The Happiness Journal [In progress]

Yesterday, finally, I was able to finish my very first book in Vietnamese. That’s really a special milestone of my life, switching from an entrepreneur to an author and a speaker. Gratefully, I got many positive feedback, reviews from my friends for the book thus far. I’m so happy about that.

While I’m currently working with a famous publisher in Vietnam to release the paperback version, I’m eagerly starting my very first book in English now. That’s the English version of the book I finished yesterday. Tentatively, I would call the book “The Happiness Journal”. Mostly, I’ll try to convert the content from Vietnamese into English. But more than that, I’ll add some content from those English written blog posts I already have on my web site. That’s the difference between the Vietnamese version and the English version.

I’m quite emotional now. Wish me luck, okay :)? Thanks!

P.S. You can pre-order the Kindle version of the book here, before the tentative released date of the book on 11/28/2019. That’s Thanksgiving Day.

Dedication

This is really a special gift I would save for my friends, who I have had chances to meet and influence in some certain aspects of their lives. They would find here those stories and thoughts that I usually share once having conversations with them. 

Going beyond that, I do save this book as a gift to anyone who are carrying on less or more those worries, those fears, those insecure feelings, while pursuing happiness for yourselves. I hope my experience and stories in the past 10 years of a U50 would bring a lot of inspiration and suggestions to you. And from there, you can work on to build a practical direction, to live a noble, confident, fulfilling life, to the full of it – a Happy Life.

Excerpts from the book

Big vs. small?

She, a Catholic nun, opened the gate for me entering her open house, where there were more than 50 orphanages and disables living, early on a Saturday’s morning in Cu Chi. Standing in front of her, I’m kinda shocked. Though she’s only as tall as my shoulder, why do I feel that I’m too small, like a child, in front of her – a skinny, short woman with her soft voice and a lot of her big kind smiles?

Then, I quickly found out the answer, an answer conveying a deep root in human kindness and it is an in-depth lesson for myself. It is simply contained in the words “Her Heart”.

I have a little daughter and everyone in my house is running around hard in order to foster and raise her. As for the nun and the open house? More than 50 unlucky people without any bloody relationships with her. Plus that, many of them are disabled. Those nuns in the house have completely dedicated their heart and soul, energy and money, sweats and tears, laughters and sorrows in each and every minute to maintain and keep the house warm.

It was that big great heart and mind making me become too little, standing in front of her. We are big or small not because of our body. Never. Period. We can only be as big as our heart and our kind-fulness.

Thank you, my nun, for your kind-fulness! I also thank you for the invaluable lesson that you taught me on that day, through your kind-fulness, through your acts.

Peace accumulation

“Every moment of peace has a tremendous effect on the mind. Peace of mind, no matter how momentarily is of great value.” — Sayadaw U Jotika from A map of the journey

It is a wonderful thing that you can grant those momentarily peaceful moments for yourself on a daily basis. As the teaching from Sayadaw U Jotika above, it has an enormous impact to wake up your spiritual potential, your wholesomeness. That’s invaluable. You don’t need to travel to those world wonders in order to attain those peaceful moments. All you need to have is a quiet place. And you can sit down, relax your mind and body regularly each day for 10 minutes or more, using the guided script contained in the QR code below.

Gradually, you would attain those valuable brief moments. Those peaceful moments can change you in the most positive way. So, if you keep having more and more of those calmed moments, you are accumulating more and more of peace for your mind. That is something doable. Let begin to sit and start relaxing your body and mind. You can see it for yourself.

Maintain a good health?

Total health consists of two essential parts: physical and mental. These two mutually supports and complement each other. A person with great physical help usually maintains a great mental health and vice versa. As growing older, you should be more caring and careful about these two different parts of your health.

Eat rightly

There is an old saying of Vietnamese going like this “Problems come from the mouth”. Yes, very true. If you are not using the right words once talking to others (or even self-talk), certainly you will get a lot of issues. Here, I am not intentionally talking about that. I do want to talk about health issues coming from our eating habit (which is literally sourced from your mouth), from what we eat everyday. We have the tendency to eat more than what our body really needs. And many health issues are directly coming from that habit, that desire to eat delicious food. I suggest you to equip a good enough knowledge about your body and build for yourselves a rightly eating program, suitable with your body. Just by doing that already prevents too many of health issues from your life. Work with health professionals and do it as early as you can.

For me, I follow the recommendation from Japanese: only eat 80% of your capacity. For lunch or dinner, I usually only have one small bowl of rice. And before even having rice, I usually try to take in vegetable filling up my stomach as much as I can, then come to the rice part. My body is in shape at the age of 41. And it’s mainly from this habit. I usually joke with everyone that as I’m lazy to exercise, I have to keep it balanced out by eating less. I think that’s a good strategy.

Regular exercising

While eating plays a very important role for your physical health that you should not ignore, exercising is what you have to do by all cost to maintain a great physical health. It doesn’t need to be expensive sports to have better health. It can be anything. But remember this rule: Assure to exercise at least 3 times a week, 30-60 minutes each and for whatever the sport you play you need to sweat during the session.

I need to pick for myself what is suitable for me. I learned that I’m not appropriate for competitive sports, any of them. That also reflects in my strengths assessment. It shows that Competition is in the bottom 5 of the 34 strength themes. Therefore, I pick those sports like swimming, yoga, taichi, … It’s best suitable for my style.

Mentally exercising and strengthening your mind

Above are for the first essential part of total health. The frequently missing part is not the physical exercises. People are too busy that can’t even have enough time to care and do mental exercising the right way. That’s more dangerous, I would say. In our modern world, too much of depression can be seen at work repeatedly. If you miss the exercising for your mind, the result is that you are gradually exhausted by all of those stresses, worries, fear till the point once your mind is too weak that it yields all those diseases inside your body: stomach issues, liver issues, heart issues, immune issues, … you name it. Eventually, it would turn into a more critically physical health issue, before you even know it. Be careful!

For physical health, we would need physical exercises, because our muscles are quite lazy. And in order for them to be healthy, we need to stretch our muscles through physical exercises to make it strong. However, we can’t apply the same principle for mental health by giving more work for our mind to take. Our mind itself is already having too many things running inside. Therefore, it needs a lot of rest and relaxation, in order to refresh, recharge and renew. It’s just like after an intensive physical exercise, you need to let your muscles to rest a lot. Our mind is like the retired muscle. So, the principles for physical exercising and mental exercising are in opposite.

For mental exercising, the main goal is to let it rest. Let it relax, regularly. Spending time for your hobbies like painting, playing instruments, … is one way to do it. Meditation is certainly one option. And that’s a very effective and powerful option. You need to pick for yourself a suitable option for you. For me, I mostly meditate for this purpose of improving my mental health. And it promises much more than just mental health improvements. It has also brought me more and more of wisdom, of happiness.

In brief, your total health consists of two essential parts: physical health and mental health. The principles for exercising are opposite for these two. If you can understand it and regularly maintain a discipline for exercising your body and your mind, plus monitoring and controlling what you eat, it can prevent you from most of health issues.

Stillness

I learned this short story awhile ago. The story is about the surface of a lake. Imagine that you are right next to a big and beautiful lake, in an early  and quiet morning. Lots of trees. The air is cool and pure. The lake’s surface is really still, just like a mirror – a big natural one. The cloud and the sky can be clearly reflected with the fullest details onto the surface. What a beautiful scene! If you drop a small rock onto the lake, you can clearly see each of the circles of water spreading out from that dropping. Each one of them in full details. Beautiful!

At the same place, imagine if it’s on a day with heavy rain and a lot of wind. The surface would be full of waves and surges. Then, would you be able to see the cloud and sky beautifully reflected? Would you be able to see those beautiful circles created by dropping a small rock onto the lake? 

Of course not. It will certainly be a surface full of waves and surges. A surface of angers.

That surface is similar to our mind. If it is always with waves and surges from negative thoughts and feelings, would you be sensitive enough to feel and observe what is happening to your life? Of course not. It is just a mind fully filled with waves and angers.

If you can maintain your mind being still and quiet, it’s easy for you to feel and observe anything happening to you in the most clarity and beautiful manner. That’s once you can realize the deepest meaning of the gifts hidden behind those challenges and difficulties that life has continuously brought to you.

Meditation certainly can help you bring back and maintain that stillness for your mind. Actively letting your mind rest or relax can help bring stillness and quietness into your mind. Or go find and enjoy things like: early sun rise (or sunset) next to the beach, river or mountain. Or even simpler, just listen to the sound of nature around you. The sound of the wind going through the trees. Or feel the smell of flowers in the air. If you can be in touch with nature happily existing around you, stillness  and quietness would follow and softly move into your mind.

Impermanence

The elegant lotus is blossoming and staying beautiful for two days. Then, it’s fading and withering. 

Being born. Dying. Impermanence. 

We come into this world in order to go away from it, at the end. No exception. Yet, we seems only see that impermanence around us. We are seeing that people are growing old, and one by one going away from this life. But we usually forget that we ourselves are also progressing on that process.

We can’t change this law of nature of impermanence. If so, we better prepare to cooperate with this process, in the best way possible. Knowing that we’ll come to an end, ask yourself at this moment that what you would do now in order to have a noble ending, once it comes? And even more than that, how can we transition into our next life in the most meaningful way? From the answer, we should act on it immediately from now. Wait no more.

I believe that we go away from this world in order to return. How we return to this world would depends very much on our acts, our thoughts and our talks that we are cultivating here and now.

What I would suggest you to do is to regularly let your mind rest. Regularly feed them with silence and quietness. Then, your body and mind would tell what you need to do. The answer lies right inside your body and mind. Not anywhere else out there to find.

The piece of log and the Buddha statue

I learned this meaningful story from Youtube: “There is a valuable big piece of log donated to a Buddhist temple. It was left in the backyard, bearing with moisture for years. One day, the abbot invited an artist to come and carved it into a beautiful Buddha statue. It was then put into the hall. After that, everyone comes and keeps showing respect to the statue which used to be just a piece of log with dust in the wild.”

We’re like that, a piece of dusty log. If no one “carve” us, how come we grow up and become some thing better? At work and in life, many times we receive critics and feedback. And it’s not always easy to accept those. What we need to do is to keep a calm and opening mind, to receive and to think thoroughly about those critics and feedback. 

If it is correct, then it’s like our luck receiving a valuable gift. If it’s not correct, it’s not that bad. We don’t become better or worse because of the critics. Yet, if you can even go beyond those incorrect critics, it would be a proof showing that you’ve grown into a much better person, a matured human being. 

Many times, you can’t handle critics at the present moment. In that case, you still have the option to keep silent and spend more time to think about it, before responding. That’s a meaningful PAUSED button for our life. Use it!

Note that it’s not just those critics, feedback are carving you. All of the conflicts, challenges, difficulties, suffering, and even happiness are doing the same same job of carving you to shape you to a better person.

Let everyone carve you. And remember that, even if you don’t like it, people still keep carving you one way or another. It’s not within your control. It’s also great to remind yourselves that if your are carved by a great artist (instead of a so so one), you would become more “beautiful” as a result.

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