So today, I decided to clean up. Owning a few things since going solo, I wanted to retain even less.  That means, just enough of everything.

A friend of mine traveled to Sweden months ago and fell in love with the term “lagom” which means “just the right amount”.  She was saying the Swedish don’t brag about the things they own nor overindulge in something like food, cars or houses.  They like to live as regular, ordinary people,  and give preference to giving back, contributing, and helping.  They don’t care about status or how much they earn. All of that and yet Sweden is one of the richest countries in the world.

Thinking about it makes me fall in love with Sweden too! “What I wouldn’t give to be there”- Me, daydreaming.  But Sweden or not Sweden, we can actually embrace “lagom” as a lifestyle, isn’t it? In some parts of the world, they call it, minimalism, simplicity, or essentialism (there might be other terms that you know, drop a comment here).

I grew up in a culture pretty much influenced by the Spaniards. With our concept of “fiestas” and “piazza” (in my hometown, we call it plaza), our culture has taken it further to mean:

– huge houses, 

– large “haciendas”, 

– more food on the table (than what’s necessary), 

– (boisterous) laughter, 

– plenty of stories, and 

– overflowing drinks.

While fiestas and plazas are essentially part of the Spanish culture, I believe these concepts stemmed from their inherent quality of being warm, affectionate and family-oriented. Our culture, however, took it to a different level- more like Spanish-with-a-twist.

I’m not against people who own huge properties or love to have fun with beers, food and loud music. I’m just a bit disheartened to see:

– folks with large but empty houses

– yuppies with an expensive lifestyle, and mounting debts

– people who hoard

– people having too much of something (too much alcohol, food, shoes, Netflix, etc)

– people who overwork (yes, included)

– people who overcommit (yes, this too)

– people who are having too much rest (you’ve got to get on your feet too, you know, like literally).

Overindulgence is a bad thing.  You’ve got to save something for tomorrow or share some to someone in need.  We’re not here just for ourselves.  I hope we realize that and become more mindful of the rest of the world and its needs.

Wherever we are or what our status be in society, each of us has the capacity to give.  It may not always be in the form of material things. It could be our time, our skills, wisdom, strength, or we could just lend a hand, or lend an ear.  

If there’s one thing that this weekend clean up reminded me, it’s this:

I can live with just enough, and that’s not depriving myself of anything good in the world. That actually means, giving myself space, room to breathe, more room for what’s important, and to me, that translates to not only freedom but power!  It’s kind of saying, “I can have that, but I won’t”.  

– sundaewrites

Now imagine repeating that when you’re faced with a decision:

“I can buy that luxury car, but I won’t”.

“I can book myself in a 5-star hotel, but I won’t”.

“I can consume the entire chocolate ice cream cake, but I won’t”.

“I can party all night, but I won’t”.

“I can work till daybreak, but I won’t”.

Does it make sense?  Well, I’ll leave you with this word to think about.

“Lagom”.


“What’s the point of all this? Maybe, there’s no grand plan, after all, no essential meaning or worthwhile reason that can really affect the world.”

I planted myself in one corner of the room, a tiny space, with a small plastic chair and an unused, sturdy, air cooler supporting my back.

This has always been my favorite spot. Sitting on a blue chair, my thoughts would take me someplace far away, where I can listen to them like a couple of old friends dropping by to say hello. Often times though, they’d stay a while for a cup of coffee or two.

This is what happens when you get time in your hands. You can revel in the moments that you’re alone, pondering about life, thinking about your very existence.  

Sometimes I think people get themselves busy for one reason-to escape these little moments, and come face to face with themselves, confronting deep questions, unconsciously buried in their minds. 

They don’t dare to wake up the sleeping giant.

But I love these little moments. 

I love having conversations with myself. Kind of weird, but these interactions actually reveal a lot about my deepest fears and desires.  The experience keeps me grounded.  It helps me get the worldly stuff beneath my feet, as a reminder of their fleeting existence.  

In this time when everything is mechanical and automated, we rarely get the chance to look at the bigger picture, or confront our doubts and deepen our understanding of profound truths. Most days we run on autopilot and drift.

After some time, you wake up and your kids are all grown up, your parents are much older, your gray hairs are starting to show, not to mention, a few more wrinkles adorning your face.  Yes, time slips away, and who knows when it runs out.

 

Is this all there is to it? 

I think about Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, Hillsong United, JK Rowling, Mother Theresa, and their path seems to be very clear and very significant, affecting many.  

Where does that leave you and me- the ordinary boy or girl in this small part of the world? Will our voices be ever heard? Will our actions breed fire that can ignite the soul of a sleepy world? What difference can we make? Does our breath find it’s way someplace where it actually gives life? I wonder.

Maybe there’s no spectacular scheme, no fireworks, no rainfall of stars bound to fall down our path. But this I know. We are meant to be here. 

Out of a thousand possibilities in the whole biology and mystery surrounding birth and procreation, we are the ones who made it through. The ones who have seen the light.  

Maybe our WHYs may never get answered. Maybe we can never find it. But what if we create it by forging meaning into our circumstances, or the experiences we’ve been given?  What if the WHY lies in the little things we do every day, the things we were called to accomplish on simple occasions, the things that are normal, and ordinary? What if these little things are leading us to that one big thing, or maybe that big thing is actually the sum of these little things? 

We are no Michelangelo, Anne Frank or St. Paul, but we’re given the same opportunity to walk this earth just like they did.  Will our trail leave behind colorful dust so people can see the way too? I hope so. It doesn’t matter if we could light the path for one person or two. What matters is, we do.  

The light is always more beautiful when it shines through the darkness.- Unknown.

Question: 

Are you casting your light so others may see the path? What are the little things you’ve done to bless the people around you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo Credit: Romeo Conilas

 

Imagine this:  You wake up to a beautiful Saturday morning, eager to start your day with a perfectly planned home-cooked breakfast.  After a few stretches, you get on your feet and head to the kitchen. Egg, sausage, pancakes, a bowl of fruit, and a  cup of freshly brewed coffee, one by one perfectly laid on the breakfast table. You grab a bottle of ketchup from the cupboard, and remembered- – Bistro! Oh no! You look over your shoulder and see your fear actually happening! Big Bistro gobbling down a big breakfast!

Joy stealers are like that. They’re cunning. While you get so self-absorbed and unaware, they come out and take something you really value. There’s an army of them, but let’s talk about two that may seem non-threatening, but prove to be strong enemies of your time.

Laziness

– you say you want to get fit, but you don’t get up early in the morning to exercise.

– you say you want more sunshine, but don’t make an effort to go to the beach or just outside your home

– you say you want to be more productive, but you linger for hours on social media

– you say you want more income but don’t find ways to get one

– you say you want stronger, healthier relationships but you end up with just intentions, no effort, no actions.

Indecision

– you want to accomplish a lot of goals but you don’t start working on a single thing

– you want to explore opportunities, but actually, don’t pick one of several choices that come along

– you want to change something in your circumstances, but you get stuck at wishing and not doing

My brother once told me that completing a marathon is more of a mental thing, not a physical one. The strength lies in the mind, not in the body.  I believe this applies to almost everything.  We are stronger, more able and better than we think we are.

When I see old people dancing, running, biking or doing yoga it inspires me and makes me happy.  When I see them accomplish their greatest feat ever in their old age, it drives me crazy!

Philippe Dumas, a 60-year-old man who took the fashion world by storm in 2016 after growing a beard.

80-year-old Deshun Wang, who killed it on the catwalk during the 2015 China fashion week.

Greta Pontarelli who started pole dancing at the age of 59 and at 61 won first place in 2014 pole sports world championship.

And who can ever forget Paddy Jones who wowed the world and the audience of  Britain’s Got Talent in 2014  with a salsa dance when at that time she was turning 80!

If older people can do it, surely the young can do better!

Laziness. Indecision.  Nip the problem in the bud. Both can kill your dreams. Both can waste your time. Both can stop you from discovering an ocean of possibilities laid down your path.  Both will hinder you in accomplishing something more than what you’ve hoped for in this life.

Why did we call them joy stealers?  Because they stop you from becoming the best version of yourself.  Embrace them and you end up being unable to give your best gift to the world. You retire with a wealth of regrets. You’d fail to finish strong.  You take your dreams to your grave.

Let me leave you with this quote:

The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”-  Les Brown

You don’t want your dreams to end up there, do you? So move and win this life.

Question:

Have you identified your own joy-stealers? How is your battle against them? Are you winning or are you losing? What steps are you taking from here today to move you closer to your dreams?

Comment here.

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.