“When we realize the shortness of life, we begin to see the importance of making every moment count” -Dillon Burroughs

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Couple of days back, I started watching Breaking Bad on Netflix. I realize I’m probably one of the last people on earth to see the ratings giant but I found one character fascinating.

Walter White.

Walt has an ordinary life. He works in a job below his pay scale and ability, has a social life that stinks, and spends most weekends at work or in the shopping mall. It’s a safe, steady life but one full of monotony and boredom.

When Walt finds out he’s dying, he jumps into action to change the course of his life and focus on what really needs to be done. Sure, he makes a bad decision there, but the point is that he re-evaluates his life and figures out what his priorities are once he gets the bad news.

Walt’s predicament led me to re-think my views about death and the way I am  living out my life. I revisited some of my posts here wherein I stressed on the importance of acting with urgency in terms of living out our life. Death comes to us all sooner or later but why do we always wait for bad news before we launch into action?

Maybe because most of us live a life just like Walt’s.

We work our butts off and we hang out at the mall. We watch too much TV and we skip exercise in favor of the bag of chips or bowl of ice cream. We know we could do better but the day-to-day has a habit of getting in the way. We’ll change our routine tomorrow, research a new career next week and look for greater meaning in our lives once (insert any trivial activity that you presume all important to do first).

There’s no ultimatum. No deadline. No pressure. So we plod through life accepting the status quo even though, silently, we’re craving for more.

But what if, like Walt, we had a limited time left on this earth. Would we re-evaluate the things of importance to us? If we knew this was it, that our days were numbered, would we take back the control and fight for more?

Of course we would.

We’d write that book, complete that course, travel around the world and maybe even discover an exciting new lifestyle abroad.

Or we’d add greater meaning to our lives in other, less extreme, ways. Perhaps we’d say “no” not as much, be kinder to ourselves and to others, embrace what we love in life, and focus on the people and things that matter most.

We’d look at our lives — the lengthy commute to work, the long periods away from home, the corporate crap with its unrelenting hours, the way we define success — and we’d say “not interested,” “no, thank you,” and “no more.”

We’d strive for more, push harder, look deeper. We wouldn’t accept the way things are so we’d adjust the edges, widen the boundaries and search for greater meaning and fulfilment, knowing that our time on this earth was limited.

But our time is limited and it is finite so shouldn’t we live life like this all the time?

Oftentimes fear is the culprit. Fear of the unknown. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of change.

We already live in uncertain times — politically, economically and socially — so we cling on to any semblance of order and control in our lives. We work hard to provide for our families and find ourselves caught up in the daily work grind.

Many people although recognizing the need for change and receiving that needed “kick at the bum” still see the idea of change terrifying and paralyzing. So much so that they chose the easy option and the path of less resistance. They opted to stay stuck in the status quo.

We all wait to the last minute to act. People just do.

I mean, when was the last time you turned in an essay four weeks early or finished that company report months ahead of schedule? Rather than leave it so late, it has to be better to get on with things before our time is up.

We’re not all going to climb Everest or swim the English Channel or sail the World’s oceans but what’s wrong with making a few small changes along the way? A tweak here, an adjustment there, because small changes can still have a big impact on the quality of our lives.

So we need to start living life on our terms and identify what’s important versus what doesn’t actually matter. Consider that our time on this planet is finite and start to live our lives with the kind of haste that normally follows bad news.

What will you do differently? What legacy do you choose to leave?

Photo credits: Google photos

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin

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My lovely wife loves to travel. When speaking of planning for a leisure or adventure trip or visiting other places, my wife seem to speak in her most sweet and endearing tone as if lulling me to comply as Odysseus did through the hypnotic singing of the Sirens in Homer’s  “The Odyssey”. She always gets her way through that. She usually did it of course by planning everything down to the least detail before presenting it to me just as a great sales specialist presents her product to a client haha. In fact as I was writing this post, I know that she’s up to something again and I wonder where to this time 🙂 Although she’s giving out hints, but nothing solid and final as of the moment.

I admit that her love for travelling has endeared me to love the idea of it as well. It reinforces the desire in my heart to see places, meet other people and experience  other cultures outside my hometown. On one of my post here, Invest in Life. Invest in Experiences!, I wrote about the value of investing in priceless experiences in life that makes us (truly) happy at the end of day.

Most people place greater value on material or financial gains, but travel can change you in ways that those things never can. On my part, travel gives me things that the newest phone (or any gadget) never will.

Whether you take a beach vacation, explore museums, etc., travel changes you. Travel makes you different. Strong. Independent. Capable. Flexible. Confident.

But the most important thing that travel has done for me is that it taught me how to be open. Travel has opened my eyes to things I never would have seen if I had never left the comforts of my home. Travel has opened my mind to ideas I never would have considered if I had only ever met other people. Travel has opened my heart and my world.

Travel has taught me to be open to breaking from the norm, to be open to doing things differently from the way other people do them. You don’t have to go where everyone else is going. Your vacation doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. This world is so big. You can go anywhere you want and do anything you want. I think that is a beautiful thought.

Travel has taught me to be open to changing my mind.

When you’re on vacation, you can do anything you want. Just because you planned to do something one day, that doesn’t mean that’s what you have to do. Every day is a new adventure and sometimes, the best days are ones that aren’t planned at all. I’ll never forget the spontaneous trips around neighboring towns my wife and I took during weekends.

Travel has taught me how to be open to possibilities.

When you are planning a vacation, literally anything is possible. Why not break away from what you’re used to and try something new? The internet is filled with ideas. The possibilities are endless when you’re traveling and in your life.

When you’re traveling, you immerse yourself in a new culture. If you take the time to pay attention and open yourself up, you can learn so much from people who are different from you.

And to me, that is what makes travel such a worthwhile, lifelong endeavor. You never know how a trip will change you. You never know how a new place will open you up to something you never, ever, could have thought of before. You never know how a trip will challenge you. Because most people have that fear to veer away from what they’ve always known, what they’ve always done, or what they were expected to do.

My travels have taught me that I’m more resourceful than I ever knew, that the best days are the days where you are completely spontaneous, and that it’s okay — even good — to change your mind about things.

So when things don’t go the way I (or we) planned, I know I can come up with a different solution. When my wife and I realized that we wanted to completely change some elements to our life plan, we knew that it was okay to change our minds. 

We still have a lot to learn and a lot of places to go. But I think that we’re better for our travels and we will keep pursuing them. It’s true what they say – travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.

 

Photo credits: Google photos

 

Enough may never be enough

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As human beings, it seems that once we attain what we think will make us whole, we grow bored quickly and need something new in order to feel satisfied. We are addicted to what we don’t have.

You could sit down at this very moment and list out all the reasons why you’re fortunate, and while you’re writing that list you would want nothing more. You could get together with a group of people that you care about and discuss rational ideas within this irrational society, and in that moment and the hours after, you would feel comfortable with what you have and who you are; contentment feels like a legitimate possibility. It’s when you turn on your television and the talking heads tell you that you need to be rich, famous, and flawless; that your thirst for more becomes unquenchable. You forget that you are enough. You find yourself making comparisons between your life and the life of someone you assume has it all figured out, and all of your accomplishments are never enough to satisfy you.

The issue with this “never enough” mentality is that we all have it to some degree. We collectively fail to realize that even the people who have “figured it out” are on some level still as lost and broken as everyone else. That’s the drawback of being a member of the generation more interested in documenting life-like activities, rather than creating a life. If we always seem confident in the pictures and words that we post, then maybe we will start to feel that way in real life. Everyone is constantly looking for validation in the form of likes and comments to give meaning to our twisted sense of self. We honestly believe that as long as people buy into the illusion that we are happy and everything is going great, that we won’t have to face reality.

Reality is that we want all the material c**p, social media fame, and worthless validation in order to feel accepted by others. The reason all of those things bring only temporary satisfaction is that they aren’t the answer. We all keep looking for other people to accept us in order to feel whole, when all that’s truly necessary is that we accept ourselves. We are in a universal competition for acceptance that no one wants a part of, but so few have the courage to stop competing.

What will ever be enough?

 

Photo credits: Google photos

An Open Letter

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Dear Beloved One:

Your hair is singed from all the times you clipped your own wings just to make someone else happy. Your fingertips, blistered from all the times you forgot about your own needs and gave away what was meant to be yours. Even your voice has been touched by the flame, no longer strong, but shaking and raspy from all the times you wanted to say no, but said yes. You have set yourself on fire to keep others warm, but inside your soul is shivering. Your soul shivers with all the coldness of being forgotten, untouched, and unloved by you.

It’s such an easy thing to get caught up in. You give too much to others, and you are the one left standing out in the cold. You get your value from how much you give to others, rather than by how much you give to yourself. You give too much at the expense of yourself. You do this because you are afraid to look inward, to make the jump, to do what you should do to create your own life.

Oh, you have promised yourself you will do it eventually. When the family is well-settled, when you have more time, when others no longer need you. You have promised and promised, and now you are holding the final match. Dear one, your soul can’t take it any longer. It’s begging you and pleading with you. Your body has been dissolved by the fire. Must you burn your soul, too?

They taught you that your feelings and your needs were unimportant, and so you abandoned yourself. It’s no wonder you don’t feel like it’s safe to be with yourself. You are afraid to acknowledge what you want out of life, what your needs are.

You have always been the one who tried to “save” people. Whether that be in a literal sense, or simply taking their problems upon yourself so they would no longer have to suffer. Somewhat of a human “home.” You always serve as a safe landing place for the people around you. Don’t get me wrong, I know you love helping the people around you immensely, but too much at times takes a toll on a person.

It is okay to take time to fix yourself. It is okay to love yourself. It is okay to say no.

Yes, I know you are always supposed to help others, maybe even first, but how can you heal the broken if you yourself are just as broken?

I know it can be hard to let down the walls, to say no, to take a leap of faith, but I challenge you to do just that. Take that leap of faith, love yourself, and learn that no isn’t always bad. Time to yourself can be the most beneficial thing out that. Each day do something just for you. Don’t let anything or anyone stand in the way. Allow healing for yourself. Start listening to what your soul is craving. And do that. Get to know yourself. Listen to your complaints, your fears, and your sadness and honor that, too. Become your own friend. Take that lost self gently by the hand and take it out to play.  Because like I said, how are you supposed to help the broken, if you yourself are just as broken?

Let your self trust you again so your true self will emerge from the shadows. And then…watch as you set the whole world on fire to keep everybody else warm!

Go on. I guarantee you the fireworks will be awesome.

Lovingly yours,

Me

 

Photo credits: Google photos

Your Word is your Bond

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Do you think before you make a promise to someone? What if you can’t deliver on your word? Does it really matter? The world isn’t going to come to an end, is it? Well, actually no, but have you considered . . .

Many people are pretty casual about making promises. As a result, promises are frequently made at the drop of a hat with no real intention of keeping them. “Let’s do lunch,” “I’ll call you later,” and “I’ll be there in five minutes” are all examples of throwaway promises that are frequently made but seldom kept. However, this casual attitude can have real consequences.Think about it — when someone else breaks a promise to you, or gets caught in a lie, doesn’t that make you feel violated or cheated?  You can’t help wondering whether you were wrong to ever trust that person.

There was a time when keeping your word held special significance. We took great pride in being of good character. Personal integrity was both expected and valued. That was a time when everyone knew each other’s family, and you wouldn’t do anything that would cast a shadow on your family’s good name. It was a time when integrity was instilled in children at a very early age and was viewed as instrumental in achieving success. The truth is, our world may have changed, but the importance of integrity has not. While we may not know everyone in our own town, the world is still smaller than you think. Create some bad news and you’ll learn this for yourself.

Every time you give your word, you’re putting your honor on the line. You’re implying that others can place their trust in you because you value integrity and would never let them down. It goes without saying that if you don’t live up to your word, you may end up tarnishing your credibility, damaging your relationships, and defaming your reputation. Most importantly, you’ll be letting yourself down.

But . . . when you operate with complete integrity, what you say will be taken at face value, your intentions will be assumed honorable, and your handshake will be as good as a contract. Most importantly, you can take great pride in the standards that you’ve set for yourself and sleep well at night knowing that your conscience is clear. As for others . . . just when they think they’re fooling the world, they’ll realize that they’re only fooling themselves. A promise is a promise after all.

What do you think? Are people too casual about making promises?

 

Friendship Demands Truth

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These past few days, my wife and I had been making plans to meet up with some friends we haven’t seen  for quite sometime now. Trips are already booked. We are (I mean, my wife is) finalizing the plans once we get to the place of one of our friends whom we are visiting and we’ll be staying with during said trip. Purpose of the visit: to catch some time together and rekindle the fires of friendship that had gone cold over the years of limited communications. How time has swiftly passed us all, leaving us missing each other and the memories of the times we’ve shared together. 

There are friendships that serve as wallflowers and there are those that remain true no matter what. This post is dedicated to one of the basic truths about friendship. Forget about the sweet, soft and cheesy ones for a while, let’s take it to the core and talk about the  bones — the hard stuff that holds friendship stand steadfast and strong — Truth.

What does it mean to be a friend — to be kind to another human being? We are taught in this culture that being kind means not making another person feel bad. We are conditioned to believe that it is virtuous to hide our strengths to save another from experiencing their weaknesses, to deny our blessings so that another avoids feeling their sorrows. Is this kindness? Is this friendship — to put away our truth so as to save another from experiencing their own truth — which might be sad? If this is true friendship, it is of an odd sort — true friendship that does not include the truth. Hiding the truth may keep a relationship going smoothly, but going smoothly is a paltry goal for such a precious and profound entity as friendship. When we choose smooth sailing over truth, we underestimate the weight that friendship can hold; we dishonor the very substance from which friendship is made. Are we so afraid of suffering as to be willing to sacrifice even friendship in order to avoid it?

To be a true friend is not to pretend that we don’t have different experiences in life, don’t receive different blessings and challenges. It is not to pretend that life is fair. A friendship that creates a shared experience at the lowest common denominator is not a friendship, but rather some kind of hiding place from life. We don’t need more hiding places. What we need are more foxhole buddies, true friends who can keep us company in the truth, and in the hard parts, where life isn’t okay or fair.

In truth, we do not need more ways to skirt the sorrows that are part of life, more strategies for keeping the waters smooth. What we need are friends who can accompany us through the bumpy and different truths of life. True friendship is about meeting in the place of truth, and loving and supporting each other there. Anything else is just a paler shade of polite.

I guess that’s where our (my wife and I) relationships with our friends was grounded and has grown over the years.

What are your thoughts about friendship?

Photo credits: quoteslife101.net

Make Fear your friend and ally

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Even the wisest people regularly make decisions that seem rational — but aren’t.

While we often think of ourselves as rational creatures, the bigger a dilemma is or the more important a dream is, the more our choices become clouded by fear.

Have you ever turned down an exciting opportunity and played it safe instead? Have you ever made a decision out of anger and ended up hurting someone you love? Have you ever gotten so stressed that you went into survival mode and started obsessing over tiny things instead of focusing on the bigger picture? Or have you had times where you became addicted to achievement and approval?

I have. And pretty much everyone I know has done so, too. There are many faces of fear and each shows up as a limitation — as a defect that distorts our decisions, sabotages our leadership, and holds us back from the things we most want in life.

However, we usually don’t notice this. Like an iceberg, 90 percent of our fears remain out of sight, stored away in our unconscious mind. But that doesn’t mean they’re gone. Like trying to look through a layer of brown cooking grease that has been spread across a piece of glass, our hidden insecurities distort our vision and color our choices.

Instead of proclaiming themselves as such, our fears most commonly show up as innocent sounding statements that sound so reasonable — yet aren’t.

Looking deep within and in retrospect. I often caught myself on various occasions saying or thinking about the following words:

“I’m upset because…”
“I need…”
“I should…”
“I shouldn’t…”
“You shouldn’t…”
“You must…”
“I’m stressed because…”
“I can’t…”
“Yeah, I’d like to, but…”
“If I could just stop procrastinating, I would…”

Do you ever find yourself saying any of the said lines too?

If so, welcome to the human race. While each of these statements can be rational, I strongly believe that they’re almost always a sign that your choices aren’t clean, and that your decisions are being distorted by your unconscious fears.

For example, I often find myself saying things like, “I’m upset because I don’t have more money.” “I should be working harder.” “Yeah, I’d like to go on a long beach vacation with the family, but I just don’t have the time.”

And of course, “Honey, you don’t understand, I need to buy more gadgets!”

While these statements may sound reasonable, we truly need to recognize when they’re really just symptoms of our hidden fears.

While this may sound disturbing, it’s actually great news because the voice of fear can become one of your greatest allies — once you learn how to listen to it in a more effective way.

Of course, the contention of the matter always boils down to this: how to make fear an ally? 

I believe the answer would be, that is to always open your heart to meet fear fully. Just as good health requires a lifestyle of attention to diet and exercise, being at ease with fear requires an ongoing willingness to meet it directly. If you are receptive to whatever arises, as it is, you will find it does not matter if fear is present or not. Life is so rich. Every experience that arises is a friend, a gift, an invitation to break down your inner boundaries. Allow everything in always, and you will discover the peace beyond peace.

Photo source: quotefancy.com