be enjoyed, cherished, and remembered—but they do not last forever.



“Happiness is a state of mind” Walt Disney

“Heaven is a state of mind, not a location” Wayne Dyer

Happiness or unhappiness is no more and no less than a state of mind of an individual. It may or may not involve the five senses, although they often play a pivotal role in creating the happiness or unhappiness state of mind of an individual.

Remember, your state of mind is always different from that of others; everyone’s state of mind is uniquely different, just like the uniqueness of human fingerprints.

Happiness is a feeling of contentment, of personal conviction that life is just as it should be; unhappiness is just the opposite feeling. But how do you gauge your own level of contentment? And what convinces you that your life is what it should be? Happiness or unhappiness, to you, is only your own state of mind—uniquely yours and yours alone.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Dementia and Depression


There is a close connection between dementia and depression -- both medical conditions have to do with a dysfunctional mind.

Loss of memory may lead to depression. The human brain performs thousands of tasks, and we are usually unaware of most of them. Patients with dementia, due to brain damage, often become frustrated when they cannot perform simple daily chores they used to be capable of doing. This alone is enough to put many into a depression.

However, not all individuals suffering from dementia have depression, although those who have both dementia and depression will demonstrate improvement in their memory once their depression is treated. Accordingly, it is important to treat the symptoms of depression in those with dementia in order to give the patients better quality of life as well as their caregivers and family members an easier time to cope with their dementia problems.

One of the behavioral symptoms of dementia is social withdrawal -- a result of inability to respond and communicate with others, as well as a way of coping when things get too complicated for the dementia mind. In communication, sensory input is important. Persons with dementia may remember only partially what they have just heard, and thus their response represents only part of the message received. Defective communication only accentuates the sense of loss in those with dementia. The result is withdrawal -- which is also a common symptom of depression. It is, therefore, critical to determine if the individual has depression, or simply the symptoms of dementia. Other characteristic symptoms of depression include: weeping; weight loss; change of sleep patterns; fatigue; and preoccupation with health problems. Depression in individuals with dementia should be treated to avoid further strain on their memory loss problem.

In addition to the use of medications to relieve symptoms of apathy and listlessness in depression or dementia, keep the patient mentally and physically active. However, it is important to know the limits -- which means knowing the level of involvement and capability of involvement. Remember, small failures may have damaging, instead of beneficial, results on the dementia mind; likewise, repeatedly telling a depressive individual to snap out of a depression only engenders further frustration without facilitating the recovery.

Stephen Lau

Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau


Monday, July 2, 2018

Is Longevity A Blessing?


Longevity may not be a blessing. There are many who have a long life, but they are unhappy. Loneliness is one of the main problems of those who have longevity: their close friends and loved ones may have passed on, leaving them feel stranded and left alone in this world.

Therefore, it is important to know how to live your life, if you just don’t die! You must know how to live your golden years, just like Santa Claus. Furthermore, you need to understand the happiness wisdom.



This 252-page book is about the wisdom in living in the golden years. This is a comprehensive book on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of successful aging. The book covers frailties and challenges encountered by many seniors in their golden years, such as vision loss, falling, memory impediment, breathing problems, health and money issues, among others. It shows you the wisdom to overcome or cope with them. In addition, it opens the doorway to making new waves to live a meaningful and purposeful life in your golden years. The wisdom is in using Santa Claus as your role model to believe in yourself, to think and act like Santa Claus in your senior years.

To download your copy from Amazon, click here.

Stephen Lau

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Dangers of Negative Emotions


Anxiety, fear, fright, and worry are all negative emotions that are the underlying causes of depression.

All negative emotions, in excess, may lead to depression. For example, if people over praise you, your ego may become inflated; and you may then subconsciously develop fear—fear of not getting more praise, or fear of not living up to the praise. Conversely, if people criticize you, you may also develop distress to overcome the disgrace from the criticism.

Of all human emotions, worry is perhaps the least useful and serves no purpose at all, except causing unnecessary anxiety and developing a depressive mood. The problem with worry is that it focuses on an imaginary future.

According to Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage, who was the author of the famous Tao Te Ching, the ancient classic on human wisdom, “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”

Seeking success and avoiding failure are no more than pride and fear; they are only expressions of the human conditions erroneously perceived by the human mind.

“Success is avoiding failure; avoiding failure is seeking success.
Both originate from fear and pride: the source of human suffering.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 13)

According to Tao wisdom, everything follows the natural order of things; that is, everything is in its proper place and will work out the way it is supposed to work out, irrespective of your worrying and regardless of your deliberate interference to make things happen the way you want them to happen.

Remember, worrying will never change the outcome. According to Lao Tzu, if you water your dreams with worry and fear, you will produce weeds; if you water your dreams with optimism and solutions, you will cultivate growth and success. Remember, you manifest not what you want but what you are and what you think.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sudden Death


Sudden death

Nowadays, it is possible to prevent sudden death due to cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of cardiac function, which may result in sudden death. Like an electrical pump, your heart generates electricity in its upper chamber, sending signals through pathways in your heart to make all the muscle cells contract at once in order to produce your heartbeat. Through this intricate process, blood is pumped through your heart valves into all your body organs so that they, too, can do their work properly. Any malfunctioning, however, may lead to cardiac arrest, causing sudden death when the heart stops beating.

A person whose heart has stopped will lose consciousness and stop normal breathing, and the pulse and blood pressure will be absent. Sometimes there are no warning signs prior to cardiac arrest, but in other cases people can experience dizziness or fainting spells. Sudden loss of consciousness or death often occurs during cardiac arrest.

The good news is that if you can prevent cardiac arrest, you can prevent sudden death resulting from it. With the advancement of medical science, it is not difficult to identify the causes of heart disease and the development of its related health problems. Prevention of heart disease is always better than the cure. Prevention of heart attacks is avoiding sudden death due to cardiac arrest. However, the cooperation of the patient is critical to the prevention of symptomatic coronary artery heart disease. That is to say, the patient also plays a pivotal part in preventing cardiac arrest, and hence the possibility of sudden death.

What the patient can do is to modify his or her risk pattern through lifestyle changes. True enough, the patient cannot change the genetic factor, the age factor, and the gender factor, but the patient can change the lifestyle, in particular, the eating habits, to reduce the onset of symptom-free silent myocardial ischemia as well as symptomatic coronary artery disease.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) has notably contributed to one of the most overfed and undernourished populations in the world. More than 60 million Americans are overweight. Worse, obesity is accompanied by poor nutrition. With the exception of those few individuals suffering from metabolic abnormalities, such as under-active thyroid, obesity is just inexcusable overindulgence of foods loaded with fat and cholesterol. Changing dietary habits is the solution to problems related to cardiac arrest, including the potential of sudden death. Dietary therapy may seem to be a simple solution, yet it is a difficult one to implement. The patient needs to be empowered with knowledge of cardiac arrest and its relationship to diet.

It is almost impossible to initiate any meaningful dietary change if the patient does not see the need to do so. In brief, watch your body weight. Read food labels and consume foods low in calories. Use behavior modification through mind power to create a "thin mind." Reduce your dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day. Avoid foods rich in cholesterol, including meats, egg yolks, dairy products, and organ meats, such as liver. Eat oat bran to facilitate the removal of cholesterol. Avoid saturated fats, which should be less than 10 percent of the total calories consumed. Even polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as soft margarine, vegetable oils, should be reduced to a minimum. The total consumption of fat should be less than 30 percent of the total calories.

Dietary therapy, which is the mainstay of treatment of heart disease, is always preferred to drug therapy, which is never a long-term solution to health problems. Only when dietary controls prove ineffective, then drug therapy should be used. In addition to dietary therapy, exercise therapy also plays a pivotal part in preventing sudden death due to cardiac arrest. Despite the controversy over the benefits of exercising, repeated scientific studies have proved a definitive statistical link between a sedentary lifestyle and heart attacks.

What you eat and how you live your life may impact the development of cardiac arrest, which is often the cause of sudden death.

Given the potential of sudden death, why should you focus your mind on depressive thoughts about the past or worries about the future? Instead, focus your mind on what you can do now to avoid any sudden death that may happen to you if you don’t take care of your health.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Understanding Depression Medications


Depression medications are many, and they all have many pros and cons. 

What Antidepressant Drugs Can Do

Depression medications are often the frontline treatments for depression. This is especially the case with a severe depressive episode.

Why are depression medications necessary?

It is like you cut your finger. You need to use a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding. You don’t think of how or why you cut your finger; you just want to stop the bleeding first. That is exactly how people start using antidepressant drugs to treat their mind disorders. But the problem is that depression is an addictive disorder of the mind in that it recurs repeatedly; it is like repeatedly cutting your finger.

What can depression medications do for your brain?

The human brain has two major functions:

Monitoring and regulating body functions
Ensuring survival by looking out for potential dangers

Unfortunately, a depressive mind does not function normally: it fails in three aspects:

Thinking clearly
Solving problems
Controlling emotions

Therefore, when an individual is severely depressed, there is abnormal functioning in the brain due to: 

Faulty brain mechanism to regulate the productions of certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin
Brain damage, often a result of recurrent and repeated depressive episodes

Depression medications, therefore, may play a critical role in managing severe depression in the following ways:

They protect the brain from further damage due to repeated depressive episodes. It is like you repeatedly cut your fingers, so thick and heavy bandage, instead of a Band-Aid, has to be used.
Certain mood-stabilizing drugs, such as lithium, promote the production of a certain protein conducive to the growth and rejuvenation of damaged nerve cells in certain areas of the brain.

All depression medications in some ways suppress serious symptoms of major depression, but they don't solve the problems.

In addition to improving the emotional well-being, depression medications may have other health benefits, such as:

Controlling stress hormone cortisol to prevent damaging blood vessels
Reducing cortisol to strengthen the immune system.
Lowering cortisol to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Controlling the strong emotions that depend on the interactions of certain brain chemicals responsible for emotional response, clear and logical thinking, and a host of biological functions, such as sleep, appetite, energy level, and sex drive.

The imbalance of the chemicals responsible for your emotional well-being may be triggered by any one or all of the following:

Deprivation or disruption of sleep
A stressful life event
Abnormal functioning of certain brain chemicals in h

Depression medications may play a pivotal role in depression, especially if the conditions are severe, which may lead to suicidal thoughts.

What Antidepressant Drugs Cannot Do

All depression medications are designed to regulate your emotions and get your brain back on the right track so that it can respond appropriately to life events.

However, no depression medication can change how you look at the realities of life, or your personality. Above all, antidepressant drugs cannot change your life events  — they still happen to you, with or without your medications.

The Side Effects of Antidepressant Drugs

Any depression medication, irrespective of the type, is a drug, and, as such, is a chemical that may have impact on your overall health and well-being.

Take Prozac as an example. Nearly everyone knows someone who is taking Prozac. It is one of the most widely prescribed and controversial prescription drugs for major depression.

Prozac, including Zoloft and Paxil, is a new generation of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI), which “selectively” utilize the serotonin in your brain by blocking the degradation of serotonin, and hence improving any mental disorder due to the lack of serotonin.

Given that the serotonin system is the most widespread neurotransmission system in your brain, it affects many of your body functions, resulting in many adverse side effects.

The bottom line: avoid all antidepressant medications, wherever possible because they don't solve your life problems, and, worse, you may become addictive to them. Remember, depression is an addictive mind disorder that strives to escape from the inescapable.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, June 18, 2018

Tao and Adversities


TAO and Adversities

Life is never smooth sailing, and life journey is always a bumpy ride. Tao wisdom may help you in the art of living well. Tao wisdom comes from the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage who authored the immortal Chinese classic Tao Te Ching, which has been extensively translated into many languages worldwide. Tao wisdom can show you how to heal your pain and sorrow.

For example, after the death of a dear friend or someone close to you, you may experience a period of denial—refusing to accept the harsh reality of death. This is the human mind's way of protecting us from painful emotions associated with grief and sorrow. Tao wisdom emphasizes the dualism of life: that is, good and bad co-exist just as happiness and sorrow; and they complement each other. Without sorrow, there will be no happiness, and one gives way to the other somehow and some time.

Sorrow may bring anger: anger with yourself or whoever responsible for the death of your loved one. The human mind always looks for an answer or an explanation of why something undesirable happened. If you blame yourself, then guilt and regret may ensue; if you blame others, anger is generated. According to Tao wisdom, anger is the source of human sufferings. Anger originates from desires and expectations that are not met or fulfilled.

The next phase is bargaining with God about reversing what has happened to you. You use "what if?" and "if only" sort of pleas to bargain for second chances. Tao wisdom says you should live in the present, and not the past which was gone, nor the future which is uncertain. According to Tao wisdom, you simply embrace whatever that comes along in your life without judgment.

After the initial denial, reality begins to sink in. You start to feel the bereavement that cause you to sink into deep depression with negative emotions of grief, regret, and sorrow. This is the darkest or even the longest stage of grief and sorrow.  Spontaneity is of one the essentials of Tao wisdom; it means everything in life follows a certain natural order, such as the four seasons, or life becoming death. Understanding the natural order of things may deliver you from your depression and lift you out of the darkness of sorrow.

The way to overcome pain and sorrow is acceptance. Sooner or later, you will come to terms with the death of your loved one when you become aware that everything is going to be OK, that you will survive the loss of your loved one, and go on living as if everything is a miracle even though your life may be different without your loved one.

Tao wisdom is profound human wisdom that requires you to have an empty mind free from pre-conditioned thinking. Living in the present enables you to become mindful of your thoughts so as to have clarity of mind, which is human wisdom. With wisdom, you begin to see things as they really are and not as what you “think” they may be. More importantly, it allows you to let go of all your attachments, including your attachment to your ego, to material things, and to your loved ones. Letting go lets you see the nature of everything, including pain and sorrow, and even death.

To find out more about the profound wisdom of Tao, click here.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Mental Disorder

There has been much controversy over gun control after much gun violence, such as a reporter and her camera man being gunned down in front of the TV camera, school shootings, campus violence, and the recent Las Vegas massacre.  

Gun violence has been attributed to the mental illness of the aggressors and killers. But do they really have mental illness?

First of all, what is mental illness? 

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Did all these gunmen really have problems in their daily functioning? I don't think so. Some of them were able to write lengthy manifestos before gunning down their victims; some were able to go to social media to brag about their prospective shooting; some were able to plan their killing with logistic details and accuracy. Did they behave like those with mental illness? I don't think so.

Their behaviors might seem to be inexplicably cruel, inhuman, and unconscionable. But they were by no means mentally ill. They simply could not let go of their ego (they all felt rejected by society, not having a girlfriend or low self-esteem)

Maybe the wisdom of Lao Tzu, also known as Tao wisdom (The word "Tao" comes from the ancient Chinese classic "Tao Te Ching" the only book written by Lao Tzu, which has become one of the most translated works in world literature) can explain why those killers had that inexplicable mindset to kill in order to attract attention. 

That unique but complex mindset a result of not "letting go." In life, we all have to learn how to let go of everything, including life itself.  Throughout life, we have to let go of our children (when they go to college, get married, or die ahead of us); we have to let go of material things, such as career, money etc.); we have to let go of our memories (memories of the unpleasant in the form of anger, bitterness, or vengeance, as well as memories of the pleasant in the form of desires and expectations). If we do not and cannot let go of our emotions, we develop mind disorder, which is compulsive mental obsession of one thing to the exclusion of everything else.

This is how the perplexing mindset of a killer is developed. An individual is fired from his job. His perceptions of disappointment, dissatisfaction. injustice, racial prejudice and discrimination, among others, become registered in his  mind as memories. Without the power of letting go, that individual's mind will continue to generate more negative thoughts in the subconscious mind until the breaking point. If that individual has an aggressive or a violent nature, then he may resort to gun violence. .

It is all about letting go, which is the essence of Tao wisdom. But why is it so difficult to let go? It is all because of the ego-self. We all have an ego -- which makes us feel self-important. Careers, relationships, money, material things, and success -- they all inflate our ego. So, to let go of all these things, we must let go of the ego first and foremost. 

To illustrate my point, the gunman who gunned down the reporter and her cameraman was fired, and his ego was completely deflated, leading to negative emotions that he could not let go of. Obsession is the culmination of not letting go. The killer was not mentally ill; he was obsessed with his deflated ego that he would not let go of.

Be A Better and Happier You With Tao Wisdom may help you let go of your ego first and then other things that prevent you from living your life as if everything is a miracle.

Not letting go is the underlying cause of mental disorder leading to violence.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, June 11, 2018

Suicide Is All About the Mind


The suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade last week shocked and stunned the world and left millions of people asking the  question: “Why?”

“It stands to the everlasting credit of science that by acting on the human mind it has overcome man’s insecurity before himself and nature.” Albert Einstein

Suicide is all about the mind—the "thinking" mind; more specifically, how the mind functions. The human mind plays a pivotal role in suicide: it could be the underlying “cause” of many problems related to depression; on the other hand, it could also be the "antidote" of depression, leading to suicide. That is to say, the human mind is a double-edged sword: it could create many “problems” for depression, as well as provide many “solutions” to depression. 

The thinking mind plays several major roles in your life, especially in relation to depression and suicide

Life is about experiences, which are composed of thoughts of those experiences by the human mind. According to James Allen, the author of As A Man Thinketh, men are “makers of themselves” and the human mind is the “master-weaver, by both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance.” Accordingly, you may have become who you and what you are by way of your thinking mind over the years; in short, you are the sum of your own thoughts. Therefore, your thinking mind plays a pivotal role in your life.

First and foremost, you must fully understand the major roles of your mind in your everyday life and living, and how it may work for you or against you with respect to your depression.

Perceptions and Realities

“Everything you perceive, externally, is the manifestation of some internal part of you. If it was not, it would not be present in your perceived reality.” Tony Warrick

Your mind perceives all your life experiences through your five senses: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. To most people, seeing is the most important perception; however, what they see may not be the absolute reality, because their visual perceptions may be conditioned by what they see, and distorted by many other factors during the processing of their perceptions. Remember, it is the intuition of your soul that really perceives your reality. The wise have known for a long time that what we know through our eyes are not the same as the intuition of the soul. If that is the case, sadly, most people rely on what they see, thinking that "seeing is believing," and thus lose themselves in external things.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Depression Is Affected By How You Process Your Life Experiences

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you ...