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“The dog doesn’t try to make you a good human, a good master. Then why can’t we allow a woman to be a woman or a man to be a man and love that human just the way he or she is without trying to change that person?” – Don Miguel Ruiz The biggest question people ask when they enter or about to enter a love relationship is this: Is this man/woman the right person for me? Living in the age of social media, it is hard to distinguish between a person’s image and true character. Most people would rather hide behind their social mask than showing their true character and risk vulnerability.  As a result, most people ruin any chance for intimacy in their relationships. To judge a person’s character, you then need to observe him or her closely; and this is why dating a person is a crucial…

“To say “I love you” one must know first how to say the “I”.” ― Ayn Rand In the early 1990s to early 2000s, a lot of self help gurus and motivators have encouraged people to develop self esteem (or more popularly, self confidence).  At its core self esteem can be defined as an evaluation of our worthiness, a judgement that we are good, valuable people.  William James, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology stated that we derive our self esteem from thinking that we’re good at things that have personal significance to us. Most people raise their self esteem in one of two ways: Value things that we’re good at, and devalue things that we’re bad at. Increase our competence in those areas that are important to us. Thus, we can conclude that self esteem stems not only from our own self judgement, but also more importantly,…

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ― Alexander Pope In the book The Mastery of Love, writer, Don Miguel Ruiz stated that “Your whole life is nothing but a dream. You live in a fantasy where everything you know about yourself is only true for you. Your truth is not the truth for anyone else.” Thus a perfectly functioning relationship is a relationship where two people in the relationship can share their truth as it is, and live their truth comfortably. The first secret sauce of a happy love life then, is to accept each other’s differences and respect it. We need to treat each other’s truths as truths with capital T (because that’s how they see it). The problem is, most people in a relationship tends to force his/her truth onto the other, believing that their truth is right and their partner’s wrong…

“You cannot be an attractive and life-changing presence to some women without being a joke or embarrassment to others. You simply can’t. You have to be controversial. You have to polarize people”- Mark Manson At the heart of a well functioning relationship is vulnerability, the ability for two people in the relationship to be themselves, without pretense. This is very important in a relationship because without vulnerability, a relationship will become hollow, superficial and shallow. The interaction became dull and you are constantly second guessing your partner’s identity because you don’t know them. If you can’t be yourselves with your partner, you are in trouble. If you can’t share your problem with your partner, you are in trouble. If you can’t show your bad side to your partner, you are in trouble. A relationship centered on pretense is a very tiring one. Acceptance is the foundation of a strong relationship.…

“You can’t be in a happy relationship unless you are happy- and you’re the only person who can make you happy.”- Laura Doyle When a person fall in love and enter a new relationship, there’s usually this unrealistic expectation that says, “Maybe this new person will finally make me  complete.” A thought that says, “I will finally be happy when I’m with X…” However, these are dangerous thoughts, which usually ends up breaking the relationship apart. For when love the feeling fades- and it will- you will realize that more often than not, your new partner doesn’t make you any happier. That they can’t make you happier…  This then highlights an important truth about relationships: your happiness is your own responsibility.  You can never expect your spouse to make you happy because your partner is never responsible for your happiness; you are. And this too applies for your partner’ happiness.…

“When people are rude to you, they reveal who they are, not who you are. Don’t take it personally.”- Anonymous People can be very nasty at times, the French Prime Minister even once said “The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” It was no surprise then, that many ancient philosophers preferred retreating into nature than surrounding themselves with the company of men. They preferred to preserve their tranquility than face the various human drama of the real world. However, living in an era of connectivity, it’s very hard to be a lone hermit. We relied on others to get our needs and wants. We relied on others for our safety. How then can we maintain our tranquility (remaining cool as cucumber) while living in this hyper-connected world? Well the Ancient Stoics have few suggestions on the subject. One Stoic (I think it was…

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” ― Nathaniel Hawthorne Few weeks ago, I ended my article by describing the dilemma of being yourself: To be yourself sometimes means to be rejected and shunned by others. To give in to social pressure and don a social mask means to lose touch with your own identity, your soul. What then shall we do? I realize that the advice “be yourself” is not that simple and is usually only applicable to successful people and the ultra rich who have amassed enough power and fame to be themselves.  Most of us works in a 9-5 job, has a boss to please. customer to wow and office politics to survive. Hence, I would argue that being yourself is the fastest way to lose your…

We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin. – André Berthiaume One my favorite TV show as a kid is a film called Masked Rider. The very first installment of the Masked Rider series introduced us to a man called Takeshi Hongo. He’s a kind hearted gentleman who loves motorcycle. One day, as he was practicing some motorcycle stunts, he was attacked by a group of men dressed in black. And after beating the shit out of him, the men in black brought Takeshi to a secret laboratory and turned him into a cyborg (gasp)… As the men in black were about to erase his memories and turn him into a full cyborg, Takeshi was rescued by a professor (who apparently is his friend) and escaped the facility. However, just as they were about to successfully escape the…

“If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others”- Dalai Lama Remember that time you told yourself to be patient the next time your girlfriend said something stupid, only to lash out hours later when your girlfriend said something stupid? Or, remember that time you reminded yourself to talk to your staff with grace, only to act like a mad dictator when you found out that they make an insignificant presentation error? All these are strong signs that you don’t understand how compassion actually works… The Dalai Lama once said that you can’t love others well until you can love yourself well; and you can’t give other compassion until you can develop compassion for yourself. Hence, the key to become a more compassionate person is…

“Insecurity, anxiety, and depression are incredibly common in our society, and much of this is due to self-judgement, to beating ourselves up when we feel we aren’t winning the game of life.”- Kristin Neff Recently a new belief has been spreading around the world like a contagion, infecting young minds with affirmations like ‘I’m special’, ‘I’m unique’ and ‘I’m different’. Although the desire to feel special is understandable, it pose a little problem. By definition, it’s impossible for everyone to be above average at the same time. Of course we can always work hard and give our best, but even then, there will always someone smarter, prettier, and more successful than you. In her book, Self Compassion, Kristin Neff said, “Even if we do manage to get our act together, the goalpost for what counts as good enough seem always to remain frustratingly out of reach.” Nowadays, it is not…