Courage through Wisdom

I love the lyrics from Sixx A.M.’s song – Life is Beautiful

You can’t quit until you try
You can’t live until you die
You can’t learn to tell the truth
Until you learn to lie

You can’t breathe until you choke
You gotta laugh when you’re the joke
There’s nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive…

Despite all the talk about class warfare between poor and rich these days, I do not find that we can really use poor and rich to be real dividing categories for people.

Really, the amount of money that each of us make in life is a lot more dependent on luck and chance than we’d like to think. Yeah, I know that this is blasphemy for people who argue their success all due to their hard work and blah blah blah but this is a topic for another day.

Truly, if I must use one thing to “measure” someone, I look to how wise they are.

And such thing as wisdom, though abstract, is something that is only accumulated by someone who use their heart (not just with a thinking mind). Someone with wisdom does not simply repeat others say-so, do not simply rehash made-up concepts that sound so right but are fundamentally flawed.

Doesn’t seem like it’s easy to tell. Here’s the real differences.

A wise person seems to gain without overexerting. They seem comfortable, confident without an overbearing alpha attitude. They are genuinely happy. They laugh relatively more.

A less wise person hoard money yet don’t seem to know how much he has. He’s insatiable and is unable to cherish things and people. They find drama and always seem anxious.

Here’s the truth. I want to be a wise person and I had done a lot to become one over the years. I am and want to say as someone who everyone wants to converse and discuss many topics in life with even as I get old.

I will show that I care without reciting motivational slogan and self-improvement concepts with you. I will analyze without making the decision for you.

I may even let go of you if I must. So that only when you’ve completely fallen, when you are fully capable of listening to new advice, I can share with you wisdom and other life lessons.

As the lyrics at the beginning shows, we cannot understand the other side without the contrast of worst. (If you thoroughly understand this sentence, you share the wisdom I want to say…) Without ever feeling suffocated, we cannot understand the preciousness of air.

Without wisdom, we will always stumble. In a world that is overwhelmed by the voice of the unwise, inevitably we stumble and will continue to do so unless something changes. As wisdom is lacking, so does courage.

Courage is understanding thoroughly.
Courage is making the choice that others may not.
Courage is letting yourself and others make mistakes.

Courage is completely dependent upon wisdom.

That’s why I find it essential to have time to be still and put our heart and mind back together daily, let myself read, and learn, and digest, let myself integrate not just information but feelings… to grow my wisdom daily.

That is how I have courage… an imperturbable courage to face each moment that is to come.

Originally posted 2012-04-04 23:35:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

A Generation Gone Awry

In the latest issue of BusinessWeek, there is an article about students taking the extra effort to be competitive by participating in financial/investing clubs AFTER getting into prestigious school, Meet Your New Recruits, They Want to Eat Your Lunch. Here is an excerpt:

Once, merely graduating from an Ivy League college or similarly prestigious rival like Stanford or Swarthmore qualified students for a choice entry-level perch on Wall Stree. No longer. “The whole idea of smart people just falling into banking is becoming rarer,” says Lance LaVergne, a vice-president and global head of diversity recruiting at Goldman Sachs. “Clubs are essential to preparation, especially for students who are not majoring in traditional discipline like finance or accounting.”

Also in the article, a girl is described to gain admission to three prestigious clubs at Stanford, and it is AMAZING.

I understand the world is getting tougher out there. Therefore, it is great to be driven. It is great to prepare for the future. It is great to kick-start learning about investing because that’s what I am doing now. But despite all that, I can’t help but contemplate if these students are getting too mixed up in the money-means-success culture at a very young age. I can’t help but worry that these students would grow up with the only ability to handle money, finance, and investing and narrow vision due to being a money-purist. Is that what life is all about?

I am not saying one should not focus on academic work because I did that and graduated with a 3.8+ GPA majoring in Computer Science and Japanse, and here I am working in the computer industry. One must need pragmatism to survive in this society.

However, from when I was an undergraduate, a huge part of what makes me the person today is being a part of the fencing team for 4 years, where focus, discipline, hard-work, comradeship, travelling, and fun happened, and then other things like social dancing, Japanese cultural events, a few music classes, misc. physical exercise, or just having some plain(dumb) fun with my friends. Perhaps that is why I am not rich, in today’s commen sense at least, but I am perfectly content with how I am and what I have, which are not just things and money.

On top of that, these investment clubs may have an unintended consequence of promoting short-term trading because the students are driven for immediate results to show recruiters and they have an investment time horizon of at most 4 years.

I only wish the students can still take their sweet time, in spite of those clubs, and participate in other cultural, character cultivating, or simply fun events. Because I would hate to see a bunch of physically-dwarfed, money-mongering, rich, yet utterly unhappy people to be grown out of this generation.

Your thoughts?

Originally posted 2008-05-18 11:01:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Can People Really Change?

Yes. I believe people can change, that it is possible for anyone to create positive change.

Then how come people seem to be unable to do so?
Even when they know for sure they want positive change…
Be it personal finance, health, relationship, or life-in-general…

I will take a crack at the answers, and I hope you are ready to read with an open mind.

Wrong Expectation

When people talk about change, they often mean that they want change without effort. They want magic pills. Everything people do, everything people want, is a matter of instant gratification. People are high on the instant gratification drug. They want something and they want it NOW. Simultaneously, they want results but they do not want to pay the price.

Obviously, they could not be more wrong, if they truly want permanent positive change. That is why you and I keep hearing people keep talking or thinking about changing this and that but never see any results. Or they tried this and that but nothing worked. Perhaps you are one of them. How can one expect to change with such expectation?

Change is difficult. Change is never easy. And nobody wants to hear that. Change involves being uncomfortable. That is why the phrase “go out of your comfort zone” exists.

The Curse of Habits

The ways one person acts and thinks are habits. Creating positive change means substituting bad habits with new ones. Old habits require discipline to get rid of. New habits require discipline to adopt. The longer you have maintained an old habit, the longer it takes you to learn and adopt a new behavior as a habit. This is the nature of habit. This is the reason why it becomes harder to change the older one is. And yes, it is possible to change even if you are mega-old.

To create permanent positive change is a constant struggle of changing habits. And it WILL take time and patience.

Doing Differently Feels “Wrong”

Change means doing differently, and doing differently is awkward. To change means having lots of awkward moments because things you have never done before naturally feels wrong (and uncomfortable) when you first try it. People are not ready to do “wrong” and be uncomfortable.

One of my favorate quote from the movie 40 year old virgin:

Andy: This doesn’t feel right.
Jay: Of course it don’t feel right! What has felt right for you doesn’t work! You need to try some wrong, dawg.

The Intractable Ego

People is obsessed and in love with being right. They will do whatever it takes to defend what they think is right. Everything else is wrong. When you let your ego dictate you like that, you will be intractable. If your ego is too strong to bend, then it is unfortunate because part of changing means admitting what you think is right is in fact wrong.

Not a fan of finding faults within yourself? Then ask yourself the question, “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be better?” What is your answer?

Options and Backdoors

People make it an option to change. I am not saying you must change. If you are happy the way you are, that is wonderful and I am happy for you. However, if you want to change, you must make the choice to change and not let it just be an option. You cannot leave yourself with backdoors to back out. You must finish what you started.

And you must not dissuade yourself with crappy excuses such as “Yes, but…”, “I am too busy” because whenever I hear people say those, it means they are not ready to do what it takes to change.


Believe it or not, when you start to change your behaviors, you make others uncomfortable. Not only that, you may find yourself having difficulty to communicate to others and to have others understand you. This turns into a certain degree of loneliness each person who is changing must face. And it is possible that you may have to find a whole new set of friends.

Additionally, if you are striving to do something extraordinary, it is certain that you will face discouragement and isolation from people you know. Because not everyone has the same goal and perception to be extraordinary, or as I would call it — greatness. So really, not everyone, not many will understand you.

If you want to change, ask yourself the following questions…
Am I ready to get uncomfortable?
Am I ready to struggle constantly?
Am I ready to do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year?
Am I ready to be wrong?
Am I ready to go from the starting line to the finishing line without giving up?
Am I ready to be different from your peers, friends, and family?

Lastly, I think it boils down to the next few questions…
Do I want to be better?
Do I want it bad enough?
Am I ready to do whatever it takes?

Originally posted 2008-05-09 17:26:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mother Earth and Nature are Precious

Let me repeat, Mother Earth and Nature are precious. Sometimes we all get so caught up with our busy life and we forget. We forget that humans are part of the animal kingdom. We forget the existence of nature that sustains our livelihood. We have come to act like we are separate and bigger than nature, while the entire time…

We human beings are a part of nature…
As the air we breath.
As the water we drink.
As the ground we walk.
As the sun that shines.

Upon expressing my sentiments, a colleage shared with me a poster on his wall. It is a wonderful piece written by Chief Seattle, as a letter in response to President George Washington’s offer to purchase his tribe’s land. Upon research, I found that it is not the authentic writing. Nonetheless, I love the messages brought to life by the words.


How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?


Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.

Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man.

We are part of the earth and it is part of us.

The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers.

The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man–all belong to the same family.


So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves.

He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy our land.

But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.

This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors.

If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people.

The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.


The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.

We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs.

The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on.

He leaves his father’s graves behind, and he does not care.

He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care.

His father’s grave, and his children’s birthright, are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads.

His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.

I do not know. Our ways are different from your ways.

The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect’s wings.

But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand.

The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand.

The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with the pinion pine.


The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath–the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath.

The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes.

Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench.

But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh.

And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers.


So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition: The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.

I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.

I’ve seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train.

I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit.

For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.


You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.

Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know.

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it.

Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.

We may be brothers after all.

We shall see.

One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover, our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white.

This earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.

The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.

That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.
Where is the thicket? Gone.
Where is the eagle? Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survival.

Whatever we do to nature, it will come back to us. If we don’t live to experience it now, then may our children do so in our place. People can keep talking about going green. People can market about carbon offsets all they want. People can keep urging for lower emission cars. People can keep arguing. People can keep asking for more and better evidence.

In the end, if people truly care for nature and the environment, they will come to understand that we are part of nature and their action will speak such understanding. If their intention is pure, it will be clear in their action. The same for ill intention.

Everything’s connected. What we do to other things on earth will be done upon us eventually. If our doings cause fast extinction to other species, then so shall be our fate. We are part of nature. If we are harming it, we are harming us. We are all one.

Originally posted 2008-01-09 23:26:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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