Losing everything is not the end

In the early December 2014, one of my best friends shared with me about her worry. She learned that her parents are likely to lose a major proportion of their savings due to unfavorable investment.

She asked me to pray for her parents, I will be praying everyday! My prayer list is getting very long, but as I have lived longer, I have witnessed that some of my prayers have been answered miraculously. Thank you very much!

servicefromheart the praying hands of baby Ren never lose hope

I know her parents. They are honest and hardworking people, who started from zero and have become a hero and a heroine for their children, their past customers, their subordinates and their suppliers. My friend once shared the secret of their parents being given opportunities by their suppliers: reliability. They always pay their business loans no matter how difficult the circumstances are.

Her mother is a very frugal lady who bought only new clothes for the new year. Nevertheless, when the family went out with friends of their children, the parents would generously treat others.

Her father is in his 60s. In recent years, my friend felt that it is better for her father to enjoy the fruit of his labor and hardwork done over the past years and decades. However, a single turning point in life has changed everything. He left with much little of what he has saved a-dollar by a-dollar, if not cents by cents over years and decades.

I also empathize with my friend and feel her pressure. She belongs to a sandwich generation. She has to support not only two generations before and after her: her parents and her children, respectively, but also her younger sibling. I am proud of my friend, showing the quality of filial piety. I tried to encourage her that bearing a great responsibility is a privilege. Only the capable and the trustworthy are shouldered with such great tasks of life.

We love to and must take inspirations from the past generations who are able to turn adversity into something positive (逢凶化吉).

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Among many inspiring talks that I attended in Cambridge, UK, was a talk delivered by the extremely intrepid Christina Dodwell, a British explorer, travel writer, and lecturer.

She vividly described her 1975 trip to Africa with a girlfriend and two men. The men stole their jeep, leaving the women stranded with nothing. Her remark, “Losing everything is not the end,” echoes in my mind that is subconsciously searching for stories to encourage my friend. Christina and her friends then found two wild horses to ride; they survived!

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Another story that I first learned from Hui, is about Lim Tow Yong 林道荣 (1925-20120407), a legendary founder of Emporium Holdings that owned Oriental Emporium (英保良) retail business. Lim lived a roller-coaster life of fortune and success, yet he always show tenacity and never-say-die spirit.

With a humble beginning as a farmer’s son in Suatow (仙都乡), Jinshizhen (金石镇), Chao’An (潮安县), Chaozhou (潮州市), China, Lim ventured to Nanyang in 1940. Hardworking, visionary, charismatic, and a talented polyglot (English, Mandarin, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese and Hainanese), Lim grew his business, spreading all over Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Hong Kong. It was thriving until 1985.

In 1988, the 63-year-old Lim Tow Yong was declared a bankrupt by Singapore high court. Most people would have given up but not Lim Tow Yong.

In 1990s, Lim started another departmental chain in Sabah, and later Brunei and Labuan, with sheer determination and hardwork. In 1999, Lim Tow Yong was finally discharged from bankruptcy. He sold his business in mid-2000s and became a millionaire once again at 79.

Losing everything is not the end, as long as you are still alive.
Losing everything is not the end, as long as your love, hope, ideas and wisdom are alive in the heart of people whom you care.

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All these three stories also made me reflect on investment. I was asked by two men older than me, “if you know any safe investment with good return, please let us know.” The eldest, who is going to celebrate his 41st birthday tomorrow, aims to have USD 1million.

You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself.” ~ Good Will Hunting

After thinking and reflecting, I conclude that the best investment is on yourself. Seek knowledge. Master unique skills. Use your knowledge and skills to serve others from the bottom of your heart. Be creative and productive.

You want to transform yourself into a precious talent, such that as you grow older, you become more valuable than ever. As days pass, you become highly desirable to give positively-impactful advice to ordinary people and Fortune 500 companies. As years go, you are wanted for your unique talent and tremendous creativity. As decades change, you give your best to the world, and the world will shower you with more opportunities to make your investment grow many folds.

Invest in goodwill. Love people. Help others and do favors without expecting a favor in return. The power of the universe will do you favors especially when you need it, in unexplainable manners, in unexpected ways.

With love


Overcome the shame of imperfection

Have anyone said “shame on you” to you before?

It does not feel good being reproved, even if you have done something wrong.

When we were younger, that someone can be a person of authority, such as parents, teachers, religious leaders or peers. Their words might made a permanent imprint in our mind.

As a grown-up, that someone can also be your inner judge, whom you may NOT aware well. The judge learn the laws through your years of experiences and past interactions with others.

To overcome shame, we must first understand shame and its relationship with guilt.

Could you please tell me the difference between shame and guilt?

In shame, we feel that we are bad.

In guilt, we feel that we have done something bad.

In my perspective, if a child makes a mistake, it is better for him to feel sorry for his inappropriate action than to feel ashamed of himself. What’s your view?

In Spiritual Capital, Danah Zohar rated both shame and guilt -7 in a scale of motivation from -8 to +8, which corresponds to negative and positive motivations, emotions and drives that propel our lives and actions.

She defines shame as having no right to be here.

For individuals, both shame and guilt are more discouraging than fear (-4), craving / greed (-3), and anger (-2).

When we experience shame and guilt, it is extremely hard to listen to our inner voices, to be creative and create something out of passion.

There are many forms of shame. An extreme one is the shame of existing. Other forms include the shame of addiction, shame of illness such as cancers and diabetes.

The Confucian virtues include shame. While other Confucian virtues of loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, love, harmony, courtesy and integrity appear to be positive motivators, the (lost-in-translation) shame that Confucius referred to is the judgement and the sense of right and wrong.

Sadly, many times we feel ashamed because we are not good enough in our life, work, study, look, sport, and the list goes on. We need more courage to ignore this form of shame — the shame of imperfection.

To overcome fear (-4) or a sense of being threatened or too vulnerable, one has to first overcome shame and guilt (-7).

“We all have shame. We all have good and bad, dark and light, inside of us. But if we don’t come to terms with our shame, our struggles, we start believing that there’s something wrong with us — that we’re bad, flawed, not good enough — and even worse, we start acting on those beliefs. If we want to be fully engaged, to be connected, we have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, we need to develop resilience to shame.” ~ Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown of University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work

Sometimes, we may experience shame because we do not fit in. We do not always fit in to the ideals expected and determined by others (parents, teachers, bosses, society or media).

The good news is we can learn to be aware of the difference between fitting in and belonging, both concepts are often thought as being synonymous but they can be quite different and have significant influences on our choices, emotions and well-beings. Having such an awareness helps us to develop resilience to shame.

Could you please tell me the difference between fitting in and belonging?

To fit in, one assesses a situation and changes to be accepted (by others).

To belong means just be yourself, accept yourself and you will be accepted (by others who really care about you).

The shaming culture we live in makes it harder than ever to show courage and be vulnerable” but if a person starts overcoming shame, he or she can have a viral effect to people whom he or she influences.

For example, as a big sister I would like my sister to love her healthy body (she used to idealize the very slim figures of models) and as an aunt I would love my niece Michelle to love her hair (ignore some people who said she has too little hair to grow long hair).

Instead of telling them or nagging to love their bodies and looks – the gifts that God and nature have bestowed to them, I choose to be a positive role model, a servant leader by loving my body, look, style and appearance. I am grateful for every cell, organ, part and feature of my face and body.

Let us learn from the nature. The clouds are not perfect yet they are beautiful. It is perfectly okay to be imperfect. No more shame, but more courage to be imperfect.

ServicefromHeart overcome shame of imperfection

With love,

The art of of non-conformity {#readxp}

Book title: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

Author(s): Chris Guillebeau, who has traveled to 193 countries!


ServicefromHeart book review on The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
The Indiana Jones-alike cover of The Art of Non-Conformity.



Chris introduced that many people are trapped in life situations (relationships, jobs, environments) that we are not entirely happy with. However, we conform to the situations (instead of exploring the alternatives) because of the following reasons:

1. ignorance of other choices

2. fear of uncertainty & change

3. fear of disappointing our loved ones

4. attachment (to people, money)

In friendly and energizing tones, Chris suggested ideas to create our desirable lives and circumstances through doing different or extraordinary things.

Some of us may find that not all ideas suggested are practical for our circumstances, especially if we have dependents (elderly parents, spouse, and children to take care), employees, subordinates who rely on us. To me, as long as I can learn an idea that is inspiring and worth sharing with others, I am happy and grateful.

ServicefromHeart book review on The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau table  of contents

Ideas / Inspirations:

We can have unlimited ideas and dreams, but not unlimited priorities. We can do anything, but not everything (simultaneously).

♥ To prioritize, we can create stop-doing list / not-to-do list for things that consume a lot of our resources (physical energy, brain, time and money) but bring no or little happiness to ourselves and others.

“We tend to overestimate what we can complete in a single day and
underestimate what we can complete over longer periods of time”


Some people may not be fortunate to have the opportunities to pursue a formal education. I personally know few of them and they are highly envious of others who are lucky enough to go school.

Some people may have enrolled themselves in a discipline (and subsequently a career) that they do not enjoy. It is okay, everything that happens to us has a reason that we can grasp only after the events.

The good news is as long as we are living, we can choose to consciously learn things that we love, knowledge and skills / crafts can bring happiness to ourselves and others through services or creations.

Lives are dynamic. No matter where we are in our personal and professional journeys, it is always a good idea to constantly learn, adapt, create and innovate.

Learning allows us to build our competence, commitment and character. These attributes are critical sources of our security and #innerstrength.

♥ How is about designing a one-year, self-directed syllabus which is an alternative to attending a graduate school (as suggested by Chris)?

Among Chris’ recommendations, I jot down the following ideas (with few adaptations):

1. read The Economist, National Geographic, Nature, Science regularly (weekly / fortnightly / monthly) / religiously in Chris’ word.

2. read a book a week (so total 52 books in a year). Consider both no-fictions and classic novels / fictions. For the latter, my favorites include The Little Prince, Little Women, The Alchemist. How’s about you?

3. communicate / speak to public / tell stories to a wider audience.

4. learn a language (perhaps Arabic) through podcasts

5. learn computer programming language(s) and be functionally proficient

Since we design our own syllabus, we tend to take more personal responsibilities to pursue it with passion and enthusiasms.

Dream! Pursue your dreams. Set goals, including scary goals.

♥ Risks are not that scary once we take them. Undertaking a courageous endeavor and achieving a success can greatly boost our confidence and motivate us to try more. As long as what we dream of being, doing, and having, cause no harm to others, or even better – spread goodness to others, just do it!


1. “How can we make things better?”

2. What can we (uniquely) offer and serve the world?

3. Chris suggested that “the time to leave the best job is right before you get tired of it,” but how would we predict when we are tired of it? A friend Xiang argues that it is only when we experience the feeling of being tired, then we realize that we are tired.


♥ “The toughest obstacles most of us have to overcome are the direct result of our own fears and insecurities.” ~ Chris Guillebeau

♥ “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Other reviews that I appreciate:

♥ Khaled Allen’s book review @ Warrior Spirit

♥ Janelle’s book review@ the20what

Visit also other #readxp posts.

Happy reading!

With love,