Subtract

Subtract anything that doesn’t add value to your life. It could be temporary or permanent. More is not always better. You can only keep enough, consume enough, use enough, do enough, And every season in your life demands something different  You cannot hold on to anything earthbound. To Start With Define what value means to… Continue reading Subtract

Letting go is obviously one of the hardest things that we can do, but at times, stepping into that new kind of freedom is very much worth it.

sundaewrites

The year came like anything normal and in so many ways I have underestimated it. Certainly, you’ll never really know where life would take you. 

During the first few months, inspiration struck. It triggered me to make small decisions and subtle changes affecting very important aspects of my life.

Letting Go of Stuff

    It started with a few clothes, some old, some new, that I’ve never really worn for months. Like most, I’ve held on to those pieces of clothing because I’ve paid for them and I already own them. 

I realized later on that possessing or not possessing them didn’t really affect the quality of my life. Nor has it affected the level of my happiness in the long term. Maybe that’s why you and I call this and similar things as stuff because literally, they’re just that. Most things we can live without and some we can only need enough of. 

On the other hand though, our stuff can be a piece of gold to someone who really needs them. With that, I gave away clothes to friends, neighbors, relatives and some more things to charity.

I was able to sell some of the stuff too and more will be sold in the comings months. I remember meeting this buyer and our conversation went like this.

Buyer:  So how long have you had this?

Me: 6 months

Buyer: how many times did you use it?

Me: thrice

Buyer: It’s in superb condition and you’re selling it for half the price. Why did you buy it in the first place?

Me: Well, I thought I needed it and would do me good. Later on, I realized, it’s bulky and cumbersome. I can actually get rid of it and make do of what I already have.

Buyer: Well, this is a gem for me. Sorry, you had to sell it.

Me: Oh no, I’m glad I did! (“and I met you”! – bonus point that I felt he didn’t need to know – insert “grin”).


Letting Go of biases

    I think you would agree that we all have our biases when it comes to culture, people of a different race or sometimes people from our own race. I for one am guilty about this. In the past, my generalizations about people have hindered the possibility of me knowing them at a deeper level and understand how they see things. 

I’ve come to realize that it was a mistake and a loss on my part. I mean, some of them could have been my close friends. They could have contributed to my growth. Most could have been helpful mentors, teachers, coaches or perhaps role models. I remember a colleague of mine said to me one time. “It’s not you. We’re just not used to saying please and thank you as often as you do. We don’t even say please or thank you to people from our own country”.  Another shared, “We look like we’re fighting because we seem to be shouting at each other, but we’re not. This is just a normal conversation”.

When I decided to finally open myself to other cultures and other communities, I felt like my heart expanded and my understanding broadened. I began to see these people the way I see myself and my friends- just human beings with imperfections like we all have, and trying their very best in life as we all do.  

Letting Go of Who I thought I was

We are who we are. This belief also limited my success as a person. 

I always thought that I’m an introvert and therefore, don’t have the ability to connect with people and actually be energized in the process. I always thought, I could never write, just because I barely passed my first essay in college. My English teacher would always ask me to explain what I’m trying to say. That time I have a knack for tying two words together, not because they mean anything but because they just sounded good. Well, it’s hard when English is not your first language. These are just two of several beliefs which crafted my idea of Me. This same idea pushed me to stay in my comfort zone because venturing out, I assumed,  would lead me to failure.  

After years, a breakthrough came.  I decided I will no longer fear failure. So I started a journey of self-discovery and that meant trying new things and doing things that actually scared me or made me nervous and uneasy. I tell you, when I look at myself now, I like what I’m seeing. Frankly, I still make mistakes but I’m growing and continuously learning.

The good thing about letting go of who I thought I was is that every day I am embracing the opportunity to reinvent myself and expand my horizons. It opens a whole new door of possibilities of what I can still be, and the results usually astound me. What you can or cannot do, is indeed entirely up to you. Henry Ford puts it this way “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”.

My friend, is there something in your life that you need to let go and why, or, why not?

What keeps you going every single day? You know, that thing that fires you up, tickles your toes, and pokes your heels to leap, or even run with a penguin-like pair of happy feet?  That one good thing that gives you a merry heart?

Dreams. They give me wings.  They make my heart flutter, and wildly take my imagination to a place, full of vivid colors and exciting possibilities.  It scares me sometimes, the great unknown. But it pays to set your sights on to what could possibly be good, rather than what could go wrong.

If you wake up to mornings dragging yourself to the shower with arc-shaped lips and folded eyebrows like you’re about to drop onto the floor and cry – – friend, you’re in danger zone and you’ve got to pull yourself out of it!

“Why me?”, you asked.  Well, of course. Because you are your own best friend. Let me break it to you. The people around you, they can only do so much. You have to accept that.  If you don’t see yourself worthy of a meaningful existence, a higher calling, or up for a bigger purpose, then right there, you’ve already lost the battle. Why? Because the last person who could ever have that faith in you has just given up. And that’s you. You have lost your faith, in you.

People will find it hard to fight for someone who won’t even fight for themselves. Even if they do, they can only get very far. If you’re that someone, please don’t neglect your own self. You’re too precious for that. The sooner you’ll realize this truth the sooner you’ll get out of the hollow you’re in.

We often forget that the life we have is not some sort of entitlement.  Rather, it’s a gift, an opportunity. No wonder we take it for granted many times. We complain a lot, we get frustrated and sad for too long that it shortens our breath and aches our bodies.  Oftentimes, we get too focused on our own hurts and forget about the rest of the world who’s hurting too.  We don’t look far and wide enough.  Our “own world” is too small just like a hole that we dig into. So what happens? We let our brilliance slip from memory.  We lose the spark.  We become immobile, useless according to our own terms.

Friend, can you come back to the land of the living?  We need you here. The years you’ve lived with all the battles you’ve fought hard and may have lost- is not everything. That is not all there is to it. You became more because of those struggles. And there is more to life, more good things yet to come. And you’ve got to focus on these.  You and I already know that we have a limited time. So let’s fill what we have with memories we can be proud of, and leave a legacy that we have lived our lives to the full and lived it well- well enough to touch others.

When you add life to life, it just gets better. When you add life to where there’s a lack of it, then you’re standing on higher ground.  With your scars and all, you can still help people.  If you’re that someone who needs help, receive it.  There may be times when you’d feel the need to ask for it, go ahead because that’s okay.  But remember, while you ask others for help, help yourself too.  Start with you.

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.

 

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.