Egoless moments

happiness

EGO IS THE JOY KILLER

We tend to be unhappy when we’re egoistic. Ego is not only the enemy, but also the joy killer. Ryan Holiday, author of the book Ego is the Enemy, defines the dead time as moments that we’re controlled by ego. He even has a tattoo EGO IS THE ENEMY on his forearms to remind himself to let go of the ego to stay alive. That makes me wanna get a tattoo on my forehead: GO AWAY EGO!

I highly suspect that it’s ego hinders me from getting healthy relationships to grow. Also, ego stops me from getting to know and loving other people without sorrow. Oh no, I hate ego breaking my flow. I’d better throw myself into a new reality show if ego won’t go.

Ryan Holiday

Do your work. Do it well. Then let go and let God.

When we let go of ego, we can get more done and love more. My ego is clingy all day long and distracts me from doing what I want. The more time I spend with ego, the more restless I feel. If I focus on a movie, the sky, other person or a sport, I forget about the ego for a while and stay in peace. I wanna kill my ego to have egoless or peaceful moments. Is that possible and doable?

STRATEGY FOR FIGHTING THE EGO

STAY A STUDENT

Ryan Holiday suggests staying a student to drop the ego. When you learn something new, does your ego tell you to give up when things are getting difficult? Or does your ego tell you that you’re so great that you don’t need to learn more? Of course, your ego will do anything to drag you behind. That’s ego’s expertise!

Don’t let ego stop you from learning. Keep learning from anyone and anything, and growing anytime. No wonder Einstein said “More the knowledge lesser the ego, lesser the knowledge more the ego.” I think I just gain a new perspective here: knowledge is the enemy of ego!

DON’T LOSE YOUR PRESENCE OF MIND

I cherry-pick one of The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene – don’t lose your presence of mind. The presence of mind is the ability to detach yourself from all to see the whole picture with clarity. This is a stoic or zen way to fight the ego. Preparation in advance or meditation can give you that mental distance and make your ego disappear, for at least a period of time.

If you love history and war, you will enjoy reading The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene to learn more strategies and tactics. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of history. Anyway, in his book Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday takes a similar approach as Robert Greene – telling the stories of significant historical figures. You can learn how Napoleon, Steve Job, and many others handle the ego nicely or badly.

Ego is not your amigo. Let it go.

Happy reading!

GENTLE LIVING

happiness

I’m loving a slow life as time is running away like a lunatic. Slow living offers us more time to enjoy the life we have. Gentle Living by Monocle is a nice book to remind us how to live and take it easy. It suggests 50 ways on how to live a gentler life. We deserve to enjoy more, worry less, and be happy in a slow fashion. Let’s choose the ways you love to live your life fully. I pick my favorite ways to savor life as follows:

BE OPTIMISTIC

I learn to be optimistic using the ABCDE model. I’m struggling to be an optimist as my thinking is negative by default. ABCDE is a simple tool that helps me to gain new and positive perspectives. Give it a try when you’re in a bad mood. You’ll instantly become optimistic like magic, turning tragedy into comedy.

GET BACK TO NATURE WITH PLEASURE

Cheung Sha Beach
Cheung Sha Beach

Nature is a natural healer and it leads us to live in the present moment. I love going to the beach whenever the sun’s out. Cheung Sha Beach and Big Wave Bay in Hong Kong are good for surfing. Surfing is cool and I don’t mind failing like a fool. I fall in love with it despite many times of failing. I love that surfing can train my muscles and my patience as the waves are unpredictable, unbeatable, and readable (if you know them well).

VISIT ART MUSEUM AND MUSE

Hong Kong Museum of Art

I love the silence and artistic vibe inside art museums. Being quiet in the art museum declutters my mind and gives me more space to get new ideas. Located in Tsim Sha Tsui by the harbor, I find the renovated Hong Kong Museum of Art. This museum has a new frame and interior to reflect the beauty of the sea. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows set the ideal conditions for more light, vision, and imagination.

“On Your Seat, On Your Mind” is a lovely art project for you to take a seat and relax, rethinking the way you live and the world around you. It’s fascinating to see things from another person’s point of view. “I have never thought of that!” “What are other possibilities out there?” “How to create my version?”

GO GREEN AND DON’T KILL

Plants make people happy and sad. When I got some green plants to decorate my bookshelf, I was trilled these green babies looked great at first. But they’re getting weaker and weaker. I don’t want them to die so I refill the water and add nutrients once a week and also clean the container once a month. Yet, the round leaves of pilea keep falling off and all of them turn brown. Before I buy any houseplant, I should have read the book How Not to Kill Your Houseplant: Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged.

READ A BOOK AND ACTION

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone will.

Grab a book to read today and you’ll do things differently tomorrow. That’s why I love reading books. A good book will change my mindset and make me form a new habit. My all-time favorite books about simplicity are Essentialism by Greg McKeown, The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less, Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists. Less is bored? Yes and no. Look at the happiness level of the monks and you’ll understand less is happier.

What’s your favorite book? Let me know when you comment. 🙂

Happy reading!

Awareness

happiness

When I read some books about meditation or mindfulness earlier. I often come across a key word – awareness. I’m curious to know what exactly awareness is. Does awareness mean knowing what I’m doing or how I feel at the moment? Is awareness a state that only guru like Yoda can get there? Am I ever aware for a nanosecond?

I find a simple answer from the book Awareness by Anthony de Mello. In Anthony’s spiritual point of view, awareness is suddenly you get another perspective on life. Wow, that sounds effortless and all of a sudden. My follow up question is: how to get there SUDDENLY?

Anthony’s 4 steps to wisdom might be the pathway to get there. From his book Awareness, he said “Put this program into action, a thousand times: (a) identify the negative feelings in you; (b) understand that they are in you, not in the world, not in external reality; (c) do not see them as an essential part of “I”; these things come and go; (d) understand that when you change, everything changes.”

I put this “program” into action and it goes like this: (a) I have a negative thought that I feel lonely at my new workplace; (b) I understand that this feeling is only inside me, not inside my new colleagues or other people; (c) I don’t see the loneliness as an essential part of “I” as it comes and goes; (d) I understand that when I make new friends at the new environment, everything will change.

As I’m an introvert, it takes me long to build new relationships in a new environment. In my new office, I work on a project alone and do everything alone most of time. When I overhear my colleagues talking, I can’t find a perfect timing to say something to engage in conversation. And I seldom take the initiative to start a conversation. One of my colleagues senses that I’m bored working alone. She gives me a snack, prawn crackers, and chats with me. At this moment, I’m aware. That’s love!

We’re surrounded by love or reality, like the fish in the ocean, but we have no notion about it.

Self-awareness

I love a simple, concise and nicely written A5-sized book about self-awareness. It’s published by Harvard Business Review Press. Although it’s a small book, it covers a lot of topics like emotional intelligence, passion, core value, data-driven path to know yourself, feedback, and growth mindset, etc. It’s a good book that can save your time as it summarizes many good books in one, like a hot pot with great ingredients.

If you would like to dig deeper into self-awareness, I suggest reading the book Insight by Tasha Eurich. Her definition of self-awareness is the will and the skill to understand yourself (internal) AND how others see you (external). After reading her book, I get a new perspective on life. I see myself and others in a new light. According to Tasha, there’re 3 types of unawareness as follows:

Lost cause

Let’s take me as an example. I used to be unaware and refuse to wake up. I didn’t accept critical feedback. I couldn’t take the perspective of others. I was hurtful to others without realizing it. I was unaware of what I did and my impact on others. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. The worst-case scenario!

Aware don’t care

Again, let’s take me as an example. I’m aware internally and externally that I’m slow on every level. I talk slow, think slow, eat slow, swim slow but fall asleep fast (That’s the only thing fast). My brother always persuades me to play video games to train up EQ and fast response. But I refuse to change through his favorite hobby. So I keep being a sloth and enjoy slooooooooooowing thiiiiiiiiiiiiings doooooooown.

Nudgable

Last but not least, let’s take me as an example again! This time, I’m unaware that I’m not a generous person. When my family spots that to me, I’m surprised. Giving more is counterintuitive to me. For example, I don’t want to give more money to my mum for housekeeping when I earn more. But I have to because my mum will nag (or nudge) me until I do so. With a few nudges and the will to change, I give more (or give in).

I’m aware that I’ve reframed my personal stories from a miserable perspective to a positive perspective, after editing my draft a few times. I feel better at the end of the writing process. That’s the power of journaling. What’s more, I gain another perspective. That’s awareness! Are you aware that I’m unaware of how you feel while you’re reading this post? Let me know your thoughts. 🙂

Happy reading! Be self-aware and insightful.

Feedback

happiness

HOW TO GIVE FEEDBACK

We’re living in an ocean of feedback. Sometimes I feel drown by negative feedbacks. Sometimes I feel confused without any feedback. And I’m clueless how to give a proper feedback. Richard William is an internationally recognized business consultant specializing in leadership development. From his book Tell me how I’m doing, he advises readers how to give feedback in an effective way. I did the experiment myself. The results were profound, out of control and surprising.

Positive feedback

I seldom give appreciation to others or myself. Richard suggests giving positive feedback on look, behavior and character. I tried this to my brother. “You’re good-looking today. I’m happy that you washed the dishes. You’re a good kid, ” I said. My brother was not convinced at all and replied, “Why are you so fake today?”

Supportive feedback

When I want to appreciate others’ behavior, I followed Richard’s advice – describe the specific behavior, its consequences and how I feel. I tried to thank my mum in this specific way. “Mum, thank you for cooking me dinner. It’s yummy and it makes me feel full and lucky that I have a good mum who still takes care of me. I feel like I don’t have to grow up at all and I enjoy being taken care of.” Despite my long and specific appreciation, I couldn’t identify any reaction from her. Only poker face.

Corrective feedback

My mum always talks negatively to me. I have never heard of any compliments from her. My self-esteem is low with her presence. One day I asked her, “Did you realize everything you said to me is negative? Did you ever encourage others? Could you stop personal attack? Give encouragement in stead of criticism, please. I don’t think I can do anything with this negativity.” She kept looping the negative comments again. I felt totally hopeless. “What is the meaning of life? Does anyone know?”

My mum fails to give me corrective feedback and I refuse to change as she wishes. Me too. I fail to give her corrective feedback and she keeps being who she is. I feel happier to go no contact with her. So I think unless others want the corrective feedback, it’s better not to give any. Maybe you can do it better than me by taking Richard’s advice to deliver effectively as follows:

  1. Try the supportive feedback first
  2. Use carefully guided questions
  3. State that improvement is needed
  4. Use appropriate discipline
  5. Draw a line in the sand

HOW TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK

The book Thanks for the feedback by Doug Stone and Sheila Heen talks about the art of receiving negative feedback. They suggest the best question to ask for feedback to self-improve is that “What’s the one thing I can change so as to make the biggest difference?”

Understand first

When we receive the negative feedback, do we really understand it? Most likely, we might have a wrong interpretation if we don’t clarify the true meaning. It’s great to understand it from other’s point of view first. Ask where is the feedback coming from, what the adviser wants you to do differently and why.

I think the hardest part is to decide if the feedback is valid or not. Yet the negative feedback does tell us the impact we’ve made on others somehow. It helps us to recognize our blind spots, letting us know what we don’t know. Just like a CCTV video tape showing what we did from a third party’s point of view. I wish I could have an exclusive and invisible camera recoding my life so that I could watch it myself. This can skip asking people for feedback (If you’re an introvert, you will understand).

Avoid switchbacks

I always get defensive when my mum criticizes me for not doing things her way. I scold her for being rude and loud, pointing the finger at her instead. Doug Stone and Sheila Heen call this switchback, which means changing to another topic. Do I switchback to her tone? They suggest not to switchback when receiving negative feedback. Simply focus on discussing one topic at a time. This takes self-awareness to do so. And obviously I’m lacking that.

Build a growth mindset

After I get the feedback and understand it more, what’s next? Two choices here. One, thanks for the advice and don’t take it. Two, do small experiments to change in progress. There could be one more choice and I just invent it. That is, ask a friend to improve together.

Happy reading! And please give me feedback. 🙂