A Hero’s Journey

“I envy those who have it easy. You know. They could have everything they want. They don’t suffer much. They don’t endure the pain of grief, want, or loneliness. They get enough sleep. They never have to work hard. Sometimes I think my life was a mistake. That I can’t be somebody, at least somebody that someone wants or proud to have. Why am I even here”?

I can feel her pain while she was typing these words.

In the West, this would be called therapy.

But in Asia where I come from, it’s just another conversation with a friend or a confidant. Sometimes when we just allow ourselves few minutes to be us without having to project who we should be, our hearts begin to talk. Masks off, pretensions given up, defenses down. 

When we are going through pain, our body just longs for a rescue, if not, an escape. We look around and see that the world is still turning as it should. It doesn’t stop just because we’re hurt. Other people look happy and content, and some are having the time of their life. But I tell you, it just seems that way.  

Each one of us is and ought to be doing the best we could. The only other way is giving up.

You’ll see that when we give up, we suffer more. But when we rise after every fall, even if we lose, we lose fighting, and to me, that changes the whole story.

We are all fascinated with a hero’s journey.  

Think about Harry Potter or Frodo. We love it because we see something in them that somehow echoes our own joys, adventures, struggles, and desires. We love the story’s ending all the more because we too wish to have the same victory and triumph in our lives. You and I have our own cross to carry just like Frodo’s ring, or an enemy to defeat like Harry’s Voldemort. The only difference is, Harry and Frodo’s story is a fantasy, while ours, is a reality. 

Reality bites. 

It stings even more than the fantasies we see in movies or read about in books. But this reality is your life and it is worth living and fighting for, more than any other story. You’re the only one who can be the hero of your own life. Nobody can steal that role. No one is more fitting to play that part other than you.

Whenever you’re tempted to look at other people’s lives, don’t. You don’t know what they’re going through, the sacrifices they had to make, the “ask” that they needed to heed. Fame and fortune are empty shells. The real treasure lies in your capacity to build and rebuild. We all have potential. We just need to start owning it and make something out of it.

Lastly, you being here and alive is not a mistake. Order was created in the Universe, it’s never chaos. Nevertheless, if you’re still inclined to believe that you are a mistake, think about a hero’s ending that you can create with that. Do you see it? Now go and make it happen.

On The Pursuit Of Pleasure, and Letting Go

“I have pursued pleasure and allowed myself to be intoxicated by it. I hit the bottom hard. I’m in no better state than where I started. The happiness was fleeting, unsatisfying. I am wanting something deeper. Something that perhaps can never be satisfied by this world”.

My friend’s words echoed in the room like I was uttering them myself. It hit close to home. What he’s going through may be totally different from yours and mine but we know that pain. We know that place. We’ve been there.

No one is immune to struggles and temptations. We all have our kryptonite, our Achilles’ heel.

Each of us is far from perfect. To some, their weaknesses are obvious, known to everybody around them. But to the rest of us, we’re pretty good at hiding them.

Being vulnerable to someone is a scary thing.

We fear judgment. We avoid repercussions too risky to take. But we all long for that safe place. A place where you and I could just be us, where we can express our thoughts and feelings without needing to filter them, without having to think about how we are seen, perceived, or heard. A place where everything else is absent but unconditional acceptance, respect, and love.

Believe me, I still carry the same struggles that I have had since childhood. There are days when I win and some days when I lose. It becomes frustrating sometimes, like learning how to ride a bike and never getting it right. You just want to hop on it and ride free, but you fall off balance even after peddling a few distances.

“I have been afraid of changing coz I’ve built my life around you”.

Landslide, Smashing Pumpkins

Letting go of something so familiar, something we’ve depended on is difficult. But we all need to move forward and we have agency to do it. We are not helpless.  

Agency to me translates to a few things- writing, books, people I look up to, friends, and best of all, prayer. I’d be a hypocrite if I say I’ve held on to prayer relentlessly. I did not. And I think that’s the mistake I constantly make: letting go of the only weapon I have against enemies beyond my powers to subdue. I am learning.

“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

When you think about it, getting through our helplessness seems an overwhelming task. But if we try to deconstruct that undertaking a little bit, I think we can focus on one decision at a time, one choice at a time. We can never leave our hearts unguarded. A poison can touch our lips innocently even from a cup of coffee and we can easily be led astray if we’re not standing on solid ground.  

Don’t play with fire”. Another told my friend.  

I said, “God meets you where you are. Don’t be afraid to show Him what you think is the ugliest part of you. He can take it”.

My friend sobbed. A sense of peace slowly filled the room.  

I knew right then, healing is bound to take place.

Maybe, this is for you.

I took my car for maintenance today. Due to the pandemic, it has not even reached the required mileage.  But It’s been six months since my car’s visit to the shop, so whether we like it or not, here we are again. I wonder how good it will be to allow ourselves to go through some maintenance too, twice or four times a year.

Most of us have built a routine day in and day out. 

“Routine” is good. It gives us a sense of permanence, of stability. It’s something we can anchor ourselves to these days when normalcy’s been shaken up a bit. The way we’ve programmed our daily activities eliminated the unnecessary burden of having to make too many decisions. We cannot afford to lose our energy over things that can go automatic. We wake up the same time every day, have the same meal, take the same route, work on the same tasks, wind up the day the same way as we did last. Over time things get comfortable. We finally settled in. We’ve cemented what we would regard as, normal.

Personally, normalcy unsettles me. 

I’ve always been a misfit my entire life. It took years for me to accept that being eccentric is my default. I’ve wrestled and won over it on many occasions. I wanted to belong, to be like everybody else. It sure paid some rewards, but none of it lasted. I guess in our deep desire to be seen, to be known, and to be loved, oftentimes, we look for these things in the wrong places. Eventually, we realize that the divine fulfillment of these desires can only come from God. The earthly satisfaction on other hand should start from within. Now, I have zeroed in on that. From here going forward, I’m embracing my kind of normal.  

Sometimes you need to step back and take a second look at things.

When we run around all day, we will get many things done. We feel accomplished. We feel proud. We satisfy people, but do we “really” satisfy “us”? Fortunate are those who have found their purpose but for those of us who have not, at least not yet, we keep looking. 

What is it that we deeply ache for? 

What is that thing we want to do if money wasn’t an issue? 

If love, attention, or acceptance isn’t any more a void that needs to be filled? 

Will a disruption help bring this thing to the surface? 

Maybe, or perhaps, intentionally breaking the monotony of every day will help connect us to our very core. 

To awaken the giant within. 

To finally show the rarity of our self to the world. 

To let our true light shine. 

To embrace our “own hue”.

The journey to discovery doesn’t end.

Now I can allow curiosity to fuel my energy. I might be stepping into unfamiliar territories. I might feel scared again, feel uncomfortable, feel alone. But looking at similar seasons in my past, those experiences allowed me to discover and uncover both my strengths and my flaws. As they are laid out in the open, I get to recognize the beauty that I was made of, and the grace that I needed. I desire to come to a point where I begin to fully embrace what I see. To not be afraid of who I am nor be afraid to explore who I can become. The possibilities are endless. But not until I am willing to see where I am will I ever begin to entertain the idea of what else could be out there for me.  

It’s not for everyone.

If you have found peace where you are, remain there if you must.

However, if you share the same sentiments I have, by all means, explore and do it happily. 

I shall see you on the other side.

On Life and Love

Live today like it’s your whole life.

Seneca

Most of us get it wrong.

We stick to “You only live once”, or “Live today as if it were your last”. Often, we end up being reckless and irresponsible. I am no exception to this, having spent weeks daydreaming about alternate realities. Is it a case of me not wanting my reality? Resisting what is? Refusing suffering and pain? Perhaps, and I’m still finding my way towards acceptance.

I have watched the live stream talk given by Sr. Miriam Heidland as she led the St. Mary Parish mission this year. Stumbling upon the event was no coincidence. A lot of truths were revealed but one thing that spoke to me was “my ache for an encounter with Christ”.  

As Sr. Miriam puts it, sometimes our desires and affections are disordered. We search in the wrong places. We prefer a quick fix. We refuse to accept the answers we don’t like to hear.  

But like that scene from the movie “Narnia” where the little girl was hoping to find another stream to drink from, and to which the lion replied, “There is no other stream”, our thirst will never be quenched until we brave going down a right path, however scary and difficult it would seem.

We all need saving. 

For me, such a message is even more profound as I write this during the season of Lent. We recycle sins, bad habits, negative thoughts, and corrupted intentions. Our struggle against these things seems to go on forever. We agonize in defeat, we lose hope and we lose sight of the good. Indeed, when we cannot imagine a brighter future for ourselves, our past is bound to happen again and again.

How do we move forward?

It’s time to let go of the reins. 

We kept driving this carriage as if we know where we ought to go. We decide on things before seeking counsel. We treat each day carelessly as if there’s more. We pursue what’s unnecessary and postpone what is. If we go on like this, our happiness will always be shallow, and our lives would feel as if it never really mattered when the opposite is true.

We need to step into prayer and trust. 

We begin by acknowledging where we are and who we are at this moment, and who we desire to be– a better version of ourselves, the realization of our highest possibility. We need to lay bare the good and ugly parts of our lives, the things we’re proud of, and the things we bury in the darkest places and allow God’s grace to seep through our cracks. After all, He promised to never leave us broken but to make us whole. Our story doesn’t reach the end until we are healed in the broken places.

We need to be receptive, fully taking in what is freely given to us. 

In my life and yours, this could mean vulnerability- embracing every bit of moment we get, knowing and fully believing that God is there at every stage handing seeds of love, mercy, and healing. 

Our heart gets broken into a million pieces each time we experience pain in suffering, a deep hunger for beauty, and an ache for love. But it is in these moments when hearts bleed out that WE can love the most. When you think about that, you’ll see a different kind of opportunity, one that’s scary but fulfilling to embrace.

Not yet doesn’t mean not ever. Let’s find strength in knowing that it does get better and that every ache, longing, and pain we experience in this life will never go to waste.

Sadness and Self-doubt: 4 Ways to Overcome

“I’m crying but I don’t know why”.

“I’ve never been like this before!”.

“I’m second-guessing myself”. 

“That’s the decision I made. Does it mean I’m bad”?

“I feel like escaping to my fantasy world but I know, in the long run, it won’t be sustainable”. 

“How can I be me in this world and feel accepted and loved?”

These are the types of questions some have confided with me during the past five days. I felt their pain and I thought I was the only one who’s had to deal with them.

It’s easy to fall prey to sadness and self-doubt during these times when most of us are staying indoors. We are not able to physically connect as much as we need to. We’re not able to do things that used to make us feel happy, wanted, or needed. It’s difficult to navigate this season of our lives, more so if we think we are alone in the struggle and that the rest of the world is doing fine. Trust me, you are not alone. And as to the rest of the world, I think what’s fair to say is, everybody’s doing the best they can.  

Some for sure are struggling too, but they don’t want us to see that. 

Some may have just survived a difficult time and on their road to recovery. 

Some may still be looking for answers or striving for a sense of acceptance.

Some may just be braving the storm because there’s no better option out there, at least not at the moment.  

While some may just be enjoying a brief rest from having to fight long battles of God knows what.

I believe pain is good. It’s a sign of growth. It gives meaning to what we’re able to accomplish, what we get to give, and who we eventually become. Maybe we don’t need to escape pain, rather accept it as a part of life. Just like what they say, we have to take the good with the bad.

Few ways to overcome.

  1. Move around.

  Living a sedentary lifestyle during pandemic left us with too much unspent energy. We don’t move enough and our body is forced to numb itself. I believe if we can channel this energy into worthwhile pursuits we will feel alive again. Exercise, go pick up a hobby that would wake those muscles up, pump that heart and engage that brain.

2. Make some changes.

  Having the same routine, staying at the same place, or living the same lifestyle for a decade may provide you a sense of stability, but it may also rob you of new experiences, new connections, and discoveries. Perhaps the boredom, sadness, and restlessness is just the universe trying to tell you that it’s time to graduate from the old and embrace the new. You can start with something small. Have something different for breakfast, listen to a different music genre, try a different color, welcome different opinions, and appreciate other people’s points of view.

3. You can change your mind as you go along.

 Not all decisions are permanent. I think believing the opposite is what scares us the most. There’s no forever here on earth. Accepting this would oblige us to appreciate what’s working well in our lives right now and know that what’s not, like the those that do will also pass.  

We can always change our minds about things. We can grow to like vegetables and lose appetite for ice cream. We can make new friends instead of holding on to unhealthy relationships we’ve built and have been used to in the past. We can re-purpose our gifts, talents, and skills if they end up undervalued or under-appreciated by people we’ve dedicated our working years to. We can relocate to less expensive cities if we can no longer support our current lifestyle. We can re-invent ourselves instead of sticking to the old identities we formed for ourselves. 

4. Live your life on your terms.

 Every one of us has his values and we should respect that part of being human. Don’t be scared to be you. The whole world may not love you but some people will and a few would even love you more than you’ve ever loved yourself. Live your truth. Paint the color of your hue. That’s the reason why we have rainbows. It doesn’t just remind us of God’s promise to His people but that a reminder that God loves you just the same, It doesn’t matter if you’re different. Embrace your uniqueness, celebrate it and just focus on living out your true purpose. 

Whatever it is you going through, know that this is just a chapter of your life and not your whole life. Don’t skip it, just because you don’t like it. It has a purpose too. And know that when you come out to the other side, (and you will), you will have become a better human being, stronger, braver, and wiser. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

Are You Becoming A Dinosaur?

When I stepped into a new role I felt scared. 

After 10 years of doing something that I’ve become comfortable with, changing the status quo was far from my plan. I had to find excuses and talk myself out of an opportunity that was presented to me. But who was I fooling? It wasn’t a case of no-escaping-it kind of a deal. I could just say no but the fact of the matter was, I didn’t have anything better to do.

Getting old has certainly made me feel less courageous. I wanted things to be more steady, predictable, and convenient. Getting cozy with a routine felt like snacking on chips and a bottle of coca-cola on a lazy afternoon. Worry and stress-free. Who wouldn’t want that kind of life?

But alas, the world is changing at a speed faster than a decade ago. We are seeing the dawn of the fourth generation of the industrial revolution, the age of the digital revolution. If we don’t evolve along with it, we will become like dinosaurs on the verge of extinction. 

I believe there would still be human characteristics that cannot be replaced by robotics and artificial intelligence. Think about compassion, empathy, creativity, and human touch for instance. But it doesn’t change the fact that as humans, we need to be continuously learning to catch up and remain useful in the future. 

A casual conversation with friends over breakfast brought things into perspective. 

We all prefer an easy life. 

But who would survive without a little bit of struggle? We weren’t given bread but a seed to plant on the soil. We need some difficulties in life to thrive and grow.

We ought to use our hands, our feet, our brain, our heart (even), and flex those muscles. You know what I mean. Moving and growing is what it means to be truly alive.

Then there is fear

Almost everybody on planet earth is experiencing fear in some way. Some of us are just better at handling it. My favorite mentor would always say these two statements: 

“Feel the fear and do it anyway”.

“Fake it until you BE it”.

But it’s easier said than done.

What scares us are things that we don’t know.  

We are scared of trying a new job, moving to a new city, getting that degree, saying yes to marriage, having kids, speaking in front of other people, the list goes on and on.

We are terrified about what other people would think if we failed, or say the wrong thing, or mess things up. Unfortunately, it’s only when we fail that we get to know better and do better.

Lastly, we quit before we even start.

As we grew older, we forgot how exciting it feels to dream and to chase a dream. 

We forgot how freeing it can be to embrace life, to get wet in the rain, to play, and get our hands dirty. We forgot how it is to laugh our hearts out, to have fun, and not take ourselves seriously. Painful but, we got old, insecure, and boring.

We have to nip it in the bud and awareness is a good place to start. 

God-willing I want to stay on planet earth much longer and still find ways to contribute. I don’t have superpowers to save the world but at least I’d like to put myself to good use. After all, I believe our lives have a purpose. If we are allowed to participate in this life, why don’t we? I encourage all of us not to count what we’ve already done but what we can still do. We are alive right now, aren’t we? If that’s a yes, let’s start acting like it.

Waking Up To A Negative Thought

“It seems like they don’t value my opinion as much as they value the opinions of my peers”.

This thought greeted me first thing in the morning in the middle of my prayer.

I just had to let it out and pray for grace. I couldn’t let this weigh me down as I go through my day. It’s a difficult moment to navigate, but necessary.

I went through it with what I believe are helpful questions.

“It seems like they don’t value my opinion as much as they value the opinions of my peers”.

Is the statement true?  

I might not know exactly. I can open it up in a conversation but the party concerned might just deny it. So this is really out of my area of control. What should I do then? What’s in my control? Ah, yes of course. Just keep on giving my best in what I do while I’m at it.

“It seems like they don’t value my opinion as much as they value the opinions of my peers”.

Is the statement good?

Not at all. It occupies a space in my mind and creating some ill feelings towards someone who may not even care or might not even be aware they’re “presumably” causing a problem. It’s more like a self-inflicted wound. I’m silently “hurting”.

“It seems like they don’t value my opinion as much as they value the opinions of my peers”.

Is the statement helpful?

Perhaps. Helpful in the sense that it allows me to evaluate my actions.  

Am I too friendly?

Do I lack confidence in myself?

Am I not assertive enough?

Is this even a major thing?

What can I do besides focusing on the work at hand?

How do I become kind yet assertive?

How do I become humble yet confident in my abilities?

Well, yes, sometimes I get stuck too. But I throw my questions out there in the universe. Usually, the answers would come. Not in an instant but they certainly do. Other times, it’s useful to reach out to someone for help. Be it through prayer, phone call, private message, or just face to face conversations with a family or friend.

What this particular moment teaches me.

There is something good about not knowing or having all the answers, even in what seems to be a petty thing. If we always do, then there would be no room for others to help, not even God. I know that we were not put in the world to go through life alone, suffer our problems alone, or experience our joys alone. When we reach out to another soul to pour our heart out, the burden somehow splits in two. When we share a piece of good news, the joy doubles.

The negative feeling and thought slowly dissipates as I am writing this. Suddenly it doesn’t seem insurmountable, and not even worth more time and energy than what I’ve already given it.

So here and now.

I choose to focus on what’s working in my life. Things I can be grateful for. After all, isn’t it good to start our days with appreciation? To actively look for blessings and miracles even in the most mundane of things?

So let me start with a few things and hopefully, you’d join in and start to list down your own too.

  • quiet morning
  • something for breakfast
  • a roof above my head
  • family
  • friends
  • work to attend to
  • comfortable chair
  • cold breeze
  • sunrise
  • birds chirping
  • prayer
  • good sleep
  • a passion that keeps the fire in my heart burning.

I know most of us can’t wait for problems to go away before feeling happy and content. But it’s possible. Regardless of the circumstances we’re in, the turmoil in our heart, the doubts in our mind, the pain our body, God doesn’t stop being God, and help is always available. Sometimes they come right away, sometimes we may need to wait. However we look at it, they come right on time. We just have to believe it to receive it.

The End

Today marks the close of another project that I have started five months back. Would I call it a victory? Well, it didn’t pan out the way I envisioned but I should say it was a success. Along the way, I have learned a lot, expressed a lot, developed some technical know-how in areas otherwise I would have shrugged off and kept wondering how it worked. Once I got the hang of it, things just felt like clockwork.

What I learned from this experience.

Pursue the things you’re interested in, regardless of the outcome.

Of course, it’s good to have a goal in mind. That works for most people. But for me, I’ve never been so much into goals. Maybe that’s the reason why I don’t get to the same levels as the people I admire and adore. But I’m fine with that. I got myself into a place where I am more confident and content with who I’ve become, and how I’ve made an impact on someone else’s life.  

I believe in what we call “the process”. I trust it, and I focus on the “now” rather than on some not-so-distant tomorrow which may or may not come. 

What’s important to you right now may not be the same as what others care about at this stage in their life.

Every person we meet even those close to us has his or her own priority. Sometimes they can’t be bothered by the things we’re occupied with or worried about, and that’s okay. We don’t have the same starting point, our circumstances are different, and every person has the freedom to carve his own path rather than follow the herd. 

Sometimes you can take people with you only so far, and then you part ways, you pursue different things. Each of us is in pursuit of our own happiness and we should give that freedom to one another, even more, when we endeavor to create a sense of meaning into our very existence. I think beyond happiness, “meaning” is the utmost desire of our souls.

You may never arrive but what matters is you regard every road as precious.

Wherever we are at this point is necessary not so much to give us comfort but rather to build our character and know our worth, our purpose. The pages of a book are individual strings the when tied together reveal the entirety of a story. I know that sometimes we want to tear a page or two. We don’t like it. It’s burdensome, it’s full of hurts, fears, sadness, and feelings of defeat. When I’m faced with this, I try to imagine myself like I’m a piece of land that needs to crack open. A land that needs to be tilled and cultivated so seeds can grow and new life can spring up. It’s the same thing when our hearts break. The cracks allow God’s grace to flow through. Keeping this in mind allows me to welcome things as they come, whether it be failure or success, an end or a beginning, a hopeful morning or a gloomy afternoon. These things all have a purpose, and it can only unfold once I begin to recognize that. Walking through life with an open hand dissolves all tension in the body. Release your clutch, and you will know what I mean.

Trying is better than not having done anything.

Execution is better than planning.

Living something out is better than preaching about it.

Last thing I wanna say. 

Let go if you need to. What’s meant for you will surely find its way back. 

Let me leave you with this quote from Lewis Carroll:

“IN THE END… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”

Don’t be scared.

Living, is a verb.

I need this place. Can you move over there?

W: Excuse me, how much longer are you staying?

M: For about an hour.

W: Oh okay, you can move over there, you know, because we need this place.

M: Sorry, we just had lunch. We need an hour to rest before we pack up and take off.

W: Oh, so, can we just bring our stuff over because my family is already here, or you could just take the first spot over there. It’s the same size.

I couldn’t understand the woman.  

The first spot is the same size as ours but she wants our spot.

The place is free for everybody, first-come-first-served basis.

It’s one o’clock in the afternoon, we’re resting and she likes us to have enough of it and leave.

Even the proposal to bring their stuff over was ridiculous.

How can you rest when people are moving stuff around?

Choose your battles. 

This was ringing in my ear so loud that I just nudged the rest of my team to pack our things up and leave. I didn’t want to fuel my anger and use up my energy for this “coveted” spot. The reluctance to leave was strong but we did anyway.

Fast forward ten minutes later we found ourselves exploring a more exciting part of the desert. We walked across a lake through a man-made pass, dipping our feet on the water, went up a hill, and took splendid photos of colorful fishes, beautiful swans, and quirky landscapes decorated by heart-shaped begonia, branches of trees, and shrubs.

Talk about a blessing in disguise.

Oftentimes we do things reluctantly. It feels heavy because we’re resisting something emotionally or intellectually. But as heaven would have it, in turn, miracles happen, surprises pour down like rain, good things take place unexpectedly.

Can we be so certain that’s the way stories would unfold every time? I could only tell from my own experience. I have enough to say that when you chose to do what’s good and right based on your inner compass and do it sincerely, rewards are forthcoming.

  • Reluctantly choosing to be patient with a difficult boss has rewarded me with the coolest bosses years after.
  • Reluctantly serving in the community brought me so much happiness and deepened my spiritual growth.
  • Reluctantly studying since I was a kid developed my love for learning.
  • Reluctantly waking up early in the morning has helped me become more centered, more present, and more aware.

I know the journey would have been easier if I did things with less resistance.  But you see, like everything else, cultivating a good attitude is like a muscle, It grows and strengthens over time. When it’s finally “ripe”, the attitude sticks. It becomes second-nature to you.

I’m not saying I’ve already nailed it. I’m still a work in progress, but way better now than years ago. A rebellious kid turned respectful, disciplined fellow (almost)!

I thank that woman who pushed us away. I couldn’t care less if they had a good time.  For me and my buddies, we surely did!  

I guess this is just a simple reminder to us all.

Never underestimate the power of something you know is Good.

Oh you sweet little darling, why are you feeling down?

The sun peeked through the clouds at 6:45 today. It’s a cold winter morning. Everything around me is quiet, and neither the hot cup of coffee in my hand nor the promise of a new day can lift my spirits. I was deeply discouraged and feeling hopeless.

There are days when the oil in my lamp seems low, my energy is depleted and everything I do looks pointless all of the sudden. The thought of never really arriving lost its thrill while the desire to finally reach a destination had never been more pressing than ever.

Have you, at one point in time, felt like giving up on yourself? You realize you’ve been repeating the same mistakes, clutching on to old bad habits, and found you’ve never really figured out things yet, in your finances, relationships, projects, job, or wherever it is you’re heading.

Discouragement rots your heart like a bad apple.

A priest once told a story about him being ridiculed for his faith. But he stood firm and courageously expressed, “I’d rather live my life believing there is God even if it would turn out to be not true. At least I have lived with joy and hope. Living would be pointless if there’s nothing to hope for or look forward to.”

Losing hope dims our future. But how does one find hope when his heart is heavily discouraged?

Trust.  

We might not get it right every time. Yet, we have to remind ourselves and believe that we are not crappy people. Sometimes it does feel like we’re not inching forward. Why? It’s because we tend to focus more on how far we have to go rather than look at how far we’ve come.  

Success or victory doesn’t happen overnight and we know this. Nevertheless, we beat ourselves up when deadlines are missed, or things didn’t work out the way we planned. 

We need to allow our hearts to trust again. To trust ourselves, trust the process, and the goodness in and around us.

Believe there is a lot of kindness in the world. We just fail to recognize them in small things. The smile from a stranger, the unexpected phone call, the simple thank you, or that free bread from a neighbor, they all count. The warmth of the sunlight on your skin on a breezy morning is kindness from the universe too. Humanity and the universe have our back. We just need to give faith and trust a chance.

Action.

The steps that we take need not be grand. Magnitude and Intensity can never be sustained in the long run. Taking actions on this level is oftentimes scary and overwhelming. 

In recent years, I have seen the power of starting small and doing it consistently, in my own life. Talk about the 1% rule: improving yourself just 1% each day. When you look at improvement in small bites on whatever it is you’re working on, it doesn’t look daunting at all. You can even translate it in terms of time. We get 1440 minutes a day, and 1% is roughly 15 minutes. You can carve out 15 minutes each day doing that one thing that will move you forward to wherever it is that you want to be.

Humility.

Grace flows when we stand in humility. Surrendering to the powers above us just gives us more strength than what we can muster on our own. Whether we feel it or not, remember it or not, some things are just beyond our control. So yes we do things and do them faithfully but let’s open our hearts too for some possible redirection. 

I have heard it once, “When you pray, ask God everything that you need and want, but trust that if He doesn’t give exactly what you asked for, He’s giving you something better.”  And that has been my prayer ever since. Why? I believe and I trust that He knows better.

Discouragement melted away.

I know not for a long time. It will still visit me in the future like an old friend. I’m beginning to appreciate going through discouragement because it reminds me of one thing, that I can’t trust my feelings to drive my way through life. What shapes my journey is each decision and action I take, and I believe that goes for you too.