PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 November, 2008, 12:00am

Being self-confident is important

I am writing to make some observations about self-confidence, because I feel it is such an important thing to have in life.

Having self-confidence doesn't mean believing we can do anything. It simply means embracing the belief that we can achieve realistic ambitions. Self-confident people have expectations that are realistic.

Those expectations may not work out, but they don't regard them as defeat, and simply come up with a new tactic for making them happen.

I think the question of confidence is mostly about where we look for approval. Self-confident people trust their own judgment.

People who lack self-confidence look for approval from others. They avoid taking risks because they are afraid of failure.

They do not expect to be successful. They put themselves down and ignore compliments.

Self-confident people, on the other hand, will risk disapproval from other people because they trust their own abilities. They accept themselves. They don't think they have to conform to be accepted.

I think all of us should work hard at being more confident.

Amina Bibi, California School

Let's help those who genuinely need it

I found the recent debate about a means test for so-called 'fruit money' for the elderly disappointing.

Of course, we should be careful about how we spend public money, and not throw it at people who do not need it.

But I also think we should look realistically at what assets mean. Let's say an elderly couple's assets are HK$254,000. That might mean that, if they live for a further 10 years, they have HK$25,400 a year for their daily lives.

It's easy for people who are living comfortable lives to be outraged about money being spent on old people who possibly don't need it. But let's look around us. What we see is reality. What we see is old people pushing trolleys and scavenging for bits of cardboard.

I don't think giving these people a few extra hundred dollars a month is going to make a big difference to their lives.

What we need is a practical policy for the elderly that targets those in genuine need and does something to really help them.

Margaret Lee Yau-tong

Always look on the bright side of life

I think we should pay more attention to what we have and spend less time complaining about what we think is not right.

Half the world is living in poverty in countries like Africa. In many places, people barely have enough to eat.

People are dying of malnutrition in Africa.

Others live in places at war, and they grow up traumatised by violence and death.

These people cannot make plans or think about the future. Every day is a struggle just to get through to the next day.

Despite this, many people in rich and comfortable Hong Kong feel like they have nothing. It's time to stop complaining and look at what we have.

Next time you feel the urge to grumble, think about all those people living in poverty.

We have all the reasons in the world to be happy, we just sometimes choose to ignore them.

Chung Ho-yin

Work hard to bring meaning to life

Sometimes we forget it, but actually life is fair.

Perhaps in some areas we lack ability, but in others we have abilities that people around us don't.

Perhaps we only look at our weaknesses and because of that we don't work hard enough. Even if someone has a high IQ, if they don't work hard, they will not achieve anything.

Let's face it, hard work can make miracles happen. As babies, we learned to crawl, we learned to stand up and walk. When we could walk, we learned to run. We fell down countless times, and we got up again and ran again.

Sometimes we forget these successes when we grow up. It is in our nature to imitate success, and to dream of greater success. We knew it as infants; too often we forget it as adults.

As infants, we knew the harder it was, the harder we had to fight back. If it weren't like that, we'd still be crawling through life.

The lesson in that is not to take the easy way. Actually, none of us appreciate the things that come to us easily.

If everything we have came to us with no effort, life would seem meaningless.

Fighting to make dreams happen fills our lives with meaning.

Cling on to your dreams, treasure them. Make them happen. They make us what we are.

Wong Fabiola, Chinese Foundation Secondary School

Choose your words sympathetically

I am writing in response to a recent letter about how words can be used as a weapon.

I agree that sometimes people don't think about what they say can hurt others.

We all know - especially at school - there are bullies who use words to put other people down. There are people who lie to others and cheat. These are clear examples of using words as weapons.

I also agree with the writer that these 'weapons' can be as hurtful as kicks and punches. The pain they give is not physical but psychological.

In many ways, psychological pain is worse than physical pain.

The wounded person can end up losing confidence and not wanting to go to school anymore, or end up too shy to speak up in class or even mix with friends.

Just because words don't leave physical wounds, it doesn't mean they don't hurt.

Chan Man-him, LST Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School