Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Path to Greatness

The Path to Greatness

Greatness is defined in the dictionary as: "Superior in quality or character; above average"

Average is the majority, or the commonplace, the usual. Normally we equate average with about 70% to 95% of cases.

Let's talk about personal achievements, like in music, art, sports, business, school academics. We hear the phrase, "the outstanding few". Why? Because only a few are willing to do what it takes to reach the goal. Of course we need resources, both external (like contacts, and money) and internal. But time and again we admire the achievements of people who lacked the external resources and still achieved something great, mostly relying on their internal resources of good habits (or virtues) such as mental toughness, persistence, patience, constancy, optimism, cheerfulness, the team-player mentality, the eagerness to pay it forward, the strong spirit of service, generosity especially towards those in need, etc.

The first step of course is to have the humility to accept that we all have defects and limitations. Then, we need other people to point out what needs to be fixed. Next, we draw up a simple plan to eliminate these negatives by developing the good habits necessary to achieve our goals. And of course we tenaciously and persistently apply these actions, and not stop until we develop the good habit. Some people advise a minimum of 21 days (or 3 weeks), and some people say you need 3 months to properly embed the habit in your life. As they say, be willing to put in as much or more than what you expect to get from it.

Let's not fall into the trap of choosing projects which are grandiose, or flamboyant, or ostentatious. Greatness is not made of these. Eventually the project may become well-known or even publicly praised, but that's not the goal we should set. Greatness is doing something in a superior manner, of exerting effort and excellence in the smallest tasks which normal people may not even notice. Before you even start thinking of a project, you can start by setting personal goals and try to achieve greatness in the following:

- developing strong bonds of friendship and love among family members
- starting and persistently continuing an Awareness Meditation practice
- having a reasonable goal of say, losing 10 pounds of body fat in 6 months, and in the process, not overdoing it nor experiencing "burn-out" which makes you quit, and permanently! The 10-pound loss should be a combination of diet, exercise and some lifestyle changes.
- learning a new language

Then, you embark on the practice and do your best whether someone can see you or not, whether other people can notice the changes in you or not. Also, contrary to what some people say that you have to fix your sight on the goal and never let go, maybe you have to rather set the goal intelligently, forget it, fix your eyes on the path towards it, have fun and enjoy trekking the path.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Crisis of Love

Crisis of Love

Nowadays, it seems that many people want to fall in love, but don't really know what love is!

As portrayed on TV and in the movies,  love is when a handsome man and a beautiful woman get attracted to each other and after a few dates where they get to know that they both like pistacchio cola float, they get so excited with the idea that they finally found their soulmate, that they can't wait to jump into bed so as "to express their love more deeply".

Or, watch the "reality show" where the the tall, rich and handsome bachelor finds it so difficult to choose among 10 pretty women all dying to marry him and live a life of bliss in the 20-room mansion the guy inherited from his parents. Almost 90% of the scenes show guy and girl in the jacuzzi or in the pool or riding a horse and always kissing and saying, "You're so attractive..."

What the f***, and that's all there is to it!

C'mon, love is not merely physical attraction, but of course it has to start from there. I can't imagine waking up every morning for the next 5 years and kissing a woman who looks like a camel and be sincere in saying, "I love you, my dear"!

The physical just starts the spark, but what keeps the flame glowing is the self-giving, the small and big sacrifices made for one another, the overlooking irritating details, the self-control not to open your mouth and say something painful. It's mostly forgetting oneself and looking out for the other person, the genuine concern for the well-being of the beloved, the anticipating and doing what may please her, the anticipating and avoiding what may make him sad.

Yes, life cannot be perfectly planned to take care of all its twists and turns. And all relationships have their ups and downs. But what counts is the really wanting to please that dear friend to the point of not noticing the rain or the distance, the constant, daily effort of trying to make it work, to revive the magic, to dream of things together, to laugh or cry together watching TV while eating popcorn.

Someone Great once said, "Greater love no man can show, than to die for his friends"

You don't have to literally follow that, but you do have to "die to yourself" in small things everyday, just to make life pleasant for the other. If you fall into the trap of mostly thinking of yourself, of feeling bad because he did not greet me today, or she should have cooked fish instead of spaghetti.; if you fall into the trap of "looking after number one" most of the time, then, you're merely loving yourself, period.

The essence of love is self-giving and not "self getting". Trouble starts when people start thinking, "You're stepping into MY turf", or "Don't invade MY space", or "I've given you this much this past week, and I think it's about time that you return the favor". There's no scoreboard to keep. It's simply wanting to please the other person so much that you feel so happy inside when you do the dishes or run an errand for her to be able to put up her feet and take a break, not only today, but for as long as it takes to keep her happy.

At a much older age, love means to continue to push that wheelchair around town, and then to tuck her into bed and kiss her, even when the only beauty left in her face is the glow in her eyes when she looks at you.

And, by the way, don't believe the byline of an old movie, "Love means never having to say you're sorry", because you do have to say sorry many times for hurts you may have caused intentionally or not. You also have to say lots of "Thank You's", and "You're Welcome", and "I liked that", and "I love you", and "I enjoyed the dinner with you" - the small things which mean a lot when said by a person in love.