MONEY AND MARRIAGE
Money is not just about coins and dollars; it’s about anything and everything in your life that you may have knowingly or unknowingly attached a price tag in your mind.
Money is emotional. So, you must have your money wisdom to navigate that reality by creating your own money beliefs and money habits that may affect your emotions when you feel the abundance or the lack of money.
So, what‘re your money beliefs? Do you believe that money can buy you many things, if not everything? Do you believe in the power of money? Do you think that money can control your married partner?
What’re some of your money habits, such as the ways you earn and make your money, as well as the ways you save and spend your money earned? Do they give you security or insecurity?
What’re some of the obstacles to understanding money wisdom?
You may not attain your money wisdom if you’re already confronted with the following obstacles:
You spend more than you earn. Do you have several unpaid credit cards?
You buy things you don’t need with the money you don’t have. Take a look at your closet, your basement, or your garage. Are they all full of your stuff that you don’t really need?
You think you need more money. You save and save. Money has become nothing but only security to you. Do you always worry a lot about your money insecurity?
You want quick returns and big payoffs for your money. Do you often go to the casino, or buy the lottery?
You go with the crowd when it comes to investment and spending. Do you often go shopping with a group of your dear friends?
You aren’t truthful about money, because you always measure yourself on the basis of money. Are you always conscious of how people perceive what you wear or where you live?
You’re uncomfortable about money, or you hate money because it’s the root of all evils. You never like to talk about money, do you?
To overcome the above obstacles, you must simply do exactly the opposite.
Once you can free yourself from the delusional and irrational money beliefs and habits, you’ll then begin to perceive how money really matters in your life, such that you’ll learn how to sell yourself, how to invest wisely, and how to make more money. You’ll be richer for life-in every way. Once you’ve attained your money wisdom, you’ll then look at money with new perspectives and you’ll know how to make, save, and spend your money.
The reality is that money does play a pivotal role in a good and healthy marriage. But money is also the No.1 cause of divorce.
So, use your money beliefs wisely to survive and thrive in your marriage.
Relationship of love and money
What has love to do with your money?
Like many people, you may think that money makes the world go round. Actually, it’s love that makes the world go round, and not money. Everybody is chasing money and looking for ways of getting more. But without the vital ingredient of love, money will have little or no meaning.
How does love and your money equate?
The whole world out there is nothing more than a “projection” of what you feel inside you. Money is energy just like you, me, and everything else. You can have all the money in the world, and still be as miserable as sin.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
The Meaning of “Love”
“Love” is a big word in all human civilizations. For all religious disparities, love still plays an essential role in all the world’s religions. Love plays an important role in human lives, especially living in a world of conflicts and aggressions.
What’s the real meaning of the word “love”?
Love involves your emotions and feelings. You love some things and some people. Love, ironically enough, gives you both happiness and unhappiness. When your love is fulfilled, you feel happy; when that love is rejected or unrequited, you then feel pain, which becomes the unhappiness. That, unfortunately, is the reality of love.
Loving others isn’t that easy; loving yourself is sometimes even harder and more difficulty. That’s also the reality of love.
The truth of the matter is that to truly love someone is very difficult, if not impossible, unless you love yourself first.
In a general sense, self-esteem is the positive or negative evaluative perception of self. It‘s a rating of self, based on a partial assessment of current and/or past traits. Many mental health professionals claim that achieving higher self-esteem is the keystone of good mental health. Such claims, however, are dubious at best.
Low self-esteem is self-doubt, often expressed in not asserting oneself in public or at workplace, and not pushing past one’s comfort zones.
To love yourself is self-acceptance, which is accepting who and what you really are -- and not who and what you wish you were (that is, your ego-self). It should also be pointed out that “loving yourself” and “loving your ego-self” aren’t quite the same. The former is loving yourself for who you really are despite all your imperfections; the latter involves loving or craving to be the person you wish you were. “Loving yourself” means you can love yourself as well as others, because they aren’t very different from you in that they, too, are as imperfect as you’re. On the other hand, “loving your ego-self” means it’s very difficult for you to love others, because you want to distinguish and separate yourself from others; accordingly, others must somehow satisfy your ego first before you can love them. That explains why if you’ve a big ego-self, you just can’t easily and readily love others.
The bottom line: If you can accept yourself as who and what you really are, then it may become much easier for you to accept and love others as who and what they really are.
Oneness of All Life
Accepting and loving others implies having mindfulness of the inter-connection between people; that is to say, no man is an island, according to the English poet John Donne. This mindfulness leads to love, and then to the awareness of the presence of God or that of a Higher Being. Love is the first step toward spirituality.
The oneness of all life is one of the basic laws of Nature: that is, humans are all inter-connected with one another. This universal moral principle holds the key to true and lasting freedom in living. Without that freedom, you may be forever living in bondage that inhibits any further development of the wellness of your body, your mind, and your soul. Without this wellness alignment, there’s no spirituality in living.
An illustration of oneness of all life
A pastor from Hong Kong was invited to give a sermon in China. A woman from the congregation asked the pastor if it was "right" to give money to get her son into an elite school. The pastor replied by saying: “Your son getting into that elite school would also imply depriving another child of that same opportunity you’re seeking for your child.”
A year later, the pastor met the same woman, who told him that her son had got into that elite school but without using her kwanxi or "connection." The pastor then said to her: “See, God is in control, if you’d just let Him.”
If you were the woman with the money and the kwanxi, would you have done differently?
Can you see the “connection” between the woman and another individual also applying to that same elite school?
A different illustration
In 2012, a Chinese couple from Hong Kong filed a lawsuit against an education consultant in the United States for $2 million dollars, who promised that he could, but obviously didn’t, get their two sons into Harvard University.
Using “improper” but maybe still perfectly “legal” means to get their two sons into Harvard University might have deprived the opportunities of two other students who might otherwise have been admitted.
That Chinese couple obviously didn’t perceive the “oneness of all life”-they only saw what they wanted for their two sons.
So, understanding the oneness of all life may further make you realize that you aren’t different from others, and that all have different or similar imperfections, not to mention having the same dreams and desires. Understanding this may make it easier for you to accept others and to love them just as you accept and love yourself. Love and inter-connection with others are expressions of the oneness of all life -- a mental attitude that liberates human bondage from the ego-self, which always aims at distinguishing and separating self from others.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
THE EGO AND MARRIAGE
The ego-self is unreal: it is only a reflection of your own thoughts. Unfortunately, it is real to you. Your ego-self is what you think and hope you were. It has been formed over years.
Remember, you are not your mind, and your mind is not you. The more you identify with your thinking, your likes and dislikes, your judgments and interpretations, the more you become attached to them, and the more you will become controlled by them. There are many attachments in life, such as attachments to careers, to success, and to wealth. They "define" who you think you are; worse, your mind projects them into the future as your desires and expectations to be fulfilled. But only the present is real, and only by staying in the present moment (such as meditation) you can separate the truths from the illusions or self-delusions.
With an inflated ego-self, an individual will require his or her marriage partner to satisfy himself or herself first, before he or he is willing to do the same. That explains how and why the rich and the famous often fail in their marriages.
Those with an inflated ego do not have "genuine" friends, who please them only to satisfy their ego.
So, how do you "deflate" your ego?
Humility is the enemy of the ego. With humility, you see your true self, and not someone you wish you were.
With humility, you live in the now, and not in the future. With humility, you see your connection with others, and thus seeing that you are not different from them--that is, everybody is imperfect, with no exception.
With humility, you may intuit spiritual wisdom, which may inspire you with the divine revelation that there is a Higher Being who is in control of anything and everything in this world--such as what goes up must also come down, just as life is inevitably followed by death. With this spiritual self-enlightenment, you may look at your marriage and your marriage partner differently.
The bottom line: Ironically, it is your ego-self that has created unconsciously many problems in your marital life, not to mention your everyday life due to your own attachments.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
LOVE BEGINS WITH SELF-ACCEPTANCE
Self-acceptance is an important component in the art of living well, including having a healthy marriage. Self-acceptance has much to do with your thinking mind, which is the hardware of your whole being, controlling what you think and what you do. Mind power is the essence of being. Self-acceptance is one of the ways to increase your mind power.
The world is forever changing, and so are its people. Some of these changes are positive, while others are negative. To survive in this world of changes is to go along with the ebb and flow of the tide of changes, and to make the best and the most out of these changes. In this day and age, the art of living well is to develop strategies not only to adapt your life to these changes, but also to assume personal growth from these changes. In other words, to live well, you must have personal growth that will bring on a joyful and meaningful life, including a healthy marriage.
Personal growth, however, thrives only on your capability to accept yourself. The importance of self-acceptance to personal growth can be explained thus: without self-acceptance, there is no personal growth, and without self-growth, there is no increase of mind power. How can there be self-growth if you don’t like who you are and what you have become as a result of the changes in your life? If you don’t like yourself, you are more likely to ignore or disown self, and so do nothing about it, rather than taking positive steps to change what you don’t like about yourself. In other words, if you cannot totally accept who you are, you are most likely to resist changes in your life, and thus preventing any self-growth.
What exactly is self-acceptance?
Self-acceptance does not necessarily imply “liking” yourself to the extent that you cannot image any change or wish for any improvement. Quite the contrary, self-acceptance empowers you to initiate meaningful changes into your life to transform what you don't like about yourself. Self-acceptance means you care less about what others think of you, but more about accepting yourself as what you are temporarily, while being conscious that any positive change will be forthcoming if you so desire it.
In this world, “withholding love” is a powerful tool that you can apply to others as well as to yourself. When you were a child, your parents might have used that tool to discipline you, and, knowingly or unknowingly, have shaped you into what you are now, or what you have become—feeling inferior or inadequate, and always looking for approval from others. On the other hand, if you parents have always loved you unconditionally, accepting you for what you are, you will not be seeking approval from others as you grow up. The reason is that you, too, have learned to accept yourself unconditionally through your perceptions of your parents' unconditional acceptance. Remember, a perception is always the reality. If you had acquired self-acceptance early on, it is most likely that you will continue to cherish self-acceptance for the rest of your life,
If, unfortunately, you have grown up in an environment that has made you feel not totally accepted by your parents or your peers, you might have internalized subconsciously throughout your life the need to compensate for that lack of acceptance experienced by you in your childhood and during your formative years as a young adult. As a result, you will always be craving for acceptance by others, rather than self-acceptance.
Conditional and Unconditional Self-Acceptance
The level of your self-acceptance is determined largely by how well you feel you are being accepted by the people who are important to you in your life. That is to say, your own level of self-acceptance is a reflection of your perceptions of the attitudes that you think other people have toward you. In other words, it is all in your perceptions of others' attitudes toward you. An attitude is only a perception of the mind. However, a perception often becomes the "reality." Therefore, changing an attitude about how you view not only yourself but also others' perceptions of you is important in developing your own self-acceptance.
What is conditional and unconditional self-acceptance?
Conditional self-acceptance is feeling "good" about yourself when you have reached a goal that you have set for yourself, such as that of attaining good health. Your "good" feelings, thoughts, or actions make you accept yourself. But that attitude of self-acceptance is conditional in that it is based upon your feeling "good" about yourself. In other words, if you fail to achieve that goal, you cannot and will not be able to accept yourself completely. That kind of self-acceptance in question is only conditional and not voluntary.
Unconditional self-acceptance, on the other hand, is showing a desire to achieve that same goal, which is attaining good health, but without assessing or rating yourself. In other words, the focus is on the desire and effort, rather than on the outcome. In that case, the goal is already a positive one because it has positive attributes—the desire to be healthy and taking correct action to bring that desire into fruition—which are the fundamental values of a human being. Remember, the intrinsic value or personal value has nothing to do with what you do, but only with what you are.
Achieving self-acceptance is an attitude, which begins with your perceptions of how you view self, and how other important people in your life view you as a person.
(1) Change your perceptions to change your attitudes. Use positive affirmations and subliminal messages to change your subconscious mind in order to change your attitudes, and reinforce them with positive images through creative visualization.
(2) Use behavior to instill rational self-acceptance. For example, look at your own naked self in a full-length mirror:
Examine all the "bad" or distasteful aspects of your physical body, and calmly accept all of them. Express your desire to change your physical image with a practical plan. Acknowledge that even change will not make you "like" every aspect of your physical body, and that you will live as best as you can live with these undesirable aspects of your physical body.
Reaffirm that your physical imperfections are not you!
(3) Change your own values, because they define who and what you are. Re-define what are the most important things in your life, and reiterate to yourself why they are important to you.
(4) Be mindful of yourself, as well as of others. The more you are mindful of yourself and of others in your life, the more clearly you will see yourself as a human being. Remember, your intrinsic values cannot be measured in extrinsic terms, so do not assess or evaluate yourself, let alone allowing others to do that to you. Remember, just accept yourself unconditionally as who and what you are.
Use self-acceptance as your first step to increase mind power to live the life you have always wanted to live. It is all in the mind, and it is always mind over matter.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
SELECTED POSTS ABOUT "LOVE"
Gratitude Is Everything
Reconnect your soul or spirit to gratitude. If you are grateful to the Creator for what you have, you may look at the behavior of another individual with more tolerance, or even with a totally different perspective.
Blessings in life, such as the gift of life, are generally overlooked or even taken for granted. For example, if someone takes advantage of you, do not become angry immediately; instead, be grateful that you are the victim instead of being the person who victimizes others.
Gratitude enables you to develop the mindset for a positive outlook toward your soul. Smile more often. Keep complaints about people, things, and life in general only to yourself—unless voicing them will help bring about positive changes in others or in society.
Gratitude helps you see the good in others, letting you give them the benefit of the doubt. Try to remember that all people are created in the image of God. Focus on the individual as a person, rather than on the behavior or belief of that individual, which may not be appealing or pleasing to you.
Always be grateful that you have been given the opportunity to become either a teacher or a student in whatever circumstance you may find yourself in, and turn it into a miracle of life.
At the end of 2007, John Kralik, an attorney who owned a law firm, experienced debts and disasters in both his life and career.
One day, after a walk in the mountains, Kralik became enlightened: as his 2008 New Year’s resolution, he decided to write a thank-you note a day for the rest of the year to everyone he knew.
Kralik’s 2008 “gratitude project” had changed his life completely. Instead of his feeling of discontent regarding his lack, and his envy of those who had what he did not have, he had learned to be grateful for his law firm, his practice, his friends, and his family, despite the many disasters and drawbacks he had previously experienced. Kralik’s gratitude began to change every aspect of his life. His relationships with his family, his friends, and his staff improved significantly; his law firm avoided bankruptcy, and turned around completely.
Gratitude is something that you get more only by giving it away more. Expression of gratitude generates love and happiness that overcome the unhappy feelings of lack.
Are you grateful for what you have, and not getting what you rightly deserve? Even being diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disease) or cancer may be a life lesson for you -- you can always learn something from your diseases.
THE TAO OF LIVING FOR LIFE
AS IF EVERYTHING IS A MIRACLE
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
Oneness with All Life
With both human wisdom and spiritual wisdom, you may see anything is everything not just for yourself but also for others as well. In other words, you may intuit the wisdom of oneness with all life, which is your interconnection with others, not just with those who are close to you, but also with those who are distant and unrelated to you. Life is all about anything and everything.
No man is an island
According to John Donne, the famous English poet, “no man is an island”; that is, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. Therefore, we are all inter-connected with, as well as inter-dependent on, one another in many different ways.
Oneness is the law of nature: what we do to others, we also do to ourselves, either consciously or unconsciously. It is the unity of all life—life is what we all have, and what empowers all of us, giving us the enlightening experiences and the holistic ways of living in balance and harmony with love and gratitude.
The Bible has repeatedly stated the significance of oneness of God’s creation and salvation to all.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1: 1)
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1: 16)
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all
given the one Spirit to drink.
(1 Corinthians 12:13)
According to Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage, one of the reasons why nature has continued to exist for thousands and thousands of years is that all forms of life in nature have their presence, which depends on one another for their co-existence. Just think about that: everything in nature does not exist just for itself, and that is why it can last forever.
"Each and every being in the universe.
is an expression of the Creator.
We are all shaped and perfected by Him."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 51)
"Blessed is he who has no ego-self.
He will be rewarded with humility to connect with the Creator."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9)
So, always focus on others, instead of just on yourself all the time. Focusing on others also initiates your connection with the Creator, providing you with spiritual wisdom to guide you along the rest of your life journey.
According to Buddha, “Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.” What Buddha means is that it is not uncommon for humans to blame their problems on all the things outside themselves—other people and circumstances that are beyond their control. But the connectedness with all life contradicts that common but erroneous belief; the reality is that what we see in others and in our own circumstances is a reflection of our inner life, of what we believe in—which is the main source of all human miseries and sufferings. The truth is that all humans suffer because they do not see the miseries and sufferings in others, except in themselves.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist minister, and leader in the civil rights movement, once said: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” So, your connectedness to others plays a pivotal role in helping you become your true self, instead of who you wish you were.
Even John Lennon in his famous hit song “Imagine” says: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope one day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” That the world will live as one may indeed become a reality, and not just a dream.
To get your copy of Anything Is Everything! Everything Is Nothing! Nothing Is Everything!, click here.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
Starting Your Family and Teaching Your Children About Sex
A marriage isn’t just about two people. Children or step-children may also play a positive or a negative role now or later in the marriage.
Raising children is more than just doing tedious daily chores, such as feeding and changing diapers. Even those daily chores shouldn’t be avoided or ignored because they’re the backgrounds for establishing the relationships with the children, as well as developing the personalities of the children.
Personality and Growth
·Every child has his or her own personality, which is just a reflection of the parent, but is not the personality of the parent. So, be only a role model: always showing your love and your care.
·Spend more time with your children with many open-ended questions to develop their own thinking mind.
·Try not to punish them for any misbehavior by denying or removing any privilege they think they’re rightly entitled to. Instead, demand an apology, either a spoken or a written one. Also, explain to them the truth that no one is perfect.
·Praise them for their good deeds, but with no empty promises that will not be fulfilled.
Passion and Creativity
Every child has his or her likes and dislikes that may ultimately become his or her own passion and creativity.
Passion is the intense desire of the child to do what he or she likes to do, based on the child’s inherent gifts and skills.
Creativity is the self-expression of a child to cope with his or her own inner feelings. It‘s also a mental growth giving the child the opportunity to try out new ideas, as well as a new way of thinking and solving problems.
·Avoid being “over-parenting,” which is imposing on your children your own likes and dislikes.
·Pay attention to your children’s daily interests and material activities. Create space for them to engage in them.
·Observe their activities and show them how to solve the problems arising. It’s important to teach them “never give up.”
·Invent different scenarios for their current activities with different questions for them.
·Give them arts and crafts to develop and pursue their creativity.
·Let them spend more time in nature, which can inspire them with new ideas.
·Create time for your own creativity, such as playing your music, doing some of your own artwork, working on the computer to write poetry or a book. Let your children also see and learn from you as a role model.
Teaching Your Children About Sex
Sex is “a big deal,” especially in a marriage.
Surprisingly, some couples may have more sexual intimacy after several years of marriage. The explanation is that by then they may have much reduced level of stress: better financial environment; children growing up; less worry about conceiving a child. In short, sex can even get better as years go by in a good and healthy marriage.
However, some couples may also cease their sexual intimacy due to: childbirth; pursuing a career; midlife crisis; an out-of-marriage affair. That, unfortunately, is also the reality.
Living together without love or physical intimacy is “living separate lives”-it may also be due to pornography, which is addictive, pervasive, and destructive to the addicts and their respective relationships.
So, it‘s important for parents to educate their children about sex. But how?
·Like building the foundation of a pyramid, teach them about the values of life and living, which are usually dignity, honor, and respect for self and others.
·Growing up and getting married isn’t just about self or just two people: it’s about human relations -- how you relate to others around you. For example, in a marriage it isn’t just about the relationship between you and your spouse; it also involves your children or step-children, the in-laws, and the friends. So, learn to develop good relationships, and teach your children to do likewise as they grow up.
·Relationships are related to emotions, both positive and negative ones. Teach your children to control and manage their emotions and temper tantrums, which will play a pivotal in their subsequent life choices and decisions.
All of the above will define and shape your children’s perceptions and understanding of the meaning and the importance of sexual intimacy when they grow up into adolescents and young adults.
Remember, just do your best, and let God do the rest. You can teach your children about sexual intimacy, but you just can’t control what they feel and experience in their lives. Controlling only generates resistance and distancing. This applies not only to your children, but also to your spouse. You can share with them what you believe in, but you just can’t make them believe what you believe in. That’s the reality.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
“"GETTING MARRIED TO MAKE YOU HAPPY?”
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