Who else loves mindset ?

Puzzle

If you try to tackle a big project and end up getting stuck somewhere along the way, it might mean that some steps are missing.

Imagine trying to complete a difficult, 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Even though it has a thousand pieces, finishing the puzzle requires to complete more than a thousand steps.

You need to spend time sorting, grouping, and looking for edge pieces. You also might have to undo some parts of your work as you go along—which adds more steps, since now you need to override previous tasks that you thought had been completed.

This is all logical enough, but a) it takes time, and b) if you haven’t ever done a large puzzle before, you might get frustrated. You might give up along the way, leaving your puzzle half-finished and sitting on the kitchen table for weeks. Finally, you push the pieces back into the box, swearing off puzzles until the next family holiday gathering or global pandemic.

Maybe the root cause of puzzle neglect could be traced to the beginning: you underestimated the number of steps, as well as the amount of effort that would be required to persevere beyond the easy ones.

Two weeks ago, I asked a question in my newsletter: “Why haven’t you started?”

My theory was that a lot of people (maybe even most of us) have something that we really want to do, but we struggle with making any real progress. The more I investigate this question, the more I believe that the answer is twofold.

First, we struggle in getting started because we don’t really know what the first steps are. Often there are prerequisites, steps you have to complete before the “official” first steps, which effectively means that your list of steps is incomplete. There’s an obvious solution to problem one: we need better lists of steps.

But that’s not all! The other reason we struggle has to do with self-doubt or some other internal obstacle.

In response to my question, a lot of readers said something like this:

  • “I know what to do, I just can’t bring myself to do it.”
  • “I’ve been thinking about it for years, but I still haven’t done anything.”
  • “I failed once, so I’m afraid to try again.”

In these situations, having a better list of steps doesn’t fully solve the problem—or perhaps we could say that step one is “learn to believe in yourself.” This will require some more investigation, so I’ll let you know what I come up with.

Until then, know your steps, and have confidence in yourself. Puzzles are hard for a reason!

P.S. One more thing: in jigsaw puzzles, as well as many other challenging endeavors, some steps are harder than others. Some sections may actually be easy, and even in a hard puzzle, putting in the last few pieces is going to be a lot easier than the ones in the middle.

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Image: Marcus

who else really loves self-improvement ?

Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me straight in the face, soon after I got married. At that point, I had been married for a few months. I didn’t even know if I wanted kids, much less when I was having them.

Caught off guard, I said, “I have not decided if I want kids.” I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who had difficulty conceiving for a variety of reasons, with the implicit message being that I was going to be like them and regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on churning out babies.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I received varying forms of “When are you having kids?”, followed by a routine, almost ritualistic pressurization to have kids.

Lest you think that it ends after having a child, it doesn’t — the people who previously tried to persuade you to have “just one kid” when you were indifferent to the idea, now tell you to have “just one more.” It seems like you just can’t win. 😒

The problem with asking, “When are you having kids?”

I can understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, settle down, get married, and have kids. This is the life path that we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the path that we’ve been told is the way of life, which would bring us ultimate joy and happiness.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture, where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. There are even sayings built around this notion, such as 生儿育女 (shēng ér yù nǚ), which means to birth sons and raise daughters, and 子孙满堂 (zǐ sūn mǎn táng), which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren.

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to depict a vision of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that you should have kids. “When are you having kids?” they ask, somehow expecting you to give them a straight answer.

The problem with this question is that it’s rude. It’s presumptuous. It’s also insensitive.

1) Happiness can come in different forms

Firstly, everyone has their path in life. Some people want kids, while some don’t want kids. Some people think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see having kids as a burden to their carefree life. To presume that everyone should have kids, especially when the person has never said anything about wanting kids, is rude and disregards the person’s preferences and choice in life.

Take for example, Oprah Winfrey. She chose not to have children and has dedicated herself to her personal purpose of serving the world. Oprah hosted her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show which ran for 25 years, founded a leadership academy for girls and became a mother figure to the girls in attendance, and started her own television network. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for humans worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

There are other people who chose not to have kids as well.

  • Betty White, actress and comedian, chose not to have kids as she’s passionate about her career and focused on it.[2]
  • Chelsea Handler, talkshow host, doesn’t have kids as she doesn’t have the time to raise a child herself, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[3]
  • Ashley Judd, actress and politican activist, chose not to have kids as there are already so many orphaned kids in this world, and she feels that her resources can be better used to help those already here.[4]

And then there are others who chose not to have kids, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei, Renée Zellweger, and Rachael Ray. These people choose not to have kids for different reasons, such as because they’re pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or they just don’t feel a deep desire to have kids. Not having kids has not prevented them from being happy in life, and there’s no reason to assume why people must have kids in order to be happy.

2) You may well cause hurt and pain

Secondly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids, but maybe they are facing fertility struggles.

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[5]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[6]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[7]

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,[8] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[9]

For some people, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain, struggle, and losses as they experience miscarriages, undergo round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in hope of the double blue lines on their pregnancy kit each month.

And then there are people who cannot have their own biological children due to issues with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth.

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[5]

3) Not everyone is in a position to have kids

Thirdly, having kids is simply not a reality for some people due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in a place like Singapore.

Some people may be facing problems with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people facing chronic health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, which make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

4) Some couples could still be thinking

And then there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids, like myself when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having a kid should be an automatic decision, because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that will change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you’re bringing into the world.

For those yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want, not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the initial years after I got married, I just wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life with just my husband first, before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, both my husband and I were genuinely happy spending the rest of our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids at all, not in the way my culture obssesses about it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems, and I was fully focused on supporting him through these. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“[This relative’s] baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

It was as if I was some vehicle, some production machine to have kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband would never get it (as a man), not even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is also a complex one. It is a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple in question.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants to carry grandchildren or their aunt wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to nurture another life.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7, whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for a new life, or who will be responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 18-21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violenceabuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities, and not make parenthood seem like it’s some magical band-aid that solves a lack of purpose or life’s pressures. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a big strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through 6 years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you tend to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, insensitive, and it disregards people’s privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them about it.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they really don’t want kids,
  2. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  3. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (c), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon coffee chat, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people their personal space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking women or couples, “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like how you would a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, you can simply ask, “Are you and your partner planning to have kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a generic answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change a person’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids, and some people will not have kids. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths, and there’s nothing wrong about any of them.

For Me

For my husband and I, we eventually had a few discussions and decided to have a baby, and had our baby girl this year (2020). 😊 Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only annoyed me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision between me and my husband, that has nothing to do with them. It was after we had the space to settle down and enjoy married life without kids, and took some time to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid last year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are other things that I’m working on, other things that are happening that I look forward to sharing in time to come. Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it. I’ll talk to you guys soon! 🙂

IMO posts about mindset is fab

Step 1: Ignore every step-by-step system for success, including probably this one

Look, I know you want to be that big badass with the sweet ass house and all the fancy letters after your name, but let’s be honest for a second. Insane, spectacular success is achieved by doing something exceptional and extraordinary.

To achieve something exceptional and extraordinary, you must—by definition—do something that few or no other people are doing or willing to do. Therefore, wild, insane, spectacular success can only be achieved by actively going against what others have done and/or believing you can do things that others believe they cannot do. Therefore, anything that can accurately be codified into a step-by-step system on the internet is full of shit and not going to help you achieve this kind of success.

Do you think Steve Jobs ever sat around Googling, “How to revolutionize the way everyone communicates?” Fuck no. Do you think Thomas Edison went to the library looking for books titled, “How to build things that can change the world?”

No, they got to work on things that felt important and things that few to no other people could conceive, much less think about.

Steve Jobs pop art

The problem with a lot of these paint-by-numbers systems that you come across in these articles is that they suffer from what’s known as the “narrative fallacy.” The narrative fallacy is the human tendency to weave explanations of cause/effect into sequences of events that don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other.

For example, if you read a biography about Warren Buffett or Albert Einstein or Eleanor Roosevelt, you will inevitably spend much of the early chapters learning about their childhood. These early chapters are filled with cute and profound-sounding vignettes about their parents, their teachers, and a series of events that “caused” them to later become the kind of genius that they were.

There are two problems with this though:

  1. Whatever happened to little Albert Einstein, there were millions of other little boys who experienced the same shit, yet they did not become Albert Einstein.
  2. Just because two events in a notable person’s life appear connected does not mean that they are connected. The biographer connects them because they form a great narrative. Not necessarily because they reflect reality.

Think about it, for every event that makes it into someone’s biography, there are thousands of small, private events that are, in sum, likely just as influential, if not more than what you actually see. Therefore, these narrative devices, while they make for great books and cute articles like this one, they don’t actually help us suss out what drives incredible levels of success.

If there really is a first step to achieving wild success (and there’s probably not), then it would be this: ask yourself, “What is something critically important in the world that few people are aware of or not working on?” Then… get to work on that! 

But understand that even that is no guarantee. Because, let’s be honest, our definitions of “success” are a bunch of fairy godmother, made-up bullshit. Oh yeah… I went there. Fuck your dreams. Fuck your dreams with a cherry on top. Let’s get real…

Step 2: Understand that “success” is just something you and everyone else made up—it’s not even real

Look, most of your dreams aren’t really dreams, they’re merely imaginative over-compensations for the feelings of inadequacy you are trying to avoid in yourself.

People with an overwhelming desire for wealth or fame aren’t motivated by the pure joy of having wealth or fame. No, they have a hole in their psyche that they are trying to fill with enough stuff to not make them feel so inadequate anymore. Maybe they got pushed into too many lockers as a kid. Maybe Mom was an alcoholic and Dad was never around. Maybe they always felt like the stupid kid in class and had that one teacher who was Satan incarnate.

Whatever it is, none of us get through childhood without emotional scars (or, if you’re one of the lucky few who did, then please eat a dick casserole). Those scars cause us to see the world in a skewed, unbalanced fashion—as though everything is magically tilted against us in some imaginary way. They cause us to overestimate the value of things like sex or money or adulation or prestige to the point that our behavior becomes compulsive. These biases then cause us to suffer because they make us do stupid shit.

Ultimately, our definitions of “success” become skewed based on this funhouse mirror view of the world. Daddy was always broke and spending his money at the casino, so you grew up with an unconscious over-emphasis on money and material wealth. You feel like unless you’re bringing down at least eight-figures, then you’re a broke, miserable failure and no one will love you. As a result, you screw your own grandmother out of Christmas money because interest rates are low and you can get a better ROI if Granny cries herself to sleep at night. Congratulations, you have become a grade-A dick casserole.

(We’re just going to run with the casserole thing until it starts to get weird.)

Stylish wealthy couple on a luxury yacht
Dude, stop pretending you’re hot shit, you’re on a fucking pirate ship.

And while it may feel like your definition of success—lots and lots of money—is objective and reasonable, it’s really just you playing make-believe in your head. Plenty of people have definitions of success that have nothing to do with money—they lead happy and healthy lives. Many people who are rich feel as though they are miserable failures and that it’s never enough. There is nothing inherently “successful” about money or fame or love or anything else. It’s our minds that make it so.

That’s right, we each make up what “success” means for ourselves, and then we spend our lives measuring ourselves against that definition. And let’s be honest, most of us don’t actually define success for ourselves, we simply adopt the definitions that are handed to us by our family, environment, and culture.

When you’re a kid, you see everyone around you obsessed with honor or prestige or education or self-indulgence and you kind of just go along with it. Meanwhile, so many years go by that you forget that you went along with it. You start to believe that this is how the world operates—this is what success is.

And when you’re confronted with people who have different definitions of success, or people who point out all of the ways that your precious little definition actually doesn’t make much sense… well, it kind of freaks you out. I mean, if this thing by which you’ve measured yourself for so many years doesn’t really exist, what the hell have you been doing all your life?

That thought is often too much to bear…

Step 3: Succumb to the existential despair that comes with the realization that your self-definition is completely arbitrary and self-invented

Most people resist this realization—that their definitions of “success” are made up and largely motivated by their emotional dysfunction—for a couple reasons. One, it potentially invalidates a lot of what they’ve spent most of their adult life pursuing. Two, it’s really fucking upsetting to realize that the thing you cared about so much might not actually matter. And three, because if the things you’ve spent your whole life caring about may not actually matter… holy shit, what if nothing matters?

Yes, coming to the realization that your definitions of success were simply arbitrary and made-up by either you or the people around you can throw one into an existential crisis.

Historically, most middle-class yuppies hit Step 3 around middle age. So many have this experience in their 40s and 50s that it has become known as the “mid-life crisis.”

You spend your whole life defining success as a good job, a nice house, 2.5 kids and a dog. You work for twenty-plus years to get there and then one day you wake up and realize that you have achieved everything you ever wanted… yet you’re still the exact same sloppy, smelly motherfucker that you were twenty years ago. You don’t feel successful. You don’t feel anything different. You still get just as annoyed and anxious as you used to. You still question and doubt yourself constantly. You still feel frustrated and insecure… it’s just that those frustrations and insecurities have changed shape.

“Fuck, all that work… and for what? What do I do now?”

When you ask this question there may not be a right answer, but there certainly is a wrong answer.

The wrong answer is: “way more of what I did before.”

couple under money rain

A lot of people who have defined success as money their entire lives hit middle age, wake up with a shitload of money, have an existential crisis, and come to the conclusion that the answer must simply be more money. This is how you end up with millionaires who live in permanent emotional poverty—a sense that no matter what they do, that it’s never enough. Don’t be this person.

This “never enough” conclusion follows pretty much every worldly definition of success—money, status, prestige, fame, power, accolades. There will always be more to achieve. Therefore, it will never feel as though it’s enough. It’s like living on an extremely exhausting treadmill… except that the treadmill is stuck on an elevator to hell.

Step 4: Eat some popcorn. Drink a beer. You’re going to be okay

When thrown into the maw of an existential crisis, it’s easy to feel as though the world is coming to an end. This beautiful ideal that you spent so many years holding up as the bastion of purity and sanctity has fallen and revealed itself to be yet another illusion of your own fantasies. As a result, you feel directionless. You begin to question everything. You fall into despair. You feel as though there may be no point to anything at all.

But then something happens. Life goes on. That bonus check from work comes through, and while you still recognize that, on some cosmic scale, money is meaningless—it feels kinda good. Birthdays come and go. Vacations are still fun. That new show you watched with your partner was pretty awesome.

Hold on a second… life is actually, like, pretty good.

Slowly but surely, you begin to realize, “Wait, I don’t have to define success to have a good life!” And this epiphany is soon followed by another, more profound epiphany, “I can adopt whatever values I please!

And then your mind gets to work. What is your definition of success? What is the yardstick by which you will measure your life?

For some, it becomes some ideal—being a good parent, having integrity, practicing honesty, treating others with dignity.

For others, it’s a perspective—success is being fully engaged and appreciating each moment as it arises. There is joy and excitement to be found in any experience, and success is choosing to orient oneself towards it.

For others, the definition becomes incredibly mundane—waking up and going to work each day, cooking meals for friends, being a nice person. And amazingly, these mundane definitions of success somehow seem more effective than the ambitious world-changing definitions of your old self. They are easily achievable. They are enjoyable. And when repeated indefinitely week after week, year after year, incredible things start to happen.

Step 5: Focus on what matters now

Great achievements happen not just through grand visions of the future, but rather doing what feels most significant and important in the current moment.

Let’s return to the Steve Jobs example, as he’s a paragon for what most would consider “wild success.” Jobs didn’t sit around thinking, “What will make me as famous and successful as possible?” No, he got to work on devices that would improve his life today. The focus was on solving day-to-day problems for people.

We think of huge leaps in innovation or creativity as these massive moments of inspiration. But, in reality, they are actually a simple questioning of assumptions that are in front of us all.

Scientific breakthroughs often happen in this way. As Thomas Kuhn discusses in his famous book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the biggest breakthroughs in science rarely come from veterans within the academy. That’s because scientists who have built their career and prestige on the current paradigm of understanding are less likely to challenge it.

The biggest breakthroughs come from outsiders—people who have no career or prestige, people like Einstein—who look at the current assumptions and simply say, “What if this wasn’t true? What could be a better explanation?”

What we generally perceive as “wild success” after the fact, typically begins as something small, something unexpected in the moment. And, as Jobs once said, while we can look back and connect the dots, at the time, the way forward is never clear.

Ultimately, people who adopt terrible definitions of success usually do so because they are trying to give their life a sense of meaning and purpose. But, it turns out, the way to give your life a sense of meaning and purpose is to simply be engaged with the problems of the now, to work tirelessly on what stimulates and excites you today, without lofty visions of what prestige might exist for you in the future.

Because not only is this a more emotionally healthy definition of success, but it’s the definition that actually gets shit done.

Amazing very interesting

Puzzle

If you try to tackle a big project and end up getting stuck somewhere along the way, it might mean that some steps are missing.

Imagine trying to complete a difficult, 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Even though it has a thousand pieces, finishing the puzzle requires to complete more than a thousand steps.

You need to spend time sorting, grouping, and looking for edge pieces. You also might have to undo some parts of your work as you go along—which adds more steps, since now you need to override previous tasks that you thought had been completed.

This is all logical enough, but a) it takes time, and b) if you haven’t ever done a large puzzle before, you might get frustrated. You might give up along the way, leaving your puzzle half-finished and sitting on the kitchen table for weeks. Finally, you push the pieces back into the box, swearing off puzzles until the next family holiday gathering or global pandemic.

Maybe the root cause of puzzle neglect could be traced to the beginning: you underestimated the number of steps, as well as the amount of effort that would be required to persevere beyond the easy ones.

Two weeks ago, I asked a question in my newsletter: “Why haven’t you started?”

My theory was that a lot of people (maybe even most of us) have something that we really want to do, but we struggle with making any real progress. The more I investigate this question, the more I believe that the answer is twofold.

First, we struggle in getting started because we don’t really know what the first steps are. Often there are prerequisites, steps you have to complete before the “official” first steps, which effectively means that your list of steps is incomplete. There’s an obvious solution to problem one: we need better lists of steps.

But that’s not all! The other reason we struggle has to do with self-doubt or some other internal obstacle.

In response to my question, a lot of readers said something like this:

  • “I know what to do, I just can’t bring myself to do it.”
  • “I’ve been thinking about it for years, but I still haven’t done anything.”
  • “I failed once, so I’m afraid to try again.”

In these situations, having a better list of steps doesn’t fully solve the problem—or perhaps we could say that step one is “learn to believe in yourself.” This will require some more investigation, so I’ll let you know what I come up with.

Until then, know your steps, and have confidence in yourself. Puzzles are hard for a reason!

P.S. One more thing: in jigsaw puzzles, as well as many other challenging endeavors, some steps are harder than others. Some sections may actually be easy, and even in a hard puzzle, putting in the last few pieces is going to be a lot easier than the ones in the middle.

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Image: Marcus

I <3 method ?

Puzzle

If you try to tackle a big project and end up getting stuck somewhere along the way, it might mean that some steps are missing.

Imagine trying to complete a difficult, 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Even though it has a thousand pieces, finishing the puzzle requires to complete more than a thousand steps.

You need to spend time sorting, grouping, and looking for edge pieces. You also might have to undo some parts of your work as you go along—which adds more steps, since now you need to override previous tasks that you thought had been completed.

This is all logical enough, but a) it takes time, and b) if you haven’t ever done a large puzzle before, you might get frustrated. You might give up along the way, leaving your puzzle half-finished and sitting on the kitchen table for weeks. Finally, you push the pieces back into the box, swearing off puzzles until the next family holiday gathering or global pandemic.

Maybe the root cause of puzzle neglect could be traced to the beginning: you underestimated the number of steps, as well as the amount of effort that would be required to persevere beyond the easy ones.

Two weeks ago, I asked a question in my newsletter: “Why haven’t you started?”

My theory was that a lot of people (maybe even most of us) have something that we really want to do, but we struggle with making any real progress. The more I investigate this question, the more I believe that the answer is twofold.

First, we struggle in getting started because we don’t really know what the first steps are. Often there are prerequisites, steps you have to complete before the “official” first steps, which effectively means that your list of steps is incomplete. There’s an obvious solution to problem one: we need better lists of steps.

But that’s not all! The other reason we struggle has to do with self-doubt or some other internal obstacle.

In response to my question, a lot of readers said something like this:

  • “I know what to do, I just can’t bring myself to do it.”
  • “I’ve been thinking about it for years, but I still haven’t done anything.”
  • “I failed once, so I’m afraid to try again.”

In these situations, having a better list of steps doesn’t fully solve the problem—or perhaps we could say that step one is “learn to believe in yourself.” This will require some more investigation, so I’ll let you know what I come up with.

Until then, know your steps, and have confidence in yourself. Puzzles are hard for a reason!

P.S. One more thing: in jigsaw puzzles, as well as many other challenging endeavors, some steps are harder than others. Some sections may actually be easy, and even in a hard puzzle, putting in the last few pieces is going to be a lot easier than the ones in the middle.

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Image: Marcus

Tremendous post very interesting

The Opportunity in Adversity

By Eckhart Tolle

Life unfolds between the polarities of order and chaos. It is important at this time to recognize these two fundamental opposites, without which the world could not even be. Another word for disorder is “adversity.” When it becomes more extreme, we might call it “chaos.”

We would prefer, of course, to have order in our lives, which means to have things going well. We would like relative harmony in our lives. Yet, that very often is marred by the eruption of some form of disorder. And, usually, we resent that—we get angry, or despondent, or sad.

Disorder comes in many, many forms, big and small. When disorder comes it usually creates a kind of havoc in our lives, accompanied by strong underlying beliefs. “There’s something very wrong, this should not be happening, maybe God is against me,” and so on. Again, we need to understand that disorder, or adversity, is inevitable and is an essential part of a higher order.

 From a higher perspective, a higher level, the existence of order and disorder, or order and chaos, is a necessary part of the evolution of life.

 Many people have found that they experience a deepening, or a deeper sense of self or beingness, immediately after and as a result of having endured a period of disorder or chaos. This is sometimes called “the dark night of the soul,” a term from medieval Christianity used to describe the mental breakdown that many mystics experienced prior to awakening spiritually. There was an eruption of disorder, of destruction. Then, out of that, a deeper realization arose.

 And although that can be very painful, the strange thing is, it’s precisely there that many humans experience a transcendence. A strange fact is that it almost never happens that people awaken spiritually while they’re in their comfort zone. Or that they become deeper as human beings, which would be a partial awakening. It almost never happens. The place where the evolutionary shift happens, or the evolutionary leap, is usually the experience of disorder in a person’s life.

And so your life then moves between order and disorder. You have both, and they’re both necessary. There’s no guarantee that when disorder erupts this will bring about an awakening or a deepening, but there’s always the possibility. It is an opportunity, but often, it is missed.

 So here we are at this time, and our mission is the same: to align with the present moment, with whatever is happening here and now. The upheaval that we’re experiencing at the present time probably will not be the last upheaval that’s going to come on a collective level. However, it is an opportunity—because although this is a time for upheavals, it is also a time for awakening. The two go together. Just as in an individual life, you need adversity to awaken. It’s an opportunity but not a guarantee. And so what looks tragic and unpleasant on a conventional level is actually perfectly fine and as it should be on a higher level; it would not be happening otherwise. It’s all part of the awakening of human beings and of planetary awakening.

To learn more about Eckhart’s teachings on Conscious Manifestation, click here.

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The post The Opportunity in Adversity appeared first on Eckhart Tolle | Official Site – Spiritual Teachings and Tools For Personal Growth and Happiness.

anyone else like this post as much as i do

Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me straight in the face, soon after I got married. At that point, I had been married for a few months. I didn’t even know if I wanted kids, much less when I was having them.

Caught off guard, I said, “I have not decided if I want kids.” I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who had difficulty conceiving for a variety of reasons, with the implicit message being that I was going to be like them and regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on churning out babies.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I received varying forms of “When are you having kids?”, followed by a routine, almost ritualistic pressurization to have kids.

Lest you think that it ends after having a child, it doesn’t — the people who previously tried to persuade you to have “just one kid” when you were indifferent to the idea, now tell you to have “just one more.” It seems like you just can’t win. 😒

The problem with asking, “When are you having kids?”

I can understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, settle down, get married, and have kids. This is the life path that we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the path that we’ve been told is the way of life, which would bring us ultimate joy and happiness.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture, where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. There are even sayings built around this notion, such as 生儿育女 (shēng ér yù nǚ), which means to birth sons and raise daughters, and 子孙满堂 (zǐ sūn mǎn táng), which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren.

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to depict a vision of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that you should have kids. “When are you having kids?” they ask, somehow expecting you to give them a straight answer.

The problem with this question is that it’s rude. It’s presumptuous. It’s also insensitive.

1) Happiness can come in different forms

Firstly, everyone has their path in life. Some people want kids, while some don’t want kids. Some people think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see having kids as a burden to their carefree life. To presume that everyone should have kids, especially when the person has never said anything about wanting kids, is rude and disregards the person’s preferences and choice in life.

Take for example, Oprah Winfrey. She chose not to have children and has dedicated herself to her personal purpose of serving the world. Oprah hosted her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show which ran for 25 years, founded a leadership academy for girls and became a mother figure to the girls in attendance, and started her own television network. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for humans worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

There are other people who chose not to have kids as well.

  • Betty White, actress and comedian, chose not to have kids as she’s passionate about her career and focused on it.[2]
  • Chelsea Handler, talkshow host, doesn’t have kids as she doesn’t have the time to raise a child herself, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[3]
  • Ashley Judd, actress and politican activist, chose not to have kids as there are already so many orphaned kids in this world, and she feels that her resources can be better used to help those already here.[4]

And then there are others who chose not to have kids, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei, Renée Zellweger, and Rachael Ray. These people choose not to have kids for different reasons, such as because they’re pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or they just don’t feel a deep desire to have kids. Not having kids has not prevented them from being happy in life, and there’s no reason to assume why people must have kids in order to be happy.

2) You may well cause hurt and pain

Secondly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids, but maybe they are facing fertility struggles.

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[5]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[6]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[7]

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,[8] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[9]

For some people, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain, struggle, and losses as they experience miscarriages, undergo round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in hope of the double blue lines on their pregnancy kit each month.

And then there are people who cannot have their own biological children due to issues with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth.

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[5]

3) Not everyone is in a position to have kids

Thirdly, having kids is simply not a reality for some people due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in a place like Singapore.

Some people may be facing problems with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people facing chronic health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, which make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

4) Some couples could still be thinking

And then there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids, like myself when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having a kid should be an automatic decision, because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that will change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you’re bringing into the world.

For those yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want, not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the initial years after I got married, I just wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life with just my husband first, before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, both my husband and I were genuinely happy spending the rest of our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids at all, not in the way my culture obssesses about it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems, and I was fully focused on supporting him through these. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“[This relative’s] baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

It was as if I was some vehicle, some production machine to have kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband would never get it (as a man), not even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is also a complex one. It is a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple in question.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants to carry grandchildren or their aunt wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to nurture another life.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7, whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for a new life, or who will be responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 18-21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violenceabuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities, and not make parenthood seem like it’s some magical band-aid that solves a lack of purpose or life’s pressures. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a big strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through 6 years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you tend to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, insensitive, and it disregards people’s privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them about it.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they really don’t want kids,
  2. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  3. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (c), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon coffee chat, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people their personal space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking women or couples, “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like how you would a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, you can simply ask, “Are you and your partner planning to have kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a generic answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change a person’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids, and some people will not have kids. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths, and there’s nothing wrong about any of them.

For Me

For my husband and I, we eventually had a few discussions and decided to have a baby, and had our baby girl this year (2020). 😊 Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only annoyed me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision between me and my husband, that has nothing to do with them. It was after we had the space to settle down and enjoy married life without kids, and took some time to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid last year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are other things that I’m working on, other things that are happening that I look forward to sharing in time to come. Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it. I’ll talk to you guys soon! 🙂