Official annual birthday celebration has just passed. To me, it is just another day except that I do annual review of my life thus far. In the past, birthdays were big deals, where I must have my cake and candles to make wishes to and blow them out. These last few years, cake and candles were no longer important though sometimes dear hubby would buy a chocolate cake for me. No one else eat the cake in the family. Such a waste. Instead, I prefer to paste a picture of a lovely cake on my Whatsapp profile for the day. That should be good enough for me.
My favourite flowers to decorate my screen. So pleasant to look at. As a treat on my special day, I only did the things that I enjoy doing. Every year, I spent almost the whole day at the bookstores but not this year.
This year, after so many years, my parents were here with me on my birthday. Truly blessed. We had birthday lunch together, after accompanying dad to his doctor appointment in the morning. It was a special and meaningful day for us all.
What have I learnt, directly (personal experience or self discovery) and indirectly (learned from other’s experience), for the past 12 months as compared to the previous year? Am I any wiser? Let’s see….and here goes the list :
1) it is alright to be mean simply to be kind. Some people needs to be left alone to deal with his/her issues to learn from them. If at each trouble, we lend a hand and brain, issues resolved by us and not by them. It is no wonder they repeat the same mistakes over and over, hoping that someone will come to the rescue again and again. Nope, the bug stops right here. I have learnt to stop myself from getting into my rescue gear when I recognise the familiar pattern of wrongdoings by the persons. It is hard not to help but I kept telling myself that he/she has to “Deal with it!”.
2) blood means relative and may not necessarily mean family. I have bad experiences directly and indirectly, sad to say. It is bitter and painful to swallow. In our minds, we shall always have a beautiful family, extended family, etc. Family means harmony and vice versa. But, when it is put to the test, hardship always reveals how strong is your blood ties. This is when you see more clearly if your ties are relative or family. What is family? Love, care, loyalty, to name a few. Certainly not lip service nor running to hide when the going gets tough and tougher.
3) health is a continuous effort of caring for self well-being. You must have the desire to be well before you can adopt a healthy lifestyle. What is considered healthy? To my understanding, being healthy means eating balanced diet, breathing in more oxygen, smile more, laugh more, having sufficient deep sleep, working without procrastinating as last-minute rush causes mores stress, managing stress by keeping it at bay, not worrying too much, adopt a more positive life outlook, praying daily and so on. No amount of words can change a person until the person is willing to make the change. Health is not about taking care of body but the mind too. A strong mind plays an important role to a person’s well-being. What goes into the mind determines what you think, do and feel. So, be cautious of what we feed our mind. Give boosters like positive and happy thoughts. Mix around with the right people. Trust me, it is super hard to be positive when surrounded by negative people all day and night long. Eventually, when you can’t beat them, you end up joining them. Talk about peer pressure and influence.
4) be careful when selecting life partner/husband/wife. Our parents always remind us to marry the right person. The right person doesn’t have to mean someone who comes in wealth and looks. I see the right spouse/partner as being someone who makes you grow and be a better person than who you used to be. Someone to share a more meaningful life with. Where we encourage each other towards achieving mutual life goals. We are each other’s anchor and home base. Cross motivation is important in a growing marriage and expanding family. As for me, if I could turn back the clock, I’d still choose the same husband over and over again. He may not be perfect to the 10, he is someone whom I can trust and depend on. He may not meet my ideal criteria but I am not an ideal person either. We can accept our good and not so perfect qualities. We are always making sure that whatever we do it is all about “US” as a couple and family. For the good of the family and the people whom we come into contact with, who have treated us well. Why is the choice of life partner so important to one’s life? The partner has great influence, one way of the other, to either build you up or ruin you to pieces. I’ve seen it happening. Therefore, it is wise to be selective and trust your gut feelings when making that choice.
5) when situation gets tough, go back to basics. Then, re-look at the whole plan. Make necessary changes to suit the condition before moving forward again. In life, nothing is permanent. Not even a plan. We need to review when faced with obstacles, make changes if necessary, but keep the final goal in sight. There are times when we have no alternative but to abort the whole plan and start all over again. Embrace change. Please bear in mind that there is no short cut to success. Forget about get rich or instant success schemes. Don’t be fooled by such schemes that most often than not, lead you to serious troubles. Success requires patience and doing the right thing right. Seek a good and sincere mentor. Do not follow blindly. Keep a positive mindset and remain calm. Calmness allows us to think more clearly and rationally. When we react and make hasty decisions, we may end up worse off. That causes not mere misery but time wasted as well.
6) never be ashamed to seek help/support. We know where our limit lies. If we are too weak, too confused, too sad, in any situation which we ourselves can’t handle it alone, reach out. Whether to family members, friends or support groups. You never know how much better you’ll feel when you receive such moral support regardless from known persons or total strangers sharing the same situations, locally or internationally. The magic of sharing is so divine that it lifts your spirit, owing to endless wishes and prayers that come your way across the miles and continents. It is amazing to learn that people see no boundaries….no colours, religions, age, gender and nothing else to separate us all. We are just human beings per se, coming together to wish only the best to everyone who crosses our paths, offer our daily prayers, sharing of knowledge and similar experience or discoveries, offering words of comfort, virtual hugs flow in from all directions. It is most soothing to know we are not suffering alone. Most people are full of empathy and compassion! I felt that. I experienced that. I knew that. And, I shall keep the chain going around. What I have received, I shall also give out again to those who need the support when one is struggling, fighting to survive, feeling so alone and helpless, etc.
7) a plan remains a nice plan to look at when there is no action. We heard many tips about how to plan well, effective planning that works, don’t fail to plan, and many more. Well, planning is a good to-do-list item. What must follow immediately after drawing up a plan is ACTION. No action equals to no results. Having the intention to do something new or different is good. Having the right intention is awesome. So what? I have made several wonderful plans, but wishes and prayers alone won’t work. The lazy bones have to start acting before the plan takes effect. Procrastination is the thief of time. Very true! It also gives us more stress which is bad, bad, bad for the body and soul. Taking the first step, writing the first page is always, always difficult. But, once we get through the firsts, the rests would become easier and easier as we go along. Gotta get into the mood…if can’t get in, drive/speed into the mood, so to say (LOL!). The correct word is MUST! No more trying or doing my best. I must do it!
8) take time to say “thank you”. Many people often remind one another to apologise. There are even songs about apologies! I do agree that we must apologise when we do something wrong. Let’s not let a good gesture or deed past without saying “thank you”. Show gratitude to people who have taken time and effort to offer a helping hand or a kind word at time of distress, including gifts of love. Send a card, physical card or e-greeting card can do, or just say it. It is the thought that counts. Let me ask you, when someone says “thank you” to you, how do you feel? Feel good, isn’t it? Why not spread gratitude and smiles around? It doesn’t cost us much (if you are thinking of buying a card and postage). Do that to your family members, friends, teachers, doctors, bosses, associates, hosts, colleagues, good service providers, anyone and everyone who have done something good for you.
9) keeping a journal has its benefits. When angry, disappointed, sad or any negative feeling, we need an outlet for such emotions. If we don’t “bite our tongues” fast enough, we would end up breathing fire and shooting hurtful words to those close to us which we would regret later. Best to write in a journal. Pour your heart’s content onto the piece of paper. Once all are calm again, tear the pages out, then throw away (shred or burn them). If it is about something positive, keep a journal for a collection of self-development and achievement. When you are down, this journal will motivate you and pump positive boosters into your brains.
10) sharing something good is fine but do not preach and insist your good practice/belief/life principles on others. When something wonderful happened to us, it is only natural to share with others. We love to share good stuffs with our loved ones because we care deeply for them. No harm in that but do be mindful that sharing has its limit. Do not preach endlessly or insist your practice or belief on others. Please understand that for the person to take your advice and follow your footsteps, or not at all, it is entirely up to him/her. Let’s not make a relationship or friendship more complicated.
I always believe that living on this earth has its purpose. Our purpose is to live a meaningful life and then, share what we have with others, hopefully making others live their lives as meaningful as ours, if not more. Not all of us can afford to give out money to make others’ lives better. But, what most of us can do, which is even more magical that money, is to feed the soul. Advice, encouragement, motivation, hugs, moral support, prayers, our time to do something for others are some of the wonderful gifts we can give to others. Small gestures do make a big difference. So, don’t wait for the right time to perform big gesture. The right time is now, no matter how small it is. It may be not so meaningful it the giver but it could mean a world to the receiver.
That is the update for being one year older for me. What about you? What have you learnt over the past 12 months? Make it a point to do review to track your self-development on your birthday. It is a way to find out how well you have done over the year, or not so well and therefore, buck up and do something for a change. On jobs, we have job performance review at the end of the year or half-yearly. Why not for our self-development? Start doing it at your next birthday!
My best wishes go out to my wonderful, loyal readers. Thank you for taking time off to read my posts. I hope it touches your life one way or another to make a small difference for the better. Cheers!
~ Alice N.