Do bad things happen for a reason? (Closing 2012)

Sometimes (or maybe often times), bad things happen to us and we don’t know why. We feel victimized. We feel like the world is being cruel to us. We feel like we’re being punished. We question our right to be happy. We wonder what we might have done wrong.

That was me – was

In the beginning of 2012, I was about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of my life. I quit a stable job with a huge multinational company. And I was going to leave the country to start a new life elsewhere.

It’s what I’ve always wanted – what I’ve always dreamed of ever since my mom took home a travel brochure when I was a kid. I have always wanted to spread my wings.

I wanted to see the world. But I didn’t come from a rich background. That is why I did what I could to move towards that direction. I tried to be an exchange student, I tried working for a company that has branches all over the world, heck I exposed myself to all sorts of opportunities.

And when it finally happened, when my dream was materializing right before my eyes. I didn’t expect to feel horrified. I wasn’t scared of the change or the unknown. I was scared of screwing things up. You see, a lot of things have happened that made me doubt myself. Whether it was a bad break up or it was having trouble fitting in, I just found more and more reasons to feel that I’m not good for anything. Or to put it more dramatic terms, I felt that I didn’t deserve to be happy so bad things are bound to happen.

I was frightened. I was finally achieving my goals and I felt like I was crossing a very fine wire with very slippery socks while the wind rocked me like an annoying toddler.

But now, when it has been almost a year that I have sailed through that phase of my life, I can honestly say that I was being so stupid.

The thing is, most of us are being stupid when we put negative thoughts like those in our head.

If I would have to sum up this past year in a word, I would say: gratitude.

I am thankful for the things I was able to do, for the places I was able to see, for the people I was able to meet, the experiences I was able to live, and the lessons I was finally able to fully appreciate.

And one of the biggest lessons I have learned is about having a different perspective regarding the “bad” things that have happened to me. I don’t want to ramble on about the details but rather look at it as a general principle.

Here it is:

Bad things happen everyday. They cause us pain. They make us suffer. They bring us down. And sometimes, they destroy us.

And we often ask ourselves, why? Why me? What did I do wrong?

I think the answer is quite simple. We all have an idea of what our life should be. We have an image of what our careers should look like. We have a standard of what our partners should be. We have a template of what success should mean. When life does not suit what we have in mind, we feel hurt. We feel distressed.

But just because life gives us things that do not match our expectations, doesn’t mean we are bound to be unhappy. But our expectations, our imagination, our concept of happiness can be so little and so limited that we don’t see that greater things are at work. Call it divine intervention, higher power, destiny, power of manifestation, the universe, or mysticism, call it whatever. But we are just a spec of dust in the grand scheme of things. Just because we cannot see the path to happiness, or life has forced us to walk a different path that we would’ve hoped to be, doesn’t mean we are not headed there.

Let me say that again, just because life has forced us to take a path different from the path that we originally conceived of, doesn’t mean that the destinations are different.

We can sometimes be shortsighted. Bad things happen for a reason. Maybe that reason is simply us resisting the happiness that we are too dumb to foretell. 

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***

Just a normal person finding just happiness.

Isolation

Hundreds of miles away trying to find a missing piece

In isolation, in contemplation, in desperation

Longing for a genuine human experience

For an opportunity to feel needed and loved

 

Only in solitude will true silence comes

To hear what the heart screams for day and night

What the spirit craves for every waking hour

What the mind whispers to the universe

 

The vastness of everything will swallow you whole

Helpless, seeking divine intervention, false salvation

An unhealthy salivation for fulfilment

Awakened to a desperate reality of pain

 

Listen to your soul in isolation

Isolation in a crowd full of strangers

Isolation in a mind full of strange thoughts

Isolation in a heart full of thoughtless doubts

 

Aren’t we all together in isolation?

Every interaction is a lost opportunity

Every opportunity is a reason for disdain

Every disdain is a reason for isolation

 

Isolation, isolation, isolation

Should it be said louder for someone to hear?

Isolation, isolation, isolation

No more, no more isolation…

5 Reasons Why You Should Keep A Journal

Last Monday night, I was overwhelmed with a feeling that comes so rarely in my life – the feeling of utter bliss. I am in a difficult part of my life right now, but things are getting better. I can feel it. I am sure of it.

I decided to reflect a little and savor the ecstasy brought by that feeling. I kicked back on our recliner in the balcony and took out a notebook given to me by a friend. I decided to write down how I feel and why I feel that way.

I realized that I had to backtrack two years worth of events. I had to reflect on where I was back then in order to fully express why I feel thankful for where I am today.

But what hit me was that there have been so many things that have happened in my life that I barely remember. There have been great moments in my life but somehow; they got buried under all the drama and under all the hardships. But when I think about it, my life was pretty good after all.

And I realized that keeping a journal is very important. Here are five reasons why you should start writing now:

#1. Time flies – fast.

Have you ever had that daunting feeling that time just flew right past you? Have you ever gone to work or school and realized that it was Thursday and not Wednesday?

Lately, I feel like time is just slipping away. Maybe I’m surrounded by a lot of distractions and I’m consumed with thinking every day, but this is ridiculous. The last thing I want to happen is wake up tomorrow and realize I’m 30 without noticing it.

Keeping a journal will allow me to savor the moment. I will be forced to relive important moments. It’s almost as if I will step back and go through the great events in my life and experience them twice.

 

#2. Memory fades.

If only we can store our memories in folders, password-protect them, and retrieve them for future consumption, life would be so good. But we’re not there yet (yes, I’m still hopeful). So it helps if we store these memories somewhere.

That’s why photo albums are so popular. And maybe going through your old Facebook status updates can be quite fun as well.

But the things you don’t share to the world (if any – some people vomit their soul on Facebook), may not be stored anywhere. There are certain things that only you know and sometimes, it helps to see how far you’ve come along.

A lot of people have short-term amnesia. They will say, “I want this and that so I will be happy.” But once they get the so-called this and that, they are still not satisfied. Keeping a journal will allow you to keep track of where you once were, hence, giving you a better picture of where you are now.

#3. Reflection is important.

Every action has a reaction. This is why reflecting on your actions are important. When you write on your journal, you will be put in a position to reflect. Some people do not take the time to assess if they are happy and if their happiness goes deeper than superficiality.

The last thing you want is to realize what you want when it’s too late. Don’t settle for having an uninspected life. You might miss out on an opportunity and you will regret that heavily.

#4. It provides objectivity.

Me, me, me, and sometimes myself. There is nothing wrong with being selfish. I think being selfish is the least we owe to ourselves. But oftentimes, our selfishness cloud our judgment.

We should be selfish, yes. But we should never be selfish at the expense of someone else. It is easy to get caught up in all the drama and become too sensitive.

A record of how you felt, reacted, and thought might give you an objective view of your experiences when you go back to them after some time. You might squirm of how stubborn you were or how close-minded you have been. But maybe when you look back at your past actions, you will find that relationships that you let go or threw away should be picked up again.

#5. It’s fun to skim through.

Looking at pictures are fun. They can be funny, sad, and nostalgic. Pictures do say a thousand words, but words will let you peek to a window that even pictures cannot describe.

***

Just a normal person finding just happiness.

In times like this…

Your eyes look at me
And it sees strength and valor
They pierce through me

And bask in my positivity
I am a hero
I am rock
I am a wall
I am the ground on which you stand onBut in times like this,
Let me crumble
Let me shiver in the cold
Let the tears cascade

In times like this,
Let me be naked and bare
Let my soul tremble
Let my lips quiver

In times like this,
Let me surrender
Let my weakness out
Let my words fumble

I am a hero
I am a rock
But in times like this
Let me be a child…

Midnight Musings

With eyes closed

Lost in a world of make believe

Trying to feel that feeling that seems too elusive

A feeling that I can’t afford

A feeling that I never understood

 

Sleep eludes me

Like a lover that won’t come to bed

Trying to make out a face that seems too unfamiliar

A face that I recognize, but not quite know

A face that I can’t just seem to read

 

Messed up sheets

Akin to a restless mind bereft of reason

Trying to find sense in a world that seems too cruel

A world that takes too much

A world that gives too little

 

Melody brings sentiment

Where words fail to create imagery

Trying to console a soul that seems too broken

A soul filled with childlike wonder

A soul yearning to be free

How to Deal with Insecurities

In-secure. It means lack of security.

They come in many forms; they come in different intensities. Some are nothing but a nuisance; some can be robbing us of a life we truly deserve. What if your own insecurities are holding you back from achieving your dreams? What if your own insecurities have caged you and you sit in your prison willingly – if not conveniently? Who have you not yet learned how to deal with insecurities? And more importantly, why are you not dealing with them…now?

Insecurities breed a lot of things, one of them is envy. When you are insecure about yourself, you start to feel that others are better than you. Have you ever looked at a magazine, stared at a model, and just sighed deeply wondering why you don’t look anywhere close to that? We’ve all been there. We’ve all wondered why life is so unfair – why others were born with the perfect set of everything. Well actually, we don’t really care so much that life is unfair. What we really care about is why we are not the one having all the favors.

We are insecure about what we have so we envy what others possess.

The easiest coping mechanism that we have developed against this feeling is to bash whoever we feel envious of. One of the easiest symptoms of insecurity is when people bash other people for no apparent reason. We try to find what is wrong with them. We try to find the little things that we think make us better than them. We try to take them down. Isn’t that just pathetic?

We envy them so much because we are so consumed with our insecurities that the only way we can cope is to find the other person’s faults. The saddest part about this is that the other person most probably doesn’t even care. We over judge people who don’t even pay a single strand of care to us.

But why do we do it? Because it’s easy!

I wanted to share these three simple tips on how to deal with insecurities. Nothing too complex, just straightforward things we can do to properly deal with insecurities and overcome them.

Tip #1. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Self-satisfaction has never and will never come from the illusion of perfection. There was this girl who was so in love with a guy. She told me that this guy was THE perfect guy. He was good-looking, talented, funny, smart, and a genuinely nice guy. She was in love with this guy for years but she has always felt inadequate for him. She felt she was not pretty enough. A lot of other girls swarm around him like glittered flies on a perfectly swirled crap.

Then, she got to know the guy. And two things shocked her. First, he was utterly insecure about himself. Apparently, his ex-girlfriend cheated on him and now, he feels very unattractive. He feels that he is not good enough that’s why his ex-girlfriend found someone else. Second, he is no longer interested in any serious relationship. He is genuinely nice to girls. Girls tend to fall in love with him, but all he can give to them is a friendly smile.

I almost feel embarrassed sharing this story because I feel like we all know THAT someone. We all have a friend who’s been there or we have been there.

Get over yourself. You’re not the only one who feels insecure. You might think that you’re not good enough but someone out there might be thinking how good it must be to be you. But you’re so focused on someone else’s illusion of perfection that you cannot appreciate all the good things about yourself.

Tip #2. Work on Yourself

A lot of our insecurities come from things that we can actually work on – things we can change. My personal battle will be about my weight. It has always and still is a struggle. I have numerous excuses why achieving my ideal weight is really hard. I have read so many books, so many articles, so many tips about losing weight that I feel like I should have a PhD by now. But what lacks is the discipline.

I finally managed to lose 30 lbs in a year and I’m 10 pounds away to my target weight. But I had to go through an awful breakup and take a massive hit on my ego before I had the drive. Now pushing for the final pounds seems harder. But then I realize, it was year a year ago because I wanted to take care of myself. I wanted to make me feel better. I was doing it for me. I was doing it not to impress anyone else. But that drive has dissipated because I have gotten distracted.

But you know what? I will never overcome this insecurity until I reach my goal. How do I choose to deal with this insecurity? Well I will make it obsolete. A lot of us have a lot of insecurities that can be obsolete. Just remember, do it for yourself, not for other people.

Tip #3. Cultivate Your Mind

Insecurities are, largely, an inner battle, that’s why they are called in-securities. A lot of it has something to do with our perception. We look at people and we compare. But the comparison is only in our minds.

There is no competition. There is no contest. It’s all in our minds. So what’s wrong?

What’s the need to be the superlative at everything? What’s the need to be the richest? The best-looking? The smartest? The crazy thing about this imaginary competition is that, when we try to be the best at everything, we neglect that the only thing that matters is that we are happy. And being in this imaginary competition will make us anything but happy.

Cultivate your mind. It is tempting to compare yourself to others and develop insecurities. When this happens, we compare ourselves even more to make us feel good about ourselves. The last you want is to spend the rest of your life comparing yourself to people around you.

Insecurities kill silently. The lack of security robs you of living your life. Living a life full of insecurities is like the exact opposite of living.

***

Just a normal person finding just happiness.

Should I End My Relationship?

So you’ve been together for a couple of years, shared a lot of memories, celebrated anniversaries, and have grown accustomed to having each other in your lives. But you have become unhappy. You constantly find yourself wanting something or maybe even someone other than your lover. You are no longer excited to be with him or her. Your conversations are as exciting as watching the weather channel. What would you do?

Do you break up and move on? Or do you fight to make the relationship work?

But how could you break up with your lover? How could you abruptly change each other’s lives? How could you possibly just pack up and leave? How could you when:

“I don’t want to hurt her!”

“He needs me.”

“She doesn’t want to let go.”

“This is the right thing to do.”

Breaking up is not easy – it is often messy and people will always get hurt. There are a lot of things to consider. There are a lot of complications. There are a lot of things at stake. Or maybe there are just a lot of excuses.

I have heard a lot of my friends say these things. I’ve even heard it from an ex-lover. But what I feel is that all of these barriers come from the lack of courage and the lack of decisiveness.

A lot of people do not want to be alone because they have attached their happiness to their lover. But how can happiness thrive in a one-sided affair? Is it not sadder? Is not more depressing? Is it not unfair?

When you stay in a relationship for the wrong reasons, you are not making the other person happy. You are standing in his or her way of true happiness. You are robbing them of the opportunity to actually enjoy life.

We have all been programmed that happiness come from finding love. What they didn’t tell us is that happiness starts with the love that we can get from ourselves. Being in a one-sided relationship forces one person to love the other more than they love themselves. This will only breed spite and hatred.

For me, the most important question to ask yourself when faced with this dilemma is this: “How long can you fake being happy?”

On one side, you have a person who is unsatisfied whose dissatisfaction will only grow through the years. More and more, this person will feel like he or she is doing charity. He or she will feel like his or her life has been a sacrifice.

On the other side, you have someone who will grow insecure and jealous. These will cause arguments and friction. But he or she will be more selfish. He or she will be more on guard.

In the end, can you fake being happy for the rest of your life? Or end the relationship when it’s too late to move on?

We all believe in finding “the one”. This is the so-called soul mate – the so-called destiny. This is why we hold on to relationships for the wrong reasons. We hold on to relationships because of convenience – because we think that this might be it and we’re screwing our one shot to happiness.

What if life wasn’t meant to be like that? What if love comes and goes in many forms throughout our lives? What if we are actually hurting ourselves by not recognizing when to stop and when to go?

For me, the only reason to stay and fight for a relationship is if you are still in love. Not because you love the other person. Those are very different things. You can love someone without being in love with him or her. The difference is that one should make you stay and the other one means you have to go.

  ***

 Just a normal person finding just happiness.

 

How to Deal with Regrets

Regrets are one of the worst things in this world. I like to call them glues to the past. Regrets will keep you up at night and play a scenario on auto loop – like a toxic playlist on your iphone. It’s like a hardcore Nirvana fan being forced to sleep with a Lady Gaga album blasting in his eardrums.

Regrets can be so bad that they can actually cause physical discomfort. The nature of regrets is that there is an innate need for us to change what we have done or what has happened to us. The sad part is, no matter how deep or strong the desire to change that particular thing or event, it cannot be done.

This is why we get stuck in the past. This is why regrets glue us to a time that has come to pass. This is why a lot of people never move on. They are too busy trying to recreate the past in their minds only to wake up to an unyielding reality.

I used to work with this girl who broke up with a guy whom she was so deeply in love with. Ten years have passed – ten freaking years – and she still regret that decision. The worst part is that she won’t admit that she regrets her decision. She has not been able to meet anybody and still obsess about her ex. I got goose bumps when she stubbornly told me this:

“I want my ex to see me and see that I’m better off without him. But every time I see him, I just see how better he is without me. I will only be able to move on when he realize his mistakes.”

That’s when I realize that she will never be able to move on. Her regret has consumed her and the only way she copes is through a perpetual lie.

Have you ever made a mistake so bad that you just don’t know how to move on?

I want to share three ways to deal and manage regrets – in a healthy way. Unless a person properly deals with regret, he or she will never be able to move forward – the past will hold you down.

Tip #1: Make Amends

We cannot change the past but it doesn’t mean that it will now take over our lives. The reason why a lot of people want to change the past is because they cannot face the present consequences of their actions. They are caught up with what could’ve been instead of what could be done.

The most important person you need to make amends to is you. Ask yourself for forgiveness for making that mistake. And then grant yourself that forgiveness. That is the first step. Forgive yourself for the ignorance, forgive yourself for the lack of foresight, and forgive yourself for being human.

Then, make amends to the people who were involved. This is what most people call closure. If you have hurt someone, ask for forgiveness and thank them for everything. If you have been hurt, forgive the person who hurt you and thank him or her for the lesson.

Tip #2: Keep the Lesson

Find comfort in knowing that your mistake was so grave that you will never make it again. Find comfort in knowing that you survived that tragedy and that you are now smarter.

Mistakes happen for a reason – usually for the lack of better reasoning. But now you know better. Now, you are better than before.

Look at the regret and figure out why it happened. Maybe your emotions got better of you, maybe you made a rushed decision, or maybe, you were still a kid. Keep the lesson and share it with someone else. Make sure that you remind yourself once in a while of the new knowledge that you acquired. Keep the lesson but forget the pain.

Tip #3: Create Better Memories

I have often said that life is nothing but a collection of memories. I also said that I am determined to have a life rich with memories. We can never have a collection of memory that is only full of good things. There will always be bad things. But life is good when the good things out qualify the bad ones.

I was almost about to say the good ones out number the bad ones, but we all know that when it comes to life, quality will always surpass quantity.

If you’re life is riddled with regrets, then start creating memories that are filled with positivity, love, and affirmation. You can start small. Sooner or later, you will realize that you have focused so much on creating better memories that the regrets were long buried in the past.

We will always make mistakes. The best we can hope for is not to repeat the same ones over and over again. But when we do make a mistake, just remember to make amends, keep the lesson, and create better memories.

Leave your comments below about how you overcame your regrets.

***

Just a normal person finding just happiness.

Crying is Good

My friend who was not allowed to even go outside the house beyond 8p.m. was wasted – and I mean wasted. It was her first time drinking more than one bottle of beer and apparently, she was trying to drown her guy-related sorrows.

I asked her how she felt and tears just burst like a water balloon being popped between a body-builder’s thighs. It wasn’t just sobbing, it was full on wailing. I half-expected her to turn into a banshee and was quite disappointed that she didn’t.

I rubbed her back and told her to cry and let it all out. Our other friend approached us slowly and he looked appalled. He looked at me and sighed.

“You should stop making her cry,” he said sternly. “You should comfort her instead of making her cry even more. You always do this.”

I was taken aback. It was a just a week ago when he was confiding his own problem to me. I didn’t know what to make of his statement. So I asked him what he meant.

“Remember last week when I had a problem and I was talking to you?” he asked. “You made me cry so much that I had to tell myself that the crying was just too much and I had to stop.”

At that point – I just smiled at him.

Crying is one of the best coping mechanisms that we have against sorrows. It is one of the most effective activities to literally wash away our pain. I explained to my friend that it was okay to cry and I am actually glad to hear his statement.

He said: “…I had to tell myself that the crying was just too much and I had to stop.”

That was exactly the point. No one in this world can actually tell you that the crying is already too much apart from yourself. I wanted him to cry until he had enough, the same thing I wanted my other friend to do. I wanted her to wail and howl like a wolf on steroids until she becomes tired of it.

The worst thing we can do is to ignore our pain and set it aside. It takes a lot of courage to confront our grief and actually process it. This is why a lot of us choose to dismiss it. This is why we choose to believe that it is better to pretend we’re okay than to take the pain head on.

Allow yourself to be sad. If you truly feel sad, ask yourself why. Acknowledge the emotion and deal with it and for goodness’ sake, let yourself cry. Cry as much as you need. I guarantee that you will get tired of it eventually.

Sometimes, sadness comes for a reason and sometimes it’s just pure hormones.

Here’s my advice, when you feel down, take some time alone. Go somewhere private, even if it’s just the toilet in your office. Ask yourself why you feel that way. Dig deep. When you find a reason to be sad, then you can figure out how to fix it. If there’s no reason to be sad, then you might just snap out of it automatically.

If you’re going through a rough time, take some time within the day to deal with it. It’s like scratching a wound. Get it out of your system. Here’s my rule of thumb: if I am unhappy for more than half a day, I need to do something. I refuse to allow myself to be sad for such a long time. I cannot take those moments back! I cannot trade them off for more time.

So if you have to, cry. It’s good for you.

***

Just a normal person finding just happiness.

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