Monday, May 30, 2011

Up Your 'Feel Good Factor'

Bad day exists only in your brain. [Pic]

Your days do not always go as planned. You need to know how to accept and handle that.

The easiest and most unhelpful response to a bad day is to whine. Most people do exactly that. Staying there and feeling down is not going to make things under control. You need to be able to feel better and move on.

Friends will tell you to be positive. However, there isn't a switch in you. You can't just up your positivity by simply turning a knob. You would need to know how to work on your own unique formula to turn things around.

Things around you are not responsible
for your bad days.

As much as you blame your life for making you miserable, the real culprit is what goes on in your brain. How you feel about yourself is not influenced by your environment, your job and the society. Rather, it is what you think of yourself. Your days get better if you feel better about yourself.

Here are some suggestions. Try them out and whip up your own exclusive 'feel good factor' recipe.

10. Find your sources of inspiration

What inspires you? Someone? Something? Some sight? Some sound? In "Ten Things That Inspire Me", I shared where I draw my inspiration. You can compile yours too.

The day doesn't hold you down. You do. [Pic]

9. Stop wishing, start acting

"I wish..." If only you could just wish away what bothers you and drive away the blues. If only. But no, that cannot happen. Results come from actions, not wishes.

8. Count the right thing

Einstein once said "Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted." Since it is easier to count material possession, we often overlook the importance of some uncountable such as friendship, wisdom, respect, happiness and courage.

7. Feel the power of 'right now'

Go and get something done right now and see the results straight away. This is far better than feeling the guilt from procrastination. The latter will only worsen your blues.

Whatever must happen ultimately should
happen immediately. (Henry Kissinger)

6. Believe in yourself

Self-doubt is poisonous. Very often, our non-achievement is a result of self-discouragement. When you keep telling yourself "I can't", you really can't. The converse is also true. Talk to yourself sensibly and positively. (See Self Dialog: Look Who's Talking?)

5. Shift your focus

Stop brooding over your misery. Instead, shift your attention to others. Think of someone you know and think of one thing you feel appreciative about him. Let him know your appreciation and see how his smile brings on yours too. Try it on your parents, your colleagues, your neighbors or a mere acquaintance.

4. Get your instant richness

Real riches cannot be stolen and you have more than you have ever realised. You are well aware of how much money you have how much more you want. But you may be missing out most of the real riches you already have. They are things that you won't want to lose but have taken for granted. Write these things down and put a price tag on each (this is not easy but just try it). Add them up and you will feel that instant wealth.

Surround yourself with happy and positive people. [Pic]

3. Connect with friends

With this, I mean connect with the right type of friends. Be surrounded by more positive people while your are nursing your blues. Let them spread some positive energy on you. Avoid those who are wallowing in the pit so that you do not get drawn in. You can always go back and help them once you are up and running again.

2. Eat healthily and exercise

This is a well-sold idea. I am sure you are a subscriber but you may not be practicing. The two has to go hand-in-hand. There is no use exercising a lot but eat to destroy all the goodness you have earned.

1. De-clutter

A less cluttered surrounding gives you an instant lift. You don't have to be ambitious. Get something done and feel the sense of achievement. You can start with your couch, closet, mailbox or backyard.

Getting yourself up when you are down is like
eating when you are hungry.

Bad days are like hunger and sleepiness. They will come back again and again. You can't avoid them but you can learn how to overcome. It is just like how you would look for food when you are hungry and take a nap when you are sleepy.

Lastly, if you are experiencing a persistent melancholy, you may need help from a trained person.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~ Winston Churchill ~

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Self Dialog: Look Who's Talking?

Self dialog is a habit. Get it right. [Pic]

Let's talk about 'talking to yourself'. There is nothing schizophrenic about what I am about to say. Read on.

You have self dialogs all the time and you are mostly unaware of it. It is no different from any other dialog you have with another. In this case, you are talking to 'another person' in you.

Are you aware of how you talk to yourself? [Pic]

Characteristics of self dialogs

1. Argument

You argue with youself to come to an agreed position. You do this because you might have too much information or too little. You are confused and you want to sort out the mess.

2. Agree to disagree

Self dialog may not always be conclusive. It may end with a disagreement and 'both of you' agree to come back another time.

3. Negative mood

You tend to do more self dialogs when you are feeling down.

4. Choices

We have many daily choices to make. Some of these are quick and easy but some take some deliberation. You have self dialogs when making choices.

Positive self dialog makes you happy. [Pic]

Self dialogs affect your happiness

Self dialog is about choosing your thoughts. Given the same circumstances, two individuals may derive different levels of happiness. The difference is the choices they make in their self dialogs.

There are always two sides of things. Talk yourself out to always look at the brighter side of things. It requires some practice before it becomes a habit.

One of the ways is to think of something important which you may have momentarily taken for granted. For example, your eyesight. Ask yourself "What if I lose it right now?". Remind yourself that some people are born without or may have lost it. Take a gratuitous moment and try to feel their pain.

Your ability to always take the more positive side of things makes you more upbeat and happier.

Negative self dialog makes you feel unwell emotionally.  [Pic]

Self dialogs affect your health

Very often, our physical disorders originate from mental or emotional causes. Put it simply, if you think you are very illl, you are very ill.

To some extent, positive self dialog makes you feel healthier. If you choose your thoughts and tell yourself that things are not that bad, your body would listen and the discomfort would be reduced. I suppose this is why placebo treatment is sometimes offered to patients.

Even if you are well and healthy, negative self dialogs can stress your days. Eventually, you body will protest as the stress level mounts.

Choose compassion over hatred. [Pic]

Self dialogs affect your personality

By changing your thoughts, you would immediately become a nicer (or nastier) person. Positive self dialog involves seeing things from the perspective of others. If you choose compassion over hatred, you are likely to behave in a more pleasant manner.

Interestingly, as a nicer person, you tend to be treated in the same way too. This in turn improves the quality of your life.

Self dialog is not about lying to yourself

Be honest. If you make it unbelievable, the dialog will be too unrealistic to cause any effect.

For example, if you have been having a difficult relationship with a person, it will not be convincing to tell yourself that he is the best person you have ever met. Instead, in your inner dialogs, focus on what he as done positively for you.

Use positive words in your self dialog. [Pic]

Choose your words

Positive self dialog is all about choosing the right set of words. Try to recall some of the recent self dialogs you have had. Check your words. Do they tend to be negative or positive?

You can learn to replace negative words or expressions with positive ones.

For examples:

Replace "I am old and tired. I am good for nothing." with "Compared to tomorrow, I am a day younger today. There are still many things I can do. I shall do them well and live today to the fullest."

Stopping negative thoughts begins with self-awareness. As you notice yourself saying negative stuff in your head, shout 'Stop' aloud. Do it often and you will become more conscious with your choice of thoughts.

You can read more about "Choose Your Words" posted earlier.

Practise positive self dialog.
It is never too late to start now.

As you are reading this, you have been talking to yourself at the same time. What did you say? Need to replace any of those with more positive ones?

Food for thought. Positive thoughts.

"Wherever you are, whatever your age you're only a thought away from changing your life." ~Wayne Dyer~

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Animal Cruelty: Who Will Cry For The Abuser?

How do you feel when one takes joy in animal cruelty? [Pic]

Why wouldn't I be upset? He killed a cat and bragged about it.

Joseph Carlo Candare, a 21-year old Philippine student tortured and killed a cat and then talked-big about it in his blog. This is what he wrote in April 2009:

"I pulled it on its tail and threw it. Then like some pro wrestler I jumped on it and my feet landed on it's (sic) torso. Slam! Felt good! But the cat didn't die, well not yet,"

For that gruesome act, the Manila court found him guilty (on 12 May 2011). He was to pay a fine of P2,000 (US$46) and do community work for 2 months. Ironically, he is ordered to take care of maltreated or abandoned animals for the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) as punishment. (see news report)

What is considered an appropriate punishment
for animal abusers?

Landmark case

Candare's case is not the first conviction for animal cruelty in the Philippines. Earlier ones involved mass animal abuses, including the transport and sale of dog meat. Nonetheless, this is a landmark case where a person is punished for inflicting cruelty on a single animal.

While Candare may not be a mass animal abuser, he admited that he has killed more than one cat. This is what he wrote:

"I didn't see it die but Myles (his friend) said it coughed up blood or at least something like that.... This isn't the first time I've killed a cat but this time it's different,"

Everyone is responsible for animal abuse. [Pic]

Who is wrong?

His blog post in 2009 outraged the animal lovers community. Online comments were unkind to him, understandably. I was upset initially. But when my concerns shifted from the cats to Candare, I have many other thoughts.

Was Candare born like this or was he a case of misguidance? In any case, he is a psychologically troubled person showing signs of zoosadism. He seems to have drawn extreme pleasure from acts of inflicting cruelty on animals. If left untreated, persons with such emotional disorders may redirect their targets on human beings.

It appears that Candare's behaviors were not a simple case of mischief. When he explained his 'unexplainable' acts in his blog, he seemed to be somewhat disturbed psychologically:

"Now everyone knows I hate cats. It's an unexplainable feeling towards them. Like some internal hatred. I just don't know why but I just cannot overcome my hatred for cats."

Will mutilating little insects an acceptable form of
animal cruelty? Where do you draw the line?

I am not familiar with the relevant laws in the Philippines. If there are no technical difficulties, I think it is more helpful to let Candare receive therapeutical and psychological treatments.

I fail to see how he can become a better person after clearing cat litters for two months. In fact, I am concerned that he might direct his frustrations on those animals under his care. I sure hope that his community work will be carried out under close supervision.

I do not know anything about Candare's childhood. However, psychologists suggest that some of the children who are cruel to animals have witnessed animal or child abuse. They may also have been victims of abuse themselves.

Parent can do much to guide children from young. Not all adults are animal lovers. However, that does not mean that they can afford to let their juniors engage in any acts of cruelty. If you think that pulling out wings of little insects to derive joy is trivial or even amusing, you may be in for something more troublesome. Don't wait till your children exhibit behaviors that defy social norms.

Animal abusers need help too. [Pic]

They need help

I am not writing this to vent my anger on animal abusers. Rather, I hope there is a higher level of awareness that animal abusers need psychological help and not just a straightforward punishment.

Animal abusers usually receive lighter punishment than those who inflict bodily harm on human beings. What is lesser known is that animal abusers are potentially dangerous to people. The law should not be such that they are lightly punished and then let go. They need help.

"It is much easier to show compassions to animals.
They are never wicked." ~Haile Selassie~.

Last month, in a separate incident, a woman killed and mutilated a cat to use as part of an outfit to wear to Lady Gaga concert. She was charged and she was also receiving treatment for psychological illness. (See news report)

The next time you come across an animal abuse case, spare some thoughts for the abuser and his potential human victims as well.

Think compassion.

"Human it is to have compassion on the unhappy." ~Giovanni Boccaccio~

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Picture Blog #20 : Clan Jetties - Century-Old Waterfront Living

Clan Jetties - Unique settlements created by Chinese immigrants
from common origins.

I island-hopped last week.

It was a short trip from the Singapore island (710km2) in the South to the Penang island, Malaysia (293km2) in the North. My flight took just about an hour. However, it would have taken me 8-10 hours by car or 12 hours in a coach. I am talking about a 700km island hopping here.

Map of Singapore and Malaysia

Penang Island is Pulau Pinang in Malay. Literally translated, it means the 'Isle of the Betel Nut' in Malay. It is also known as the 'Pearl of The Orient'. In 1786, Captain Francis Light founded the British colony of Penang and in 1832, Penang formed part of the Straits Settlement with Malacca and Singapore.

George Town is the captial town of Penang. Named after King George III, the town is a modern city which can zip you back in time with its well-preserved past. In 2008, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Part of the popular local TV serial, The Little Nonya (小娘惹), was filmed there. I can totally understand why.

You can find out more about Penang from the official Penang Tourism website. In this picture blog, I will just bring you right into the Clan Jetties. These jetties, located along the Weld Quay (see map), are traditional Chinese fishing settlements since the 19th century. More than a hundred years later, let's see how this unique waterfront communities juxtaposed with the 21st century modern age.

The pictures will tell you the rest.

The Clan Jetties are located along the waterfront of
George Town. Each
of these jetties are named after the
respective last names of the clans.

Modern buildings of George Town form
a contrast with the jetties.

Each jetty is accessible from the main road
Weld Quay marked by a signpost . [Pic]

The Chew Jetty is the largest. Others are: Koay, Lee, Lim,
Peng Aun, Tan, Yeoh and Mixed Clans Jetties.

The families at the Chew Jetty are descendants
Xin Lin She village of the
Fujian Province. 

The residents at the Mixed Surname Jetty are
from various other origins. Due to their relatively
smaller numbers, their predecessors came together
and lived on this jetty. 

Wooden houses are built on both sides
of the jetty and bicycles and motorcycles
are parked right outside the house.

Apparently, the early dwellers chose to settle in homes
above water to avoid paying property tax imposed
by the colonial government in the
early 20th century.

A typical house on the jetty. [Pic]

The walkway of Clan Jetties are made from wooden
planks over water.

Some of the walkways can be
rather narrow.

Some houses have their own fenced compound. [Pic]

Modern sanitation is generally lacking and
fire hazard is a real thread.

A house cat behind a wooden fence. [Pic]

Fishing is the main source of livelihood. However, some
houses are used for commercial purposes such as
hair salon, sundry and homestay.

A fishing boat docked by the jetty. [Pic]

A wooden jetty extended out to the Penang Channel.  [Pic]

Temples are central to the lives of the
residents. Seen here is a temple at
the Tan Jetty.

During low tides, fishing boats would
just be stranded on silt seabed.

A simple sign seen at the Clan Jetties, reminding visitors
of the recognition given by the UNESCO. 

How many more times can these wooden planks
be replaced before the jetties give way
to urban renewal?

A resident giving his house a fresh coat of paint.
How many more good years can he expect
at the Clan Jetties?  

The Clan Jetties are constantly being threatened by city
modernization. Lots of support would be needed
to keep them for the next generation. 

Will there be much left in the years to come?
Something for everyone to think about. 

See it for yourself, before it fades
into the background.

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." ~ Leslie Poles Hartley~


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