Wisdom from Books

<b>Wisdom from Books</b>
Stephen Lau's website to help you get the wisdom to live as if everything is a miracle!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Dealing with Life Challenges


Life is full of challenges. But some of us may not remember how challenging life was even when we were young. Many of us struggled simply because we would like to conform to society, to fit in with the norm, or to become what was expected of us. To illustrate, being too fat or too skinny might be challenging. On the one hand, we were curious of the world around us; on the other hand, we wanted to "belong" to some group, or something that we would like to be able to identify ourselves with. 

After we became adults, the challenges have continued in the form of academic education, relationships, career pursuits, and starting a family, among others. The accumulative challenges never seem to let up.

Then, as we continue to age, the challenges may have become not only overwhelming but also insurmountable when we are confronted with infirmities, frailties, illnesses, and the impending imminence of death and dying. 

Is there a solution, or a way out other than death? How do we deal with life challenges?

Yes, dealing with life challenges requires wisdom in living. Throughout life, we might have acquired much knowledge necessary for survival, for living the life we would like to pursue, for reaching the goals we have set for ourselves; but we might have neglected cultivating and intuiting wisdom. Knowledge is accumulation of facts and information; wisdom is deep understanding and internalization of knowledge and its application to everyday living. A knowledgeable person is not necessarily wise, by the same token, a wise person may not be knowledgeable.  

Wisdom in dealing with life challenges necessitates looking at the wider picture of life, which means looking at not just ourselves, but also others around us. As T.S. Elliot, famous the poet, once said "No man is an island." That is, we are all connected with one another one way or the other. Accordingly, we may begin to see everything in perspective, and life may become less challenging. Therefore, focusing on self -- or, according to the ancient Chinese wisdom of Lao Tzu, on the ego-self -- may make us see only our immediate needs and not the teaching moment or another door of opportunity being opened to us. In Lao Tzu's wisdom, living in the present moment holds the key to attaining awareness, which enables us to see the natural cycle of life; understanding the natural order of things eliminates the focus on the ego-self, which is the obstacle to dealing with life challenges. In place of the ego-self is spontaneity, and life no longer has its challenges. 

The Book of Life and Living shows you how to enhance human wisdom to face your daily challenges.

Stephen Lau 
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Stress-Free with Intellect and not Intelligence

Stress-Free with Intellect not Intelligence

According to CNN health news “Learn to Live with It: Becoming Stress-Free”, use your intellect, and not your intelligence, to manage and cope with your everyday stress.

Intelligence is knowledge, which doesn’t help you with stress; intellect, on the other hand, is wisdom, which may help you coping with stress.

Stress comes from the internal, and not the external. Stress originates from the ego-self. You have an ego, and therefore you “expect” things, people, and circumstances to do things your way to satisfy your ego. If they don’t meet your expectations, they become your stressors. NO EGO NO STRESS. You need intellect, which is essentially human wisdom, to let go of your ego in order to be stress-free. It’s just that simple.

Here is the health news:  

“People the world over believe that stress comes from external sources.

One complains of a nagging wife or hysterical husband. Another finds fault with the demands of work or the exploitation of management. Someone else grumbles at summer being too hot or winter being too cold.

Everyone thus lives with the belief that factors outside themselves produce stress -- so their entire focus is on correcting the external world. Yet despite our best efforts to fix these external factors, the problems remain unsolved and our minds continue to be consumed by stress.

Pleasure or pain, joy or sorrow, peace or stress—these are not found in external objects or beings. They are found in the relationship you have with those things.

For example one person finds pleasure in smoking cigarettes. Another detests them. One man may go to his lawyer to divorce his wife while another waits, desperately wanting to marry her. A cigarette produces pleasure to one, pain to another. The same lady produces joy for one, sorrow for another.

In life, be it with business or family, relationships matter. Lack of a proper relationship leads to frustration and builds up stress. Ironically, people take utmost care to choose the "right partner," but fail to set up the "right relationship" with that person -- and lose peace and harmony in the process.

It is not whom or what you meet in life that matters but how you meet it.
Your relationship with the world is entirely dependent on the nature of your inner personality. Your inner personality comprises two things: the mind and the intellect.

The mind desires and feels. The intellect reasons, judges, and decides.

When the intellect loses control over the mind's desires, you become disturbed. Stress is the mental agitation caused by unfulfilled desires. Thus the fundamental requirement for a stress-free life is to develop a strong intellect and control desires.

Intellectual strength is distinct and different from intelligence. Intelligence is mere storage of information—knowledge acquired from external sources and educational institutions, from teachers and textbooks. Any amount of intelligence cannot, per se, develop your intellect. The intellect is developed by individual effort through exercising one's faculty of questioning and reasoning.

With the lack of development of the intellect, people fail to understand that every human being is distinct and different from another—that each is governed by his or her own singular nature.

Therefore, we should assess the nature of each human individually. But few follow this practice in life. Without making individual assessments you are not able to relate to others properly. As a result, you expect one to behave differently from one's fundamental nature.”

The bottom line: let go of your pre-conditioned mindset to think out of the box to attain intellect, and not intelligence, to live a stress-free life. Get the ancient TAO wisdom from China to reverse your thinking.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Love and Marriage


The rate of divorce is skyrocketing in the United States, and the U.S. Census estimates about half of marriages end in divorce.  According to relationship experts, the number of long-term relationships heading towards separation is becoming more frequent with a longer life span and a growing acceptability of divorce. A case in point: former Vice President, who after 40 years of a seemingly happy marriage, decided to separate from his wife, and announced that they would go their own separate ways. 

So what the experts are in fact saying is that people divorce because they have a longer lifespan, and that divorce is no longer a social taboo.

But marriage is about commitment and responsibility. What our society is saying is that individuals have a right to look for something better as long as they have a breath of life in them, or to opt for something more satisfying as long as something is available to them. If that were the foundation of marriage, then why bothered to get married in the first place? Remember, marriage is not a dress that you throw away when it no longer fits you. If you find that your body has outgrown the dress, you can slim down so that you can fit into the dress again, or you can have it altered so that it can fit into you. In other words, life is about changes, and so is marriage. You just have to adapt yourself to these changes, and that makes it  challenging and interesting, and that is what marriage is all about. You don't just walk away from a marriage because you don't like it anymore. A marriage is a lifetime commitment for thick and thin, for better or for worse.

Are you finding yourself in a marriage that you want to get out of, or in a relationship that you don't like?

Only you have the answer.

However, here are some thoughts of Zen wisdom:

First of all, Zen is not an Eastern religion, but an ancient Chinese philosophy based on the wisdom of Lao Tzu, a sage and the author of the famous ancient Chinese classic "Tao Te Ching."

Life is full of problems, so do not strive to seek a solution to all the problems in life. As a matter of fact, too much striving is the source of stress, which may create more stress and therefore more problems than solutions.

Right and wrong co-exist, so do the desirable and the undesirable. In life, embrace what is pleasant, well as what is unpleasant. Just as Sosan, the Zen scholar, said: "To separate what we like from what we dislike is the disease of the mind."

True love is loving without expectations. Love is never having to use someone to make you feel better. Remember, you are who you are, and you are good enough for the one you love. 

Remember, nobody is perfect, including yourself and your spouse.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Why Some People Are Happy and Some People are Unhappy


Holistic wellness of the body, the mind, and the soul has much to do with happiness, which has its origin from personality development over the years.

Sometimes we wonder why some people are always happy while others are always unhappy. Just as Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian author, said in the beginning of his novel Anna Karenina: “Happy families are alike; unhappy families are unhappy in their own ways.”

Indeed, your happiness has much to do with your personality development over your life. In other words, your own life experiences and your perceptions of those experiences not only define and shape your personality but also are uniquely yours. Therefore, it is impossible to say why some people are happy, and why others are unhappy.

Mental happiness and body wellness are interrelated. If you are happy, your body will even heal faster. It’s just that simple.

But happiness is not easy to come by, especially when your mind is not prepared to receive it. The mind needs wisdom to create happiness thoughts to stimulate the brain cells to produce chemicals that make one happy. Genuine human happiness comes from human thoughts that are the components of human personality. Therefore,  understanding personality development may throw some light on why you are happy or unhappy.

But understanding personality development may throw some light on why you are happy or unhappy most of the time.

According to the famous psychologist Erik Erikson, your personality has evolved through several decades of changes and experiences, resulting in who and what you have now become. Therefore, profound human wisdom is to understand how those changes in your life have occurred and shaped your personality, and how adapting yourself to those changes now may still benefit you in the long run. According to Erik Erikson, there are eight life stages. through which we may have gone through to become who and what we are right now. These eight psychosocial development stages are as follows:

Trust and Mistrust

 In this first stage, from birth to age one, we may  experience and develop trust or mistrust that affects how we feel about the benevolence of the world around us.

Do you always have low trust or mistrust in others?

Independence and Doubt

In the toddler stage, we begin to develop our self-trust,  which leads to independence. With self-trust, we begin to learn how to walk. In this stage, however, we may also develop self-doubt that leads to shame later in life. This may be the underlying cause of failing to take risks in later life, missing some golden opportunities to improve our lives, and thus making us feel unhappy and unfulfilled.

Are you always self-confident?

Creativity and Guilt

In preschool years, we begin to exercise our minds to acquire initiative and express creativity. The capability to express freely our initiative and creativity helps us develop the playful and positive side of our nature. Under restraint, on the other hand, we may develop guilt, lack of self-confidence, and inability to get close to others.

Are you always creative and imaginative?

Industry and Inferiority

From age five to eleven, we experience fulfillment in accomplishment or disappointment in failure. This is often a result of acquiring our society’s work ethics. We begin to believe in our abilities and feel motivated to work hard. On the other hand, if we become lazy, we develop poor work habits that may adversely affect our careers later in life.

Are you always puttering from one job to another, always procrastinating and never meeting deadlines?

Identity and Diffusion

In adolescent, we begin to explore ourselves, finding out who we are and what we want out of life. We may channel our energy into a field we love, and derive pleasure from seeing what we have accomplished. This growth in our sense of self determines whether or not we have an “identity crisis.”

Are you always in search for a purpose in life?

Intimacy and Withdrawal

In early adulthood, we develop intimacy, which is a quality of an individual, and not the couple. The ability to develop and maintain a long-term relationship is an asset. However, many of us may experience difficulty in achieving closeness with others, or even maintaining a long-lasting relationship, resulting in inner loneliness that causes us to doubt even our own remarkable accomplishments in life.

Is your life worthwhile when it comes to relationships?

Compassion and Selfishness

In middle age, we become more connected to future generations, as evidenced by being parents, mentors, and supervisors. However, we may also become self-focusing, alienating ourselves from the next generation, and thus creating the “generation gap.”

Do you spend much time focusing on your own needs, instead of those of others?

Ego and Despair

In old age, by letting go of the ego, we accept both our successes and failures, and thus have a healthy perspective on life. However, we may also look back at our own past experiences and the world in general with disdain and regret, and thus we become despaired and unhappy.

Do you think you already have a fulfilled life?

If you wish to be a happier individual, learn to let go of all your attachments, which are the sources of human unhappiness. Human wisdom may not be adequate to help you let go of your attachments in the physical world; you also need spiritual wisdom With the spiritual wisdom from the Bible, you may be able to overcome the reluctance to let go of your attachments. Let go to let God in order to live your life as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, December 17, 2018

Human Natural Gift

Human Natural Gift

We were all born with a natural gift -- freedom from anxiety and fear, expectation and regret, ambition and disappointment. However, as we grow older, we knowingly or unknowingly abuse or misuse that natural gift.

This is how.

We begin to develop our sensations and become affected by them. We all have our five senses: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting; they then become our perceptions and sensations that are stored as memories in our subconscious minds. Over the long haul, these accumulative experiences form our beliefs and personalities, and make us who we are. In other words, these memories become our bondage and we no longer have that innate freedom.

It is difficult to regain that natural gift once we have relinquished it. To illustrate, if we experienced something unpleasant in the past, we might have anxiety and fear that it would happen again. On the other hand, if we experience something pleasant, we would expect it to happen again; our expectations begin to precondition our minds to do certain things that we think will enable us to fulfill that expectations; by doing so, we pick and choose; any wrong choice or decision may lead to regret. By the same token, disappointment may be the consequence of ambition. 

How do we regain that natural gift?

Understand the natural cycle of things. Everything follows a natural cycle: what goes up must come down; the cycle is like the four seasons, or day and night. We, as humans, naively believe that we can change the natural order of things, deluding ourselves into thinking that we can make things happen the way we want them. Not following the natural order stems from the human ego. Accepting things as they are is the pathway to true human wisdom  It is by no means a passive outlook of life: we do what we can, and no more, and with no expectation and no judgment, 

“Good fortune and misfortune are all in one.
Seeking one and rejecting the other,
we become completely confused.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 58)

“There is no gain without loss.
There is no abundance without lack.
We do not know how and when
one gives way to the other.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 42)

Stephen Lau
Copyright © Stephen Lau

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Aging and Money

Growing older sucks, especially when you don't have a lot of money. Your aging and longevity may be impacted by your spending, which has to do with the value of money, which plays a pivotal role as you continue to age. 

No matter how much money you have, make the best and the most of your remaining years; turn them into the golden years of your life in spite of any financial difficulty you may be facing, Remember, life is a task-master: it teaches you not only how to survive in any challenging circumstance but also how to live well, especially in your golden years.

The senior years are most challenging in that all seniors have to come to grips with the changes and challenges they may be facing. On the one hand, they may make them more appreciative of life as well as more proactive to live a meaningful and purposeful life; on the other hand, these challenges and problems may also make them want to give up on life, and thus drifting and deteriorating rapidly.

Money plays a major role in your retirement. You need money to retire, as well as to continue a similar lifestyle that you lead while you are working. Even if you decide to modify or simplify your lifestyle, you still need money.

Yes, money plays a pivotal role in aging and longevity, as well as how you are going to live the rest of your life. Given the importance of money, you need to know what money is all about.

With that goal in mind, you need to estimate the amount of money you need throughout the rest of your years. The amount is also influenced by when you want to retire. That is, retiring at the age of 55 is not the same as retiring at the age of 70, because life expectancy affects your retirement savings. You need to know your assets and liabilities: assets are the things you possess that have value when you exchange them for cash; liabilities are the debts you owe. Your net worth is all your assets minus all your liabilities, and it changes over time because your assets, expenses, and liabilities change too. Therefore, you need to review your financial situation and re-calculate your net worth annually or on a regular basis.

Your aging and longevity are impacted by your spending, which has to do with the value of money, which plays a pivotal role as you continue to age. 

In the past, people could enjoy the blessings of life without spending real money. Nowadays, to many people, enjoyment of life requires money — and lots of it! According to Buddha, craving or desire for material things is the source of all human miseries. Jesus also has this to say about money: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven.” (Luke 18:25)

So, what is the value of money? More importantly, what does money mean to you? Your perceptions of the value of money determine two of the most important things in the rest of your life: how you are going to live the rest of your life; how you are going to spend your money

The value of money should be based on your core values in life, such as integrity, which has little to do with money, and which is an important value that our Creator has bestowed on each one of us. Essentially, integrity is the value of what life has to offer, not the value of things purchased with money. Your core values affect your attitudes towards how you are going to live the rest of your life, irrespective of how much money you have.

The bottom line: spend money wisely according to your needs, and not your wants; be grateful for what you have, and be generous to those who are less fortunate than you age.

The Wisdom of Letting Go: Find out how to let go of your attachments to the material world and live happily in your golden years.

You Just Don't Die! A blueprint for living the rest of your life, if you just don't die.

Go to my website: Health and Wisdom Tips. 

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
  

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Oneness of All Life

In this day and age, to live well is not easy. Contemporary wisdom may provide a blueprint for living, but that may be too inhibiting without giving you true freedom to live the life you want to live. You are not free so long as you indulge indiscriminately in your inclinations to succeed in your life at any cost. You must understand Nature's natural laws and abide by them in order to attain true freedom. Ancient wisdom in the oneness of all life was founded on basic realities of human nature itself. To pursue these realities is the essence in the art of living well.

Contemporary wisdom is exclusive—even to the extent of wishing others fail so that one may succeed in life. In addition, it states that one must do this or do that in order to succeed and live well. Ancient wisdom, on the other hand, focuses on doing whatever one has to do but with a sense of true freedom—the recognition and realization of the wisdom in the oneness of all life.

Wisdom in the oneness of all life is based on one of the basic laws of Nature: that is, we are all inter-connected, just as the famous poet John Donne says: "No man is an island." This universal moral principle leads us to true and lasting freedom and wisdom in living. Once we understand that the life flowing in our veins is the same as that flowing in the veins of others, we will learn how to show love and compassion towards others. After all, we are all created in the image of God, and we are no more than expressions of God.

Wisdom in the oneness of all life frees you from the bondage of anger, competitiveness, disrespect, discrimination, envy, ridicule, and many other negative attitudes of the mind, which adversely influence how you live your life. Jesus' saying of "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and Mahatma Gandhi's advocacy of non-violence must be understood in subtle ways. If you "kill" the enthusiasm of someone, you are "harming" that individual because you are in fact taking away the life within that individual. Remember, love and compassion are expressions of the oneness of all life—a mental attitude that liberates human bondage from self-centeredness and gives freedom in the art of living well.

For more information on wisdom in living, read my books: The Book of Life and Living and TAOThe Way to Biblical Wisdom.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Knowing and Understanding Food Properties

People generally avoid or prefer certain types of food for various reasons: to prevent their predisposition to allergies and food intolerance, such as dairy and wheat products; to satisfy their palates and taste buds; or simply to lose some body weight. For whatever reason, we all have a relationship with food. Therefore, it is important to understand the properties of food, not just their nutritional values.

We eat to live, but not live to eat. To be healthier for longer, we need to understand the properties of food: that is, why we must eat certain types of food, and how they may benefit our health.

One of the differences between the Chinese and the Western approach to diet is that the former does not focus on what and what not to eat, while the latter emphasizes the nutritional values of food. In Chinese medicine, food is medicine, and the focus is on the properties of food, rather than the nutritional values of food. The Chinese believe that all types of food have their own respective values, only to a greater or lesser degree.

In Chinese medicine, internal balance and harmony are essential to health and wellness of an individual. To attain that harmonious balance between opposing and yet interrelated principles that govern the well-being of the body, mind, and spirit of an individual, we must understand the properties of food, and how these properties may affect the internal balance, which holds the key to health and wellness.

In Chinese medicine, the human body is classified according to the body's thermal nature. When food is digested, it creates energetic properties that affect the body's temperature. Accordingly, there are two body types: the cold and the hot, represented by the yin and the yang, respectively. A human body that is hot has the characteristics of  a red complexion, dry skin, an outgoing personality, and logical thinking, while a cold body has the opposite characteristics of a pale complexion, moist skin, a quiet demeanor, and intuitive mentality.

It must be stressed that the yin and the yang do not represent sexual gender; rather, they represent different and varying aspects within an individual. Also, an individual does not possess all the aspects and characteristics of one body type; instead, an individual has a combination of the two body types, with one type being more predominant than the other type. Hence, balance is essential for health and wellness, and such balance can be achieved by eating foods, which have the properties of cold, hot, or neutral. This explains why we must understand the properties of foods, rather than their nutritional values.

Cooling foods include the following:
  • asparagus, bok choi, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, spinach, tomato, zucchini
  • barley, mung bean, soybean, wheat
  • clam, seaweed, spirulina
  • apple, banana, citrus fruits, pear, pineapple, watermelon
  • dandelion, peppermint, tumeric
Warming foods include the following:
  • carrot, leek, onion, watercress
  • pumpkin seed, sesame, sunflower seed, walnut
  • apricot, berries, cherries, mango, peach
  • basil, bay leaf, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mustard, oregano, pepper, star anise
Neutral foods include the following:
  • beet, Brussels sprout, parsnip, squash, sweet potato, yam
  • almond, peanut, pine nut, raisin
  • brown rice, corn, kidney bean, snow pea
  • date, fig, grape, papaya, plum
  • parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme
The above are just some of the examples of food with properties that may affect the thermal nature of the body, and thus the internal balance and harmony conducive to health and wellness. With thousands of years of observation and improvement, Chinese medicine is different from conventional Western medicine in its approach to diet. For more information, visit my website: Chinese Natural HealingLearn how to cook real and healthy Chinese cooking with 500+ recipes from a chef with 40 years of experience. Eat healthy the Chinese way! Click here for more information.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau