The Price of Gas and the Type of Cars People Buy – What is Enough?

On most work days, I eat out with one or two coworkers, and if none, I’d go by myself. It is a habit to enjoy the Mercury News at lunch period. One thing I have noticed in last couple weeks is that advertisement for hybrid vehicles have propped up. I guess they need to increase sales.

Another article I read elsewhere talks about people haven’t abandoned SUVs yet, especially with the drastic drop in gas price. For some, their vehicle conversion is where they switch from a Hummer or gas-mileage-equivalent to a smaller big-car that yields some 18 MPG. So much for the hope that gas price can help to bring about drastic change in human behavior.

The interesting thing is, and it would be most rational, that gas price which is a short-term variable has such great influence on vehicle purchase which is a long-term decision. It would also be rational if people can switch car without the cost of depreciation, but we know that is not true. Gas price changes everyday, we cannot change our cars everyday!

Could the biggest problems we have be such short-term thinking that the majority of people have? Could it be a problem for the fact that majority of the people are only capable of, or only willing to perceive short-term? And maybe they can only see **singly-connected phenomenon**?

This has validity as we are in the situation today because…

Banks and big business were so adament about growing at an ungodly rate that led them to buy into the subprime, CDAs, and what not. (short-term thinking) Thus, they lost sight of what could possibly be the consequence. (missing the long-term)

Middle class and common people bought into the subprime loans as they were so focused on getting that oversized, or dream house of theirs NOW. (short-term thinking) Thus, they lost sight of how they could possibly lose it just as quick, either due to affordability or overlooked future variables. (missing the long-term)

And let’s say some married guy is so focused on growing his career or business, and he spend all his time and energy on getting ahead. To the detriment of long-term, he forgets his health, neglects his wife and children, and who knows what else he gives up.

Maybe it is important to ask and think about, “What is enough for me in the long-term”? And then make your investment, spending, saving decisions with that in mind. Yes? I think so.

Now it is your responsibility to define what is enough in your dictionary.

** Singly-connected phenomenon — the effect of a cause that is only one step away. When I said someone is only capable of seeing singly-connected phenomenon, that person thinks, “I killed you so you are dead”, and he stops there without thinking how my death would effect people I know and my surroundings. Or, the person thinks, “I took your money so you are poorer”, and he stops there without thinking how me being poorer will affect other things. If anyone knows an official term for this, let me know.

Originally posted 2008-12-16 01:06:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Being a Teacher

I talked about learning and being a student in the last post. To follow-up, let’s talk about being a teacher today.

At the same time as you are learning, the tendency to teach will grow. It is in our compassionate nature to want to share with others, especially when you have come to see the light. As you learn and improve, you will feel a strong urge to educate and advocate and push others around you to change. And that is great.

However, understand that you need to let others walk their own paths. You can always teach, but people may not be ready to learn yet, just like yourself before a certain point. You cannot force information down their throats, and you cannot force others to change. You will only push them further away from learning. This is especially important with the people you care about because your urge to teach them will be even stronger. Be extra careful not to alienate them by forcefully trying to change them.

This is part of being respectful and compassionate toward your fellow human beings. Although it can be painful to watch as they make mistakes and get hurt, people need make their own mistakes to learn from them. That is part of life’s journey. Without the tripping and falling and getting back up, you do not grow. You have learned through the process of falling yourself, so let others do so.

You can change yourself, but you can never change others. Therefore it is important to notice when yourself begins “playing hero” and try to “save people” because you are hurting them in the long-run and not helping them to learn. People can only “save” themselves when they are ready to learn. We all have our own responsibility to learn, so leave others with their responsibility.

What you can do is to make yourself available. You provide them support and kind words in their endeavors but keep from lecturing them. Be present to share their joy and tears. And because you did not push them away through “force-feeding”, when the time is ripe and they are ready to learn and to change, they can take full benefits of your knowledge.

Part of being a great teacher is knowing the timing to teach and the right words to say. You can only teach if there is a student, and by “student”, I mean someone who is willing to learn.

Being a teacher is also a learning process in itself. So once gain, you can never stop learning.

I finish today with a saying from Bruce Lee:

I’m not a master. I’m a student-master, meaning that I have the knowledge of a master and the expertise of a master, but I’m still learning. So I’m a student-master. I don’t believe in the word ‘master.’ I consider the master as such when they close the casket.

Originally posted 2008-03-13 22:58:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Dealing with Emotions

Allow me to share with you today a way to deal with emotions. For the majority’s concern, this is namely about a more healthy way to deal with negative emotions, although it is the same with positive emotions, as people never think in terms of dealing with positive emotions. By no means am I an expert or guru, but this is something I believe and practice and that is why I am sharing with you.

Before going into the description, I categorize below the common ways people act to deal with their emotions. Note that the categories usually happen in combination. After that, I share with you the way I have in mind, and finally I provide an example from my personal experience.

Distraction through External Means
We should all be familiar with this category, whether we know someone or we have done it ourselves. Things like drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or even food/chocolate… People use these external means to block out the mind and to numb the senses in order to avoid truly feeling emotions. It becomes abuse because the effect of is only temporary, which means they will have to do them incessantly to keep the effect.

This is another way for people to distract themselves from the real emotions, by blowing it out of proportion. “The end is here!” “Everyone hates me!” Is that really true? I doubt it. While the person focuses on those dramaticized thoughts, he does not have to deal with the emotions, and hence, another form of distraction.

Being in Denial
Somewhere in the continuum of human race, the notion that people should not have negative emotions was thought up. The ones who believe this notion refuses to acknowledge the fact when they are feeling emotion such as anger, hatred, jealousy, etc. Those are label as “bad”. It’s not right to have them. And they will relentlessly ignore them and probably claim that everything’s fine and they are happy, optimistic, kind, etc.

Obsession with the Emotion
This is the scenario where the person allows the emotion to completely take over. He loses self-control and most of his logical ability. He fixates on the emotion so much so that all his actions are purely as a result of that emotion. It is very difficult to talk sense into such people but easier to just try to calm them down first, even if just physically.

Instead of feeling disappointed, people switch to anger. Instead of feeling sadness, people switch to anger. Instead of feeling love, people switch to hatred, at the end of relationships. It’s like playing musical chair with emotions.

When people react to their emotions in terms of the categories above, more negativity and harm are generated. My hypothesis on why people have so many problems due to emotions lies in the fact that they never deal with the emotions at the root when they happen. They do not fully experience their emotions, especially the negative ones. Therefore, they keep accumulating and eventually lead to detrimental effect, which can take years to happen and then years to resolve. It is similar to how people handle their physical body. They often do not maintain the body where they do not exercise and not have balanced diet until illness occurs, but this is another topic. Moving on to what I think people can do to deal with emotions.

Be Okay with Emotions
The first and foremost thing to understand is that it is okay to have emotions. Any types of emotion. Human beings are emotional creatures. It is part of being humans. You feel emotions. I feel emotions. Every single day. Lots of time during a day. As long as we are still breathing, emotions will happen. So it is okay to feel sadness, jealousy, hatred, anger, disappointment, frustration… Just as it is okay to feel happy, satisfied, excitement, passion, love… You need to understand that they are your emotions. Your emotions are not you. It is a big step if you can simply be aware that you have the emotions when you do. You want to fully feel your emotions as they happen.

Identify the Thoughts
Now that you know it is okay to feel emotions. You can be more comfortable with them. When you are sad, you feel sad. Just as when you are happy, you feel happy. This is about simply being with your emotions. When you are okay with having emotions, you can be aware of them. Once you are aware of what you are feeling, you can begin to understand what are the thoughts associated with it. Why do I feel sad? Why do I feel anger? The answers to those questions are our thoughts, which are the true culprits of the pain those emotions are causing you. These thoughts exist together with your emotions. Emotions are created from thoughts. And more thoughts can intensify emotions. Now that you know you have these thoughts, know that it is also okay for thoughts to exist also.

So the first two steps involve identifying the emotions and thoughts that exist within you. By no means are these two steps small or easy. It is very uncomfortable to do at first, but like everything else, it comes with practice. It may be so hard at first that you will want to run away and go back to the usual routine of distraction, dramatization, denial, obsession, or subsitution. We all do it. So let me say that this is also okay, but try to be aware of the behavior and if you can, return to identifying what are the emotions and thoughts. If you cannot, just try to stay calm and not act rashly for awhile. Then try again.

Check with Priorities
Now you are aware of the thoughts that you have. These thoughts are at the heart of why you are feeling the emotions. Remember I talked about priorities before. It is beneficial to line up those thoughts with your priorities, your values in life. The thoughts you are having, are they aligned with the priorities in life? If they don’t pertain, maybe they are not so important after all. Have you done your best in terms of your priorities in the event that leads you to feel those emotions? If you have done so, maybe it is not so bad after all because you did not abandon your values. If you haven’t, it’s also okay, because we all make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from it and do your best next time.

This is not an easy process, and it doesn’t make emotions and problems go away immediately. However, I do believe by following this process, you can face your emotions with a sense of peace and not to do anything destrustive to yourself and others. This is a process of fully experiencing your emotions and thoughts. I am also confident that you will “handle” the emotions in a shorter time frame instead of having them linger for ages. The more you practice experiencing emotion as described, the quicker it gets to free yourself from the burden of emotion.

I have briefly mentioned that I experienced a break up in a recent post. I will use what I have gone through as an example. Break up is never easy, as for you, as for me. As long as one is truly devoting one’s self to a relationship, the end is never easy. Definitely I was sad. Besides that, I also somewhat confused and then a bit angry. I think that is normal for most people :)

My Sadness
The fact is that I only enter into a relationship when I genuinely like the person a lot. I would like to spend time with her and have fun together, go through experience with her and be able to support each other through good and bad time. I sincerely care for this person, and hope that I can be there to make her and her days better. But in the end, she made the decision to leave. All these things combined together are the thoughts that made me sad. I still feel some sadness, but it is okay. During the time we are together, I did my best being the person I truly am and giving in the way I believe in. “I truly did my best yet it still ended”, that maybe another thought that is causing me sadness. That doesn’t matter because it is okay to have sadness. On the flip side, it can be, “I truly did my best and I have no regret.”

My Confusion
As for the true reason behind the end of relationship, I probably will never find out, which causes confusion. Being human and being me, I am curious. I also wonder what I could have or should not have done. However, the reason behind and all the wondering mean nothing. Does it really matter if it is really due to circumstances in life, or if she has found someone else? The bottom line is that she is certain about the choice. By staying calm during the conversation, that is exactly what I endeavored to ascertain with her. She has made up her mind. She has made the choice to walk a different path, and I will just have to be okay with it. And I am okay with it.

My Anger
As for anger…I am not quite sure, but probably for all the reasons that left me sad and confused. And also perhaps I was looking forward to spend our holidays together, decorating Christmas tree. A happy scene only to be decimated. A bit of anger was there, but it is now gone. After all, there is not that much to be angry about once I can be okay with my sadness and confusion. I should be thankful that we had a chance to share a part of our lives together.

In a nutshell, the key point here is to be aware and to be okay with your emotions, truly experiencing the emotion when it happens. Staying calm and just feeling it, know that it is there. It is okay for it to be there. Once you can do that, you can move on to seeing your thoughts. If you can do something about those thoughts, then do something about them. If you cannot, then there is nothing to do and no reason to have those thoughts and therefore no reason to have those emotions. And if there is emotion remaining still, just be okay and experience them. And repeat the process.

It will take time to develop this way of dealing with emotion. However, there is definitely this peace you feel by doing so, which will allow you do deal with more emotions that happen in the moments in life.

On a final note, this post has a lot to do with awareness, so if you enjoy reading this, feel free to check out my post on Awareness and Zen.

Originally posted 2007-12-21 16:54:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Stop Thinking and Start Doing

There’s something that I frequently hear people say:

I want to…
Wouldn’t it be nice if I can…
I think I’d like to try…

You get the idea. Just fill in the blank, for examples – get healthy, start running, learn an instrument, do a certain sports, make more money… You get the idea.

There’s always the saying, “We are what we think.” Are we what we think? Maybe people take that too seriously, or rather, too literally. I’m not sure but I’d like to think, “We are what we think AND do.” Thoughts are only thoughts without action. Nothing. Null. Oblivion. There can be plenty of thoughts, but without action, we cannot reap the fruits of our thoughts.

Everything starts with a thought, an idea. But that is JUST the beginning.

It frustrates me sometimes when I keep hearing someone repeat this kind of thoughts. If you are thinking so much about it, wanting so much to do it, then stop yelping and just go out and do it already.

If you just sit on your butt all day and think, you will remind the same! Even if you think HARD enough. That should be pretty obvious…

So let me ask you, “How often do you put those thoughts into actions?”

Obviously those are the things you want to do. Those are the things that enable you to become more of the character that you want to be. Thus you’ll feel better and happier for doing so. So why not give it a try?

Want to get healthy? Start running at your pace and gradually intensify the routine.
Want to learn an instrument? Go sign up for classes at local community college (ecnomomical), then later find private instructors.
Want to be make more money? Find a part-time, start selling things on ebay, etc.

Just some ideas.

Most importantly, find the desire within yourself and just go for it.

Originally posted 2007-08-05 01:40:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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