Self Improvement


One cannot expect miracles in a few weeks or months after moving to a different country, with a new time zone, language, laws and people.

It generally takes about two years to know a place fairly well and settle there. One has to put themselves out there, trying new things, just to meet new and interesting people.

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Self Improvement

New challenges emerge when we take the plunge and start a new life in a different country. We have to make new friends, learn new languages and cultural quirks, learn the working style, while also staying in touch with our past life.

Technology (Whatsapp, Zoom and social media) surely helps in connecting with our loved ones, especially in dire emergencies. There is so much to do (and learn) that the first six months or one year fly by.

Moving away from one’s family and comfort can alienate many people, with different kinds of food, timings and other rules. The trick is not to get into a constant comparison mode and endure the new routine, which will help one learn and grow. People will appreciate you if you make the effort and absorb their customs and rituals.

The expat experiences real freedom and independence once the world around them is familiar and friendly.

Most people who choose to settle in a different country, far away from their homeland have one thing in common: They are grateful for the experience of a lifetime.

Staying in touch with the people who love us becomes a top priority, as we realize the value of people. There are periods of gloom, self-questioning or loneliness, something that has to be endured.

Moving To A Different Country

Travelling to a new country is a highly disruptive, educative experience, with discoveries and adventure every day: New kinds of food, people, places, customs and cultures.

It is a fantasy of a lot of people to pack their bags and just go somewhere abroad, starting a fresh, new life. The ‘experience economy’ trend (before the pandemic hit the planet) has had the younger generation spending good money on travelling and exploring, instead of buying expensive stuff.

MayDay: The International Distress Call
  • Mayday is a derivative of the French word m'aider which means “Help me”, formally adopted by the U.S. as an official distress signal in 1927.
  • Airplane pilots, boat captains and emergency response personnel use the ‘MayDay’ distress code.
  • The signal started after World War I, when the normal SOS code that worked well in morse code, sounded confusing on the radio, as it could be misheard.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) instructs the pilots to follow the exact emergency response which includes information on the station, aircraft call sign, type of emergency and current position.

The signal is used with caution and anyone who abuses the system can be jailed for ten years and fined heftily. Pilots usually repeat the word three times so the other transmissions that may mention mayday about the same emergency do not distract the listener.

According to the Buddhist doctrine, the no-self doctrine aims to free one from suffering since suffering comes from attachment to the self.

Buddhist meditations are kung fu practices to leave one's attachment behind.

Confucius's call for "rectification of names" - using words appropriately - is a kung fu method for securing sociopolitical order, as "names" are placeholders for expectations of how the bearer of the names should behave and be treated.

Mencius and Xunzi's views about human nature are recommendations of how one should view oneself to become a better person, not metaphysical assertions about whether humans are by nature good or bad.

Aristotelian virtue ethics focuses on the cultivation of the agent instead of the making of rules of conduct. The kung fu approach shares this view, but the process of ethics does not rely on any metaphysics for justification.

The person who follows the Aristotelian metaphysics will put more effort into cultivating her intelligence, where a person who follows the Confucian relational metaphysics will focus on learning rituals that harmonize with interpersonal relations. This view allows for multiple competing visions of excellence.

Western philosophers such as Socrates, the Stoics and the Epicurians mainly were concerned with virtue to live a good life. Similarly, classic Chinese philosophy calls our attention to a dimension that transcends the obsession with searching for eternal, universal truth and practising it through rational arguments.

The kung fu perspective adds a clear emphasis on the cultivation and transformation of the person. A good action must be rooted in the entire person, and goodness is shown through its consequences and artistic style.

Martial arts is not just about fighting

A common misunderstanding about martial arts: Many people think martial arts is about fighting, but it is really about improving your wisdom and intelligence.

Any ability resulting from practice and improvement could embody kung fu for example. There is a kung fu of dancing, painting, cooking, writing, dealing with people, and even governing. The broad understanding of kung fu is one key to understanding traditional Chinese philosophy.

The chief orientation of traditional Chinese philosophy is about how to live one's life instead of finding out the truth about reality.

The well-known question posed by Zhuangzi in the 4th century B.C. - was he Zhuangzi who had dreamt of being a butterfly, or was he a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi? - was an epistemological question. Zhuangzi realised that he had perceived the "transformation of things", meaning one should go along with this transformation, not search for what is real.

Most of us work with our energy in a random way, where our mood and mindset are anchored to life situations that are not explicitly programmed by us. One can hack one’s mindset by anchoring specific life situations to our mood and energy in a deliberate manner.

Creating positive anchors helps our ‘mental maps’ where we start to mint happiness, eventually energizing other areas of our lives.

Anchoring: Drawing Our Mental Maps

Simply talking about making a change doesn’t do any good. One has to combine positive experiences along with the learning and create better understanding using associations.

NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming), a technique that syncs our linguistic abilities with our mind has a concept called anchoring, where specific life situations are associated with certain psychological outcomes.

Anchoring can be observed in the following ways:

  • Wrong posture, when combined with a negative mindset can become an unconscious negative anchor affecting the person for a lifetime.
  • A standing desk, where a person works out on a treadmill while actively rehearsing and thinking about investing opportunities creates a positive anchor where his mindset is energized.

When attending a function of any type, it is increasingly common to find people paying attention to their mobile devices instead of effectively connecting with others.

While our desire to connect and be connected is a strength, we can lose the connection with the person in front of us when we simultaneously pay attention to our phone.

A Common Pitfall in a Connected World

Our world today is more connected than ever. And one pitfall in our hyper-connected world as it intersects with our business relationships and networking is a state of continuous partial attention. It is a state where people give half attention to what they do - all the time.

Most of us work at our computers with notifications switched on: email, social media and different streaming services.

It is very easy to lose track of what you were last doing. Continuous partial attention keeps you from being alert, attentive, and focused. Social media is great to stay in touch, but we need to know when to focus on face-to-face interactions and put notifications on Do Not Disturb.

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