Daily dose of “G”

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When I was younger, I believed one should feel grateful in order to give thanks. To do anything else seemed somehow dishonest or fake — a kind of “preposterously ridiculous” insincerity that one should reject. Considering the fact that we are in a universe that seemed to hurt for no reason and living in a world where children die of hunger every day, it just doesn’t make sense. When it comes to being grateful and thankful, it’s best to be emotionally authentic, right? Wrong. Building the best life does not require fealty to feelings in the name of authenticity, but rather rebelling against negative impulses and acting right even when we don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful.

Being grateful is a choice. Some make the mistake of waiting to feel grateful rather than choosing to be grateful. Today, you are alive. You have the opportunity to enjoy your abundance, right your wrongs, cling to your hopes, rekindle your dreams or re-live your passions. You and me, we are alive and so be grateful we must and truly live.

The gift of life is the best gift we’re given every single day.

The tragedy of success.

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WHEN SUCCESS KILLS SUBSTANCE

No matter what goals or aspirations you might have, there is one thing certain: There is a price you must pay to get what you want in life. In fact, there is no sidestepping the fact that any type of success demands something from you. It’s simply the way life works. As it is often said: you will not gain something for nothing.

As you make progress along your journey towards your desired outcomes, your pursuits will demand that you make difficult choices about what you will do and about what you won’t do. The goals and objectives you have in mind will not magically manifest in your life. You will need to work hard and potentially make some drastic sacrifices along the way.

I must say that anything you want in your life is essentially unattainable. It’s unattainable if you do not give something up in order to get something back. Giving something up could come in the form of your time, energy, money, relationship or worst, your personal being. You might need to sacrifice one of these things, or maybe a combination of these things in order to get what you want. Considerably, one of the biggest and most profound sacrifices you might undoubtedly need to make along that journey is changing who you are — for whom your “goal” needs you to become. Inarguably, many become blinded by the deceiving notion that they need to transform themselves into “ferocious beasts” in order to scare, devour and topple any competition while being unaware that they are slowly sliding down to a point of losing grip on their substance — the core value defining their humanity.

Having said that, I have one challenge for all of us: Don’t let slip the things you have that are real and substantive in the pursuit of success, most importantly so, in the pursuit of the ephemeral, the prospective, or the offhandedly promised.

This is not to say you should not be willing to set it all aside and go after something bigger or something better. But make sure you do it intelligently, and be aware of what you’re giving up, or might be giving up, when you do so, so you can make the best and most informed decision about which path you must  chose to take.

 

 

Everything changes. What doesn’t?

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The year has changed. 2016 has gone and 2017 has come. Many people too are opting for change — in life, perspective, actions and living conditions.

Knowingly, things keep changing. The clock ticks, the day unfolds, trees grow, leaves turn brown, hair turns gray, children grow up and leave home, attention skitters from this to that, the cookie is delicious but then it’s all gone, you’re mad about something for awhile and then get over it, consciousness streams on and on and on.

Many changes are certainly good. Most people are glad to put old and phased-out “things” behind them. Painkillers, flush toilets, and the internet seem like pretty much evolving. It’s lovely to watch grass waving in the wind or a river passing. Fundamentally, if there were no change, nothing could happen, reality would be frozen forever.

On the other hand, many changes are uncomfortable, even awful. The body gets creaky, and worse. We lose those we love and eventually lose life itself. Families drift apart, companies fail, dictators tighten their grip, nations go to war. The planet warms at human hands, as each day we pour nearly a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Countless species go extinct. As I often hear, “things do actually fall apart…”

And change itself is often – maybe innately – stressful. When you really open to the fact always in front of our noses that each moment of now decays and disappears in the instant it arises – it can feel rather alarming. Life and time sweep us along. As soon as something pleasant occurs in the mind’s flow we reach for it but whoosh it passes away right through our fingers leaving disappointment behind. Inherently, anything that changes is not a reliable basis for enduring contentment and fulfillment.

Yet it is also true that some things remain always the same. In their stillness you can find a refuge, an island in the stream of changes, a place to stand for perspective and wisdom about events and your reactions to them, a respite from the race, quiet amidst the noise. Perhaps even find a sense of something transcendental, outside the frame of passing phenomena.

How?

Stillness, a sense of the unchanging, is all around, and at different levels. Look for it, explore its effects on you, and let it sink in.

For example, although it’s not the ultimate stillness, but there is that lovely feeling when the house is quiet and you’re sitting in peace, house chores are done and family members are fine (or the equivalent), and you can really let down and let go. In your character, you have enduring strengths and virtues and values; situations change, but your good intentions persist. In relationships, love abides – even for people who drive you crazy!

More subtly, there is the moment at the very top of a tossed ball’s trajectory when it’s neither rising nor falling, the pause before the first stroke of the brush, that space between exhalation and inhalation, the silence in which sounds occur, or the discernible gap between thoughts when your mind is quiet.

In your mind there is always an underlying calm and well-being that contains emotional reactions, like a riverbed that is still even as the flood rushes over it. There is also the unchanging field of awareness, itself never altered by the thoughts passing through it.

More abstractly, 2+2=4 forever; the area of a circle will always be pi times the radius squared; etc. The fact that something has occurred will never change. The people who have loved you will always have loved you; they will always have found you lovable. Whatever is fundamentally true – including, ironically, the truth of impermanence – has an unchanging stillness at its heart. Things change, but the nature of things – emergent, interdependent, transient – does not.

Moving toward ultimate matters, and where language fails, you may have a sense of something unchangingly transcendental, divine.

Wherever you find stillness enjoy it and let it feed you. It’s a relief from the noise and bustle, a source of clarity and peace. Give yourself the space, the permission, to be still – at least in your mind – amidst those who are busy.

© 2017 viewpointsofandrei.com

 

What I have for myself today & this Christmas

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With the holidays approaching and the gift-giving season in full swing, why not give something that has more meaning than anything material.

This is not an invitation to stop all forms of material gifts. Do what you feel is right for you, buy presents, but give the act your full and best attention.

We do say it’s the thought behind the gift that counts.

If we look deeper into the statement above, the thought focused attention on something we want to get for someone. Then we expend the money and energy to buy it.

This is often the case during Christmas season – we celebrate the occasion with gifts to others and ourselves, yes ourselves also included.

We want to have or experience various things. But we don’t always get what we want. There are things we can’t afford. And there might be practical considerations (not enough time, and too many responsibilities) that stop us from going after what we desire.

The limitations of time, money, and responsibility can lead to feeling like we’re missing out; we can’t be happy or complete without getting what we want.

With the yuletide season coming up, as today is also my birthday, I thought about what I want this year. Usually I don’t want much (other than something sweet to share with my family). What gift can I give to myself that didn’t require money or more time?

As I ponder deeper, this rather simple idea comes to mind.

I have a habit of frowning, as if I’ve got all the burdens of the world upon my shoulders causing the skins in my forehead to cringe. To that, I must say that I don’t and my vision is also perfect so no apparent physical reason causing the frowning. At my age, I already have these obnoxious lines on my forehead, more like an exposed fault lines to my rather active rambling thoughts – an inner earthquake manifesting.  I stopped this habit of frowning in the past, but eventually started again. Even with disappointed looks and judgment from family, especially my significant half, I still did it. Shame was not an effective motivator. And discipline alone didn’t work either.

I’ve wanted to stop this habit for years, but haven’t succeeded. My guess: my reasons for stopping were not strong enough to make me stop for good.

A month ago, and after another disappointed look from my partner, something clicked. I decided to stop. This time it wasn’t because of disappointing others (that’s a bonus), but as a gift to myself – as an act of kindness and generosity. I gave myself something I’ve wanted for a long time, something that will free me from an embarrassing habit. And because it’s a gift, I won’t take it back.

So far so good. I’ve been celebrating this gift every day.

From this idea of stopping a bad habit, I started looking into the things that can transform our lives, but don’t require time or money. They will of course require energy, like everything else in life.

I came up with the following non-material yet great gifts I can give myself this year. They will not cost me a dime and they won’t take any more of my time. The only things required are the desire to do them and focused energy—no special tools, special time, or place. And these are:

Attention and awareness

One of the most profound things we can experience is focused attention. Living life is the sum of noticing and attending to what we’re experiencing, without judgment or analysis. To be fully one with the experience in this moment doesn’t cost anything. And it will change your life forever. The more you notice and pay attention, the more you appreciate, and the more you come alive. The gift of attention is within everyone’s reach.

Kindness

Being kind and forgiving doesn’t cost a thing. It’s a choice we can make every single moment.

If you’ve been holding a grudge, or have been feeling bitter and resentful, give yourself the gift of kindness by setting yourself free from unnecessary suffering over something that happened in the past. A smile, a gentle touch, or even a deep breath can reshape this moment.

Letting go

This is what I truly need given the painful experience I had just recently through the passing away of my mom. Letting go of expectations (of the future) and painful memories (of the past) is freedom.

You can let go of whatever you think should happen. Imagine doing what you’re doing and not worrying about how it’s going to turn out, or what others would think. It’s a wonderful gift.

When we let go of the past, we can forgive more easily. And when we let go of holding on to nostalgic memories and what was, we will awaken to the life we have right now. Letting go doesn’t stop with the past and the future, but includes the present. Another act of kindness is to let go of judging ourselves and others.

Acceptance and surrender

After letting go comes surrender and accepting life as it is. To accept how you feel, what you’re thinking, and where you are (the way you are) is power.

Surrender is trusting that life always has your back. You allow life to unfold, moment by moment, without wishing things were different. And when we surrender to life, we give ourselves the ultimate gift—peace.

All roads lead to LOVE

Attention is an act of love of all there is. Changing harmful habits is an act of self-love. Kindness and letting go are expressions of love towards ourselves and others. And surrendering to life is the most powerful and respectful act of love there is.

Our lives are in a constant state of influx and change. This is good news because we can change any thing at any given moment, if we make a conscious choice to do so.

The gifts of change are probably the ones that matter most. They don’t come wrapped up nicely in boxes, can’t be bought or sold, and are not too small to matter.

Think of something you can do for yourself that would be a kind and generous gift no one else can give you, something that won’t cost you money or time … something that you can do right now. What would that be?

Transformation starts with a single different choice.

(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com

What shapes you?

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Is it your family background or parental influence that is shaping your life, molding your conduct and ultimately determining who you are turning out to be? Or is it your educational and academic experiences that are determining this result? Is it how “street smart” you are that is defining your success in life? Could it be the genes you were born with or your physical characteristics? Maybe it’s simply a matter of luck that is framing the person you are becoming and what you are accomplishing with your life.

Certainly, many of these factors have had an influence on your life. Without question, they can be important as far as your life’s ultimate destination is concerned. However, there is one thing that is playing the primary role in determining the outcome of your life. 

What is it? 

In spite of the importance of this question, many of us don’t give much serious thought to the answer. We just go with the flow and let our lives work out in their own way. Granted, it’s much easier to just let life happen and not be personally responsible for the actual results.

However, life doesn’t just happen. Instead,our lives are defined by the choices we make. Some of these choices are ours, and some choices are made by other people, and we just accept those decisions and follow along. 

Stop and think about it…

You, or someone around you, chooses what the next thought, the next comment or activity will be. Whether you elect to let someone make these choices for you – or you make the choices yourself – you develop as an individual according to the choices that guide or influence your life.

But, you say…don’t our general circumstances have a lot to do with it?

Granted, we came into this world with pre-existing conditions: where we were born, the color of our skin, our basic physical characteristics and the guidance we received in early childhood. These are all factors that helped to form us in some way.

However, at a very early age, our choices start to override these factors. If you will, allow me to simplify it this way: The 3-year-old little girl makes her choice concerning which doll she will take to bed at night. Boys and girls, 7 and 8-years old, choose what they will do after school and who their friends will be. The 12-year-old decides how long he will study, which sports he will play and what he will do in his spare time. By the time we are 15 or 16-years old, each of us has almost total control over what we think, what we say and what we do. Beyond our very early years, it is our personal choices that determine how we treat other people, the level of education we attain, who we marry, what we do in our career and what we ultimately achieve with our lives.

So, one fact of life that we all need to acknowledge is this: regardless of our initial circumstances, we define our lives through the choices we make. Some of these choices we make on our own and others by simply going along with the choices of others. In either event, you are the one who decides.  

You can choose to be polite or be indifferent. You can choose to study or go play with your friends. You can choose to work hard or just get by. You can choose what you want to do with your life or just accept whatever comes your way. These, and hundreds of other choices, define you as an individual and determine the life experience you will have.

Without question, you are a unique, one-of-a-kind combination of physical characteristics, personal interests and emotional feelings that collectively define you as an individual.  However, it’s not this unique package that determines the enjoyment and effectiveness of your life, but how you choose to use it. Therefore, you must learn to understand the role that choices play in defining your life, if you want to fully develop the life you have been given.

(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com

 

 

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?

(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com

 

 

 

 

Mystery Blogger Award

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Before anything else, I would like to thank two of the lovely (inside and out) ladies who nominated me for this award, Liz and Nyse. In as much as I’m honored and thrilled for this, I am likewise anxious, edgy, tensed, (panicky?) -*insert every word you can think of which corresponds with the word nervous – in answering their respective sets of questions.

Why???

Because there’s this seemingly unwritten ancient policy which says that when a lady (ladies in this case – one undeniably good-looking and the other (can’t yet give a fair description due to the absence of available photos, however, she was widely known as the Queen of Awesomeness, and, for sure, that wasn’t for a reason, haha)) asked a guy some serious questions they apparently require some serious answers too, right? Disagree all you want, it’s still my opinion and I’m entitled to it, haha. And although I’ve emphasized some strong points about saying “No” on my post The “No” Way which I can use as a good excuse not to divulge any information  about myself [as a matter of personal security] by answering the  questions  set before me yet commonsense (or you can aptly say in the guise of being polite) dictates that I need to contradict those points in consideration of this award, hahaha. Who’s in his right mind would dismiss such a generously encouraging gesture?! You tell me…

Having said that, now I was forced, rather, left with the task of answering the hereunder sets of questions. So let’s get the ball rolling, shall we?

Liz’s Questions:

  1. What is one goal you’d like to accomplish during your lifetime?

I want to have a book published in my name. I’m still in [most people] would consider as ‘midlife’, so, factor in the equation the progress climate change is covering on a daily basis plus the average life expectancy of a person in the world scale (without bias to territorial location and racial genetic  structures) I think that is still possible, haha.

  1. Describe your form of spirituality.

I’m a Christian. I believe that there’s a God who works for the good of all His children according to His will and timing. On that thought, Christianity has also taught me to love, accept and respect my fellow human beings without bias and prejudice as to belief, personal views, status and circumstances.

  1. What movie is close to the story of your life?

This is hard. Modesty aside, I was thinking more of James Bond or Jason Bourne movies, just kidding! Hahaha.

Seriously, I can probably relate with the character of Guido in the movie Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella), his positivism, his humor, and the manner in which he wooed the love of his life, Dora.

I’m an old soul, haha. No, maybe I just like movies that I consider with “real” stories to offer.

  1. Which author would you like to hang out with for a day?

I would say Steven Spielberg if he’s an author but unfortunately he’s not. So I’ll just settle down with Ernest Hemingway. I’ll have him explain his “grace under pressure” principle; I got a 2.0 in American Literature way back in college for not rendering a substantial elucidation of said principle in the context of the “lost generation”.

In retrospect, I think it was my professor’s fault, she just asked us to explain, she didn’t say “substantially” though. Anyways (*sigh*)

N.B.: Dearest Professor: Oh, you’re not implicated on this, the last time I checked your name was not yet changed to “professor”. So, *peace sign*

  1. (Weird Question) If you could read one person’s mind, whose would it be?

My wife’s. No further comments, haha

Nyse’s Questions:

  1. What is your number 1 goal in life?

Well, I must say that I struggle every single day to have a balanced life – with respect to spirituality, relationships and commitments, work, hobbies, all and everything in between.

As everyone else’s ultimate goal in life (generally speaking) – to leave a mark (even just an itsy, bitsy, tiny mark) of goodness to myself and to others whom I had [and will have] the chance to meet or to be with in this lifetime.

And, sorry I can’t help it, I must add: to publish a book in my name too! That’s my number 1.1!

2. Describe in three words the purpose of your blog.

Provoke. Motivate. Inspire.

3. If you could go back in time, to any period in history what year, and                where would it be?

Back at the time of Jesus’ (Christ) crucifixion. I want to witness the greatest event that took place in this planet which eventually sent ripples of change throughout the whole world up to this present times and extending further to the forthcoming generations.

Many great hearts wrote history through their mighty deeds but that one act alone changed all that are significant in this world, transcending all the barriers of time and changing the phase of humanity.

4. If you could be any animal, which animal would it be?

An ape, at least I would still have features closely related to humans. Plus, just as they say, history repeats itself, so just as when evolution takes its turn, voila! I’m human again!

Nah, I chose ape because they naturally resemble us. They’re like our animal counterparts.  You can view “humanity” in their actions – the way they care and nurse their young ones, the way they interact with each other, the way the establish hierarchy, their politics of coexistence, among many other traits.

5. (Weird): Does the books you read, affect the foods you eat?

Yes. There was this one time when a book that I was reading while having lunch fell and messes up with my soup. Soup did taste funny afterwards.

Weird question, weird answer, Nyse 😉

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N.B.: This post also requires the nominees to share three (3) facts about themselves.

To that I can’t share any more details, if you’ve read my silly answers you can already pick out at least 20 or something facts about me! Well, apparently I’m a corny comedian as you’ve probably noticed by now, hahaha.

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My Best Post:

My blog’s Top Posts & Pages corner reflects Breaking up with Medi O. Crity (I don’t know why?) but for me it should have been The “No” Way. But I have a feeling though that this post is going to be the ultimate Best Post for this blog, for one reason, among many others, this is written appurtenant to an award! Come to think of it, haha.

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So as to keep the wheel spinning [as they say], I highly nominate the following kind and awesome bloggers for this award:

Carolyn                  Maggie                 Angy                   Lenny               Favour

My questions:

  1. What makes you bored?
  2. What is your favorite pastime and why?
  3. What is that one thing you would happily do again?
  4. What is your favorite body part of the human body and why?
  5. (Weird Question) If you were a bird, who would you sh*t on?

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WHAT IS MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD?

Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.Okoto Enigma

RULES

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)