How do you want to live your life?

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken – Oscar Wilde

Disposition over circumstance

“I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” – Martha Washington

I chanced upon this quote awhile ago and decided to share it today. This is another way of helping some of you who find the half empty or half full analogy too cliché. The aim of such quotes is to try to help people reap the same benefit by providing yet another perspective. I find this quote particularly close to heart because I get what the writer is trying to say; I have learnt that many times we do not put ourselves in bad situations. Somehow it just happens, and there we are….. At that point, it is how we choose to handle what we are given that makes the difference.

Have you ever had the experience of falling over in public or spilling a drink all over yourself? Then what do you do? Some choose to blush and wish that the earth would just swallow them up, others might curse and swear to divert attention, and there are those who would just find it absolutely hilarious and laugh about it! Given the same situation; different people react differently. It is also the way you react that determines how others respond to you. If you laugh it off, people will also see the lighter side and laugh it off with you. But if you choose to remain embarassed and upset; then everyone will be solemn and focus on your misfortune.

I am sure that you must have experienced the abovementioned situations before. Sometimes, you laugh; sometimes you can almost die from the embarrassment. But if you have not expeienced any of these before, I recommend that you try it. The next time something that could be potentially embarrassing happens to you; either choose to laugh or sulk. Then observe the people around you.

The next step is to observe how you feel after your reaction. Isn’t it almost always the case that when you laugh about something, it doesn’t seem all that bad? And if you are unable to recover from the embarrassment; all you can think about was how horrible the whole incident was. I am trying to point out to you that the choices we make with regards to our perspectives can affect us in the long run.

The way we choose our perspectives depend largely on our disposition. Whether we are happy-go-lucky or slightly more serious. Like many other traits we have, the ability to see different perspectives can be learnt and practised. There is going to be some resistence at the beginning and then before you know it; you are already doing it. In case you are wondering whether this post reads familiar; it might because one of my aims is to help you choose happiness over misery regardless of your current circumstance.

 

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Celebrate your loved ones now!

Today’s post is kind of related to the one yesterday. It is human nature to attend to things that require our immediate attention or linked to our survival. This is backed up by the famous Maslow’s theory of needs; where our physiological needs form the base and our need for companionship and love is in the 3rd place. It is no wonder that we will always choose to do overtime versus going home for dinner on time.

I mentioned our instinctual behaviour to create an awareness, and to help you understand why you make certain choices in life. It is, however, not to be used as an excuse for neglecting your family because of work. My intention today is to remind everyone again that we are on borrowed time on earth. We do not know when that time is going to run out; I have seen too much regret already. That is the reason why I keep harping on spending quality time with the people you love, doing the things that you want to…..if you think about my intentions; it is not about others. It is selfish, it is about us. It is about how we want to live this life, and not regret a moment of it! In my own little way, I hope to help you live a life without regrets. It does not have to be done my way, as long as you are happy; that is the ultimate goal!

There are many ways to live hard, so one step at a time. For today, let’s focus on the people we choose to surround ourselves with. Not only is this the most precious and vulnerable gift life can offer us; it is one that once lost ( I am talking about death), it cannot be returned. Other things are material; there is always a way to get around to getting them.

Have you ever noticed how elaborate funerals are? or can be? I am telling you, funerals are more for the living than the dead. It is the living’s way of making themselves feel better because they have not done enough for the deceased while they were alive. ‘It was the least they could do’ – A very common sentiment. But ask yourself this, does the deceased really know???

If not then let’s change things while we still have the time! Celebrate your loved ones now!!! Be joyous! Make sure you celebrate even the smallest success and every milestone! In this way, you would have lived to the fullest while they are still with you! There will always be sadness and disappointments; that is just life. We deal with it when it happens but for now, just be glad that you are still together with your loved ones! Enjoy your time together, create beautiful memories while you can! Don’t allow the restraints of life to tie you down too much, and don’t allow the darkness of life to overcast what could be the sunniest time of your life! What more can you ask for? You still have time to make things right! Isn’t that the best possible outcome?

There’s a saying that goes like this: ‘As long as you are alive; there is always a way to fix things.’ or something to that effect! So, what are you waiting for? Do what you want to do for the people you care about now! One person at a time and a little at a time. Doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, I am sure they will appreciate anything that you do. Do it because you love them and because you want to so that when the time comes to say goodbye; there is no regrets, only wonderful memories.

If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” – source unknown

 

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Open to learning

My post today was partly inspired by a news headline that I saw today. I did not read the actual article but seeing that headline reminded me about something I wanted to write about. The abovementioned headline was about a video featuring a doctor’s untimely death; and how his video went viral after his death. My point in all these is this: ‘why is it that we can only stop and listen after something drastic happens?’ I am not sure if many people took the time to hear what this doctor had to say before he died but he sure attracted more followers after his death.

The friends we choose are no different from the mentors we admire. They all have something to teach us; at the very least, we learn from them how to appreciate ourselves better. I have friends from different walks of life as well as from a wide age range. I have always believed that the age of the person has got nothing to do with their perceptions and experiences in life. We are the ones who need to keep an open mind. Some older person might think this:’ What does this 18 year old young punk have to teach me about life? He/she is still a baby and haven’t even really seen what this world is capable of!’ Yes, older people may have more experiences of a certain kind but with that it also dulls the lenses they use to look at life. I have learnt or have been reminded by a younger friend that I think too hard and worry too much. Sometimes you just have to take the leap of faith!

So, don’t have the misconception that only subject experts and older persons have something to teach you. Everyone can be your teacher if you allow them.  More importantly, if what the person says make sense to you; then heed that advice. Don’t think next time or wait for a better opinion; or worse still wait til something bad to happen before you take notice of what they have been trying to tell/teach you.

Take it from me; the best time to listen to an advice is when the person is still in your life, so that you still have the opportunity to further clarify if you need to. So, what you need to do next is easy; just keep an open mind and accept that your teachers in this lifetime is going to come in many forms. Don’t resist them when they have something to impart to you.

 

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Shyness or Arrogance

If I told my friends that my boisterous persona is a timid little mouse; I am sure they will all roll over laughing. I am shy by nature; I just act confident until I am actually comfortable. But there are occasions where I find it really hard to even act. During these situations, when people eventually get to know me, the most common comment was how arrogant I came across. Do recall that I just told you that I was shy; I did not mean to look disinterested or haughty.

Well, just to mention briefly that all of us have the capacity to learn to overcome shyness. There are certain techniques one can use to conceal shyness. I might write another post on it some other day but today’s theme is about how to give someone the benefit of a doubt.

I decided on this theme because of a recent experience that I had; I felt really shy and uncomfortable. Fortunately some of the people I met was nice enough to over look my resistance to engaging them. Since I can be on both sides of the coin (being the shy person or the one reaching out), I feel that I am able to give you a pretty clear view of how to read if someone was shy or arrogant.

A shy person will not be able to maintain eye contact when you look at them; needless to say, they will not return your smile. An arrogant person will hold eye contact a few seconds longer; they do not look away immediately, there is almost an air of lazy haughtiness. I have also observed in others and myself that shy people tend to look busy or preoccupied with something so that they do not have to engage with others. The arrogant person is simply disinterested.

I empathize deeply with people who are shy; therefore whenever I can, I do seek them out and try to help them get comfortable in the given circumstances. More often than not, you will also find that when you are able to reach in and take them out of their shell; you will find a jewel within. So, the next time you meet someone new or you are in an environment where you are already familiar with; why not take a moment of your time to make someone’s day? Go up to them, say hello and introduce them to your friends. You will be surprised how this little move can change someone’s day or even life! Everything we do have a chain reaction; some we can see immediately, others we cannot. But rest assured that every action have a consequence; you can choose for it to be a positive or negative one.

 

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Who are you really entertaining?

Today’s post begins with a simple question about our own behaviour.

“You have to look inside and ask this question. Who are you trying to entertain? The audience or yourself?”

Part of creating our self-image is what experts call self presentation. By this, they mean to say that we behave in a certain manner to assert who we think we are or who we think others want us to be. Some people are able to stand firm and stay true to themselves; while others succumb to social/peer pressure and become who they think society wants them to be.

I have been on both sides and I must say that although it takes practise and some guts to begin with. It is definitely more fun to stay true to yourself. But it entails a lot of self-awareness and self-love. Lucky for us, it is a habit that we can form. Here are some of the steps you can take if you are ready to take that step to self acceptance and possibly more resistance from people (at the beginning).

1) Accept that you cannot please everyone.

2) Accept that you alone are responsible for your own happiness.

3) What you think others want you to be may not be true; might be something you impose on yourself.

4) Not everyone needs to like you; just like you do not like everyone that you meet.

I reckon that these 4 points are a good start and it took me many years to be good at them. However if you are happy already; then don’t change anything! If not, then it is up to you to take that step. There is no right or wrong; but there is happy and unhappy.

Have a great day!

 

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Attitude towards current lifestyle

A very common opening conversation topic is about one’s life; more specifically, how much one’s life sucks! Take a moment to think about this point and ask yourself; every time you meet someone, one of the things that they would mention is about how busy they are, no personal time, how tired they are….etc. Sometimes they just stop short of just saying:”My life sucks!”

I am not criticising people who vent; we all do. The difference is this: some vent to just get things off their chest while others lament about their sucky lives so much that they actually create that reality for themselves! Of course life poses challenges all the time and as we grow older; we have to bear more responsibilities and thus get tired more easily. The most common and effective advice given would be to try to make time for yourself so that you will not burn out. But that can be a high order for many!

So, today I am proposing a possible solution that does not require you to try to make time for yourself. It may not work for everyone but like other posts before this; all I am asking for is that you give it a try, The mere fact that you are reading this post means that you are curious so why not take that curiosity a little baby step further?

This is what I do when I feel bogged down by life and sick of it all. I ask myself this question: ‘Is there anywhere else I would rather be or is there anything else that I would rather be doing at this moment?’ Hand on a minute! Before you jump up and down and roll your eyes at this seemingly stupid question….OF COURSE there is something else I would rather be doing!!! Like travel around the world first class!

Did you honestly think that my solution consist of only one question? There is a second part. If you indeed have something else that you would rather be doing or somewhere else you would rather be then read on:

Know that the alternative lifestyle will change your current life as well as the people in it. Everything you love and hold dear will be different as well. I am sure you know what I mean because there were a few Hollywood movies made about this topic. If you cannot bear to leave any part of your current life behind; then that brings us back to question 1. There is actually no where else you would rather be. That being the case; why not just accept it?

Life is not perfect or is it meant to be. But it is the attitude we bring to it that determines how well and how happy we live. The bad comes with the good; life is fair. It depends on whether you want to see it as half empty or half full. Life comes as a whole package; you cannot choose to enjoy the good parts without working hard for it. Rather than moan and groan about life; take the time to really decide if this is the life you want. If it is then embrace it. Like I said many times before on this website. Life doesn’t choose us; we choose life.

I am ending today’s post with a quote from Bob Moawad,

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on or blame. The gift is yours. It is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day you life really begins.”

 

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One to one bonding time

I had the pleasure of spending time alone with my younger son today. We are so used to rushing around getting things done that we often forget the important things in life; the people we love and care about. That seemed to happen more often when we have more than one child and they get along with each other. It is just so much easier to let them amuse each other.

The only time that I felt really guilty about not spending time alone with my older son was when my younger boy was born. I was painfully aware that he used to have me all to himself and all of a sudden, he had to share me with his little brother. I remember trying really hard to make time so that we could resume some normality; well, that was until fatigue and lack of sleep got the better of me and survival was of utmost importance.

And as the boys grew older, they really got along with each other despite the 3 years difference; it just seemed to me that they prefer each other’s company and did not seem to mind whether we had alone time or not. In one of previous post (they grow up really fast), I mentioned that I am suddenly aware that my babies are growing up rapidly into big boys! This realisation jerked me into action! I do not have that much time left with them before they spread their wings and leave the nest. If I want to connect and remain connected to my children; I have to start making some serious effort!

What I also noticed was that when the two siblings are together; they are often talking over each other in a hurry to share some piece of information with me. It can be frustrating at times but I see it as good news! Well at least they are still interested to talk to me! I admit that it is much easier to let the 2 brothers amuse each other but after the few outings that I had spent time alone with each of them; I really appreciate the alone bonding time. I often preach about treating children as individuals; then aren’t they worth their own ‘bonding time’ with their parents? Trust me, they really enjoy having your undivided attention. It can be an outing with either both parents or just with mum or dad.

You will be richly rewarded for this gesture because through your actions; it shows that you see them as an individual and takes a personal interest in them.  Imagine how loved they will feel! What a great boost to their self-esteem!

If you haven’t had the time to spend one to one time with your children; try to make time to do so. It might surprise you how good it feels to reach out and feel connected to your children again!

 

 

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Love your body

It is common knowledge among my friends that I abuse my body; by that I meant that I feed it rubbish and party hard. I often jokingly say to them: ‘ I pray to God for a new body and I promise that this time I will take better care of it!’

No harm wishing right? But back to reality; it is only human to be unhappy about some aspect of ourselves, especially our physical self. It is tangible and concrete. You cannot pretend it is otherwise because there is simply no way you can lie about something that everyone can see. What I have learnt over the last decade is this: how much you put into the maintenance of your body is how much you are going to get out of it. And it is going to continue to go downhill because we grow older everyday.

I remember complaining how fat I was when I was in my twenties. Years later, I chance upon some photos of myself in my twenties and realised that it wasn’t that bad at all! After that incident, I began to realise that we can complain all we want because we do not have the ideal body that we want, but the fact remains that this body is going to get older. We can slow down the process by taking good care of it but it is still going to happen no matter what.

I have learnt to embrace what I have now. I never appreciated what I had when I was in my twenties; always whingeing about how I am not skinny enough. Man, if only I could have that body back, I would be so grateful…….

What I am trying to say is this: love the body you are in! Treat it well and hopefully you can get a few more good years out of it! No point regretting not taking better care of it. It is better now than never. But most importantly, stop complaining about it and stop wishing you look a certain way. Why not make the best of what you have?

How about this: Let’s try this experiment, go and look for a picture of yourself when you were younger and see if it was as bad as you used to think. I bet you’ll look at it and wonder why you never thought you looked that good. So, if you are unhappy with your current body; project yourself 10 years later. Then you will look back and wonder why didn’t you appreciate what you had 10 years ago! So rather that allowing that to happen; enjoy what you have now!

If you cannot change how you look; you can change your attitude towards your body. You will be surprised how much happier you can be with this new point of view. At least try!

 

 

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Maintaining Objectivity

As parents, it is absolutely normal to see our children in our own special way; because they are very special to us! A word of caution here; don’t overlook their faults. Treating their faults mildly is not helping them; instead you could be creating a bigger monster!

What started off as cute when young can very quickly become annoying as they grow older. And it is very important for parents to be aware of where these behaviours are heading. Take for example, confidence; every parent’s wish is for their children to be confident so that they have the guts to achieve their dreams. So, we try to boost their confidence whenever we can. We give them positive feedback and reinforce positive behaviour. Hopefully, over time these tactics work and we have a confident child. Here is the tricky part, some children might take this a step further and become boastful and arrogant.

At this point it will take a parent with a keen and objective eye to pick this up. There’s a fine line between being confident and arrogant; and we need to decide which direction we want our children to be heading. Some parent embrace arrogance; while others prefer quiet confidence. It is a matter of preference, so take your pick. If you choice is quiet confidence, please read on. Otherwise, just keep feeding your child’s ego, that is the fastest way to keep feeding his/her arrogance.

The theme for today’s post is maintaining objectivity; my challenge to you as parents is to keep an open mind when viewing your children. Love them with all that you have and all that you can but stop once in a while and take off those rose-tinted glasses so that you can truly evaluate their development. You will be doing them a big favour by nipping bad attitudes and behaviours at the bud before it can take root and become a permanent bad habit. Do not view them through parent lens; use a projected view. See them as who they are going to be when they grow up and whether these traits will aid or cripple them in the future.

Trust me! It is much easier to mold them while they are young. and it is our duty as parents to do the best we can to equip our children with skills necessary for them to be successful in the near future.

I leave you with this today: ‘We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.’ –  Stacia Tauscher

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John Lennon’s ambition

I particularly like this story because consist of such simple logic. It made me realise that life is indeed simple; we complicate it. Read on to know what I mean:

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I want to be when I grew up. T wrote down that I wanted to be ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. And I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

Isn’t it so true? We are constantly in search of meaning in life so that this meaning can be translated into happiness. So in essence, what we want is simply happiness. If so, then why do we need to possess the latest gadget or the biggest car before we can declare ourselves ‘happy’? One might argue that it is the possession of such items that create the sense of satisfaction and happiness. But aren’t we making it hard on ourselves? I am not saying that being happy means to stop pursuing our dreams and material wants. I am merely suggesting that those should be the icing on the cake. Choose to be happy first then when you get those things; you become happier.

Look at how easily contented children are. The latest toys might amuse them for a while but they do not need much to be happy at all. I am referring to the majority of the children. In my personal experience, my boys get really excited during Christmas when they receive the latest toys but that fascination does not last very long. They actually spend more time playing with the cheaper toys.

What I am getting at here is this: Life is simple; we are the ones who complicate things. No one puts those conditions on us; no one is saying:”You cannot be happy until you buy the latest Audi.” We are the barrier to our own happiness. We keep putting up endless hurdles for ourselves to jump over. It is almost like we are telling ourselves that we are not worthy to be happy unless we meet the perceived expectations of others. We find it hard to believe that all it takes to be happy is to simply choose it.

Have a think about this today; what are the simple joys in your life? There should be many – like having a nap on a lazy afternoon, or a casual chill out day with a close friend. Then ask yourself this: What is it that you really want out of your life? If your answer is ‘I want to be happy’, then just choose to be happy already. If your answer is:’I want to be rich”; then don’t complain that you don’t have a life and you are not happy.

Be clear about what you want! Don’t confuse one with the other. All goals should independent of each other; linking or lumping them together will complicate matters and confuse you.  You can aim to be happy and have the Audi at the same time but you can be happy before you get your dream car. Hope I got my message across to you without confusing you too much!

 

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