Monday, July 29, 2013

29 Positive-Thinking Tips by Amy Clover

Today is the 29th of July, my birthday. I will be sharing "29 Positive-Thinking Tips" 
by Amy Clover. 
Visit her blog at http://stronginsideout.com, and follow her in Twitter 

1. Breathe. No matter how tough the situation, breathing is the best way I’ve found to ground myself back in the present, and calm even the harshest emotions.
2. Take time for yourself. If I don’t get at least one day a week in silence, just to sit and recharge, I get super stressed out. I get anxious and even a little panicky. Even if you don’t feel this way when you spend time alone, it’s important not to spread yourself too thin. Choose the things that are most important to you and concentrate on those; give those things your all. It’s better to be fully committed to a few things, than half-assing your way through a lot.
3. Comparing yourself to others is wasted energy. You are unique. Comparing your being to others’ in beauty, brains, fitness, or anything else is a losing battle. You will never be like everyone else because you are not meant to be. Trying to be “normal” is a waste of the awesomeness that you are. Embrace those quirks that make you different and stopshould-ing your life away!
4. Don’t be afraid to be excited!!! I’m an enthusiastic person. I get excited, I strike random poses, and I laugh loudly. When you enjoy life and allow yourself to show the happiness you feel when you’re feeling it, it becomes contagious. Your enthusiasm could brighten someone else’s day.
5. Reach out. Feeling down? Talk to someone. It helps soooo much. I don’t know what I’d do without my support system. If you feel guilty for reaching out for help, please know that your cheerleaders want you to feel better. They’re here for you because how you feel and who you are is important to them. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to them, talk to a professional who is qualified to help.
6. Keep your eyes on the prize. If you’re having a hard time achieving your goals, take a step back and remind yourself why you’re working so hard. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture if our present is a struggle. Remembering that there is a light at the end of the tunnel–that this struggle is for a reason–can help get us through even the darkest times.
7. Don’t be afraid to give up a dream. Giving up my “dream” of acting was one of the best things I did on my journey to finding happiness. Sometimes, old dreams become nightmares, causing much negativity that can tear your life apart. Let go of your stubbornness and have the courage to look at the endless mud you’re trudging through from the outside. Is what you’re fighting for worth it?
8. Give yourself a break. You are not perfect. No one is. But that’s ok because perfect is quite boring if you ask me. :) Don’t be so hard on yourself for failures; realize that they help you grow stronger and move on.
9. Be ok with not being ok. Everyone has times of weakness. If you resist them, pretending like it’s not happening, it’s bound to get worse, festering away inside of you. Feel the pain and know that you’ll come out of it stronger.
10. Prove it to yourself. Nothing solidifies the belief that you can overcome anything like going through it. Those tough times are a chance to prove to yourself that you’re a fighter. Make each time after this easier to get through by showing yourself that you can now.
11. Get creative. I write. Others draw, play music, assemble collages, act, paint, knit, etc. Having a creative outlet is a great way to get all those pent-up emotions out of your system so that you have the space to become more positive.
12. Make a mantra. Mantras help me through so much of my day. I use them in workouts, in trying situations, and even in the ones where I just really want to do well. Mantras serve as highly personal reaffirmations to get you back on track when you start to veer off. My favorite? “I am strong enough.”
13. Keep score of your wins. When I have my clients keep food journals, I ask them to write down all the exercise they get in as well as their “opportunity meals,” because I want them to be able to look back and see how they’ve progressed. Keep a record of all your accomplishments so that, in those times you’re feeling stalled or like you’re back-tracking, you can look back and see your achievements on paper.
14. Be grateful. For what you have. For the potential to have what you don’t have. For the lessons you’ve learned. For the strength you’ve earned. For the life you have.
15. Eat clean, think clean. Whenever I eat like crap, I feel like crap. My head gets all muddy and I have trouble redirecting my thoughts in a positive direction. I’ll spare you all the chemical and hormonal details of why eating is directly linked to cognitive function, and I’ll just tell you that, well, it is. If you ingest over-sugared, processed, chemically crap, you’re going to have trouble focusing on the positive (or focusing altogether). Instead, aim for a diet of foods that are as close to the source (ground, tree, sky, ocean, etc) as possible.
16. Surround yourself with people you want to be like. You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Make yourself awesome by hanging out amidst awesomeness! Supportive, encouraging, and loving friends and family will help you be a more positive person. With their help, you’ll surely become the person you want to be.
17. Cut the cads. If you’re hanging out with people who drain you, tear you down, or just don’t value your friendship, you’re being influenced by their behavior whether you like it or not. These people can drag you down and try their hardest to keep you from living the positive life you deserve… if you let them. Don’t let them.Fire them before you get dragged too far down the wrong hole.
18. Tell yourself you’re worth it… and believe it! Now, I’m not talking mirror work here. I’m talking just straight believing that you deserve happiness and positivity in your life. You are worthy of the life you want simply because you are here fighting for it. Never forget it.
19. Make a vision board (aka join Pinterest). I have been making vision boards for years! Not only are they fun to make, but looking at them is a surefire way to bring me up if I’m feeling down. Gather together a bunch of magazine pictures, words that inspire you, or even little souveniers (such as key chains, coins, or toys) and post them all together to illustrate how you want to live your life. Want an easier, more portable version? Join Pinterest! It’s an awesome resource for us and you can bring it with you everywhere! If you need some ideas, check out my boards by clicking here.
20. Commit to change. Change is hard. It gets uncomfortable at times because we are only comfortable with what we know. In order to achieve change, we must push ourselves outside our comfort zone. Know this going into it, and you’ll save yourself a lot of anguish.
21. Perform a RAoK (Random Act of Kindness). You can talk all you want about being kind, but do you walk the walk? When was your last random act of kindness? I’ll tell you right now that these RAoKs are instant mood-boosters. You can’t give selflessly without feeling a ricochet of positivity right back at you. Pick a small RAoK and do it today.
22. Don’t be afraid to acceptkindness. Many of us are afraid to accept help because they see it as a sign of being weak (me included). We must realize that no person is an island. This life thing is a team effort at times and we need others to help us get through it! Accept the gift of kindness from others; let them help you grow stronger.
23. Replace the negative with the positive. I went through years of cognitive behavioral therapy to rewire my thoughts in a more positive direction. One of the key lessons I learned in all that time was to replace negative thoughts with more positive ones, instead of simply trying to push out the negative. If I subtracted a negative thought without replacing it with something, my mind would obsess over what I was trying to block, often worsening the situation. Give your mind something else to focus on that is more helpful in nature.
24. Expect less. If you expect a lot from people who just won’t give it to you, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Learn to expect less from certain people, and find other sources to get what you need.
25. Turn off your serious face and get silly. You know what one of my biggest problems used to be? I took myself too damn seriously. When I started being able to make fun of myself in a non-self-deprecating way, I loosened up a lot, stopped getting so stressed out when things didn’t go my way, and started enjoying life a heck of a lot more. Play!
26. Dream big. If you don’t dream big, you can’t live big. Allow yourself to imagine and want lofty goals. Open your life up to the possibility of achieving them and allow that into your life!
27. Sweat it out. You knew I was gonna throw it in here somewhere, right?! I can’t tell you how much fitness has helped me overcome all my obstacles. It’s not just me, either. There’s tons of research that proves that exercise helps combat depression, stress, anxiety and a host of mental disorders. It’ll also help you focus, so you can be on top of your positive-thinking game!
28. Enjoy Life. This may sound simple, but it’s often harder than it seems. Allow yourself to enjoy your life. Be in it. Feel it. The purpose of life is to BE IN IT.
29. TAKE ACTION. You can think as positively as you want, but if you don’t take action to accomplish anything, you’re going to stay right where you are. Talk is cheap. Be the change. Make this your moment.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Celebrating Life Through Gratitude

If I am to make a significant declaration today, I'd say 'Life is beautiful'! That is quite a bold assertion in such woeful circumstances we have in the world. However, I wouldn't let this day pass without acknowledging the grand splendor that is left amidst awful crises.

Today marks the 37th year of my remarkable earthly journey in the eternal scheme of things. I want to look at it that way to remind me that I am plodding through a temporary sojourn. By having this conviction, the purpose of life in general becomes easier to approach and realize. The challenge becomes setting priorities and doing what’s needful. It is a struggle if one has a blurry resolve.

I’ve been around for a long time, yet I have not been able to run around as much as I needed to, to accomplish what one ought to accomplish at this point in life. At my age, some had already pulled off a lot that deems them to be successful. I am still far from the foyer of success. Nevertheless, what I’ve carried out and gone through by far taught me humility in extreme measure. Whether or not I even reach the midmost part of success, I am, nonetheless grateful.

I’m grateful for a beautiful life. What makes it beautiful?

First, it is a beauty because of my knowledge of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ. Appreciation for what I’ve been, what I am now, and what I’ll be, was not as and will not be as splendid if it wasn’t for the learning I’ve gone through and the ongoing education I have about Deity. Knowing that God is my Father—despite His being the ruler of the Universes, the most powerful Being, and the Creator of all, makes me live comfortably and with a sense of security in a world of sorrows and trouble. Knowing that Christ is my Redeemer and Savior makes me hopeful in the midst of uncertainty.

Second, life is beautiful because of family and friends. Literally I don’t have my family with me, anymore, (and I have not yet created one, either) but the foundation that was laid by them which is in me now, made my journey more profound than it could ever be. I am what I am and what I stand for because of my family. I do not drink what most people drink; I do not do what most people do; I do not listen to what most people listen to; I do not watch what most people watch; and I do not believe what most people believe, because my family taught me so. To have been able to know for myself the validity of those teachings makes life more meaningful & stunning than I could ever imagine.

I now live practically independent around my friends. They add zest to my life which makes it beautiful. Although they come and go, the memory of these friends makes it all worthwhile. I sometimes feel alone, as that may be a natural feeling for someone who’s detached from family, but these friends compensate for that lack which is supposed to come from “biological” means. For this cause, my friends have become the metaphor for family in my life now.

Albert Schweitzer, an Alsatian theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician, once said:


“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us”.

We are products of what we gain and get from each other. What we sometimes lack can be obtained from another. I’m grateful for what I have, both intangible and tangible—for those who have “lighted the flame” within me and are continuing to kindle that flame which keeps me going in this rough course of life.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Take on First Class (X-Men)

video

The above clip is my favorite, not because I pine for fight scenes in superhero flicks but because by it, mutant is defined as “better men”. In this part of the movie we discover both where Magneto (Michael Fassbender) gained his signature helmet and Xavier (James McAvoy) lost the ability to walk. The drama combining Charles’ demonstration of his tenet, Erik’s culmination of his resentful heart & the helpless situation of the U.S. & Russian forces (world’s superpowers the time the movie was supposed to be plotted) made this part the highlight of X-Men: First Class movie.


Being a late bloomer in the X-Men fad, I started “liking” the characters and their mutant capabilities when the first movie of the franchise was released in 2000. I was aware of the cartoon series when I was little but I never got to really follow like other kids did who grew up at the same time I did. Nonetheless, despite the lack of history, the trilogy that came between 2000 and 2006 afforded enough familiarity towards this prequel. It focuses on "the formative years of Xavier and Magneto, and the formation of the school and where their relationship took a wrong turn." [Fleming, Michael (2009-12-17). "Bryan Singer to direct 'X-Men: First Class'"]



This prequel film showcases mutants, both new and the familiar. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) & Beast (Nicholas Hoult) are probably the most well known. The recruit Banshee (Caleb Jones) is quite amusing. He can produce glass-shattering screams and sonar. Another recruit is Adam Summers (Lucas Till), known as Havoc. He can create arcs of red energy around his body. All along I thought he was Cyclops and I was waiting for the scene where that red energy will come from his eyes (pun intended).

Just as the film is entitled “First Class”, it really is just that—a prologue. Of course it’s geared towards discovering the origins of some, but the only coherence I learned were those of Xavier’s and Magneto’s beginnings. The vibrancy of the plot is made-up around the difference of ideals between these two characters. Charles Xavier wants to intermingle with humanity thus seeking cooperation & peace. Erik (Magneto), on the other hand, fueled by a sore past, believes that mutants will never be accepted so he pushes for dominance and superiority.


I find Mystique’s “relationships” with Xavier and Beast inconsistent with the first trilogy’s story line. I find no trace of this past association in the character of Mystique. Furthermore, how can Mystique be a teenager in 1960 and middle aged in 2000? There may be an explanation by X-Men geeks out there so if you read this blog, please let me know. That may also be true for Beast.



The good thing about my experience with this movie is that I don’t have to be an X-Men geek to keep track of what’s going on & enjoy. For a superhero motion picture as classic as X-Men to make its mark, a strong villain character is needed.  Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his band of mutants known as the Hellfire Club provided that worthy opposition. Their role is to intimidate US & Russian political “biggies” to take steps towards war. This is when the X-Men intervenes. Driven by personal purpose, Erik joins Charles’ cause to avert war only to put to action his long awaited arrangement with his past, to avenge his mother’s death and usher Shaw’s demise. The integration of Shaw’s character and his being villain made this film a more anticipated flick as it contributes to raising the bar for all superhero movies.


Despite negligible inconsistencies, the movie delivered what it ought to deliver. The cast were brilliant enough to complete each other. I take on the counsel of Xavier to Erik: There's so much more to you than you know. Not just pain and anger. There's good in you too, and you can harness all that.

The balance, the control of power is what this movie is all about. In the end, the more rational means of the interpretation of right or the good triumphs. The sequels carried the same theme and this First Class definitely stands out as a clear-headed introduction.

Justly, we become “better men” once we use our abilities towards the good of others—when we subdue pain and anger and utilize the good that’s inherent in us. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm Back!

I had not recently updated this nook since who knows when. My last post was still about the country’s presidential elections—bummer. I’m active in Twitter. That was where my preoccupation went.

There’s this Twitter friend I follow, @akosidudoy who tweeted about a poem that made him cry. I went to take a glimpse and there read the elegy. That was the turning point. We exchanged blogspots and here I am writing this comeback note, hoping that I can sustain writing about my thoughts again.

By the way, here’s the link to the poem: Click here. It’s about a mother’s misgivings for not being a better parent. Why don’t you just read it. I hope it does something to lead you into becoming more involved—for those who are raising children, and be more effective parents.

Thank you, Doy Gonzales II for sharing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

On This Election Day

While another PCOS machine malfunctioned in one of the precincts in Tarlac, voters continue to line up in attempts to exercise their right to vote. It’s May 10, 2010, and it’s Election Day here in the Philippines.

As of this writing, 328 poll machines have already acted up—delaying the voting process and causing some electorates quitting and just headed home. Just when COMELEC supposedly regained public trust with this nationwide automated election process, the machines proved otherwise. 

News about killings in the south is also nothing new when national elections occur in the country. 4 were killed in a clash with supporters of a mayoral candidate in the southern province of Zamboanga today. This brings to at least 33 the number of people killed in political violence over the past four months. This does not include 57 people massacred in the southern Maguindanao province in November of last year.

In related news early this morning, bomb blasts hit Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province. Over the weekend, an Elementary school in Miag-ao town in Iloilo province was burned. The school is supposed to be a polling center for today’s election. These and other election related goings-on may continue on even until the counting is over; maybe more so when the counting is done.

After being fed up with mayoral candidacy jingles here in Makati alone (M-E-R-C-A-D-O Mercado… Oh wohoo; Kaibigan mo… Kaibigan ko… WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN, etc.) , thousands more across the country may have also annoyed the public in the past couple of months campaign period. This advertising ploy alludes to Adlai Stevenson when he spoke in the Democratic National Convention in August 18 of 1956 when he said: “The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal - that you can gather votes like box tops - is... the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.”

When we thought we’ve put to an end the Dictator’s power by ousting his shadow to Hawaii and eventually grasping on to the assumed democracy gained in the People Power course of action, we’ve been having troubles, extreme for that matter, every time election season comes about in our nation.

Candidate after candidate in each election year blame the incumbent administration for corruption and dishonesty when these have supposedly been fixed with the installation of Cory Aquino after the so-called dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos. Joseph Estrada (Erap)’s presidential reign proved to be another hiccup in the lives of Filipinos when several more “People Power” uprising occurred.

Up to the present administration, all presidential candidates down to the locals seem to bellow eradication of corruption and treachery as another people’s revolution would not have, and didn’t have the “power” to repel Gloria Arroyo’s determination to stay in the Palace and serve her term.

As an ordinary citizen it’s difficult at times to see the good in the government when downbeat politicians and “would be” politicians deface facts of good intentions by those serving to lead the country. I believe that impressions most people have of the government are formed by opinions and “home-made” facts by those of the opposition. Living up to the ideals of good governance would not impress, let alone convince the opposition. They live to oppose the government, whether it does good or bad.

What had been happening all along is what Michael Novak would call: “Our political institutions work remarkably well. They are designed to clang against each other. The noise is democracy at work.”

What has become a trend in this election arena of our lives as Filipinos is voting against and not voting for. Due to the fact that we’ve lost trust in whoever would hold office, we have become indifferent to the integrity, political, and goodwill experience of those running for office. Again, our parody would be formed by opponents’ bashing. I would vote Gibo because he’s intelligent and smart, a top-notch of Harvard and would less likely to bash other candidates. His is an underdog candidacy much like what happened to Obama in the States. I wouldn’t vote him, on the other hand, if he was endorsed by Gloria Arroyo. The alleged agenda would be to push through with the change of government that would still install Arroyo as Prime Minister. In that case, just so that won’t happen, I will vote against Gibo.

Take Noynoy as another example. Although some would deem him as not president able, most would rely on the perception that he would have the same way of thinking as that of his father and mother. If that is the case, knowing how Filipinos are hungry for the kind of life they would have enjoyed had Ninoy been alive and been President, one would vote Noynoy believing that his administration would be a perpetuation of Ninoy’s principles and aspirations. However, if you would come across Carmen Pedrosa’s comment about Noynoy’s “insanity”, and citing psychiatric treatments, one would vote against him.

Bro. Eddie Villanueva would be a respectable bet knowing that he leads a religious organization, been in the political arena, as well, and a God-fearing man. One wouldn’t expect a man like him to put to shame his religious affiliation, ecumenical, and political integrity by way of corruption and deceit. On the other hand, he’s had his share of political clobbering against the inaugurated government. His comments were more of accusations than aspiration for good ascendancy. One would vote against him taking this consideration.

Being born and raised up in Zambales, I would easily clamor for Gordon. He held Olongapo city in dynasty for years and I’ve seen his hands in the development and success of the city and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). He is beloved in that part of the nation, but hearing about his cases of land property and other scandals, I may vote against him.

Many more cases in point can be thought of when leaning towards who the best bet for President is, or for Mayor, or for whatever position this election would entail. I wouldn’t know who would be best until one has proven capacity and governance by way of how the nation would become; more so when one takes adequate courage and charisma in uniting the people, even the sundry political parties. Crucial is this day in determining that type of future when most are voting against instead of for a scrupulous candidate. Each stand for a principle and a platform of either change or continuation of present problems, but whoever prevails in the battle for offices in leadership of this nation, our people should start to think of sustaining that majority, and act in support and respect.

I am saddened that bombings, killings, and some sort of chaos had to happen during Election Day. Whoever becomes victor in the presidential race, my hopes are placed in respect to the office—that in due time God would show evidence of support; and that the people and government work together for a cause we Filipinos had been fighting for until the dawn of democracy in our country. We still continue to fight for true democracy. I hope for the day when politicians and fellow citizens become pleased and comfortable with the government—that all work, aspire, and build together for the benefit of our country. Until then, I continue to uphold an article of my faith: We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

In this light I will support the elected President, knowing that God Almighty will not let our country be led towards a more miserable plight.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Just Christmas!

A friend of mine posted this on his Facebook wall a few days ago: "reasons why i hate december in general and christmas in particular: 1.) people are feigning to be good just because it's supposed to be all that time-of-giving bs. 2.) you spend to much money because of number one. 3.) all those lights, decors and whatnot are so cliche and fake."

Again, it's the time of year when the world of Christendom seems to slow down as its people savor & celebrate Christ's birth--a time of year when everything seems brighter, redder, & greener! It's Christmas time.

It's melancholic to conceive that what happens during this time of year annoys some, if not a lot of people just because all seem to change their color from black to white. The setting in of December seem to paint faces and behaviors with beaming colors that's almost incredible to believe. On the other side of the spectrum, there are new & more expensive decors in the market. Houses & buildings are adorned with new "Christmas" concepts that are hardly recognizable as related to Jesus' birth. People become so creative that they can shove Santa Claus into the toilet bowl, take a picture & call it a Christmas decor. New does not necessarily mean meaningful. In most cases, new means weird and non-sense--often taking the connotation away from what the season is all about.

Almost a year ago I wrote a piece about people taking down their good attitudes together with their physical Christmas ornamentations after the celebration. I want to revisit that article and hope that I, in my own little way, be an instrument of reminding you about what this season is all about.

Here's part of that article:

The Christmas season seemed to have become an excuse for not being deleterious. It has become a habit to think that once a year we become extra kind, helpful, & generous, and that we can only “allow” ourselves “some happiness” during Christmas time. What makes Christmas a time to place our misbehaviors on hold? What sets it apart from any other occasion throughout the year? What’s Christmas all about?

Over 2000 years ago, a child was born of Mary and Joseph. This child and event was seen & prophesied by a prophet named Isaiah long before it happened. It was declared by an angel (Gabriel) that this child will be called Jesus, and that he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. His birth was a manifestation of God’s love: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Isaiah declared: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: …
“… He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:4–5).

This is the lifeblood of Christmas. We all know the story, but sometimes the purpose of which becomes trifling.

The “reason for the season”, as the saying goes, is Christ. It is the time of year when Christians celebrate his birth. He is the personification of all uprightness & the source of goodness & love in the world. He has taught: “Love one another, as I have loved you…” (John 13: 34-35). “Whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him, as well.” When the woman taken in adultery was set before Jesus and the Pharisees ought to have her stoned, he reminded: “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). It was He who also taught in parables.

Who has not become acquainted with Parables such as the “Good Samaritan” & the “Prodigal Son”? When it was time for him to be taken in by Roman soldiers, preparatory to his crucifixion, he restored a soldier’s ear which was severed by one of his followers, in his defense. Such act of mercy was culminated on the cross when he said: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). His ministry and life were replete with acts of kindness & forgiveness: “If your brother sins, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him”.

In the great Plan of Happiness, we must be saved from our sins. The perfect and sinless offering for sin was none other than Christ. He is the Son of God and the only Begotten of the Father, in the flesh. There was none other who could have possibly taken our sins upon him and suffered the way Jesus did. There had to be an atonement made.

Amulek, a prophet of the new world has spoken about this: “And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

“For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made” (Book of Mormon, Alma 34: 8-9).

Christmas should remind us of the mission and role of Jesus Christ in our lives. It is set apart from all other events & celebrations because it is by him and through him that we are saved and can receive eternal life.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christ has underscored the significance of his role when he said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

For us who believe and follow Christ, Christmas should just be another ordinary day in being the kind of people we ought to be. When he visited the Americas, Christ taught that we ought to be like him: “Therefore, what manner of men [& women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27:27).

What then is the substance of being nice, forgiving, more loving, more kind, & more generous during Christmas season when these attributes should become natural to us and should be demonstrated at all times, in whatever season of the year. The adorning of the Christmas tree, and the setting up of lights and other Christmas decors had become symbolic of our behaviors in life, in that we always take them down after the holiday. We tend to go back being unforgiving, unkind, impatient, irritable, selfish, hateful, & miserable. The good things that adorn in the Christmas season are taken down together with the material ornamentations we set up for the celebration.

A modern prophet, Howard Hunter once said: “When we take Christ into our lives as a moving, dynamic, vitalizing force, the real Christmas comes”. When we accept Christ and His teachings, and when we repent of our sins, we are baptized into His fold. That is the time when we start adorning ourselves with His (Christlike) attributes. We become living trees with ornaments such as humility, charity & love, obedience & diligence, faith and hope. These become a part of us and do not need to be taken down or suspended for another year. We grow into living examples of the Savior.


It's just sad to note that for some people, they start their change process on December as preparatory for an alleged New Year's resolution. This explains the somewhat superficial shift of behaviors. They do it because they expect something "good" in return. Blame it to the song "Santa Clause is Coming to Town". The naughty become nice just so they get a gift from Santa this Christmas. The change is brought about for the wrong reason, that's why come January, they all go back to being "naughty".

Well, these are just my thoughts. I hope that in a way, I turned your thoughts toward the real reason for the season.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"CRASH" and Learn

"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.” - Graham

“Crash”—you should see it.

Themed around differences in color of people, the film brings out a profound lesson about love & hate. All along I thought that these two words, love and hate, were opposites—until I heard Brad Wilcox, at one time, quote Elie Wiesel about how they’re not. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

Rick & Jean walks out of a cafĂ© to a street in L.A. Two black youngsters (Anthony & Peter) mob them and steal their car. Prior, one of the mobsters noticed Jean steered clear from them (because of "blind fear") as if they didn’t exist. It wasn’t until towards the end of the movie that she became conscious of the existence of good among “colored people.” That type of indifference from Jean set off the mobsters to initiate their ploy.

Officer Ryan, who seemed to be weary of black people, who used to work with his father, harasses a couple (Cameron & Christine) caught making out in their car. Cameron was obviously frightened at the fact that two white policemen came to look into them. It was an outrage when Officer Ryan started to put his hands on Christine's body & discreetly molested her. Cameron just stood and pleaded in distress.

A Persian man (Farhad) with his daughter (Dorri) buys a gun for the purpose, perhaps, to guard their own store. People around them think they were Arabs. He’s apprehensive about people and sensitive to believe that he and his family are detested in their community. He hires a locksmith (Daniel) to fix his door lock. He was told to fix his door instead as there was nothing wrong with the lock. He was so narrow-minded that he refused to pay the man. Later his store got mugged and he blamed Daniel for the unfortunate incident. The insurance company’s rejection to cover for the damages furthered his resentment that he went to look for Daniel with the intention to kill.

These are but instances in the movie that demonstrated bigotry. People are either afraid or are upset with differences that they begin to hate or become indifferent towards other people. Sometimes it’s got nothing to do with color. We sometimes become intolerant of someone who talks a lot or someone who’s fat or too skinny. We become annoyed with people, whom we think interferes with our personal relationships, which causes derailing of our usual life’s pattern. When we see a person slightly different from how we look like, we become oblivious of that person’s activities. We become indifferent.

I do not excuse myself from such deed. When I was younger I only befriended nice looking people. I did not feel comfortable or too willing to be nice with people who looked unattractive. That was bad.

When I saw this movie, every thought and act I have had in my life relating to indifference and hate came flashing through my mind. I’ve seen films about racism and intolerance, but not as thought-provoking as this one. I’ve had my share of lessons that taught me to love unconditionally, and watching the prospects of people doing good deeds to previously abhorred persons give me a sense of appreciation.

My favorite part in the movie was when Officer Ryan who discreetly molested Christine saved her from being burned from a car accident. When Christine recognized him she refused his assistance with all her energy. “Is there anybody else who can help? Anyone, not you, get your hands off me.” That’s understandable. But it took this incident to help Christine realize that a first impression should not always last—that a bad act does not tell a whole lot about a person. Officer Ryan who did, perhaps, the most disrespectful and despicable deed to her was the one who saved her life. He almost lost her, but with all of his strength he made amends so she can have a 2nd chance on life.

Jean, who despised people of color— people, whom she thinks less superior than her, slipped and fell on the stairs. Her good friend for 10 years denied helping her because she was getting a massage. Nonetheless, she was brought to the hospital by her Hispanic house helper, Maria. She took care of her during recovery. When she saw and felt the genuine concern of Maria, she held her tight showing her appreciation and perhaps apology for not being too nice most often than not.

Farhad who went to look for Daniel, the locksmith, found enlightenment, instead. He found Daniel and started to point his gun towards him & struggled with him. Daniel’s daughter, Larah, believing that she was handed down an invisible cloak of protection, ran towards his dad. By the time she ran up to his dad, the trigger was pulled and she was hit. Farhad was dumbfounded to find the kid unharmed. He felt terribly bad for shooting a little girl. He went home amazed and had his mind and heart opened. He began to change and look at things differently. Little does he know that Dorri bought blanks for his gun at the store earlier in the story.

Why do we have to wait until we get hurt to show our love for people? Why do we hurt the ones we love? Why do we have to be so indifferent to people who do not look the way we do, or think or act the same way as we do. Why do we treat those different from us as “little people?”

The movie taught me to look at all people the same way. No matter how bad a person can be, there is an innate goodness that comes out when needed. Things happen, whether bad or good, to open our eyes and see more clearly all sides of people, regardless of color or circumstance.

We do not need to wait for bad things to happen in order for us to appreciate the goodness of people. We have been too preoccupied with ourselves, being at ease in our comfort zones that we become insensitive of others. We become too busy looking at our way, mending our own issues that other people’s problems become overly insignificant.

We are not alone in this world. Sometimes we get to be taught the lesson of becoming aware of what’s happening around us. People make up our lives. We are interrelated, weaved into one tapestry. The colors make this tapestry beautiful. The more we appreciate the colors, the more we become tolerant and loving.

We do not need to “CRASH” into people to make us realize the worth of living in goodwill towards each other. However, sometimes, it has to happen. We need to be taught a lesson, in one way or another.

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Special thanks to RC who convinced me to watch a list of really good movies. "Crash" is one of them.