How To Ask People for Things Via Email

Might be useful someday. You’ll never know.

Step 1: Make it easy to say, “Yes.”

Step 2: Write an intriguing subject line.

Step 3: Establish your credibility.

Step 4: Be concise & get to the point.

Step 5: Give a deadline if you can.

Step 6: Be interesting and interested.

Step 7: Never ever ever use the word “synergy.”

Step 8: Preview your email on a phone.

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Why I kicked TV shows and movies out of my life

There has always been this voice in my head that says watching TV shows or movies doesn’t really help: it neither solves any of my problems, nor helps me recover from all the stress and pressure. It dawned on me when I watched an interview by Steve Jobs in the early 90s on the topic of TV shows. He said(not the exact words though):

“People shut their minds when they got home. They don’t want to think anymore. The TV networks are feeding people exactly what they ask for; there is no conspiracy, they just offer what customers want, meet their demand.”

So true! When you stare at a screen, with a mixture of carefully manipulated voices, music and sounds of special effects on the background, you are drawn into the drama right in front of you. That screen becomes your whole world, in which you don’t think or ask questions. It’s an exciting world; you are too focused on the screen that you don’t have one second to stop and ask yourself, what is going on here?

Some might say, well, they could learn something from the movies. e.g. ” watching the poor girl striving for a better life, I feel so lucky and bit ashamed. I’ll do better tomorrow.”  In my opinion, this by no means falls into the definition of “learning”. To see why not, just look at if it answers yes to any of the following questions:

Are you making real any changes to your life? Can you recall the changes after 3 days?Are you gaining more energy afterwards? Better sleep, stronger muscles, better endurance?

If you can’t say yes to the above questions, then you didn’t learn, in my opinion.

TV shows and movies are entertainment, which by nature offers nothing but visual stimulation. They are not designed to help you stop and solve problems. You don’t get the sense of accomplishment out of watching Britain’s Got Talent; but more often than not, when you get back to your own life from all the glamor on screen, your life may seem more dusty and boring than before. Now you might feel both unaccomplished and discouraged. On the contrary, if you spend the time taking a real rest, or keep grinding on your work, you will have done something and gotten better in one way or another.

Of course, when it’s socially required, I will enjoy it, but also keep in mind that I’m neither learning nor resting; I’m spending energy and I’ll have to spend extra time to recover.

When you’re happy, you don’t have to tell anyone

“You become an evangelist for this way of life. You want to show everyone that you’re happier. You want to help them to be happy too.

Yet you may discover, as most evangelists do, that the rest of the world is not always eager to hear your message.

Your happiness may lie in going against the grain of opinion or preferences. But sometimes, you should just go with the flow once you’re there. Let it settle in. Enjoy it for yourself.”


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“Art of Suffering”

“There is a way to suffer that is far more skillful than sheer endurance. More importantly, this “knowing how to suffer” is an important part of one’s spiritual growth. From my (probably incomplete) understanding of Thay’s teaching, there are 3 steps in suffering skillfully.

Step 1: Calm the mind.

Step 2: Cradle with tenderness.

Step 3: Cultivate compassion from this suffering.

If there is one word that summarizes all 3 steps, I think that word is “Love”. Love oneself enough to allow the space for oneself to suffer, without shame or judgement. In suffering, there is nothing to be ashamed of, there is no reason to hide, it’s just the natural experience of suffering, that’s all. Love oneself enough to allow the space and time to heal. Love oneself enough to cradle one’s own pain tenderly with kindness. And love all sentient being enough to want to cultivate compassion.”

My two cents

School teachers don’t teach you how to suffer. Many people find the word “suffer” to be embarrassing, something that you should not speak of when possible, and avoid like the plague. There is a Chinese saying that goes like ” if a medicine tastes bitter, take it, because it’s good for you.” A lot of the times you’ll need to suffer, because it’ll do you good; you could learn things otherwise you couldn’t.

Suffering is a welcoming topic in neither popular media nor small talk. You might have already seen on TV shows or movies how people wake up to find themselves given a new identity, and they begin a new, glamorous and successful life. You see singers, dancers or actors talking about all the fun they had, but you almost never hear them talking about the sweat and blood behind the scenes. Why not? Because people don’t like the idea of suffering; they’d rather prefer to see instant success, and woo and wow for the stars.

I choose not to connect this blog to facebook, because people on facebook are there to enjoy pretty pictures and funny stories, not a full-length article of “oh-you-know-you-look-like-you’d-better-suffer-a-little”. But it’s important for me to reflect and share this with people, so here I am.

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A Review of “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day”- part 1

This latest book by Todd Henry grabbed my attention instantly with the opening story, one about a wall where people put down their wishes and aspirations in the form of “before I die I want to…”. The truth is, many people have brought their best talent and ideas into the graves with them. They never accomplished what they had wished for, and thus died a regretful life.

The question now for every one of us is: what can I do about it?

In twelve chapters, the author talks about the important aspects of how not to die empty. Among those chapters my favorite ones are “chapter3: the siren song of mediocrity”,”chapter6: step out of your comfort zone” and “chapter8: be comfidently adaptable”. I’m going to do a review of each 3 chapters, and hopefully to remind myself(as well as you who are reading this) again that your time is limited, and you’ll die someday eventually, so make wise choices everyday.

It probably took less work to earn all A’s

“The surprise is that it probably took less work to earn all As than it did to earn lower grades. When you’re earning straight As, you’re learning the material as it’s presented. You’re not falling behind. You remain caught up and current on assignments. You’re not succumbing to confusion or cluelessness. If you don’t understand something, you figure it out ASAP. If you need help, you ask for help right away. You do NOT fall behind.”

My two cents

If you remain caught up, you would probably have a feeling of “hey I’m good at this stuff”. Therefore you would feel less pressured to work hard, because deep down you have already cultivated your confidence through past performance. Instead of “oh man I’ve got loads to do”, you’d probably say “well I’m gonna do that” without thinking twice and making it a big deal. This couldn’t be better defined than passion, something that frees you from the fear of failure and lures you into coming back for more.