A Harmful Or Healthy Social Comparison?

In my previous blog “Understand Your Worth – How You Value Yourself,” I talked about the topic of how much the society places value on outward appearances when defining one’s success, whereas little consideration is given to the inner values of a person, and that certain outward appearances of success can trigger a need within you to compare yourself to others.

This outward type of social comparison is often painful and rarely triggers any real change in our lives, because it makes us feel defeated right from the start – mainly due to fear and insecurity. It’s of no surprise that we live with different paradoxes, with the most common one is failing to see our own value, while simultaneously thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought.

Though social comparisons are often seen as unhealthy, yet comparing ourselves to others can be a powerful life tool in itself. The difference lies in your motive: Are you comparing out of fear and insecurity, or out of the desire to improve?

The Harmful Type Of Social Comparison

This is when you compare out of fear and insecurity, in other words, you want what belongs to others.

There are plenty of examples, such as getting mad when someone gets the promotion instead of you, has a nicer suit and car, or it can even be a talent that you wish you had. These strong feelings that you deserve more can lead you to feel that you will never be good enough, and push you in making false assumptions that you deserve as much or more then what the other person has. This fear will only lead to great discontentment, which in turn will mature into bitterness.

Bitterness may cause you to seek faults with this person and look for reasons why they don’t deserve whatever it is that they have. Then, your thoughts start to lean towards an idea that you are never good enough so you might as well give up. You feel that you can never be enough so you do the bare minimum to keep yourself afloat. When bitterness becomes the core of one’s existence, there can be no happiness.

The Healthy Type Of Social Comparison

When was the last time you felt inspired by watching someone giving a great presentation? Or an interviewee handling him- or herself well in a tricky question and you found yourself saying, “Wow, I’ll try it that way next time.”

Watching others is one way of how we learn. If I hadn’t seen great presenters, like Simon Sinek, I’d probably still be using PowerPoint with boring bullet-point slides. Whether it’s watching how people handle themselves at work, or observing another parent managing a playground tantrum, comparing their methods to yours opens your mind to new possibilities.

From my personal experience, I look in the mirror each morning knowing that I am falling short of my potential. This may keep me humble, but the vision of people accomplishing great things is changing that image in the mirror for the better. While I’m not fearing or fretting, I am also not content to stay the way I am. I hope that’s the same for you.

How To Make Healthy Social Comparisons

Firstly, be conscious of who you compare yourself with. Don’t choose just one person, instead, choose multiple people that inspire you to become better which match with or surpass your character and judgement. Ask yourself how they would look at certain situations and solve them. This way, you can look at more options and be able to make the best decision possible.

Secondly, watch and listen to the world and understand what is going on around you. We simply write off people that we don’t agree with, whether it be politicians or religions. What a mistake this is! Take time to learn from all sources. Listen to others. You may never agree with them but something in what they are doing is a teachable moment. You learn what you might do, but you also learn what you would never do. Either way, you win because you have learned from it.

Finally, make a habit of reading. Sometimes, I walk through the aisles of book stores, not to buy anything, but to read the titles of the books to get inspiration from them. Also, reading blog posts, book summaries, watching videos, and taking courses are all means that gives us a healthy visual to compare ourselves and inspire us to do more. It’s time to stop making unhealthy comparisons with others and choose the path for yourself.

“Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?” – Danielle LaPorte

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • What is your motive when the day is done?
  • Who inspires you to become better?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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Understand Your Worth – How You Value Yourself

Little consideration is given to the inner values of a person when defining one’s success, such as integrity, kindness, love, forgiveness, emotional intelligence and inner balance.

In contrast, an excessive value is placed on the outward appearances of success by society, such as money, material possessions, physical appearance, marital status or career. This creates a definition of success based on outward appearances, which results in a warped sense of self-worth.

Chances are that certain outward appearances of success can trigger a need within you to compare yourself to others. Only when you question your reasons, you realise that you have unconsciously placed value on these outward appearances and used them to determine your own self-worth. Otherwise speaking, how much money you own, what kind of car you drive, how attractive you are, or your occupation, have become the meaning of your self-worth.

Such comparisons will leave you feeling either better or worse about yourself, depending on where you rank yourself on society’s scale of success.

The Problems With Outward Appearances

Take a moment for yourself and write down all the outward appearances that you have unconsciously made as a measurement for your inner self-worth. Realise how they all require you to compare yourself to others or to seek outside approval in order to determine your value.

In addition to that, outward appearances are quick to change, and therefore, are not absolute. The problem is, that if you use such measurements to define your self-worth, then you aim at a constant moving target because there will always be someone richer, more attractive, more materially successful than you.

A study in the Journal of Social Issues found that college students who based their self-worth on outward appearances, such as academic performance, and approval of society were more likely to be stressed and frustrated. Also, these students had more relationship and academic issues, as well as higher use of drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, the same study found that students who placed their self-worth on inner aspects, such as staying true to their morals, were generally happier and healthier.

Sadly, the value that society places on outward appearances are fuelled by the ignorance that everything people experience in the outside world has its place in the inner world. Clinging to the appearances and using them to judge your own worth by comparing to others are all products of the mind. It’s your thoughts that create your circumstances and hence your thoughts that can change them.

Comparing yourself to others keep your thoughts focussed on the very circumstances that you most likely want to change and, by the Law of Attraction, you actually create more of the same.

The Paradox Of Valuing Outward Appearances

Notice how you value yourself is an actual reflection of how you value others. So, if you have placed value on money as a symbol of success, then in your assessment, people with more money are to be admired more than those with less. The same applies to physical appearance, material possessions, marital status, and career.

Ironically, the very people who you admire most are also the people you envy most when their outward appearances outdo yours. Therein lies the paradox – whatever you admire most, you must also envy.

Find Out What You Really Value

It should be clear by now that it is pointless to base your self-worth on outward appearances. The next question is, what should you base it on instead?

Start by making a list of all those human qualities that you value. Here are some examples: personal integrity, kindness, self-confidence, honesty, self-conviction, self-love, the ability to show love, being true to oneself, a sense of humour, affection, gratitude and so on. Also, the ability to use and display any one emotion appropriately, at the right time and in an appropriate manner.

Now, compare this list of values to your original list of outward appearances that you have been using up until now as your measurement for self-worth. Which list holds your true values?

Here’s a spoiler, it’s the one that makes you feel an inner sense of calm and power that cannot be disturbed by outward forces or opinions. It’s the list of human values. The more you associate yourself with the real you that is your inner self, the more such human values will define you.

Rewrite The Definition Of Succes?

Write down your own definition of success, including all those qualities you admire, and use it as your new measurement for success. Do make sure that your definition of success is about you, not about others, or how you compare to them or what they may think of you. Then, print it out and place it somewhere where you can see it every day. Read it every day and attempt to make it your way of life.

There is rarely a career promotion for the kindest person in the office or for the person with the greatest integrity. You will find that people do not compete in inward appearances, because these qualities belong to the higher self, which stands above society’s stereotypical definitions of success. Your higher self knows that it’s pointless to compete in self-worth.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • How do you measure your self-worth?
  • Does it align with your values?
  • How would you rewrite the definition of success?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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If You Get Tired, Learn To Rest

Our lives have become so packed, so busy, so noisy, and so full of conflict. At the end of the day, we feel drained, cranky and overly judgemental. Some of us numbly pace through our days not knowing how out of balance we are, finding nothing to smile about. We might sleep in on Sunday but still wake up feeling tired. Why is that?

Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D. and author of ‘Sacred Rest’, identified seven types of rest we need in order to feel happy, productive and fulfilled. Dalton-Smith spoke at TEDxAtlanta about how to correct rest deficit from diagnosing patients for common ailments.

What it all comes down to is that sleep is not the same as rest. Sleep is the result of how well we rest, and rest is associated with interrupting activities resulting in a relaxed state. So, if we lack rest, we won’t sleep well.

Here are the seven types of rest and ways to recharge:

1. Physical Rest

The most familiar and obvious type of rest. Your body needs time to recover whether from a workout or sitting behind your laptop. So, take some time to stretch your body and breathe deeply to expand your lungs. As we age, our body will inevitably wear down. Eventually, our need for rest becomes more noticeable.

Physical rest, such as releasing tension and calming your body, repairs and rebuilds the body and mind. When we exert ourselves physically or mentally, we long for the restoration of our energy. Researchers have shown that both the physical stress of manual labour and even the emotional stress of a desk job require subsequent rest for the body and mind to recuperate.

2. Mental Rest

We can all relate to this: when your mind is tired, you get bad-tempered and unfocused, making it easier to make mistakes and experience memory lapses. The more you let your mind wander in past events thinking what you would like to change, self-critiques, and judging others, the quicker you wear out your brain. The same is true with what-ifs about future events.

What you could do is, throughout the day and evening, schedule activities that take little thought. If you can, ground yourself to the present by walking through grass with your bare feet, so you can feel the earth. Also, truly listen to your surroundings, take it all in and let things be.

If you can’t go outside, try to meditate three times a day for five minutes. In the evening, it’s okay to watch some mindless YouTube videos to let your brain process what occurred during the day. You might laugh a little before you go to sleep.

3. Social Rest

This is not about some alone time, it’s rather the opposite. The sad part is, even when you’re around a lot of people, it’s possible to still feel lonely. We are group animals and we all need to be seen, loved, and appreciated by others from time to time. Hopefully, you get this from real people you can relax with who won’t judge or offend you and vice versa.

So, make new friends if you need to. Find like-minded people, whether to hike together, read and talk about books, enjoy the same hobby, or play the same game as you. Face-to-face time is important. Besides live meetings, even acknowledgement from people you know on social media can help.

4. Creative Rest

As we age, we often lose our sense of creativity. You might find ways to express your creative talents in art you enjoy, such as music, dance, and comedy to renew your appreciation for beauty and originality. Creative rest is a creative act in itself. Sometimes, we need to waste time. The poet John Ashbery said it so well: “I waste a lot of time. That’s part of the creative process. The problem is you can’t really use this wasted time. You have to have it wasted.” Of course, “wasted” is a contradiction in this case.

What we learn is by having wasted time we give it a certain value. Our desperate need to create is often opposing to creativity itself. You might want to give it a rest by being a beginner again to reawaken your sense of curiosity in creativity.

Sometimes the best way to give our creative minds a rest is to give our bodies a workout. A study by Stanford found that walking outside produced twice as many creative ideas as sitting in a room. Even participants who walked on a treadmill while staring at a blank wall were able to produce, on average, 60 per cent more ideas that were both novel and appropriate, also known as creative.

5. Emotional Rest

It’s good to cry once in a while because the release can lead to relief and maybe even joy and laughter. Also, the constant pressure to perform and pretend to be someone else can lead to emotional overload. Find people you trust who won’t judge or bombard you with advice to talk about the pressures you feel. Say no when your plate is too full.

When you feel insulted, ignored, unappreciated, or misunderstood, tell them that you feel this way and ask for what you need to move the conversation or relationship forward. When you notice you are hesitating to reach out to someone or start a new task, ask yourself what you are afraid will happen. Talking about your fears out loud often decreases the power they have over your actions.

Be sure you have people in your life whose positive perspective influence your own. Hang out with or at least listen to people who make you laugh when you need an emotional lift.

6. Spiritual Rest

This is not necessarily about religion; it’s about your sense of connection to something bigger than yourself, a purpose.

If you don’t have a life purpose, you can cultivate a sense of purpose. Let music or uplifting videos reunite your body and mind spirit. Allow yourself to feel the warmth of a beautiful sunset, the bloom of a flower, plants soaking up drops of water from rain, or a child’s touch. Journal about these moments to preserve them when you feel disconnected.

7. Sensory Rest

Most of us are overloaded with noise in our environments, interruptions from our computers and phones, artificial light, stressful driving, and other distractions at work and home. You need to take breaks from your electronics to rest your mind and vision.

Our bodies are always processing sensory input. Even when we’re laying still, we can feel the air on our skin and the pressure of gravity pressing our bodies into our beds. Our minds stay active, assessing our environment, observing potential threats or concerns and thinking about the next step.

Relax your senses by immersing yourself in music you love, get whiffs of fresh air, use aromatherapy or cooking to take in good smells, and rub your hands in things you love to touch to awaken your senses individually. 

Also, Slow Down

For about a week, I have been feeling tired and worn out. So, I had no choice but to turn in. I could have pushed another few hours of work in the evening or done something more productive, but right now the most productive thing I can do is rest.

When you race from one thing to another, you end up leading a busy but insignificant life. Every time you’re too busy to enjoy a meal, meet up with your friend, or visit a family member, remind yourself to slow down and be in the present. It’s about making the person in front of me feel important and appreciated, because they are. It’s about focussing on the present moment, or everything else you do will suffer.

If you’re rushing through life when you should have been resting, then I challenge you to do the following: Instead of trying to increase the illusional quantity of time, focus on the quality you have with the time you have right now.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • Why are feeling tired?
  • Which type of rest are you lacking?
  • How do you plan to correct your lack of rest?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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Opposites Attract, But Similarities Bind

This blog post is inspired by a comment on my previous post “The Law Of Attraction – You Attract What You Are”. In the comment, it is mentioned that “opposites attract more than what you are or what is similar to you.”

Now, I’m a strong believer in the Law of Attraction, but I can’t deny that opposites can attract as well. However, for a relationship to stand strong through time, I do believe that people form friendships or relationships with people who hold the same core values, especially when it comes to relationships.

We date a wide variation of people in order to find the ideal partner, which can be both easy and difficult depending on the set of core values people have, such as integrity, family, or success. And often, we have unforgettable memories of people who are the exact opposite of us due to challenges we come to face. Eventually, it may prove to be unmanageable over the long-term, however, what makes these memories persistent is because of all the emotional and educational choices we made in attempting to keep a relationship going.

But why do we choose to fall in love with someone who can drive us completely insane as well as make us feel like we are in heaven?

Why Opposites Seem To Attract In Relationships

There are many benefits when you’re with someone who is similar to you. Also, the same can be true when being with someone different because they can help you grow in unexpected significant ways. You might have observed this in your own or your friends’ relationships. However, does the idea behind attraction suggest that opposites do attract, or is this a wrong idea that we relate to romance?

Here are three reasons to think we may:

1. Reflect On Each Other’s Values

We go through different life stages and as we go through them, we develop a set of core values that become the foundation of our beliefs and how we live our lives.

Imagine you’re with someone who’s similar to you, then you live a comfortable life in which you don’t or hardly reflect on these values because there’s simply no need for it. But if someone comes into your life who is your opposite and you respect this person’s intellect and decision, chances are you re-think the values that you previously perceived as the truth.

Be aware that such confrontations can make it hard to decide how to live with one another. However, if both can manage to talk through this and understand each other’s values, you may develop more self-knowledge and an updated set of values that better represents who you are.

2. There’s More To Discover For Both

When you’re with someone who’s similar to you, there’s less need for compromise because you can enjoy lots of the same interests. However, there are shortcomings regarding repetitive habits and interests which can reach a level of boredom and stop growth.  

On the other hand, the opposite people can often introduce each other to new habits and activities. This will require you to be open-minded. When you do, you’ll come to discover there’s more within you than you have initially thought.

Also, when seeking help or advice, it’s likely that you often reach out to people who intuitively understand you. So, many of these people will also be similar to you in certain ways. Though they know what you want and be able to shift into your perspective easily, they can’t offer you that much beyond your own thinking.

Seeking the advice of someone who differs from you affords you a chance to think completely differently, which is especially useful when you have used all your usual strategies and solutions. Having a partner different from you means direct access to someone who looks at your situation in a completely new way, offering thoughts and ideas that simply wouldn’t occur to you given the way you usually think and vice versa.

3. You Complement Each Other

Last but not least, let’s not forget the benefit of dating your opposite has the potential for complementary qualities. It can help you to create a sense of balance, for example, one might be shy and serious while the other is outgoing and funny. In this case, it’s easy to see how both partners view the other as ideal as in one’s strengths balancing out the other’s weaknesses.

Additionally, complementary qualities go even further. If you’re an optimist and your partner is a pessimist, you can make more accurate assessments and potential choices by putting both minds together. And let’s not leave out the possibility of having complementary skill sets.

It has been said that the happiest couples never have the same qualities, they just have the best understanding of their differences.

Are You Sure That Opposites Attract?

Unfortunately, there’s no research showing that differences in personality, interests, education, upbringing, or other traits lead to greater attraction.

On the contrary, researchers found in one study that college students preferred descriptions of mates whose written bios were similar to themselves or their ideal self over those described as complementing themselves.

Besides that, there’s evidence that small differences between spouses can become larger over time. Psychologists Andrew Christensen, Brian Doss and Neil Jacobson describe in their self-help book “Reconcilable Differences” how partners move into roles that are complementary over time.

Here’s an example you might be familiar with: When one member of a couple is slightly more humorous than the other, the couple may settle in which one claims the role of “the funny one” while the other settles into the role of “the serious one.” Research has demonstrated that partners grow more complementary over time. They may begin as quite similar, they find ways to differentiate themselves by degree.

In the end, people persist in thinking opposites attract, when in reality, relatively similar partners just become a bit more complementary as time goes by.

Originally published at ye-chen.com

  • What do you think of opposites attract?
  • What are your experiences with it?
  • Do you have more insights to share with us?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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Finding Balance In Our Impatience

Black and red abstract painting.

Have you ever taken the pizza out of the oven two minutes early because you just couldn’t wait? Or left lines that were barely moving, only to get into an even slower one? Or breaking up a good healthy relationship because you weren’t sure where it was going, and couldn’t stand the uncertainty?

We’ve all been impatient and we’ve all made rash decisions when impatience got the better of us. Then again, we’ve also been overly patient at times, sticking with projects, jobs, or relationships long after it made sense to do so.

Eventually, there’s this thought on which will cost us more in life—patience or impatience? Of course, different people will have different answers. The ideal outcome would be, to get it right every time we let our impatience lead us when changing course makes sense, and to stay on the course when that made the most sense.

Unfortunately, no one gets it right every time.

Now, here’s the thing: If we understand our impatience better, it will give us more control to get it right more of the time. Below are three useful insights about our impatience:

1.    Impatience Come With Goals

Impatience is triggered when we have a goal and realise it’s going to cost us more than we initially thought to reach it.

For example, if you sit in a room with nothing on your mind, you will not be impatient because you’re just there. Now, if you decide to go to a shopping mall to buy a pair of new sneakers, you have adopted a goal. At this point, you are not impatient yet, but you might be making ways towards it. Suppose you want to get a pair of new sneakers by the end of the day, the longer it takes for you to find them, the more impatient you grow.

Whenever I start writing my next blog, I usually think it will take about two days to have everything ready for it to be published. I’m on schedule, but then I get an even better idea for a blog. I realise that continuing to write my first blog is costing me the opportunity to work on my second more interesting blog. You’ve guessed it. At that point, I start to grow impatient.

Or lately, it has been snowing here and it would take me ten minutes extra to travel home. There were several interferences and traffic jams which made me have to wait outside in the cold. Then I realised that it was going to take me more than just ten minutes extra to get home. I was already impatient, and I grew even more impatient.

2.    Impatience Motivates Us To Reduce Costs

At the same time, impatience motivates us to reduce the costs of reaching our goal or to switch goals. When we realise it’s going to cost us more than we thought to get to our goal, we start looking for ways to avoid the additional costs in time, pain, distraction, or opportunity.

“It’s a heritage from our evolution,” says Marc Wittmann, a psychologist at the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology. Our impatience made sure we didn’t die from spending too long on a single unrewarding activity. It gave us the impulse to act.

So, Instead of direly walking around in the shopping mall looking for a new pair of sneakers, we can turn to our mobile devices to shop online; when writing one blog while dreaming of writing another, I might try to speed up work on the first, or just set it aside to work on the more interesting idea; knowing how terrible the traffic will be on the following days, I start looking for alternate routes or simply decide to work from home.

Unfortunately, the fast pace of the current society has thrown our internal clock out of balance. “Time stretches,” Wittman says. “We get mad.” It creates unrealistic expectations that can’t be rewarded fast enough, or rewarded at all. When things move slower than we expect, our internal clock even plays tricks on us by stretching out the wait, summoning anger out of proportion to the delay.

3.    Impatience Increases With More Options

Any project we do is bound to have its downs. There will be moments when we feel optimistic and on top of the world, and others when we doubt the project will work at all, especially when there are more options to choose from. In general, the more options we have, the more we lean towards impatience. If we have only one project to work on, we can be fairly patient and just solve the problems as they come.

In contrast, if we have several other projects we could be working on, we’re much more likely to abandon the current one when it gets hard. If we repeatedly do this when a project gets hard, we will find ourselves with a dozen unfinished projects lying around with nothing to show for all our effort.

To have options is good, but having too many can be bad. Barry Schwartz explains in the “Paradox of Choice” that having too many options can make it more difficult to choose in the first place. This can result in more regret and a greater tendency to change course after the choice has been made.

A Better Chance To Find Balance

When we understand how impatience works, we can manage it better. We can put our impatience to use when it’s time to speed things up or change course. And we can learn to calm our impatience when it makes more sense to stay the course.

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves when we find ourselves growing impatient:

  • What is my goal?
  • What is going to cost me to reach this goal?
  • What are foreseeable additional costs?
  • What are my other options?
  • Do I have too many options?
  • Do these options reduce the costs of reaching this goal?
  • Is it time to abandon this goal?

Knowing how impatience work will give us a better chance to find balance, so we can stay the course or change it when it makes sense.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • What’s causing your impatience?
  • How do you deal with it?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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The Contrast Of Loving Your Job

A man doing his job.

Author and anthropologist David Graeber mentioned in his book ‘Bullshit Jobs’, that today’s work features a lot of needless busywork and it’s preventing people from making a meaningful contribution to the world.

Maybe the modern quest for future unemployment comes from the fact that many jobs seem meaningless and unfulfilling. However, I have been wandering with this topic of ‘meaningful’ and ‘meaningless’ work for quite some time. Like, do I love my job? Is my job really bullshit?

For many years, I have lived my life arguing that most jobs are meaningless, this includes most of my own job as well. Only after failing my first start-up and having gone through unemployment, I can safely say that the only thing worse than working is not having a job. This made me reframe my perception of ‘meaningless’.

The Pleasure Of Work

During the time of my unemployment, I had all the time to reflect on my own thoughts and actions. For many years, I have asked myself daily whether my job has meaning or a sense of purpose. I was breaking my head trying to find a fulfilling answer, but I eventually came to the point of “No, it was neither meaningful nor fulfilling, but I did have fun.” It’s weird but that thought was quite uplifting.  

Looking back on my previous jobs, I actually did enjoy them and of course, some more than others. Eventually, enjoyment is what got me to do what I do now, which is writing. And because I get pleasure from writing, as a result, it gives me a sense of purpose. I initially thought that the job itself gave me a sense of purpose, but it’s not. It’s the pleasure of work that gave me a sense of purpose.

Yes, that’s right, the pleasure of work. In the moment of doing, meaning doesn’t matter, just the task at hand. That’s a break from my usual thought dwelling on the bigger picture of who I’m meant to be and what I should try to achieve in my life. When I’m working, I’m doing what’s needed.

When you perform your task well, you’re successful in your own way, big and small. That feels temporarily great despite that you may not change the world, but your approach to it makes a meaningful difference in how you and those your work with feel. Of course, people share different views on whether the pleasure of work is meant for everyone.

Puzzle Of Survival

Ryan Avant argues in The Economist’s 1843, that the pleasure of work lies partly in the process of losing oneself in a puzzle with a solution on which other people depend. He believes that the average wage service workers don’t have access to the same kind of pleasure. The puzzle we’re all constantly solving is survival, ideally by minimising both friction and conflict and maximising positive relations.

For example, when a hotel staff opens the door and offers to carry your heavy luggage to your room. Even though it doesn’t change the course of humanity, but it sure is nice and it makes you appreciative of the person doing the job. The staff earns a wage by solving the puzzle of carrying your luggage and hopefully making their share of the world run smoother.

There’s dignity in doing whatever must be done and having the appreciation for occupation.

However, work isn’t completely satisfying when you’re paid a lot and feel a bit arrogant about your wonderful position. Low-paid work may be undervalued societally, but it’s critical to everyone, and we all know it. Every job has some possibilities, but sadly not recognised by snobs.

In Need To Make A Living

John Danaher shared an interesting view in The Philosopher’s Magazine, saying that all this talk of jobs and purpose is exactly the problem with postmodern society. He defines work as “the performance of an activity for economic reward or in the hope of receiving some such reward.” Also,  believing that work is bad because many employment contracts allow employers to undermine worker freedom. However, because jobs are not securely held, workers accept this difficult position as they need to make a living.

But as anyone who has been under- or unemployed, knows that much worse than work is to worry about its absence. Stressing over how to pay for food and shelter, doubting when or if you’ll work again, and avoiding to spend money leaves little to no mental space for creativity and is more dreary than nagging about your boring job.

For most of us, work is necessary. Treating our working years as a kind of hell and dreaming of early retirement isn’t going to make life any more fun. So, you’re better off learning to live, work, and play now.

Contrast Is Key

“Clay is made into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness, that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out to form a house; but it is on empty space, that its use depends. Everything is shaped by nothing,” according to Lao Tzu, a Taoist sage. Labour gives leisure time more quality because you push yourself on the job that makes having days off to spend time with friends, family, or even alone really enjoyable.

Besides, whatever your job, it has some satisfying aspects. Even if it only lets you pay your way, you can find ways to appreciate even the most boring jobs. Perhaps with time, you will find a more interesting job to spend your time working. But for now, dwelling continually in unhappiness will only build-up more unhappiness and make you less likely to find your way. Even if you’re not naturally passionate about, for example serving cranky customers, or reading corporate law documents, you can discover that these parts present fascinating discoveries and solutions as well.

What I want you to think about is that your work, your job, doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or dramatically impactful. It just has to matter to you because you’re doing it.

Author and anthropologist David Graeber mentioned in his book ‘Bullshit Jobs’, that today’s work features a lot of needless busywork and it’s preventing people from making a meaningful contribution to the world.

Maybe the modern quest for future unemployment comes from the fact that many jobs seem meaningless and unfulfilling. However, I have been wandering with this topic of ‘meaningful’ and ‘meaningless’ work for quite some time now. Like, is my job really bullshit?

For the longest time, I have lived my life arguing that most jobs are meaningless, this includes most of my own job as well. Only after failing my first start-up and having gone through unemployment, I can safely say that the only thing worse than working is not having a job. This made me reframe my perception of ‘meaningless’.

Pleasure Gives A Sense Of Purpose

During the time of my unemployment, I had all the time to reflect on my own thoughts and actions. For many years, I have asked myself daily whether my job has meaning or a sense of purpose. I was breaking my head trying to find a fulfilling answer, but I eventually came to the point of “No, but I did have fun.” It’s weird but that thought was quite uplifting.  

Looking back on my previous jobs, I actually did enjoy them and of course some more than others. Eventually, enjoyment is what got me to start writing, because I get pleasure from writing which gives me a sense of purpose. I initially thought that the job itself gave me a sense of purpose, but it’s not. It’s the pleasure of work that gave me a sense of purpose.

Yes, that’s right, pleasure. In the moment of doing, meaning doesn’t matter, just the task at hand. That’s a break from my usual thought dwelling on the bigger picture of who I’m meant to be and what I should try to achieve in my life. When I’m working, I’m doing what’s needed.

When you perform your task well, you’re successful in your own way, big and small. That feels temporarily great despite that you may not change the world, but your approach to it makes a meaningful difference in how you and those your work with feel.

Puzzle Of Survival

Ryan Avant argues in The Economist’s 1843, that the pleasure of work lies partly in the process of losing oneself in a puzzle with a solution on which other people depend. He believes that the average wage service workers don’t have access to the same kind of pleasure. The puzzle we’re all constantly solving is survival, ideally by minimising both friction and conflict and maximising positive relations.

For example, when a hotel staff opens the door and offers to carry your heavy luggage to your room. Even though it doesn’t change the course of humanity, but it sure is nice and it makes you appreciative of the person doing the job. The staff earns a wage by solving the puzzle of packing and carrying and hopefully making their share of the world run smoothly.

There’s dignity in doing whatever must be done and having the appreciation for occupation.

However, work isn’t completely satisfying when you’re paid a lot and feel a bit arrogant about your wonderful position. Low-paid work may be undervalued societally, but it’s critical to everyone, and we all know it. Every job has some possibilities, but sadly not recognised by snobs.

In Need To Make A Living

John Danaher shared an interesting view in The Philosopher’s Magazine, saying that all this talk of jobs and purpose is exactly the problem with postmodern society. He defines work as “the performance of an activity for economic reward or in the hope of receiving some such reward.” Also,  believing that work is bad because many employment contracts allow employers to undermine worker freedom. However, because jobs are not securely held, workers accept this difficult position as they need to make a living.

But as anyone who has been under- or unemployed, knows that much worse than work is to worry about its absence. Stressing over how to pay for food and shelter, doubting when or if you’ll work again, and avoiding to spend money leaves little mental space for creativity and is more dreary than nagging about a boring job.

For most of us, work is necessary. Treating our working years as a kind of hell and dreaming of early retirement isn’t going to make life any more pleasurable. So, you’re better off learning to live, work, and play now.

Contract Is Key

“Clay is made into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness, that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out to form a house; but it is on empty space, that its use depends. Everything is shaped by nothing,” according to Lao Tzu, a Taoist sage. Labour gives leisure time more quality because you push yourself on the job that makes having days off to spend time with friends, family, or even alone really enjoyable.

Besides, whatever your job, it has some satisfying aspects. Even if it only lets you pay your way, you can find ways to appreciate even the most boring job. Perhaps with time, you will find a more interesting job to spend your time working. But for now, dwelling continually in unhappiness will only build-up more unhappiness and make you less likely to find your way.

Interests aren’t inherently fixed, as Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck points out. Having a growth mindset, being open, is wiser than putting your whole being into a single passion. Even if you’re not naturally passionate about, for example serving cranky customers, or reading corporate law documents, you can discover that these parts present fascinating discoveries and solutions as well.

What I want you to think about is that your work, your job, doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or dramatically impactful. It just has to matter to you because you’re doing it.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

Do you have a different view on this topic? 

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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Opposites Attract, But Similarities Bind

A couple holding hands at the coast.

This topic is inspired by someone commenting on my previous post “The Law Of Attraction – You Attract What You Are”. In the comment, it is mentioned that “opposites attract more than what you are or what is similar to you.”

Now, I’m a strong believer in the Law of Attraction, but I can’t deny that opposites attract as well. However, for a relationship to stand strong through time, I do believe that people form friendships or relationships with people who hold the same core values, especially when it comes to relationships.

Most of us date a wide range of people in our lifetime, some of us for the short term and others for years. Finding the ideal partner can be both easy and difficult depending on a set of core values in people. For the majority of individuals, at least some of these relationships are special and changing, offering crucial life experience even if the relationship ultimately ends.

And often, when discussing dating history, people have this particularly strong memories of times when they were with someone who seemed like their polar opposite. This often presents some significant challenges and may prove to be unsustainable over the longer term, but it can also be an emotionally rich and educational choice.

But why is it that we often choose to fall in love with someone who can drive us completely insane as well as make us feel like we are in heaven?

Why Opposites Attract In Relationships

You may well have noticed this pattern of being drawn to those who are dramatically different in your own relationships, or observed it in the partner choices made by your friends, or even felt it in your friendly relationships.

Sometimes, there’s an intense type of chemistry between people who seem shallowly incompatible. And while there are great benefits to being with someone who is similar to you, there’s no denying that being with someone different can help you to grow in important ways as well.

However, when we explore the idea behind attraction, does it suggest that opposites do attract? Or, is this simply a false assumption that we make about romance?

Here are three reasons to think we may with some highlights of the most exciting benefits of being with someone different:

1. Challenging Each Other’s Values

By the time we’ve reached adulthood, many of us have developed a set of core values that become the foundation of our beliefs and how we live our lives. When we’re with people who are similar to us, we don’t tend to reflect on these values.

But when we make a connection with someone who is our opposite, we are suddenly encouraged to re-think the things that we previously took for granted. If we value this person’s judgment and respect their intellect, we start to question what we once simply assumed to be true. Do keep in mind that this clash of ideals can lead to conflicts and can make it difficult to decide how to live a shared life.

However, if you and your partner can push through this, you may emerge with more self-knowledge and an updated set of values that actually better suits your present self. At the very least, you’ll develop more understanding of other perspectives.

2. There’s More Newness For Both

There are certainly benefits to spending time with people who are similar to you, such as enjoying lots of the same things, easier to plan time together, and a reduced need for compromise. However, the downside is that you might just end up repeating the same habits and hobbies until a level of boredom, which can stop growth.

On the other hand, if you’re paired up with your opposite, they can often introduce you to new activities and new ways of being. This will require you to be open-minded, and when you do, you may end up going to places you’d never otherwise have visited. And who knows, you might even end up acquiring skills you never planned to develop.

Also, when seeking help or advice, it’s likely that you often reach out to people who intuitively understand you. So, many of these people will also be similar to you in certain ways. Though they know what you want and be able to shift into your perspective easily, they can’t offer you that much beyond your own thinking.

Seeking the advice of someone who differs from you affords you a chance to think completely differently, which is especially useful when you have used all your usual strategies and solutions. Having a partner different from you means direct access to someone who looks at your situation in a completely new way, offering thoughts and ideas that simply wouldn’t occur to you given the way you usually think and vice versa.

3. You Complement Each Other

The potential for complementary traits is another benefit of dating someone who seems like your opposite. It can help you to create a sense of balance, compensating for each other’s weak spots and highlighting what you both bring to the relationship.

For example, one might be shy and serious while the other is outgoing and funny. In this case, it’s easy to see how both partners view the other as ideal as in one’s strengths balancing out the other’s weaknesses.

Complementary traits can also provide deeper benefits. If you’re hopeful and you have a partner who is doubtful, you can make more realistic assessments and potential choices by putting both minds together. It may even be that you have complementary skill sets.

The question is really whether people actually seek out complementary partners or if that just happens in the movies.

Are You Sure That Opposites Attract?

Unfortunately, there’s no research showing that differences in personality, interests, education, upbringing, or other traits lead to greater attraction.

On the contrary, researchers found in one study that college students preferred descriptions of mates whose written bios were similar to themselves or their ideal self over those described as complementing themselves.

Besides that, there’s evidence that small differences between spouses can become larger over time. Psychologists Andrew Christensen, Brian Doss and Neil Jacobson describe in their self-help book “Reconcilable Differences” how partners move into roles that are complementary over time.

Here’s an example you might be familiar with: When one member of a couple is slightly more humorous than the other, the couple may settle in which one claims the role of “the funny one” while the other settles into the role of “the serious one.” Research has demonstrated that partners grow more complementary over time. They may begin as quite similar, they find ways to differentiate themselves by degree.

In the end, people persist in thinking opposites attract, when in reality, relatively similar partners just become a bit more complementary as time goes by.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • What do you think of opposites attract?
  • What are your experiences with it?
  • Do you have more insights to share with us?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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The Law Of Attraction – You Attract What You Are

A woman with a cup of coffee and a book.

The Law of Attraction, I have been fascinated by it for a long time and I rarely come across people who are fully aware of how much the Law of Attraction impacts their day to day life. Regardless of when we do things consciously or subconsciously, every bit of our existence, we are acting as human magnets sending vibrational frequency out of our thoughts and emotions and attracting back more of what we have sent out.

Unfortunately, many of us are blind to this potential that rests within us – making it all too easy to leave our thoughts and emotions unchecked. This sends out the wrong thoughts and attracts more unwanted emotions and events into our lives.

Having said this, I’ve learned that the Law of Attraction to be true after experiencing personal and hearing others’ failures and successes.

Is The Law Of Attraction Even Real?

The Law Of Attraction can be seen throughout history, which was first thought to have been taught to people by the immortal Buddha: “What you have become is what you have thought.” There is an age-old belief among spiritualists that you draw to your life what you put out.

Recently, inspiring writers such as Deepak Chopra, Esther and Jerry Hicks and Wayne Dyer have shed light on these ideas by introducing three books: The Law of Attraction, Ask and It is Given and “The Power of Intention.”

ThenThe Secret by Rhonda Byrne, brought together many thought leaders in this world and spread the experience of different individuals supporting this principle. In “The Secret” we learned that this is based on scientific principles referring to quantum physics supporting this argument: “That you will attract to yourself whatever you put out.”

Energy, Vibration, Chemistry

“Like attracts like”, this is stated in the law of attraction. All attractions are based on energy, vibration, chemistry, or whatever you may call it, it’s all the same thing. You send out a frequency, and it attracts someone or a situation of the same frequency.

People with a high frequency, people who love and value themselves, are happy people who vibrate on a high frequency and induces a positive response in others. While people with a low frequency, people who are insecure and self-abandoning, induce feelings of anxiety in others if we ourselves are anxious.

People who are positive, open, giving, caring and kind to themselves and others are not attracted to people who are negative, closed, and needy of approval and attention. While no one intentionally seeks out someone who is closed, negative and needy, however, if this is you, this is what you will attract into your life.

Attraction And Your Level Of Emotional Health

I hear this so often: “I’m a good person, but I keep meeting the wrong people in my life”, followed up with “Am I doing something wrong?”

When you learn to value yourself and take responsibility for your feelings,  you’ll be drawn to people who also value themselves and want to share love rather than get love. You will no longer end up with someone who judges, blames or sees them self as a victim. You will just not find this person attractive, as they are not at your level of emotional health.

Of course, this means you need to take action if you want to increase your level of emotional health, of which some are learning:

  • To be present in your body instead of stuck in your mind avoiding your emotions;
  • To acknowledge what your feelings are telling you rather than protecting against them with various addictions and self-judgments;
  • To take action in your own behalf rather than expecting others to do this for you.

Underlying all of these ideas is the idea of connection – we are connected within and without. What we think and feel affects not only how we will act but how others will act as well. The depth of our feelings and actions is a critical variable in “attracting” what we want in our lives.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • What’s do you think about the Law of Attraction?
  • What is your experience with it?
  • What do you attract currently?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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Own It – What Makes You, You?

A woman staring outside a window.

This is my last post for 2018, and I want to leave you with something of value to start your 2019 even greater. Therefore, this post is dedicated to those who are having a hard time accepting themselves for who they are, for them to realise that taking ownership of who they are will lead to personal greatness.

So, let’s be clear on this, you will never be someone you are not supposed to be. You may wonder why my life is like this, when in fact, flaws in all, you make your life the best it can be. All the past experiences and memories made have shaped your life. The thought may linger that it is for the better or the worse. But eventually, you make things happen if you want them to.

Just gaze your eyes upon your surroundings, you’ll realise that everything happens for a reason. You cannot depend on other people for your happiness, for they will leave you helpless if you have those expectations of them. Therefore, you must want happiness for yourself before anyone will want it for you.

So, How Do You Do That?

“If you want to dress a certain way, live your life a certain way, act a certain way, then own it. You need to live up to the person you put out there. You do this by accepting who you are.” I couldn’t say it any better than Lauren Alexander.

So, what is the best version of yourself? Because you need to be that person. People have a tendency to influence your opinions, actions or thoughts. However, you only have yourself at the end of the day and live with the consequences of your own actions.

So, taking ownership of who you are is something you need to wear with pride.

Many of us go through life wondering about the “what ifs.” The truth is that people will always be prettier, nicer or have a better life than you. But there will never be a person like yourself. You may meet people similar to you during your life, but in the end, you are unique. Be someone you strive to become, a person that other people would want to meet and be around with.

Stop Negative Self-Talk

When you’ve accepted for who you are, it’s time to put in conscious effort to stop negative self-talk. Don’t be ashamed about it, because this is something that we all struggle with; we all think down on ourselves when we don’t accept who we are. Think back and ask yourself how many times someone has given you a compliment and you’ve shrugged it off.

When someone compliments you, reflect on the experience. It’s okay to be humble and that’s a wonderful trait to have, but learn to appreciate your own hard work and efforts — especially when others are noticing it as well. Make a mental note of how well-appreciated it was and what you did to achieve that goal. Eventually, when you’re working on other things, you’ll have a boost in your self-confidence.

The thing is if you are not happy with yourself, people won’t be wanting to get to know you. People have a habit of picking small tendencies about you before you even know it. So, when you are not happy being you, others will start to notice.

No One Else’s Opinion Really Matter

Surely, you’ve met and you’re going to meet people who will knock you down. Sometimes, they are good people, and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes, they are angry and quick to judge, or sometimes you just caught them on a bad day. Sometimes, they just suck in that moment, and you were an unfortunate bystander.

No matter what, they will take it out on you, they will tell you that you aren’t good enough and tear you down.

We get caught up in others’ opinions of ourselves too often. As a result, we adjust ourselves and hide personality traits we think may cause others to laugh at us. So, the idea of “owning it” comes back. Why should you care what other people think? Are they you? Are they living your life? No!

Believe me, other people have their own personality traits and talents to worry about.

Get Serious About Your Goals

Once you know who you are and what you want to be, it’s time to set goals for yourself and take serious steps to get to them.

If you want to become a writer, then start writing. Search and reach out to support groups and people who can help give you ideas and edit your work. If you want to pursue higher education, then start thinking about your career path, your interests and personality traits, and make smart choices on the classes you take and how they can help you to reach your goal.

What it all comes down to is that in order to embrace what makes you who you are, you have to be proactive. I often hear the phrase, “You don’t have to do anything,” being thrown around. That’s only applicable if you have no goals in life. If you do have goals, then you “must” make certain proactive decisions and get started.

So, figure out where you want to go in life, and take steps toward achieving that. Find a way to make all of your personality traits, quirks, interests and hobbies work together. Start developing your personal brand, become an industry expert, be honest and true to yourself. Don’t let life pass you by with you trying to be someone you are not. You may work towards having better traits, but that comes with time.

What You Can Do Now?

For each person, regardless of you’re a leader, manager, worker, or student, having a continuous willingness to be vulnerable is the fundamental difference between staying stuck in today and leaping into tomorrow.

When there are no guarantees, we must be willing to act decisively and confidently by sometimes depending on others for our success, saying “I don’t know” or “I’m scared.”

Start going where you have never gone before, and create the space for others to do the same.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • How will you start your 2019?
  • What personal changes do you strive for in 2019?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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Patience, A Form Of Action I Tend To Forget

“Patience sucks!”

That’s what I used to think.

As I grew up, I was told to have patience, but I never knew why. I hesitantly let patience in and try to hurry it out. In that hurry, I tripped and fell, literally and figuratively. From all the tripping and falling, I come to realise that patience is here to guide me.

Patience always comes with wisdom. Unfortunately, I was so consumed with impatience that I was deaf to what it has to share. I thought I was kept away from what matters and that I was wasting time. It held me against my will as I tried to figure out shortcuts to where I was going before it tripped me.

Now I know that patience is wiser than that. Patience offers the opportunity to refocus the blur I created for myself when I hurried. It’s the necessary silence I looked for when I was drowning in my inner voice. It’s the rest, so I may look different ways and seek different options. It’s the reminder to take a deep breath and be back in the present.

I’m Not The Only One

We live in a world where we can instantaneously access information and order what we want, and this makes patience getting harder to come by. “I want what I want, and I want it now!” We might not say it, but we do think it. This is pushing patience away and pulling impatience into our lives. In many cases, we get used to getting what we want on the same day. Instant gratification has become the norm of our fast-paced society and slowly our culture.

The problem is that while some things have become quicker to acquire in life, there are plenty of great things that requires time in life. Moreover, patience is required. I want to remind us that life just doesn’t run on a set schedule.

Patience Is A Skill You Can Learn

Patience is the ability to tolerate waiting, frustration, or delay without getting agitated or upset. It’s being able to control our emotions, proceed calmly when faced with an unpleasant situation, and live life at the speed at which it actually happens. This is a challenge for most of us since impatience is always nagging at the impossible.

Think about the process we endure when feeling impatient: when we’re stuck in traffic and furious that it’s not moving faster; when we’re at work listening to a lame presentation fussing about when it’s over; when we’re told a train is delayed we get annoyed with having to wait around.

These reactions distance us from facing our current reality and force us to focus on our impossible expectations of how things should be. All the fussing and worrying about our current reality does nothing to improve or change it and only makes us suffer more than others.

Dr. Lillian Nejad, a psychologist based in Melbourne, pointed out that we aren’t born with patience, hence the crying and screaming when hungry.

Patience is a skill that can be learned with time. To strengthen it requires practice, and this can be done through managing your impatient physical responses, thoughts and behaviours.

One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” — Chinese proverb

How To Manage Impatience

“Ascertain the frequency of your impatient experiences by making a note of every time you feel frustrated. This information helps you understand your level of impatience and the specific situations in which you are most vulnerable,” Dr. Lillian Nejad said.

Then, it’s necessary to make a conscious decision to be patient in those situations. By making changes on how we respond, we can modify our thoughts and behaviours associated with them. Here are some great examples given by Dr. Lillian Nejad:

  1. For physical responses: If you tend to clench your hands, notice this response and then purposefully unclench them; if you feel tightness in your chest, take a deep breath; if you frown, try to smile. These physical actions are very effective at reducing levels of anger and frustration.
  2. For thoughts: Say to yourself, “It’s fine,” or “It’s not the end of the world if this takes longer,” or “I can cope with this.”
  3. For behaviours: Choose to behave opposite to how you would normally behave. For instance, instead of yelling or rolling your eyes, be polite and warm to the person who is causing you delay.

Challenge yourself by putting yourself more often in these situations on purpose.

Benefits Of Developing Patience

1. Helps to achieve our goals

The road to achievement is a long one. Those without patience, who want to see results immediately, may not be willing to walk it. A study in 2012 has been done by Fuller Theological Seminary professor Sarah A. Schnitker and UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons, to examine whether patience helps students get things done. According to Schnitker’s analysis, patient people exerted more effort towards their goals. Especially those with interpersonal patience made more progress toward their goals and were more satisfied when they achieved them.

Important note: I’ve read blogs and articles saying that being patience is associated with being lazy, simply because patience is perceived as waiting. And waiting won’t get you to achieve anything. There is a thin line between patient and laziness, but here is what I believe is the difference. The universal measurement that can be used to whether you’re patient or lazy is the result you’ll be able to deliver. So, irrelevant to how you want to define patient or lazy, the result you’re able to deliver is what matters.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter, so let me know by commenting at the end.

2. Acquire positive attitude and enjoy better mental health

As mentioned earlier, impatience is always nagging at the impossible. If things aren’t going the way you want them to, instead of getting frustrated, you must learn to be patient. You’ll realise that you need to see it from a different angle, develop the ability to re-frame situations and see its positive side.

Consequently, you’ll tend to experience less depression and negative emotions, because you can cope better with upsetting or stressful situations. Anger and stress are enough to ruin one’s health. Patience enables you to overcome challenging situation with more flexibility and in a better well thought way.

3. Transform relationships

We’ve all been there. In our relationships, we sometimes become defensive, say something hurtful and wish we could take it back. In these moments, we don’t realise the importance of patience and end up making hasty decisions. This is the moment to consciously decide to be patient and try to take time to think over another person’s positive qualities.

The next time you lose your patience over a person, just take a moment to stop and think — is losing my patience right now and fighting with the person in front of me worth the time? Is it worth the hurt and pain that we are both going to inflict upon each other in the process? Have I tried hard enough and am I really at the end of my patience? Most of the time, we let our lack of patience get the better of us, and in the process, lose a person who was much more dear to us than the issue over which we lost our patience. Hurts like hell, believe me.

Everything Will Come Together

Patience is a valuable character trait to develop. It may appear to be passive, however, it’s an active, focused and necessary form of self-discipline. Without patience many of our actions would be counter-productive and certainly much time and energy would be wasted on keeping the wheel going.

Surely, patience is a virtue.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • How patiently are you?
  • What is your opinion about having patience?
  • How do you manage your impatience?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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