How do you want to live your life?

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken – Oscar Wilde

One Cause of Low self esteem

Today’s post was inspired by an episode of Glee that I watched yesterday. I am not shy to admit that I am a huge fan of the sitcom. There are some truths in it, and due to its popularity, I hope the producers of the show are aware of the amount of power and influence they have over their audience. That discussion can be dealt with in detail on another day. For today, it is focused on one of the most common but easily overlooked cause of low self-esteem.

For those of you who are generally pretty happy with who you are but can have bouts of feeling lousy abut yourself; have you ever checked if there was a certain pattern in your behaviour? If not, then let’s do this exercise together; think back and recall the last few times when you felt really low and lousy about yourself. Granted, some of the causes could be: not getting work done on time, work not satisfactory, general low mood…Now, it is the last one that I need you to concentrate on, if your low self-esteem is directly related to work related issues, then the reason is obvious. I know it seems abit confusing, please stay with me on this one.

In most scenarios, people are either alone or with friends, right? Yes, you guessed it! How we feel about ourselves is greatly influenced by the people we hang around with. People have different temperaments and as a result, they affect us in different ways. This post may sound familiar; it is because I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to choose the right kind of people to be our friends!

My message for you today is this: take a look at the friends around you and critically consider how each of them contribute to your self-esteem. You will find that there will be a group who just wants to love you and think that you are the coolest being on earth; they make you feel so very special whenever you are with them. Those, needless to say are priceless. And then there is a group who feels that the role of a good friend is to be able to honest with you and point out your flaws whenever they are with you. Despite their good intentions, you feel less than average and usually end up feeling depressed after you catch up with them.

I am not saying ‘Don’t tell your friends anything negative’, then I will only be encouraging ‘happy times only’ friends. I am simply saying this: there is always a nicer way to point out someone’s issues and that you do not have to do it all the time. You want to have friends who can be honest with you when you need the truth or if you are going down a self-destructive path, they are strong enough to pull you out. But other times, they accept you for who you are with no need on their part to constantly remind you of what you are lacking. Truth friends are there for support. If they like to correct you so much, they are more like you corrections officer more than your friend.

Am I making sense to you or have I lost you completely? All I am hoping to get at is that our choice of friends can greatly affect self-esteem. Positive people will naturally make us feel happy. Although some friends may seem to have good intentions, we are not broken so there is no need to get fixed. Unless you have a particular need to be criticised constantly because over time no matter how constructive the criticisims are; it will began to erode our self-esteem. And before you know it, you feel worthless and depressed.

So, I urge you to take some time to think about the kind of friends you choose to keep and whether they build or break you. Then, think about yourself as a friend; which type are you? And which type would you like to be?

 

 

 

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Attitude towards life: part 2

Today’s post continues on from yesterday: in case you need a reminder, this was the quote that was provided for reflection:

‘Exercise to be fit, not skinny. Eat to nourish your body and always ignore the haters, doubters & unhealthy examples that were once feeding you. You are worth more than you realise.’

If you have taken the time to consider these few sentences, please read on, if not, do take a few minutes to think about whether or not you agree with this concept and how it can affect you.

Today, I am going to spend some time sharing with you my humble view regarding this quote.

Recently, after years of yo-yo dieting, I came to a realisation. Yes, it would be nice to look the way I desire but I did once look the way I wanted to but I never appreciated it! I still thought I was fat. It was until recently when I looked at some old photos that I realised that I was not as fat as I thought and I actually looked like what I wanted to! And as I grew older, my body is not as fit as it used to. Getting it to do some things is already challenging. I also observed that there are many people my age who did not bother to maintain the fitness level of their body and as a result, have many aches and pains. My real inspiration came from our swimming coach, Raymond, who is a retired life guard. He loves to exercise and he is so fit! Like I mentioned before, the body is a piece of machinery; you need to take good care of it. And over the years, there will be wear and tear that cannot be repaired. But if you take good care of it, it will serve you well for a longer period of time.

So, these days I no longer chase after the perfect and  slim body. I choose to achieve a functional body. I may not look as fabulous as I would like to, but I know that I still have the fitness level to keep up with my children, and that I can still do what I want to do! Therefore, I choose fitness over looks; I want to be able to continue doing what I love to do for a long time.

As for my diet, I do try to eat mindfully, of course there are days when I feel like junk so I allow myself that. Try this for yourself if you do not believe me. If you eat mindfully, you will not eat half as much junk as you currently do. Eating mindfully means looking at your choice of food and ask yourself if that food actually nourishes your body. You have the answer. We often choose to ignore what we know. We know that fried chicken has limited nutritional value but we eat it because we anticipate that it will taste good. But if we take it a step further after considering if it has any nutritional value and think about how we used to feel after we ate fried chicken. We would recall that after eating it, we usually feel bloated and disgusted. Mindful eating helps us achieve a higher level of awareness about what we put into our bodies. Many of us, myself included are guilty of eating without thinking.

The next part of the quote talks about haters, doubters and bad examples that used to feed us. To me, I interpret these as people we meet or have in our lives that are toxic to us. They are the ones who make you doubt what you can achieve, they cannot be happy for you…in other words, you are not happy whenever they are around. It does not matter how they package their comments, the bottom line is you end up feeling like a loser every time you are around them. What I am suggesting to you is this: if it is possible, get rid of these people. You have no need for them. Instead, surround yourself with people who loves to be with you and can share your joys and success. I have my fair share of toxicity in my life and I am still working on eradicating them from my life. Might take a while but at least start. Don’t worry about burning bridges because they are not going to let you cross it anyway.

We often feel that it is good to network and maintain contacts but if it wears you out and you know there will not be any return, then cut it off. I have learnt the hard way that it is just not worth our time. Nothing is going to come out of it. You are better off focusing your energy on people who deserves it.

Ooh, I have been rambling on and on, I hope that I have provided a clearer explanation of the quote. But the choice is yours, if you are happy remaining where you are, then stay there. If you feel like you are in a rut or defeated, here is a good place to start. Remember there is no absolute solution but there is one thing for me that I am sure of: Be happy, choose to be happy, it is a choice, it does not happen by accident. With that, let’s end this serious post on a lighter note: I leave you with this:

‘I don’t regret burning bridges. I regret that some people weren’t on those bridges when I burnt them.’

 

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Attitude towards life

Read something interesting the other day; really loved it and wanted to share it with you. It is almost the end of 2012, and I assume that many people are starting to reflect back on the past year and whether they have achieved what they wanted to. If you have reached most of your goals; well done! If you haven’t, no big deal. Remember this, as long as it is not due to a lack of trying, the effort should be recognised as well! We all have a timeline in mind but there are many other factors at play that is beyond our control.  Wonder if you ever heard of this saying: “Man proposes, God disposes.’ I have lived through quite a few dramas in my life to learn something the hard way: what you want may not be good for you. So, back to my favourite line, things happen for a reason. Just do what you can, and leave it to happen at the appropriate time.

I know it is a wee bit early to be thinking about 2013 but if you do it a little bit at a time, it will not seem too daunting. Allow me to give you a head start.

Exercise to be fit, NOT ‘Skinny’. Eat to nourish your body and ALWAYS IGNORE the haters, doubters & unhealthy examples that were once feeding you. YOU are worth more than you realise!”

I have taken into account suggestions about the length of my posts and I am not ignoring it. This time, I strongly feel that these few sentences are so powerful that it should keep you occupied for a while without me droning on and on.

We all have different motives for doing what we do but in life, as long as you are doing it for the right reasons, the outcomes will follow. I will not go into details today, I will keep that for tomorrow. If you read this post today, take a couple of minutes and think about how you can apply this in your life. We will discuss this in detail tomorrow. If you read this post after both posts are up, at least take a few minutes to think about it before going on to part 2.

Have a beautiful day!

 

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Expressing Gratitude

We may not celebrate thanksgiving in the East; but I am sure today’s post is applicable to everyone regardless of race and culture, and everyone should be very mindful about putting it into practice whenever they can.

“Feeling Gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

I talked about gratitude a lot; in fact my thesis was written about how people experience gratitude. Today, I am taking you one step further. Feeling grateful is not enough; I am urging you to do something about this warm, fuzzy feeling of contentment and appreciation. Fortunately, we already have a natural tendency to react to feelings of gratitude. We will usually feel a need to return the nice feeling or want to help others attain this state of pleasantness.

For those of us who are still wondering how can you show gratitude, it can be done in many ways. I am already assuming that you are already feeling blessed for what you have; which is why I am not going to explain what gratitude is all about. When you feel grateful to someone, the full potential of it cannot be realized if you do not take any action to show your gratitude. Gratitude is supposed to be a cycle; even better if it becomes a vicious cycle. But instead of being in a cycle of self-destruction, it is a cycle of constantly thinking of the other party and trying to find ways to make him/her happy because he/she bring so much joy in your life, and vice versa.

I suppose girls would do this more often than the guys. Sometimes when I see something I know would amuse one of my friends; I would get it for her. And they would return the favour when their opportunity comes along. Some people might read this and think to themselves; this is silly and tedious. It might be for you, but for the people who put in the extra effort (it need not be buying things for each other all the time, there are other ways to shoe people you care about them and that you are so thankful that they are in your life) and receive in return, it is a wonderful feeling. To know that the other person is also thankful to have you in their lives, and they have made the effort to do something nice for you.

Gratitude needs to be reciprocated, that is the whole point of this emotion. The associated feelings of gratitude should propel you to want to take action. But if you resist the urge; then the emotion and meaning of it is lost on you. Just like the quote I posted today; you cannot feel grateful and not show it. It just does not work that way. Gratitude requires one to be aware of the goodness he/she have received; it encompasses feelings of humility and being loved. It is often rare that you do not feel the need to reciprocate. But if you are one of those who feels grateful but is too shy to express it; be it due to social/cultural norms or a shy personality. I am humbling telling you this; feelings of gratitude cannot be kept within yourself, it needs to be expressed and shared with the person who gave it to you. The fact that you felt grateful is a great feat; don’t waste it by not harnessing the positivity of it and passing it along.

So today, take the time to do something nice for the people you feel grateful for. It can be as simple as giving them a hug and telling them how much you love them….

Another quote that I loved, in case you are still unclear about my message today:

‘I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’                 – Maya Angelou  

 

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Self esteem issues?

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with a good friend a week ago. We were having a discussion about people who turn to plastic surgery to improve how they look so that they can feel better about themselves. The question that was raised was this: does this mean that people who undergo plastic surgery have low self-esteem issues? What about the rest of us? Does that naturally imply that we do not have any self-esteem issues?

My humble opinion of this is; we all have self-esteem issues! Why are we kidding ourselves? If we don’t, then why are we going on diets to lose weight? Going for facials to improve our appearances? As long as we are doing something to improve how we look or how we present ourselves, there is a self-esteem issue. If you are truly happy with how you look and who you are; then you will not find the need to engage in such activities. And I emphasis that the actions taken need not be related to one’s physical appearance. It can even be the way you speak or ‘sell’ yourself’.

And another thing to face up to is this: how many people have the courage to undergo surgery to change how they look. Not only is there a risk of something going wrong, there is the stigma you need to face. Although plastic surgery is more common in today’s society; it is still frowned upon. I personally do not see an issue with it. My favourite response is this: people renovate and upgrade their houses and gadgets all the time; then why is it so wrong to upgrade or renovate ourselves?

If you have not already noticed, there is a common theme in my posts. I advocate very strongly for personal fulfilment and happiness. So, if getting your nose fixed will make you happy, then do it! I personally have not had any plastic surgery only because of the costs involved and I was too chicken to go under the knife. But if you have the means and guts; be my guest!

I need to clarify one thing as well; I am not claiming that getting plastic surgery is going to fix all your problems. If there are underlying mental or emotional issues, please do seek professional help. Changing how we look should enhance how we feel about ourselves. But if that doesn’t fix it; then you know something is wrong and should seek alternatives to rectify the issue.

Of course, life is not that simple. But it is our own responsibility to make it work for us. My challenge for you today is this: have a think about whether you are for or against plastic surgery and the reasons why? Do you think that only people with self-esteem issues undergo plastic surgery? Reflect on what you have done to try to improve on your own appearance; then be honest with yourself about who you think have self-esteem issues. My answer to all these questions is simple: we all have self-esteem issues, the severity of it varies. There are many ways of improving one’s self-esteem. Some people exercise to lose weight; others collect degrees; and there are those who have the money to have plastic surgery. Can you see what I am getting at? Before you discuss about others too freely; think first. You will realise that more often than not we do behave similarly. Sometimes it is not obvious, that is why we are not aware of it. But fundamentally we are not so different from one another. A little bit of self-awareness will lent itself to kindness towards others. Everyone is just trying to make the best of their own situation; every effort should be applauded and not spat on.

 

 

 

 

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How to help others

‘The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own’. – Benjamin Disraeli

This is the message that I have chosen to share with the volunteers of the organisation that I am working for. It seemed like an easy enough message to understand but to truly appreciate the impact of it requires an actual experience. Seeing someone realise their own potential is such a great feeling!

Many people donate money to help charities; and yes, money is very important and their generosity is greatly appreciated! But what I would like to discuss here is not the issue of whether you donate money or not. If you have money to spare, of course! Donate whatever you can spare! There are many things that cannot be achieved without money, therefore the debate is not about financial support at all. Now that we are clear on this, let’s move on.

The issue that I have chosen to tackle today is entirely different. Have a think about this scenario: Would you provide someone with a year’s supply of food or would you send him to a course where he will learn how to grow his own? While you are thinking about this; allow me to give you another example of personal empowerment. I am sure you know who is Oprah; in her humanitarian work in Africa to reduce AIDS, she could easily bombard the country with millions of condoms; instead she chose to educate the women. Getting the message?

So, here is mine: if you have the heart and desire to want to help another, instead of sharing your strengths with them; help them discover their own. It is not about you, or what you can do for them. It is about helping them discover what they can do on their own for themselves. Take away your yardsticks and personal expectations. Every one grows at a different pace, and each have their own unique discovery journey to take. Your role is more like that of a model; you provide an example for them to observe and if they like what they see, it is then up to them to copy and make it their own.

Remember that your aim is to help them discover their own strengths so that they can continue to live a fulfilled life. It is never about sharing what you have because how long do you intend to be there for them? Help them grow their wings so that one day they will soar. But if their strength is swimming then that is great too! The best thing you can do for someone is to help them discover their potential because the natural progression that follows will be increased self-esteem and hope for the future. Makes sense right? Once you know what you are good at; then you know how to plan for your future and the future will not be as unknown and scary as it seems. This should be the outcome for the people you are trying to help. Helping them find their own life tools within themselves.

Hopefully I did not lose too many of you today; I did try to be as clear as I can. Not to worry if you are a little confused. You will understand this one day. In the meantime, as long as you keep your own ego out-of-the-way and your heart in the right place. Anyway you are helping will aid the person you intend to help.

 

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The danger of not doing….

I was planning to write a post on something else this morning; then I read something that a friend had posted on Facebook and thought to myself: ‘This message is more important that my original one.’

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything. ” – Sri Aryani

This message can be applied in many situations; for example, you see someone being bullied or being treated unfairly. Do you do something? Or do you just walk away. My personal take on this: please, only do what you can in the given situation without putting yourself in harm’s way.

If you think about this statement by Sri, does it not make perfect sense to you? The message you give to the person exhibiting bad behaviour by not stopping them is this: you are agreeing with their behaviour, and you are condoning whatever they are doing. Over time, their little actions will continue to escalate if no one bothers to make the effort to stop them.

This brought me back to a movie I was watching yesterday: ‘Captain America – The first Avenger’. I avoided this movie because I kept thinking it was really lame. He doesn’t have the technology like Ironman nor was he born with super powers like Superman. Just another American comic character created just because they can. My husband insisted that I watch it and said that I would appreciate the idea behind it. I must say that I did enjoy it and I now know the meaning behind it all. For those of you who have not seen this movie; in a nutshell, it is about how a guy who was born with multiple physical limitations finally got his wish to join the army to serve his country during the world war. Many cadets were chosen to be part of ‘the experiment’ but he was ultimately chosen because of his character. He never backed down from bullies and always stood up for what he believed in. It was his kindness and compassion for humankind that led him to where he wanted to be.

That is the message I hope to bring across to you today; allow compassion to guide you in your actions. I am not saying get out there and stand up against everything you feel is unfair. Have the wisdom to know when you can or cannot interfere with something and remember that if you are trying to fight someone’s fight for them; make sure that they did need your help.

It is very important to differentiate between helping someone and satisfying your ego. Your sense of righteousness should be guided and checked all the time by your compassion for others. In this way, you reduce your risk of making everything about you. It is a very common pitfall of many people who started off just trying to help others. But when things do not go the way they planned; they get all upset because it didn’t work out the way they wanted. Remember this, when you are helping others, it is about them, not you.

I leave you with this final thought: Every time you walk away from a oppportunity to right an injustice; you are giving out 2 messages. To the bully, you are saying: I agree with your actions, please keep it up. To the victim, you are saying: I don’t care what you have done to deserve this treatment, but you deserved it.

Oh yes, one more thing, if everyone cared just a little bit more; the world would be a much better place! Stop worrying about how small a singular effort is, isn’t the ocean made up of many tiny droplets?

 

 

 

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You are worth it!

We choose people who share our interests or inspire us to be our friends. Today’s post was inspired by a very good friend….
Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes life gets so hard that you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes life is so stressful. But most of the time life is beautiful. Sometimes life is so awesome that all you want to do is smile. Sometimes you just have to stay positive, and push through the hard times. …

Why? Because life is worth it. The good times are worth it. You are worth it.”Sri Aryani
How often do we have days like that? You do not need to be suffering from depression to experience a day like this; you could be going through a rough patch at work or simply not feeling too good physically. I have mentioned this several times now on this website; how we feel and how we live is all a matter of choice. Fair enough that we have certain constraints such as financial or physical ones; but we can choose our attitudes. Life is a matter of attitude. Being happy and having a great day is a matter of choice. Of course, wonderful surprises and good news helps, but if we choose to be grumpy and discontented; nothing in this world can make us happy.
Life is not easy; but you do not have to be unhappy. Sure, if something upsets you, be upset, just don’t stay upset for too long. Because the other thing is this, life is too short, don’t waste it away. There needs to be a clear understanding and acceptance that no matter how things are right now; everything passes with time, the good and the bad. Allow the bad to pass with time; but keep renewing on the good.
Don’t do it to please others; learn to live to please yourself. I know it sounds really egoistic but it is not meant to be taken in the literal sense that you will do anything just so you can keep yourself happy. There are ways of amusing yourself without infringing on others. My personal take on living: “Do what you need to do seriously; but take life lightly.” In all honesty, we only have that much control in life; we only have that many years to live. Don’t answer to others because they are not you and do not live your life. You do! Make that choice to live for you! I find this message so important and crucial, and I apologise for talking about it all the time. I think it’s because I keep bumping into people who are unhappy, and I really hope to help them.
Like I mentioned before, Being Happy takes effort; it does not happen automatically everyday. You need to choose to be happy, remember that!
Just to share with you what I do to amuse myself…. try it if you like…but don’t laugh while doing it!
‘Next time a stranger talks to me when I’m alone, I will look at them shocked and just whisper quietly…”You can see me?”
Have a great day and lots of fun!!
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Forgiveness and us

People often see forgiveness as an action taken in the favor of the person seeking forgiveness. However, in reality forgiveness serves us in a very different manner. A very good friend of mine described it so beautifully:

“Forgiveness doesn’t mean we condone the wrong actions of another person… it actually means we love ourselves enough to let go of the Hatred n Anger that is plaguing our hearts n polluting our minds with Unhappiness. It’s about healing ourselves; not the other person… whether we forgive or continue to hate… our emotions doesn’t affect the other person in the least but affects our own peace of mind to the max….” – Bernard Yee

Wow! How often are we able to see something so clearly? Isn’t it true? When we hold on to the hatred and anger; we are the ones who are stuck, not them. They would have done whatever they think they should do in order to obtain forgiveness and then moved on with their lives. While we are struggling with our unhappiness; they, on the other hand is not affected any more. So, who are we hurting? That’s right, ourselves.

Let’s just say that you were badly hurt and disappointed by a very good friend; forgiveness means that you let go of whatever hurt he/she had caused you and stop allowing it to bother you anymore. But that does not necessarily equate to nothing has happened. After the forgiveness had occurred, you may wish to re-evaluate the friendship. This is the time when you decide whether this friendship is still worth holding on to. Forgiveness frees you from the pain and unhappiness caused by a certain issue but that does not mean that you have travelled back in time and erased everything. What has happened had happened; forgiveness has nothing to do with future dealings. Forgiveness is:’ I have gotten over what has happened; and now I am thinking about whether or not we can still be friends.’

The whole point of today’s post is simply this message: ‘Holding on to your unhappiness does not affect the other party; it only pains yourself. If you think that you are punishing them, you cannot be more wrong because essentially you are only punishing yourself.’ The best revenge I have learnt the hard way is to live well and be well.

 

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Delicious Ambiguity

Read this quote today and really loved it:

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I learned that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing. Having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it. Without knowing what is going to happen next…DELICIOUS AMBIGUITY…” – Gilda Radner

How beautifully phrased! I daresay the first sentence would describe most of our inner desires. We all want to have the perfect and happiest ending. In our quest to reach the end, we forgot to enjoy our lives during the process. The process is where we spent most of the time; yet we fail to see the importance of enjoying every moment of it.

The other irony is this; we think we know our perfect ending…but do we?? Human beings are hard to satisfy. Think back of a time when you tell yourself; after I achieve this, I will be happy. Then, after you got there, hmm… not quite enough to keep you happy. You are off looking for the next challenge that promises you the elusive ‘final happiness’. After you understand and accept that we have a greedy nature; it will be much easier to understand that since we cannot be satisfied. Reaching our goals every time does not guarantee happiness; then let’s not wait to reach the end to be happy, because getting there does not mean we will definitely be happy. So, might as well be happy now!

In essence, the quote is a reminder that it is okay to not have absolute control of our lives. And if we are honest with ourselves; we actually have very limited control anyway. We can only control certain things that only involve ourselves and that’s it! Rather than engage with a power struggle with fate; we can choose to go with the flow. Make the best decisions within the given space. Be brave, because it does take a lot of guts to just live. I’m not saying, don’t plan. I’m saying; please continue to plan but if life throws you off-track; try to not resist it. I truly believe that we are placed in situations where we can always benefit/learn from, and we are there because we are supposed to. When we get caught up with the whys and frustrations, we lose the ability to see the true potential of the situation.

Again, I need to emphasis that being able to articulate all these does not mean that I find it easy or practise what I preach all the time. But at least I am aware of it and I do try to walk this talk. Life is too short to wait to be happy at the end. There is so much to be grateful for; and that my friends, is the key to authentic happiness… a grateful heart. But alas, our hearts are easily tempted and treacherous, that is why we have to keep reminding it to be content and grateful for all that we have, right here and now.

 

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