15 Ways to Become the Better Version of You

 

15 ways to become a better version of you

Gone are the days of flattery. Gone are the days when someone says, “What a nice cap you got there, John.” Or, “What a great dress Mary!” When we were a child, we think and reason like a child. Now that we are grown, we think and reason like a grown up. Unlike a child who takes delight in flattery or little appreciation, we value now on a deeper level what has been given to us. We value life. We value our self. And we put much value in it, when we do our best to improve our current self into the best self that we can be. How? Here are the ways:

  1. Will to change. The first and most important step is the determination to change. It goes beyond the desire. It is taking the necessary steps to get the desired results.
  2. Stop making excuses. Do what you need to do. Taking accountability for your own mistakes is extremely important.
  3. Always keep your temper in check. There are a lot of emotional triggers around. When you feel something is making you uncomfortable, get out of the situation if you can. Go to the comfort room or just simply go outside to relax your mind. Take deep breaths. When you feel you are in control of your emotions, you are able to face the situation in a calmer manner. Controlling anger is an extremely difficult skill to master, but it is very beneficial for you in the long term.
  4. Forgive. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. It may not be that easy to do, but it helps when you let go. It takes time to do this. Do it anyway.
  5. Listen. Listen to what others have to say. You may be seeing things in the wrong way or with the wrong perspective. This way, you may also be able to express your side, why you act or think in a certain way. You must also listen to yourself. Sometimes you may do things that are contrary to what you truly feel.
  6. Be honest. Be honest with yourself and with everybody. Others may not see whether you speak and live in truth, but your action does.
  7. Cultivate an open mind. Accept the fact that you are different and that others are different too. You may not agree with everybody, but it does not mean you are right and they are wrong; or the other way around. Be open also to what you can do. Try new things.
  8. Keep a journal. Journal is the best medium to express everything you feel. It helps you process your emotions. It helps you clear your mind of any clutter.
  9. Be positive. When you are really in a bad day, keeping positivity is impossible. You may never find it inside. The best way, is to seek it outside. Read good books. Be with nature. Look up at the sky, or stars, or moon. Listen to inspiring music. Talk to children. Talk to your pet. Watch funny movies. Or just simply do any activity that you love to do. Doing any of these everyday, helps you to implant positivity in you.
  10. Accept criticism in a positive way. Criticisms may hurt, but you need it most for your growth. It is a challenge that speaks to you, “Hey, you’re not better now. Could you get any better next time?” When you do get better next time, your critics would be surprised.
  11. Move. Do any exercise that could energize you. From working at the gym, to jogging, walking, yoga or just stretching. Your body would thank you for it.
  12. Meditate. It calms the mind. It connects you to your deeper self. It relaxes your body.
  13. Smile. When you look at the mirror first thing in the morning, smile. Smile keeps you younger and relaxes your facial muscles. Smiling at your reflection makes you aware that you got a friend in there. As one beatiful soul says, ‘Smiling is the best accessory you could adorn yourself with.’
  14. Stay peaceful. Be at peace with everybody and with yourself.
  15. Pray. Exercise your faith. Tap to the Source of everything. It is here where impossible becomes possible. It is here where you become what God wants you to be.

These suggestions may sound simple. Yet it may take years to master it. When done daily, it becomes a habit, a habit that would become a natural part of you sooner. Do not lose heart though, when at times you may fall back, it is just normal. Just start again and again and again. Your self is with you along the way. So is God.

Be blessed!

~Nezel

Unmasking Our True Selves

facade

Facade. At some point in our life we use them; to conceal a pain, a tear, an anger, or maintain gracefulness, or just show off some strength.

There is one person who has a high-profile in her community because of her achievements. She is very strict to her subordinates, and at times unable to control her mood. She just lashes out at everybody around her. But at times, when she could no longer contain her pain, she would cry out. She shows vulnerability in spite of her frightening facade.

There is also one who serves in their place of worship. He is a member of an honored organization there. But then, when temptation kept knocking on his door, he was unable to say no to it. With his respectable facade, no one could believe he would also slip.

You and I are keeping a facade. Who has a pure spirit, pure heart and live a pure life? Nobody. Except Jesus Christ. We all have our own share of vulnerabilities and an amount of a past that we wish would vanish instantly from the book of our personal history. We could not blame people for maintaining a certain facade; the same way I could not blame myself if somehow, without my awareness, I am also showing a false front.

In reality, it is the self we used to know that we keep hiding away from. We want to run from that self. Thus, we believe by creating a false front we are able to hide a self that we loathe. Or by acquiring tons of money, earning a degree that we could attach to our names, or just by having that flawless look we would be well on our way.

Sadly, no. Morrie Schwartz, a sociology professor, who acquired ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), at the end of his days said: that in life nothing matters than your family, how much you love and the lessons you will leave behind long after you are gone. His disease was slowly eating up his body. As his days became shorter, the words he left with his former student, Mitch Albom, were full of life lessons and wisdom. All these lessons were included in Mitch Albom‘s book Tuesdays with Morrie. Mitch Albom was fortunate enough to discern wisdom in his younger years from this awesome teacher who remained true till the end.

If those are the things that matter most, then why keep and maintain something that could not help us become who we are? Friends, if we could, let us slowly unmask that untruth in ourselves. Let us be who we are: showing love, accepting vulnerabilities, being able to accept other people for who they are. For each one of us has our stories. May it be of success or failures, of how much we give and how much we get. Yet, in the eyes of God, we are all the same: beautiful weaklings and lovable innocents. That would all go to the same end. But whom God would never ever give up!

May we be true until the end.

~Nezel

WP Daily Prompt

 

 

Aim for the Balance

Keep the Balance

On the sixth day God created man and woman. On the seventh day, He rested. Few days after (hmm, maybe) they sinned. I guess, God’s not yet done with them. Thus, they are a work in progress. A work in progress that requires their will to act; and God could only guide.

No matter how perfect our bodies are (two hands, ten fingers, two feet, ten toes, two eyes, two ears, slender body, nose with two holes, perfect lips, big mouth with complete teeth; could see, smell, hear, touch and feel) we have to consider the other seventy-five percent of what contributes to who we really are. The mental, emotional and spiritual.

These aspects of our being are not yet complete when we got out of our mother’s womb crying in happiness for being alive. These aspects are what we must work for from the second we first took our breath to the last second we would give our last. These are the aspects we need to focus on than the twenty-five percent (physical) that is easily seen.

In aiming for our growth, we must be radical. Almost everything around us is dedicated only to our physical well-being. Latest fashion, flawless skin, sexy body, and all the accessories we adorn with our bodies are in vogue. People spent time, effort and tons of money for these things. I am not against these things. It is just that, we must be totally, completely find that balance of the four aspects of who we really are. We were not born bad; for we have the breath of God. We just get lost along the way on doing our mundane activities. The physical is what is easily seen; most often our focus is only here.

There are other extraordinary people who want to find meaning in their life, only to fall prey of other’s wrong notions of the world. They indeed up doing the wrong thing believing it is the only way of finding meaning into their boring life. Thus, chaos, war, conflicts, misunderstanding and the likes abound on earth. Doing more harm on earth cannot give it peace. We could only achieve peace when we find that peacefulness within us.

To find that peace we have to examine our mental, emotional and spiritual life. We have to cleanse our minds from the negativeness instilled in it. We have to dig our emotions and understand each feelings we have; we have to know why we do what we do. From there we could reconstruct our emotional stability. With the spiritual life, we have to understand that it is not enough act to attend a one day worship with fellow faithfuls and give alms to the poor. Hypocrisy is rooted from these acts. We have to swim in the deepest abyss of our souls in order to strengthen our spirituality; for God’s light is buried there and His voice is heard louder in our inner universe.

All of these are not done in one session. Others are even laid to their grave without realizing their true God-given self. This post could not even suffice all that we need to learn, or re-member, or be aware of. This post is just a scratch on the surface. I pray I would be given much enlightenment in order to share some more sparks of the things that really matters in our one and only life.

The start to learning all these things is accepting the fact that we are all unfinished goods: imperfect, innocent, vulnerable. We could only be perfect if we come to realize: our life is not ours for the taking. The bodies we have are just instruments used by the Maker to glorify His name.

May we give time more on our mental, emotional and spiritual life. Have a purposeful day!

~Nezel

 

In Darkness and In Silence

darkness and silence

“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.”

Remember those lines? Yes, they were the first lines of the song, The Sound of Silence. This song is one of my favorites, since my teen years. It’s due to those two words: darkness and silence.

I do not know why, but let me share something with you, that which is not common about me – I love darkness and silence. It is not that I want to live a life in darkness; I love to be in the dark because in there I feel so much the light within. In the dark, there is no distraction whatsoever. I could not see anything. Thus, all my senses are directed to my awareness within. There is no feelings of fear, which we usually associate with darkness. In the dark, I feel so much God’s presence. I could not explain why. I was just born with this comfort of being in the dark. I feel so much comfort, so much assurance, so much love of God. Of course, it’s a different story when I am out in a dark street. I must be aware of my physical safety. But when I am in a dark and secure place like my home or in my room when the lights are off, oh, it is heaven for me. Much heaven it is when I am at the beach on a dark night, sitting on the sand, observing the tranquil sea or rippling waves, looking far at the stars and into the nothingness beyond.

Silence also is my paradise. I love it most when I am alone and have myself and thoughts all by myself. No music even. Silence is my friend. Silence knows all my woes. Silence knows all my doubts, my confusions, my worries, my enigmatic feelings, my spiritual flight. Silence loves to listen to the shrill cry of my soul. Silence is my companion when all else depart from me. Silence absorbs my sobs and just let me be. I love silence because it allows me to be just me without judgment, without criticism.

***

However, it does not mean always that when we are surrounded by silence, everything is quiet. No. We may be alone, yet everybody is with us when we allow all their voices to speak in our minds. There would be chaos and restlessness within. We need to clear our minds from voices that are not making us grow or worthy. The faithful says, we need to silence our minds that we may hear God’s voice clearly. When God’s voice speaks we hear how lovable we are no matter what we have done. For what makes us worthy is not our deeds but the truth that God has been merciful to us despite our sinfulness. Our only duty to discover how much God loves us, is to let go of everything and feel that love within. And we need silence in order to fully realize this.

***

Don’t be afraid of the notion of darkness and silence. Let your soul connect to that unknown path. At first, you may not get it right. But when you do it with determination, gradually you’ll be one with the One who makes darkness disappear and whose voice speaks clearly in silence.

Have a purposeful day!

~Nezel

In response to WP Daily Prompt: silence.

Living Life One Day At A Time (Caroline’s 30 Days Sunrise Photo And Health Challenge: Day 28)

live life one day at a time-sunrise photo

Been up at 5:15. My youngest son woke me up and urged me that we may take our morning walk. My mother went with us too. This morning we tried another route. The sunrise was not that visible, but the reflection of it on the clouds was. I loved the photo above. It contained most of the elements I love seeing in the sky: blue sky, white clouds with yellow and orange hues, birds in flight and towering trees.

live life one day at a time

Here the light penetrated at the top of the trees and made a bright background.

live life one day at a time

Here, the clouds seemed to explode the moment it was hit by the sunrise’s light. The sunrise was then a bit covered by clouds. For this morning we completed a thirty minute walk.

Today I am going to share with you how this challenge unexpectedly made me to live life one day at a time.

How to live life one day at a time? I could have answered this question theoretically, intellectually, or better yet, use the journey of my heroes to answer this question. Just recently, I found the answer to my own question matter-of-factly.

I have been an obedient follower of anybody who already found the “right way.” In short, I have designed myself to become like anybody else – a go getter. I already have a list of my dreams, list of goals, plans and strategies to achieving those goals and the short-term, day to day goals, as well as the actions needed to implement those goals on a daily basis. This is perfectly how I see my day to day activities. To break the monotony once in a while I joined certain challenges.

Participating Caroline’s sunrise photo and health challenge was only a part of my daily grind. Until slowly, in my day to day journey, I found out I have unraveled a gold mine very essential to my journey. I began to see each day with differently new eyes. I used to believe all days are the same; it is only our attitude and activities that makes any day special. I was completely and absolutely wrong. As I have witnessed over twenty sunrises, I found out every sunrise is different. Every sunrise brings an unexpected surprise. Everyday is literally different from each other.

Antoine de St. Exupery in his book “The Little Prince” says: What is essential is invisible to the eye. Perhaps, I have not seen the difference or the presence of each day because I only see a day as part of a week, a month, or a year. I only do a certain thing a day in order to become what I could be in the future. In short, I only see what the future looks like. My focus is very much directed in the future. Perhaps, this is the reason why some people have the habit of buying lands, building huge buildings, and taking vacations without noticing the needs of the people who put them at the pedestal they are standing on. Because they are so much focused in the future; on what they could become. For if only one could see the beauty of each day, greediness would be ashamed to come near to that person.

The journey to thirty sunrises lead me back to who I am. Was it due to the sunrise’s light? or the stunning view of every sunrise? or the quietude of the morning? or the freshness of nature? or the amazing morning sky? or the cloud’s changing hues? or the silence in my heart when I am out there bathing the sunrise? or the walk with my kids? or the butterflies, the bees, the spiderwebs I see along the way? or the crowing of the cocks and the chirping of the birds? or the meditation with nature? or just because I woke up earlier? or because I am so much grateful to God for all these blessings? I guess, it is all of the above. I do not know how. I just know I slowly hear the still voice within me, which I missed for so long. It again speaks. And I hear it again.

As I look back on those over twenty sunrises I could not remember if there was any day that was just like the other. Every day was different. And there was no boring one ever. When I would complete this challenge after two more days, I know my journey would not stop there. I wonder who would I be after sixty or one hundred sunrises?

Ah, this is how I discover living life one day at a time. I just do not know if this works for you my friend. But you can take your chances. Anyway, our journey is ours to take. I am so glad I found mine.

May you have found your way to living life one day at a time.

~Nezel

(You may visit Caroline’s 30 days sunrise photo and health challenge here.)

(WP Daily Prompt: obvious)

8 Surprising Benefits Of Sunrise (Caroline’s 30 Days Sunrise Photo And Health Challenge: Day 25)

The sun again did not show up this morning. Our weather was governed by occasional rain-showers and a windy day due to strong south winds.

So for today I used an old sunrise photo taken a month ago at 6:05 in the morning and limited my physical exercises indoors.  But still this did not hinder me from having a beautiful day.

For today, I love to share with you the benefits of sunrise on our health. Sunrise as we know it, is the source of all energy. Its rising in the morning make all life forms thank the Maker. It is the awakening of every new beginning. The most beautiful thing is, it is free. So if you could, try to wake up early and bathe its light that you may reap all the benefits it has to offer:

Natural Source of Vitamin D.  In humans Vitamin D changes to calcium in the body which encourages the hormone endorphin production. Endorphins give you that feel good feeling which causes happiness and satisfaction which prevents depression. The most notable benefit of exposure to sunlight is its ability to boost your body’s vitamin D supply. The NIH says at least 1,000 different genes that control every tissue in the body are linked to be regulated by vitamin D3. Vitamin D is produced by the skin’s response to UV radiation primarily through sun exposure, which affects 10 percent of the genes in the human body.

Sunlight is good for the nervous system. Lack of sunlight is now linked to PTSD. Exposure to the sun can reduce anxiety. I proved this to be true because I used to depend on my B complex supplements. According to my doctor my nerves needed it. But after I exposed myself in the sunrise regularly, I slowly limit my intake to two to three times a week. And I still feel good and energetic!

Enhances Your Mood. Regular sunlight exposure can naturally increase the serotonin levels in your body, making you more active and alert.

Lowers Blood Pressure. Skin that is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays release a compound, nitric oxide, that lowers blood pressure. In a recent study conducted at Edinburgh University, dermatologists studied the blood pressure of 34 volunteers under UV and heat lamps. In one session, the volunteers were exposed to both light sources and in the other session, the UV rays were blocked so only the heat affected the skin. The results of the study showed a significant drop in blood pressure after exposure to UV rays for an hour but not after the heat-only sessions. It is important to note that the volunteers’ vitamin D levels were unaffected in both sessions.

Awesome Beauty. The most beautiful moment of the sunrise is what they call the golden hour. It is the period shortly after sunrise. I have witnessed such beauty and it is beyond what words can say. Everything around is beautiful and literally golden.

Unadulterated Peace. Being bathe with the sun’s light feels like being one with it. It is so calming. And all sunrises always bring tranquility around.

Enhance Spirituality. It is lifting up the spirits. The light seems to permeate deep within. Maybe because of the beauty and the tranquility that the sunrise brings, you become more aware and in tune with your self. Because you are surrounded by nature, you come to meditate with nature.

Lasting happiness. When you start the day right, the whole day feels right. When you start with good feelings and enhanced mood, negativity seldom beats you.

So, what are you waiting for? Go out early in the morning and greet the sunrise with arms wide open. It only seems difficult at first, but when done regularly, the experience is worth the effort.

Have a sunshiny day!

~Nezel

(Caroline’s 30 days sunrise photo and health challenge is a good start to love the sunrise).

 

Walking Rocks: Day 17

I did not really intend to take a walk every morning. I just did during the two times that I got pregnant with my two boys. It was a requirement to achieve a healthy pregnancy. After that, I slowly came back to my normal morning routines. At times, I take a walk on mornings to shake off an unlikely mood. Other than that, I no longer do it.

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But when I joined the sunrise photo challenge I need to go where the sunrise is more visible. This means walking a little bit, like forty minutes up on a hill. As I have walked quite a while every morning I slowly come to love the activity. I feel something in me has changed. I feel so good during the day.

 

Thus I searched more for the benefits of walking. Here are what I found from Tesco Living.

 

Eight reasons why walking is good for our health:

1. Walking strengthens your heart

Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by walking regularly. It’s great cardio exercise, lowering levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. The Stroke Association says that a brisk 30-minute walk every day helps to prevent and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes, reducing the risk by up to 27 percent.

2. Walking lowers disease risk

A regular walking habit slashes the risk of type 2 diabetes by around 60 percent, and you’re 20 percent less likely to develop cancer of the colon, breast or womb with an active hobby such as walking.

3. Walking helps you lose weight

You’ll burn around 75 calories simply by walking at 2mph for 30 minutes. Up your speed to 3mph and it’s 99 calories, while 4mph is 150 calories (equivalent to three Jaffa cakes and a jam doughnut!). Work that short walk into your daily routine and you’ll shed the pounds in no time.

4. Walking prevents dementia

Older people who walk six miles or more per week are more likely to avoid brain shrinkage and preserve memory as the years pass. Since dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80, we reckon that’s a pretty great idea.

5. Walking tones up legs, bums and tums

Give definition to calves, quads and hamstrings while lifting your glutes (bum muscles) with a good, regular walk. Add hill walking into the mix and it’s even more effective. Pay attention to your posture and you’ll also tone your abs and waist.

6. Walking boosts vitamin D

We all need to get outside more. Many people in the UK are vitamin D deficient, affecting important things like bone health and our immune systems. Walking is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors while getting your vitamin D fix.

7. Walking gives you energy

You’ll get more done with more energy, and a brisk walk is one of the best natural energisers around. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. Try walking on your lunch break to achieve more in the afternoon.

8. Walking makes you happy

It’s true – exercise boosts your mood. Studies show that a brisk walk is just as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate cases of depression, releasing feel-good endorphins while reducing stress and anxiety. So for positive mental health, walking’s an absolute must.

Having learned all these, I am so much grateful to have joined the challenge and happy enough to be on my 17th day.

(You may visit Caroline’s sunrise photo and health challenge here.)

 

What Drives You?

drive-spirituality-purpose

More than a decade ago, a partner of mine loved to stalk everything I do. Once he opened my journal and read my notes. When he closed it he smiled at me mockingly, saying: very corny. I titled my journal “Journey With God.” In it I wrote everything I have to say to God. My partner, being a critic as he was did not find it amusing. I sulked at that moment. I was at the most vulnerable stage of my life by then. My relationship with God was what I held on to. I thought, okay if walking with God is corny, then let me be the corniest being earth ever produced. God did walk with me. God helped me managed to break the relationship I had with that person because it only caused me more harm than good. That almost broke my spirit.
We may not went through the same experiences; but those who answer God’s call are always being criticized, mocked and even challenged in one way or another. We are even laughed at if we fail at some point in our life. Having a faith in God is not a guarantee that we become perfect; nor is it a ticket that we will live an almost perfect life.
Walking with God means, we entrust everything to God. We believe He is able to make us strong in times of troubles, carry us when our steps falter and are unable to continue the journey, and save us from pertinent danger when we are less aware. It is not making us perfect; it is making us perfectly calm in our imperfections and tribulations. It is not giving us false hopes; it is giving us a spark of life amidst hopelessness.
It may sound corny, unrealistic or what. But to us believers, it is the most beautiful journey where we would be. The communion with Him is so indescribable; it is what we always look up to everyday. He does not make our self perfect, but He makes our souls rest perfectly on His loving embrace.

May we walk with Him everyday of our life amidst joys and tribulations.

Have a purposeful day!

~Nezel

(WP Daily Prompt: drive)

Is Autonomy The Answer?

 

I grew up in the island of Mindanao, Philippines. I was immune of the conflict that arose between the Christian and Muslim Communities. While growing up, the news about Muslim and Christians killing each other in separate ambushes was an ordinary part of our week. When events such as this happened, the corpses would be brought to our town’s auditorium for the relatives to claim.

It was really a sad sight. Members of families: parents, daughters, sons, grandparents, children, all died simultaneously. Others died in ambush, and others died in massacres while asleep in their homes. It was hard to trace who started it all because the conflict had been there for decades. If you were unlucky, you would be considered a payment for what one community did to the other community. On and on it went. And the hard truth is, the victims were always the innocent ones.

I could recall some of the incidents. One was when I was in fourth grade. The two conflicting tribes of the Muslim community had a redo (the term used to describe a conflict between tribes). It happened that members of these tribes met in front of our public market. The clash resulted in gun shooting and killing four people: two Muslims and two Christians. It were stray bullets that killed the Christians. The saddest part that tore our hearts apart was one victim was my schoolmate. At the time, he was on duty at the store of our neighbor. He worked there to pay for his studies. He was thirteen years old and was soon to graduate from elementary with honors. His dreams and his family’s died with him.

The other incident was an ambush in the fields. A group of our neighbors went to the highlands to harvest coconut fruits from their fields. Tragically, they were ambushed by Muslim rebels. Most of them died. Only few managed to escape. One victim was the mother of our playmate. The ambush happened in the morning. No one heard the news immediately because there was yet no cellphones in the eighties. In the afternoon, our neighbor was soon to graduate valedictorian in high school. She waited for the mother who no longer would come.

The other incident was a massacre in our neighboring barangay. My father went there to collect payment from his customers of our dried fish business. He was devastated to know that the whole family died during the night of massacre. With them our business died too.

Should I add that my youngest brother was born at the house of our family’s friend when we evacuated there? Yes, we always evacuate for fear of armed men coming down on our town. This conflict even escalated in the year 2000 when our then President had to give an ultimatum for the Muslim rebels in which many died on both sides.

As Christians, this is our story. I know the Muslims too have their own story to tell. To end the conflict, the Muslims requested for a full autonomy in Mindanao. It should had been granted to them by the previous government had not the Mamasapano incident happened. Now the issue is at the hands of the new government. Whether they would give the autonomy or not, the conflict would still go on, I am afraid because the Christians are also doubtful of it. Whatever, we do hope and pray that we all will have a complete autonomy of ourselves where no greed and racism corrupt us.

Have a purposeful day!

~Nezel

(WP Daily Prompt: autonomy)