Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Birthday Truth

 THE 27TH 
YEAR

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” 
― William Shakespeare

Come March, I will be 27. It feels weird—especially because it seems like only yesterday I was just 12, nervously preparing for my final exam at school. 
Every so often, it seems, life presents us with opportunities to look back and reflect: the birth of a new year, the death of a loved one, or a milestone birthday.
And on this day, I cannot help but look back and consider who I have become today, and not exactly the way I had pictured myself fifteen years ago.
I used to have an ideal image of myself as someone who would have figured everything out in my life: living in my own apartment, drive my own car, with a good job and happily married.

But, here's the confession to smack the hard cold truth on my 12 year old self back then: I haven't figured everything out in my life. The image that I used to have of my older-self was borne out of my admiration for adults who seem to have the answers to everything. 
In contrast, 
1. I am living in my own (rented) apartment, but it means I have to fork out my own money to pay for it. I couldn't depend on my parents to pay my roof anymore. 
2. I am driving my own car, but it also means I have to work hard to ensure I stick with the payment schedule every month so the bank wouldn't take it away. 
3. I have a job, but a job that pays for my food, car and house would also mean stress and sacrificing comfort and security for dear life, especially when I am working on my own. 
4.  Happily married? Not yet.


IT'S THE FANTASY.

The fantasy that I have had over the years about who I was supposed to become today is normal. It's always natural that we want to have the best of days for ourselves in the future. 
But just because I seemed to have chosen a different path, doesn't mean it's a failure. It simply means I have learned to let go some of the things in my life I had thought was really important to me before, and holding on to the things that are more meaningful instead. 
I wanted to become a doctor. Then, an engineer. And then a comic artist. Millionaire. Billionaire. Scientist. 
Instead, I have become a writer and a full-time blogger. I have regrets in my life that I wish I could erase and instead, over the past few rocky years, I have learned to pursue a more minimalist life. 
I have sold my game console, laptop, donated most of my books and unused clothes, cleared the cabinets of old exam papers and files and reduced the things I want on my wishlist so I wouldn't spend my money away buying unnecessary things from the mall. 

grow.live.learn.

As I am nearing my 27th birthday, I could see more clearly what I want:
1. Inner-peace
2. Contentment
3. Happiness
When I gave away my books that I had collected since I was fifteen, trust me it was not easy. A lot of those books have been part of my journey and it was like letting go of an old friend. 
But three months since I have been apart from those "old friends", I am starting to wonder why it was so hard to let go in the first place. 
I have always thought that my possessions define my personality: the brand of my hand phone, the labels on my clothes including my underwear, the perfume I spray and even the food I eat. 
However, as I am going through minimalism, I can honestly say life has gotten much lighter. It's much easier for me to clean the house now with only my important stuff (but fewer) at home and it's a lot easier to go and hang out with my friends in the shopping mall without the urge to buy things to add onto my possession-list.
It is a choice that makes me happy. I do not blame my younger-self for believing that adults have somehow figured everything out in their lives. 
It has opened up a lot of new perspectives for me these days: although my parents are older than me, but they (like me now) have not quite figured everything out too and ergo, tend to commit mistakes just like any other adults too, which are often misunderstood by little children.
Next month, I will be 27 and it has been a great twenty-seven years of adventure so far. I would like to thank you for joining my journey until today and I am looking forward to share another twenty-seven years of my adventure to come(God willing) with you.
Footnote:
Image source: Tumblr
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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

THE GREAT
STORIES



“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 
― Maya AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Each time we meet someone new in our lives, we seem to have a template story that we share with them. Mostly the stories we share with one another are about our history; something that project the kind of image we want others to think about us, something we have been rehearsing over and over in our heads before. 

We share stories about ourselves that could put us in a good place in their eyes: we tell them about our life achievements: our excellent exam results, our job promotion, our beautiful homes, our cars, our exotic holiday destinations and the important and popular people we hang out with over the weekend. The Good Stuff.

I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with the stories of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a great story written by Robert Stevensen which was first published in 1886. It is a story of a man with two sides to his character; Dr Jekyll is the good man while Mr Hyde is used as a way for Stevenson's character to commit evil deeds. 

I'm not pointing out to the idea that the reason we are only telling great stories about ourselves because we have an evil side to ourselves that we hide from the society. 
The reason, I believe, we always tend to choose to tell great stories about ourselves because we are afraid what others might think of us: We are afraid what others might think about our weaknesses and flaws and this, in return, may affect how others might treat us later. 

WOULD YOU SHARE IF...
Would we be willing to share, as proudly as we would with a great story about ourselves, about the day we got fired by our boss? That is one of the lowest points in our lives and we are embarrassed by our failures and naturally, we try our best to conceal that major disappointment and embarrassment from the society.
Or maybe about our struggle with pornography, gambling, alcohol and any other thing in our lives that might put us in the same light as the evil Mr Hyde? Of course, we should all practice a certain degree of censorship in our lives. It is not a good idea to reveal every little thing in our lives to the public which, unfortunately, is getting out of hand as more users are using Facebook these days.

THE STRENGTH OF INVULNERABILITY
However, there is a great benefit for us if we try less harder on impressing people with only the good stories about ourselves. Instead, we should include stories that make us as simply being human who are imperfect to begin with. The stories we tell, is not only a good way for us to foster stronger relationship with the people around us. We are also providing them with our history, the experience that we have and the kind of person we really are.
During first dates in the early phase of every relationship, most couples tend to share only the good things about themselves. It is during this phase too (if the first dates went well), that we have almost always come to the conclusion that she or he is the one. She or he is perfect. Over time, however, we learn about each other's weaknesses and flaws and couples that could accept their partners as they are as quickly as possible, usually stand a higher chance to last longer in their relationships.
Do you realize how much more comfortable it is when you are around your friends who know a lot about who you really are and have accepted them (your weaknesses, flaws and history) as part of you, rather than being in a room with a stranger? 
We are much more comfortable being around with our best friends and family because we put much lesser efforts on hiding our weaknesses and flaws.
It is also a good idea to start sharing your not-so-favorite life stories with the people around you because you are showing your human side, which makes you more approachable. Sharing those stories also allow you to pinpoint areas in your life that you need to improve because your willingness to share them show how much you are making an effort in coming to terms with your mistakes and past, and act as a reminder for you to not pursue those paths again later on in your life. 
Personally, I find a person whom I have just met during a business meeting that shares his weaknesses and flaws as part of the stories more approachable and trustworthy. 
Our stories define who we are. The difficult  and easy roads, the failures and successes in our careers as well as relationships and every part of our past have helped to form the person that we are today. While I do not recommend for you to share every part of your history with the public, but it would be a good start for you to share with the people around you about your struggle. 
Chances are, some of the people that you share those stories with, might be able to relate to your struggle and they in return, might offer valuable help, suggestions, opinions and advises. 
Grow yourself through your stories. Think about what you have gone through and what you have done to overcome those obstacles. That's a good place to start. 
Image source: Minutsgirl
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Contentment


THE PATH OF
CONTENTMENT

We feel discontent every time we set our eyes on the things that others have in their lives, that we don't currently have. Every area of our lives seem to come up short by the time we are done comparing, based on what we have seen on Facebook and Instagram. We seem to think everyone else (but us) seem to have more fun in their lives, careers progressing well and relationship are doing very well. During a time when product and brand advertisements come into our lives from everywhere, we are always fed with the need to buy something we don't need because that is what makes other successful people look great in their lives. 



In our pursuit to bring in more happiness into our lives every time we feel we are lacking in something, we look for external factors to fulfill that need


temporary happiness


When we are not happy with how we look, we shop for new clothes at the mall or have a new haircut or maybe buy a new perfume.

When we are not happy with the way our careers are progressing at the moment, we commit longer hours at work to impress our boss and hopefully, we might be able to get a pay raise and climb the corporate ladder just like any other good employees out there. 

We keep on bringing in more things into our lives, to feed the temporary need for happiness into our lives. But it is only a short cycle and before long, after another session of comparison, we would be back on the road searching for other things to fulfill that never-ending need. 

We will never be able to find peace in our lives as long as we don't start appreciating what we have and keep on chasing the things that we don't have. But what we must realize, no matter how many things we have, how high in the social class we are in life, we will always feel as though something is missing. 

A happily, married man with a beautiful wife and six wonderful children might be jealous of the large mansion that the wealthy man lives in, with an expensive car in the parking lot and a gorgeous swimming pool at the backyard. 

But the wealthy man with the large mansion, an expensive car in the parking lot and the gorgeous swimming pool might envy the happily, married man with a beautiful wife and six wonderful children because he doesn't have anyone in his life. He has spent a long time building his business that he had found little time for a family. 

THE KEY: ACCEPTANCE


Contentment is a way of accepting the way our lives are at the moment, and being grateful and happy with it. It would be a very good start for you if you could start your day being grateful with your life and ask, Are you happy with who you are at the moment? You don't have to accomplish all your life goals now to feel content with your life. It starts by being grateful of who you are. 

Take some time to accept who you are, and keep on telling yourself that you are perfect just the way you are. You can be happy now, without changing anything in your life. You don't need a more expensive, luxurious-looking car to feel good about yourself; or a bigger house in the neighborhood or the next job promotion to be happy. 

You already have what you need, now. 


Footnote:
Image source: BookNVolume
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Saturday, February 7, 2015

What To Do When You Can't Solve Your Problems?

t h e
castle
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” 
― Anne Frank


Why don't you look at that  sandcastle built by the child? And stay for a moment...just a little longer, and you will see. You and I sit here, looking at it and little by little, the beautiful sandcastle that the child had built quietly eroded away by the sea and slowly, the sandcastle was gone and smoothed over. There is no more sandcastle...

You might wonder what's the whole deal with the sandcastle and hang on there for a minute, I'm getting to the point. You might be anxious for answers now, what you have to do to get your life on the road again? Why aren't you going anywhere with your life like other people around you? You're worried sick about your life that little by little, you are hurting yourself by refusing to live. 
Now, I don't have the answer to your problems. Heavens No. I don't know your problems to begin with and I'm definitely not a magician or a mentalist to guess what they are. But I am determined to make you see something: your problems that are making you worry and anxious at the moment, all of your problems now, they are the sandcastles. You might be telling yourself all this time your problems never gonna end, but I promise you, there will be a new dawn tomorrow and with the new dawn, brings new hope. 

The only thing you have to do now, for the problems to go away, is to do something about it. There is no point worrying about it if you're not doing anything to solve it. 
And after you've gone through the storm }
Just as the sandcastle was slowly eroded away by the sea, what made us so worried yesterday, or last week, or the month before, suddenly they don't look intimidating anymore. You're suddenly convinced, if you were to face it again later on, you'll know what to do. 
It could be:
  1. A Breakup
  2. Fired from your job
  3. Lost somebody
  4. Ec cetera Ec cetera...
I would also like to call this as a form of reconciliation with your past. This is also a time for you to discover how strong your faith us, who you really are inside and what you are capable of. 
Many of us can say a thousand positive things when we don't have anything to worry about, when the bills are paid, when we are enjoying good relationships with the people around us, when we have money in the pockets, when we have so many good things happening to us, we can easily spill out positive words. 
But it takes a lot of character to remain in a good spirit during the downtime. When we are losing, when we feel defeated, when the urge to live is lost...this is the time to discover how strong we really are. 

MY ADVICE FOR YOU,

And I'm giving this advice from a position where a lot of things are going wrong in my life at the moment but I'm just not letting it get the better of me: just as Christ had held his head high even when He was being ridiculed by the Jews before he was going to be put on the cross, just as Christ had sacrificed Himself to show how much He loves you, ask yourself this, do you ever think He will let you suffer more than you can handle now? 
You are going through your tough period at the moment because He knows you are strong enough for this. But as we our lives, the breakthroughs do not happen like a switch. It is a slow, gradual process. You must work to realize how strong you really are. God can only help you so much, but without you doing anything from your end, you're going to be stuck there for a very long time, my friend. 
You can't win if you don't try. You can't get over your problems if you keep on whining. You can't learn from your problems if you insist on life being unfair. You have got to keep on fighting to survive. 


And remember, no matter how hard things seem at the moment, just like the sandcastle, the time will come when you might be wondering, why was it so hard for me back then
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Giving By Forgiving


LET'S
FORGIVE

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” 
― Mahatma GandhiAll Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections


I was a really angry person, I solemnly swear that that was one of the things that I really feel ashamed of about me. Even these days, I still could not really rid myself of anger completely. In my mind, through my eyes, and in my opinion, everyone should live through me. I was the center of the universe and everyone should acknowledge it. Till the day I realize that I was wrong about that.   

Whenever someone had wronged me, including my parents, I thought they should realize they have to come up to me and offer their apologies because they weren't getting any from me. This was one of the reasons why I had lost so many friends whom I was very close with before, just because I had refused to offer an apology to them.
I am inspired to write something about Christ's words on giving, so I thought His words on that really fit into how I wish to correct my past mistakes. I was really intent on letting anger festering within me, to control my actions and kept on lying to myself that anger was actually the source of my strength to survive in this world. 

But looking back at all those things that I had gone through before, I was really selfish and arrogant. I wanted others to give and give while I was not willing to do it from my end. I had let anger controlled me and my negative attitude towards everyone around had driven a lot of people away from me. One of those people that had left me had passed away last year, and I regret to this day the lost opportunity to offer my apology to him for all the bad feuds that had happened between us.
I grew up in a family that was filled with love, but along the way, anger had come in the way and slowly, that anger had broken the bonds between siblings and children with the parents. There were nights when I refuse to stay at home to listen to my parents' fights and over the years, I have brought that anger from home wherever I went; to college and later to my workplace which had earned me bad reputation with some of my bosses. It is definitely something I am not proud of, and definitely not something that I want to show as example in front of my own children. 
But God works in the most mysterious way. I would not have known happiness if He had not shown me sadness and grief. I would not have known patience and love if He had not shown me anger. I would not have known victories if He had not shown me defeats. In fact, I would not have written any of this if I had not suffered in my relationships with the people around me and through Him, He had shown what I had been missing in my life: That I have forgotten to Give.
Every time I have a fight with someone, I had always been the person waiting for the apology. I was fat with ego to initiate a move and that stubbornness had cost me dearly. I am not letting it get in a way of my live anymore. 

GIVING BY OFFERING APOLOGY.

You know, sometimes a fight between two friends, or husband and wife, or even between two brothers can just be solved if only one of both parties would say sorry. Just as I had gone through, sometimes a fight that seemed small at first, slowly grow into something serious and before you know it, the fight had dragged to weeks, months and years. 
Perhaps, as I am today, you are not able to be forgiven by the people you've wronged. But as I am today, I am trying to cross the names of people from the list that I have to offer my apology to. I'm telling you, it's unpleasant and awkward. However, I can also tell you that after I've said what I should have said long ago, I feel "a thousand times lighter", as though a heavy burden had been lifted from my shoulders. It's a great feeling. 

WORKING ON IT.

To be honest, I've not forgiven everyone by saying it to them in person, and some of them, I still find it difficult to approach because of the history of the "fight". However, what I can assure you, I'm still working on it though. It's not something I'm proud of and what I have learned so far, to avoid further awkwardness in the future, anger is something that I have to work hard to control. 
It's a start. Hope you can too, if you're somehow in the same shoes. 
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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Where Is God?

HI
god
“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” 
― Søren Kierkegaard



I used to go to Church every Sunday because I thought I was fulfilling my duty as a Christian. I was not always a good follower of the faith, but I was at least convinced that by doing some of the things that Christ had taught men two thousand years ago, I was at least doing something to please God. But for the past couple of years, the relationship with the Almighty had somehow deteriorated.  

I sat at one of the many rows in the church, listening intently to the Priest's sermon. It was an interesting subject, early in the Sunday morning. I believe this was the last time I had been to Church, which was almost two years ago. All this was because one of the many things the Pastor had spoken that morning caught my interest and he made me think, and I quote:

"ONLY THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN CHRIST WILL one BE ABLE TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN"

I began to think more consciously about this subject than before. For the first time, I began to convince myself that, what if God never existed in the first place? What if God is man's creation to hold the world together? What if religion is just an institution for men to control the situation? 
I ask God, if men should all believe in Christ to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, then why not make all mankind to be born as Christians (or believers of Christ) to begin with? I can justify why Christ as the "right choice" for all because I was born as a Christian and I have the tendency to lean towards Christianity than any other religion. What if I were born as a son to a Muslim, Buddhist, Free-thinker couple instead? I would have said that my religion then is the right choice for all. 

But what we have now instead, is segregation of everyone in the world according to their respective beliefs. Therefore, I begin to look at the world from a different perspective; one that was almost hollow. I begin to look at the world where religions are used by powerful rulers of the past to have more control on the people, with the afterlife as the ultimate reward. It is also to keep the society behave
1. If you do good, Heaven is waiting for you
2. If you don't, Hell is.
However, while I do have a lot of difficulty believing in any religion, I do believe in the existence of God, as...God. I am seeing life as something that is so perfect in harmony, so perfect in design and match each other really well in the grand cycle of life, it is (my personal opinion) impossible for all of these to exist without the presence of a Supreme Being.
But wait a minute, I do not dismiss the possibility of abandoning Christ. If I dare not ask these should-not-be-questioned questions about God, then I would only believe in Him for the sake of believing in something, which is hypocritical in nature.  
At the moment, I am living a life with these FOUR PILLARS OF BELIEF:
1. When I die, I will die and there is no Heaven nor Hell; just coming back to God. I am not convinced that Heaven is a place where all of our wishes will come true and I do not believe in the existence of Hell simply because the creation of Hell seem to have its root originated from the olden times; from the Babylonian to the Egyptians that survived the history. 
2. There is no right or wrong; there is simply the religion of God. I am seeing men divided according to their beliefs, and each and everyone of us who are believers of our respective faiths will end up in our respective Heavens or Hells, which to me seems illogical. I believe we all will end up in the same place.
3. God exist. I believe in the existence of God. Everything seems to be in so perfectly "built", there must be a Supreme Being responsible for all this greatness.
4. We exist for a specific purpose. Whether you are born into a poor, rich, drug addict or criminal family, we exist for a specific purpose and that purpose is to help maintain the balance in our lives. 
I suppose a lot of you will have your arguments to go against what I have written above. It is not my intention to offend anyone. It serves as an introduction and set the direction to where I wish to go. I may be wrong, and I am hoping to prove myself wrong. But to do that, I need to ask questions, explore and be prepared to be corrected. 
Perhaps I have been too arrogant to dismiss Christ too quickly, or any religion for that matter. Perhaps by knowing Him closer, I may find the answers to the questions I am looking for in my life. Perhaps I may find the peace that has been missing in me all this time. Perhaps there is still more to what my eyes had seen.

Footnote:
Image source: Rebloggy
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