Valuable life lessons from the movie “Tuesday’s with Morrie”

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(FOREWORD: I was recently tagged in a “7 Day Book Challenge” by a good friend on Facebook wherein the participants get to post and share their all time favorite books (1 per day in 7 days) and subsequently nominate somebody for the challenge. The challenge was then, sort of, passed along to the named nominee to take in the next 7 days hence.

The book posted by my friend seemingly appealed to my interest. And so, having no time to spare to run to a bookstore to immediately grab a copy of it, I, instead tried to download and watch its movie adaptation. And it did not fail me. The movie was superb! And I was advised later on by my friend that to her the book is way far better. Although I was also able to listen to its audiobook (or the most part of it) via Youtube, I will still get a copy of the book soon, for sure.

And so, listed hereunder are the lessons I’ve learned from watching the movie. If you happen to watch the movie or read the book, I’d be glad to read your comments below.)

In the movie, Mitch Albom, the author of the best selling book “Tuesday’s with Morrie“, records the lessons he received from his former teacher, Morrie Schwartz. Morrie gave these life lessons while struggling with a life-threatening disease — ALS, commonly known as the Lou Gehrig’s disease (a chronic, progressive, almost always fatal neurological disease. It is marked by slow but steady death of the nerve cells in the central nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement. That is, people can no longer move, but their heart still beats.) Mitch has compiled every lesson he received from his teacher purposely (although it was not expressly stated in the movie and that were just later on known through the series of interviews with Mitch conducted after Morrie’s death and the release of the said book) to write into a book  which aimed to pay for the research on the cure for the disease and to augment the medication and other needs of Morrie as he battles through it. Unfortunately, Morrie did not lived long enough to read even just a single word from the book dedicated for his recovery.

In the movie, Morrie tells Mitch, “Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me. Learn with me.” When someone is on their deathbed, their view towards life can change; they can realize what is important and what is not. As Mitch would say, “Morrie would walk that final bridge between life and death, and narrate the trip.”

Besides these 2 moving quotes about life and relationship: “There is no such thing as ‘too late’ in life” and “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” Here are the most powerful lessons I learned from the book.

  1. Live every day as if it were your last

Morrie is happy that he has time to say goodbye to his loved ones thanks to his disease, which is slowly moving him closer to death. Morrie calls himself lucky; I am not sure if, under the circumstances he was in, I would call myself that. When I heard his explanation to using this word, I understand what he means. He suggests doing what some others do, metaphorically speaking, which is: “Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, ‘Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?'”

These simple words have a pool of information for each one of us. We must be ready to say goodbye to the world, any given day. How many of us can say that they are ready to die today? Of course, we may never be ready for death, but we must try to show our loved ones how much we care about them. We should not wait for a special occasion to express our love; we should make a habit of it. We should give our best to the world. Starting today, we should have a little bird on our shoulders too.

  1. Remember to spend quality time with the family

Most of us have a tendency of taking our family for granted. If it is a Friday night, we start planning our outing with the friends. Sometimes, we have to be forced to spend time with our parents on holidays. Life is fun with friends and parties with them; however, the bond of love, which we share with our parents and loved ones, is the ultimate one. Instead of keeping them at the bottom of our priority list, we must cherish and appreciate them whenever we get a chance.

  1. Enjoy your emotions to the fullest

One should not hide from any emotion, rather one must experience each emotion entirely. If you love someone, love them with all you have; if you are sad, cry until you cannot cry anymore; so that when the same emotion hits you again, you know exactly what is going to happen. We hide ourselves from emotions because we are afraid to get hurt.

  1. Money can never buy real happiness

Typically, people are pursuers of luxurious things. However, I agree with the explanation of Morrie. According to him: “If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.” We are blindly running behind money; we forget our kids, parents, relationships, and friends.

We are busy. We are always busy. Busy has become a word that is being used as an excuse all over the world. At the end of the day, money will only get us a good hospital bed to die in — and a good headstone. Is that what we are aiming for? Of course, money is important, but it is not more important than our family. One may argue that to take care of our family, we need money. That is true. However, if we do not have time to spare for our loving family, then I believe there is a problem with our plan.

  1. Pay attention to the person you talk to

I wonder how many of us really listen while we talk! According to Morrie, it is really important to pay our utmost attention to the person you are conversing with. Imagine if this is the last conversation with your loved one, would you wish to let it go unheard?

  1. Marry the person with the same values as you — and treat them well

As per Morrie, people should get to know about other people’s values and beliefs; marry the person who shares your values and beliefs. A life partner is a very important part of our life. In our time of need, friends may come and go, but our life partner will be with us. During sickness, they are the ones who take care of us. Therefore, they should be treated with love, care and respect. As Morrie quotes a famous saying: “Love each other or perish.”

  1. Decide your own rules; do not let society steer your life

Morrie says that people are running behind things that do not — necessarily — matter to them. He says that we must believe in each other and ourselves. According to him: “Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.” He mentions we should rely on our own instincts to decide our thought process and actions — and not society. In his own words: “I don’t mean you disregard every rule of your community… The little things, I can obey. But the big things — how we think, what we value — that you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone — or any society — determine those for you.”

  1. Forgive others, as well as yourself

We tend to hold grudges in life. Even if somebody apologizes, how many of us — truly — forgive the person? We may smile and accept, but there is a huge possibility that we do not forgive them. Forgiving another person not only releases a burden of one’s own heart, but also makes us a better person.

Happy Saturday everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“YOU” Version 2.0 (A New Year’s Message)

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Each and every one of us has questions to consider with the start of this new year: How do we move past the difficulties we experienced during the year behind us? What do we hope to accomplish moving forward? How do we admit that we are not perfect, that we have made mistakes and (here’s the hard part) ― forget them and move on!

Every person has an inner struggle and battle to be the best version of themselves that they believe is possible, challenging themselves to exceed beyond expectations and satisfy others. However, is it possible to be perfect? Perfection rests on the individual; challenging yourself to such a high bar puts immense pressure on us, rather than just focusing on being the best version of ourselves.

Being perfect assumes we have infinite time on our hands, when in fact our time is limited. We spend so much time every day trying to be perfect; we brush our hair and teeth to make sure we’re well-groomed, pick our best outfits to impress both young and old people, and we spend time worrying about everything we did or said that day, hoping people didn’t perceive it the wrong way. We focus on the little things rather than the bigger picture, but the truth of the matter is that time controls us, so rather than waste our precious time, we should make use of our time being the best we can be and seeing the bigger picture. This is where Salvador Dali, a surrealist artist who is renown for his perception of time in his paintings of clocks, emphasizes this issue when he states, “Have no fear of perfection ― you’ll never reach it.”

As Dali rightly points out, there is no such thing as perfection, and searching for that form of perfection can haunt us and prevent us from moving forward. We spend precious time trying to be this ideal and perfect version of ourselves, rather than taking the time and being “us.” Thus, if perfection is nothing more than an illusion, something that is unattainable, then why do we continue to beat ourselves up for it when we fall short? This is where we need to stop and draw the lines.

 

Thus, would it not be better instead to take the time to funnel our energy into just being a better version of ourselves? Isn’t THAT what the new year is about?

So, the question remains, if we’re not perfect, then who are we? The answer is simple. You are YOU. We are each unique and different in our own way. By putting the pressure of perfection aside and focusing on who we are and who we want to be we become the best versions of ourselves and the sooner we can realize that, the sooner we can change our perception.

The good news is that every one of us is capable of this, and with the new year, every one of us is entitled to change the way we think about ourselves.

My wish in this new year is that we can begin this year with a clean slate, in which each of us forgives ourselves and our past mistakes, so that we each can become a better (not perfect) version of ourselves.

Happy New Year!!!

Photo credits: Google photos (Salvador Dali painting)

“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?