100 Moments of Happiness Project

Image Source: Google Images
Image Source: Google Images

Last week during my grammar and writing class, I invited a couple of my students, Fley and Jerome, to join me, the teachers, and other students in celebrating the birthday of Liz, one of the teachers of our school, the American Institute for English Proficiency. In normal Filipino fashion, Jerome first rejected the invitation with the typical Filipino excuse: he’s busy. Fley chimed in with the same reason: she’s busy too.

In reality, they didn’t mean that they were busy. What they really meant was that they had other plans already. Jerome had a date to go to Something Fishy, a buffet restaurant in Eastwood where I live, and he wanted to try the Php 199 breakfast buffet. Fley already planned a badminton game with her friends, and this would be their third week in a row, and she couldn’t miss it. Therefore, what they truly meant was that they had other priorities. I proceeded to teach them that being busy and having other priorities were completely two different terms.

I tried convincing them to prioritize Liz’s birthday, but I was unable to. I told Jerome that he could always go to the buffet anytime, and I told Fley that she could always play badminton on the weekends with her friends, but Liz’s birthday happens only once a year. I know that these two students are also dealing with confidence issues, so I told them coming out with us for the night would be a nice change, and it would definitely help boost their confidence. However, I could not manage to convince them.

In one final attempt, I told them that being happy was sometimes doing something out of one’s comfort zone. Sometimes, we have to do activities that we wouldn’t normally do to get us out of routine. I also mentioned to them that we always need to constantly challenge ourselves. I gave them examples of how I had been so comfortable with being a teacher and co-founder of the American Institute, but now, I was forming a youth empowerment group with four other Filipino entrepreneurs and community leaders. Still, I could not manage to convince them.

One great thing that came out of our conversation, though, is one writing assignment. As we started talking about being happy, I mentioned to them that I had seen on my Facebook news feed about the Happiness Project. As a part of the class, we would write, instead of 100 days of Happiness, 100 moments of happiness, to put our own take on it. We don’t need to write daily for 100 days; we just need to write about 100 moments. Why do this? One, it will help my students develop a writing habit. Two, it would help them be happier by focusing on the positive moments they encounter each time. To do this assignment, they simply need to write at least 300 words or more about the their happy moments, and they could include one to as many moments they want in a single blog post. Fley will be using her own blog, and Jerome will be writing his happy moments on the American Institute’s blog, The Five Elements.  Next, make sure to use the hashtag, #100MomentsofHappiness whenever posting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

We are hoping as well that others would follow suit.  If you would like to participate, you may simply do so by posting your name and your blog in the comment section below.  If you do not have a blog, you can get an account at The Five Elements.  Simply let me know in the comment section below.  You don’t have to blog about it as well; you can also just post on Facebook.

I have already started it on Facebook:

 

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Don'tSweattheSmallStuffCarlsonIn our last Christmas party at my company, the American Institute for English Proficiency, I was in charge of buying the gifts for our games and giveaways.  As co-founder, general manager, and teacher, I prefer buying gifts that would inspire our students, and I therefore headed to the bookstore to buy books as our prizes for the winners of our Christmas games.  One book caught my eye in particular, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.  I bought several other books that have inspired me throughout the years, but I was more interested in this book by Carlson because I had never read it before, and it contained information that was very similar to what I was teaching in my classes.

We played the games during our Christmas party, and lo and behold, most of our students actually wanted this book as their prize.  However, I kept a copy for myself, and I have begun reading it.  I have only leafed through a few pages (since each chapter is about a page and half long only), and I must say, I am quite inspired already.  As the book suggests, it is a compilation of life advice and how we should stop letting the small things in our life from driving us crazy and thereby getting the best of us.  It is about letting go.  It is about acceptance.  It is about peace of mind.

In this first chapter, aptly entitled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” as well, I have learned that to keep everything in order, to achieve a zen-like lifestyle, that peace of mind we all so want, we need to remember two rules in life: 1) Don’t sweat the small stuff, and 2) Everything is all small stuff.

It doesn’t mean that we should stop taking life seriously.  What it simply tells us is that there are things in life that we sometimes blow out of proportion, when really, things are still under control.  Sometimes, we just over-analyze when we should just simplify, we get angry when should just forgive, we get stressed when we should just go with the flow.  As a result, we let life get the best of us, and we become easily distracted and discombobulated instead of getting a better perspective so that we can move on doing the things we should be focusing on.

I am going to take this mantra with me this 2015.  In fact, I have been instilling this in my mind for the past few days, and I must say, I am doing more “perceiving” than “reacting.”  This means that instead of quickly reacting with emotions, I am perceiving my situations more with a sense of order and a sense of peace.  I have hundreds more chapters to go, with each chapter relating to personal growth, business, and more.  I can’t wait to share the rest of the book to my friends, colleagues, and students.  It’s going to be a very different new year for me.  I embrace 2015.

FILIPINO RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES: I FEEL EMBARRASSED FOR FILIPINOS WHO ARE EMBARRASSED TO CALL THEMSELVES A FILIPINO.

This article is my response to an article entitled FILIPINO RAISED IN SINGAPORE: I FEEL EMBARRASSED TO CALL MYSELF A FILIPINO on The Real Singapore, an online magazine/blog.  Here’s my response:

FILIPINO RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES:  I FEEL EMBARRASSED FOR FILIPINOS WHO ARE EMBARRASSED TO CALL THEMSELVES A FILIPINO.

The writer of the article starts by mentioning her origins and credibility; I shall do the same.  I was born in the Philippines,  and I moved to the United States when I was young.  In Honolulu, Hawaii I finished elementary, intermediate, and high school, and in Seattle, I completed a B.A. in Political Science, graduating as the commencement speaker of the class.  Shortly after college, I worked in Las Vegas in sales and marketing, business development, and training, and I have moved back to the Philippines to manage my own business, the American Institute for English Proficiency.

I had an opportunity to go to Singapore a few years ago as my friends and business partner wanted to go on vacation there, but I opted not to join them because I had thought at that time that it would be similar to the US; I went to Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong instead.  That means I don’t really have first-hand knowledge on how Filipinos behave or misbehave in Singapore.  I only hear stories from my former clients and students stories.

However, my response is NOT fully about how Filipinos behave in Singapore.  I am sure that there are many Filipinos who misbehave in a foreign country as there are many foreigners who also misbehave in the Philippines.  I am sure that there are many Singaporeans who also misbehave in another foreign country.  In fact, my father, who lives in Las Vegas, is almost a perfect resident in the US, but when he comes back to the Philippines for a visit, he sometimes runs amok.  I shall not be embarrassed to be my father’s son.

My point is, there will always be people, regardless of race, sex, gender, age, or belief, who do not behave the way we want them to behave.  We should criticize the behavior, not the race.

The embarrassment is not whether they misbehave or not.  The bigger embarrassment is when someone, regardless of race, generalizes an entire culture because of a few individuals.  There roughly 170,000 Filipinos residing in Singapore, with more than half a million Filipinos coming in as tourists.  I’m not quite sure how many Filipinos the writer has observed to make such a conclusion, but regardless of her observations, there are much better ways to express her disappointment.

Instead of attacking an entire race or culture and being embarrassed to be “called a Filipino,” the writer could have simply attacked the “bad behaviors” and provided solutions.

So instead of falling into the traps of the fallacy of hasty generalization, the writer could have mentioned that there are certain behaviors that people, regardless of race, color, or national origin, should avoid.  After all, these “bad behaviors,” are not unique to the Filipinos.  I have seen a display of these poor behaviors in public by other races as well.  Thus, it is very insensitive and tactless for a Filipino to be embarrassed of being a Filipino simply because of the bad behavior of a few.

If the writer’s logic were to be accepted, then I could also say that my friend Sergio should be embarrassed to be a Mexican because of a few poorly behaving Mexicans, then my friend Thibaut should be embarrassed to be French because of a few poorly behaving French nationals, and my friend Cary should be embarrassed to be an American for a few poorly behaving Americans.  Hence, everyone should be embarrassed of their cultures.

Instead of creating racial divides, pitting the Filipinos against the Singaporeans, the writer could have been more sensible and, I reiterate, just pointed out the bad behaviors and a solution to the problem.

I’m not even going to discuss the writer’s points because his or her points seem more emotion- than logic-driven.  The writer finishes the article by saying that he or she sounds “Singaporean” because of having lived there for a decade.  She could have just sounded more human than Singaporean.  Let me finish my post in the same way she ended her article: I have lived in the US for about two decades, and as a human, as a Filipino raised in the United States, as a Filipino who returned to the Philippines, as a Filipino who has traveled to many places, and as a Filipino proud to be Filipino, and as a human being, I feel embarrassed for the writer.

And to fellow Filipinos: Let’s fix our behavior when we are guests in other countries so that another Filipino would not just generalize about our culture and be embarrassed to be a Filipino.

How to Know if He or She Really Likes You

Image Source: CNN/Google Image
Image Source: CNN/Google Image

How to Know if He or She Really Likes You
by John “JT” Tan

Love is so unfair.

When you’re trying to be perfect for the one that you love, sometimes it may end up to rejection or the person you love might ignore you. But when you try to play with others, they end up falling in love with you, and the bad thing is, you don’t love or even like them.

I don’t know how to explain that situation. It’s just that the people who are mostly rejected are the ones who are really sincere. Maybe sincere people don’t know how to explain it or show it because they are shy.

Sometimes, we are so confused when the heart and the mind don’t coordinate well. However, I have observed some ways to help out because I have been in and out of love many time.  These are three things that I can consider on how to identify if that person really likes you.

First one is try to be with him/her.  Not in bed of course.  Try to be with him/her means try make him/her as your friend. The best way of knowing other people’s background, attitude and any other stuff is to be with them.

The next one is to be friends with his/her friend.  Sometimes, their friend can’t stop their talkative big mouth from “talking some shit,” especially when they are drunk, and their friends sometimes can be the reason for you to know about her and her feelings.

The third way to identify if that person really likes you is to stop being numb.  Stop being so picky.  Don’t set too much standard, or else you will lose those people who are really sincere.

Value your self a lot. If the person doesn’t like you then stop pushing yourself to them. There are billions of people in the world so don’t stick to someone who does not value you.  Learn on how to identify true people from impostor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John “JT” Tan is a former student of the American Institute for English Proficiency Quezon City Branch.

Road Rage in the Philippines with Gun and Knife

I ride the taxi all the time, and I have had some of the most bizarre moments.  However, this kind of situation would definitely scare the hell out of me.  Road rage is not uncommon, and it can occur anywhere, but when it is caught on video, it becomes a completely different story.  We get front row tickets to a real life movie, and we begin to discover human nature at its finest, or at its worst, in this case.

I am more forgiving than most drivers I know when it comes to undisciplined behavior on our roads.  My father, on the other hand, is less forgiving, and he demonstrates his road rage by speeding up and passing another driver, and finally cutting him off.  Fortunately, it never ended where the two vehicles would stop and altercation would ensue.  My father respected my mom too much for that as she was always in the front seat.  In fact, my father’s semi-road rage was the cause of many of their arguments.

In my case, I am pretty calm and composed, even when driving here in the Philippines.  At first, I was afraid to drive because of the traffic situation here, especially with the undisciplined drivers and pedestrians, but I finally mustered enough courage to drive around the chaotic streets of Metro Manila.  I stayed within the lines.  I signaled left or right when turning.  I followed the speed limits.  I did not cross on the red light, even when there were no cars around at 2 am.  Yes, I drove the same way I drove when I was in the US.

I don’t have a car right now because I got into an accident a few months ago, and my car was totaled.  I have been earning extra cash, trying to save up so I can buy one pretty soon.  As a result, I have been taking the taxi at least once a day, and my taxi budget is almost Php 10K a month.  So that’s a lot of riding the taxi.  That means I have had first hand knowledge on how taxi drivers behave.  Some of them were really nice, but many of them were horrible drivers, swerving, speeding, and cursing all the time.  They mentioned the word traffic as if they have never seen or been into one.   I have had situations where the taxi driver would even fall asleep at the wheel, and I have had to remind him to stay awake. I have also seen how other drivers cut each other off, and it seemed that they didn’t mind since they, too, cut others off.  Just a vicious cycle of poor discipline.

To not be so stressed out with these moments, I focus on surfing the net with my phone until I get to my destination.

So what would bring two grown men to have the audacity to stop in the middle of traffic and threaten each other with a gun and knife?  And just when you think that the situation has been pacified, what would compel a man without weapons to chase and pursue another who just threatened him with a gun and a knife?

What do you think?

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The Harmful Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Image Source: Google Images
Image Source: Google Images

Do you ever feel like your body weighs 10 times heavier than the usual?  Do you feel so angry and irritated that it disrupts your work and your social life?  There comes a time that we just want to go out, have fun partying at night, and not pay attention to our health.

For most of us, we often take for granted the importance and benefits of sleep.  In my case, I always stay up late, and play computer games, because currently, I am not enrolled in law school, I am not employed, and I feel more alive during night time. I stay up late and play video games because nobody bothers me at night, and the internet connection speed here in the Philippines is much faster at night. There is a saying that goes, “He who sleeps late has short days. ”  It means that when we stay up too late, and our sleeping time is cut short, we feel like we do not have enough time to finish our work.  When I stay up late and somebody asks me to do something,  I feel like I’m not giving 100%, and I feel like my body is going to give in.  Today, I’d like to share to you what sleep loss does to us.

1. COGNITION decreases when we lack sleep.  We use our brain all the time everyday for mental activities such as, thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering.    It is an important part of our body, and without it, we wouldn’t function at all.  We rarely take care of our brain because we think that our brain is inside, protected by our skull.  However, we need to remember that the brain needs to rest in order for it to function, and this rest that can be gained through sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning.

According to Men’s Health magazine, lack of sleep hurts our cognition in many ways.  First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, and problem solving.  This makes it more difficult for us to learn.  Second, during the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind.  If you don’t get enough sleep, you wont be able to remember what you learned during the day.

I remember back when I was still studying, I only had three hours of sleep because I was playing computer games, and I studied for exams late in the evening.  I slept in the morning, and when I woke up, it was almost time to go to school.  I took the exam, but while answering it, I forgot what I had reviewed, and I couldn’t think straight because I was lacking sleep and the rest needed for my brain to function well.

2. SKIN AGING also occurs when we lose sleep.  Though it is a normal process or change in the body that we go through as we grow older, lack sleep accelerates this process.  Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. Chronic sleep loss can lead to fine lines and dark circles under our eyes or as we call it, “eye bags.”  According to Cosmopolitan magazine, when we don’t get enough sleep, our body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol.  When there is too much cortisol, it can break down collagen, the protein that helps keep the skin smooth and elastic.

In my case, I love staying up late, watching series, and playing games.  I always sleep at four in the morning, and when I wake up and someone sees me, they usually say that I have dark lines under my eyes, and that I look a little older, like the vendor of cigarettes.

Image Source: Google Images
Image Source: Google Images

3. WEIGHT gain is another downfall when we lost sleep.  Contrary to popular belief, we do not lose weight when we lack sleep.  Why? According to my doctor friend,  lack of sleep raises the levels of ghrelin, the hormone that tells you to eat and whose job is to boost your appetite, increase fat production, and thereby causing you to gain weight.  Lack of sleep also lowers the level of leptin, the hormone that tells you that you’re full and you should stop eating.

I remember a week ago, I slept late again, and woke up early, because it was my friend’s birthday.  He treated us to a buffet, and everyone noticed that I ate the most, so my doctor friend immediately advised me to be careful because lacking sleep and eating a lot is a dangerous combination.

When we feel like staying up late, going out with friends, and having a great night, you should remember that sleep is always important to our body as it affects our cognition, skin aging, and our weight.  Medical journals recommend eight hours of sleep, but achieving these hours can be hard for some people, especially those who love partying and going out late in the evening.  Since value health and lifestyle, we must learn to balance our activities with sleep.  I recommend that when we struggle to complete eight hours of sleep, we need to have a special place for sleeping and relaxing where there is no distraction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christian is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency.  He is studying to become and lawyer, and he wants to improve his English before going to law school.

The Three C’s in Practicing for Success

The Three C’s in Practicing for Success
by Christian Quadra

PracticeWhen do we feel like giving up on something we love to do just because we are not good at it?  Do we move on to the next one because we feel like it’s not meant for us?  There comes a time where we do something that we like and then eventually give up because we feel that we lack the talent to do it.  Whether it’s painting, dancing, and cooking, we can master these things through constant and deliberate practice.

For most of us, we can focus on one hobby and be great at it because we are motivated to practice. In my case, I have been playing the guitar since 2005, and a lot of my friends and relatives give me positive remarks about my playing, so I decided to keep on practicing and become great at playing the guitar, a new-found skill I used to serenade people.  There is a saying that goes, “If you fail to practice your art, it will soon disappear.”  It means that when we don’t practice our talents or passion, we forget how to do it, and we lose our progress and start to become bad at it.  When I stopped playing the guitar because of my studies, for example, I slowly forgot how to play it, but since I am practicing again, I am becoming great again.  Therefore, I’d like to share the three C’s in practice that would make us achieve our desired results.

1.  CONSISTENCY is when you are able to practice gradually and continually.  It is making sure that you follow through at the times you set aside to practice.  It is not practice when you have the time; you must make the time.  No excuses.  If you keep on practicing, you will eventually become one of the greatest.  A lot of successful persons are great at their job because they practiced consistently.  Michael Jordan, wasn’t always a great basketball player since he wasn’t even part of the high school varsity team and was not a top player in college, but through consistent practice, he eventually became one of the greatest basketball players ever.  The best athletes, doctors, lawyers, actors, and managers cannot be where they are without consistency in practice.

Practice2One of the things I have mastered is cooking Korean fried chicken, which can rival Bon Chon’s; it is a combination of sweet and tangy flavors, but with a dash of salty spice.  In every family social gathering, whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary, everyone always asks for my specialty.  It took me around 30 trials before I could perfect it, and it was my consistent trials or practice that led me to my own Korean fried chicken concoction.  I was so obsessed about mastering that I actually tried cooking at least twice a week, and before I knew it, I was serving it at the many big family events.

2. CONFIDENCE.  We look up to the people who are successful in their chosen career or hobby, but when it comes to ourselves, we move from hobby to hobby when we feel that we are not good at them.  We tend to lose confidence in ourselves when things get difficult, and it is easier to move on to something else.  Instead of giving up, we must do the opposite and become more confident than ever so that we can continue to gain improvement.  It is at the toughest moment where we need our confidence the most.  Lacking confidence would just make you quit practicing, and you eventually just quit altogether.

PracticeConfidenceI remember back in 2012, I was asked to perform at a birthday party with my band.  I was really nervous because I wasn’t comfortable yet playing in front of an audience, and all of the attention was directed to us.  It made me forget the chords, and I also forgot some of the lyrics.  It was so embarrassing that I almost wanted to stop performing in public, but my close friends heard me singing and encouraged me to sing for them.  Since I was confident about my singing, I didn’t mind performing for them.  I relied on this confidence to get me to practice again.  Instead of feeling down and quitting the band, I regained my confidence and continued to practice.

3.  CHALLENGE.  Practice doesn’t have to be constrained around hobbies and sports.  Practice can also be an important aspect of improving our  career and studies.  Ask yourselves, why do we fail at things that should be easy for us?   It is because we lack practice.  We never learn from our mistakes, and we never aim high.  We should always set to challenge ourselves, or aim for the the biggest prize.  Instead of settling for less, we should settle for the best.  There’s this quote that goes, ” Always aim for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  It means that when you challenge yourself with high expectations, even if you don’t reach it, you will still reach something high, like the stars.  It is when you challenge yourself that you will continue to practice until you accomplish that challenge.

PracticeChallengeMy dream is to become a lawyer, to finish law school with flying colors and with honors.  So how can I do that?  From learning through experience.  During my college years, I was always laid back, not studying, and never giving 100 % effort, but now that I have enrolled in law school, I challenged my self to improve my skills.  For example, I look for seminars that would improve my personality, and I enrolled at the American Institute For English Proficiency (AIEP) to improve my writing skills, critical writing, and public speaking. One of the challenges that my mentor gave me was to write more, since the more I write, the more I will have the chance to see my strengths and weaknesses as a writer.  Instead of complaining about the amount of writing I would have to do, I took it on as a challenge, which in turn, made me practice more and more.

In times where we feel rusty and demotivated because of our performance, always remember that constant and deliberate practice will get you out of that rut you’re in. Just because we know how to do something doesn’t mean we should stop.  Instead, keep sharpening your tools.  Remember the three C’s to improve your practice: consistency, confidence, and challenge.  There will be times when people doubt your skill, but because of practice, you can overcome these doubts and become confident in whatever you decide to do. We value character and personality, and it is the person who chooses to keep improving through practice who will ultimately become successful.  I recommend that when we feel powerless, and we feel like we don’t have the skill or God-given talent, do something about it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christian is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Quezon City.  He is on his way to becoming one of the best lawyers of the Philippines.

Finding Inspiration

Christian is a student at American Institute for English Proficiency, and he is planning to become an attorney.  Visit AIEP at www.aiepro.com.
Christian is a student at American Institute for English Proficiency, and he is planning to become an attorney. Visit AIEP at http://www.aiepro.com.

Finding Inspiration
by Christian Quadra and Chris Delacruz

When do you usually feel like life is so hard that all you want to do is just throw in the towel and give up?  Does it get harder when you don’t know what to do?  There comes a time in our life when things get so difficult that we lose our sense of direction.  Whether it’s because of work, family, relationship, or even money, as in most cases, we tend to lose sight of our goals, and all we have is the feeling of doubt and confusion.  For most of us, we can get out of a rut and continue to pursue our life-long dreams.  In my case, I have been looking for a job for the past six months, and they have all rejected me.  It has gotten to the point where I was no longer motivated, and all I wanted to do was stay at home.  There is a proverb that goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”  It means that when we have nothing to do, we become filled with negativity, and we continue to lose that inspiration.  Fortunately for me, I am starting to find my way back because I have seen signs of inspiration.  Now, I would like to share these signs of inspiration with you so that you can get back on track towards your dreams.

  1. Source: Google Images
    Source: Google Images

    We really do take nature for granted sometimes.  Those who live in the city are so busy living the corporate life in a concrete jungle that traffic, pollution, nice, and congestion have become the norm, and they have been desensitized to these things.  Once or twice a year, we remember to commune with nature because we have had it, and we were always busy.  Little did we know that nature can help inspire us in so many ways.  Nature is beauty.  And what is beautiful is inspiring.  Get out of the city as much as you can.For me, I love going to the beach, and Batangas is one of the closest place to go to.  If you can, go to Pagudpud, Palawan, Boracay, Cebu, or  Calaguas.  The more “virgin” the beach, the better.  When I am at the beach, I am in awe because of it’s beauty: the azure mountains in the backdrop, the white fine sand, the crystal clear water, and the clear blue sky.  The sunrise and the sunset are definitely my special moments because it is quiet, and I feel positive and peaceful.  When I get back to the city, I am inspired to go at it again.

  2. Source: Google Images
    Source: Google Images

    Sometimes, we lose inspiration because we are stuck with the old.  In Ilocos, where my English mentor is from, he told me that when he goes there, he would always ask everyone, “how’s  everything?”  They would always answer with, “Kastoy latta,” which means, “It’s the same.”  This kind of mentality that the people have makes it an uninspiring one because everything is always the same.  Nothing ever changes.  I would highly recommend that you find something new because when it’s new, there is a certain kind of excitement and enthusiasm that goes with it.  Have a new hobby, a new set of clothes, and new friends.  You can even have your mind and body renewed.In my case, I did something new, and it completely inspired me.  I got a new bike as a gift, and for the first time in my adult life, I felt like a kid again as I took my bike for a spin around the neighborhood.  When you feel like a kid, you get more energy, and this energy converts into excitement and enthusiasm, which are fuel for your inspiration.  I also took up a new class, where I am developing my English and communication skills.  Yes, I had these classes before, but this is new again for me because I am learning new things, such as advanced grammar, public speaking, and even critical thinking.  With new activities, I have reinvigorated my passion for learning and revived my child-like qualities, both of which give me a renewed energy for me to continue pursuing goals.  As for you, you may want to pick up a new hobby, go to the gym, or even meet new friends.

  3. youth-bible-studyAnd if you can’t do it alone, find someone who can help to inspire you.  Sometimes, our pride gets the best of us, and we would rather keep the problem to ourselves until we find our own ways of solving them.  This can be unhealthy or even dangerous to your progress because you are bottling things up until it explodes.  No man is an island, as they say, and so sharing your difficulty with others can be a great way to find solutions to your lack of inspiration or lack of motivation.  There are people out there who are willing to help out such as your friends and family.I had a support group.  Every Friday night, we would all gather and discuss the gospel and how it affects our lives.  We reflect on this, and we share our life stories so that the other members of the group can relate, and sometimes, even give the most creative solutions.  Every time I was with them, I felt so inspired, especially when Lani shared her story about her medical school plans.  To make a long story short, Lani struggled throughout her childhood and even into adulthood, but she managed to be a successful doctor.  Support groups, even like a bible study group, can truly inspire you with their stories of hardships and success.

When we lose hope, when the candle burns out, it is difficult to have that spark once again.  We begin to burn out ourselves, and we realize that it is so much harder to get back on track.  However, there are sources of inspiration where we can get back on track again.  Whether it’s nature, in new things, or in support group, there is always a way back.  The road to success isn’t an easy one, but it can surely be an amazing journey if we know how to find inspiration.  We value success, and it is only when we focus on our self, to improve, to strive, and to pursue that we can reach our dreams.  I recommend that when the going gets tough, relax because the inspirations could just be right in front of your eyes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christian is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency where he is focusing on critical writing, advanced grammar, and public speaking.

How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship?  Were you able to maintain your strong bond, or did the distance end up breaking the relationship?  There are many couples who must end up in a long distance relationship for many reasons.  Some of them have to go abroad to work so that they can support their families and give them a better future.  There are also many who go for their studies abroad so that they have a more global education.  Others simply migrate to find greener pastures.

In my case, my husband migrated to Canada five years ago to work so that he could give our family a much better future than he could if he were to work here in the Philippines.  As a result, we have had to make our long distance relationship work, and until today, we are happily married with two children.  In fact, in a few months, he will be returning to the Philippines, and we will go with him to live a new life in Vancouver, Canada.

According to Helen Keller, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.  They must be felt with the heart.”  She is absolutely right.  The things we value in life are not material things, but the love that we have for our loved ones.  Even long distance cannot separate two people who are truly in love.  Now, I would like to show you how my husband and I maintained a strong relationship despite our long distance.

  1. The first way to keep your love alive is to have patience with each other.  When you are thousands of miles away from each other, it can be very frustrating because when you want to talk, it will be very difficult not only because you are in different countries, but also due to time zone differences.  Sometimes, you are available because it is daytime, but he is unavailable because he is already sleeping to get a good rest for a long hard day at work the next morning.  As a result, you tend to get irritated because you can’t talk to each other right away to inform him or her about your needs and wants.  If you do not have patience for each other, you can easily be annoyed, and when this happens, the tendency is for you to give up because of all that negative feeling you have inside of you.  The more you become negative, the more you ignore your loved one, and eventually, you just resent each other.
    Source: Google Image
    Source: Google Image

    At first, when I couldn’t reach my husband, I didn’t mind because I knew that he had a different schedule.  I was available to talk to him in the afternoon, but he was already sleeping.  I wanted to talk to him about our kids and our finances, but I just couldn’t reach him.  But I understood, and I had the patience to wait until midnight when he wakes up.  Sure, there were times when I got angry and frustrated, but I managed to be more patient than impatient.  At the same time, he was also very patient with me because he knew that I was taking care of our two kids, and he wasn’t here to help.  So it takes two people to be patient with each other in order to make the relationship work.  Now, ask yourself, do you have that kind of patience?

    “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
    Aristotle

  2. Another “must do” in order to maintain a strong relationship despite long distance is to have good communication.  It is very easy to skip talking to each other because of distance and time zone differences.  You can set a time to speak to each other, and make sure that you follow through.  In addition, communication means being able to express yourself so that the other person would know what you think and how you feel.  If you hide your feelings and thoughts, the other person might not know what to do or expect.  When this happens, you have a breakdown in communication.  Communication breaks down especially when you have an argument or a misunderstanding because you tend not to talk to each other anymore.  However, it is important that you continue to talk to each other so that the resentment doesn’t get any bigger.

    For example, my husband and I make sure that we would talk every Sunday since that is the time we are both available.  I know that he gets busy on the weekdays, but we have decided that Sunday is our day together no matter what.  When I was sad, I told him that I missed a lot, and I cried.  It was important for me to express this to let him know how much we missed him.  He also tells me about his problems and his feelings, and I feel that he still needs me.  Despite our distance, we open our lines of communication by expressing ourselves, and it feels as if we are next to each other.“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”
    Henry Winkler

  3. Most importantly, you must have an understanding heart.  Understanding means you know why you are not together, why you can’t talk to each other all the time, why he made a decision you couldn’t accept at first, why he can’t come home right away, why he can’t send more money, why he is out with others at night, or why he is so tired.  At first, you wouldn’t understand, but if you put yourself in his shoes, you eventually learn that life on the other side is also difficult, especially when you don’t have your love one beside you.  Understanding doesn’t mean that you accept everything; it just means that you open your heart so that you would be more knowledgeable, more caring, and more forgiving.  And when this happens, you become more loving.
    For example, after so many years, I can finally understand why I had to be separated from my husband.  Yes, he did come and visit only once, and waiting for him was so difficult.  I didn’t understand why he only came once.  Now I realize, that things do happen for a reason.  Sometimes, God makes you see things only in the end, not during the trials.  I had to learn to understand without questioning so much in order for my heart not to have a heavy burden.  I had to understand that my husband was only doing his best for us, and I put my trust in him.  Now, in a few months, we will all be reunited here in the Philippines, and of course, in Canada when we go together.

    “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
    Marie Curie

There may come a point in time when we are separated from the ones we love.  In order to ensure that we do not get separated from their minds and hearts, we must have the courage to face the struggles of long distance relationships.  With patience, communication, and understanding, we are more prepared and ready to deal with any obstacles.  Make sure that when difficulties arise, you would also pray for guidance, and you will be stronger to face the difficulties together.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency, preparing for her migration to Vancouver, Canada.

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