Unlock your fullest potential

There are epiphanies that we suddenly realize as we grow old. If we are to compare ourselves from who we were a year ago, five years ago, and ten years ago, we’d notice that we changed a lot because of our experiences. I find this constant process of discovery as an interesting journey. You have these expectations about who you are and who you will be and yet you surprise yourself that you have turned out different. As we tread these changes, I think the consistent theme in these different phases of our lives is, we can be at peace with where we are when we are making sure that we fully unlock every version of ourselves, and hopefully before our last breath, we can say that “I have exhausted everything, I did everything that I possibly could.” There will be no regrets nor what ifs.

The next question is, “How do you unlock your fullest potential?” I can only speak based on how I approach life and what I have learned overall, and that is by breaking it in to tiny, actionable steps. 

1. Make an irrevocable decision about the life that you want.
       When you know where you are going, there will be less mental burden about the decisions you’ll be making. Decide what kind of life you want, without any sort of guilt. Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want to travel all over the world? Do you want to live a simple life on a hill or in the middle of a forest? Ask yourself this question everyday, “What do I really want?” and listen to your gut’s honest answer. Write it down. To be honest, I feel sad whenever I meet someone who is just wasting precious Earth time wandering aimlessly. We all have moments of uncertainties, but at some point, you have to choose your path. Ten years from now, what does a beautiful life look like to you. Make it as detailed as possible and then that’s it, that’s the life you want.


2. Schedule it. 
      If it’s not scheduled, it’s not getting done. This is just honest advice. If you keep on saying that I want to be financially successful, or have a family, or a car, and you’re just sitting there on the couch and praying to be abundant, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not happening. You have to put it in your calendar and make time for each step that will take you closer to the kind of life that you truly want. Start small. Take those baby steps which might seem insignificant at the moment. You’ll see that those tiny actions will accumulate and result to something great, something that only sheer hard work could ever do.


3. Eliminate anything that brings you down. 
      Are you spending so much time on social media? Do you have thought patterns or belief systems that aren’t helping you rise? Well then it’s time to let go of them. Turn your phone off when you have to focus and just concentrate on whatever task is at hand. Stay in the moment you are in. If it’s not making you a happier and better person, then let go of it. It could be a bad habit, or a dragging relationship, or even people who disguise themselves as friends. Choose your energy. Make sure that even if you plummet in to negativity a few times, you still take steps to keep yourself on a higher energy vibe.


4. Ask for help. 
      You are not an island. You belong to a species of organisms who need socializing. The news, COVID, financial setbacks, illnesses, they all are heavy to carry alone. The thing is, you don’t have to face every single one of them on your own. Ask for help. Be brave to humbly seek assistance whenever you need it. I can’t tell you how this simple step changed everything for me. I used to be the person who wants to prove that she doesn’t need any help from anyone. It’s pathological. This attitude has allowed me to be strong, independent, brave and extremely self-reliant, but it also made me a loner and somehow it closed my doors to opportunities and relationships that could have been good for me. Be self-reliant, but when you need help, please ask for it. 


5. Surround yourself with people who want to see you win. 
      Be careful who you spend most of your time with. If you just gossip, drink, or watch TV with your friends, I hate to break it to you, but you are not with the right people. If you want to become successful, you have to make sure that you are in an environment that will allow you to grow at the level that you want to. Talk about goals and how you are achieving them. Discuss ideas, passion, and creativity. Generate that energy of relentlessness. Assess if the people you are with want to see you win. Filipino culture taught us to value family, but sometimes extended family members can cause too much toxicity. You will get opinions you didn’t ask for or unwanted visits and demands. If that’s the case, stop complaining, save up, and move out. If they are not helping you, just get out of that negative space. You can’t possibly grow in a soil that isn’t capable of providing the nutrients that you need to achieve your highest potential.


6. Expect setbacks. 
      This is not a world of unicorns and rainbows. But I guess you already know that. Following your passion or chasing a dream can be equated to going through loopholes with fire on its outlines. It’s like running on a track with lanes with shards of glass or burning coal. It’s kind of morbid but there will be times when you will want to give up because it’s hard and painful. Circumstances will get out of control just when you think everything is okay. Expect setbacks, my love. There will be highs and lows but just hold on to hope. Keep the faith and know that nothing is permanent, even trials.


7. Have a go-to person. 
      To say that we have that one best friend is false in my opinion. I have a friend that I confide in depending on what I am going through. I hope you have these people. They will give you honest advice and a listening and non-judgmental ear. Having real friends is very comforting. They get you back to your senses when you are getting off track. They will patiently hold your hand when you are still healing. How do you have these people? Be a friend. Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for others, and when it’s your turn to be punched by the world, someone will always be there for you.


8. Come back stronger. 
      When setbacks happen and you feel like you can’t take another blow anymore, rest. Allow your body and your mind the time and space for recovery. Stop pushing when you know within yourself that you are mentally and physically exhausted. This time frame varies for every person. When you are already rested, roll up your sleeves and with courage, start again. You have learned the lessons, and now it’s time to use that wisdom in getting back up. Know that you are strong because you have gotten through the unthinkable. Nothing is impossible for someone who doesn’t have the phrase “give up” in their vocabulary. 


9. Give. 
      Having a generous heart will allow abundance to flow in your life. I have proven this repeatedly. Whenever I feel like there isn’t enough money or when I am scared, I give. It may be my time, or any form of help that I could give. Surprisingly, abundance follows when your heart is not guarded by the scarcity wall. Volunteer for an advocacy you believe in. Serve. Just give not because you want something in return but do it because it feels good to make others feel better.


10. Surrender. 

For me, life is 50% what happens to you and 50% of it will come from your actions. We can do so much with our precious 50%. When I wake up every morning, I do my best to keep things in order and accomplish the tasks that I need to do so that my dreams will come into fruition. But I also know that there will be circumstances and forces which are out of my control, and so when I pray I surrender that 50%. “No matter how this day goes, I will do my best and the Universe will do the rest for me.” It was hard for a control freak like me to utter the word “surrender.” However, I sleep better ever since I accepted that things will get out of control, schedules will get ruined, annoying people will pop up, but how I perceive these circumstances and my legwork is all that matters. Surrender your dream and each moment and eventually you’ll get there. 

A letter to my journal

I guess you really are my bestfriend. Whoever created words are people that I am deeply indebted too. Imagine a world without poems and songs. I just couldn’t. 

Somehow, words feel as if it’s art. It is a dialect that I’m comfortable in, my safe place, my cocoon. When things are exciting, it’s you, my journal, that I tell these stories too. And when I feel suffocated, it’s you that I turn to.

I am beyond grateful that I have you as my bestfriend, as my crying shoulder and my emotional sponge. I have you to thank for helping me cope with a world that moves too fast for a person with a fragile heart. I have you to thank for being my playground and avenue of creative expression. I thank you, my journal, for being the witness to all the highs and lows of being a human.

My mind cannot fathom how 23 characters can make intangible ideas and thoughts feel so real. It is beyond my understanding how typing on a keyboard or grabbing a pen and paper can give such a cathartic feeling. Writing to you my journal, is one of the most magical things that I am grateful that I can do in this era.

Thank you, my journal, for listening to my rants, for accepting my rage, and for acknowledging that I can have all these thoughts and be rough around the edges, and still be accepted. Thank you for giving me the space to write about the nightmares and for immortalizing the good stuff. You have gotten me through a lot and helped me survive when I was walking in the darkest tunnel. With you, I know that I am safe.

I wish more people would write. I wish more would get to see the beauty that pouring yourself on a page could bring. I wish more would be more reflective of their thoughts. I do believe that if more people write on you, journal, there will be a better generation of humans.

Of Being a Love Warrior

Today’s post is very timely with what’s happening in the world. This is a way, personally, for me to release the sadness that I’ve been feeling. Two days ago, our Supreme Court’s decision regarding the late President Marcos’ burial was released. A brief Philippine history background here, he was a famous dictator. For some reason that up until now, my brain couldn’t fathom, they agreed on burying his remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery for Philippine Heroes). Inhale. Exhale. That was news number one.

Then yesterday, Donald Trump won the presidency in the recent US elections. Again, inhale, exhale. I can give you a million reasons why these events are affecting me emotionally. I know that it will affect Filipinos so much. There’s no need to elaborate how, but it definitely will. This is not just about my countrymen, but for every race that has faced discrimination, simply because of their color.

I was affected because, I am afraid. I feel the energy of separation and this vibe could cause a cascade of events that could either make or break the world’s history. I dream of a world wherein people don’t judge you because of your color or your gender. Martin Luther King fought for black lives with all his heart to give the freedom that many men and women of color were yearning for.

I am afraid of history being twisted and planted to our children. We may feel a sense of freedom right now, but do you know how we got here? We fight for democracy so much and yet it seems like we’re taking a step backward.

These events are happening right now. But, if there’s one thing that we shouldn’t dive into, it is being too caught up with this whole political fiasco up to the point that we are stirring negativity. Hate is an energy that we must not cultivate.  Therefore, let’s accept what has happened and take control of what we can. We are in a democracy after all, and part of this system is, respecting the decision of the majority.

Let us ask the right questions and stop being fault finders. The question for us is, “how do we, as global citizens, grow from this?”. Should we just let it be? Should we just be okay with hate and separation? No. Never in this lifetime will apathy solve anything.

Despite all these external noise, let’s go back to the core. Let us let love guide our decisions. I was having quite a bit of a heated conversation a while ago with a workmate who has a different take on the recent events. Still, I paused and asked myself, if this is the kind of energy I would like to release in the universe. I went back to my core. Nope, this is not.

We need awareness especially at these times. We have to constantly monitor the kind of energy that we are emitting. Is it coming from a place of love or fear? I still feel the fear. But whenever it arises, I ask for guidance, that I may not be lost in this political whirlwind, that my fear wouldn’t overpower the love that is inside me.

We need to speak and act our truth.  Most importantly, we need to go back to our essence of love, compassion, and kindness. We need to be united more than ever to spread this message to every person that we meet. We need to be fierce love warriors.

We don’t fight to be right, we fight for awakening.

We don’t need much to be happy

There are three people who make me smile every day when I see them. They are not my friends, and I don’t actually know them. I bump into them at work, at home, and in market, but they don’t have a clue of how valuable their presence is. They just taught me a lot and they don’t know anything about it.

Our School Cleaner

Every day, I would see our school cleaner doing her job. She’s mopping floors and scrubbing here and there. We would greet each other when she comes to our office and when I see her I just see a woman who’s very happy in her job. She would have this big smile every day. Sometimes I wonder how she can smile when her task of making everything clean, for me, is so hard. But every single day, she would say good morning and make the surroundings sparkly. She cleans well. The previous cleaner in our building was a sad lady. But our current cleaner? She is a wonderful person to see very day. She does her job well, and she is happy.

The Egg Vendor

On Mondays, I pass by a woman selling different kinds of eggs. She can speak a little bit of English and whenever I buy eggs from her, she smiles in joy. One time, my money was one thousand and she doesn’t have change for it so she ran somewhere to get the change. In my previous experiences, vendors would often get angry when you give them a large cash and they don’t have change. But with this lady, she was even smiling as she was running to look for change. Every week, I would buy from her just because her happiness is viral. She even gives me one extra egg because I’m a loyal customer. She radiates.

Our Condo’s Security Guard

We have three security guards in rotation in our place. Our favorite guard is the one who always smiles and opens the door when we’re taking a long time to get the key card. He is happy every time we see him. My roommates and I would sometimes give him food because he is just such a nice person. I never see him sleep while on duty and I don’t know there’s just something about him that’s extra shiny.

So what’s the lesson I’ve learned from them?

We don’t need much to be happy.

Happiness is a choice. As long as we do everything with love, we can be happy. I used to think that I’ll be happy if I am rich, if I have nice clothes and a lot of money. Well, if you have a lot of material stuff, it will definitely make you more comfortable in this world. But comfort is not always associated with happiness. You may have everything you want, but still be miserable.

I saw in those three wonderful people that happiness is a decision. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that you should be complacent and be okay with less. What I’m trying to say is, yes, you should work for what you want, but you can be happy along the way. If we’re too serious and too stressed just so we can make tons of money, it will backfire on us. It can be through a disease or through personal relationships being sacrificed.

We only get one shot in life. After this life, there’s none. So why do we have to spend it being unhappy, selfish, and miserable? If there’s one thing we should focus on, I think it should be figuring out how to make our self and the people around us more happy. How do we fight misery, sadness, and even violence? We can do this by creating a happy space. The first step is internal happiness. Start within and radiate. Try it, and you’ll see.

The Lucky Headband

It was my 15th birthday. I was in third year high school. Everything was happening the way it’s not supposed to be. I hit my lowest low in class ranking, from being rank 2 to rank 16. I was devastated

But…

My grandfather gave me a gift on my 15th birthday. It was a headband with a circle design and a smiley printed on it. It was a different and sort of funny headband. It was a happy headband.

That time, headbands were on trend. Though, most of my classmates would wear a headband with a ribbon on it. Sparkly headbands were cool that time. Still, I wore my happy headband with a weird and funny design with much pride.

Fast forward I was in fourth year high school. I still got my happy headband. Its meaning to me changed since then. I was a student leader slash academic person (ew!) in high school, I would often compete in writing contests, science and math quiz bee, and whatever quiz bees were there. One time, I decided to wear my happy headband  as a fashion statement. For me,  it looks so good with my uniform, and I hate it when my hair falls off when I am on concentration mode in contests.

When I decided to wear the happy headband, it was at a moment when I was losing my confidence in myself because it seemed like everything was falling apart, my sister got sick, my parents separated, and so I was falling off the winning wagon. In short, I often lost and got depressed.

So, I started wearing the happy headband. And, for some reason that I didn’t understand, I was on a winning streak again. Every time I wore it, I’d win. So I established a superstitious belief that if I wear my happy headband on days that I will be needing a lot of luck, I’ll win.

My happy headband made me feel like myself again. I was passionate with everything and I was, happy again. I took care of that headband.

But one day, I accidentally broke it.

I was frantic. What on earth will I do? Without it, I’m doomed. I won’t win. For the next competition, I still wore my broken, happy headband, but this time, I lost. I blamed myself for not taking care of my lucky charm. Why was I so stupid? The luck was gone, and I will lose forever.

At that time, studying was my life and competing made me forget about all the problems at home. I basked in the feeling of winning. At least, I have this one area in my life that doesn’t suck. When I lost, it felt as if I won’t be happy again. Maybe, that was it. Maybe I had my happy moments and that was it for me.

I used to believe in luck.

If I put coins in my shoe on a very important day, I know that amazing things will happen. If I wear my lucky blouse, it’s gonna be a good day. If I wear black, I’ll be gloomy. If I wear my happy headband, I’ll be happy and I’ll win.

As I grew up, I didn’t have my happy headband anymore. I stopped believing that certain objects can give me the luck that I need. I stopped believing that my happiness, or my dreams coming true would rely on any external object or the circumstances I’m in. I stopped escaping the bad days, instead, I faced them. I stopped getting angry at my alarm clock for ringing at 5 AM and forcing me to go to work. I stopped blaming God, or other people for the misfortune I’m experiencing. I stopped asking God, why me?

I used to run. I thought that everything was a competition, that money will solve all problems, and that success relies on how famous, or rich you are.

I used to run. When situations get out of control, I run away. I would escape, and run as far as I can. I thought that if I run, the monsters would disappear.

But I was wrong. Life taught me that I don’t have to run away. I don’t need a happy headband to make me feel good and conquer the world. All I needed was to be my own best friend. I needed to be my own cheerleader so that I can be brave when I start being afraid. I needed to be my own healthy critic, to make me realize, when I am being wrong. I needed to learn how to cry on my own shoulder when everything seemed too much. To see other people in the best light, to learn to forgive, to learn to be okay. To know when enough is enough and not take bullshit from other people. To be free. To be loving. To be inspired. And of course, to be there for other people.

No more lucky headband, just me, my head, and a big heart.

That was all I needed after all.