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Personal Mission Statement Draft

January 1, 2013 Leave a comment

This is an initial draft of my personal mission statement. I wanted this entry up asap and will go into further detail later…

I will think before speaking and acting.

I will not procrastinate.

I will be reliable.

I will be humble.

I will solve problems with careful consideration and thought, not with emotions.

I will fix my mistakes and learn from them.

I will not be afraid to try new things and go out of my comfort zone.

I will keep an open mind, but critically analyze new ideas as I encounter them.

I will give my best effort in everything I do and strive to improve in all areas that I value.

I will follow my values and keep my self-respect.

I will demonstrate compassion and integrity to myself and to others.

I will pay attention and respect the feelings of others.

I will support my family, maintain my relationships and keep communications open.

I will take initiative yet work cooperatively with others.

I will do little things for others without expecting anything in return.

I will give others the benefit of the doubt unless it has been removed.

I will remember favours that others have done for me and seek to return them.

I will share my principles with others and inspire them to become better people.

I will make meaningful contributions to society.

I will be sustainable.

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Categories: Life, Personal, Philosophy

On Daily Inconveniences

November 6, 2012 2 comments

Thought Catalog recently posted an interesting article about how we use morality to justify our resentment towards people who inconvenience us. I agree that kind of behaviour isn’t beneficial.

The author even implies that the only person negatively affected by that kind of self-righteous behaviour is oneself. For example if a car cuts in front of me when I’m on my way to work, I could get angry at the driver. As a result, I might take out my frustrations at other coworkers and my productivity might decrease for that day. I end up going about the rest of my day feeling angry while the driver goes about his day without a care in the world. All that just because I believe it is morally right for me to be entitled to the space in front of my car.

Not everyone who uses those moral arguments seem to be self-righteous though. I believe that many times, we get angry simply because of our natural me-first attitude, that our immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities. Like what the author mentioned, writing a book explaining why it is ethically wrong to cut in front of other people or to show up late isn’t going to improve the quality of your life. Learning how to react to these inconveniences will since we are going to encounter them on a regular basis for the rest of our lives. It starts with thinking differently because it’s not really about morality.

How other people act is their karma. How you react is your karma.

EDIT: A friend shared this quote shortly after I posted this entry:

By choosing your thoughts, and by selecting which emotional currents you will release and which you will reinforce, you determine the quality of your Light. You determine the effects that you will have upon others, and the nature of the experiences of your life. – Gary Zukav

Categories: Life, Philosophy

Compassion

August 9, 2012 3 comments

Inspired by recent events and all the shit I had to deal with last summer.

I believe the greatest virtue a person can have is compassion. In short compassion is the awareness of hurt, difficulty, unfairness, etc… in other people along with the desire to alleviate that suffering. It goes beyond sympathy and empathy because people practice compassion through their actions, not passively through feelings. What separates compassion from other virtues such as integrity, patience and humility is that compassion will make not only your life better, but everyone else’s lives better as well.

Compassion begins with first understanding yourself such as why you have your strengths and weaknesses and why you experience certain emotions. When you understand your own anger and suffering, you will know how it feels like when others suffer. Only then will you be in a position to find the compassion to help others. This involves self-reflection and it’s up to you how you want to do that. For me, I like to walk to the park. There I think about myself as a person (eg goals, relationships, emotions) and that helps me understand why I behave the way I do.

No one is perfect which makes compassion more important than ever. Everyone has their own flaws, but that doesn’t mean you can look down on them just because you don’t have their same flaws. Everyone wants to be happy, but our shortcomings prevent us from pursuing it to a certain extent. If someone does something to upset or hurt you, you don’t get angry back or seek revenge because that would just create more suffering. Instead you try to understand the person and see why they behave that way. Many times it’s simply that people lack the education or experience to make better decisions. Therefore you help them to become better people so they don’t upset others. It requires a certain level of wisdom to understand other people and act accordingly. However, I believe all it takes to reach that level is the willingness to self-reflect and learn from not only your own experiences, but that of others as well.

When we look at other people, we see a part of ourselves in them as well. If other people are sad, then I feel sad too and want to help them feel better, whether they be friend or stranger. The more you care for the happiness of others, the greater your own sense of well-being becomes. Also developing a good heart will keep your own peace of mind. As to why compassion works, Simba said it best in The Lion King:

 

Although everyone is unique, you give everyone the same compassion, without exception, even though you may show it differently to everyone. To be compassionate means to want others to be happy and not suffer because like yourself, everyone else wants to pursue happiness. It comes with a sense of responsibility for the welfare of others irrespective of what they may have done to you. You extend compassion to everyone, whether they be friend or stranger, regardless of appearance, race, sexual orientation etc… without expecting anything in return simply because you know it will make them happy.

I found this story on the internet about a great act of compassion (yes it’s long, but definitely worth the read).

Categories: Life, Personal, Philosophy

Tired of Waiting

May 23, 2012 3 comments

I’ve actually been planning to write about this for over a year now, but never got around to doing so…

My biggest pet peeve is waiting and it’s the one thing I will bitch about. I don’t mind if people are only 5-10 minutes late, but when they are habitually over 30 minutes late, then that becomes a big problem. When you make other people wait for you (regardless of the reason), essentially you are disrespecting their time.

There is also a matter of integrity here. When you agree to meet with someone at a designated time, you are making a commitment to show up at that time and it is your responsibility to honour it. During that time, the other party has already agreed to make you a priority when he or she could be doing anything else. Also the effort required to be on time for job interviews is the same as for other appointments so why can’t people show the same diligence for both?

Recently I attended an event where the majority of the people were late. It was scheduled to start at 11, but we didn’t begin until 12:30 because we had to wait for everyone else. This event was created one week in advance so there is no reason why people couldn’t make the little extra effort to plan ahead to be on time. If you want the event to start later, then speak up and we will work out a compromise. Had I expected you to come at 12:30, I would have set the event to be that time, not 11. Also if you know you’re going to be late, then it’s common courtesy to let others know well ahead of time so they can adjust their schedule accordingly. Even though the majority were late to the event, not one of them called to let us know.

A common excuse for tardiness is other people are late so I don’t have to show up on time either. For those who use that excuse, I’m not annoyed at you because you seem to understand that being late is a bad thing. Instead I feel very sad and sorry for you guys. I show up on time despite knowing others will be late because I believe it’s the considerate thing to do. I have my own principles and philosophy I live by and they are based only on what I believe is the right thing to do regardless of everyone else’s actions. Just because you see many people do something doesn’t give you the excuse to do the same thing too.

I wrote this hoping everyone will always make the extra effort to plan ahead and show up on time to future events. There is only one reason why you need to be on time and it isn’t to make me happy (that is irrelevant). It is because you respect other people’s time when they make a commitment to meet with you.

Categories: Personal, Philosophy

Unlocking Doors with the Right Keys

May 18, 2012 Leave a comment

University education is important (although not necessary) for opening doors of opportunity once you graduate. To open those doors, you need a key. It doesn’t matter if the key is made of gold or copper. The only thing that matters is whether that key can unlock the door. There are many doors to open at UBC and each require a different key.

Let’s take a popular example…..UBC Med!! You can get rejected by the MD admissions committee even with an A+ average. In this case, over the past 4 years, you built yourself a golden key, but it doesn’t fit into the door you want to go through. How useful is that key now? Conversely it’s possible to get into UBC Med with only a B+ average. This key may be made of only copper, but at least it fit. Once you walk through those doors you will be (seen) on equal footing as everyone else who unlocked the same door.

The admissions committee already built a lock that you can see. The good thing is that you have full control on how you want to build your key. The reason why people with 95% averages still get rejected from med is that when they were building their key, they forgot the priority was making sure it can fit in the lock rather than it having to be made of gold. It’s more important to focus on doing the right thing, than to focus on doing things right.

In short…be a man, do the right thing!

Also congratulations to those who recently got accepted to UBC Med!

Categories: Philosophy, UBC

Rethinking a Christmas Tradition

December 27, 2011 1 comment

When I was little, my family “celebrated” Christmas by giving me presents and setting up a decorated Christmas tree every year, but we stopped that tradition over eight years ago. When I think about it, my parents did that only so I could be happy at receiving special gifts from “Santa Claus” like every other kid. However I am not as young or naive as before and my happiness doesn’t depend on other people giving me presents on December 25, whether they do come from Santa Claus or not. Now the question is why do people give each other presents on Christmas Day instead on any other day of the year? I believe most, if not everyone, does it for one of the following three reasons:

Religion

Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ and gift giving is part of that tradition. That is an acceptable reason and one I will not bother to argue with. However I know the majority of us do not give others presents because of religious reasons. Even to this day I still have not met anyone who give gifts solely because of their religion. On a side note, did you know the Catholic Church had banned that tradition during the Middle Ages because they thought it had Pagan origins?

Love and Friendship

Most will argue that giving gifts shows we love our family and friends. That’s true, but then why can’t you give presents during some other time during the year and not December 25? Is there anything wrong with giving presents some other time of the year to show your love and affection? For one, it will definitely be a surprise for the recipient. I mean, it’s not as fun when you know you are going to get a present on Christmas. Saying that, I don’t exchange Christmas gifts. What I do instead is give and receive presents at random times during the year from family and friends. Sure it’s different from everyone else, but I like the freedom and flexibility to do whatever I want whenever I want. For those who have felt stressed at this time of year from the holiday shopping, would you appreciate it more if Christmas didn’t turn so much into a commercialized holiday?

Society

Anyone else who doesn’t give presents for the first two reasons does it because society mandates it, in other words, everyone else does it. The problem with this is that the same argument can be used to justify any action one chooses to do. How would you react if I told you the only reason I voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election was because everyone in my neighbourhood voted for him? Imagine that reaction because that is the same one you are going to get from me if you ever use that society argument. Something else to ponder is do presents have meaning and if they do, is it because we choose to give them or because we are just following the status quo?

I am not against the idea of gift exchange per se. I simply question why everyone does it on December 25 and not on any other day, say April 9. Furthermore, wouldn’t it make more economic sense to do all the holiday shopping on Boxing Day and give gifts afterwards? For those living in the states, what’s stopping you from shopping on Black Friday and delivering gifts immediately after? If you guys do give presents specifically on Christmas for other reasons, do share because I would like to hear them.

Categories: Philosophy

Why Education Matters

December 13, 2011 4 comments

Recently, Tyler, Na’ama, Jonathan and I had a discussion on education. Unfortunately I don’t remember much since I have a terrible memory, but Tyler did take notes.  The most interesting topic we debated about was what is the purpose of education? There was quite a bit of philosophical discussion regarding

  • how does one learn?
  • what is knowledge?
  • are humans intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to learn?
To try and keep things simple, I will focus on the practical aspects of education in this post and future posts. The answer I proposed then was people learn so that they can make beneficial contributions to society. However I left that room not 100% satisfied with my own answer because I felt something was missing, but couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it was. After watching Ken Robinson’s TedxTalk (thanks Tyler for sharing the link), I have a better idea on the purpose of education.

 

Ultimately I believe the purpose of education is to prepare ourselves so we can live a life. I know it is a very general statement and I have only one premise: life is long. It is complete bullshit when people say life is short. After all that’s like saying the glass is half empty (more on that on a future entry). Everyday you will have to socialize with people, react to different situations, solve various problems and make many choices. Those are just a few dimensions of living a life and how you approach that is a reflection of your education whether that comes from school or not.

To quote Mahatma Gandhi: Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Categories: Education, Philosophy