Monday, January 31, 2011

Don't Become a 'Typewriter'

Lifelong learning is not optional [pic]

Whether or not you know what a typewriter is, this post is for you.

Typewriter, a term unfamiliar to many young people, existed in a useful way since 1870. It wasn't too long ago that it was still an essential item in our lives. Today, it is displayed in some museums.

Sometimes, when I pause and think about how quickly technology becomes passe, it scares me. With iPhone5 around the corner, those with iPhone3 in their hands are lamenting that they feel so dated. Looking back, the first iPhone was launched on 9 Jan 2007 and that does sound like a long time ago on the new technology time scale.

Is it just about owning it? [pic]
The blind pursuit of technology

People should just get used to the fact that there is no such thing as owning new technology. You cannot own it because new technology does not stay long enough to be owned. Instead, we should just emphasize on knowing new technology rather than owning it.

New technology always promises new possibilities and that is just great. However, in our pursuit for the latest gizmo, we often forget that we are born with the most advanced 'technological' gadget ever created. That's right, the almighty brain.

No other brains can match ours [pic]

Your brain rules
Our brain has an infinite capacity to learn. Unlike computers or whatever bombastic gadgets you have, it never says "Harddisk full". It has the most incredible ability to become intelligent and creative. It is totally scalable, upgradable and it is capable of storing the most amazing 'software'.

New technology or not, the immense potential of our brain remains unchanged. No technology can ever take over that super-machine in you (at least not during my lifetime). The gadgets in your hands are merely tools. They are there to let you enhance your potential in many ways. They are not there to replace your brain.

There is always something to learn. [pic]

Don't stop learning

Our brain is powerful right from the start and there is never a need to launch Brain 2.0 after Brain 1.0. Regrettably, it is the most under-utilized machine in the world as most of us hardly tap much into its potential.

When we were in school, we were constantly pushed and challenged to improve ourselves. I can still remember the brain-bursting feeling during exams. However, the moment we stepped out of school, we were on our own to learn.

As adults, you are learners just like when you were in school. Except that this time, you are the pupil, the teacher as well as the headmaster. You decide what, when and how to learn. You also decide on the pace and the place.

In "Lifelong Learning - My Way", I shared that as adults, we often do not learn actively and suggested a few ways to pursue lifelong learning. In "What's There to Learn?", I said that lifelong learning is a non-stop process and there is no such thing such as "nothing to learn".

Technology helps you learn [pic]

Lifelong learning and technology

Lifelong learning is not optional and there are many tests along the way. No one is going to inform you beforehand and no one will ask you if you are prepared. Sometimes, you get to retake the tests but sometimes, you simply have to pay the price of failure. 

New technology has brought along new ways to learn. We no longer need to browse volumes of encyclopedia or visit the library in person. We can pick up reliable information on the go in a timely manner. We also can connect with people and ideas with a push of button. In short, new technology has made lifelong learning easier.

Are you at risk of becoming a 'typewriter'?
[Photo Credit: Michael Kelly]

Don't become a 'typewriter'

Just because you are a proud owner of iPhone5 does not mean that you are not at risk of becoming a 'typewriter'. Before you buy your next swanky gadget, remember to ask how it can help you learn and not whether it is the newest in town.

Lifelong learning is never about what you have. It is about what you do with what you have.

"Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn." ~ Benjamin Franklin ~

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Monday, January 24, 2011

You Are Not Happy Because...

Do you know why you are unhappy? [Pic]

I see a stream of 'bad day' updates in Facebook today.

There is nothing unusual. In fact, I often see unhappy expressions in social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Outside that virtual space, similar voices are also heard in my office, my home and on the streets.

Everyone becomes unhappy at one time or another and some feel that way more often than others. The good news is that, no matter what state of happiness you are in, you can always be happier. To do that, you need to know why you are unhappy.

Everyone can be happier. [Pic]

Here are 10 common 'traits' of unhappy people. Check out which are the ones responsible for your blues:

10. You pursue a perfect world

You cannot stand flaws even when they are tiny. Your days are typically spent fussing over hairline cracks.

09. You compare, compare and compare

Life isn't fair, you think. Other people are always having it good and your life on the hand, is full of unpleasant stuff.

08. You have a wrong sense of fashion

You think it is fashionable to feel the blues and wallow in self-pity. You feel that if you carry a little more sunshine in you, your other unhappy friends are not going to accept you so well.

Do you stick around with unhappy people? [Pic]

07. You live in a toxic environment

The people around you constantly remind you that you have reasons to be unhappy. You believe them.

06. You expect happiness to come from the outside

You wait for the right weather. You yearn for praises. You chase after material things. You believe all these externalities will eventually make you happy.

05. You live in the past

You always look back and never stop lamenting 'if only...'. You miss out much of the present and fear what might come next.

Do you see ruin
or do you see growth?

04. You like to blame

When something goes wrong, you are quick to conclude that someone else is responsible for it. You spend much time substantiating why you are right.

03. You are blind

Not visually though. However, you fail to see all the goodness in yourself and in others. On the contrary, you focus on everything and anything negative.

Do you see one thing that's good
or everything else that's not?

02. You don't give enough

You want more for yourself so you hardly give. You are always discontented and wonder why you have so little.

01. You worry all the time

You frequently fear for the worst. Your worries keep you awake in the night and make you powerless in the day.

Unhappiness is like flu. Don't catch it too often.
When you do, get well soon
If you see much of yourself in the above pointers, you are likely to be quite unhappy. Knowing what causes your unhappiness gives you a better control over your life. Recognize the culprits and take charge of your mind.

Unhappiness is like flu and you do get it sometimes. The point here is to minimize the occurrence and recover fast whenever you are down with it. Build positive habits and let it ward off occasional blues quickly.

Happy or not, it is entirely up to you.

You might also like to read:

"Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Don't Buy Rabbits in the Year of the Rabbit

Lunar New Year 2011 3 Feb - 17 Feb 2011

I see 'red' everywhere.

In 2 weeks' time, Chinese around the world will be celebrating Lunar New Year (农历新年). According to the Chinese Zodiac, this new year will be the Year of the Rabbit (卯).

Chinese people are strong believers of the element of luck and many would go an extra mile for it. Most of the beliefs involve some form of symbolism. For example, 'Red' is considered a lucky color.

Be a responsible pet owner.

In Singapore, some people buy rabbits on impulse believing that having them in the house during the Year of the Rabbit would bring good luck. Some even buy these furry animals as gifts.

Many of these pet owners are not ready for a long term commitment. As soon as they realize that rabbits are not low-maintenance pets, they abandon them. In the previous Year of the Rabbit (1999), 625 rabbits were abandoned here and that was 340 more than the year before.

The pet shops have good reasons to be happy as many expect a rabbit craze  (article). Some are taking this opportunity to use rabbits as a marketing gimmick, luring consumer to buy the 'lucky charms' on impulse.

"Don't dump me!" (Photo Credit: Mile)

On the other hand, the animal activists have much to worry about. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Singapore (SPCA) and the House of Rabbit Society (HRSS) jointly released a Press Statement on 7 Dec 2010, urging the public "Please Don't Buy A Bunny!".

On 23 Dec 2010, the Straits Times carried another story reminding readers: "Don't usher in Year of the (dumped) Rabbits". In the article, a 'feng shui' (geomancy) master 'debunked the myth that people need rabbits to bring luck or prosperity in the Year of the Rabbit.'

On 2 Jan 2011, the HRSS asked viewers to "Help Save Rabbits this Chinese New Year" via a YouTube video. A local citizen journalism website, 'Stomp' also sent out a similar message: "Save a bunny! Please don't buy one just because it is the year of rabbit". The 'Mood Meter' on site indicated that about 95% felt either 'Enraged' or 'So sad' with the idea of buying pet rabbits as 'good luck charms'.

Pets are 'Friends For Life"

Owning a rabbit or for that matter, any pet, is a long term commitment. Not many people who buy rabbits on impulse realize that they are walking into a 10-year commitment. The cute and furry look of the animal somehow makes them forget that they are not buying a soft toy but a living animal.

The pet shop owners are not the only happy people. Some restaurants are offering rabbit meat dishes during this festival in the name of good luck. The Szechuan Court at Fairmont Singapore is one such example. 

Spicy Szechuan Heavenly Soup Pot
with 18 Treasures & Rabbit Meat

The restaurant is promoting an 'auspicious' new year dish known as "Spicy Szechuan Heavenly Soup Pot with 18 Treasures & Rabbit Meat". This 'auspicious' (or 'audacious'?) dish was also reported in Straits Times on 11 Jan 2011, 'Year of the rabbit stew: Diners trying rabbit meat'. Online readers at the 'Stomp' website reacted to that dish and found it distasteful. The 'Mood Meter' showed that many were either 'Enraged' or 'So sad'.

The Year of the Rabbit does not give us any excuse to behave like an impulsive and irresponsible pet owner. Neither does it suggest that we should chomp rabbit meat to bring in good luck.

Pet rabbits are not soft toys.
(Photo Credit: TOMAHAWK)

If for some reasons you must keep rabbits as pets in the Year of the Rabbit, I suggest you get a virtual pet from the Pet Society. However, if you think you are ready for the long term commitment, do some homework before you bring your little companion home. Check out basic information about house rabbits provided by the HRSS or go to the 'Pet Channel' to find out what other rabbit owners do. Most importantly, do not buy the bunnies. Adopt them. Many bunnies are waiting to be brought home from the HRSS Adoption Gallery.

Pets are friends for life, not soft toys. If you really want to attract good luck, save them, don't ditch them! Please help to spread this message.

Wishing you a Hoppy New Year!

You may also be interested in:

I Love You No More  

'Paw'ever Friends

(Cruel) Food For Thought

(Cruel) Food For Thought #2

Sorry! Moggies!

Watch Your Cattitude!

Love Me. Love Me Right


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Monday, January 10, 2011

How to Kill Your Motivation?

How odd! Why would anyone want to do that?

We all want to be motivated and we do feel motivated at one time or another. The problem is, those moments never last. At times, they are so brief that nothing much gets done.

The feeling of being unmotivated is not nice. We always want to feel motivated but often do not get it right. But if you browse around, many books and articles are there waiting to share with you on how to be motivated. If you google 'motivation', it will return more than 40 millions results.

Yet, many of us continue to wonder how we can be motivated.

Instead of trying 'how to be motivated', I am attempting to look at things from the other side. If we can recognize what makes us unmotivated, perhaps we can intervene consciously before we sink further.

Check the list below and see if you find yourself doing some of those things or behaving is those manners. Well, stop doing so unless you intend to go along with the odd title of this post.

Alright, this is how you kill your motivation...Don't try it at home or in your office:
  1. Tell yourself that life sucks and bad things always happen to you.
  2. Do the same old boring stuff day in and day out. Don't change your routine.
  3. Bottle up your bad feelings towards others and say nothing. Just wait for a misunderstanding or dispute to come on.
  4. Be a party-pooper at work place and make sure that no one gets any fun out of work.
  5. Don't bother about learning. There is nothing much to learn anyway.
  6. Shun challenges. 'Tried and tested' is the best policy.
  7. Focus on what you have not done. Forget about your achievements. Not that you have many.
  8. Stay away from people. It is better not to bother or be bothered.
  9. Procrastinate. What can wait shall wait.
  10. Be a skiver. You will still receive your pay cheque. Why put in more?
  11. Life's short. There is no need to worry about what might come next.
  12. Compete with others on trivial things. After all, it is important that you have a bigger TV than your neighbors.
  13. Hang on to your past. Nothing else is more certain than that.
  14. Be wishy-washy. Life is full of options and it is tough to stick to one thing or two.
  15. There is no need to worry about what might happen. Just see how things go.

Let's continue...
  1. Stay within your comfort zone. It is where you feel the safest.
  2. Always compare yourself with others. It does not matter what you have become, so long as you win.
  3. When you hit a snag, blame others. Somebody has to be at fault.
  4. When the going gets tough, just quit. It is not worth the effort to continue.
  5. Be skeptical. Most people are up to something bad.
  6. Nobody likes you so just wallow in self-pity.
  7. Look around you and find fault. There are always reasons to complain.
  8. You are just a mediocre. Don't try to stick out in a crowd.
  9. Just suck in those junk food and enjoy the moment. You can always exercise some other time.
  10. Join in the whining game. Many are doing the same.
  11. Focus on problems and witch-hunt. Solutions can come later.
  12. Things do go wrong and not that you can help it. Blame the hormones.
  13. Life is always unfair to you. Good things always happen to others.
  14. People around you keep changing things. You loathe change.
  15. What motivation? It is easier said than done.

I can go on but I will stop here. I think I have given enough ideas on how you can kill your motivation. I am not sure if this article is motivating in any way. At least, I am sure of one thing:

I have not motivated you to kill your motivation.

Suggested reading: To Quit or Not to Quit?

"Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. 
Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice."
~Wayne Dyer ~

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Beating the Post-Holiday Blues

It's time to get back to work.

After all the merry-making during the festive season, the thought of going back to routine can be painful. It is time to face the hectic work schedule and school timetable again. Even if you are a homemaker, you are going back to your routine of seeing family members settling into their normal days.

Many people dread to leave their holidays behind and get back to reality. This is understandable. Even iPhone alarm failed to work on 1 Jan 2011 (just kidding).

If you are wondering how you can nurse your post-holiday blues, I have 20 ways for you to consider. I am sure some of these can help to reset you within the coming week.
  1. Give to those who are less fortunate. You can give money, toys or your time.
  2. Take a walk, reconnect with nature and take a new perspective.
  3. Treat yourself with not food but a spa treatment or a visit to the hair salon.
  4. Spend time with your pet and get a free therapeutic treatment.
  5. Listen to the music you enjoy or play your favorite instrument.
  6. Write in your journal and sort out your thoughts for the new year.
  7. Exercise. Get back your workout routine or start a new one.
  8. Go to a bookstore to browse and get some fresh ideas.
  9. Visit the museum and learn a thing or two from the past.
  10. Call a friend whom you did not get to meet during the holidays.


Here are another 10:
  1. Watch a funny movie.
  2. Clean up your room and make way for fresh air.
  3. Paint a picture by the beach or in the woods.
  4. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Be gentler to the Earth.
  5. Shoot some pictures and pay attention to stuff you may have overlooked.
  6. Be inspired by your own creation. Make a scrapbook or something.
  7. Have conversation with positive people and avoid sulky ones.
  8. Get the much needed rest after all the party-goings.
  9. Eat healthy meals. Your body deserve some good rest too.
  10. Pray.
Have a fantastic 2011!

"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves."
~Bill Vaughan~

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