FIND OUT THE SECRET OF A MEANINGFUL LIFE.
We can study and learn a lot of knowledge and skills from many learning institutions. Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Arts and Design, Trade and Commerce, Economics and Politics, History and Current & Events, News & Social Media, Entrepreneurship & Online Business Law & Diplomacy, Medicine and Nursing and so on and so forth. We can go all the way to Doctorate Degree and get the knowledge we have been aiming for. Some enriched themselves beyond their imaginations other stood out in their field of endeavor. Sports, Public Service, Artists, Scientists or business.
Without the self character development towards the universal accepted virtues, good manner and right conduct and the inherent knowledge of right and wrong and the conviction to follow them and what is right, true and beautiful, our leaning will end up in the vicious cycle of history, the rise and fall of civilization and the destruction of whatever humankind has built, because the soul and the heart remain as beastly as the evil itself. The development of our character lies in the knowledge and practice of righteousness and good things towards everyone one including anything such as flora and fauna and the earth itself! So here is the first in a series of the book I made, three Things in Life.
1. Three important things for self-improvement:
- know yourself
- control yourself
- give your self
While I was a teacher in one of the biggest organizations in the middle-east, I was tasked to create a soft course on personality development for the national staff of our company. I had a chance to have an assistant who was timid but enthusiastic on the job at hand. Prior to it, this young assistant was inexperienced but was quite willing to learn. Needless to say his confidence was low but coachable. During our daily dosage of conversation, I said to him, something like this ‘If you think you can, you can and that is the truth. If you think you can’t, that is true as well, you dictate the outcome of what you can do and what you cannot do. Things must be practiced in order for you to internalize it within you. Practice creates confidence. And the three most important things we need for self-improvement is know yourself, control yourself and give yourself.’ I encouraged and eventually assigned him to do a part in one of the soft training courses I have designed with my team. I told him to do a presentation on Safe Driving Habits for dozens of company drivers. He mastered his presentation by heart and told him to practice the actual presentation in front of me and some senior managers at our department’s conference room. I told some of the tips which helped him looked lively, interesting and confident. I told him he is creative, ambitious and loved talking. One of many things I told him was to use these qualities to his advantage. Practice things you wish to be, if you want to be a manager, act like one, practice it till it becomes a part of you. If you want to be a good speaker, practice speaking with sense. It is by reading good books, observing, taking lessons from experience, meditating on life, learning from mentors are ways in getting beautiful insights. Self-improvement however, comes from the inside of your heart. It is a perennial goal. The key that will open the door in becoming what you want to be. It is the key in opening the inside door lock of your heart. Remember you alone can unlock that door where limitless possibilities can be achieved. Only by opening your heart new ideas and paradigm and knowledge can enter in. And where words of wisdom usually are born. Today he is an inspirational speaker in his own right and from being teacher assistant he rose into becoming a manager at a bank where he was tasked to handle training for personality development. Knowing yourself is the first step in having a fulfilling life. It means accepting whoever you are, your mistakes, your past, your color, and your flaws. Accepting everything, who you are and what you have are important components that make you the only you in the entire universes. As you have found the courage to have face to face with that face in-front of the mirror and completely accept whoever you are then and only then you will know better in doing self-improvement. You do not only accept who you really are, means you also have to totally believe in yourself as well. See, we sometimes hear lover saying he loves her for whoever she was. Because he loves her, period. We must first love our selves like this. Believe in the power of believing, of being positive no matter how your life is at the moment. You must keep the picture of your end goal and keep moving towards it. And you can move towards it better if you know your company- and that is yourself. You must know the nature of your heart, be honestly truthful on what you have inside and throw away limiting beliefs, wrong knowledge and misleading preconceived notions on life to start with your spring cleaning of your heart. To know oneself is in fact one of the most difficult tasks of our life but one of the greatest victory you could ever achieve because ‘the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’ James 1:5. Every one of us have some weaknesses, perversion or wickedness, filthy as it may we must confront it and resolve to wrestle and kick out all deceits and sicknesses of our heart for good. Be brave. Knowing ourselves can be a lifetime endeavor. Your commitment to know yourself must be renewed daily. Do not lose hope when sometimes your own weaknesses like temperament, sex drive, or strong tendency to procrastinate may have an upper hand over our sense of right and wrong. Keep the fight. Keep the faith in you. Remember, if you think you can, you can, I tell you chances are, you can. Hold on to God. Knowing yourself means you know that you are nothing, you are hopeless without the grace and love of God. No matter how rich you become there is a stupendous dimension far wider than having material things like money. It is like our earthly success is but a particle of sand compared to the whole rolling balls of the universes. That is a dimension we could not understand or we refuse to understand. We need to have an open mind. Learn to listen. Unlearn bigotry. Learn to handle the truth. Truth is truth no matter how you conceived it to be.
We need God to mold us. As St. Paul wrote, ‘For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer me who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’ Romans 7:15-24. Do not lose hope and heart St. Paul continued, ‘Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ, our Lord!’ Romans 7:25. We should know that this flesh is always a slave to sin, (see last part of Romans 7:25). But let our heart and mind continue reaching out in doing what is good for at an appointed time we shall prevail over sinful flesh, (see 1 Samuel 2:9). There are people who might not believe in Jesus Christ, I respect that as much as I expect you would respect my belief, my conviction. However, the way to self-improvement needs an open mind. Close minded people are like machine that does not work, like a heart that does not beat and like a parachute that does not open, try using a parachute that is not open. See what will happen. It will only end in RIP.
One of the best solutions in knowing yourself is daring what you fear most. Action begets confidence… fear and doubt paralyzes us into action. Action eradicates fear doubt and worries. The true us shall come out brave and strong. The reason why we need to dare what we fear is because those fear, doubt and worry are illusions. They become a mountain out of a mole hill. They become a planet out of a mountain or they become a zombie out of a dead one. Illusions grab you into even more fear including worrying worse and doubting nothing short of paranoia. This is only when you let them clutter your heart and mind. Throw them all away out of the door of your heart. Illusions are like ghosts they are only powerful if you let them scare you but they cannot do anything if you resolved not to be terrified. Action is the worst enemy of worry says the American proverb. However, action without thought is like shooting without aim. Action comes after knowing what to do and embracing the total you. You are never you when you harbor negativity or resignation of what you think you are at the moment. Remember a caterpillar? They are not what they are. Their true destiny is a butterfly. Our true destiny is mind boggling. Accept the fact that tomorrow will be another day of hope and opportunities. Dare to take action. From there you can only had a genuine start and self-improvement on everything. Know yourself and dwell not much about your limits. It is useless. But dwell on your limitless possibilities. There are two sides one is darkness, there is nothing to see there, look at the bright side. From there you will see many things. Find your road to take. Once you know what to do then act on it without fail. Take the first step in your journey without fail. Move. Move. The problem with a lot of people is they have so many alibis, procrastination is an assassin of opportunities. They are covered with self-limitation and low self-esteem. They do not believe a lot of time they can do more than they thought they can. My advice is had a private time with yourself, converse with your heart. Meditate. Who are you? Why are you having this or that inferiorities or insecurities? Why you could not accept things that you are? Do you need a mentor but who? (Look for a mentor but be careful of choosing one. Sometimes along the way, good people would cross your path and would give words of wisdom. Their guidance help you do things better. They help you achieve your plans in a shorter period).You should also ask yourself on what do you really want in life? Why do you do what you do? You need to come to terms on who you are and your imperfections. It is alright, I am telling you, we are all imperfect. And see many around us have made it because they dwell on their limitless potential. They know, control and give themselves away. They have innate understanding of these three things on self-improvement despite their imperfections. They know themselves that they could. They understood not every time a caterpillar is a caterpillar. So many people were imperfect but succeeded with their positive mind, strong character and powerful conviction on life anyway. They have become icons of inspiration like Nelson Mandela, the destroyer of apartheid, Michael Jackson, the king of music entertainment, Helen Keller the pioneer of professional nursing, Whoopi Goldberg the great actress of Hollywood, Jose Rizal the hero of the Malay race, Rodrigo Duterte the greatest president of the Philippines and Jack Ma the founder of one of the most lucrative internet website, Ali Baba. I can mention many others even people among my peers. All of them have mountains of obstacles they surmounted before they have become great in their own right. Their challenges were like monsters seemingly impossible to defeat but they did. They knew what they wanted and they went on to achieve it. This you should remember, you can never truly know yourself if you do not know God. I think it was President Reagan who said ‘we are always a victor unless we give up on God.’ This is an important part of knowing yourself.
Like knowing yourself the law of success is never ever giving up. You may encounter bumps, cliffs, oceans and Everest and thought you failed. Change your perspective. In fact, you learn many ways on how not to be successful. Success is just in the neighborhood for those who never stop trying. You will find its address as you go on looking for it. All you require is one breakthrough, just one. Eventually success shall welcome you in her home. That is not maybe, that is sure. As long as you do not stop persevering, learning and doing. Success will finally greet you. Knowing yourself is success. Success is not a one-time event. It is only success if it is maintained or followed by another success after another. Real success is not found in materialism but in the certainty you know where you are going and ensure you have registered your name in the circle of successful elite group. They will be found in the Book of Life. The only thing we need to do is to obey God’s commandments and precepts. Work out your citizenship in the Kingdom of God. It is real as the sun shall rise on the east. Now that is permanent success. That is what success is all about. Do not be carried away by the vanities and pride of this world.
Once you know yourself, you will now know what to control. Your bad habits, bad attitude, bad drives, bad tendencies or bad character, with full determination all of these bad things will eventually vanish from your system if you take concerted effort and decisive action. You should know when to stop things and find new trail, new road. Where not to go, you should even know what irritate you. You should know small things like mood swing. Does it happen more often when you are tired or stressed? You should understand your tendencies, drive and mood changes. They should be analyzed. You should give them more deep thoughts. Things like how to mitigate them. Better still how to prevent unpleasant consequences due to all those reasons. I remember my great-grandmother on my father side who admonished my uncles and aunts not to exacerbate the situation by avoiding irritating my grandfather and leaving him alone for a while as he was tired and in bad mood. He had just come from fishing with three more men from the neighborhood, one of them was my uncle who was next to my father. My father was the eldest in the family. They fished from early in the morning and had to stay longer to little later in the day even it was not advisable as fish would not stay near the surface when the sun was on. Grandfather was probably musing on the lost expenses they had as I always heard among the fisher folk in the island expenses such as their ‘baon’ (food they brought with them), sodas, bread, breakfast, coffee, fish and rice. He seemed embarrassed and frustrated he could not provide for that day for all of us. They were not able to break even. Their long list of debt from the variety shop we called sari-sari store have just got longer. They needed to ask for can of sardines to have lunch that day. My grandmother assured him all was fine. We had lunch of rice, vegetables and sardines. She cheerfully reminded him that it was part of being a fisherman. There is no assurance of a good catch. She prepared him his favorite coffee and leave him alone long enough to cool down. I heard them later talking sweetly as if it was their first night. She knew exactly how to handle my grandfather in all situations. They lived not only like a team but more so they lived like one. They not only knew themselves. They knew each other. We should be consistent on values, principles and priorities in life. It is a common wisdom but many people do not really know how to apply knowing things like this to prevent friction with their loved ones. We need to understand others first in order that they may understand us. Then you need to really improve yourself in terms of control on those aspects of life. A poor or evil character is not the way to start a journey. First be honest to yourself with an open mind. Resolve once and for all in eliminating what those in you have to go for good, like being doubtful of one’s ability. Evil is never the way to go. ‘For the Spirit of God does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.’ 2 Timothy 1:7. The most important aspect is to control yourself from letting those bad habits of yours have the upper hand in controlling your life. ‘Like any city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.’ Proverbs 25:28. Failure is always lurking in our actions if there is no self-control. Even if we know for sure that they are detrimental to our well-being we often succumb to the same vice. It is true it’s hard to control our old habits no doubt about that but it is always possible. See, how many millions went into trouble because of vices. Vices that have gone out of control. So many failures are there because of the absence or lack of self-control. We may have knowledge on ways and means of having a good life but without self-control against vices that destroys future, that knowledge is useless. Be aware of what troubles you or what’s going on in your life. Only then you could discover the things which you need to repair. One thing is bad attitude, cruelty, selfishness and evil thoughts should not only be c
controlled; they should be thrown away out of our system. We should avoid at all cost – unfriendly, wild behavior, evil, rudeness and perversion. ‘Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.’ Titus 1:8.
Giving yourself means to give additional value and usefulness in life. Giving is for what is good and right. Giving yourself is the greatest expression of love. It is the way to serve God and help mankind. Confucius said ‘Great is he who controls a city but greater is he who controls himself.’ When you know yourself it means you could control yourself because you know what to avoid, what not to pursue. We know that fire is hot and can burn us. This knowledge lead us not to play with fire. Self-control is not about controlling oneself from doing what is good. You should incorporate love of self truthfully and honestly. Then love might come out naturally like fresh fruit at the right season. At the same time, how can you control something when you do not know it in the first place? For example, not a few among us would even go to a place where we would end messing up. We do not know ourselves well enough how much more on what will happen. For example, some people would go to pubs and drink to their hearts’ content only to be involved into a fist fight. They may end up this way because precisely they don’t know and or refuse to know that they have already drunk more than enough alcohol. Alcoholic spirit has taken over them. This is the natural tendency for some. Once over inebriated they become war freak and even beyond crazy stupid. This could happen more often when a drinker becomes a drunkard.
‘The righteous gives and does not hold back.’ Proverbs 21:26. It means being generous and cheerful in giving. When you do this you are giving a part of yourself. And that is love. ‘Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.’ Proverbs 3:27. I knew the ultimate meaning of giving oneself is the willingness to give his life for his friend because of love inside you. (see John 3:16). We can never give what we do not have. We cannot give our life to a friend when we do not have love in us. It is love that we give with our life. We give happily and excitingly to our family and because of love we do it at times like addiction. We get happiness in giving away to our family because there’s love. Knowing yourself is to love yourself as who you really are, so that you could give the same love for others. And that is when you could love God genuinely and effectively more than yourself. Remember love begets love. Respect begets respect. ‘Man feels human because of respect rendered to him. There is no other way to live but to have freedom together and to observe peaceful co-existence with one another. Then art and sciences, trade and commerce can progress in excellence’, Albert Einstein. You give yourself through giving with respect and love. Giving is not always a word or emotional support, giving more often than not is giving in kind. Giving should be done from the privacy of our heart not from the grandstanding of our mouth. ‘You give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you’. Matthew 6:3-4. Giving is not boasting. But when we genuinely give this an invisible law will work towards rewarding you by leaps and bounds. It is not that we do this for this purpose. It is only the effect in the form of grace and blessings for people who have the pure heart and sincerity in giving. Giving respect is like giving yourself. It gives a whole lot of value and beautiful feelings. The effect of respect is it distressed the mind. The mind becomes receptive to positive disposition. The mind becomes more aware of good things in life. It gives clear thinking & brings out motivation. You cause someone to have a happy mind. A happy mind brings out productive mind. All these are the effects when we give respect.
When we give ourselves without expecting in return, love becomes spontaneous we actually give out love. And as we give we will receive more than we can perceive. God said, ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.’ Luke 6:38. To give ourselves is the epitome of true purpose of living. In self-improvement, we have to give with utmost attention towards the need of the one we are helping. Giving is the act of someone who has so much in his heart rather than what he has in his bank. Even some rich guys remain feeling poor because their heart is empty on giving but overloaded with getting. Giving yourself is easier to others and is not easy to someone, in fact it is a lifetime process. Self-improvement is a daily job. One of the purpose of life is self-improvement by which we should reach that level of improvement where it becomes no more of self you are concerned about but of others.
Finally, to have self-improvement in many areas of your life such as getting further education, skills, experience or training for advancement in career, business, networking, knowledge or self-satisfaction, or have toned healthy body, and so on; these all endeavors would be much easier after knowing oneself, controlling oneself and giving oneself when fully understood. As a matter of getting meaningful freedom it is good to include endeavor to find ways getting a steady flow of passive income and get off from being employee as soon as you can. This will help you know more of yourself when you have more free time meditating and discovering new things which you love. Do not go into loan or debts, it is the worst thing we could do if this money were taken without an ROI. Take it from me. Be happy on what you can afford. Or at least learn to be contented of living even below your means. This way you give more to others in your own right. Do take loan if the investment project income is greater than the money taken from a bank. And of course avoid overstretching your finances just to get a bigger loan. I reckon this just in time before falling into the ditch of financial dependency with family members, a common fate or rather a common practice among many compatriots who did not have financial literacy. Self-improvement comes easier when you have mastered or at least understood the three things, know yourself, control yourself and give yourself. They are interlinked, you cannot control yourself if you do not know yourself. And you cannot give yourself when you do not have anything to give. You only have to have love in your heart in order to give. ‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ John 15:13. The secrets of a meaningful life is to have these three things fully understood and applied. Let’s remember these:
For self-improvement, always do;
know yourself like surgical rays;
control yourself all nights and days;
and give yourself with love and grace.