Tips on Happiness and Improvement at Work and with Co-workers

We can all related to work. It’s how we bring bread to the table and survive in our cement jungle. Amy Quinn from Bootstrapper sent me a kind email informing me their new blog post, Work Happy: 25 Ways to Improve Your Mood When People Around You Are Miserable. It’s a good read with useful and practical tips. Below I share some of my own comments regarding each point on their list.

  1. Choose to be happy. Every moment is a choice. Being happy is one of them. Being at peace is a step above. If you cannot be happy, at least choose to be at peace. You cannot control anything other than yourself and your choice. Choose how you respond. Choose to be at peace. When you are calm and at peace, you can analyze and respond in a more optimal way than not.
  2. Make friends. I endorse that having genuine friends at work helps because I am lucky to have a few. Not only can they offer encouragement, it is helpful to discuss things with people who have the same scope. It can be difficult to explain to someone outside of the environment.
  3. Do things you love. If you hate every aspect of your job, and it is a permanent job, it’s time to make a plan to move on.
  4. Avoid particularly negative coworkers. There are people who are energy drainer. They suck your energy dry by constantly complaining and being angry at everything and the world. If you are not careful, they can infect you with their negativity. Avoiding coworkers can sometimes be difficult. The ability to be at peace is what can keep you from harm here.
  5. Meditate. Meditation is useful beyond that it helps you to relax. Superficially, you notice your muscles are tense and try to relax them. However, meditation involves activities on an inner level, where you identify your thoughts and emotions using awareness. By seeing them, you understand and resolve them because you see that they are all but illusions created by our ego. This is the ability of awareness. This is what helps you to relax because thoughts and emotions create tension in the body. This is my view of meditation in a nutshell. Meditation is a great way to practice awareness and to attain true peace.
  6. Take a walk. All the sitting impairs your body circulation. Pressure on the rear, pressing of the arms on desk, tension from bad posture, and simple immobility all restrict your blood flow. Walking will get your circulation going again and get oxygen into your body. Only with sufficient oxygen can your brain function efficiently. In the least, stand up and stretch.
  7. Clean and organize your desk I hate clutter. A clean desk gives me peace.
  8. Listen to music I do this all the time. Great way to focus and block out coworkers. I share a compact office with 2 other guys. I suggest Sony fontopia headphones that satisfy my need for sound, noise blockage, and price. Either MDR-EX51LP, or MDR-EX90LP if you want improved sound and clarity and got the cash (affiliate links).
  9. Personalize your desktop I suggest a few photos. They remind you of the people who make you smile.
  10. Eat better A balance diet is a given whether you work or not.
  11. Smile Smiling works many facial muscles which helps to release tension. Either way, follow the saying, fake it til you make it because smile is contagious. You will be happier when you make people around you happier.
  12. Concentrate on working towards a goal Having multiple tasks on the job is a frequent occurrence. In many companies, it’s probably a given for the employees. Concentrating on finishing one thing at a time will help. By shortening the long list of tasks, you reduce anxiety and lessen the chance for you mulling over the list instead of doing what you need to do. If situation allows, finish the smaller items first.
  13. Make someone’s day. Giving is receiving. It’s also how you make friends. If not friends, you make allies. If not allies, you make non-enemies. Give because you want to give. Give because you choose to give. But give in ways that are appropriate in work setting.
  14. Count your blessings Try to count the positive things about your own company next time you feel the urge to complain. Let’s be honest. There are things to complain for every company. Quite often, it’s a case of the grass is greener on the other side.
  15. Find the humor in it. Humor helps to maintain a light-heartedness. You will suffer a stroke or seizure if you get serious about every details happening at work. If you think you cannot find any humor, go read Dilbert. I also recommend Pearls before Swine for good laughs.
  16. Use aromatherapy. I never tried this in office, but I know for a fact that smell is one influential sense for human. Just look at relationship, how smell can be a great turn-on… or turn-off… Maybe I should consider some fragrant plants in the office.
  17. Treat yourself. I think people treat themselves too much in the office. It’s more like indulgence. It’s a chocolate, donut, and soda feast… The scale is tipping over…
  18. Change your lighting. Your eyes are very important instruments.
  19. Shake it off. Back to the point about finding peace. If you are truly at peace, no one can shake you. You can go back to finding humor too.
  20. Help out coworkers. You are stuck at work anyways. Why not try to be helpful to the human race? Some people may just return the favor. Don’t expect it though.
  21. Try to relate. You both are human beings. You both work at the same place. You both are trying to win some bread home. You both are doing your best to be happy. Wow, so many things in common already and probably many more. Don’t be so quick to judge and get angry. You maybe in the same boat. This is empathy. This will help you make friends.
  22. Look your best. This one depends on personal preference. Some people don’t care. Some people do. I do it because it makes me feel more comfortable and confident when I’m well groomed. Plus, appearance does have an impact on others’ impression on you. It’s shallow but yet, undeniable.
  23. Get plenty of rest. I got all those sleep debt from college days. I’m paying them back now. Scientifically, your body breaks down toxins and deal with bacteria while you are sleeping. These processes only happen during different stages of sleep. So if you consistently do not sleep enough, you are slowly poisoning yourself. That’s also why adequate sleep can save you from the rage of the pimple army.
  24. Take your vitamins. I took them for a period of time with no apparent effect. If you have a balance diet, you shouldn’t have to take supplement.
  25. Get out of the office. How long can your body sustain certain productivity level doing work? I’m quite sure it’s not 10-12 hours on a persistent basis. It is important to maintain a work-life balance. Time to get your life priorities straight.

Originally posted 2007-12-15 20:44:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

New Year Resolution is Silly

It’s that time of the year again. It’s that time of the year where everyone sets grandeur plans and shouts that those plans shall get accomplished. It’s that time of the year where gym is all jammed, albeit temporarily. Oh, new year resolution, allow me to say a few words about how silly that is.

It’s ok to talk and have fun talking about it… it’s still silly though.

Silliness of Emphasis on Weight Loss

As much as we always talk about positive thinking and affirmations and as much as we emphasize aggression in our society, losing weight on the contrary is such a defensive maneuver while positivity in this context implies becoming healthy. Losing weight does not mean becoming healthy.

While losing weight is usually a natural side effect in the process of becoming healthier, the way people lose weight often neglects the restoration of the body to a healthy state and worse yet, they sometimes do things that further undermines health, JUST to lose weight. As such, speaking, we are missing the point logically and pragmatically.

Silliness of Emphasis on New Year Resolution

What I really mean is not that new year resolution is completely and utterly silly. It is symptomatic for the fact that people cannot act or achieve without setting a goal.

I mean that the way we are emphasizing new year resolution is silly because in doing so, we completely neglect to look at our entire life as a complete process. We are treating our lives as a repeated process of going from point A to point B. It is easier to think like that but it is also far from reality. When we get so narrow-minded by goal, it is equivocate to mistaking a tree for the whole forest.

I mean that because, we had so focused on these small steps, milestones, we never get down to thinking about the character that we want to be as a person and what we really want to in life. The importance of character to a person is like what a wine connoisseur called “body” in wine.

So maybe instead of new year resolution, we should have life resolution and that is to an on-going effort to work on our characters.

The difference in questions is “What am I going to do this year?” vs. “What am I going to do with myself in life?” or “What kind of person shall I become?”. Which one is more aspiring?

A more concrete example is the questions “How do I become president?” vs. “How can I serve my fellow citizens?” Note the difference.

Who you are and aspire to be drives your behaviors and habits. You cannot change who you are without first facing who you are, in its entirety, without self-deceit. And then go from there.

Silliness of Rugged Individualism

It is too easy to say it’s all genetics and that we are born and grown up in certain way and that is that. But genetics and conditions only afflict on us a tendency which does not have to be, and to say otherwise, you are surrendering to the belief that there is no free will.

If you had not sit down and take the time and effort to re-examine yourself, you are not going to create any real and permanent change. You’ll forever be a random juxtaposition of concepts and ideas that happened upon or drilled into you. You can enforce short-term change that may work for a little while but never lasts. Change by repression without understanding does not liberate. That’s why there’s what is call the “rebound.”

You cannot change who you are until you see who you are. It sounds simple but what is simple is always most difficult. It boils down to…

(And if you continue living your life without ever done a self-examining process, you will forever be either what others want you to be and/or a pretension of who you THINK you are.)

Rugged individualism – to shout “I am who I am” – without ever first discover who it is that you are, is silly and leads to insecurity in ourselves, and insecurity turns us into sheeps and conformists because we will feel that need to band together (and eliminate those who are different) to feel a bit more secure. And that is the state of affair we are in. And that is what we are teaching the next generation by being great “role models”.

Silliness is that rugged individualism leads to conformity.


People who rebound had never internalize their change… they didn’t really change in the first place because they had not discover the inner character that drives their behaviors.

Who you are shows. As Emerson once said, “Who you are screams so loudly into my ears that I cannot hear what you say.” That is indeed true that your character will be obvious to someone who pays attention and is aware.

Thus, it is helpful to: Focus not on what you said you will do. Focus not on what you think you did. Focus on observing your own action in various contexts to understand who you really are. Likewise, if you care to observe and understand others.

We, national and global populace (even most of our so-called leaders), are so accustomed to focusing on very short-term and “me-me-me” while I sincerely believe, a complete human being (shall we say an evolved, wise, and intelligent human being?) requires also the ability to think far and wide.

The prediction is: Until we, as individual, as fellow earth dweller, as global citizen, go through a period of self-examination and only after follow with actions that is base on self-understanding and thus also our connection with our surrounding world, the world will continue to get worse, before it gets better. There will still be more and more man-made crisis – be it medical, environmental, financial, etc. – (and probably made even worse by natural phenomena) in the coming years, until we had confronted ourselves. That’s the prediction.

Happy new year and I wish everyone a wonderful, peaceful year ahead/

Originally posted 2012-01-01 00:15:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Take Responsibility, No Blaming

Nowaday I think we as people are some very curious creatures. At the same time of possessing a mentality that we are capable to control anything and everything, inside and outside ourselves, we are also finding more and more excuses to promote the notion that we cannot help ourselves of becoming the way we are (ie. genetics).

However, it is my sincere belief that at some point in life, we have to begin to take true responsibility. We have to acknowlege that my world, my life, ME!, is a direct result of my intention, thoughts, and decisions because if we don’t, we are in fact implicitly acknowledging that we are helpless little human beings, which is exactly against what we think and what we want to think we are anyways.

I accept 100% my being as it is and I take full responsibility for it (as my own doings).

There, that’s basically all I should need to say today…what? Explanation…arrrr…fine..

As a child, there are a lot of decisions made for us, which are not under our control. But as we grow and become physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially independent, we have to start taking responsibility of ourselves. We are no longer the responsibilities of other people (parents, friends, relatives, bf/gf…).

To advance into adulthood is the realization that my reality is my responsibility.

I do not blame others for what happened to me.

It’s a bit unfortunate that our current society is built upon blaming others people, just take a look at the judicial system. “My son died of alcohol poisoning in a frat party…I’ll sue his friends…I’ll sue the school…” C’mon, I know it’s a tragedy for the parents, but the kid made his own decision to do what he did and he met his destiny. (yes, this may sound very harsh) And that’s yet without saying PERHAPS that the parents lack certain discipline/teachings in certain area for the child.

I have also witness real life example of someone blaming another for things that happened (actually, not happened) because of his own decisions. Quite sad.

Ok, so that was a very strong example. The idea is a bit hard to swallow and to get into our system. But again, without this, we are saying that we are helpless. I assure you there is a new sense of freedom if you do grasp it :)

Our brain is the most powerful possession that we have. It does so much processing of information for us everyday. However, we cannot fully utilize its power if we do not accept responsibility in order to make decisions on our lives base on those information, and perhaps with some gut feeling. Without first accepting responsibility, we had indirectly given up choosing our own decision, choosing our own reaction. We are letting others to make the decision for us.

If we come a full realization of this idea responsibility, we can become a much more proactive person and be able to accomplish many things in life! We worry less about what others think or feel about us, because that’s their decisions to make. All we can do is make the choice to give our best efforts, and the rest will have its flow. What others think cannot dictate our feelings because we are master of our reality.

I’m responsible for my reality and I’m taking control of it.

Combining with awareness, we should…

  • be aware when we commit a mistake, realize it’s our responsibility. Then face the result, take corrective actions, and learn from the mistake
  • also be aware when we make an improvement because of ourselves. Then recognize ourselves and feel mighty good about it :)

Originally posted 2012-03-20 09:45:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Size Does Not Matter

One thing I notice in Japan was smallness. No, I am not insulting their people. No, I am not insulting their men, either. Actually, many girls there are very cute… uh, yeah, getting off track.

I should say — large space does not matter.

Take a look at this picture.

It is a picture of my hotel room in Kyoto. There is barely space between the bed and table for my butt. It reminds me much about the living space from my past years in Hong Kong.

But, I am not complaining.

The common sense we have is — “Oh, we got so many things, we need more space”

In a way, our desire for space is directly related to our desire for things. Conversely, when we get more space in the house, we often want to fill that space with more things. Oh, what a dilemma.

Perhaps, we can consider the following chain of thought — “Oh, we got so many things, perhaps we need to make space by getting rid of things, that we don’t need, or use.”

Personally, I loooooove having space, and also cleanliness. They are very soothing.

Let’s face it, most of our stuffs end up sitting around collecting dusts. Instead, why don’t we carefully consider what we reeeeeeeeeally need, and if we are getting something, make sure it is something we will use frequently?

Oh, I am such a genius. Just kidding.

Another thing that is small is the portion of a meal. Each dish and even hamburgers from McDonald’s are smaller, which sucks for me because I am constantly hungry from my intense gym’ing. But for most Americans, who sit most days in office and sit some more in front of TV at home, can be a great idea.

That leads me to my final thoughts.

Perhaps we can use more limits. Yes, you heard me, limits, instead of more freedom.

Perhaps too much freedom had lead us to lots of indulgence, and indulgence is a result of not being clear about what is truly important. More limits in our environments force us to value what we have and cherish the resources that are available.

In other words, physical limits can be a great catalyst for internal growth.

Using the living space as an example, if you have so few square feets, there are only so many things you can have. And what you have will be what you need or truly find important.

Or if parking size is like this, you think twice before getting an SUV!

Ok, the car example is not very good. The living situation is too different. But about driving in Japan, most people from America probably can’t drive in Japan, uh, due to poor driving skills. I personally DON’T want to drive there.

Anyways, I want to say this…

Evolving the idea on limit. Next time when we are frustrated and want to complain, or feel like we are suffering immensely, or seem to have insatiable desires for other things, consider that, there will forever be somebody somewhere else who are a lot worse off than we are.

IMG_3257Maybe things could be better, but they can be a lot worse. Look at this picture featuring the tight quarters in Tokyo Metro’s human sardines.

I guess that is why seeing the world, experiencing different things, how people live differently, are so important. So we realize how things can be worse.

On this note, I attribute my non-narrow perspective and sometimes unique and bizarre mentality to my fortunate experience (well, also unfortunate because it sucked big times sometimes) of having moved and lived in drastically different places at an age (12) that I could make my own perception already. However, I give myself credits for choosing to look at both sides of things rather than seeing only the green on the other side.

Last thing, totally unrelated, is a picture near the famous cross section in Shibuya, Tokyo by Center Gai (センター街). Pretty, eh? (It was shot in Lost in Translation too — one of my favorite movies)

Originally posted 2009-07-17 01:06:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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