Thursday, December 10, 2009

ABS Australian Social Trends, Dec 2009

ABS - Australian Social Trends, Dec 2009
(http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/4102.0?OpenDocument) have just been released with interesting statistics (a few pages on each area) for each of the following:
  • Jobless
  • Families
  • Living alone
  • Smoking, risky drinking and obesity
  • Pre-school attendance
  • Patterns in work
  • International comparisons
A sample of some interesting details provided from the smoking, risky drinking and obesity analysis:
  • Obesity and smoking were more common in the most disadvantaged areas.
  • Blue collar workers such as technicians, trade workers, labourers, drivers and machinery operators were much more likely to be current smokers (30%) than people in all other occupations (18%).
  • Studies have shown that once children become obese they are more likely to stay obese into adulthood and have an increased risk of developing the associated diseases
  • Of all adults who were inactive, over one-quarter (27%) were obese, compared with 16% of people who had a high level of exercise.
  • Around 459,000 (or 3.5% of) adults aged 15 years or over who were not current smokers and 291,000 (or 7.2% of) children aged under 15 years lived in a household where a daily smoker was reported to have smoked indoors.
  • Overweight or obese smokers were twice as likely to have heart disease as people who were within the normal weight range and who had never smoked, 2.2 times as likely to have Type 2 diabetes, and 2.8 times as likely to have bronchitis.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Run by young people for young people...

I recently attended a RYLA which is a youth-led camp that ran from the 28th November -4th December 2009. At the camp we participated in a number of activities, listened to many great and at times very inspiring and thought-provoking speakers on topics surrounding leadership, personal development and community. I won’t dab too much into them as I do not wish to spoil the experience for any potential RYLArian participants.

Overall, it has been an experience is something that will not be easily forgotten; as it has been able to help me reflect and find my true sense of self. It has helped me to clarify and open myself up to new ideas and experiences that I had left dominant or in an uneasy and/or uncertain stage beforehand. I have felt as though many of my future ambitions, dreams and goals were reaffirmed, made clearer and as though I have realised some of the support and courage from within that I needed to continue pursuing these ambitions.

It seems apparent to me now that it had been a welcome break, a welcome step away from my day-to-day life, with a step back towards reflecting on what has been in my life, and a step forward towards my present life and envisioning what the future may lie for me – which is what I will make of it.

The entire time and experience that has been spent at this vibrant, friendly and always accommodating camp has allows us (young participants and facilitators) to work together towards achieving that award – the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA).

So for any fellow and potential RYLA participants reading this, please take the experience as a place where you can take the time to reflect, take a deep look at one self and make new wonderful lifelong friends...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

If I Had My Life To Live Over

Here's something inspirational piece that written by Nadine Strain that I would like to share with you all as it will hopefully inspire each of you to live your life and achieve the things in life that you seek to truly achieve :)

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I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments,
And if I had it to do over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
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Your help is needed to oppose new move on and random search powers law

Information regarding this proposed law has been sent to me via a youth link which I would like to share with you all. This seems like something that is going to be debated that is quite concerning as it appears that it hasn't been properly investigated and consulted within the community.

Here are the details below:

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On Tuesday 8th December the Upper House of Victorian Parliament will debate and vote on proposed new laws that give invasive powers for police which will impact on the everyday life of tens of thousands of Victorians. On 26 November the Government and the Opposition members in the Lower House of Parliament passed the proposed laws despite acknowledging they breach fundamental human rights.

We seek your urgent support to oppose this proposed law and request voting be deferred until politicians properly investigate and consult with community rather than rush it through Parliament.

The proposed ‘Summary Offences and Weapons Control Amendment’ Bill introduces new ‘move on powers’ for police that enable them to order any one to move away from public spaces even if they haven’t committed any crime. Interstate experience indicates these laws will target young people in particular.

The Bill also allows the police to conduct random searches including strip searches of children under 18 in certain circumstances. Similar proposed legislation in WA has been sent off for investigation by an upper house Committee due to the public uproar about the impact of these invasive powers on the community.

If you don't want laws that have proven to be ineffective, unfairly target young people and create unnecessary conflict between community groups and police then please send an email such as the one below, to the Government by Tuesday 8th December 2009.

SUGGESTED EMAIL MESSAGE
I AM WRITING TO URGE YOU TO OPPOSE THE ‘SUMMARY OFFENCES AND WEAPONS CONTROL AMENDMENT ACT’ BILL OR AT LEAST DEFER PASSING THE BILL UNTIL THERE HAS BEEN A PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE INVESTIGATION OF THE EFFECTIVENESS SUCH A LAW. THE INVESTIGATION SHOULD PARTICULARLY ENABLE CONSULTATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE, HOMELESS PEOPLE AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WHO ARE MOST LIKELY TO BE EFFECTED BY THESE LAWS.

Please email to:

[email protected]gov.au Premier, Leader of the government, ALP
[email protected]gov.au Leader of the Opposition, Liberal party
[email protected]au Attorney General, ALP
[email protected]gov.au Minister for Police and Emergency Services, ALP
[email protected]au Leader of the National party
[email protected]gov.au Greens, Australian Whip


Other links of interest
- Second Reading Speech in the Victorian parliament
http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/downloadhansard/pdf/Assembly/Jul-Dec%202009/Assembly%20Jul-Dec%202009%20Daily%2025%20November%202009.pdf

Check out pp 90 to 97 of Hansard Nov 25th Second reading speech by Peter Ryan National, Tony Lupton ALP and Andrew McIntosh.

- Media release: http://www.youthlaw.asn.au/upload/mediarelease-streetlawsnov2009.pdf
- Joint letter to Minister Cameron http://www.youthlaw.asn.au/upload/mincameronproposedmoveonpowers_finalpdf.pdf
- Submission to SARC Parliamentary Committee http://www.youthlaw.asn.au/upload/youthlawsarcsubmission-summaryoffencesandcontrolofweaponsactsamendmentbill_2_.pdf

- Article in Sunday Age 29th November 2009 http://www.theage.com.au/national/police-to-have-power-to-stripsearch-at-random-20091128-jy0e.html

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our power as human beings...

We live and share our lives in a world with various organisms all around the world including animals, creatures, insects etc. Too often it is easy for us to believe that we should get that can of insect killer and try exterminating and begin killing all insects which may have intruded on our little space, whether that is in our room, kitchen, in our backyard or simply on the streets. But is that really fair and our right as humans to do so? That is, are we killing them for the right reasons? Or is it more just because they are in our personal space, even if it is just for a short and brief period of time? Is it because it is convenient? Because we like or enjoy killing insects? Or is it our nature urge to do so? Or is it because they are different?

But are they really that different from us? They are alive aren’t they? They have similar desires such as wanting to eat, sleep, raise a family, socialise and explore. I see them as living beings that deserve some respect and space just as we as human beings deserve. Although they may not look exactly like us, I believe they deserve to live provided they do not attempt to kill and injure as may be the case with deadly spider or snakes. Even so, rather than choosing to simply kill or eradicate them isn’t it better to just relocate them to an environment that poses no danger or threat to themselves or ourselves?

I believe that in most instances we have that option. We are given that choice to kill or not to and that there ‘are other options’ to which are available to us which may require a little more effort, but wouldn’t you prefer to allow another living being to live rather than die? I'm sure you'll agree that it better not to abuse our responsibility and to do what is right for all living beings.

Live according to your thoughts.

'Honestly express yourself' is one of the core belief of Bruce Lee, who, in his Lost Interview DVD (Bruce Lee: The Lost Interview) consistently encourages. For him, honestly expressing yourself means being honest with your true intentions and thought processes and displaying this through your actions.

An example he uses to illustrate this is through expressing yourself in such a way that when you would are thinking of punching, you punch, when you're thinking about kicking, you kick, and not necessarily doing anything else.

How I see it is, just as some people say you should try do what you love and to find your vocation ("Finding your vocation"), you should try live your life in such a way that you find that you are not deceiving yourself, i.e. your true self. As someone once told me, it is about as being honest and 'always being true to yourself'. If we are able to achieve this, then our lives too will be in synch with ourselves.

It's all in the mind...

They say, 'it's all in the mind', and this injured lady proved it walking and powerwalking from Docklands all the way to Donvale (i.e. if she made it). I witnessed her presence at the 20km checkpoint during a 50km Upstream Foundation fun run/ walk where I was helping man by ensuring that participants had adequate food, water, and sunscreen!

Now it's not often that you'll see an injured lady (she had pretty much a plastic like plastered leg) undertaking such a course, but it was more so that she was overtaking a group of fitness club (I won't quote the fitness club as I'm sure they would be quite embarrassed for me to quote their name) participants, but here during the event I did. It wasn't as though the fitness club folk weren't capable, in fact, they were more than capable, it's just that they were pretty much dead last and that it appeared that this was a case of the case of the bunny (well bunnies) vs the turtle.

This story has the gentle but injured lady persisted along her way towards Donvale, while the bunnies were dawdling, taking enormous breaks and moving on only quite close to closing time for our checkpoint stand. This lady would have been at least a hour or so in front of them, yet it was her mindset, courage and will to continue that I truly admire.

Now I can't be certain of the outcome of this story as I had to leave soon after the checkpoint 2 was closed, except that I know that the course does get quite tough later on with numerous hills and the fearce battle with the battering heat as it was past midday. I expect that she would have still finished up before them, as I anticipate that they underestimated the course and rested too much too soon, and with the sun, that would have made things worse.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
-Kahlil Gibran

This is such a great quote! It sums up the true nature of how we can as individuals truly help those around us, and with 42 billion dollars worth of volunteering the role of all volunteers is important and is not something to overlook.

Now this was quoted at a YMCA volunteer training camp which also pointed out that in helping others,

"one should look at helping someone on their journey rather than satisfying one's own curosity"

which is quite often the common and instinctive human thing to do. Although it is often the small kind words of advice or encouragement that is all that is needed to help someone with the decisions and choices that they may face in life.

Of course, we don't want to make decisions for people, but it can help open up thoughts and options that they may not have realised themselves and that you have prompted. If not immediately, then perhaps it may come to them in the future, just as that little piece of advice given to me, i.e. 'to make something of myself!' has so affected my outlook and view of life!

-Vu

A person is a person through other persons...

Recently, I attended the APCCAN (Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect) 2009 conference in Perth (15-19 November 2009) as part of the Youth Participant Program and was kindly sponsored by NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) and my local council, Hobsons Bay City Council. My goal - to learn about the challenges and issues facing our community in preventing child abuse and neglect, particularly how, as a young individual/group – we can help work towards putting an end to child abuse and neglect and advance the wellbeing of children, young people and their families.



Here are my notes on my experiences and the key points and facts that I would like to share with you all. There is discussions within Facebook where one can also discuss this topic with other young individuals so please feel free to let me know if you're interested in participating it that (mailforvu(at)gmail.com)

'Face to Face': APCCAN 09 Young Participants' Program from Youth Affairs Council of WA on Vimeo.


Noticing, caring and preventing child abuse and neglect
The ‘socially isolated’ are at the highest risk of child abuse and neglect and the problem goes up the lower the SES (social economic status). There is a strong correlation with the level of neighbourhood quality with actual maltreatment rates, and as such, creating a more active engagement within the community, enhancing sense of collective efficacy, and having the neighbourhood care for families will generally see a reduction in the amount of child abuse and neglect within a community.
It was pointed out that ‘informal services are more effective than formal services’ as one shouldn’t be a patient or a client in order to receive assistance from other members of the community. Moreover, it is important to have someone who will notice and someone who will care regardless of whether one is enlisted with the formal services or not. Often, people within these affected communities may find it difficult to trust authorities, and so, these informal networks are very crucial in ensuring that they have someone to go to.
It was also noted that one of the best way to reduce crime was to increase social interactions, which makes sense as keeping people busy and giving them a sense of a community will create feelings of wellbeing and belonging. Much the same feelings we humans have had in the tribal days.

A nice quote mentioned by keynote speaker, Gary B. Melton, points out how people find themselves within a community, i.e. ‘a person is person through other persons’ - Desmond Tutu.

Children in their own right and the need to identify child abuse/ neglect instances
Seeing ‘children in their own right’ and understanding the need to identify instances of child abuse and neglect were other key points mentioned at the conference. Since we need to listen to children particularly when they report something is wrong, or else we may find that difficult and challenging situations may arise as what our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had acknowledged and apologised recently (on 16th November 2009 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8r_IyKQKrA)). Mr Rudd's speech was presented at the opening of the APCCAN conference and was the best example of what the work of not only the representatives and delegates present at the conference were working to prevent and reduce, but all those around the world in their various communities. Their work is particularly important, especially as people often ‘normalise’ the effects or signs of child abuse and neglect, which they may see as a common way of life. When in fact it isn’t so, and that a professional may be able to identify certain situations which didn’t appear apparent to the individual and/or group/community.

Long-term effects
Surprisingly, it was mentioned that long-term effects of people who have experienced an adverse childhood experience have been noted to live 20 years less than the general population, and that it was hinted that childhood abuse may reduce the ability of certain genes to be expressed. Everyday experiences can often also trigger the recall of childhood abuse experiences for affected individuals with one example mentioning that a participant of a training program (I won’t mention what type to ensure that I can preserve their identity) found the experience too tough and withdrawing from the program due to recalling these childhood abuse experiences.

A kind and sincere speech
At the conference dinner, Therese Rein, NAPCAN's National Children's Champion, presented one of the best speeches I have ever heard. It was most heart-warming, honest and caring and touched many (if not all) individuals present at the dinner. I was sitting next to Julie McCrossin and she noted it as one of the best speeches she had ever heard - and she would have heard many great speeches!!! I feel quite priviledged to have been there to listen to it and am glad that Therese Rein is the NAPCAN champion. It's great to see her using her role alongside Mr Rudd for such a great purpose and role :D (BTW, if I can find someone a copy of that speech I'll be sure post it for you all!!!)

Young people - they do want to listen to you!
There were various Child Commissioners and Guardians present at the conference and one of the consistent messages I have received from them is that they do want to listen to you all. They would like to engage with you better, it's just more so that they have found it a bit challenging to find the best ways to engage you. Especially given that they don't fully understand the potential and the capabilities within the online social mediums such as Facebook and Twitter. As mentioned earlier, the youth participants of the conference have an online facebook group where we do discuss and share discussions on the child abuse and neglect issues and it would be great to see those who want to be involved become involved. As it is important in ensuring that we can help them to get things done better and right.

Young people can make a difference...

We each can make a difference in our own way, as each of us as the different skills, knowledge, awareness and interests that will no doubt change the world in which we live in. From the new inventions being created, to being able to facilitate and improve the lives of those around us. We all have our role in society.

In our community, this can mean some people give their time, others money, while others, simply their support, acknowledgement and respect. It all plays a part and adds value to our community and the society we live in. We all contribute to that.

I witnessed many great bands a few weeks ago, and saw how much talent youth people (in fact anyone) can truly have! It goes back to the finding your vocation comment from Tim Costello and the advice from the ACS conference. Once you find your passion, what you love and enjoy then you can find that you can make a difference in that aspect of society. Nothing is too little. Every bit counts and it adds up to make the society that we each share today. To live, to participate and to make that difference in the world that we live in :)
-Vu

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Early investments (on young people)... not followed up by later investments are not productive

An interesting US article, Youth Today: One More Time: Don’t Pit Preschoolers Against Teens, http://forumfyi.org/content/youth-today-one-more-time-dont-pit-preschoolers-against-teens provides an insight that might be useful for us to apply in Australia as it discusses the value of investing in the development of child early on and on an on-going basis. It outlines some of the social and economic benefits of investing in our youth and how “early investments … not followed up by later investments are not productive.”"

Social benefits:
It discusses how "investment in very young children … improves school readiness and decreases crime, teen pregnancy, delinquency, substance abuse. and welfare dependency,”' “A fiscally conservative approach would entail greater investment in the development of young children. … While funding Juvenile Justice programs is necessary, prevention through investments in the cognitive, social and emotional development of young children makes good economic and fiscal sense.”"

It also explains how there is "value in investing in preparation and prevention
versus waiting to intervene further down the road...[and] investing early...[however], there is something wrongheaded and dangerous about equating prevention with early childhood and intervention with teens...[and]sustained
investments [need to be made] in the "cognitive, social and emotional" development of
all children."

Economic benefits:
"The bottom-line conclusion of Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman’s 2006 economic case for investing in children is simple: “Invest early in children – and don’t stop” (emphasis added). The second half of the sentence, “and don’t stop,” marks a notable departure from Heckman’s previous work, which argued that fundamental skills are produced in the early childhood years and that remediation after the fact was cost-prohibitive."

"The updated argument of Heckman and Flavio Cunha, both University of Chicago economists, released in the America’s Promise Alliance report, Every Child Every Promise: Investing in Our Young People, is that “cumulative investments yield compounded returns.” Their new position reflects new developments in neuroscience, as well as more sophisticated econometric models they and others are using that take into account more factors, both on the input and the output sides of the equation."

"The fiscal argument could not be more straightforward. “The compounded effects of consistent, cost-effective investments in children and youth pay for themselves and are a necessary strategy to keep America strong in a competitive world where human capital is at a premium,” Heckman and Cunha say.

This means that reflects how addressing youth early on, sets the foundations for many young people to grow and live a prosperous and happy life, and how on-going support ensures that many will be able to stay on track to achieve this :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Youth Report - State of Australian People report 2009

The Youth Report - State of Australian People report came out recently and although it covers a number of different areas from education, work, social participation and technology use, I would like to share certain details from the report.

I will mention details relating to young people and volunteering as I know I have heard many similar and varied views on this and some of these have been reinforced, at least from the perspective of the report (although one must consider the scope and coverage research undertaken for the report and it would generally only provide a snapshot of our community).

Here are the interesting facts (some may surprise you while others mightn't):
  • One in third young people volunteer within a 12 month period, however, they do so infrequently.
  • Those most likely to volunteer are: women, those in education or paid work, those who completed Year 12, those who live outside of major cities, those who speak English at home, and those who give money to charity.
  • Reasons young people give for volunteering include: to help others or the community, personal satisfaction, to do something worthwhile, and personal or family reasons.
  • Young people do not believe that compulsory programs qualify as volunteering, and many feel exploited and stigmatised by them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Everyone holds an important role in society

We seem to live in a world where everyone is free to make their own decisions, own judgements, make their own assessments, and yet, there are times when we can quite critical of ourselves and others, whether we realise it or not. We seem to do this so naturally in our interactions with others. We seem to consciously or unconsciously judge when we should be looking not at what a person may do or may look like but at the individual. The person behind what is presented to you at face value.

Sure, you can tell a lot about someone just by looking at them, how they act or what they do, but it does not mean that we should ever feel the need to judge them in the way that society has encouraged us to judge. It isn’t fair to anyone if that is the case.

In understanding this, I believe the best way someone can learn to be less critical and one way is to experience it for oneself. As I find that my perspective and views on things when I have attempted and tried it something for myself. This is why I would like to endeavour to try some of the various roles and professions that there are in society and am actively looking for ways to do so.

I hope you too will think about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes before making any preconceptions and judgements, and even consider physically trying it for yourself. It is hoped that through that more intimate knowledge will you be able to interact with those individuals, groups or organisations in a more effective manner.

Success means something different to everyone...

Success for some is seen as getting what one desires, while for others it can simply mean to keep hanging in there and trying, never failing to give up, and to keep trying until one gets it right.

Dictionary.com defines it as “the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.”

If we had a marathon race, the definitions of success would differ.
As a marathon runner, would define success as completing a marathon in under 2 hours and 10 minutes. While the average joe running the same marathon would say they’re successful at just completing the marathon, with a time of 4-5 hours or maybe no time at all, (i.e. just finishing the marathon).

As you can see in this example, success generally means something different to each and every one of us. It through this understanding that the definition of success does differ from person to person and that it is defined in your own terms that one can know if one is truly ‘successful’.

Are we truly better than everyone else?

An old boss of mine once told me, “we're better than everyone else...that's why we're here today". He made this comment just as we were enjoying a team lunch sponsored by our firm, and then went on about why he thought that – mainly as he believed himself (and us) to be more superior then others... I was speechless after hearing that as I was surprised that someone, particularly someone like himself could make a statement like that...

It’s something that has been on my mind for a while, as how can that truly be? What makes us so special? Sure I can see that we might be more privileged, fortunate and well off at least in society’s terms but are we truly better?

I believe that no one is truly better than everyone else, it’s more that some are luckier or more fortunate than another, and that one is only better than oneself, not better than anybody else. In that, the only person that you need to look at being better is yourself, your ‘inner self’, e.g. rather than being that lazy individual, you become that hardworking individual that you can truly be.

Sure, you may compare yourself to others at times, as that is human nature and only natural, however, you should only do so to allow you to see where humans are capable of pushing themselves. Should you see or believe that those skills, capabilities and/or achievements as something you believe your ‘inner self’ should strive towards then you should work towards bettering yourself to achieve that goal.

This is just in the same way one should look at success, in being able to define success in your own terms, and not in the terms that others within society try define on you. True success lies from within and it is up to you to define that on your own.

The language of the hands

Sign language
At the Youth Parliament and Diversity @ Work events I saw many sign language interpreters translating what we all take for granted, the ability to listen. Now something that I have found through my discussions with a sign language interpreter is that sign language actually varies from country to country, although Australia's Auslan sign language is seen as a quite expressive form of the language.

It is actually something that I have on my to do list to learn one day, although, recently has been bumped up the list a bit and been on my mind for a while. I see it as an important language, I believe as being able to communicate with others is essential and being able to communicate with individuals from all walks of life something that I will be endeavouring to do for all my life...

Finding your vocation...

I recently attended the Diversity @ Work Awards dinner through my involvement with the Australian Computer Society's Young Professionals in IT (ACS YIT) where we were nominated for the 'Today's Youth – The Future of Tomorrow' award.

Presenting on the night was Bill Shorten and Tim Costello, both of whom were captivating and inspiring speakers who each were able to discuss the importance of diversity, not just within the workplace but within our community. As it is important for us to realise that whilst we are all each living healthy and free today, one day, that may change and we will be in need of initiatives that are carried out by each of the participants of the night.

Now that's not to say that we should only do so for our own sake, it's more so that we need to be grateful for we have and don't have, and to also acknowledge that there is more that we can do for those who may not be as fortunate as we are. That we should be looking towards trying to help make their lives easier and to truly 'see the person, not the disability'. As every one of us are special within our society no matter what colour, race, sexual orientiation, disability etc. We are each here today to interact and share our time and resources with all those around us.


Finding one's vocation...
One key thing that I believe Tim Costello pointed out quite strongly, at least to me, is the importance of finding one's vocation - where a vocation is something that you are 'specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified' (Wikipedia 2009) for.

Now it's one thing to find one's vocation, it is another to combine that with what you are doing for a living. Finding out what it is that you are passionate about ('calling') in life and striving to combine that with your work ('skill set') will always be a challenge, as often there can be significant differences between what our passion is and what our skill set is.

Although for many of us, this will be what seems like an neverending journey to find this 'vocation' whilst judging the everyday elements of life. I believe that with time, effort, an openmind and determination one can achieve at least some aspect of achieving this goal.

Just as one of my favourite quotes by Cicero, an ancient philosopher implies, sometimes, it is only when you look to do more than what is required of you that the answer may find its way to you.

"If we only do what is required of us we are slaves, the moment we do more we are free" - Cicero

YACVic conference and the lost generation?

About the conference
The YACVic ‘Here, Now and Next’ conference was held on the 14-15 October 2009 in Ballarat at the Mercure Hotel and has been organised and managed by the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria. It aims to provide information on youth issues to youth/social workers and volunteers across Victoria, although representatives from across the country and even New Zealand were present.


The effect policies have on our community
One key theme that came up from the YACVic conference was how the policies from Howard's Government had an effect on our community, although the key focus was primarily on the effect of these policies on our youth, where direct comparisons were also made between Australian and Canadian young adults as they made their way through life. This included when they finished university, first started work, got married, had children, etc. It showed how these policies along with socio-economic factors and gender played a role in shaping the lives of our young adults.
Overall, Canadians and those from high socio-economic groups generally fared better and had a happier outlook on life, and Australia was seen behind in many areas, noting that the key factors behind this were the policies and socio-economic environment within Australia compared to Canada.

It was mentioned how the Howard Government’s key focus was on reducing drug usage and while it was indicated that this has indeed reduced drug usage amongst this generation of youth, in its place was alcoholism that has been neglected. Consequently, youth as young as 14-15 years old are already drinking. Not only are they drinking earlier, they’re drinking more often and drinking the ‘hard liquor’ such as spirits. It was mentioned that studies have shown that no one should be drinking before the age of 16, or even under 22-23 years old, but 16 years old is where there would be a more 'realistic' and profound effect on the health of our youth.

The Rudd Government today is now seeking to tackle this with its focus on the area of alcoholism, where they are seeking tackle the consumption of alcopops (or 'ready-to-drink') drinks. This has been a step in the right direction, at least in terms of its focus on the issue, although it has been seen to potentially alienate our youth if they are the one ones targeted in their initiatives. The issue, as pointed out in the conference, was more so at how it (‘alcoholism’) is so well-engrained into our Australian culture, and that is what should be addressed more, as I have seen in some of the advertisements now.


The 'lost' generation
Nevertheless, it was mentioned that we now may have a 'lost' generation (14-25 years olds - including myself) whom we may not or cannot effectively re-educate about the risks of alcohol. Our focus instead can be to mitigate the risks and ensure that the lost generation can at least take care of themselves and their friends. As the youth of this lost generation want to be able to take care of their friends and family, however, are concerned about the implications of drinking at such a young age at least in the eyes of the law. As such, they can put themselves and their friends at risk by not calling that ambulance when they really should, and instead may unintentionally see their friends die (from choking on their own vomit, false remedies causing more harm than good, etc). Things that could easily be avoided with the right knowledge provided to this vulnerable generation of youth.

Initiatives have been mentioned to now be in place to work on gradually phasing out the sports-alcohol related advertising, though it is expected to be phased out over a 10-20 year period, just as cigarettes were.

Let’s hope we can indeed save this ‘lost’ generation, the generation that will be the future leaders of our community...

Here's a excellent clip of where this lost generation will be heading. Enjoy! It's great :)

Beyond the marathon...

"Run the Melbourne marathon every year" was one of my goals, probably like any other runner, until I did my knees in May this year...

While it has set me back and now has meant that I will have to pass on running the Melbourne Marathon and a 50km event later this year. I still want to be involved and so I have volunteered for these events to enabled me to view the event in a different light. (the 50km event is the Upstream Foundation run and will be held in November 2009)

Just as it had back in 2007 where my role was to setup those goodie bags that one gets at the end of the running events on the Melbourne marathon day. Now last year I was able to run, though unfortunately I cramped my legs, nonetheless I finished the event. This year however my role was as a gatekeeper ('Arena Gate Guard' I was called) where my role was to ensure that only authorised individuals were allowed onto the field.

Now it was through this experience that I was able to view the marathon in another dimension, and that is through the eyes of the supporting family and friends. It was on that day, that I was able to share a moment, a special moment, whom I saw were fighting back some of the tears (including some of my own I must admit), as I was able to see and re-live some of the passion, courage, and triumph through that moment.

I saw the legacy, the kindness and the ability of the runner, and I was feeling quite privileged and grateful to experience such a precious moment like it. It meant something very special to them, this running event - the crowd, the MCG and the memories. It will be something that I will always treasure and think about right into the future, especially as I run this event year after year! Melbourne marathon - I will see you next year! :)

My brief insight into a refugee camp

Until recently, I have never been to a refugee camp, although like most of us, I have seen and heard the typical stories and images of refugee camps from TV, movies and the like. It wasn’t until last weekend that I actually saw firsthand what it was like (well, could be like).

I saw the common circumstances that brings people to these camps (wars, natural disasters), the vulnerability of each of them (from the people to the animals, predators, climate and weather), how they found shelter, food, water, medicine, and how even small common illnesses are able to kill them mainly due to their weaker immune systems - attributed to the lifestyle and environment which they lived in.

Nevertheless, all is not lost, as for some it is through organisations such as Medecins Sans Frontieres Australia (Doctors Without Borders) that they are still alive and living in better conditions today.

Now I didn’t actually visit a real refugee camp in another country, just a simulated version that was held by the MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) where they were staging the "Refugee Camp in Your City" event in Melbourne (held from Saturday 3 October to Sunday 11 October 2009). I went through the tour of the camp as I wanted to gain an understanding of what it would be like as a refugee. This event has been staged around the world and where participants are guided through a simulated environment with an example of a refugee camp and facilities.

Something that I believe I also learnt was the key differences between internally displaced person (IDP), refugee, and asylum seeker, as I saw them primarily as quite similar terms. It wasn’t until attending this camp that I understood the differences and I will quote the differences from their website for you.
  • IDP: People who have fled for safety within the borders of their home countries are officially considered internally displaced persons or IDPs.
  • Refugee: A refugee is someone who: “…owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable to, or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
  • Asylum seeker: An asylum seeker is someone who has fled their own country and applies to the government of another country for protection as a refugee.

The simulated refugee camps were also held in Adelaide although they have packed up now. MSF is working on a great cause and seem to have great strategies and volunteers taking part in addressing this vital issue around the world. Particularly where many of these individuals are displaced as a result of wars rather than natural disasters, as in many of these cases, these situations could have been avoided had man not taken the action man has, due to greed, revenge, etc.

For more information on this program and the organisation that held it, you can visit: http://www.msf.org.au/

Youth Parliament Camp 2009

I have always been quite interested in exploring and discovering the systems and structures in place in society and the role each of them plays in our society. One of these is the Parliament house of Victoria, which I have visited a few times previously, however, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I had the privilege and opportunity to experience and have a glimpse of the life of a Victorian State politician firsthand. It took place in a simulated environment and will always be an experience that I will never forget...

I know most would view Parliament house itself as quite an ordinary place, at least from the outside, yet inside the building you will find that it holds more secrets and history than one may realise. Its role is critical in ensuring that the various mechanisms and agencies of the institution keep up to speed with the current issues of today.


Our bill
Now my team (Ethic Youth Council) and I presented in the Legislative Council chamber, which is the red room, where the main bill that my team were part of the Opposition (there are two sides within the chamber - Government and Opposition), and we were arguing for “Increased security on Victorian trains and stations”, where:

“This Bill proposes that, similar to the system in New York there will be a major increase in the security presence not only at train stations but also on trains. Furthermore the safety at train stations and the vicinity surrounding them will be upgraded to make facilities safer and more accessible.”

The bill was successfully passed through the debates with the Government, with a couple of amendments, nonetheless, it will now be considered by the relevant parties within the Victorian Parliament.


Adjournment speech
We were also all each given the opportunity to present an adjournment speech, i.e. an opportunity to speak about any topic or issue that we believed that a relevant Minister should consider. My speech was on the need to increase the safety and security of cyclist paths across Victoria, for both cyclists and runners.

I choose this because, as a runner, I always find it quite difficult to find those ‘safe’ paths and trails that I am able to run during any time, day or night, since most trails run through parks and secluded areas where it is quite unsafe or risky to ride/ run when it starts to get dark. You can always run on the standard footpaths, however it is not fluid and continuous and as safe if you are going at a fast pace, so the need to connect these trails further, improve the lighting, position and/or distance the paths so that they are safe from cars and trucks is vital.

Given the climate change, health and obesity, and other surrounding and emerging issues and challenges, the significance of ensuring that there are adequate paths for cyclists and runners will be essential to enabling individuals to have an alternative option to vehicles. One in which they can feel safe to ride/ run on, rather than feeling that they have to risk their lives as everyday as many are today. Resulting in those tragic accidents that appear on the news from time to time (e.g. cyclist dies in collision...)


The camp itself
Outside Parliament house, the camp itself was a very vibrant and enjoyable experience. It was hosted by great facilitators where they created an environment where one can feel that one can be oneself and connect with others through the fun activities (to learn about Parliament and ourselves) and the numerous costume parties that were held! We had a jungle, medieval and fantasy party where I was a Viet jungle warrior, musketeer and Captain Cook respectively!


More information
For those interested in the camp or the program, it’s called the YMCA Youth Parliament Camp 2009. It ran from 27th September - 2nd October 2009. It’s a great opportunity to learn and experience the ins and outs of Parliament firsthand and to meet and make new friends! I highly recommend it to those who are curious about society and how one can contribute to it.

ACS Young Professionals in IT conference 2009

The Australian Computer Society Young Professionals in IT (ACS YIT) conference was held in Sydney, 3-4 September 2009. It aimed to provide a forum for young IT professionals to come together and share their views and outlooks on the future of IT and where they can see themselves in the future. It also allows people to connect with other fellow young professionals from across the country.

The presenters at the conference provided some useful and interesting tips and advice which I believe may be quite useful for you all:
  • Always strive to be satisfied and have a passion for the things you do in life. I know it may be challenging to do this but try to put your heart in the work you do and love what you are.
  • If you ask simple questions you will only get a simple answer. Try to be more clear and concise and have a purpose of what you are seeking to know, otherwise what you get may not be exactly what you want or need to know.
  • Hardiest workers tend to be the luckiest. The harder they work the luckier they get. You make your own luck.
  • Always try set goals and objectives in life, and re-evaluate your goal when you have nearly achieved it.
  • It is the services rather than products that will continue to grow more specifically. This is something that IBM, as an example, has been successful at doing.
  • ‘The stewardship the profession requires from tomorrow's leaders to make a difference’ - Mark Lloyd FACS
  • The qualities that an IT professional should strive towards are:

  • Patience – being able to wait and be content when necessary.
  • Courage – being able to be firm, strong and get out there when required.
  • Energy and advice – being enthusiastic and sharing ideas and providing suggestions to others.
  • Organisation positioning skills - knowing where you would like to lead your career within an organisation and finding out how to working towards heading there.
  • Personal/ intrapersonal skills - being able to communicate and share your knowledge with others.
  • Strategic – understanding where you fit in within an organisation
  • Here's another list of great qualities that make up a character of a person, not just a professional. See my article on the six pillars of character
I hope these tips and advice may come of some value to you all.
-Vu
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Six Pillars of Character

The Six Pillars of Character from the Josephson Institute of Ethics is a great listing of the values and qualities that I believe one should hold. Here is a nice summary from them on their six main pillars. I will expand on these and what they say about each of them for you a bit later on.

Trustworthiness
Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends and country

Respect
Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements

Responsibility
Do what you are supposed to do • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your choices

Fairness
Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly

Caring
Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need

Citizenship
Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment

(Source: http://charactercounts.org/sixpillars.html)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's the true intentions that matter...

No one is the same, and although we may share the same interests or experiences, everyone is different in one way or another. We all look, talk, act and relate differently from one another. We all have our own skills, knowledge, lifestyles and have different approaches to the everything in life. We also all make mistakes since no one is perfect. Each of us learn in our own ways, whether that is visually, verbally or kinetically, since each of us has a general tendency to more or sway towards our own preferences on various elements our lives.

When someone makes a mistake one can always be tempted to react so strongly to it - whatever it may be, and in such a way that can make the other person feel bad about what has been done. Yet, looking at what has been done more closely, one can assess whether our reactions may be warranted after all, and whether the type of reaction choosen is truly acceptable for the circumstance at hand.

For example, you're at a bar and a friend of yours goes and gets a drink for you. Although the drink is exactly what you wanted they accidentally spill the drink onto you. Do you:
A) Start yelling in anger at your friend and demand them to find a cloth/tissues quickly to clean the spill.
B) Tell your friend to not worry and to find a cloth/tissues quickly to clean the spill.

Most likely you'll go with action B and tell your friend to not worry and to find a cloth/tissues quickly to clean the spill. As what happened has happened, it's in the past and you can't change that. The only thing you can do now is to clean up the mess.

Now imagine your friend was a stranger? Would you still react the same?

Most likely this would depend but will generally result in the same reaction. Nonetheless, what I'm seeking to point out is that in these situations whilst the actions (i.e. the spill onto you) was unintentional and happened, it is the intention behind the action that should be encouraged. As they had intention to get a drink for you and did not intend to spill it on you (at least you would hope not). The fact that they tried rather than that they failed should be what you 'assess' (if that's the right word for it) or refer to before drawing any conclusions.

As it can sometimes be easy just to get upset or anger at someone for something that do that happens to affect you. Sometimes it's intentional, sometimes not. However, one should always try engage and assess a situation with the view to identify the ''true intentions' of the other involved party. As I'd hate to be really upset or angry at someone when it was truly due to a bit of cluminess or simply an accident.

The same perspective should be placed on the other elements of our life where each of our skills, knowledges, general motors skills will almost always vary. So remember to do the following and you'll find that things in life happen and that it's always best to look at the intentions of others to determine why it happens, in order to react in a way that reflects their true intentions, with these I hope you can unravel the real truth that often can seem quite hidden 'in the moment':
  • Always try look at the true intentions behind the actions of others before reacting.
  • Everyone is not perfect, we all make mistakes. Things happen, always try move forward and identify how to resolve the problem rather than focus on the past.
-Vu

Friday, September 25, 2009

Childhood memories

Do you find it hard to remember what you did yesterday or even today? Yet memories from your childhood, like that time when you were riding that bike as a kid down the street, eating that favourite ice cream etc. Why is it that we find it so easy to remember and recollect the moments of these?

Why is that? Why are childhood memories so easy to remember? Why is it that simple childhood memories seem to embed themselves into us so much more than other adult memories? Could this something that is physical or mental related? In that the structure of our brain and how it is developing affects our memory? Is it that as we get older, we forget more? But how is it that old people can still remember their childhood memories so well as though it was yesterday?

Can it be that we remember more easily as a child since you’re meant to learn things (like a new language) much easier and faster as a child than when you are older? I.e. you can capture, learn and absorb more from your surroundings and from the world when you’re younger.

Perhaps it is because they have nothing to worry about, that their minds are clearer and purer as they are more carefree. They have fewer responsibilities, and heaps of time to let their minds just wonder... Could this be why young people seem to be so creative than older people? But what about those older people who are quite creative and inventive? Could it be that they’ve learnt to simply let go and revert their minds back to the childhood days?

Either way, it seems to me that letting go of the stresses that society has put forward to us is the answer to at least allowing yourself to be more relaxed, calm and healthy. As time isn’t meant to be spent worrying about all the common stresses in our westernised life, particularly by the man made stresses that I believe are apparent in our society that seem to clutter the minds of so many, such as worries about money, jobs, and trying to accumulate so much wealth...

If we take a step back and look at what is truly important in life and what we truly need, then you will see that life isn’t as bad as you think. The fact that time can heal the mind is an example of how it is just our reality of a time in our lives which may be tough but it simply appears tougher than it is.

I’d say it’s best to stay happy, and appreciate the gift of life as it is and to let go. Hopefully, by doing that, it won’t simply be the childhood memories that you will remember, but also the memories of today. Because today is where you are, and today, is what you should live for!

-Vu

Monday, September 21, 2009

Every bit counts...

For most of us, life always seems to get busier and busier each day, and while we always try to find the time to do things, there doesn't ever seem to be enough time in the day to 'do it all'.

As, Douglas J Soccio mentions in his quote:
"Experience suggests that though we cannot do everything, we can always do something"

This is true, as we can't specialise and be experts in everything so we must decide on what we would like to spend most of our time working on improving and expanding our skills and knowledge in, i.e. while we can't do everything we can always try to do something!

Understanding the limited time that I have, I personally have been looking to do things that I've always wanted to do, as I believe there's more to life than what the society that we live in has been telling us to do, i.e. the typical, we must go to school, get a job, get married, have a family, accumulate this and that, etc. Whilst these are indeed things that we should look at achieving in one way or another, I'm one to believe that we should also get out there and try make a difference in this world, no matter how small it may be or appear - as every little bit counts!

As one of my favourite quotes from the ancient philosopher Cicero mentions: 'If we do only what is required of us we are slaves, the moment we do more we are free.'

So whilst you can and inevitability carry out the activities and duties that society directly or indirectly encourages us to do, there will always be something else that one can do, i.e. 'to do more'. For me that is understanding my skills and knowledge and how I can use that to help those around me. As not everything is as fortunate and priviledged as ourselves in this world. I believe that we are quite lucky with the lifestyle we have and should be always endeavouring to do what we can for others - particularly whilst capitalising on the skill sets that society has helped us to develop.

Keeping that in mind, I would encourage you to focus on the things you love and enjoy, whilst also finding a way to encourage and assist in the development and improving the lives of others. Through that means, you will find that you are free, as you are truly doing more than what is required of us and always do something!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Utopian dreams have no place...

Life is always full of uncertainty. We never know whether we have enough right information to make those key decisions that we need to in our everyday lives. But how much information is enough? Should we truly be waiting for all the information to come through? Or is that too late?

Machiavelli argues that men seldom find themselves in ideal situations, and therefore, they must settle for what is possible rather than for what is ideal. Utopian dreams have no place in Machiavelli's political realism, "for how we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation." - Machiavelli

I must agree, as although one desires all the knowledge one could possibility get before making that key decision, there will always be uncertainies and variables that will in play that will ineviability be there, and if you wait it'll generally be too late to respond efficiently and effectively enough. The perfect utopian dreams, although very desirable and something that one can certainty have as a goalpost towards working towards, may always be impossible to achieve. That being said, sometimes the impossible does become possible, but for most situations in life that isn't the case...

Knowing how much and when it is the right time to make decisions will always be the most difficult decision to make. So what one should always look at the resources that are available to us in life and apply it as best we can to the situation at hand.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Nutritional Value diet

No doubt you've heard it all before from someone you know or in a movie say, "I'm going on a diet!" Perhaps you've even tried to go on a diet yourself with no luck or only short term luck?

I believe a diet shouldn't really be a diet if it doesn't become part of your lifestyle, as a diet shouldn't be seen as a short term lifestyle change, but rather something you should endeavour to undertake throughout your life.

That being said, it can be quite challenging at times for people to resist the temptation to get those packets of tim tams, chips etc. I agree, personally, I too feel the urge to dig into those. But having these in moderation and within a controlled manner is the key to what I have come to believe as the best way to consume it and be in 'control'.

Should I go cold turkey?

It's hard going 'cold turkey', i.e. going without those comfort foods completely, as it has most likely become a part of our lifestyle and is part of our daily 'habits'. It is this habit that needs to be changed and this can't be changed like an on and off switch, but rather as a gradual change - as habits are hard to get out of.

If going cold turkey is not going to work, then what do I suggest? I suggest going cold turkey but towards a 5-6 days a week of healthy eating and then allowing that extra day or two to be able to deviate from that. It will be an outlet and a guiltfree day where you can enjoy some of those foods you enjoy, but at least it won't be on an everyday basis. You can start small and build your way up, it just depends on what you aim to achieve ulitmately. You should however try have smaller portions and have those foods in moderation, though I know that may be tricky at the start, and this is how often you should stick to this lifestyle change, but what do I eat?

What you should eat?

These are so many different foods you can eat, from Chinese to Indian, to Japanese, to Italian... But what should you be eating?

I'll say, use your commonsense and try to choose foods which are generally steamed rather than fried and not cooked in too much oil. But is that too general?

Think about the nutritional value of the food you eat

Think also about the nutritional benefits, i.e. the potential vitamins and minerals that you are likely to gain from eating the choosen meal. It may take time to understand what foods are best for which vitamins and minerals and that will come with time (I'll cover that later on). As one can only really eat so much during each meal before you get full, so you need to choose wisely otherwise you'll be filling yourself up with low nutritional foods that won't leave you feeling as energetic and lively as you would like!


The nutritional value diet


So think about the nutritional value you can achieve from each meal and what best suits what you aim to achieve from changing your eating habits.

Wants vs needs

Society is always telling us that we should have this and that and most of us have come to believe, to desire, and to want all those things that they market to us. But how much of it do we really need?

Surprising not much. If you look back at how caveman used to live their only focus was on the core human needs for survival. Yet we are each here today, wanting this new car, new house, new technology, new clothes and more, so when you think about it, how much of it do you really 'need'?

They're probably more 'wants' than anything. You only will find that you may want the new car, house, or technology for the short term satisfaction that it brings you - that short term happiness. Just think about that new toy that a kid gets, after a while he/she gets bored with it and demands another new toy. We do the same whether consciously and unconsciously with all the other things in our lives.

Sometimes society through the media and peer pressure that encourages us to always 'want' rather than really getting something that we 'need'. So there's something that I generally try do whenever I seek to purchase something that I know that is probably more on the wants than needs side than anything is ask that question to myself - "do I really 'need' this or am I just 'want' this?"

One other way of putting things into perspective for our core needs in our day and age is constrast yourself against what would be found in a developing country, as often when you travel to these cities and towns you find that they focus on some of the true aspects of life. They can even happier too as they have not lost themselves in the materialistic elements of our society. Instead they focus on what is important which is food, shelter, warm for survival and than there is the social/ tribal needs such as family and friends.

Here's a nice quote that may help you think about wants and needs:

“Material blessings, when they pay beyond the category of need, are weirdly fruitful of headache”
 -Philip Wylie


So next time you looking to purchase that new goods and/or services ask yourself? Do I really 'need' or 'want' this? As you'll often find it's the 'wants' that can appear more frequently that you realise...

Be happy

Be Happy


Life has it's ups and downs, as you've probably heard before, it has it's challenges, it's joyfulness and it's sorrows. But even in times of despair one should always hope to see that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, that there is hope out there, no matter how far it may seem. That may sound quite cliche, but it's true.

Think about it. What has happened? You've lost your wallet? Your house? Your keys? Your job? Sure, they are all tragic and unfortunate events, but what one should realise is that these are all the 'westernised' lifestyle items that we have come to believe can mean the end of the world for us. As it has been so engrained into us that these things are so important, so precious that without it our life is no good. That isn't true though is it?

I'm sure you still have your loving family, friends, food to eat, a place to stay, and the core elements of human life that ensures your survival. I know it is hard, but if you stay positive and reflect on life as life, i.e. without all these processions and materials that have been accummulated and look at the core parts of your life. Always strive to be grateful and happy for what you have, as at the end of the day, if you do take everything the western world has given you and keep only the core elements of your life (i.e. your family, friends, a home, shelter etc.) then you will find that there is hope and that your worries are only those that society has put forward onto you. Ultimately, you have everything you truly need and that is where true happiness lies - so be happy :)

Seeing gifts for its true intrinsic value

It is easy in today’s society to take the face value for everything around us, given the ‘materialistic’, ‘consumer driven’ society that we live in. It’s easy to get bogged down in this mindset, as this is simply how we’ve been taught to live, it is how we’ve been raised and with the bombardment of advertisements and marketing campaigns, it is no wonder that we have come to value materials so dearly. We are encouraged to buy this, buy that and that we must have this and that, that we must only buy something simply because of the brand or the face value that it may hold or we have come to believe it holds.

Yet, as you should never judge a book by its cover, if we were to look at all the things from what you see directly rather than what its true value might hold, i.e. the true hidden value of the object, item, thing, and organism, you will see that there is more than meets the eye. One only needs to you look carefully and deeply enough to explore and discover this true value, or ‘true intrinsic value’ as I like to call it.

When you view the world in this perspective, you can see things for what it is, and the hidden efforts and intentions surrounding it. Just as the saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts”. That is where the true value lies. I believe this should be valued even more than the gift itself, as if it was something that you did purchase yourself, then its value could be never provide or have the same value as if it was given as a gift. It is the hidden value that is added to something which can make something ordinary turn into something priceless and make it into a ‘sentimental’ item.

This intrinsic value, i.e. the true value of things is often hidden, overlooked value that can often get lost in our everyday lives. So I would encourage you to look for the true meanings/ intentions behind a gift. As although a gift does have value in itself, the true intentions, meanings and thoughts that went behind choosing it forms part of the ‘true intrinsic value’ of the gift, and that offers more value than the gift itself.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A few meaningful and deep life quotes

I love my quotes. Here are a few to get you thinking about how one should live one's life. The last one I find is something that has become most true to me recently.

"Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." Buddha

"The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it." Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

"Life's ups and downs provide windows of opportunity to determine your values and goals. Think of using all obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want." Marsha Sinetar

There are some explanations on what these can mean to you at the following website which is where I found these. Ultimately though, it is your own personal view and outlook on the world that determines what certain ideas, in this case, in the form of what quotes can mean to you.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Three-Meaningful-and-Deep-Life-Quotes-to-Change-Your-Life&id=2602617

Cheers,
Vu :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What is life like beyond tomorrow?

What is life like beyond tomorrow?

There is always so much uncertainty around what we expecting to experience through our day to day experiences. In that, the world changes every day and as an ancient philosopher a Heraclitus says,
you never jump into the same river twice...


Because who really knows what will happen beyond today, beyond tomorrow? 

Even if you have already been through a quite similar experience before. There are so many variables that can change in yourself and your surroundings. As the case with the river where the river itself will change with the currents and wind changes, the time of day, clothing that you're wearing (if any) as you jump into the river. It all can change and certainty will change.

That being said, prior experience can equip you with the skills and knowledge that can prepare you for what is to come however it is by no means a way of allowing you to totally relive the same experience/s. If we can control or mitigate the variations in our environment, then it is hoped that one can ensure that desirable and satisfactory outcomes arise. In that respect can we ensure that the uncertainty that lies within our life beyond tomorrow is something we do have control of, at least in some respects.

This blog aims to explore some of the questions that I have discovered and answers uncovered in life. I will also share many of my experiences and stories that I think would be helpful for you. Because if it's useful to me, most likely, it'll be useful for you too!

So here's more details on this blog.


About Vu Long Tran .com
I believe that each on us are our own journey in life and through our experiences we discover and uncover things not only about the world around us, but often about ourselves. When we read that odd flyer or book, attend that odd workshop or conference, or even just speak to that random person at the bus stop, we can come up with an idea, a thought, a direction towards that new perspective on the world around you.

Using this website as the medium I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and ideas that I have encountered in my life's journey.
I hope that by sharing my experiences you will understand and view things in ways that will allow you to not only positively change how you interact with the world around you, but most importantly, your life - through making more informed and thoughtful decisions. Particularly, as changing yourself is always something that each and every one of us can do, as while we may believe that some (or the whole) world needs to be changed, ultimately it is 'we' that needs to change first. It's by "changing your thinking and you change the world" which summarises this thought and is my own my interpretation of this great quote by Norman Vincent Peale which says that when you...

"Change your thoughts [and] you change your world" 
-Norman Vincent Peale US clergyman (1898 - 1993).

My other websites
While this site is focused on my thoughts based on my own experiences and adventures, I also have another website focused on other areas that I believe deserves it's own section and website in it's own right.

These are namely: