Is Social Media Making You Depressed?

Could social media such as Facebook be the root cause of your misery? How could it be? Social media is a place that people keep in touch and share their happiness. How could a happy place be the root cause of your misery?

Having someone to share some of their happiness with you is a wonderful thing. When you linger on Social Media for too long, you would feel that everyone seems so happy and successful. It is inevitable that we compare ourselves to others. When there is comparison, so begin the misery.

We wish to have Jeff’s new car, Mary’s holiday trip to South Africa, Tim’s high paying job. Before letting the jealousy creeps in, take a pause and think about the people and yourself. You wanted Jeff’s new car? Would you exchange your whole life with Jeff? The key words here are “whole life”. You cannot have part of Jeff’s life to achieve what Jeff has achieved. It has to be everything.

Someone told me that she wish she could write as much and as well as I do. I told her she can. I gave up my lunch hours to catch up with my work. I would give up TV and Internet, so that I can write. There are times I would write a thousand words and have to delete it all. After listening to my stories, I do not think she is interested in writing anymore.

On social media, people only shows the fruits and results of their hard work. Few show how much they have to go through and sacrifice made to get what they want. A brand new car or a holiday would mean a cutting back other parts of life. A new high paying job could mean less time to relax and more office politics.

Before you wish for anything, ask yourself, is it what you want? Are you willing to give up what you have now?

There is no need to feel jealous. Instead, be happy for that person. Happy that the person is finally getting what they have always wanted. Let that person’s happiness be an inspiration that you too can achieve similar success but in your own way.

If you have to use social media, let it be a place to spread happiness. Be happy for everyone who is sharing their life with you. Yes, be happy for those who are showing off as well.

Don’t Let Your Failure Strip Your Identity

“I am such a failure”

“I just could not do anything right”

“No matter how I hard I try, I ended up failing”

We hear this all the time and sometimes we even say it to ourselves. Indeed failing is a horrible feeling. I have failed more times than I can remember. As frustration and sense of failure wracks up, it is easy to identify the failure as part of your identity.

When you start identifying yourself as a failure, before you attempt anything, you have already failed. When my kids learned how to walk, they always fall on their backside. When they fall the whole family would smile, my kids will stand up and try again. Children did not let failure destroy their enthusiasms. They only know that they needed to get something done. Most of us who has a capable body all learned how to walk by falling. As we got older, we somehow identify more of the failure than the attempts.

Suffering through failure is part of life. On the day that we are born, we are destined to  swim through failures. Steve Jobs was kicked out from Apple before he went back and developed all the products that changed the world. Steve Jobs did not stop being Steve Jobs while being ousted from the company that he created. He founded NeXT computer platform for higher education and business markets. This company was later bought over by Apple.

Always have Plan B. Failure is part of life, and it pays to have a plan B. Any well run company would have Business Continuity Planning. It is a prevention system to handle threats to the company and keep the operation running. You should do one for your life. Plan for the worst case scenario and simulate it. Tim Ferris sums it best on how to rehearsing the worst case scenario in your life.

Expect failure. For you who is looking for better opportunity in your career, be prepared to receive rejection letters that are enough to start a born-fire. For you who is starting a business, accept that the business would fail. There will be tears and uncertainty to manage. Be ready to have a thousand “No’s” before reaching a “Yes”.

Be grateful. The pumping heart inside your body is a miracle. We did nothing to earn that  pumping heart. As long as your heart is still pumping, there are still chance to turn things around. Be grateful of what little you have now, and find ways to overcome the frustration and setbacks.

A lesson learned. There are just things that are out of our control. We have prepared, we expect and things would still go against our wishes. Take away as a lesson learned and prepare for the next set of challenges.

Life is never meant to be easy. At the same time, there are also many more people who are going through worst hardship. Take one moment at a time and attack each  challenges with all your heart.

Letting Go of Good Times

Caught up with a friend who has been holding the same role for about 15 years. This person kept telling the stories about the good old days. At the same time, the person was expressing frustrations and feeling trapped.

One of the most difficult lessons in life is actually letting go. Letting go of bad experience, letting go of past relationship and things that should have been thrown away. Those lessons are already tough enough. But I believe, the tougher thing to do is to letting go of good times as well.

We cannot be selective on only holding the good times and letting go of the bad times. Both moments will never come back. Not able to let go of the good times will prevent us from seeing and experiencing now.

When I first started to write on the net. I check the view numbers every other hour. If a post had an unusual high view, I would revisit the post and see what I have done right. I want to see how I can repeat the success again. Yet, the more I tried, the more rigid my writing gets. Of course, the quality of my writing plummets. I was drunk by numbers. I was tied by my past success and writing become miserable.

A post is just a post. A moment is just a moment. By letting all those go, we are free from the shackles of the past. We can take the lesson away but we do not need to keep looking back.

If you caught yourself thinking about the good old days again, take a pause and pay attention to now. Ask yourself what can you do now to make a difference. Your future is built at this moment and not from the good old days. Let go of the good old times.

How Star Trek Made Me Take Action

On September 2016, Star Trek celebrated its 50th birthday. The first episode “The Man Trap” was first aired on TV on 8th September 1966. So in the year of 2016, the world celebrated 50 years of Star Trek.

I am fond of the Star Trek The Original series. At that time, I do not understand the story. I remember all kinds cool gadgets and colored alien. I only started to follow Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: DS9 when I was in University. It was one way to learn English and also another way to escape life.

Star Trek has always painted an idealistic world for me. Problems can be solved with technology. Life’s challenge can be overcome with philosophical discussion. An idealistic world does not mean it is perfect, there are problems and conflicts. It is how we see the problem and see through is solved.

The technology in Star Trek is amazing. Some of the technology has become a reality or an inspiration. The mobile phone is a good example. I dare speculate, the fax machine is inspired from the star ship’s transporter.

Star Trek has inspired me to join the IT industry. I have made friends through Star Trek gatherings.

Most importantly, Star Trek has inspired me enough to take actions to do something. To be part of a collective to make the world a better place. We all have histories that we are not proud, but we still can make a difference if we are willing to take action and explore.

“to boldly go where no one has gone before”

Challenge yourself, to boldly go where you have not gone before, it could be a place, it could be something that you have always wanted to do, it could be your inner self that you have never gotten to know.

Take action today and start exploring.

The Insult That Changed My Life

I am not a smart person. I do not speak English until I reach high school. When I was in high school, I have been teased being a Chinese Communist. My accent could not differentiate between “three” and “tree”. I struggle through high school and struggled harder when I was in university.

Someone said to me, “You are so stupid that it takes you two hours to watch 60 Minutes.”

The joke was on this person, at that time I do not know what is 60 Minutes.

I can either accept the fact that I am no good and so there is no point of trying harder. Or I can accept I am no good and I should try harder. I choose hard work.

I have failed more than I can remember but I have also experienced more than others. Hard work is difficult, it can make you cry, it can make you doubt about your capability. Hard work isolate yourself from friends who wants you to hang out with them. In fact, hard work may not even be rewarding. When it rewards, it is most full filling.

Here is a journey in hard work.

Read. Reading is the fastest way to learn something new. All you need is a desk, comfortable chair and some place quiet. Read as much as necessary. There is a saying, copy one, it is plagiarism. Copy a thousand, it is research.

If you think you are not good enough. Read about people who are smarter, better than you. Read their life story. Read about their experience. You do not need to live once. You can live many times through someone’s life experience.

Write. Write about what you have learned. As you gather your thoughts, you will soon know the knowledge gaps. Study to close the gaps and try writing about it.

Try. There is nothing more effective than using the knowledge that you have gained. Going from knowing to doing, besides developing the experience, you also gain wisdom. Nothing is more full filling than actually using the knowledge.

It is okay that it takes me two hours to watch 60 Minutes, at least I have started the journey and finished the journey. It is not going to be easy. In fact, life is never meant to be easy. The only easy day is yesterday.

As for you, start something today and finish it. The journey may be longer than others, but it is your journey, you own it and no one can take it away from you.

Let Your Childhood Be Your Guide

Before I celebrated my 12 birthday, I already suffered a bloody nose during basketball game, had a dislocated elbow from a playground accident, first-degree burn due to fireworks, and many cuts all over the body due to bicycle accidents. I was probably a walking nightmare for my family and a daredevil.

When I shared my stories with my friends. Someone remarked that,

“You must have an awesome childhood.”

That is a good point to ponder. I have bled, I have cried and I look back with a smile. I took risks, and lived to tell stories. Regardless of the outcome, I have a proud childhood. I did not talk about my grades, I did not talk about toys, but all the things that I did.

As I grow up, that sense of adventure somehow died. I took the safest of the safe route to live my life. Bills and commitments are my priority. Budget to balance, deadline to watch out. Where was the sparkle that we all had during our childhood?

Let your childhood be your guide. Take small risk and go on a little adventure. Let your inner-child be your guide.

You cannot remember how it feels? Take a walk around the playground. Watch and listen to the kids. Your childhood did not die. It never did. You just have stopped listening to it.

Let that innocent voice be your guiding light. Do something that has no meaning, just because your heart tells you so. You will find adventure, you will find fun. And most importantly, you may even find yourself.

All You Need is 100 Hours To Get Ahead

Since I completed my 100th post on Linkedin. I received questions on my I managed to find the time write all these posts. I actually did not spend too much time on writing. Maybe I have spent on average 100 hours in total on the writing.

I am a big believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule. To many people, this is a scary number. How can we find the time to do that? If you want to become world class, maybe 10,000 hours is what you need. If you want to be better than the general public, I believe you just need 100 hours worth of deliberate practice.

100 hours is not a lot. It is less than 1 week. It is 100 hours of deliberate planning, writing and editing.

Here is some of my writing system.

Write at night. Writing is a way of telling my brain and body that it is time to stop thinking about work. I enjoy writing at night is because the whole house is asleep and is quiet. It is nearly impossible for me to fall asleep right after I finish my work or conference calls. Writing helps me to calm down and get all the emotions out from the body.

Use the right editing tool. Writing is the easiest part, editing takes up similar time or maybe even more. To help with the grammar and spelling. I use Grammarly for Chrome. This tool checks my grammar and spelling as I draft. Before I publish, I use another tool — Hemingway App to check the draft’s readability.

Always carry a notebook. I always have my notebook with me. I write down ideas or topics that I find interesting into the notebook. As I accumulate ideas and topics, my writing begins in my head. The next step is to write it all down.

Here is how I get my ideas. The activities below is not

Listen to Podcast. I have shared how I improved 1% a day by listening to Podcast. Many of my writing ideas came from listening while driving my kids to school or whatever places that they need to go.

Read E-books. I love my large screen phone. I keep many of my digital collection of books with me. Whenever there are a few minutes spare time, I would be reading. I could be waiting for the elevator. Waiting for someone. Waiting in line. Trust me, you will find those little moments. The only caveat here is that if you need to read deeper books, you probably need to dedicate the reading time.

Talk to people. Everyone is your teacher. Regardless of age, intelligence and education level, we can always learn something from someone. I have learned many life lessons from my own kids. I have also learned many life lessons from homeless friends. Take as much time as you need.

My system of writing is not complex. I am not aiming to create a best seller. The right moments will never come to you. You just need to take massive action. One action at a time and you will soon reach the destination.