Instincts and Signs


I’ve been getting up early and doing a short run along the lake before work. My body didn’t want to wake up before my alarm, but my mind woke me up. I had dreams that I didn’t remember or the anger I subconsciously carried overnight. So, I decided to use running to shake off this negative energy. I told myself every day is going to be a new start and things will just be fine.

Things won’t just be fine on their own. And I know I won’t be happy with “just fine”. Like today, a dream woke me up again. I ran two miles and felt really positive to go to work. It turns out that today is not so great but it serves as a confirmation for me – I don’t belong to my immediate work culture. I don’t even want to fit in because it would undermine my characters. I started to have this instinct a few months ago, but I didn’t want to give up and was searching for justification – why am I here. And I tried – many times. This morning, this teaching/managing style assessment happened to be the first thing that I saw when I turned on my computer. My results are totally me and also clash with the culture that I’ve experienced for the past nine months. I’ve been trying to find the middle ground, but if people are not willing to meet me halfway, what can I do? Just walk away. (As I am writing this down, I just realize I can apply this to personal relationships as well!)

There have been many signs along the journey. I don’t know if I planted seeds or God planted seeds for me to go through this experience in order to understand what I thrive in? I don’t know and I won’t be able to know… I feel I really should trust my instinct and do something about it. If I don’t take action to make a change for myself, nothing will happen. Taking action doesn’t mean I will have a guaranteed positive result. Being comfortable with my decision in spite of not knowing the end result has always been my challenge. But at least trying something new would open up more possibilities and then I can have a better assessment when the time comes. I don’t want to live in denial or bury my head in the sand anymore. I don’t think trusting my gut feeling is illogical. The feeling actually has been built up by so many live evidences over time. It’s up to us if we choose to ignore our feeling or confront it. Sigh…sometimes, I just wish life could be simpler….


How many faces do you wear?

I have made authenticity my number one goal for myself to be genuinely seen, as well as an important criterion for me to evaluate others in my personal and professional life. Truthfully, sometimes choosing being real is choosing playing unsafe. Sometimes I wonder if I push the system too far, if my opinion is making people too uncomfortable, if I make people being more defensive, especially in a “political” environment. All I want is to make a difference and remind people we can all stop the routine for a second, pause, reflect, and then maybe create something new and better.

However, in order to be genuinely seen, not only do you have to open up yourself to others, they also have to be open and objective when they see you. I believe we all have a desire for belonging, an (unspoken) wish to be liked by most people. But what if people don’t like what I say when I am being real? I will never say anything malicious or try to outsmart anyone. I honestly just want to bring “different” perspectives to the table and have a meaningful discussion. Maybe sometimes…truth just sounds harsh in the beginning, and most people cannot take it or don’t want to change the status quo. When I see this kind of situation occurring again and again, I just don’t feel I really belong here. It’s not that I am unhappy. I am a pretty happy person. It is just not how I want to interact with people – not the way I want to live my life. For some reason, I always feel there’s a calling for me to do something bigger than what it is now. I am not sure what it is yet… One day I will figure it out, or maybe the right opportunity will present itself when the time is right. I need to keep this faith.

I won’t force myself to try to fit in…maybe will have to wear different faces to some extent. My dad advised me to play safe and be more political. I think I will try to balance it out. It is not that I can’t play the game. It is the question of playing or not wanting to play. So when I don’t feel that belongingness, what do I do? Do I just walk away when the time is right and go to find those like-minded people who I share similar ideals and values with?


Where did the humanity go?

I am not talking about what has been going terribly wrong in this world today. Those violent events are horrible and I can’t make sense of those tragedies. So I thought at least the city where I am living now is safe enough and people are nice enough. But, today, I am really really disappointed at people in general. I don’t know if I’ve been extra critical of people’s behaviors and attitudes lately, but I just don’t feel and don’t see much humanity exist at least in my immediate environment.

This morning while I was at work, I got a call from a friend who is visiting Chicago to help her pick up some medicine because suddenly she felt sick and couldn’t move at all. Once I got in her hotel room, I realized she was seriously ill and she was screaming uncontrollably due to the unbearable pain. I was very worried and tried every self-healing method I know to relieve her pain while calling the hotel to send a wheelchair so we can go to the emergency room. It should just be easy to grab a taxi from the hotel to go the hospital, right? I was thinking of that in my head. Once we got to the sidewalk, there were plenty of taxis. And nobody wanted to give up their taxi to us! I am not kidding. They saw us with a girl bending her back forward and moaning in a wheelchair. The first guy in a shiny business suit said, “Oh I used an app to call a taxi, so I have to take it.” Since when we use technology as an excuse, not as a help? A hotel porter gave a cab to his guests because they got here “first”. He was well trained by the principal of “first come, first served”. I was enraged and yelled, “This is emergency, someone needs to go to ER.” My usual politeness and niceness wouldn’t work in this circumstance in which people only care about themselves. And then an old lady looked at me and said, “Oh you can take this taxi, but why don’t you call an ambulance?” Seriously, I know how insurance dysfunctionally works in the US. I know the area, and a taxi ride will be much faster than an ambulance and costs significantly less.

I was cool as a cucumber when I tried to calm my friend down. But I was appalled, outrageously angry and disgusted at those people who did not have any bit of compassion or sympathy. Even after I sent an email to my office describing my friend’s situation and informing that I had to be out for a few hours, nobody replied anything or said anything after they saw me come back. I was exhausted….and continued working…and listening to the management talking about the operational process procedures and how many points we closed out last month. After a round of applause, what were we really celebrating for?

I don’t think I purposely scrutinize people. I thought being compassionate even when it is inconvenient is the basic principal of how people should treat people. Apparently, not everyone is like that… I should surround myself with more compassionate people. But where are they?

Be prepared in season and out of season

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I was so inspired by this verse and the speech given by a teaching pastor. It was a great way to conclude my weekend with dear friends and a new way to look at my life, for better or for worse. We have to do our homework before we show up in public – how to choose a career path, how to develop a meaningful relationship, how to get close to the family… Every obstacle, heartbroken situation, life-changing event thrown in that box is meant to prepare us to be ready before we are seen in public, before we can succeed in our goals, whatever we put our mind to.

However, a lot of people are so distracted and scattered to keep themselves “busy” from actually preparing themselves for a better result. Why? Fear of failure. Or simply just don’t have that courage to face the truth or reality. We all have faults. At times, it is so hard to admit our flaws to ourselves or to people, especially the ones we care about. Sometimes, we are also too native (or ignorant?), granted that rainbow would just show up itself after a harsh storm. In the end, we just end up running in circles…Same things keep happening and we don’t get the result we want. Then we become impatient, angry, resentful and the worst scenario is …we loose our faith and hope. But truthfully, we can change the outcome by preparing ourselves to be closer to the greatness. I have learned that this “preparation process” is always hard, and bad things may happen one after another…It doesn’t guarantee that you will get the ultimate result you want after merely one instance. But I believe we will always walk through the rivers with waves in our life, sometimes gushing tides, sometimes just ripples on the surface. If we can really change our perspectives and be open, stretch ourselves, one day we will be there, and that will be the right season to enjoy the fruit of our labor. Isn’t it what God wants us to do?

The speaker talked about doing this consistently, so when you go outside of your box, you will earn trust from people. Nothing can buy trust. People will see you as a trustworthy person, so they naturally will lean on you and want to be closer to you – at work, in relationships, everywhere. This is so true and enlightening for me… Sometimes, when I am so defeated, I just automatically go into my shell, to hide away…

In the end, he broke down the steps to prepare ourselves.

  1. Set your goals
  2. Name your distractions
  3. Create timeline
  4. Attack

During the times of difficulty, life seems miserably long, and happy moments always seem to fly quickly. To me, if I can do the above steps, then I will have no regrets in my life. I just want to feel at peace with myself and enjoy the present…

Is negativity such a bad thing?

I have found that in most circumstances, facing my own negative emotions head-on actually helps me judge others or situations more accurately. My awareness becomes sharp and I am more intuitive and in-tune with myself. After gaining the clarity of my surroundings, I can objectively decide if I want to engage or detach from a situation. Sadly, most people don’t even want to dig their emotions deeper, so they stay at a “safe” and superficial level. They may do it subconsciously due to fears, lack of commitments or old scars…I don’t know, but I have seen people like this. I can only feel sorry for them because they will never get to experience the full life. It’s always easy for people to share happy moments, but challenging to show their vulnerability. Why is that? To feed one’s ego? Weren’t we born crying when coming into this world? 

Interesting research studies in this article..

Feeling bad sucks. In our social media-driven and image-obsessed world, we like to pretend that we’re happy and positive all the time.

Negative emotions have become a sign of weakness and inadequacy, forcing us to internalize how we’re really feeling and creating even bigger problems.

Because we are all human beings, however, we can’t help but experience these negative feelings from time to time, causing the massive happy walls we build to come crashing down.

And while these negative feelings might make us want to crawl under a rock and declare our hatred for the universe, they’re actually more beneficial than you think.

A variety of psychologists and social scientists have poured tons of research into the benefits of negative emotions, specifically sadness, pessimism, guilt, anxiety, mindlessness, anger and jealousy.

One of these might be your main vice, but perhaps it’s time to start embracing the feeling as a force for good instead of evil.

Sadness makes you pay attention to detail

It’s important to note that here, sadness does not mean clinical depression. In an article for UC Berkeley, social psychologist Joesph F. Forgas discussed how periods of sadness make us pay more attention to external details, which provide a wide range of benefits in information processing.

In an email to The Huffington Post, Forgas writes:

In a sense, good moods signal that the situation is safe, familiar and that existing responses are appropriate. Negative mood in turn signals that the situation is new, challenging and the greater attention to new information is required to produce an effective response.

Being attentive to detail means you’re more in-tune with yourself and your surroundings.

With these detail-oriented benefits of sadness, you’ll have an improved memory, you’ll be able to make more accurate judgments of others and you’ll be more attentive to needing to make changes in your life.

Even more so, these benefits help you communicate your feelings better, construct more persuasive arguments and utilize your hyper awareness of your emotions for creative endeavors.

Pessimism prepares you for anything

In a study, psychologists Julie Norem and Nancy Cantor compared optimists to pessimists in a variety of “risky” tasks.

While most people might think optimists would outperform pessimists because of their confidence and the high expectations they set for themselves, pessimists actually performed similarly.

Pessimists were able to do well “because of their pessimism,” says Norem in her book, “The Positive Power of Negative Thinking.”

Norem says pessimists’ “negative thinking transformed anxiety into action.” Imagining the worst case scenario prepared the pessimists for anything, which motivated them to try even harder and focus more energy on getting ready for any and all kinds of tasks.

We need pessimism so we aren’t shocked if things get worse. Because sometimes, they do.

Guilt improves your moral compass

Guilt, that nagging feeling that comes when we do something wrong, is our moral compass, controlling our levels of social sensitivity and inherent need to be a good person.

In his book “The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self — Not Just Your ‘Good’ Self — Drives Success And Fulfillment,” psychologist Todd Kashdan tells the Huffington Post that “adults prone to feeling guilty were less likely to drunk drive, steal, use illegal drugs, or assault another person.”

Experiencing guilt is our brain’s way of punishing us when we do something wrong. It might feel terrible in the moment, but if you’ve ever felt guilty for doing something bad, it means your morals are in check.

Anxiety turns you into a problem-solver

Humans’ natural “fight or flight” response, which tells us to either fight against the object of danger or run from it, is related to anxiety.

The fight or flight response is automatic; it allows your body to metabolize a lot of energy quickly — from implementing changes in your nervous system, to making your heart beat more rapidly, to feeding your muscles more oxygenated blood — in order to act quickly in dangerous or uncomfortable situations.

In these kinds of situations, says Kashdan, anxiety will rule over positive thinking. Anxiety helps you quickly discover solutions to dangerous problems, such as escaping a fire in a building or avoiding a dangerous road.

When you’re anxious, you’ll do anything you can to get yourself and others out of a pressing situation.

Mindlessness heightens your creativity

Mindlessness — in other words, “zoning out” or “having a brain fart” — might seem bothersome when we’re trying to complete important tasks. However, there are a number of benefits to zoning out, which is good news, considering we do it about 50 percent of the time.

Kashdan tells New York Magazine that zoning out is “the incubation period of creativity.” When we zone out, our minds are pulled toward unresolved issues and future goals.

Ideas we never thought to combine start making sense together in our heads. In this way, the benefits of zoning out are often private and personal, which is why they may normally go unnoticed by other people.

It makes sense, really. We’re all familiar with the “aha!” moment, when a burst of insight about a problem suddenly enters our brains when it’s least expected.

This burst can happen during the most mundane of tasks: in the shower, while doing a homework assignment, in the midst of a scroll through a social media news feed.

It’s when you pay the loosest, most unfocused attention to an issue that you’re able to resolve it.

Anger motivates you to patch up conflict

There are indeed strong correlations between anger and aggression-driven conflict and violence. However, Howard Kassinove, PhD, co-author with R. Chip Tafrate, PhD, of “Anger Management: The Complete Treatment Guidebook for Practice,” says that “In fact, anger seems to be followed by aggression only about 10 percent of the time, and lots of aggression occurs without any anger.”

Anger encourages you to come up with “active, approach-oriented steps towards the goal of addressing the wrongdoings that instigated [your] anger,” so it’s beneficial in helping solve problems.

In a 2002 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology and a 1997 study in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, participants reported that positive outcomes arose from anger. Anger helped fix problems in relationships and fostered a greater understanding between the target of conflict and the person who had the conflict.

Regarding the studies, Kassinove notes, “While assertive expression is always preferable to angry expression, anger may serve an important alerting function that leads to deeper understanding of the other person and the problem.”

The American Psychological Association says that anger must “fill a constructive framework” in order to be successful, and it’s important to deal with anger before it causes problems.

Unexpressed anger or anger that isn’t used constructively can morph into“undesirable expressions of the emotion,” while internalized anger can cause “depression, health problems and communication difficulties.”

Jealousy forces you to work harder

Research has discovered that when you put people together in the same room, they’re already working on sizing each other up, figuring out who’s the smartest, who’s the best-looking and who’s the toughest, says Richard Smith, Ph.D., editor of the anthology Envy: Theory and Research.

Psychologists have pinned down two kinds of envy: malicious, which is driven by a need to make things equal and might involve tearing someone down to achieve that; and benign, which has an admiration and inspirational aspect, where you think that if someone else can do it, so can you.

The latter, obviously, is the more beneficial kind.

A 2011 study at Tilburg University in the Netherlands discovered that benign envy led students to perform better in school. Someone else accomplishing a goal you’d like to accomplish makes the goal more tangible to you.

When someone you know achieves something, you almost imagine yourself achieving the same thing, which motivates you to work harder to get it.

Can I do it again?

I was so surprised I was able to run 5 miles (8K) today and felt really good afterwards! When was the last time I did a long run…? Maybe two years ago…and then I had to stop running after my accident…Since then, I was a little bit scared of running long distances again.

I just signed up for a half marathon last week. I only have 8 weeks left. I don’t know why I was so impulsive (as usual). Maybe I just wanted to have a goal and prove myself that I still can do it. I was not sure if I could run 5 miles this morning…But I had to push myself to do it, starting really slow and then building endurance one mile at a time. I literally high five’d myself at mile 4 and couldn’t stop smiling.:)

While I was running along the lake this morning, I remembered my 1st half marathon in Vancouver four years ago…Before then, I hated running and never ran a race in my life. Yet, the first race I signed up for was a half marathon, and the destination was 1700 miles away from home. Nobody came with me. What the hell was I thinking? I trained myself for four months and didn’t join any running groups. I was completely worn out yet exuberant while running through Stanley Park from mile 10 – mile 12. The elevation in Vancouver was killing my legs. Even though I was alone, I felt everyone along the course was cheering me on. Maybe that’s how I finished the last mile – I couldn’t tell if it was my sweats or tears or both falling down my face when I crossed the finish line. I just remembered my speed of the last mile was much slower than my normal walking speed. But I didn’t want to stop. I had to keep running.

After the race, my runner’s high lasted for two weeks! Coincidentally, I helped a friend run her half marathon in Chicago, right after two weeks of my recovery, because she was injured. I was surprised that my mind could propel my body to accomplish such things. It was indeed my therapy to get back on my feet again. Where did I get that courage and determination back then? I think because I had hit the rock bottom during the darkest period of my life, the only way I could get out of the rut was to go up and move forward. Not until then, did I know our most significant opportunities are often found in times of great difficulty.

Now, I don’t have that kind of difficulty per se. On the contrary, comfort from the mundane life provides me with inexcusable excuses.:/ Human’s greatest weakness, I suppose. I will do my best… The worst scenario is to run and walk interchangeably. The goal is to finish, not to compete.




Tough Grader

It’s pretty interesting to me that today someone said I am a tough grader. This is probably the first time I received this comment. I thought I was always on the “soft” side…but actually I am glad I was perceived in this way. But what really distinguishes being easy vs. tough? Was it because of something I said or was it because how I presented myself in certain situations?

After reflecting on my own behaviors, I think I just hold my standards high and know what my non-negotiables are. And recently, for some reason, I had more courage to speak my mind and talk about some hidden truths that everyone seems scared or hesitant to bring to light. I don’t know if people are just being indifferent or ignorant – I can’t stand either.

It is so true that…within reasonable boundaries, we can set our own standards high and we don’t need to lower them easily. We don’t need to have these giant walls up and be closed off while we have high standards. I just feel I deserve the respect at all times. If I don’t speak my truth, then how can I expect people to understand me? Not everyone has a psychic power to read my mind. When I was younger, I didn’t know how to properly deal with conflicts or I didn’t even want to face confrontation – which eventually led to a waste of time and my energy. If you want me to be part of your life – learn to climb. It’s also an opportunity for me to be more introspective and learn how to observe people – if we are at the same frequency.