Archive for the 'philosophy' Category

why should I give (for nothing)?

We’ve all been in sit­u­a­tions where we are expected to give. Let’s say I’m in a team project and I’m expected to con­tribute a fair amount; maybe when I see an elderly trying to cross the street, I’m expected to give a help­ing hand; even when I want to fill my stom­ach and go down the con­ve­nience store, I’m expected to give money.

On a very prim­i­tive level, we can think of the reason that we give is because we’ll receive. If I con­tribute my fair share in the team project, we all enjoy a good end result. Obvi­ously if I paid in a con­ve­nience store for some food I get a sat­is­fied stom­ach. Yah, even if I help the elderly across the street I’d get a warm feel­ing in my heart.

And then there are cases where I don’t know why the fuck I’m giving, or giving more than I’m expected. Those are cases where I feel very fuck­ing bad. When for some very weird reason I’m expected to give more than other people in a team, and other people seem to take it for granted.

Don’t get me wrong here. I think giving is gen­er­ally a good thing. I once thought noth­ing was more divine than uncon­di­tional giving. Jesus Christ is wor­shipped by many because he gave his life uncon­di­tion­ally to wash the sins of all people, for all of our greater good. But hey, I’m just a human, why should I give more than nec­es­sary for other people, when I don’t get any­thing in return?

…when I don’t get any­thing, not even some kind words of appre­ci­a­tion, because other people fuck­ing take it for granted?

Giving is a beau­ti­ful thing, but it turns into the syn­onym of “stupid”, “being used” quickly when it is not reciprocated.

I have been think­ing very hard about this. I’ve been trying to make this world a better place for every­one, by giving a little bit more. But most of the time, the world has not become a better place for me. So tell me, why should I be the guy who makes more con­tri­bu­tions than it needs be? If no one in a group of people is going to take the last extra mile to get some­thing done, then why should I be that guy if nobody will appre­ci­ate it? Why shouldn’t I, like every­body else, let the whole thing sink and we all lose?

I have failed to find the answer, and the more I searched for it, the more I’m lean­ing into that the only ratio­nal answer is,

“You shouldn’t.”

we make choices; our choices make us

Found an inspi­ra­tional story on the Web today:

Jerry is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has some­thing pos­i­tive to say. When some­one would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!” He was a unique man­ager because he had sev­eral wait­ers who had fol­lowed him around from restau­rant to restau­rant. The reason the wait­ers fol­lowed Jerry was because of his atti­tude. He was a nat­ural moti­va­tor. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the pos­i­tive side of the sit­u­a­tion. Seeing this style really made me curi­ous, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, I don’t get it! You can’t be a pos­i­tive person all of the time. How do you do it?” Jerry replied, “Each morn­ing I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time some­thing bad hap­pens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time some­one comes to me com­plain­ing, I can choose to accept their com­plain­ing or I can point out the pos­i­tive side of life. I choose the pos­i­tive side of life. “Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested. “Yes, it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every sit­u­a­tion is a choice. You choose how you react to sit­u­a­tions. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.” I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon there­after, I left the restau­rant indus­try to start my own busi­ness. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of react­ing to it. Sev­eral years later, I heard that Jerry did some­thing you are never sup­posed to do in a restau­rant busi­ness: he left the back door open one morn­ing and was held up at gun point by three armed rob­bers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shak­ing from ner­vous­ness, slipped off the com­bi­na­tion. The rob­bers pan­icked and shot him. Luck­ily, Jerry was found rel­a­tively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of inten­sive care, Jerry was released from the hos­pi­tal with frag­ments of the bul­lets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the acci­dent. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the rob­bery took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, as I lay on the floor, I remem­bered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live.” “Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked. Jerry con­tin­ued, “…the para­medics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expres­sions on the faces of the doc­tors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘he’s a dead man.’ I knew I needed to take action.” ” What did you do?” I asked. “Well, there was a big burly nurse shout­ing ques­tions at me,” said Jerry. “She asked if I was aller­gic to any­thing. ‘Yes,’ I replied. The doc­tors and nurses stopped work­ing as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laugh­ter, I told them, ‘I am choos­ing to live. Oper­ate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'” Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doc­tors, but also because of his amaz­ing atti­tude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Atti­tude, after all, is everything.

what you see is what you believe, and what you have done


You’ve prob­a­bly heard the story about the old fellow sit­ting on his porch on the edge of his home­town who is approached by two sep­a­rate indi­vid­u­als at two sep­a­rate times. The first indi­vid­ual pulls up, gets out of his car, and asks the old man, “I’m think­ing of moving into town and I was won­der­ing what kind of people live here?” The old man replies, “Well, what kind of people lived in your old town?” “They were rude and obnox­ious. Every­one was only con­cerned with them­selves. No one cared about get­ting to know their neigh­bor.” “Well,” says the old man, “I’m afraid you’ll find exactly the same kind of folks here.” Later that day the second indi­vid­ual pulls up, gets out of his car, and asks the old man the same ques­tion: “What kind of people live here?” “Well, what kind of people lived in your old town?” “They were pleas­ant and friendly. Every­one looked out for their neigh­bor. It was a really great place to live.” “I’m happy to say you’ll find exactly the same kind of folks here,” says the old man.

The bottom line of the story above, as I under­stand, is what you see is what you believe. But then I also thought it might be a step even fur­ther – what you see is what you have done.

Dog train­ing and human train­ing are pretty much the same. What you get in gen­eral is what you’ve trained others to give you. Like, if you reward your dog when it does some­thing, it’s going to do that more. That may be kind of reward/punishing mech­a­nism going on there.

In the exam­ple above, guy A said “They were rude and obnox­ious. Every­one was only con­cerned with them­selves. No one cared about get­ting to know their neigh­bor.” Would it be pos­si­ble that it’s him that didn’t go out to get to know his neigh­bor? Maybe his neigh­bor was not ini­tially open or hyper­ac­tive, but did you think he proac­tively went out to meet his neigh­bor? What most likely hap­pened was he saw his neigh­bor “looked kind of unfriendly”, and he gave a “kind of unfriendly look” in return. It all ends up in a bad loop.

Now per­haps that sounds like some seri­ous common sense there but I’d say a lot of people don’t seem to fully under­stand how this works, from what they’re doing. Most people can’t really express what they’re really think­ing. Let’s say they got treated shit from their boss from work, typ­i­cally they wouldn’t do any­thing about it on the spot but they’d bad­mouth the boss at the back later.

From the boss’s per­spec­tive, the employ­ees responded well to that kind of behav­ior, so he’d keep doing it. Now sure, if the employee stood up for him­self he prob­a­bly wouldn’t get very good treat­ment right away, but there’s no deny­ing that it would have “taught the boss a lesson”, no matter how small.

People “reward” other people’s bad behav­ior when they are afraid of the con­se­quences of stand­ing up for them­selves. At other times, how­ever, most people neglect to reward others’ good behav­iors. When people do some­thing to cross us, we’ll blame them imme­di­ately (if it doesn’t seem to have any imme­di­ate bad effects to us).  Now let’s say if you get some good treat­ments from some­one, most people would usu­ally not give too much about it but a con­trived thank you.

Why care about all this stuff? All the title sug­gests, what you see is what you have done. So the bottom line is, if you want people to respond well to you, maybe the very thing you can start con­sid­er­ing right now is to change the way you respond to other people.

evolution or destruction?


The 1st episode of The Matrix was pretty explicit in the author’s attempt to crit­i­cize the today’s world of “walking dead”. Are we really con­sciously living, fully under­stand what we’re doing? How many of us are truly aware of the fact that we’re noth­ing but a tool to help the soci­ety evolve. For a “greater good” of our col­lec­tive human race.

I thought it is a pretty new con­cept people started to think about recently. How­ever, as it turns out, time and time again writ­ers have warned us of our path to doom.


In Fight Club (1999), the Nar­ra­tor lives a “walking dead” life as a car com­pany con­sul­tant. His every day is the same as every other day, he goes to work, buys his sat­is­fac­tion from IKEA fur­ni­ture as a con­sumer. He never really thought of what he’s doing, not until he met Tyler Durden. Who enlight­ened and brought him out of his rat race, but not in the soci­ety accepted ways such as giving him wealth and mate­ri­als. He intro­duced him to the Fight Club.

With­out fur­ther spoil­ing this mag­nif­i­cent story, I can make the point I want to: How many of us can NOT iden­tify with the protagonist’s life? We go to school, get a job, buy stuffs, get a family, get old, finally die. That is noth­ing but the life of a “walking dead”, a cell sup­port­ing the life of The Matrix.

What shocked me most was the mis­er­able fact that the whole human race have no signs what­so­ever to stop “evolving” for the soci­ety. Back in 1955, the movie Rebel with­out a Cause also crit­i­cize the exact same thing about the modern societies.


Years later, con­sumerism has grown stronger than it has ever been. People are now work­ing even harder to achieve the intan­gi­ble. Just as global warm­ing is at an alarm­ing stage, so is our con­scious­ness as indi­vid­u­als. Per­haps this is not to be sur­prised, as awak­en­ing from the Matrix can be very daunting:


All the above prob­a­bly makes no fuck­ing sense at all to some people. To people who under­stand it, how­ever, it should have a pro­found mean­ing. So, can you truly say you’re know what you’re doing? If not, are you ready to shake it off and man up, or you’d rather stay uncon­scious and follow the crowd, for “our greater good”?

what’s more imporant: the shell or the egg?

One of the home­work this week is to write a resume (CV) of myself later to be sent to my poten­tial employer in my summer intern­ship. First of all, the school has required all resumes to be writ­ten in the “stan­dard­ized format” (read “boring out­dated format”), which has required the stu­dents to reveal their cumu­la­tive GPA and all bunch of boring details like edu­ca­tion, etc. That got me won­der­ing why the school didn’t go ahead and do the work for me instead of having me fill in all the infor­ma­tion the school already has access to. Now, I thought one of the few things I remem­ber from the man­age­ment classes is that “personality matters”. Inter­est­ingly, the “stan­dard­ized format” doesn’t even give you a hobbies/interests field to fill in. Appar­ently the school doesn’t really want to know about me as a person.

On the con­trary with my school’s direc­tion, the market seems to think that the shell of the resume is prob­a­bly more impor­tant than the con­tent. Some time ago I came across a very out­stand­ing resume that serves to prove this point. More­over, a simple Amazon search for “resume writing” turned up 4,000+ results. This raises a pretty inter­est­ing ques­tion: “If the resume writ­ing skills can improve my inter­view results, given my resume con­tent is the same, then why the heck do I have to work so hard for the resume content?”


So what are the resume con­tent? It would be your col­lege degree, your cumu­la­tive GPA as included in my “standardized resume”. These are the things that we’ve been work­ing so hard for since at a young age. Then, if there are so many “instant ways to get your resume noticed in today’s crowded job market”, why don’t we just do the “instant ways” instead of having spent prob­a­bly hun­dreds of thou­sands of money to get that little degree title which occu­pies prob­a­bly 3 – 5 lines of text in that little piece of paper? Isn’t the shell more impor­tant than the egg?

As abstract as it may seem, those titles, col­lege degrees are actu­ally also part of the shell. Then what is the egg? It’s your per­son­al­ity. (I hate to use this term because it sounds like those pro­fes­sors, but that’s what it is) There are hotel CEOs not having a degree about hos­pi­tal­ity. That more than serves the point that the degree really doesn’t make too much of a dif­fer­ence, no matter what the soci­ety tries to make us believe.

I had a con­ver­sa­tion with a friend of mine about this topic a couple of days ago, and he said one thing that explained this stuff pretty well:

After we grad­u­ate and come into the soci­ety, we all have to start learn­ing from the ground up anyway. It is naive to think that more than 10% of what you’ve learned at school actu­ally applies in the real world. What truly mat­ters is your own capabilities.

This brings us back to the same old ques­tion: what’s the point of wast­ing so much resources get­ting part of the shell, learn­ing about a bunch of use­less stuffs so you can get past the exams? That is a big waste of resources. People feel more proud when they are in the quan­ti­ta­tive finance pro­gram more than in the engi­neer­ing pro­gram because they had higher admis­sion grades. Wel­come to real­ity; the world of package/tags; the world of absurdity.