To write effectively, you must prepare yourself.

Getting Some Basic Tools

Effective writing requires lifelong learning and finding answers to all your questions about writing. Accordingly, you need to get some basic tools for your effective writing:

A dictionary

Use a dictionary to find out what words mean and to make sure that words mean what you think they mean.

Use a dictionary to see a word in context so that you have better understanding of how that word should be used in your own writing.

Use a dictionary to find out the preferred spelling of a word because the same word can be spelled differently.

Use a dictionary to determine the usage of a word, such as the preposition that normally goes with it

A thesaurus

A thesaurus may help you find the right word to use. Sometimes you cannot recall a certain word that you may wish to use; in that case, a dictionary may not be able to help you. A thesaurus provides words and phrases that are close in meaning.

Understanding the Purpose of Writing

You write not just for your teachers or your readers, but, more importantly, for yourself. There are several reasons why you should write:
Writing may be a part of your job description. Writing letters, memos, reports, minutes of meetings, and sending e-mails may be your daily tasks at your workplace.

Writing affords you an opportunity to explore yourself-your thoughts and feelings. Writing is often a journey of self-discovery: you begin to find out more about who you are, and what your values are. Writing is more than an expression of self: it creates the self. To that end, you can write a diary or journal for self-expression. Regular journal writing not only improves your writing skill but also expands your thinking.

Writing helps you organize your thinking. Effective writing requires you to put your random thoughts into a coherent pattern. Through writing, you learn to mentally articulate your ideas in a more logical and systematic way. Writing regularly improves your logic and sharpens your power of reasoning.

Writing enhances your ability to use language for specific purposes. You begin to realize how some writers use manipulative language to persuade others. Accordingly, you learn to “read between the lines” as well as to recognize the truths from the myths.

Writing is an effective means of communication with others. Even when you write an e-mail to your friends, you have to make yourself intelligible by writing what you mean and meaning what you write.

Writing is an important communication skill. Reap all the benefits of writing by learning how to write. Make a virtue out of your necessity.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


We all want abundance, not emptiness. We all desire abundance in education, family, relationships, profession, and wealth; nobody wants emptiness-one thing nobody wants in life. Abundance often becomes attachments in our lives. Ironically enough, we need emptiness to attain the ultimate truths of life and living, which is wisdom in living.

To attain this wisdom, we need emptiness. First of all, we need an empty mind with reverse thinking to think differently, not according to conventional wisdom. Then, we need to become empty consciously, which is letting go of all attachments. Attachments are emotional distractions of the mind that prevent  clarity of thinking, without which there is no access to the ultimate truths of life and living. Knowing these ultimate truths enables you to live as if everything is a miracle.

Before we can receive, we must let go first. Letting go of all attachments to the material world is the first step we must take. It is more blessed to give than to receive. But many of us don't believe in that: instead, we think we will give out or let go after we have received. Letting go is difficult because it requires the profound human wisdom of Lao Tzu.

First and foremost, you need wisdom to "rethink" your mind, which may not be telling you the whole truth about your thoughts and life experiences; you need wisdom to "renew" your body, which lives in a toxic physical environment; you need spiritual wisdom to "reconnect" your soul, which is the essence of your spirituality. Most importantly, you need wisdom to "realign" your whole being because the body, the mind, and the soul are all inter-connected and interdependent on one another for your well-being to live your life as if everything is a miracle. Your mind is the road map and your soul is the compass; without them, your body is going nowhere, and you will live your life as if nothing is a miracle.

Remember, emptiness leads to enlightenment. If spiritual wisdom has to enter you and manifest itself within you, it will need some empty space. With enlightenment, you will become a better and happier you. With enlightenment, you will live a stress-free life. Learn how to overcome your stress by letting go your ego-self.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Human attachments are the sources of human miseries. Worse, human attachments may come in many different forms that we are unaware of.

Some of the most common human attachments are as follows:

Career Attachments

Your career may span over several decades, involving many ups and downs, such as promotion and unemployment, as well as changes of career and pursuits of higher qualifications, and many others. They may have become your problematic attachments.

Money and Wealth Attachments

Money plays a major role in life. You need money for almost everything in life. In the past, people could enjoy the blessings of life without spending too much real money.  Nowadays, to many people, the enjoyment of life requires money-and lots of it-and you may be one of them. Attachments to money and the riches of the material world are usually a result of the inflated ego.

Relationships Attachments

Living has much to do with people, involving harmony and disharmony, agreement and dis-agreement, often resulting in mixed emotional feelings of happiness and sorrow, satisfaction and regret, and among others. They may have become attachments to the ego-self as memories that you may simply refuse to let go of.

Success and Failure Attachments

Success in life often becomes an attachment in the form of expectations that will continue to bring about more success. Failure, on the other hand, may often generate regret and frustration that plague on the human mind. All emotional attachments are often difficult to let go of. 

Adversity and Prosperity Attachments

Throughout the course of human life, loss and bereavement are as inevitable as death. Loss can be physical, material, and even spiritual, such as the loss of hope and purpose. You may want to attach to the good old days, and refuse to let go of the current adversity.

Time Attachments

Time is a leveler of mankind: we all have only 24 hours a day, no more and no less, although the lifespan of each individual may vary considerably.

Attachment to time is the reluctance to let go of time passing away, as well as the futility to fully utilize every moment of time, leading to the development of a compulsive mind and the obsession of over-doing so as to make your “expectations fulfilled.”

Time attachment can also relate to the reluctance to let go of the past, which is often used to predict the future.

What Is the Origin of Attachments?

All attachments originate from the ego-self.

What is an ego? Do we all have an ego-self?

An ego is an identity of any individual. Yes, we all have an ego-self, with no exception.

As soon as a baby begins his or her perceptions through the five senses, that baby begins to develop an identity, such as “this toy is mine” and “I want this.” Well, there is nothing wrong with that initial identification. However, as time passes by, the human ego may continue to expand and inflate to the extent that it may become problematic with all its attachments.

What is the ego-self?

Simply look at yourself in front of a mirror. What do you see?

A self-reflection. Is it for real? Can you actually touch it? Not really; it is only a reflection of someone real-the real you in front of the mirror!

Now, do something totally different. Place a baby-if there is one immediately available-in front of the mirror. See what happens. The baby might crawl toward the baby in the mirror. Why? It is because the baby in front of the mirror might think that the baby in the mirror is another baby, and just not his or her own reflection.

Likewise, the ego-self may look real, but it is not real. To think otherwise is self-deception.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau



“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

If your attachments are your treasures in your life, they are also where your heart is.

So, take a closer look at all your attachments in your life:

Do they define who you are? Do they separate you from others?

Have they become your treasures? Are they where your heart is?

Have they now become your identity flaws? Do you need your attachments to define who you are?

Before you answer all of the above self-thinking questions, now take a look at the following illustration of money and wealth attachment:

According to CNN news, near the end of December, 2018, the nurses and staff of neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy Children’s Hospital at St. Louis, won $10,000 in the Mega Millions lottery-entering the lottery is what they have been doing for years to overcome their stress from their daily work.

Instead of dividing up the winnings among their group, they decided to give the money to two colleagues going through some tough times: one whose son committed suicide the night before the lottery drawing; the other whose husband was battling with cancer.

Here are some questions about the lottery for your self-reflection:

Why do people line up for hours to get their Power Ball? Their heart is on their greed.

Can their anticipated winnings solve all their financial problems? Probably yes; but also instrumental in creating many other problems in their lives as a result of their winnings.

What if it is God who wants them to win the lottery? Well, in the first place, God did not create the Power Ball; it is only an individual’s own choice and decision to go and get the lottery, without being aware that the winnings come from many people’s “blood-and-sweat” money. It has nothing to do with God; it has everything to do with that individual’s greed and vanity.

What if people would like to turn their winnings into a good cause to help others-such as those nurses and staff of Mercy Children’s Hospital at St. Louis? If people were to win millions, instead of just $10,000, would they still have given away 100 percent of their winnings to charity, or to help others? Probably not!

Buying a lottery ticket is one of the many attachments to money and wealth. You may want to keep up with the Joneses by driving a more expensive car than those of your neighbors and friends. So, it all boils down to only one thing -- your greed to satisfy your ego-self. Money and wealth have become your treasures, and also where your heart is.

Remember, having too many attachments to the material world is never pleasing to God, and that explains why prayers are seldom answered.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Career is one of the major life stressors. Are you stressed by your work, your workplace, the ups and downs of your career?

But with no ego, there is no stress in the first place.

Career Stress

With no ego, you choose a career that goes with your life passion, rather than one just to satisfy your own desire for recognition and remuneration, or simply to defer to the wish of someone else, such as your parents. That is to say, do what you like, and like what you do. If you wish to be an artist, then seek your career as one, even though your parents may want you to become a doctor or a lawyer.

“Fame or self, which is dearer?
The self or wealth, which is greater?
Gain or loss, which is more painful?
(Chapter 44, Tao Te Ching)

A case in point is that many students in a community college choose nursing as their career simply because they think they will be able to find a job in the medical field when they graduate. But do they really want to serve patients in a hospital setting? If they do not, then going to work every day will not be a pleasant and rewarding experience. Also, do they have a basic math background? If they do not, then struggling in a math class in a community college is a stressful experience itself.

With no ego, there is no stress in your career choice.

“We are all desirous of making the right choices,
fearful of making the wrong ones.
We all pursue what others say is good,
Avoiding what they say is bad.
We all follow the popular wisdom of judgment and preference,
Instead of the wisdom of the Creator.”
(Chapter 20, Tao Te Ching)

With no ego, you are more in harmony with your co-workers, clients or customers. Having an ego is an intense experience of “me”: according to Albert Einstein, it is a sense of being “separate” from the rest of the universe, and is therefore an “optical delusion of consciousness.”

“The greatest virtue of all is to be unaware of a separate self at all.
Awareness of a separate self makes us want to become valuable.
Not becoming valuable, we tend to hate the separate self.
Hating the separate self, how can we value anyone else?

Freedom from the ego-self, we are free to act without the desire to be valuable.
As a result, everything is done, and people all say: “It happened naturally.”
(Chapter 17, Tao Te Ching)

Having no separate self is a reflection of your interconnection with others that often leads to better relationships with those you encounter along your career pathways. Having better relationships with others means having less or no stress.

With no ego, you see others as yourself, and therefore they do not stress you.

With no ego, you do not feel that you are not good enough for the job. With that negative self-belief, you often send that same message to others as well, and they, too, will think that you are not good enough; and thus attracting and creating everything negative that happens to you in your work.

With no ego, you see yourself neither competent nor incompetent -- you are just you doing your best in your work.

“Living in the present moment,
we see all things that we must do.
Without complaint and resistance, we do them accordingly.
Without seeking control and recognition,
we simplify what we do, however complicated they may be.
Trusting in the Creator, we always under-do and never over-do.”
(Chapter 30, Tao Te Ching)

With no ego, you do not have to comply with the unrealistic demands of employers or coworkers, and you do not have to argue with them over this and that, or rules and regulations.

“Rules and regulations may bring fairness and justice,
but no more than a pretense of life.
A pretense of life is our inability to love indiscriminately.
Then we insist on those above us to heal our suffering,
which originates from ourselves.”
(Chapter 18, Tao Te Ching

“To follow the Way,
we need principles,
but without imposing on others;
we need honesty,
but without being unkind to others;
we need consistency,
but without taking advantage of others.
We set an example for others
to follow the Way to the Creator.”
(Chapter 58, Tao Te Ching)

With no ego, you do what needs to be done without the stress of over-doing or doing more to guarantee your success.

With no ego, you do not have to overwork yourself in order to prove your invaluable contributions or indispensable role.

“The softest thing in the world
overcomes what seems to be the hardest.

That which has no form
penetrates what seems to be impenetrable.

That is why we exert effortless effort.
We act without over-doing.
We teach without arguing.

This is the Way to true wisdom.
This is not a popular way
because people prefer over-doing.”
(Chapter 43, Tao Te Ching)

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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