The Irony of “Happiness”

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There are two things that have been in my mind for quite some time. Just an observation based on my own experiences. Getting to understand the meaning of happiness and how it can lead to success is quite a big idea deal with. We may get the understanding that this is how it all works but actually, after having to watch Shawn Achor’s TEDtalk video about “The Happiness Advantage”, it does make sense to create a better analogy on how happiness can lead to success and not the other way around.

However, it is easier said than done. No matter how much we strive to do what we love, we always come to a point where it does not seem right anymore or your aspirations seem to be at a different path. Now, no one can really say which one is which.. only you. Before we get to the realization of what happiness should feel like, we have to understand ourselves more than our surroundings. (our strengths, our weaknesses, our background, our culture, and most importantly, our values that creates that foundation towards our thought and behaviour)

2 things I came to think of when it came to knowing what will make me “happy” are quite ironic.. well according to how I have been feeling the past few months, here they go:

“The more people I know, the more lonely I feel.” 
It is confusing but that’s how I feel. I am a friendly person by nature and I just love to meet new people. In the longer run though, I don’t feel as connected to them like I used to. This is no generalization, just a situation. I treasure these people whom I have met and there is no way that I would replace their friendships with anyone else. There are just moments when I feel that it is so difficult to keep up with each person’s life. I know the quality of he relationship is always more important than quantity of times you have met; however, we can’t deny how the friendship goes deeper through the memories you have spent together, which equals the time you make time to be with them.

Current situation: still in the path of understanding the art of balancing relationships

“The more effort I put into pushing myself to get out and discover who I am, the more I feel lost.”
It is believed that it is extremely important to get to know yourself first before you head out for the world. I have always had this thought that once I create my goal, I must focus towards achieving it even if it meant that I have to give up some things. This is how I was brought up. My parents would always talk about sacrifice and service and how these two things can lead to happiness and later on, success with achieving the life you have always wanted to have. However, this kind of wisdom is not working for me right now. I am craving to do the things that I used to do.. unfortunately, I do not have enough time for them. It’s just sad to realize how I have to comply to this path when i could have traveled the road less traveled by. I have been involved in almost anything and everything but nothing seems to fill my heart and my satisfaction.. I have been thinking that maybe, just maybe time would tell. That once I get to that phase, I would understand and I would experience the greater happiness. I was just wondering, until how long?

Current situation: still in the path of either realizing or creating my own identity

Life of a 20-something: Phase 0.

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Initially inspired by one of the best authors I know: Meg Jay (MUST READ: Defining Decade & MUST WATCH: her amazing Ted Talk)

Being a 20-something seems like just that typical feeling where you just feel nothing because you know that you’re just growing a year older.. and that’s it. But that’s how I used to think of it. After reading Meg Jay’s Defining Decade, I learned to understand how being 20 is NOT just being 20, it’s all about transforming to a young adult entering a new phase of her life. This year of being a 20 year old was a definite roller coaster ride, from going way up to all the way down and all around. It was crazy but there are no regrets, just realizations. I don’t know if you have experienced this or experiencing this at some point. My objective is to merely give you a portion of my life.

Check in — confused and overwhelmed

SELF-DISCOVERY:

Emotionally, I feel lost.
Mentally, I feel that I have too much to learn and to catch up on.
Physically, I feel like after a year of no competitive swimming, I was able to develop my own routine of taking care of my health (I still have a sweet tooth nonetheless.. unfortunately.)
Spiritually, I am floating. I believe in God and I sincerely love Him with all my heart but there are a lot of times when I still feel empty.

1st Quarter:
First year of University in a different country with a new set of people to deal with. (except for my dearest family of course) I was involved in a lot of volunteering activities.. trying to understand the culture in this totally strange world. I got accepted into a seasonal job, which by the way I really loved. I met a lot of people from very diverse backgrounds, it was definitely interesting in so many ways. However, there are still times when I felt alone. I had a job, I was involved, I was getting good grades, but I was not contented. I miss swimming and I missed my old life and my best friends. I almost felt lucky but at the same time, without it. It was quite ironic. Creating memories with the new people I have healed that urge to go back to the past.. but not completely.

2nd Quarter:
No exercise, it was winter time too. Oh what fun! I was healthy and emotional at the same time. Now, let’s not laugh about this.. even if it sounds funny (or not). My job was done for the season and I was studying for five courses in comparison with the four courses I had before. I had no social life because I was so involved with school that I almost forgot what it felt like to just get out and enjoy or stay in and watch some TV series with my PJ’s. This is practically the worst quarter for me because I was more than alone, I felt alienated. I did get to meet up with some of my friends but how I perceived myself was not something I really hoped to feel. I thought Winter would be great, because it’s snow and.. well, it was my first time to experience snow. Then after a winter-tastic quarter, I said to myself never again. I miss my tropical country!

One night, I got to talk with a dear friend talking about anything and everything. I was laughing and crying at the same time, there were just a lot of emotions involved. It was moody and relieving at the same time. Now, I don’t feel alone. I came into a realization that I almost forgot.. I have my family with me and that’s what’s most important. We will get through with this TOGETHER. Moreover, I attended this amazing conference, called LEADER SHAPE, which made me understand my worth as a person and as a human being. If you have this program in your University, I highly suggest that you take advantage of this. It changed my life.. my vision was established. (something I will share soon)

3rd Quarter:
Hello Spring and hello Summer! Something I really really look forward to. I was able to get over my fear of treadmills after trying it out for the third time, this time I was successful. We, my brother and I, were able to make the most out of the facilities we have here. It was about time to get back in shape. I was getting the hang of how my new position works in this organization I am involved in. I was hired for a new job after a long process of recruitment and selection. It was definitely worth the wait. I took 2 summer courses and they were very much aligned to my own interests. I have had some moments when I felt idle but that did not push me to go back to sinking into my over thinking. After having to do a lot of reflections in different conferences and during my me-times, I was able to increase my patience towards persevering to overcome challenges that are worth fighting for. It was happy inside, the sense of fulfillment gave me self-confidence but I was losing the balance of being able to make sure that I maintain my relationships intact. (be updated with their lives and vice versa)

4th Quarter:
It is ironic to realize how the intention of being individualistic does not match the results that you see. I thought getting to improve myself and investing in my own experiences would benefit those around me. They were proud of me but I was not proud of how I had lesser and lesser time to spend with them. My values are now in conflict with my aspirations. Which comes first? I am still trying to find the right intersection. I have the least idle moments so that is good because it only means that I’m becoming more productive. My room is cleaner or maintained better than it used to. I brought up posters / large reminders to keep me on track with my goals and routine. I feel more matured and less conscious with what I say because I push myself to speak up. It has always been hard but I try.. I keep on trying. In the end, we have got to realize that nobody can help us but ourselves!

Over-all realization:
I have a lot to improve on, that’s for sure but nothing is stopping me from learning more and more. It’s interesting how the world works, just take the time to get to know it especially the people. What really moved me is how the project of Brandon from New York was able to capture the simplicity and beauty of human life. This is an initiative that can catch your attention wherever you come from because of how natural the pictures and real their stories are. #mustread We are all but humans, we possess a treasured life that is meant to be shared.

Overload

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What is success? Does it bring happiness? What is happiness? But then how can one experience happiness.. is it through wealth, accomplishments, or relationships? Have you experienced having to achieve a lot of things but still feeling empty inside? How about spending a lot of time with other people but no time for yourself? Of course, that’s a different matter. Besides anything too much is bad for us. But is too much happiness wrong? Is it wrong to want to be happy but not knowing what makes you happy? What is the difference between interests and dreams? If you are lucky, they would match.. If you are flexible, they will try to match.. If they differ, that would be complicated but at least you know which is which.

In life, take charge and stick to your decisions. Stand by them and FOLLOW THROUGH. It is easier said than done, that’s for sure but it’s not impossible. All you need to have is an understanding of your values, your commitments, and your passion. Live as though you are on a journey of learning not a journey of proving yourself. How can you prove yourself if you still haven’t found out who you really are?

Who are you? What is your identity? Do we have a planned out destination or do we make them? But how about those who experience bad things that make them in the end.. bad people? Is it their fault that they became who they are? Yes, it is us who creates our future but what if the influence of our environment is just too strong to become the person we have always wanted to be. Where does the pursuit of happiness come? I don’t know.. nobody knows but I guess, we should stop thinking about happiness so that we can expect less from it and in the end, just become content with what is in front of us. What if we are presented with a lot of options? To be happy or to be accepted? Which one will you choose?

Relationships can consume a huge amount of time in our daily lives. We may love it but sometimes it can pull us away from our own individual dreams. Moderation is the key.. The complication starts when you are to decide between career and relationships. Which is which? What if those two do not align your own dreams for yourself? Interests > Career & Relationships, is that something you have experienced? How did you face it? What is your drive? Maybe, just maybe the reason why you are neglecting your interests and concentrating on your career is because you want to improve your relationship/s (may it be to make your parents proud or to make sure that you will be able to sustain your family) Through the process though.. you alienate yourself from yourself and from your environment. Time spent is all on work just to make sure that money is coming in and everyone is happy but actually, it is only temporary happiness. They don’t feel your presence because you’re always busy and you don’t understand yourself because emotions have to be removed when it comes to work. Why? Where is happiness now? What is success?

Some things are just too complicated to think about.. so just live your life and when the right time comes, when you have learned to live to the fullest, just then you will gain the right wisdom and find out YOUR definition of success, happiness, and identity.

Your Armor

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When you hear the word ‘armor’, what first comes to your mind?

Probably, a soldier.. a brave soldier who is ready to fight in a battle or to protect himself from getting hurt. Either way, it says the same thing about what the soldier is about to do, which is to face a challenge. May it be big or small, it does not matter. Just the fact that he is wearing his armor, it can indicate that he has already decided to stay and push through with what he is about to do. We should be like the soldier.. scared but unafraid to face our fears. It is easier said than done, that is a definite yes! I myself am struggling to overcome my biggest fear of public speaking. Yes, I am telling you now that you are not alone when it comes to having that stuttering feeling every time you are in front of 20 or more people. Moreover, we all have our own differences; thus, having our own set of weaknesses, which is not strange at all.

—  Being open about what you fear the most can help you. The more you recognize your weaknesses, the more you are able to accept them and overcome them. Have a confidant or write a blog about it or list them all down.. that way you are able to track down your progress. Trust me, it is very very hard at first, sometimes it can be frustrating knowing that you have more than one weakness. However, that should not drag your confidence down rather it will keep your feet on the ground because you still have something to improve on. Nobody’s perfect anyway but that does not mean that we should not strive to become better people. Keep on learning more and more; you will be able to feel more satisfied once you get to learn something new about the world around you and about yourself.

—  A good army = a good company = a good result! Surround yourself with positive people. You wouldn’t want to have friends who keep reminding you of your past, your mistakes, and your insecurities all the time. You would want to have an honest company who tell you what they see in you and focus on helping you improve. (and vice versa)

— Confidence is not built through your material achievements rather it is through consistent exposure to your own fears. Imagine this: you know what your fears are, you recognize them, and you accept them but you don’t allot enough time to slowly overcome them. What will happen to you? It’s like knowing your mistakes but you just keep repeating them because as what we usually say, “That’s just who I am.” Yes, we have our own personalities but when it comes to attitudes, we still have a chance to be better. To have a more productive and satisfying routine. Why not take the chance while you still have the time? Challenge yourself! You may end up crying at first.. out of frustration, fatigue, hopelessness, shame; however, those feeling should not bring you down rather trigger your drive to wear your armor and face the battle against the “labels” that were laid out for you by the society. Now, let me be clear and specific that this does not count when you are behaving immorally. This is a way of encouraging you of becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.. hoping it would be a “better YOU”. Not like him or like her or anything else, but YOU. It is do-able and worth it! Gather up enough determination to consistently remind you to keep moving forward. Courage can bring you to many places. It did for me and so will for you.

After a year of being part of something so different, so diverse, and so challenging.. I can say that I have improved a lot! It is surprising to see what I have become. I got involved in a variety of things, some I didn’t really like and some I learned to love.. but you what’s most important? At least, now I know what I want and what I don’t want to be when I grow up. I still have a lot to experience and it just excites me knowing that there are more doors out there waiting to be opened. Here are some small tips I can give you (according to my own experiences) on how to step up the game.

3 MEGAJUMPS

1. Create your small and big goals for the year, each month, each week, and daily. You may find this overwhelming so you can start with year and daily first then from there make sure that you make the most out of what you have! Volunteer, get involved, find your passion and invest your time in them. Try & try! One door opens to limitless opportunities, never get tired of trying new things and developing yourself. Next thing you know, you’ll have a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily lists! (what is exciting!)

2. Ask and you shall receive. Network and always meet new people. In today’s society, the best way to find the right job/career is through the people you know. This is not cheating because you still have to go through the process of application, interviews, and reference checking. What is just good about it is that at least you are given the chance to showcase who you are and you may or may not succeed at first but what matters the most is you get better and better at being able to tell them your significance. Attend networking events, workshops, and join organizations. Connect and have your own mentors to guide you along the way. 

3. This is the most important thing: find your drive! Why oh why, that is the question. Why are you doing what you’re doing. May it be to make your parents proud, be financially stable, reach your dreams, be happy, make the most out of your life, establish your own mark in this world, find a compatible partner, sustain a family, or other important things.. you have to find it because it/they will be the one/ones to keep you moving forward and achieving what you aim to achieve. When a soldier fights, I only see three things he is fighting for: his passion, his country’s pride, and his family’s wanting him to come back home safely. What is common among them? they are all HIS reasons to live and to finish the battle. That is why I want you to pick your own armor and get ready to face what life throws at you. It is not supposed to keep you away from you want rather it will help you become the person you are meant to be.. YOU.

Before you Cross

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This is such a broad topic to talk about but I’ll open it up anyway since I am really interested in knowing more about it. People have usually told how mature I think and at first, I felt that it was weird.. that maybe, I should think less matured because it’s not proper for my age. However, as I grew up, I realized that I end up getting so deep in my thoughts and even in my words without even being intentional about it.. it was hard to deny myself so I just lived with it. By the time when I reached late adolescence, that is when I figured that being matured is not a bad thing after all. My way of thinking was ahead of my years and probably.. that was beneficial in some way.

My piano teacher would always admire how matured I was in my way of thinking and in handling different situations in my life and has told me to ‘keep it up.’ Later on, I read an article about bullying and was emotionally intrigued by the comments. There really is still hope for humanity if you look at them, people were very supportive, not a single insult about how strange the kid was. Then some thing called to my attention, someone made a comment that simply influenced other people to actually talk about it and it was something like this, “It’s funny how when we are young, we want to be like everyone else.. but trust me, once you get older, you’ll fight hard just to be different from everybody else.” That really hit me.. hard.

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STOP

Take some time to reflect on what matters to you most and invest your time in it. The society’s expectations and demands from you may be too much but taking your ‘me’ time is a must, it is a non negotiable must that you should be having. It’s a basic need. I am still young enough to experience the ‘real world’ but having a job and being in university may have shed some light as to what I could expect later on. It will be harder.. that’s for sure but it does not mean that I will have to just go with the flow. I have my own values to fulfill and that I should commit to.. not to other but to myself.

LOOK (at yourself)

Life is short and once we forget to get back to our childhood and remember who we used to be.. it will be hard to hear that inner voice once again. Now, I don’t want everyone to go “Y.O.L.O.” because yes, you only live once but that does not mean that you have got to do ALL the things that you want from getting drunk to going to a lot of parties to not setting priorities in life to well, just end up thinking about yourself and your interests. The quote simply tells us how living only once meant a whole lot more in terms of how you want to leave a mark to this world, how you want to spark a better change in humanity, or how you would want to share your vision for the world to see and experience. We have many desires but the best way to understand and actually apply them is through understanding yourself.

LISTEN (to that inner voice)

Make your life according to how you want to be. People will be throwing you some things that you will either adhere to or try to avoid. Don’t let it be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Create your own identity. I guess that is the reason why I have preferred University over high school.. not that I hated my high school years but it’s mainly because of the boundaries and limitations I had from labels like shy/quiet/sweet/kind/nice in being able to expand my personality and interests. I appreciated the acknowledgement of seeing me as a nice person but on the other side, it gave me an obligation to please other people, to avoid committing mistakes, and being seen as a ‘shy’ kid, I was unable to move past my comfort zone in actually trying out other things besides my own typical hobbies. Nonetheless, my senior year was a big breakthrough. (: University was my time and I did not stop the strong inner voice from projecting who I really am. Looking back from where I am now, I believe that the inner voice plays a huge role in giving me the courage to move beyond those labels and strive to be that person I’ve always wanted to be. (let me elaborate that soon)

That is just a simple example of how YOU should move past those self-fulfilling prophecies that keeps you from getting where you’re supposed to be at. Of course, you still don’t know your final destination but wouldn’t it be better to put your best foot forward in everything that you do and keep those in line with the kind of person you want to known as. Recognize the values you find so important so that you will have a good foundation when it comes to making decisions and establishing your own goals. Have an impact in your society not because you have done something significant but because you stayed true to yourself! 

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Friday’s Pep talk #1

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Take some time to reflect your achievements and strengths, acknowledge them. No one knows you better than yourself. But what if you yourself is confused as to who you truly are, well that’s a problem.. that most of us are facing so please please please don’t feel like you’re alone in the world with that kind of problem. Sometimes, you may feel down not knowing what you can offer to the world but that’s not it. Stop the hullabaloos!

“YOU ARE AMAZING JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.”

You may have had these certain experiences where you get lost because of how society tries to portray our roles in this world. Ignore those expectations and make your own. I don’t mean to actually forget about them and go numb about it. Make use of those expectations to make you a stronger person but never ever let those shape your personality. You are unique in your own way and no one, I say no one can or should make you do something that does not portray who you are. Nonetheless, some exceptions are the values that will help you become the better you. Other than that, those words that echo “forget about those people, forget about your values” or “just let it be” or even “who are you to dream that big”. (there are more statements that stops you from doing what you love) You are you and don’t be afraid to be who you are. Because in the end, it will be you who will present yourself for the world to see.

“SO DON’T BE AFRAID TO LET THEM SHOW YOUR TRUE COLORS.”

Enjoy the weekend my folks! and get ready for a better week next week. (:

Sometimes.

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Sometimes the best way to experience and understand isn’t by how others show it to us rather it is sometimes more effective if we ourselves have witnessed the presence of love in how other people treat one another.

Sometimes things that we don’t understand happen but that does not mean we are not in the right path.

Sometimes the best way to learn is through constant risks and challenges that test our comfort zone. (now, let’s not be sarcastic and consider bad vices that hinder good health)

Sometimes we just have to be more sensitive to our environment. It does not dictate weakness but as a strength because not everyone is doing it.

Sometimes the norm is not the supposed norm. (this may seem confusing.. go figure.)

Sometimes we tend to forget those who have loved and supported us in the first place because we’re too busy pleasing the people who do not care about who we are.

Sometimes we have to stop comparing our successes and achievement with other people because that’s not going to help (positively) in appreciating ourselves and recognizing how special we are. Each person has their own talents and skills.. you do not want to ruin your own skills just because that person is better than you in doing one thing. LOVE YOURSELF! because that’s the first step before other people can love you back.

Sometimes we have to stop saying sometimes and just  step it up. Don’t limit yourself to the sky, the moon, or the stars. Keep going higher BUT keep your feet on the ground. How? Appreciate your past, Live your present, and Let the future give you what you deserve.