Last week, my very first English book calledThe Happiness Journal, was published on Thanksgiving Day 2019, through Amazon. It’s now available in Kindle format only. The paperback would be out in 1-2 months. I think it would be a great gift to everyone on this occasion of the year, the moments of emotions, the moments of celebration, the moments of family, the moments of wishes, the moments of praying, the moments of planning, and yes, the moments of happiness. Ultimately, we are all seeking for happiness. Yet, are we steering on the right path? I wish we all are.
However, the more I grow up during the course of my happiness journey, the more I realize that on the theory / concept side, happiness is very simple. Yet it’s so hard to “implement” it into our life. I think that it’s not just me struggling in finding and realizing it… But many of us out there would share with me those challenges on your own happiness journey.
Well, I’m not native English speaker. Much of the content in this book is translated from Vietnamese blog posts, all by myself. I am using a very simple English, as I don’t want it to be complicated with too many complex vocabularies. Sometimes, you would find a few common, simple and repeated grammar issues, usually made by foreigners. I hope you understand why it is so.
I think being my authentic voice is important. I hope it would be like I am having a direct conversation with you, telling you the stories of my life and my happiness. I am a big fan of a book named Mindfulness in plain English, a great book for any meditators. From that book, I have learned the idea that if you can’t use simple and plain English to explain things you know, you fail. As you may not have an in-depth understanding of things. That’s how I would challenge myself to be simple once using vocabularies and wording in this book.
With all of the stories in this book that I’ve written in the past 10 years, sharing about my own life, I hope you would get a lot of inspiration, a lot of suggestions, a lot of energy from reading through the stories of my life and so. All are to be more energetic, more courage, more patient, more discipline, more open, more compassion to move forward with your happiness journey. Thanksgiving time is the great time for you to pause and to think what would make you happy and how you get closer to your happiness, agreed?
“Society, family, and company, they all really need people who can contribute – contributors. Also, it’s only them, the contributors, who can blow the air of energy and success along with meaningful achievements for society, family, and company that they are with.”
Be a contributor, fully. Then, success and happiness would follow…
I never thought that I would become an author one day. Surprisingly, the more I sit down and write, the more I find myself very into that career of a writer. The excerpt above is from my very first English book called “The Happiness Journal” which is the English version of Tản mạn về Hạnh phúc, my first ever published book!
I hope I can release “The Happiness Journal” around Thanksgiving time, a meaningful and emotional time of the year… You can find more about the book from this link. #beHATT
Got this meaningful lyrics once listening on the way to a cafe appointment this morning.
The myth is stronger than the truth, and the truth can sometimes lie
To see it all for what it was, you need an uncorrupted eye
Was the journey worth it, only time will tell
The Beat Hotel | Allan Taylor
What would you say? Yes, we are usually overwhelmed by those myths. They seem much stronger and bigger than the truth. And there comes the fear, deriving from the myth – the unknown. Although, most of the time, it is unreal fear.
It’s like a trap for all of us in this world. Fear comes from what we don’t know, from the truth we haven’t known. And because of the lack of known, it keeps haunting us and building more fear in us. Paradoxically, at the same time, we’re kinda addicted to mysteriousness. Then, it would help to strengthen the trap more and more.
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 released date of the book on 11/28/2019. That’s Thanksgiving Day.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s amazingly surprised reading through the words from a 9 years old girl, our lovely Nhon, writing to mom on her birthday. I can’t say much, but to learn a lot from the sentences and to respect my little girl…
I have read Change the question, change your life before and even bough quite a few paperback copies to use as gifts for my friend. And now, I read this book. I would agree that this simple yet powerful Choice map can change lives, not just for students, but also for adults. I myself many time run into Judger mode and if I don’t get out soon enough, it creates more troubles for me later on. The same principles can apply for building great corporate culture which I’m very keen on to share with everyone from that perspective. Certainly, I’ll ask my 10 year old daughter to read this book and I’m sure she’ll grow herself into a better person and can use Choice map as a base for her growth in the future as well.
For quite awhile, I didn’t write any blog post in English. Here comes one… Also, for years, I haven’t published any new slide to Slideshare. And here comes the one.
I believe the ultimate goal of any one of us is happiness pursuit. However, we usually lose that goal once we live through our lives. A happy life is quite simple, yet need a lot of courage, discipline, wisdom to “attain” that happy life. By sharing my thoughts here, I hope it can help you to live a happier life. Good luck!
This talk was recorded last year, once I came out and shared my thoughts at a public HR event in Saigon.
Oops… forgot to mention that there are too many laws of nature that certainly we can’t learn all. The most important one for happiness is how our mind is working. Focusing on the right one matters.
P.S. Be warned though… Many people felt stressed after listening to this. As my thoughts are quite different from them. I do hope it can give you more of suggestion that way.
Bumped into this moving and inspirational story today through LinkedIn. Suggest you must learn this story, not so that you can be like her (to build orphan house, which I don’t have any rejection if you can do it), but at least you start to find a wakeup inner calling for yourself. To bring you to the place where you want to be, in this very life. Her suggestion is very very valid. And her story is the proof, great proof of her suggestion. My tear started bursting out at 1:19 with her. Thanks for a great, beautiful story, Maggie. And wish you all the best with your children, Maggie Doyne.
Tôi tình cờ đọc được câu chuyện dân gian của người Cherokee (một tộc người thổ dân Bắc Mỹ) đầy ý nghĩa này. Thấy câu chuyện quá ý nghĩa, nên tôi dịch sang tiếng Việt ở đây để có thể chia sẻ đến với mọi người. Phiên bản gốc tiếng Anh ở bên dưới nhé.
Hai con chó sói
Một cụ già người Cherokee dạy người cháu của cụ về cuộc sống. “Có một trận chiến đang diễn ra ở bên trong con người của ông”, cụ nói với người cháu trai.
“Một cuộc chiến kinh khủng con ạ, giữa hai con chó sói. Một bên là con chó sói của quỉ dữ… đó là hiện thân của giận dữ, sự thèm muốn, đố kị, sự khổ đau, nuối tiếc, lòng tham, sự kiêu ngạo, tự ti, cảm giác tội lỗi, sự thấp kém, dối trá, sự tự hào một cách giả dối, tự cao, tự đại và hiện thân của một cái tôi (tự ngã) to lớn.” Ông tiếp tục: “Con sói kia là một con sói tử tế. Nó là hiện thân của niềm vui, sự bình an, sự yêu thương, hy vọng, sự thanh thản, khiêm tốn, sự tử tế, tấm lòng nhân từ, rộng lượng, sự cảm thông, rộng rãi, chân lý, lòng trắc ẩn, và niềm tin.
Ở bên trong con người con cũng như bao người khác, ai cũng có cùng một cuộc chiến như thế đang xảy ra trong mỗi một giây phút.”
Người cháu suy nghĩ về lời dạy trong chốc lát và sau đó hỏi ông: “Vậy thì con sói nào sẽ chiến thắng?”
Người ông đáp một cách đơn giản: “Con sói mà con cho nó ăn.”
Vâng, chúng ta không thể đổ lỗi cho ai trong cuộc sống này về những gì chúng ta đang phải gánh chịu hoặc tận hưởng. Chính thức ăn tâm hồn mà chúng ta nạp vào hàng ngày là yếu tố quyết định cho những gì mỗi một chúng ta xứng đáng được hưởng ngay tại thời điểm bây giờ cũng như mai sau. Continue reading “Hai con chó sói”
After starting to viral this question “What would make you happy?“, I have received quite many answers on the first day. It’s very exciting reading all the answers. One young person has responded as below.
“Be, just be, being myself, be a part of this universe… Just be, nothing more, nothing less… So then I can experience everything that life can / has to offer.”
From a young person between 22-30.
Wonderful, don’t you agree? Do you have your own answer? If you do, fill in the form as commitment for your own happiness. There are a few notes here:
There is no such right or wrong answer to this question. The answer is for yourself to experience, for your own happiness.
If you haven’t had the answer, start searching one for yourself and start stepping on your happiness journey.
I’m curious to learn about what would make you happy? From everyone in this world, every continent, every ethnic, every country. I’m curious to see the data that can come out from that. So, I put the survey here, a simple one. And hope you can be open, comfortable enough to submit the answer of what would make you happy.
By just answering this question, I am positive that you’re steering one step forward to your real happiness in this life. If you don’t ask (for your happiness), there is no answer, I would say.
I would firstly aim to get 10k responses and find out from what I can see from the data and would present it to you in another post.
In order to become a great manager with effective leadership, we certainly need to invest a lot of time to… improve and develop ourselves first. I would say that’s always true. Whenever you stay still, not advancing yourself, that’s the moment you are really moving backward. As people are keep moving advance, once you stay still. As a leader, it’s even more critical for you to learn and experience more things to advance yourselves each and everyday. While it may sound a bit stressful, I believe this will give you more rewards than anything else can give you.
With nearly 20 years in the field, I would suggest that for whatever you do, you need to find the core principles underneath of what things are happening. Once you can see those core principles underneath, you will also see things clearer. I’ll take this chance to share the 13 principles that I’m currently reading from a book named 13 things mentally strong people don’t do. By just listing them here, I do hope it sparks some suggestions in you for how you would perceive this world and what is happening to you and around you:
They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves
They don’t give away their power
They don’t shy away from change
They don’t focus on things they can’t control
They don’t worry about pleasing everyone
They don’t fear taking calculated risks
They don’t dwell on the past
They don’t make the same mistakes over and over
They don’t resent other people’s success
They don’t give up after the first failure
They don’t fear alone time
They don’t feel the world owes them anything
They don’t expect immediate results
Hope this is a meaningful gift for the new year, 2018. Happy New Year!
Last week, once being interviewed for a video we made for KMS, I was asked to say one word that I like the most about KMS? Immediately, I popped out the word “family”. And also immediately, the guy responded that if I can pick another word.
Disappointedly, I told him that “So, I am one of the co-founders of the company 9 years ago. And now I cannot pick a word for KMS. For me, it is all about family, friendship?” Continue reading “The word “family””
Bắt gặp anh cún ni đang rất chăm chú chuyên môn và nhớ lại một bài học từ Sư Ajahn Chah. Chỉ là cục xương, không còn gì thực sự bổ béo nữa, nhưng ảnh rất chăm chú mần việc. Rất lâu.
Chúng ta cũng thế. Thường hay nhìn thấy bản thân cute / dễ thương như con cún này, đắm say, đam mê và mất rất nhiều thời gian cho những thú vui vô bổ, không có tác dụng gì cho việc trưởng thành và tăng trưởng về trí tuệ. Vậy mà cứ tưởng “ăn” được nhiều. Hãy chú ý…
A dog and a bone
Bumping into this little one dog who is very focusing on what he does and it reminds me a lesson from Monk Ajahn Chah. It is only the bone, nothing left, but the dog is still working very hard on it. Spend a lot of time on it.
We find ourselves in that picture. We usually see ourselves cute like the image of this dog, very into it, passionate and waste a lot of time for those meaningless things which don’t help us for becoming more mature and advance ourselves. But we thought that we are “eating” a lot. Be aware of that.
I’m a shy person, not being comfortable to meet with strangers. That’s really the hidden part inside of me. I’m not a public speaker or any kinda that. But but… people usually see me confident like this to do speech in public, to talk with people that I don’t know. How do I do that?
I’ve realized that once I can be myself and once I can talk about the things I’m passionate about with the depth in real experience through my life, I don’t need to have that great public speaking skills. I will talk naturally from my heart with passion and with confidence. People would buy in my passion, I believe. Then, I just need to focus on sharing what I know deeply and what I’m passionate about. That’s the secret that I believe it works for you as well.
This is the first time I tried this. It is for my two newly met friends, who wanted to meditate in Vietnam. As they are foreigners, I can’t send them the original scripts in Vietnamese of my master, Su Tam Phap. What I did was to translate the script to English and record them by my voice. And here it is. While it is still not the perfect version or translation or such those things, I hope it’s useful and usable to my foreigner friends. Try and let me know… Continue reading “Guided meditation scripts – Theravada tradition”
In my trip to US early December, I had a chance to dine in a 176-year-old restaurant. What an impressing number. The restaurant is a family-run business with 5-6 generations on it already. The food was great and I liked it a lot with fresh and delicious seafood, well-served in a cold night outside, but warm inside.
The food is good, no surprise. Yet, my surprise was not the food itself, it was another one. It came to my interest once I overheard the main waiter, who hosted us, introduced about the restaurant and what they are proud of.
At the lobby of KMS office, on the way back from lunch, I met up with one of my old friends. We said hello and exchanged some joking questions… “What are you doing here?” I asked. And my friend returned: “To bother you…”
Just a joke and so… But it did spark a thought in my mind. At that moment, I replied “Who can bother me?” That’s an interesting thought. In an absolute reality, the only one can bother you is yourself, your mind. Why? Continue reading “Who can bother me?”
I wrote this as part of the conversation I have maintained internally with KMSers at KMS Technology Vietnam. I and think it’s worth to share it here to everyone as well. Now, I know why I had the urge to do this slide convincing people to read before: Why do you have to read?. And the result has come after all.
We are starting the long weekend and the long holiday very soon. And I would like to share with you an email I got last weekend (see below). A moving message from one of my friends (I translated it from Vietnamese to English to be consistent with the content here). Happiness certainly comes from the moment you know that you can help others. Continue reading “Happiness comes once you know that you has helped someone”