Have you ever started a day with disappointments?  You’ve perfectly planned out everything, moving every possible obstacle out of the way just so you can guarantee a smooth-sailing journey towards accomplishing your goal, then it happened. You arrived one hour late, you got the wrong schedule, and just when you’re trying to save yourself from having a bad day, you drive 16 miles to a rescue venue and then, boom! You can’t find a parking spot. So you turn your car around and drive home for another 20 miles.

You feel like a total failure, a pathetic loser. You sink deep into frustration, then to anger, and then finally to hopelessness. At this point, all the negative thoughts parade in your brain like a bunch of cheering squad, clapping, jumping and shouting “hurray” knowing they have conquered your day.

I know, it’s exhausting. But hey, enough already.  We can’t wallow in these feelings for the rest of the day, worse for the rest of the year.  So granted things started off wrong, let’s just make good of whatever is left.

Blow off some steam.  Get some fresh air. Instead of heading back to your place with a grumpy face,  why not stop over somewhere just to take your mind off from what just happened.  See something different, hear something different, that way you direct your focus to something nice, beautiful, relaxing or even peaceful.  I know nature is the best remedy, and so is simply saying hello (and mean it) to people you pass by.

Someone wise told me if you can’t drive negative thoughts away from camping in your brain and make bonfires, replace them. How? Simply plant new thoughts. And that’s exactly what you can do when you look around. You will see something good. When you quite all the noise, you will hear something good.

Sometimes, our brains can be devious. They can trick us in many different ways, but if it’s already attacking the better part of you, fight back. That’s what will power is for. You resolve to find what’s good, what’s working and slowly you beckon gratefulness back.

Get some perspective. As what Tuesdays with Morrie once taught me, “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long”.  Even successful investors know when to cut losses, so we should too. Well, each case is unique, so you’ll get that wisdom from a lifelong experience. But I believe, that if you seek for answers deep down, you will know when it’s the right time to let go.

For a petty experience like the one I had today, I just thought of writing about it.  It didn’t seem petty at first because I felt a thousand needles poking into my brain and my heart. Oh how I love my heart, so I’m guarding it with a thousand more soldiers so the enemy can’t invade.

Talking about it now gives me clarity.  Maybe you can try it too. It’s true what they say that when you take a problem or an issue out and put it on a table, you can see it for what it is. Isolate it and you’ll know it’s completely unattached to you.  Break the connection. You were never the problem. You just made up your mind that you were.

Selecta had it right when it flashed that message on the tv screen not so long ago.  Love yourself. Do that, and you’ll be happier.

 

Fear is most people’s nemesis.  We’re afraid to lose, to fail, to get hurt or to start again.  We’re afraid to frustrate loved ones, to be laughed at by friends, to not gain everyone’s approval.

Fear is in not knowing.  Take for example a newbie investor.  He’s unsure how the market is going to perform, where to invest his money, or to invest at all.  He fears he’s gonna make the wrong choices, lose his money and fail.

What could this person do? Study. Research. Know everything there is to know. When you learn, you equip yourself, and then you can make informed decisions.  What if the decision was wrong? The important thing is you did what you know was right at that particular time with all the information you have. If you fail, then take the lesson with you. Successful people pursue learning. It feeds their appetite.

Fear is a control issue. This is when a person knows he doesn’t have a hand or power over things. Paranoia exhibits this fear- a condition where one is obsessed with the belief that bad things are going to happen and that everybody is out there to get him. He becomes helpless, paralyzed, panicky, worrisome.This is not a pleasant and healthy state to be in and there’s no easy cure but two ways can help:   To trust and to let go.

First, It all boils down to your belief system.  when you learn to trust people and trust a Higher Being, your perspective change.  To worry and to focus on things you can’t control just doesn’t make sense. It’s  a waste of your time and energy, two resources that you have a limited supply of. To shift your focus on things you can control is more sensible and a more productive way to live your life. Delegate.  Do what you do best, and leave the rest to experts.  You ask for help, you collaborate or team up with the someone. You can even team up with God.

To let go on the other hand demands acceptance- the courage to embrace the truth.  There are things that are bound to happen. You can’t do anything about it.  Even if you can the efforts would be futile. Death, taxes, and change are on top of the list. You can’t avoid death. You can avoid taxes but with disastrous consequences. You can resist change but that will disrupt your growth.  See, it’s pointless to argue with these truths much more prevent it from taking place.

Lastly, fear is refusing to take responsibility for your own happiness. When you dread rejection or demand affection you are bound to fail. The former will immobilize you, the latter will frustrate you.  Don’t avoid the chances of getting turned down. Successful people have had a fair share of it. There’s  Colonel Sanders, Oprah Winfrey, and Sylvester Stallone to name a few. On the other hand, if you look forward to pleasing everybody- you will end up living up to their expectations and not yours. Remind me, who’s life is this again? Yours right?

Fear has many facets and all of it are not good for you. Of course, there’s a healthy kind of fear and it’s a topic worthy of discussion on a separate occasion.  For now, think about where your fear stems from, then deal with the root cause.  Work on what you can.  Everything else is not meant to be dealt with by you. Wave the white flag if you must.  Help will certainly come.

How many times did you allow spontaneity to take place in your ordinary days?  For me, quite rarely but those instances have created the best days of my life!

I’m very good at planning – that is, if I want to.  I can run an event, activity, devise strategies to approach an issue, a problem. I have a keen eye on looking at the larger picture, I know how to delegate, assess progress, mark milestones, and carry everything out to till it’s done.  That’s not really the case though in my personal life. I don’t have a detailed plan mapped out in front of me. I keep a broad version of it.  My focus? Goals.

I met with a few friends last night- all gifted writers (soon you’ll see them here), and we brushed on this topic.  Most of us at one time had our future perfectly laid out-  age to marry, year to have kids, the amount of wealth we’re gonna have, employed in a company of our choice, be in a profession we’ve dreamed of since we were kids, and more.

As you would have guessed- well, we got some, we missed some. As kids, nobody told us that the world can be cruel sometimes, that people can be unkind, challenges can come, weather can change, and we too can fail. Indeed nobody’s been perfectly prepared for this university we call Life.  All those who graduated with flying colors must have been bruised and broken but certainly, they kept fighting the good fight.

My friends and I have our share of frustrations- plans failed, jobs sucked, people left, we left-  we had high expectations from the external world and from ourselves. The first time we encountered failure- we hated it. But now, we take it differently. Failure is a great teacher. It took time for us to accept and understand this.  Yes, we should allow ourselves to fail- and by that, I mean- to fail forward.

Mistakes can be a waste until you turn them into lessons. Setbacks are meant to propel us farther and higher.  So when you feel like being pulled back, by all means, bend, but don’t break.

Success too at one point will lose it’s shine until you refuse to settle and make one more step.  You can’t be in your 50s or 70s and relive your glory days when you were half those age- or you can, it’s still your choice. But at every age, you have an opportunity to do something great. The chances never really run out. So don’t sit on your laurels – at least- not just yet.

So how did most of us cope with failure and frustration? We scrapped the detailed plans and focused on our goals. We allowed life’s surprises to hit us.  It doesn’t matter if it’s bad or good. we take it and turn it to work in our favor.

Eventually, each one of us will discover his or her own path. We’ll discover our own voice, our own destiny. you’ll realize in the end it really doesn’t matter what the world say. What would mean most is that we loved much, we cared much and we gave much.  And one day should our hearts find yours,  I guess that just means, we’re treading the same path.

 

Have you ever felt less-equipped, unfit, incompetent on a job and told yourself you’re not gonna last another six months?  I did, and that was two weeks ago as of this writing.

You see I got this new job, a better one by the way in terms of stability, culture, people to work with and of course, challenges.

I welcome challenges like a person who welcomes the sunshine into her own home.  It pushes me to stretch and it perks my senses up.  I work hard the whole day that after dark, I’d feel so spent and yet so fulfilled.  By then I’d go and say, “I did my best and now I can rest”.

Isn’t that what we look forward to every day? A sense of purpose and meaning? That confidence to tell yourself, “I matter, and I know why I’m here”?

Yet days can become very exhausting at times, it will drive you to believe that you’re not enough. And when your job is on the line, you ready yourself for the worse but you keep doing what needs to be done.

On several occasions you realize there’s a lot left unfinished and yet you can only do so much.  At other times too you have to learn to let go of how you used to do things and try something new.

My old boss would always say, there’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat, and when it comes to solving problems, there are a lot of different approaches you can take.  So you learn as you go and you learn from other people too.

Now at this point in time here I am, feeling defeated some days but winning on most.  Victory doesn’t mean performing miracles at work but it means, continually fighting the good fight, win inner battles and beat the monsters within, self-defeating thoughts, pride, unwillingness to bend, to move, preference for what’s comfortable, easy and unchallenging.  After all, It doesn’t really matter what awaits in the end, so long as you know that at every moment, you did the best you could.

So, why did you leave your old job? People would ask me.  Well, why wouldn’t I.  There’s a lot to experience in the world, and I won’t be able to get a taste of as much as everything if I choose to settle. When days are predictable, what would I be excited about?  When everything becomes routinary and ordinary, we ease off, and then we stop growing. Would you want that kind of life?

Push forward and onward you go.  You will get all the help that you need at the right time. Ask and you shall receive, sow and you will reap. Believe in victorious endings.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there in the world. Some may tell you that whatever you do or give is just a drop in the ocean, it’s small and will not even matter.  You know what? Do it or give it anyway. Every ocean is made up of millions of drops, and yours can be one of it.

Every challenge that lands on you hands has been given to you for the simple reason that you’re the only one, who has the nerve, the guts, the courage and the heart to take it on.

Now go ahead, rise and win it.

 

Have you ever felt less-equipped, unfit, incompetent on a job and told yourself you’re not gonna last another six months?  I did, and that was two weeks ago as of this writing.

You see I got this new job, a better one by the way in terms of stability, culture, people to work with and of course, challenges.

I welcome challenges like a person who welcomes the sunshine into her own home.  It pushes me to stretch and it perks my senses up.  I work hard the whole day that after dark, I’d feel so spent and yet so fulfilled.  By then I’d go and say, “I did my best and now I can rest”.

Isn’t that what we look forward to every day? A sense of purpose and meaning? That confidence to tell yourself, “I matter, and I know why I’m here”?

Yet days can become very exhausting at times, it will drive you to believe that you’re not enough. And when your job is on the line, you ready yourself for the worse but you keep doing what needs to be done.

On several occasions you realize there’s a lot left unfinished and yet you can only do so much.  At other times too you have to learn to let go of how you used to do things and try something new.

My old boss would always say, there’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat, and when it comes to solving problems, there are a lot of different approaches you can take.  So you learn as you go and you learn from other people too.

Now at this point in time here I am, feeling defeated some days but winning on most.  Victory doesn’t mean performing miracles at work but it means, continually fighting the good fight, win inner battles and beat the monsters within, self-defeating thoughts, pride, unwillingness to bend, to move, preference for what’s comfortable, easy and unchallenging.  After all, It doesn’t really matter what awaits in the end, so long as you know that at every moment, you did the best you could.

So, why did you leave your old job? People would ask me.  Well, why wouldn’t I.  There’s a lot to experience in the world, and I won’t be able to get a taste of as much as everything if I choose to settle. When days are predictable, what would I be excited about?  When everything becomes routinary and ordinary, we ease off, and then we stop growing. Would you want that kind of life?

Push forward and onward you go.  You will get all the help that you need at the right time. Ask and you shall receive, sow and you will reap. Believe in victorious endings.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there in the world. Some may tell you that whatever you do or give is just a drop in the ocean, it’s small and will not even matter.  You know what? Do it or give it anyway. Every ocean is made up of millions of drops, and yours can be one of it.

Every challenge that lands on you hands has been given to you for the simple reason that you’re the only one, who has the nerve, the guts, the courage and the heart to take it on.

Now go ahead, rise and win it.

 

I had this morbid thought at midday on my way to lunch. It felt weird and uncomfortable but the thought lingered for quite a while.

So there was this young man in his polished suit, I imagined him dead. The old man taking the stairs with a cup in his hand, the young girl outside the building donned in her summer dress, the old lady sitting on a bench having her meal under the sun-I imagined each one of them, lying in a coffin.

I don’t’ mean to sound scary, rude, demeaning or any of that.  Instead, I want you to take this in a positive light.

This absurd thought actually shifts a person’s perspective. When you begin to look at everyone you meet as capable of fading and vanishing, like they’re going to be gone anytime soon, it gives you a combined feeling of detachment and attachment.

Imagine the people who’ve hurt you, disappointed you, or caused you so much anger and pain.  Suddenly you’ll realize it’s pointless to hold a grudge against them.  It’s worthless to carry a lifelong hurt, coz’ for some, a lifetime is not even long enough.

Then you carry your thoughts toward the people who matter to you, to those you surround yourself with every day and fail to even appreciate.  Do you really see them and treat them the way you should? Have you said your “Thank You’s” enough number of times, comforted them or took more effort to make them smile, or make their day even better?

Pause for a while and notice the world and time passing you by.  The people in it, all things living, breathing- all signs of life, including yourself.  You too are not going to be here forever. So start living your life with a real sense of time- connected to it, and making it count.

There is no necessity to always be in a hurry or in a rush, to always be preoccupied or insanely busy.  There are times and seasons for everything.  Even God rested on the seventh day in the great story of Creation.  Miracle after miracle, God took the time to admire everything. He allowed Himself to notice, to feel. He was pleased. He felt satisfied.

On to us, our main job is to celebrate each day. To hope, to love and be grateful for all things. To be deliberate and intentional in how we use the greatest resource we ever have.

Deliberate, because we need to be thoughtful.

Intentional, because we need to be purposeful.

Like how?   In our choices, our actions, our thoughts, our words, and our plans, that we may always desire to affect the lives of others and the entire world in ways that are good.  To leave a legacy and a fine one at that.

Of course, we are allowed to feel the bad even the worst- but dwelling on these is entirely up to us.  Hearts can break but that’s why we were given a sense of reason. Our brains literally placed above our hearts so we know that we have the power to choose. Whatever is genuinely good for us doesn’t harm anyone.  At the end of the day, all things should be in sync.  All should harmonize.

Life is fragile, like a holding a newborn baby in your hands. And people- – yes, they slip away. You’ll realize that yesterday isn’t a long time ago, and getting old can hardly be noticed till body aches, blurred vision and gray hair catch up with you.  It’s true what they say, no one gets out of this life, alive.

So make the most of what you have. Embrace your greatest gifts.  Embrace life.  Embrace time.  Embrace people.  Embrace yourself.

The meaning of one’s life is not to be discovered.  It is to be defined.  It’s up to you to determine yours.

To brave vulnerability in front of many is one of the most difficult things one can ever do but at the same time the most rewarding too.  Last night was an amazing time spent with friends, old and new.  Talking about one topic opened a lot of stories I never thought have been written in the pages of one’s book. Indeed there’s a lot to every person, a lot that we don’t see, don’t know, and maybe, we may never understand.  But that’s one of a couple of gifts I think that we can give to the world- our own make.

Each of us has our own story beginning differently. Some would have had it good, some already bad, and some would be a perfect mix of sugar and spice. However it started, regardless of age, surely it’s embedded in either your earliest memory, or it’s one of a few which carried a lot of weight and created the biggest impact on you. Either way, it kicked off the very first chapter of your book and carried you through this very time.

All of those things: the joys, the trauma, the pain, gain, loss, victory, defeat- it all made who you are now. However that makes you feel, I would say you’re victorious. Why? Because you’re still here- –  alive and breathing. No failure has beaten you up and left you for dead. No triumph has stopped you from dreaming and wanting to accomplish something more! So love yourself now, in case you still don’t. You’ve come so far, and the pages you’ve filled out up to this time is already a gift. A gift that you can share to the world. Someone somewhere will be blessed by it. Your story may inspire, encourage, or awaken another soul at one perfect time. You’ll be surprised of what it can accomplish.

Now that you know what you’re made of, what you can become is your second gift to the world.

Knowing where you are is one thing, knowing where you want to be is another.

This chapter and the ones that follow are still unwritten. You have to decide how it continues. Imagine what you would want to read about yourself when you reach 80 or 100.  Coz then time will have taught you what you already knew- that everything from here and now will just be a memory. What would define it’s worth is up to you- – it’s up to the choices you make.

You’ve already learned how to play the cards you’re dealt with, but you can do more than that, and you can do things differently this time.  You may want to stop doing and start being. Stop reacting and start pro-acting. Whatever it is, don’t stop here. As the song goes, “It ain’t over, till it’s over”.

Dream some more and make it happen, so that when you’re old and gray, you will have an ocean of beautiful memories to accompany you. You’ll have bags of wonderful stories to share with your grandkids. You’ll have plenty of highs and lows to tell the rest of the world.  Then they will all know that behind those wrinkled hands and the feeble frame is a person of strong heart and a tough will, who refused to give up, who gave more and gave all!

Can you be 40 and still feel lost? A friend once asked me. I said yes. You can be 80 or 90 and have it all, but still, feel lost at times.

Nobody has come across a life manual or rulebook until one stumbles upon the Bible.  The Book contains all the wisdom one can ever need to not only survive life but to live it to the full.

Yet having known the truth against the lies, and being able to distinguish good from the bad doesn’t guarantee one’s victory. It’s one’s action that does.

I’ve met people who have struggled since childhood – – born to a poor family or a broken home, a victim of abuse, disease or disability, or a product of consecutive failures.  Surprisingly, though, every one of them didn’t turn out the same- some settled, but some persisted and changed the course of their lives.  The lesson:  We are not a product of our circumstances.  Rather, we are a product of our own choices.

Then you reach that stage when life is smooth sailing: you’ve covered all bases, you feel prepared and secured, everything is working well just like you wanted it to, and after some time you forget.  A simple truth slipped your memory: that the hundred moments you’re living in is a just a season, and some day soon it will be over too. Life shakes you up like that.

Just when you get too comfortable, a disruption happens and knocks you off with a big blow.  A sudden loss, an accident, sickness, a job loss, a change in your circumstances.  If we’ve kept these possibilities in mind, we wouldn’t be surprised, but if not, that’s when the challenge starts.

Is challenge good? Yes!  Why? Because it’s the pruning process that makes us better and makes us grow.  If we don’t grow, we die. We’re not so different from the plants and the trees.

The lesson: Take heart and take the challenge. Allow it to make you, not break you.

Feeling lost haunts everybody at one point in time.  For one reason, we tend to overthink. We lose touch with what matters and realize that we’ve been chasing the wrong things all along.  Knowing this now compels us to step back, reassess everything, recognize where we are and determine where we want to go. If necessary, eliminate the distractions. Simplify.  Focus. Thereafter you’ll be ready to set the sails again and follow through your designed course.

Feeling lost can happen when you’re starting over too.  Like, when life takes something or someone away from you and you need to rebuild your world from broken pieces. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.  You just need the strength of will to let go and move on.  It’s not over until it’s over.  So don’t waste your time holding on to what already belongs to the past, rather embrace the now and expect a better future. 

Don’t be scared of what lies ahead.  Remember the courage and boldness you once had when you were a kid. Use it to propel you into a brighter future- one that’s colored like a rainbow with glittering sunshine, glowing butterflies, chirping birds, blue streams, blooming flowers and breathtaking trees. Keep your hopes up. Life can be as beautiful as you would want it to be. You have the power to shape it.

 

Every person has the power to write his own story. Every person has the power to realize his own dreams. And even if these dreams don’t make it to one’s reality, in the end, what matters is that the person, who could be me or you, took the chance and we did what we knew we had to do. It’s not really about what we get, but more of what we become after that.  The journey is more important than the destination, and it’s more exciting too! Let me tell you why.

I’ve traveled several times with friends.  We went to places we thought we could only dream of. We explored cities, cultures, but what made it more exciting was the fact that we actually did it on our own. Equipped with a book, a map, research notes and a strong desire for adventure, we tread unfamiliar waters, finding every spot listed in our itinerary.  And yes we succeeded, of course with a little help from the locals.  Ticking off everything we had in our checklist felt really satisfying! When I look back, I realize I have actually gained more than just reaching destinations. I’ve learned and realized the value of:

1)  Trust

Trust in me to be able to carefully plan out a trip, and carry it out.

Trust in my friends, their opinion, their suggestions. Trust that they’ll be there for me when I need them the most.

Trust in people we met along the way, those who offered help, directions, shared our cabin or room. Most of them even shared their own stories, and journeys, and well, some indulged us with chocolates and cherries. Most days we got lucky 🙂

2)  Planning

Planning is essential and to me, it’s the most exciting part. You have to make up your mind about where you want to go, what you want to experience or accomplish, figure out how to get there, where to stay the night, etc.  Everything had to be worked out given a specified timetable.

3)  Flexibility

You have to learn to exercise this muscle especially when life throws you surprises.  You have to make use of the time you have and the opportunity you’ve been given, to deliberately choose not to waste every single moment. Things may not always work out according to plan, but that’s just life telling you to pause, to relish the beauty around you, to talk to a stranger, to enjoy the rain.  It’s good to welcome possibilities believing that everything that comes your way may actually be better for you. Delays and detours are not that bad you know.

4)  Gifts

You learn how to value the things being alive brings. Time, opportunity, experience, and people, to name a few.

You see, a lot of things would have already happened even before you reach the end of the journey.  All of it honed you, accomplished something within you, and made you a better you. What’s between start to finish, is the greatest reward you’re gonna get.  So write your own story, your own ending, but as you do, live the time in between, and live it to the full!

What’s your attitude towards life?  The way I see myself, I always act like a compass and occasionally like a rubber band. Let me explain.

It normally starts with a strong desire for something and then I would resolve to make it happen. At times I’m not so particular about the timeline but most times I am. And if it doesn’t happen the way I’d expect it to, I’d succumb to feelings of failure and frustration. I’d be demotivated, would normally feel resigned, and eventually would quit, only to pick myself up again some time later, resume what I’ve been doing and head towards my set goal.

Most strong-minded people would always be like that. They work hard and accomplish goal after goal, chasing success- whether it meant getting more wealth or a promotion at work, improving one’s health, knowledge, proficiency, or even relationships- all to be better than their selves two or three years ago.

Prominent traits of these people are:

1)    they normally have plans, and strategies in place,

2)    will most of the time be passionate in what they do,

3)    will sometimes be stubborn

4)    will rarely be a quitter

5)    seems unstoppable

6)    seen as invincible

7)    they’d feel pretty much devastated when failure hits them, they’d start sinking until they learn and develop the willingness to adjust the sails.

People who are good at adjusting sails are those that I liken to a rubber band.  Mostly:

1)    they are resilient

2)    they can easily adapt to changing times

3)    they can readily change strategies

4)    they can cope with failure with ease and calm

5)    they can be distracted

6)    they can be surprisingly relaxed, meaning they don’t panic at all

7)    but sometimes coolness in handling difficult situations meant just letting go- easily.

You can be one of these two extremes, or you can lean closely to one than the other.  The happiest spot, however, is right there in the middle.

Surely you have to find the balance.  Both types have their own merits and there are also inherent disadvantages.  It’s all about how much control you take and how much you are willing to let go.

If you want to accomplish a goal or get something done, you need to plan on how to do it. You need to visualize yourself of the future you want to hold and develop strategies (make sure you have plans B & C in case A doesn’t’ work).  You need:

-discipline

-determination

-focus

-drive

-passion, but you also need to

-develop flexibility

-have a strong heart to accept defeat

-a strong mind to stay positive

-be forgiving of yourself

-and have the humility to ask for help when you need to.

More importantly, we have to keep in mind that life is not just a sum of accomplishments and rewards, it’s also about experiences, relationships, second chances, and definitely not just about you.

When you’re out there tomorrow, maybe you can slow down and take a genuine interest in people around you.  You can start giving a warm hello to the trees, the birds, the sun, walk barefoot on grass or just sit and be mindful of your breath and your thoughts.  There’s a lot of happenings in the world, and surely a lot going in your life, but you know you can always choose to stay connected with anyone and anything that breathes life.

Compass or rubber band. Just find the balance, and you will find peace and harmony, inside and out. Isn’t that what we always hope for?