Hello, my friend! I’m John Smagula. Today is the second day of the second month of the lunar New Year, also known as the Dragon-Head-Raising Festival.  According to Chinese tradition, on this day farmers would pray for rain, hoping the dragon would raise it’s head and bring enough rain to ensure the year’s harvest. So on this festival, how can we “pray for rain” in our lives?



Another custom on this festival is to get a haircut. Like the dragon, we have woken up from the winter and begin afresh. At 17, I started studying Chinese when I began college.  I started losing my hair shortly afterward. So haircuts aren’t as important to me as they used to be.  Some say that there is a direct correlation between Chinese language study and hair loss. As I have a little hair left, so that must mean my Chinese study is incomplete.  I’ll keep at it, and thanks for the encouragement! 😀


tsinghua barber

Just got a haircut at a Tsinghua barber shop


Actually, along these lines, many students complain to me about their so-called physical flaws.  “I’m too short to do anything.” Or, “Oh, my body just isn’t right—I’m too fat, not good looking.” And on and on.  “I’m too young to find a job; I’m too old to find a job.” Once a student told me that she wouldn’t pursue a doctoral degree. She said she was unattractive, and as a doctor wouldn’t be able to find a husband. As a teacher, I often hear students talk about their negative self-image.


Beijing Yangmeizhu hutong barber shop

 Beijing hutong barber shop


In reality, these are self-limiting beliefs. Your height, weight, looks, and age have nothing to do with your ability and character. I know many celebrities look great when they make an appearance, but not always. It’s what’s inside that counts. What’s most attractive is your smile. We can all smile. Today I want to encourage you to abandon these negative beliefs.  Don’t limit yourself.


dragon piyingxi liulichang

Dragon puppet for shadow play


Actions create emotions. It’s really not that difficult, as you’re closer to your goal than you think. It might just be a few millimeters. The difference between a frown and a smile is just a few millimeters. To put your chest out, you need only move your sternum out 1-2 millimeters. From head down to head up, you just move your chin up a few millimeters. Small actions create big results. These tiny actions will have a great impact on your physiology and self-confidence.


Beijing Dashilan Street

Lucky 8, Taitou (Heads Up) Alley, Beijing


“Heads up” is an expression in English. It comes from baseball. If a ball is about to fall on you when you’re at a game, people will yell out, “Heads up!” You avoid injury, and you may be lucky enough to catch the ball. The expression also means to “be careful.” So I want to give you a heads up. If you continually sabotage yourself, allowing your so-called physical flaws to influence your development, then you are just limiting your own future.


xiao'anlanying alley hutong Beijing

Dragons and blue skies above Xiao'anlanying Alley, Beijing 


My friend, your physical appearance has nothing to do with your character or ability. Your smile, attitude, and effort are much more important. Lift up your head and don’t look down, as they are just a few millimeters apart. It’s both easy and effective. Doing this every day is like planting seeds for your future where you’ll reap the harvest. If you don’t sow, then regardless of whether it rains, you won’t reap. So today, let’s capture the spirit of the dragon and lift up our heads. Get a haircut, enjoy a spring pancake, and say some encouraging words to yourself.  This year is full of hope, so lift your head and “pray for rain” to welcome a great future.  Happy Festival Day!


Wudaokou spring pancake chunbing

Spring pancakes in Wudaokou, Beijing 


Thank you for watching me to inspire, encourage, and accompany you along your journey. See you next time. 


Fire up the "dragon spirit," planting seeds of hope for a great future. Please subscribe to my WeChat channel by scanning the QR code below or entering the address: laosangshuo


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Hello, my friend! 朋友,你好,我是老桑。今天是2月2 ,又称“龙抬头”。按照中国的传统习俗,农民在这一天祈雨,希望龙王会多提供雨水,保证当年的丰收。那在今天的节日中,我们该如何为这一年的收获“祈雨”呢?


Liulichang Dragon Character 琉璃厂


“龙抬头”的传统之一是理发,预示着像龙一样要从睡眠中醒过来,开始活动。还记得我在17岁读大一时就开始学汉语,过了不久就开始掉头发,所以现在理发对我来说不如以前重要吧!有人说我学汉语跟掉头发成比例,现在我还有剩下的头发,说明中文没学到位,还得努力 。谢谢大家的鼓励。


Taitou Xiang Taitou Alley Beijing


其实,接着这个思路,很多学生向我抱怨他们自己所谓的身体瑕疵。“桑老师,我太矮了,跟别人没法比。”或者,“哎哟,我体质不行,太胖了, 太难看了。”And on and on (持续不断)。“我太年轻,找不到工作,我太老,找不到工作。“有一次一个女生告诉我她不愿意读博士,她说她长得不漂亮,如读博士,她怕找不到对象。作为老师,我经常听到学生这种消极自我印象的话。


实际上,这些想法是self-limiting beliefs(自我限制性信念)。你的身高,你的体重,你的容颜,你的年龄都跟你的能力和品质是没有关系的。我知道很多明星出道成功并且长得漂亮,但并不是所有。心灵美、人更美。最有吸引力的特征是你的笑容。我们都可以微笑。我今天想鼓励你抛弃这些负面的信念,不要自己限制自己。


动作创造情绪。不要夸大自己和目标的差距,你离你的目标不如你想象的那么远,可能只是几毫米而已。比如,撇嘴和微笑的区别只是几毫米,松垮的肩膀和挺胸姿态的区别就是胸骨往外一两毫米,垂头和抬头的区别就是下巴往上走几个毫米。Small actions create big results (小动作创造大结果)。这些小小的动作对你的生理机能和自信程度都会有很大的影响。


在英文中,有一个说法是heads up(抬起头来),这是来自棒球。看球赛时,若有球在你那儿要掉下来,人家喊你抬头看,避免受伤,同时能接到球也是很幸运的事。 现在这个说法也能用为“当心”的意思。所以我要give you a heads up (让你留神),如你不断地贬低自己,让身体上所谓的不足影响你的发展,那你就是自己在限制自己的未来。


Baseball 棒球


My friend,你身体的特征跟你的品质和能力没有关系。更重要的是你的微笑、姿态和努力。 抬头挺胸而不是垂头丧气,仅仅是一个几毫米的动作,一点都不难,却有很大的影响。每天进行这种动作就像是在为自己的未来播种,将来肯定会有所收获。如你不播种,下不下雨就无所谓,不会有收获。所以今天我们借着龙抬头的精神理个发、吃个春饼、跟自己说说一些励志话,为充满希望的今年“祈雨”,抬起头来迎接美好的未来。节日快乐!






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