1. Courage

To face challenges head-on with determination and equanimity.

Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm –Winston Churchill
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave for five minutes longer –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Genius? Nothing! Sticking to it is the genius! I’ve failed my way to success –Thomas Edison

To be courageous is to accept challenging tasks or responsibilities head-on with all our determination and calmness and with little or no fear.

It does not have to be anything grand. Courageous people are present around us in our everyday lives.

The single parent who takes on the responsibility to raise up a child alone.

The rejected writer trying one more time to get her hard work published.

The patient who smiles and laughs during his fight with a chronic illness.

Essentially, courage is an inner process of reflecting and confronting the fears that are within us or the difficulty we are facing.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”

–Victor Frankl, who experienced the cruelty of Nazi concentration camp and learn to grow from the extreme suffering.

Take a moment to think about what has been holding you back.

More vividly, imagine what could it look like. Is there a shape, color, or characteristic to describe this difficulty?

Invite it to come face you. Is it inviting you to explore something about yourself and grow for the better?

Whatever the intensity of the situation now, don’t run away from it any longer.

With daily practice of embracing your fears, confronting challenges, and seizing them as opportunities in disguised, the fears and difficulties will lose its strength.

In turn, you are practicing becoming more courageous everyday.

2. Principles

Solid inner values that stand on their own legs without being easily influenced by harmful sources.

What is the root of angst? If you reflect within yourself and find nothing to be ashamed of, how could you have anxiety or fear? –Confucius
Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. –Martin Luther King Jr
To learn the whole Talmud is a great accomplishment; to learn one good virtue is even greater. –Yiddish proverb

Every one of us has our own set of principles that keep our lives upright and stable.

Most of the times, we develop these principles in response to those we meet or the situations that we encounter.

As we grow, the principles grow with us.

When they become loose during hard times, we may find ourselves drifting around aimlessly.

Standing up to our enemies takes as much bravery as standing up to our friends, who may not be most aligned with our own principles.

Take some deep breathes to think about who has truly inspired you most in life. What have you learned from that person?

Think about the ones who may have values conflicting to yours.

Embrace this as an opportunity to learn and explore other perspectives. Examine them without necessarily being attach to them.

It is a mark of a well-developed mind to evaluate a thought from different viewpoints without accepting it for yourself.

How would you choose to act differently if similar situations occur in the future?

Your head is fresh like a blooming flower. Your body is solid like a mountain.

Keeping this visual image can help clear your mind during stormy weather.

Still, it grounds you to the unshakable principles that makes you who you are today.

Flower, fresh. Mountain, solid. Strong, clear inner values and principles.

3. Right Speech

Speaking with deep insight, compassionate listening, and sensitivity.

Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger. –Chinese proverb
No one man is as deaf as the man who will not listen. –Jewish proverb
Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. –Winston Churchill

THINK before you speak.

T – Is it true?

H – Is it helpful?

I – Is it inspiring?

N – Is it necessary?

K – Is it kind?

Words can hurt just as much as they can heal.

Nobody in this entire world has not been hurt by blame, criticism, cursing that is aimed to hurt or humiliate.

In the same way, right speech can help foster emotional support, loving kindness, and understanding that make up the priceless moments in our lives.

To practice right speech means first to listen. Listening not to offer a reply, but to understand.

Wrong words, oftentimes, are spoken during intense, explosive moments of strong emotions like anger, hatred, or despair.

Remember that you are not the first victim when someone says something unkind to you.

More often, they themselves are their first victim when they use wrong words to attack someone.

Inside, there may be some unsettled sufferings that they have not been able to deal with.

In other cases, it may just be wrong perceptions.

Otherwise, a balanced person will be deterred from using such words to hurt someone else mentally.

On the flip side, if your words hurt other people, reflect deeply into yourself to see what’s there inside that you may be cause you to act that way.

Controlling the outburst at the tempting moment can be as easy as thinking:

In 300 years, where will this situation be? Where will I be?

Big deals that seem big now will appear no bigger than a grain of salt in hundreds of years later.

Practicing loving speech can be as simple as saying “I love you” one more time to the person dear to you. With courage, all of us can do this.

4. Honesty

To act with transparency.

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything –Mark Twain
An honest man does not make himself a dog for the sake of a bone –Danish proverb
One falsehood spoils a thousand truths –Ghanaian proverb

Honesty is the moral foundation that builds connections where upon thousands of creations rely.

Dishonesty takes many forms. It can be the straightforward lying or cheating.

Or, it can be more subtle like “borrowing” tools from the workplace.

In Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry and Finn, we can clearly see Huck (the young boy) going through such ethical dilemma:

“Pap always said it warn’t no harm to borrow things if you was meaning to pay them back some time; but the widow said it warn’t anything but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it.”

Grand as many universal laws are, still, as many great thinkers like St. Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Jefferson firmly believe, it is at the individual level that honest / dishonest decisions are made.

Self governance or self education is therefore of critical importance.

A simple 5R method can help you detach and refresh from your busy lives:

R – Regret

R – Refuge

R – Remedy

R – Resolve

R – Rejoice

What is the thing that you regret doing or saying to someone? Invite yourself to reflect upon this moment sincerely.

Take refuge in your good nature. Remind yourself that you don’t always act like that and you have the ability to change for the better.

Remedy this lack of honesty privately or publicly.

Resolve the issue by committing to not repeat the same thing again.

Finally, rejoice at your act that makes it right for your clear conscience and for the other person.

5. Forgiveness

Letting go of anger and resentment towards yourself and other people.

When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending. –Thich Nhat Hanh
To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it –Confucius
An eye for an eye makes the world blind –Mahatma Gandhi

We carry within ourselves memories—sometimes of how badly we treated another person—and oftentimes how other people have hurt us.

We are scared that our words or actions may have hurt other people or how will they see ourselves after that.

We don’t like being seen as bad, impolite, evil, etc. people.

We regret our mistakes and that’s the reason why we remember and cling on to them.

Over time, these small thoughts stack up like a big pile of stone dragging you down. It becomes heavy and drains almost all of our energy.

On another angle, we remember the bad things (i.e. the lies, the curses, the violence) that other people have done to us.

It can be really hard to forgive them when they make us suffer like that.

When all we have is ourselves, we are on our own. We don’t deserve to be treated badly like that.

When this happens to you, this insight can help:

The other person who are hurting you physically or verbally may also be a suffering victim of his/her own emotions, too.

They may be screaming for help inside, not for another punishment.

If you can hear this message, you can transform that anger, that violence into understanding.

You will look at the person differently and maybe find ways to resolve the situation.

On the other side, if you did something to someone that made you regret, acknowledge your mistake, do the right thing to make it up for your friend, and let it go.

Forgiving yourself is just as important as forgiving other people. Let go of the small pebbles that still rankle in your mind.

Then take care of the large heavy stones. Let them go, throw them off the sea.

You will feel much more relieved. Now you will have space to grow better.

Your peace of mind is regained. Forgiving is the best form of self-interest.

6. Patience

Have a calm, spacious mind even when results are not manifesting yet.

We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world –Helen Keller
For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of calm –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? –Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

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In the rush of everyday lives, we feel this urge to act, to do something when we don’t see any immediate results.

Especially in the world where instant messaging is dominating, we want things fast, we want them done instantly.

This erodes our ability to remain calm and patient before the results naturally manifest themselves.

When we do something triggered by impulses, we may be subjected to naive interventionism.

Simply, when something is about to be completed naturally, your naive intervention or action may be the reason breaking down all the hard work before that.

We often ask, “When? I can’t wait any longer!”

To be brutally honest, nobody knows when. We just know that it Will.

During moments of intense emotions, you may want to take a deep breath to detach yourself from the current situation.

Please, be calm. Distract yourself from thinking about that thing by taking a walk outdoor, reading a book, watching a funny movie, meditating, etc.

Scientific studies have found that acting impatiently every time a provocation arises leaves an imprint on your brain’s neural pathways. This is not necessarily good at all times.

We can change this by our daily practice of distancing ourselves and think of the bigger vision ahead.

Face your thoughts during these situations:

“It’s not working. It’s no good.”

“Too slow. I don’t have enough time.”

“I need it done fast, otherwise I might lose my job.”

Things or people may be working on the projects to get the results to you.

Please, don’t think they are that lazy.

The universe may be working in the process to make things happen or manifest them.

At least, try to think they are trying, trying to improve the situation for you.

Don’t let impulsive thoughts cloud your clear mind. Be patient.

7. Gratitude

To be thankful for the kindness of others.

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree a long time ago –Warren Buffet
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it –William Arthur Ward
There is always, always, always something to be thankful for –Anonymous

In our fast-paced lives, very often we take things and people for granted.

When new models or versions are released, we feel the urge to upgrade.

We are enjoying the comfort of a chair, a bed, or a pair of shoes without really thinking much about the people whose time and hard work made those things come to life.

Most importantly, many people take their bodies for granted.

Every single moment, your eyes, heart, lungs, fingers, feet are constantly working to sustain your life.

If anything, our own body is one of the first things we should be very thankful for.

By taking a few deep breaths to bring your mind back to where your body is, you can begin expressing your gratitude to all the parts and organs.

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If someone has done you something kind, express your gratitude to them.

If you want to say, “Thank you”, just say the words.

Before enjoying the next meal, take a moment to think about all the “behind-the-scenes” that have helped put the food on your table for you.

The plants, the farmer, the truck driver, etc. that have each played their part in this chain.

This way, you can enjoy the good nutrients while showing your appreciation for everyone who has contributed to your good health and well being.

In the Japanese culture, before eating the food, people will say this short phrase, “Itadakimasu”. And “Gochisousamadeshita” after the meal.

This means “Humbly, I receive” or in mealtime setting, it can be “Bon appétit”. When they are done, they thank for the food they get.

This is the same for other religious traditions when people say grace before eating.

Here is something you can try if you are not vegan but are concerned about animal’s treatment.

“It must be painful when you were slaughtered. Even so, when you come into my body, my good vibes will ease all your pain, make you feel better, happier. Your sacrifice will have a more complete meaning. And thank you for nourishing me.”

8. Generosity

To give without expecting anything to be returned.

You can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness  –Anne Frank
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared – Buddha
We should give as we would receive: cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers –Seneca

When you are being generous, it is not only with physical things like money or cars, being generous also applies to how you devote your time to other people.

Sometimes, we are too busy and don’t take a pause to see how we allocate our time to the things or people that matter most in our lives.

Even if some people are not that close to us, it would be generous of you to stop for a moment and possibly see how you may be of help.

People who don’t do this very often are those who are stingy with their time. In defense, they may say that they use their time wisely.

This often leads to the thinking, “I don’t want to waste my time with this and that” or “What’s in it for me if I spend my time doing this?”

While in practice, people will often return the favors you have given them, a kind of generosity that is rarer is the one that doesn’t expect anything in return.

It still exists. As we can see in anonymous donations, people donating their organs, or those who volunteer to help the elderly or orphans without any explicit rewards.

As the saying goes, sharing is caring.

Very often, when giving away or sharing something, you will feel this amazing feeling of being of help to someone else, even if that person might not give you anything valuable in return.

Little do many people realize this, but when they are giving out of the kindness of their hearts, the law of reciprocity is already working its magic.

The things that they want may not get back to them directly. The good results may appear in the most unexpected ways.

No good deeds are ever forgotten in this vast universe.

Even if you don’t want anything back, your kind deeds are never forgotten in the minds of the ones who have received them.