If I can focus on what’s essential, what matters in the grand scheme of things, I will be able to give more energy to it—more of myself. Then I would have used my life on matters I will not someday regret, but rather, I’ll be proud of.
Remember this: Whatever I give attention to, I’m exchanging my life for it. So it better be worth what I’m giving up. It better be good!
“Why do I shy away from meeting new friends or avoid hanging out with them?”
She sat there a bit upset.
“Well, let’s see. “Sometimes, it’s all about expectations.” I began.
You expect to be somebody else other than yourself.
“This requires a lot of effort. It won’t sit right with your soul. The whole time, you’d be pretending, shoving your true self into the closet, and for what? Even if people end up liking “you,” they’d still be enjoying a “made-up” version of you.”
“So, what should I do it instead?”
“Show up as you, the polite, respectful, unpretentious, unassuming you. Those are your genuine character traits. Don’t apologize for them or try to hide them away.”
Your expectation of who people are or how they’d be like.
“Our ego loves to gauge itself whether it’s higher or lower, greater or lesser, better or worse than others. Why? Because it likes to know where and how to position itself against others. Then, it either gets a sense of pride or feels so insecure.”
“How should I manage that?”
“Receive people as they are, or, as they present themselves, without judgments, expectations, and your personal agendas.”
She pondered for a moment, looked at me, and smiled.
I’ve read a story about a traveler who met a monk on his journey and decided to come by his place. When they arrived, the traveler was surprised to see the monk’s house barely having anything apart from a bed, a chair, a table, a cup and a book. Curious, he asked the monk, “Why do you only own a few stuff?”. To this, the monk replied, “I can see you carried a few stuff yourself”. Baffled, the man explained, “Well Mr. Monk, that’s because I’m a traveler!”. With a twinkle in his eyes, the monk smiled and said , “So am I son, so am I.”
Have you thought about how simple life was when we were kids? We play, we eat, we sleep, then hit the repeat button. Or more profoundly, have you thought of how your life once was:
– when you were young and innocent
– when your heart was full of big dreams and hope
– when you were unafraid or maybe, less scared
– when you didn’t know what “worrying” meant, because you had so much faith,
– when you can’t be bothered by petty things and can’t afford to hold grudges ‘coz you desire peace & harmony & friendship
– when you knew forgiveness, the gift of it
– when you had so much love?
How wonderful it was. “If I could only go back”- the wish we whisper secretly in our hearts hoping the universe would hear and answer back.
So what’s the deal with us? Baggages. We carry too much. These days we are crippled by fear, weighed down by hurt, consumed with regrets, paralyzed by indecision, suspended by thoughts of “what-ifs” and “maybes”. Why? Because we chose to. It’s not pleasant to hear, but It is our fault. Our life doesn’t just unfold by itself. We steer its course. We have to learn, to grow, to take courage, to take responsibility for our choices, and let go already. Release, and let go.
What else? The consuming desire for fame, for power and fortune, that it becomes an obsession! The moment it takes hold of your life, the noble man inside of you dies. Like the characters in the story, we are all travelers in this world. Let’s not get too comfortable in it. Be extraordinary but learn to live simply. Good works and good deeds define a man. He’s measured by the attitude of his heart. Stay away from the trappings of this world. Guard your thoughts, guard your heart, pack your life’s suitcase. Go, and travel light!
Fear is most people’s nemesis. We’re afraid to lose, to fail, to get hurt or to start again. We’re afraid to frustrate loved ones, to be laughed at by friends, to not gain everyone’s approval.
Fear is in not knowing. Take for example a newbie investor. He’s unsure how the market is going to perform, where to invest his money, or to invest at all. He fears he’s gonna make the wrong choices, lose his money and fail.
What could this person do? Study. Research. Know everything there is to know. When you learn, you equip yourself, and then you can make informed decisions. What if the decision was wrong? The important thing is you did what you know was right at that particular time with all the information you have. If you fail, then take the lesson with you. Successful people pursue learning. It feeds their appetite.
Fear is a control issue. This is when a person knows he doesn’t have a hand or power over things. Paranoia exhibits this fear- a condition where one is obsessed with the belief that bad things are going to happen and that everybody is out there to get him. He becomes helpless, paralyzed, panicky, worrisome.This is not a pleasant and healthy state to be in and there’s no easy cure but two ways can help: To trust and to let go.
First, It all boils down to your belief system. when you learn to trust people and trust a Higher Being, your perspective change. To worry and to focus on things you can’t control just doesn’t make sense. It’s a waste of your time and energy, two resources that you have a limited supply of. To shift your focus on things you can control is more sensible and a more productive way to live your life. Delegate. Do what you do best, and leave the rest to experts. You ask for help, you collaborate or team up with the someone. You can even team up with God.
To let go on the other hand demands acceptance- the courage to embrace the truth. There are things that are bound to happen. You can’t do anything about it. Even if you can the efforts would be futile. Death, taxes, and change are on top of the list. You can’t avoid death. You can avoid taxes but with disastrous consequences. You can resist change but that will disrupt your growth. See, it’s pointless to argue with these truths much more prevent it from taking place.
Lastly, fear is refusing to take responsibility for your own happiness. When you dread rejection or demand affection you are bound to fail. The former will immobilize you, the latter will frustrate you. Don’t avoid the chances of getting turned down. Successful people have had a fair share of it. There’s Colonel Sanders, Oprah Winfrey, and Sylvester Stallone to name a few. On the other hand, if you look forward to pleasing everybody- you will end up living up to their expectations and not yours. Remind me, who’s life is this again? Yours right?
Fear has many facets and all of it are not good for you. Of course, there’s a healthy kind of fear and it’s a topic worthy of discussion on a separate occasion. For now, think about where your fear stems from, then deal with the root cause. Work on what you can. Everything else is not meant to be dealt with by you. Wave the white flag if you must. Help will certainly come.
I could have quickly snuggled back in bed and gotten two more minutes. But that morning, I said, “No. Not again.”
Hitting the snooze button most days left me feeling sluggish. So that day, I reckon, was going to be different.
Stepping outside the building, a cold wind greeted me. The sun was slowly rising, and I could see a few neighbors running and sprinting.
“Let’s do this,” I said.
Since I admire physically active people, even non-athletic ones, I emulate them by spending most time outdoors. But with winter, it is a bit of a struggle.
Like a few of my friends, I gain weight during colder months. Call it “hibernation mode”- to justify longer hours in bed or most days on the couch telling stories with friends over a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
As I stood outside breathing the fresh morning air, sunlight gently lit up our side of town. I climbed down the steps and slowly headed towards the lake. The water was calm. How can it be when the world “out there” is full of noise? “Even my mind right now can’t stay quiet.” I wonder.
The Wooden Bench
I walked for what could be the longest I’ve done in the past 7 days. Stopping by a wooden bench, I clasped my hands behind my back and stretched while tilting my head back. Ahhh, and there it was.. blue skies! A moment more and a little bird flew by. Beautiful!
Funny, I realized I hadn’t looked up to see the skies for quite a long time. I might have, unconsciously, but not really experienced it like I’ve had now- in joy and wonderment.
Reflecting on this, I recognized it was no different in how I’ve managed situations in my life. I have looked to myself and to others for answers. Of course, I have looked to God, too, as I imagine Him beside me. But there’s something different about looking up.
The Blue Canvas
The vastness of the skies reminded me of how little my “world” is. So from that perspective, most things became unimportant. -The world will not collapse if I miss a deadline. -My phone would still be working if I missed a notification. -My experiences are still enjoyable even without the adorable photos.
Most things can wait. And some can be enjoyed just by themselves, without adding anything to it.
Looking up also gave me a sense of relief. It’s peaceful to see the “heavens.” I think it’s because there is less “clutter” up there. There’s no congestion, no noise, and dare I say, there are no personalities to deal with, even my own.
So my takeaway in all this, look up. Better yet, gaze into the skies now and then. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, empty, lonely, or grieving, I think it’s worth the try. You may think it’s too simple, but maybe, that is all we really need.
Letting go is obviously one of the hardest things that we can do, but at times, stepping into that new kind of freedom is very much worth it.
The year came like anything normal and in so many ways I have underestimated it. Certainly, you’ll never really know where life would take you.
During the first few months, inspiration struck. It triggered me to make small decisions and subtle changes affecting very important aspects of my life.
Letting Go of Stuff
It started with a few clothes, some old, some new, that I’ve never really worn for months. Like most, I’ve held on to those pieces of clothing because I’ve paid for them and I already own them.
I realized later on that possessing or not possessing them didn’t really affect the quality of my life. Nor has it affected the level of my happiness in the long term. Maybe that’s why you and I call this and similar things as stuff because literally, they’re just that. Most things we can live without and some we can only need enough of.
On the other hand though, our stuff can be a piece of gold to someone who really needs them. With that, I gave away clothes to friends, neighbors, relatives and some more things to charity.
I was able to sell some of the stuff too and more will be sold in the comings months. I remember meeting this buyer and our conversation went like this.
Buyer: So how long have you had this?
Me: 6 months
Buyer: how many times did you use it?
Buyer: It’s in superb condition and you’re selling it for half the price. Why did you buy it in the first place?
Me: Well, I thought I needed it and would do me good. Later on, I realized, it’s bulky and cumbersome. I can actually get rid of it and make do of what I already have.
Buyer: Well, this is a gem for me. Sorry, you had to sell it.
Me: Oh no, I’m glad I did! (“and I met you”! – bonus point that I felt he didn’t need to know – insert “grin”).
Letting Go of biases
I think you would agree that we all have our biases when it comes to culture, people of a different race or sometimes people from our own race. I for one am guilty about this. In the past, my generalizations about people have hindered the possibility of me knowing them at a deeper level and understand how they see things.
I’ve come to realize that it was a mistake and a loss on my part. I mean, some of them could have been my close friends. They could have contributed to my growth. Most could have been helpful mentors, teachers, coaches or perhaps role models. I remember a colleague of mine said to me one time. “It’s not you. We’re just not used to saying please and thank you as often as you do. We don’t even say please or thank you to people from our own country”. Another shared, “We look like we’re fighting because we seem to be shouting at each other, but we’re not. This is just a normal conversation”.
When I decided to finally open myself to other cultures and other communities, I felt like my heart expanded and my understanding broadened. I began to see these people the way I see myself and my friends- just human beings with imperfections like we all have, and trying their very best in life as we all do.
Letting Go of Who I thought I was
We are who we are. This belief also limited my success as a person.
I always thought that I’m an introvert and therefore, don’t have the ability to connect with people and actually be energized in the process. I always thought, I could never write, just because I barely passed my first essay in college. My English teacher would always ask me to explain what I’m trying to say. That time I have a knack for tying two words together, not because they mean anything but because they just sounded good. Well, it’s hard when English is not your first language. These are just two of several beliefs which crafted my idea of Me. This same idea pushed me to stay in my comfort zone because venturing out, I assumed, would lead me to failure.
After years, a breakthrough came. I decided I will no longer fear failure. So I started a journey of self-discovery and that meant trying new things and doing things that actually scared me or made me nervous and uneasy. I tell you, when I look at myself now, I like what I’m seeing. Frankly, I still make mistakes but I’m growing and continuously learning.
The good thing about letting go of who I thought I was is that every day I am embracing the opportunity to reinvent myself and expand my horizons. It opens a whole new door of possibilities of what I can still be, and the results usually astound me. What you can or cannot do, is indeed entirely up to you. Henry Ford puts it this way “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”.
My friend, is there something in your life that you need to let go and why, or, why not?