Four Aspects of Personal Growth

I would like to clarify the growth that can happen to us into four separate categories.

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Financial

I know the line between mental and emotional can be blurry, but I’d like to distinguish them because in this case, mental means personal mental strength and emotional indicates more people-related feelings/thoughts. Already we can see how growing in these two categories can affect each other, and it is not difficult to create links between the four areas. In other words, when we grow in one area, it provides support for us to grow in another. Examples such as, when we grow physically, becomes healthier and more fit, we have an improved sense of confidence that strengthen us mentally. In return, the mental strength provides the discipline needed to continue to exercise, and the discipline we used in that can spill over to let us have control over our money. And then by having control over our financial life, we feel more secure and thus, able to divert our mental energy to better purposes than being stressed out all the time about money. Or when we become more emotionally stable, there will be less situations where emotions take over us and allow our logical side to help resolve the situations for us. Stability in the other three areas help our emotional stability… etc…

As we can see, that is exactly why we need to grow and never give up in all four directions on our paths of personal development. They are closely related. None of the four should be neglected because lacking any of them will weaken the other areas drastically. To visualize this, let’s picture what would happen to a four-legged stool if one leg is missing. You get the idea.

Somewhat related to this, I’d like to quote myself from a conversation I had today, “Only if we’re truly independent, we will make real friends in life.” This is a bit vague, but “true” independence amounts to reaching certain level/independence in each of the four areas I mentioned. What I said is what I fully believe in my heart. “Inter-dependence (friends) is possible only after Independence (self)”.

Originally posted 2007-04-11 20:43:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Other people? Worry not! Fear not!

We all live in some form of communities, big and small, among people. Therefore, we have no ways of avoiding people. Everyday we’re surrounded by them, at home with family, at work with colleages, at social events with friends, or on streets with strangers. As such, we hear things people say and observe how people act AND pertaining to this post’s topic – we hear things people say about us, see how people react to us, and what images they have for us.

The problem arises when we get so caught up in them and become affected. We start to worry what other people have to say about us. We live in constant worry and fear others having negative opinions and thoughts on us. We are afraid they see and label us as freaks, weirdos, geeks, clowns, jerks, or whatever social cliche out there. As this trend starts its engine in us, it escalates as we meet more people and the worry and fear keep on increasing.

Consequently, we fear to do many things and our productivity decreases, inhibited by our fear. Sometimes we even give up on striving to improve ourselves, which could make us different from the majority leading to labels and criticism. That leads me to the quote, “The greatest fear in life is fear itself.”

If we constantly worry and fear and do nothing because of that, we will always remain in the same place! If we cannot understand that and move on, we will make no progression in relationship, career, or life. Worry and fear become our greatest road blocks. It is about the realization that worrying and fear will not change reality for us, which begs the question, why the heck are we doing it? Until we can identify them, face them, and conquer them with awareness and rationalization, we will forever be bogged down.

We do not make decisions on what words come out of other people’s mouths or what they think. Consequently, we should not worry so much about what others have to say or think about us because we cannot change other people. Everyday we make decisions with the goal to make things better for ourselves and the people we care about. So rather, the decision is to change and imporove ourselves in turn, creates a character in us that will provide strong influence in the people around us, but that is not the main concern. The main concern is yourself, and the influence is just a result. Chaning other people is not the concern because that will never be guaranteed because people could simply have different experience and perspectives or they may just be jealous, and that’s too bad. That is not the concern. You have made the best decision you can to change and focus on yourself. As Jet Li said, “Do your best, it’s good enough.”

Make decisions with self in mind. And by “self,” I mean a person’s own well-being, values, and priorities that he holds true to. Stop your worry and fear due to other people! When you get yourself straight, other things will slowly become as a result.

Originally posted 2007-03-12 23:07:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Terrible June for Stock Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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