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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Depression and Money

In the United States, consumer debt is escalating at a stunning pace to the tune of more than 2.5 trillion dollars. From Wall Street to Washington, many are counting on consumers to use their credit cards to jump start the sputtering global economic engine all over again. However, the United States is facing an economy in which 70 percent of its economic output depends on consumer spending. Now that the consumers are over their heads with massive debt, any sustainable economic recovery in the near future is but a wishful thinking.

So, be prepared for a longer and deeper recession. There will be more difficult times ahead. No matter what, believers have to live and survive on faith.

To survive in this economic crisis, a believer needs Biblical wisdom to survive on faith that has little to do with being poor or rich.

According to Solomon, neither is prosperity a sign of being blessed, nor is poverty an indicator of being spiritual. Solomon asked that he not be left in poverty or riches:

"Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." (Proverbs 30:7-9)

Poverty may make a person bitter and depressed, while prosperity may turn a person away from God.

In addition, Jesus said that prosperity being more of a stumbling block than a stepping stone to salvation: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24)

However, Biblical wisdom to live in faith will make all things possible, whether in poverty or prosperity. Jesus said: "With people, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

But faith alone, without works, is not enough.

"You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (James 2:24)

Therefore, to survive on faith, you need not only to have the wisdom in the right concept of money, but also to put it into practical application in your daily life. Your relationship with money in terms of practical material matters is a reflection of your ultimate relationship with God.

To survive on faith in tough economic times is the tallest order requiring the observation and application of three Biblical principles:

(1) The Biblical principle of gratitude: Be grateful for what you have, and stop complaining of your lack. God may have given you less than others, but everything is relative. Presently, you may be struggling from paycheck to paycheck; you may be working hard, but still can hardly keep your head above water.

"You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes." (Haggai 1:6)

(2) The Biblical principle of sharing with others: The more you give away, the more you will receive. It is not the other way around: receiving more before giving away more.

(3) The Biblical principle of God owns it all: God, who owns everything, does not need your money. Jesus taught that followers of God must put Him first.

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)

God should be your first priority, not your concern of poverty or prosperity. With faith, God will take care of all your needs.

Because God owns it all, your money is not yours, and you are only a steward of God's money. Living in faith helps you stay focused on these Biblical principles related to everyday practical money matters. Accordingly, managing your money becomes your responsibility. Good money management leads to financial freedom even in difficult economic times. This is Biblical wisdom to survive on faith.

Living in faith means believing that God can do anything that He chooses to do, including providing material things, such as better jobs and more money. However, there is one uncontested truth: No one has ever created wealth without learning how to handle money wisely, nor without applying what they have learned. 

To read my book TAO The Way to Biblical Wisdom, click here.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, June 4, 2018

No Comparison, No Depression

No Comparison, No Depression

Depression is a mind disorder, which affects brain chemicals, which distort how the mind thinks. Therefore, it is important to understand what causes the disorder in the first place. Taking anti-depressants   may control the symptoms, but without addressing its cause.

Human thoughts are generated by the human mind through its perceptions. Oftentimes we compare ourselves with others, or simply with our own past, and thus subconsciously create our own negative thoughts that depress us.

There was an ancient Chinese fable of a stone cutter who worked so hard at 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

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

2 FREE Books for You

These two books are FREE for download on AMAZON from May 29 to June 2, 2018.

The Happiness Wisdom
By Stephen Lau

Many are unhappy not because of what they have experienced throughout their life journeys, but because they don't have the human wisdom to perceive and process what they've experienced.

Happiness is a state of mind, due to the the perceptions of the human mind. Change your perceptions to change your so-called realities. Empower your mind with human wisdom -- ancient wisdom from the East and the West, conventional wisdom, and spiritual wisdom -- to think differently to have totally different perspectives of what may have made you happy or unhappy.

To get your FREE digital copy, click here.

TAO The Way to Biblical Wisdom
by Stephen Lau

A complete translation of Lao Tzu's immortal classic Tao Te Ching with respect to the Holy Bible.

Learn and understand the ancient human wisdom from China in order to attain Biblical wisdom.

To get your FREE digital copy, click here.

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

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 ...