Happy spring, everyone!
Since 2017, I have been doing a lot of cleaning, decluttering, organizing as well as completing a little room makeover. It is refreshing! I have also planned a few projects in my life. I feel grateful that I have had a fantastic start this year. I hope you have too!
This post is going to be about insights that I have gained from my ordinary experiences. I have always loved storytellers; they have inspired me significantly. I see them as brave people who are willing to share a part of themselves with us, as a means to encourage or to inspire or to deliver a positive message. It can be nerve-wracking to share parts of yourself with an audience, an audience that is not always kind and accepting, but if you perceive that the act of sharing may help encourage others—even just one person—you would do it regardless.
If you are reading this blog post now, thank you!
I have had this blog for 9 months now. I do not know how other bloggers start, but in my case, I accumulated my insights, ideas, knowledge, writing, photography, and artwork during a four-year period, before I finally started publishing online. When I gathered the first parts and published it last year, it was a dream come true.
Since then I have created more artwork, inspired by more life experiences and readings, and written many more new blog posts. I feel immensely thankful. In particular, I feel thankful for people coming up to me in person and telling me that they have read my blog and like it very much! It’s encouraging. It’s like a painter who would like to showcase her painting, or a movie director who wants people to go to the theatre to watch his movie. Knowing that people actually view your artwork is an indescribable joy. I am far from being a great writer, but I would love to keep writing, keep practicing, and keep improving. Having the opportunity to create the way I want in my “therapeutic garden” is a blessing.
I acknowledge that my writing, my artwork, and I as a person cannot please everyone. I have touched on a lot of sensitive topics in my blog. My intention is a sincere wish to bring awareness and to talk about subject matters that many people do not have thorough understanding about. As well, I would like to touch on topics that people may feel scared to talk about.
Is it scary? Yes, it is, but I am doing it anyway. I feel grateful for my knowledge, my culture, my experiences, and my encounters with many different people—they are all integrated in my writing.
I believe many of us can resonate with the following quote:
It is not found in books,
They are merely maps.
It is buried deep
In experience. (Janine Canan)
It is not either education or experience, but the integration of both. It is also having open-mindedness to actively apply what you learn from books and your stories and other people’s experiences to your life.
Over the years, I find it fascinating how integrating all of my knowledge and experiences, and other people’s experiences, can answer a lot of philosophical questions. The process of growth and development, although difficult and confusing at times, can be a very intriguing and mind-opening experience.
We can probably all agree that a person’s age or a person’s occupation may not always be an accurate reflection of a person’s mastery and understanding of life itself. Oftentimes, it is adversity that helps us grow and gain wisdom that cannot be obtained otherwise.
Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight. (Joan D. Chittister)
I see adversity as a powerful “encyclopedia”—it reveals all the connections between all beings and the law of nature, and it allows you to understand human suffering and problems, or human existence, in such an immensely intricate but deeply meaningful way.
If we choose to use it wisely, adversity is an asset, not a burden.
It is often in the trail of adversity that we learn those most critical lessons that form our character and shape our destiny. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one. (Bruce Lee)
I feel thankful for people who support and encourage me all along. I received an encouragement from a loved one recently, and after hearing what she said, I have all the more reason to keep writing!
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. (Seth Godin)
It’s okay to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave. (Mandy Hale)
A goal should scare you a little, and excite you a lot. (Joe Vitale)
When your thoughts are presented out there, people get the opportunity to criticize you or judge you even more than if you were to remain in the background. However, I tell people who are socially withdrawn this: whether you speak or remain silent, there will always be some people who will criticize you. So would you like to remain silent for the rest of your life, or would you like to live a life that you want? Would you like to speak your mind, do what you like, and live a healthy, happy life? Choose freedom!
I agree with many speakers, writers, bloggers, activists, and advocates—we write or talk not because we are perfect or want to present ourselves as above everyone else. We write or talk because there are so many beautiful, healthy, loving principles that we would like to live by and work on, together, with you! We strive hard to “walk our talks,” but at that same time, like each of you, we are not perfect, and sometimes we fail. That makes us human… together, we will discover many more healthy ways to live a good life, and we will encourage each other along the way!
There are still many topics that I would love to write about. I feel excited for this little project that I have. And there are more projects that I would like to pursue in the near future. Working as a psychotherapist is already one of them, which makes me feel at peace.
My work as a therapist
I have had my private practice for 6 months now.
There was a delay in getting started with my practice, which at the time felt like a very frustrating disappointment, but I have long let go of any negative feeling about this. Indeed, I now feel grateful for this experience. It makes me appreciate my current situation so, so much more! And now I always have a little story to tell (Thankfully, my beloved grandfather also had a chance to listen to it before he died)!
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. (Author Unknown)
Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better. (Steve Maraboli)
Fortunately, when I decided to set up my private practice, I did not have to wait very long before I started seeing the first few clients—just a bit over a month! Then after working for two months, I moved to a new office. Looking back at it now, I realize how lucky I am, and how everything really happens for a reason!
Thank you, to all the kind individuals, who genuinely encouraged me and sincerely wished me well! I even have a little bit of gratitude for those who discouraged me, because I think this helped me own my decision strongly. A bold decision made without unanimous support needs to be made with the full force of your will and autonomy. Finally, I thank myself: for my courage, hard work, patience, and perseverance.
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step. (Martin Luther King Jr.)
A mentor said to me: “It is your calling.” Another one of my mentors reminded me that it’s a blessing to be able to find a career that you sincerely love! Oftentimes, people may say that being a psychotherapist is such a challenging, stressful job, and it can be. But I can’t tell you enough how much I love my work, and how much meaning I find in being a psychotherapist.
When I see clients taking positive steps in their life, growing, experiencing positive emotions, managing difficult life situations, or having positive relationships in life… I am deeply moved by it…
Agape is the term that comes to my mind—an ancient Greek word, describing the highest form of love. To be able to provide quality care to clients, offer long-term psychotherapy, help people with financial difficulties… are some of the reasons why I chose private practice in the first place. I aspire to keep practicing kindness in my work and in my life. I feel grateful that I can call my job my life.
There are times that I worry about my clients too—I think every good therapist would experience that at some point in their career. I try to do what I teach: I pray, meditate, journal, and engage in many other healthy activities to manage my worries. To me, case notes and treatment planning are some of the things that really help me as a therapist—I assign a certain amount of time to reflect and to get prepared. Just like life, we can’t always prepare for everything; we also have to act in the moment! I have grown to love coming up with an analogy or an insight on the spot that could potentially be helpful… it is like art… my work allows me to be creative and meaningful at the same time.
It is my commitment to treat all my clients, no matter what their problems are, with gentleness and patience, kindness and compassion. Sometimes I challenge my clients, when there is good rapport and when a safe, supportive environment has been built. I realize that there are many techniques and many different styles of therapies that therapists utilize and clients find helpful, and I also acknowledge that a lot of scenarios can really test our patience, but my personal style is not to scold or to get frustrated, but to listen compassionately, guide gently, and wait patiently. And if I make a mistake in the therapy room, I am always ready to apologize and make amends.
I do not know what the future holds for me. But what I know for sure is that I will be serving other people for as long as I live, in whatever ways that I can. And no matter how small my efforts are, I believe little acts of kindness can help others feel uplifted, motivate them to externalize and pass on kindness, and multiply goodness in the world.
If you also find passion, meaning, and peace in your work, be grateful!
Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life. (Wayne W. Dyer)
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. (Confucius)
The quote above is attributed to Confucius due to the following Chinese phrase: 知之者不如好之者，好之者不如樂之者. The translation may be slightly different, and well, sometimes, we can’t always know who said, wrote, or interpreted a good quote. As long as it is a quote with wisdom, I think the author of it is not that important.
If you don’t enjoy your work, discuss with a trusted individual whether you would need to change your job, manage your stress, change your attitude, or figure out whether there are underlying issues affecting you.
I believe many of us would consider ourselves as lifelong learners, which is such a beautiful way to live. Whether you are learning a language, learning how to play a musical instrument, learning a new hobby, learning about history, politics, environmental issues, religions, etc., or learning more about yourself, I applaud your hard work and dedication.
When I encounter speakers who help strengthen my passion, books and studies that inspire me to apply wonderful ideas to life, insights that I derive from my own writing, or feedback from mentors… I feel grateful that I am a learner. The process of learning is a very humbling and stimulating process. It makes life interesting and meaningful.
I hope we can all keep learning from each other.
The greatest leaders, the most wonderful characters whom I have known often say that they are still learning, and not only that, they tell you that they are learning something from you! They are unbelievably humble. They don’t boast about themselves: their intelligence, kindness, and achievements are all self-evident. They praise other people, and they lift other people up—consistently! That’s what real leaders are like!
True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. (Ziad K. Abdelnour)
If you are in a leadership position, and if you are willing to have a sincere and humble attitude of learning from your clients, students, peers, workers, or members, you would not only be an exceptional leader, but also a growing person yourself.
Lifelong learners are humble and do not consider themselves as all-knowing, which is one of the healthiest, happiest ways to live.
Humility helps you appreciate and experience life in such a deeply moving, extraordinary way. It helps you grow, learn, and change for the better. It brings you healthy relationships in life, and people respect you sincerely.
I would love to keep being a learner!
I have always had a busy schedule throughout most of my life. Not only do I have responsibilities and goals, I also like to spend much time listening to or helping other people. I had just started volunteering to visit elderly patients in a hospital setting last month, which is a meaningful experience for me. I admire many elders’ courage, positivity, and resilience—they are inspiring, people whom we can all learn from!
Sometimes, people are surprised to know that I still have time for myself, for my hobbies! I spend much time reading and writing, taking and editing photographs, exercising, doing art, learning new things, etc. When people see my paintings or photography work, they ask me, “How do you still have time for these leisure activities?”
To me, hobbies and interests are not simply optional things in life! They are mandatory! They are basic necessities to live a healthy life! They are not something that I will only do when I have time. I make time for them. They are part of my life, because they are the things that give me peace, energy, and confidence, which will help me achieve my goals much more effectively!
Take time to do what makes your soul happy. (Author Unknown)
Confidence, setbacks, and goals
I strive to maintain my confidence, even when times are hard. Sometimes it is difficult to remain confident, but my confidence is something that has helped me tremendously whenever I encounter setbacks in life. My confidence helps me stay calm, think rationally, find opportunities, or change paths. I do not feel devastated. And my confidence or a sense of security does not just come in one day—to me, I have worked hard for it, a little by little over the past decade. By sharing this, I would like to encourage you to also build your confidence—it takes time, courage, and practice. Building confidence requires gentle care and guidance.
Building healthy self-esteem is not equivalent to arrogance; it requires an integration of humility and self-acceptance. It involves open-mindedness to be willing to see your flaws or weaknesses, challenge yourself, and make positive changes. There is always room for improvement! Be humble and be brave. Compete with yourself, not with other people! It also involves knowing yourself very well and nourishing the core, positive parts of yourself without changing them just to be liked or to be accepted by others.
Don’t let anyone define you. You define yourself. (Billie Jean King)
It takes time to come to a point where you can shrug at how people treat you, what people think about you, or what people say behind your back. So if you are not there yet, be patient or seek help!
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don't let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. (Steve Jobs)
How would you like to spend your time and energy?
I would not like to spend my time, my energy, or my life focusing on people who do not treat me well or do not think or speak kindly about me.
I would like to spend my time and energy on improving my life and other lives. I would like to spend my time and energy on people who love me and are genuinely kind to me. I would also like to try to make my visions and dreams come true. That’s how I would like to live my life! I feel immensely grateful for the life that I have.
We can focus on all that we don’t have, or we can focus on all that we do have.
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. (Oprah Winfrey)
While I am pretty sure that I have that “gratitude gene,” my grandmother is the one who always likes to remind me to thank God for my life. I always say, “Yes… I know… I always do…” but I still love her reminders.
It is healthy to give credit to our own hard work to come to where we are today; studies show that the emotion of pride can help us persevere in difficult tasks (Williams & DeSteno, 2008). But at the same time, it is equally important to always be humble and grateful! If we can find a healthy balance between confidence, humility, and gratitude, we can learn, grow, and flourish healthily!
There are and there will always be challenges or setbacks in life. But there are many healthy, positive routes to take, as well as beautiful and kind traits to practice. Having a healthy self-esteem is one of them! And together they will bring us all to beautiful destinations.
Sometimes, people may see a person with confidence, accomplishments, or doing well in certain aspects of life, as something that just happened by luck! They feel jealous of that person, or come up with some negative conclusions of how that person succeeded.
What we often forget is that people’s accomplishments do not usually happen in one day. Every achieved goal or dream or positive trait requires time (often years and years of time), hard work, patience, perseverance, and perhaps a little bit of luck, but rarely just luck alone!
Luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunity. (Oprah Winfrey)
Be it a peaceful mindset, a positive outlook of life, a fulfilling life, healthy self-esteem, a home, a degree, a career, or other goals, you can achieve it, if only you also put effort into it, be patient, and work hard for it.
I think it is important to be willing to explore and find out a good fit between your strengths and your career or dreams. Also, having social support is one of the greatest gifts in life. It will certainly help you achieve your goals and dreams in a much more desirable way than if you had no support at all.
Appreciate, admire, or praise other people who can do it, or who are ahead of you—they put a lot of effort into making it happen, and they persevered. Instead of feeling jealous of them, learn from them!
Even if there are examples of people who may have unfairly come upon good fortune, it is important not to pay too much attention to these stories… stories of success born out of good fortune alone do not give us any moral or inspirational lesson. It is the stories of success born out of commitment, love, and hard work that give us inspiration and admiration. Focus on these stories instead!
Looking forward to what the future holds can make life very interesting.
You don’t need to have it all figured out to move forward. (Roy T. Bennett)
Affirmations: I enrich my life when I build my confidence in a healthy, constructive way. I enrich my life when I turn setbacks into opportunities. I enrich my life when I love my work. I enrich my life when I appreciate my past, stay in the present moment, but also look forward to the future!
Williams, L. A., & DeSteno, D. (2008). Pride and perseverance: The motivational role of pride. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(6), 1007-1017. doi:10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.527