Looking Beyond Labels

People loooooove to label themselves, and even more so people love to label other people. Sometimes they want and work hard to get certain labels put on themselves, but sometimes, they do not like the ones being put on them. There are lots of labels…

Geek, jock, redneck, obese, depressed, tree-hugger, left-wing, right-wing, middle-class, super-rich, black, white, yellow, atheist, Christian, Jewish, Methodist, Protestant…

At the same time a label is attached, a set of complimentary attributes is attached on whomever the label belongs. Moreover, everyone has his own set of adjectives to slap on to other people. It works like this… You are a geek, and therefore you must be a genius who likes Star Wars but are socially inept and boring. Or, you look like a jock, and therefore you must be proficient in many sports but you probably do not have a brain and will always act like a frat boy.

You can obviously observe that everyone is different in his or her unique ways. However, there is a distinction from simply observing, accepting, understanding, and appreciating the differences than labeling each other in a desecrating and segregating manner, which is what labels are mostly about nowadays. It is absurd and stupid but it is happening all around us with high frequency in our society. People are people. People are not labels.

Do you know the notion that often follows implicitly the sentences that label?

I am such and such and you are not…
You are such and such…
…therefore, I am better than you. Ha!
…therefore, I am right and you are wrong. Loser!
…therefore, you suck. Go home and cry to your mama!

It is natural human instinct to seek security, comes as a survival instinct of the animal kingdom. People probably flock to these labels because label provides them a sense of security by allowing them to associate with groups. However, there comes a time when we need to see that it is hurting us all together. People have complexity and at the same time, lots of commonality.

Label separates us. Label creates hurt feelings. Label often leads to anger, resentment, and hatred. Label limits a person within what the label stands for. In a way, label is another way ego manifests itself, where a set of “should-have”, “should-be” attributes and qualities that is provided through labels.

Label makes us judge prematurely, and keeps us from genuinely connecting with people. It holds us back from the exerting the effort to get to know others for who they really are. What we can do instead is, throw away the labels and open the mind and heart to truly listen, understand, and feel who someone really is. This is the way to create meaningful relationship.

One great but sad example is how people are “diagnosed” with depression and other so-called physcological symptoms these days. You can tell I am not a big fan of this. It is sad because these fellow human beings would get labeled and forever carry a stigma. It is sad because the best cure for many of them is for others to sincerely care, show kindness, and perhaps connect with them as persons. However, once they are labeled, people treat them differently, shun them, and call them creepy, weird…

I am not upset but to use myself as an example… I am Chinese and was born in Hong Kong, and I am a computer science graduate, which tosses me into the geek label. I may have some attributes associated with those labels, but I as a person is so far and remote from being ONLY what those labels denote. I am me, not those labels. I am me, not my name Kin, because name is just something that other people call you, as in label. I am me.

I am especially displeased with the events that label causes in terms of religion. Not that religion is a bad. You are this and I am that, and we cannot be friends. You are atheists and you must be a cruel, cold-blooded being. People focus way too much on what religion they belong — the label — to a level of obsession. Is that what religion is about? Does it really matter which one you or others choose? My answer is no. You know what is one common theme amongst the teachings of all religions, new and old, large or small?

Compassion — a genuine concern and understanding and wish of well being for people and nature because they are all connected.

The moment people focus on labels, the moment they lose sight of compassion. Religion itself has a good purpose, but people have the tendency to lose focus on compassion participating in the other aspects in religion.

Label separates people. I say get rid of all labels. Stop using labels.

Originally posted 2008-05-01 23:16:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Is There A Time in Your Life When You Finally Get It…

I share with you this article that I stumbled upon that I truly enjoyed.

… when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH!

Enough fighting and crying and blaming and struggling to hold on.

Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.
You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you… and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are… and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.
You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself… and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.
You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.
You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that everything isn’t always about you.

So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself… and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.
You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties… and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.
You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.
You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to question the doctrines and values you’ve grown up with, or should never have bought into to begin with.
You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for your next fix.
You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the very foundation upon which you must build a life.
You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing.
You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.
You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes.
You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.
You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.
You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drink more water, and take more time to exercise.
You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.
You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you believe you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working hard for and that wishing for something to
happen is different than working hard toward making it happen.

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance.
You also learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.
You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.
You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom, realizing that a positive attitude is a choice you make every morning when you wake up.
You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people… and you learn not to always take it personally.
You learn that nobody’s punishing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening.
You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.
You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.
You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than your heart’s desire.
You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in your heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best you can and are extremely thankful for all the blessings in your life.

Author Unknown

Originally posted 2009-01-24 00:15:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Terrible June for Stock Market

arrow-down.jpgLet’s be thankful that it’s the 4th of July and the market can take a break from tumbling. The terrible June has left everyone staring at some bloody red balance sheets. Hopefully the market fares better in the 2nd half of the year.

I do not look forward to calculating my networth for June. Oh well.

Now is even more critical to be reminded once again of the important idea of investing long term, instead of dumping the all the stocks and funds at huge loss. As long as you maintain the idea of finding solid investment that provide modest gain and not some get-rich-quick-thingie, whether you went with index fund or not, you should be alright in the long term and hence, best to stay put.

Keyword being “should” because let us not forget that buying into the market does not guarantee return. Even if you buy index funds. Even if you diversify. There is always systemic risk. Perhaps a major catastrophe causes the downfall of the sector of your funds, or the Wall Street somehow disappears, or the global market gets destroyed all together ,or our money system simply disintegrates! Give me your best guess. These are not likely scenario but who knows. Pessimistic? Perhaps. But I am just reminding you that no form of investment guarantees return. It is not a privilege.

Actually, the results of the above-stated disasters may not be that bad. First of all, people are screwed all together in those cases, and as result, we may live in better harmony supporting each other. Yeah, I can be a dreamer sometimes. On another thought, the idea of money may disappear and could return people to the true state of living. Or we may return to an age of the survival of the fittest, which will force people to be physically healthy and capable. Alright, I digress. I am done exercising my imagination.

The current market is a mangled pile of mess that is the result of people desiring unsustainable amount of growth in a short period of time and many of these so-called growth are a result of manual fabrication through layers and layers of abstraction (ie. CDOs). A dozen drunken monkeys in a room probably cause less chaos that that. My opinion is that it will take awhile for it all to untangle. It may even take the next 2-3 years during which we see little to no growth, if no losses, in our investment. But like I said again, we should be looking long-term.

Speaking of long-term, people always quote that the market returns somehwere between 10-12%. I don’t really like that. Past pattern does not predict future, especially the future of a speculative market that is a projection of the ficklest human minds. And when you really think about it, a few decades of data is not even that big of a sample either. People just love pulling statistics out of their donkeys to justify arguments.

Here is the thing, I took a look at the Vanguard Wellington fund that has been around since 1929 and Vanguard’s website said the average return is 8.3%. That gives me some idea and helps set my expectation. I do my diligence in investing — studying, carefully selecting, diversify a good chunk through funs — and I shall be happy if I get a 5-8% return in the long run.

I am in no rush to become rich. The journey is the fun part.

Originally posted 2008-07-03 23:19:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Questions to Ask When You Think about Buying Items

With the over exposure to advertising these days, it is hard to avoid having the urge to buy things. The current inflating prices do not help either. I am a sucker for gadgets and electronics, though I have learned better control myself now. So how do I keep myself from overspending? And how can you curb that urge to fork over the greens to the marketeers? How about asking yourself some of the following questions…

How much enjoyment will I get? Will it be long- or short-lived?
This one can be phrased as, how much will the item adds to your values in life now and/or in the future? For more on this, read Every Spending is an Investment.

How versatile will it be?
Consder how many situations and under how many conditions you can use the items. For example, like a set of computer speakers, there are ones you can get that even satisfy a home theater purpose. Or like an mp3 player, besides using it casually, is it suitable to bring to the gym? or with you jogging or running? So essentially, the more cases you can make use of it, the more valuable it is.

How long will it likely last? And maintenance issues?
Look for warranty and double check reviews for the item’s quality are musts. Plus, the more you have to maintain or fix something, the more it owns you.

Does the cost justify the answers for the quesiton above?
You will have to consider the price, against all the pluses and minuses from the answers for the questions above. Buy what is truly valuable to you, without overspending of course.

Originally posted 2008-06-12 22:19:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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