Top Ten Life Lessons to Jump Start Your New Year (2013) : The First Cut
Three hours before closing the year that was...
A friend of mine was ranting non-stop about what she was addictively viewing over her social media networks. “These posts are totally sickening.”
Feeling worried, I let out a deep audible sigh. I moved closer to her side attempting to pacify her mood and to keep her back in shape – away from those mundane posts.
“These people keep posting their New Year’s Resolution for the pleasure of the public!”, she ranted more. “Hmm, they have all the rights to do so. I don’t understand the concern here”, I silently thought. I bit my tongue not to shed any insight from a situation that I prematurely understand. I let her say her piece. Being by her side without saying anything can do more good than sharing a mouthful of opinion from my end (which was never asked anyway).
Then, I begin to understand.
People, (not excluding myself) just can’t resist to romanticize their depictions of the New Year by laying all their resolution cards, fearless forecasts or declaration of what they want to realize on the table regardless if it’s for everybody’s sight or for theirs alone. Then before the year ends, the proverbial oath written in paper might just come out as a creative gag show – blurting a queasy yet humor-induced punchline expression, “Gotcha!” because instead of having a self-fulfilling prophecy for the one who laid it in the first place, it became an unfortunate joke for everybody to believe, including themselves.
New Year Resolutions should NOT ONLY be a list of who you want to become or what you want to achieve before the year ends but rather should also comprise PRINCIPLES that anchor you to become single-minded, focus-driven, guilt-proof and steadfast mover and shaker of your own world despite any external circumstances that may hinder you beyond your control. We must learn to reconcile our myopic or nearsighted idealism with our sense of mature realism – that in this way, we can securely consider a promising trajectory of our lives that extracts the VERY BEST from us rather than ending up cringed in defeat from plans that never worked out.
Two hours before midnight..
I recall a good book of Alexandra Stoddard that I read two months ago and its lessons are truly liberating. It resonates a lot of life issues for the many of us and better yet answered a myriad dilemmas that we normally keep thinking through – sometimes even killing so much time that we have. I hope this can shed a light on our concerns and that these lessons may fuel our year’s targets to full realization. I have gathered here my favourite lessons and I hope these would bless you well.
Top 10: AN INVITATION IS NOT AN OBLIGATION
Just when you want to fill up all the months and days of the year with frighteningly tedious schedules and events - unmindful of the time that it can demand of you, I suggest that you have to PAUSE AND THINK everything first. It is very easy to say YES to something but it is nightmarishly humiliating if you cannot keep your promise on the day you have initially committed to. Alexandra Stoddard, the author of the book reminded us straightforwardly, “An invitation is a request – an act of asking your presence and participation and not a command performance.” We tend to pressure ourselves too much or even worst, feel overly guilty for not committing to be there just because of the impossibility of squeezing another event on your fully-booked schedules. We Filipinos have that kind of reaction that we feel like we are disrespectful to people whenever we cannot immediately answer a, “Yes” or that we leave them with a, “Maybe (Baka, tingnan ko)” to their invitations. I believe what triggers the compulsion or mania of SAYING YES to every invitation is either our drive to please the person or the fear of not being in the “in-crowd” even if it would be at the expense or risk of ourselves. I cannot equal how wonderful Alexandra Stoddard puts it, “Show up whenever you can for your dearest friends’ events (and families’ – I extended that point) no matter how much trouble it is. When you can’t, for whatever reasons, remember you can’t be all things to people and have a life. Do not feel pressured into doing something against your will. Never feel an ounce of guilt for saying no politely. Your real friends will give you your space… Think of yourself first. When your heart is in the right place, be confident you’ve done the right thing.” Take time to think about it because as soon as you say, “Yes” that means you must say “No” to other invitations that might come after that. Your choice is a limitation. Give yourself the liberty of time to think well and weigh your options. Do cut some slack and release the burden you put yourself into. Never betray yourself by setting aside your own choice by going somewhere you are not available or comfortable of in the first place.
Top 9: BE GRATEFUL BUT DON’T EXPECT GRATITUDE
Respond to your every life event with endless gratitude even those which are considered as “blessings in disguise”. Bad stuffs in life should not be set apart from the good stuffs as both can work its purpose of bringing not just good but GREATNESS in you. In giving Alexandra Stoddard shares, “Do for others because you want to not because they will be thankful. When we expect others to appreciate everything we do, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Whatever you do, do it with love and a pure heart. You want to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons because it is the good thing to do.” I think Filipinos put the highest value on showing gratitude and the cycle seems to have no end as it persists from generations to generations. It is one of the values I am very proud of but at the same time cautious too – of not bordering beyond the line. When Juan helped Pedro in his undertaking, the latter returns the favour non-stop as it has been extended not only to Juan but also to his family. Pedro feels he has a debt of gratitude or in Tagalog, “utang na loob” as though he is obligated to pay up not only in single transactions but in multiple. Alexandra Stoddard said it so simple but encompasses the very core of the issue in it. We give because we want to and it is the right thing to do not because we want to control a person so he can act more affectionately towards you. You do not buy people by giving them something they need. The genuineness of generosity can be tarnished by the giver’s intentions or motives. To illustrate more that point that the Author shared, when you give something to someone the right reaction after that is to – COMPLETELY FORGET about your deed. You are doing it in a wrong way if you give assistance to somebody and count or take note every detail of it. We give because not giving is not our character. LEARN TO LOVE FULLY. The gratitude of the receiver is no longer your control nor should be your concern. What matters most is that you are able to help and give a part of yourself to other people. Another unfettered ill-expression of gratitude is telling other people that you gave, helped or assisted another person. Broadcasting that you are helping other people is another awfully cheap self-advertisement of seeking the spotlight. A genuine act of giving refuses recognition – not seeking the public to stroke your ego and thus, asking nothing in return. You give a part of yourself just because it makes you happy. If you feel that you are in this situation, better check your motives first. Most people await the words, “Thank you” so that they can get appreciation from others. Learn to appreciate yourself. Do not burden other people especially your loved ones by giving them the task of filling you up with appreciation or affirmation. You must do it yourself. Relationships break apart because we oblige people to appreciate US. Guess what, no matter how they tried to appreciate you if you do not appreciate yourself enough you’ll never be settled nor satisfied either with their much or littlest appreciation. I knew far too well that cycle and gratitude dynamics because I was there when I was younger. I am happy to have grown – capable of giving something to people and loving them with the purest intentions and not expecting anything in return.
10:30 in the evening.. Pen down.. The fireworks dance their way into the night sky. People burst into ecstatic celebration and thunderous rejoicing with a sheer sentiment of the year that is bidding goodbye..
There will always be a point in your life when you have to confront your life issues head on. Be brave to accept your weakness with a heaviness of honor and dignity if not the lightness of heart because beyond any doubt, you can never change what you do not acknowledge in yourself. Remember, you are born for GREATNESS and you need to keep pressing on and pressing through by learning what the Author of Life teaches you.
Yes, I am loving life even more now! The lessons are truly a joy to behold. The world is giving you unparalleled opportunities that can spike you up to unbelievable heights but you need to go through these lessons that would give face to the life you are creating every single day.
Let your each day be an infinite expression of love and appreciation of life.
(to be continued..)