To Your Health!

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How are you doing?  I hope you are happy and healthy.

It is so important to watch what we eat.  You may already know this.  You probably read about it in various health and fitness magazines.  You may have heard it from different sources.  Yet, you decided it is too difficult to start eating healthfully.  Who wants to eat food that is tasteless or boring?  On the other hand, you may be one of those individuals who have decided to eat healthy, so you can look and feel better.  None of us should be forced, pressured or guilted into eating healthy.  It took me many years before I learned that what I was eating was diminishing my overall health—mind, body and spirit.

I would like to share about my eating habits, past and present, and how making better, more informed choices has provided me copious benefits.  I became physically fitter and healthier, but the beneficial results did not end there.  Life still had its challenges, but the rewards I reaped after I started eating more healthfully included a more robust and fulfilling emotional, relational, mental and spiritual wellness.  My sharing is not to boast about how healthy I am, nor am I purporting to be a health authority.  I share in hopes of encouraging, motivating and inspiring you to take care of your body, your mind and your spirit.

I am a firm believer that our past presents us with a plethora of lessons that can enrich and enhance our present and future.  My past eating habits were not the best.  Far from it!  Years ago, my typical breakfast was at a popular fast-food restaurant…two sausage and egg English muffin sandwiches, two hash browns, two orders of apple pie (individual size, not the whole pie), and an extra-large soda.  I would eat this breakfast in about fifteen minutes.  An hour or so later, I would scarf down a couple of donuts with some Pepsi.  In one day, I drank two or more 2-liter bottles of Pepsi.  I would stock up cans and bottles of Pepsi each week at the office and home.  I have since learned that sodas have high fructose corn syrup, and a can of regular soda has about ten or more teaspoons of sugar.

Surprisingly, days would pass without pure water ever touching my lips.  Fruits and vegetables rarely were found in my fridge.  Fiber was something one finds in clothes, not in the foods I ate.  My typical lunch, dinner and snacks were as unhealthy as my breakfast.  Trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, preservatives, bad carbohydrates, processed foods, GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), artificial colors and dyes, artificial flavors…that was my life, and I had plenty of it.  Many times, even right before bedtime!

Although I was never overweight (don’t hate me), I was indubitably unhealthy, and my health was far from optimal.  I truly believe that I would probably be dead had I continued to eat the way I did.  Colon cancer is in my family health history, and eating all the processed foods would not have reduced those odds.  Moreover, the junk foods I ate were devoid any fiber and essential nutrition, which is a major factor in developing colon cancer.  In addition, I was lethargic, suffered from bad digestion, did not sleep well, had bad skin, had no self-confidence, was depressive, and many other health issues.  In short, the quality of my life was deteriorated, and my longevity was diminished.

We all have choices.  We all have free will.  The choices we make everyday affect us in minor or major ways.  In fact, our choices also affect those in our lives.  A few years ago, I had to make a decision.  Choose life and longevity OR bad health and an early death.  Choose to enhance or diminish the quality of my life.  I elected to live a life of health and wellbeing.  I rejected an existence of misery and suffering.  Knowing that a brighter and better future awaits us can help us make good changes in our lives.  Looking and feeling better, sleeping better, healthier digestion, clearer skin, clearer mind, more energy, less pain, improved self-confidence—all these and many other benefits helped me make choices that improved my eating habits.

I strongly believe that when we say “NO!” to anything unhealthy (foods, habits, thoughts, people), we should say “YES!” to healthy things.  When we give up something unhealthy, there is a vacuum.  If the void is not filled with healthy alternatives, it will inevitably cause us to revisit and return to the unhealthy things, or we might start developing other unhealthy habits.  With respect to my eating habits, when I gave up foods filled with empty calories, trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, preservatives, bad carbs, processed ingredients, artificial colors and flavors, GMO’s, I started eating nutritious, wholesome foods.

I said “NO!” to unhealthful foods and “YES!” to healthful foods.  I replaced sodas with water (with lemon is good also), fruit juices (without added sugar) and smoothies I make at home.  I started drinking green tea (one of the best health decisions I made), which I highly recommend.  I also drink white, red, black and other teas.  At first, green tea tasted like I was drinking water with dirt, but my take is that, if something is truly good for me, I will learn to tolerate it (at least, most things).  It did not take too long though for me to not just put up with the taste of green tea, but I have grown to enjoy it.  These days, I drink about seven cups of tea a day, in addition to plenty of pure water.

I started incorporating as much raw, organic food into my diet as possible.   I replaced white rice with brown rice.  I replaced white bread with whole grain bread.  I replaced white pasta with whole grain pasta.  I replaced sugar and preservative-filled cakes and pies I bought at the store with baked goods I make at home with organic, unprocessed ingredients.  I replaced hydrogenated oil will olive or coconut oils.  I replaced refined sugars with honey, stevia, coconut palm sugar and other natural sweeteners.  I started taking psyllium husk, apple cider vinegar, glucomannan (konjac root), and other natural supplements. Instead of gorging myself, I now eat in small portions and eat often.  Instead of being slothful and sedentary, I started working out and exercising.  Instead of seeing myself as unworthy of a gratifying life, I started seeing myself as deserving of a life of good health, happiness and hilarity.

The nutritious foods I still eat to this day are delicious, colorful and varied.  My diet (eating regimen) is far from boring and bland.  I do not starve myself, and I would splurge here and there…this can give many of you comfort and assurance that the journey to good health and fitness is totally do-able.  The list of healthy foods that replaced the bad ones is lengthy.  Replacing the bad with the good is a process and not an overnight event.  It can be a difficult and challenging process.  I even experienced some withdrawal symptoms.  None of us is perfect, so I acknowledged and embraced my humanity.  When I indulge and eat something not so healthy, I don’t give up.  I do try to drink water with lemon and/or drink plenty of hot tea right away and/or take psyllium husk and/or take glucomannan supplement and/or work out a little harder.

The rewards and benefits of making these lifestyle changes are numerous.  I will remain diligent, dedicated and disciplined to the life choices I made several years ago.  One remarkable consequence was my blood test results.  My triglyceride (fatty substance in the blood that can lead to heart disease) level was 198 (standard range is 150 or less).  After making the health-enhancing changes, it is now 46!  Amazing, no?  From 198 to 46.  And when it was at 198, I was not overweight, so those of you who are thin and think we can eat all those processed foods and not worry, please reconsider your choices.

I hope sharing my life/health journey has helped you in some small way.  None of us is perfect, so let’s do the best we can in the pursuit of good health and wellness, not just physically, but emotionally, relationally, spiritual, and so on.  Thank you for your time and attention.  I pray, wish, and hope you make healthy choices for your life in all areas.  You are not alone in this journey…and remember, we deserve to be well, fit and healthy!

To your total health!

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Are You Powerful?

Do you want to be powerful?

Power.  Authority.  Control.  Rule.  Dominance.  Influence.  Supremacy.  Command.  Dominion.  Sovereignty.  Clout.  Sway.

Many of us pine for power.  We crave control.  We desire dominion.  We seek supremacy.  We covet command.  We aspire for authority.  These ambitions are not necessarily ignoble or nefarious.  They may even be appropriate, if our motives and goals are altruistic and magnanimous.  Just remember…In climbing the ladder of success, make sure that people are not the rungs!

Many of us may feel insignificant if we are not powerful, as defined by the world’s standards.  Many of us believe power is only reserved for those who have fame and fortune.  The truth is that each of us has power.  No, it might not be the command and control over a company, corporation or country.  It might not be the authority over an association or organization.  It might not be the influence over an institution or industry.  If you do possess such power, good for you!  No vilification from me, and my hope is that you lead in a dignified and munificent manner.  Once again, I respectfully put into proffer that all of us have the power to make choices and decisions.  Free will affords us this ability.

Each of us has influence on others.  None of us is completely autonomous.  As you may have heard many times, no man or woman is an island.  We are all inter-connected and inter-dependent.  By our actions, choices and decisions, we inexorably affect those around us.  Furthermore, this can cause a rapid ripple effect, especially when technological advances are making this world a truly “small world after all.”  Social networking and media has indeed facilitated and fostered our influence on others, near and afar.  We can broadcast our thoughts, feelings and opinions instantaneously to individuals across the Earth.  A face-to-face chat with a friend, an email transmitted to our network of friends, a blogsite visited by millions around the world…we all have power in one way or another.

Our sway can manifest itself in a plethora of ways.  An affirming word can cheer up downcast and discouraged souls.  A benevolent act can enhance joy for depressed and deflated individuals.  A thoughtful decision can precipitate peace, harmony and unity.  A heartfelt sharing can inspire the lost and listless.  A loving assurance can increase security and stability for the hopeless and helpless.  These are some ways that what we do and say can either propel others onto a path of hope and healing or push them down a passage of despair and destruction.

Whether on a small or grand scale, let’s be a force and source of goodness to others.  Many of us expend so much of our time, energy and resources to seeking power over multitudes.  Instead, let’s be more focused on and desirous of being a source of goodwill to those in our spheres of influence.  In doing so, may we always remember that judgment starts at home.  Therefore, let’s treat ourselves first and foremost with respect, honor and dignity.  As we cultivate and abound in sincere love, peace, joy and security in our heart, mind and soul, we are then truly empowered.  Let’s use our power to influence others in responsible, humble and charitable ways!

Copyright © 2013 Fitness YOU Deserve.  All Rights Reserved

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My Teachers Taught Me Much!

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I have had many teachers.  I can count on them to always be there for me.  They are always with me.  They are indelibly a part of me.  They have challenged me.  They have taught so much about who I am.  They have been harsh with me, yet they have helped me in many ways.  They have changed my life!

*They have taught me perseverance…to be determined and not give up on myself, others and life.

*They have taught me longsuffering…to be patient and not lose hope and faith.

*They have taught me compassion..to be sacrificial and selfless.

*They have taught me love…to not become jaded and judgmental.

*They have taught me humility…to not be self-absorbed and sanctimonious.

*They have taught me self-awareness…freeing me to make healthy choices and changes.

*They have taught me gratitude…to count my blessings (major or mundane), taking nothing/nobody for granted and being thankful for life!

My teachers have truly helped me become a better being, an improved individual, a purposeful person.  How?

*I have learned to be proactive with altruism and comfort those who are bruised and broken.

*I have learned I can find support and strength from the synergy with sincere friends.

*I have learned to appreciate the power of community and not allow isolation to be an escape.

*I have learned to empower and empathize with the needy, despite my weaknesses.

*I have learned to bring life and laughter to the lost, despite the loneliness that plagued me.

I am indebted to my teachers for they have broken me, so I can be repaired, restored and revitalized.  How?

*They have brought me to the door of hopelessness.

*They have exhausted the life out of me.

*They have rendered me weak and worried.

*They have caused me to search for comfort in unhealthy ways.

*They have left me hungering and thirsting.

Through all the hell and horror…I have become stronger and steadier.

Through the depression and desperation…I have become more devoted and dynamic.

Through all the trials and traumas…I have become more hopeful and helpful.

I have reflected on the reasons for ravages.

I have experienced comfort during chaos.

I have seen significance in suffering.

I have discovered Divinity amid distress.

May I introduce you to the seminal and surprising teachers who have played a significant role in shaping me?  Loss.  Displacement.  Pain.  Abuse.  Depression.  Solitude.  Betrayal.  Sickness.  Hunger.  Confusion.  Despair.  They have indeed taught me much!

Copyright © 2013 Fitness YOU Deserve.  All Rights Reserved

 

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What’s Your Story?

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Each of us has a story (or stories) to tell.  It is our life testimony.  We all have a set of experiences starting with our birth, into our childhood, then our adolescence, then adulthood, into our senior years.  Experiences become memories.  Our PAST influences our PRESENT, and our PRESENT influences our FUTURE.  The choices we made in our past affect how we are, how we live, how we relate, how we love, how we react, and so on.  In the same way, how we live our lives now determines our future.

Our past is over; we cannot change it.  One thing we can do is learn from our past.  If we have made unwise, unhealthy and unhelpful choices, we can learn from those experiences.  We can grow wiser, healthier and more helpful.  If we have lived irresponsibly or selfishly, we can learn from our past and start to live a life filled with compassion and maturity.

I pray we can release the guilt, shame, hate, bitterness or any other negativity from having lived a life filled with bad choices.  This may take some work, but it is do-able.  Instead, be encouraged that we can start NOW to make good choices, so that we can enjoy a pleasant present and fantastic future.  There is no better time than the present to begin living a life filled with love and healing.  I cheer you on!  You are not alone!

Many of us did not have an ideal childhood.  Our upbringing might have been filled with copious dysfunctions, abuses and sorrows.  Sadly, there are many evils in the world.  You might have experienced issues of abandonment, neglect, rejection, lack or absence of affection, legalism, loneliness, confusion, a sense of worthlessness and/or a lack of meaning and purpose in life.  If such an existence describes you, my heart goes out to you.  That saddens me to the core, and I encourage you not to give up on yourself or on life.  Let’s start making choices that will enhance the quality of our lives and increase our health (body/mind/spirit).  Let’s turn the ugliness from our past into a beautiful, blissful and blessed present and future.  We deserve it!

© 2012 Fitness YOU Deserve.  All Rights Reserved

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Change for the Better

Many of us avoid change.  Many reasons exist.  Perhaps, we are creatures of habit.  It may be because of our fear of the unknown.  We may be comfortable with our routine.  We may feel a sense of security with the familiar.  Tradition may be a cherished part of our existence.

Though change can be daunting and scary, it can be the best thing we can do in order to enhance the quality of our lives.  Making changes for the better is always a good thing.  It can promote love, joy, peace, harmony and meaning in our lives.  Let’s think of some ways change can help us achieve more fulfilled and gratifying lives.

* Eat healthier, so we can live longer, more comfortable lives.
* Replace an unhealthy habit with one that helps us embrace and enjoy life.

* Start saving money and living austerely, so we can plan for rainy days or unexpected expenses.
* Make time in our busy schedules to get together with friends and family.
* Put some effort into making new friends who truly care about us.
* Become a volunteer and serve our community with an organization of good repute.
* Reach out to someone who is lonely, discouraged, sick, hopeless or sad.
* Do something nice for ourselves: going on a hike, getting a massage, go to a sports game.
* If our budget permits, go on an adventure and take a trip, whether near or afar.
* Start a new hobby that feeds our need to and have fun and not be so serious.
* Set some personal goals and find a solid support system to help us reach them.
* Forgive someone who have hurt us, release ourselves from unhealthy anger and resentment, and make amends, if wise, considerate and safe.

Life is too short to ignore and neglect making changes for the better.  Let’s make every effort to create a life that is not just worth living, but one that brings us healing happiness, profound peace, lasting love and sincere security. We deserve it!  You are not alone; we are all in this together!

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Consider the Consequences

Hi, everyone,

Have you said or done something without thinking?  Do you regret it after?  I love spontaneity and nurturing an adventurous spirit.  Life is too short to be controlled, dominated and paralyzed by fear.  I tend to be one who analyzes and assesses something ad infinitum.  Though a proper evaluation is wise and responsible, I do believe that there is truth in the expression, “paralysis of over-analysis.”  Learning a practical balance is key.  Let’s not be zombies, paralyzed by fears.  By the same token, let’s not capriciously and irresponsibly say or do things without considering the consequences of our words, thoughts and actions.

A wise person considers the consequences of his or her words, thoughts and actions.  Many of us tend to say or do something without thinking about how our words and actions affect others around us, near and afar.  Consideration or sensitivity for others does not occur to us.  All that concerns us is “me, myself and I,” an egocentrism and narcissism that diminish joy, peace, security, harmony, unity and brotherly/sisterly love.

Let’s ruminate on how we live, what we say, and what we do.  If something that is part of our M.O. (modus operandi) is unhelpful, unedifying, inconsiderate, insensitive or hurtful to others or to us, let’s do our best to arrest that behavior.  Then, let’s replace those thoughtless ways with words and actions that seek and serve to help, edify, encourage, comfort and affirm others.  Please remember that when we REJECT anything that is negative and unconstructive–a thought, a habit, a relationship, etc., it behooves us to REPLACE it with something positive and beneficial.

I propose we become more thoughtful of how our words, thoughts and actions can affect others.  I humbly suggest we purposely say and do things that build bridges and promote joy, peace, security and love.  By living such a magnanimous life, we end up being blessed beyond our imagination.  What goes around, does come around!  We do reap what we sow!  Therefore, let’s be mindful of the consequences of our actions and strive to shine and show our concern and consideration for others with courage and conviction!

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Altruism is Beautiful

Let’s talk about selfishness.  Many of us can be self-centered, mostly, if not entirely, interested and concerned about our own lives.  I am not talking about fulfilling the responsibilities we have and the roles we play in life.  Of course, it is important to wisely use and take care of what we have–our relationships, friendships, bodies, minds, possessions, talents, skills, jobs, etc.  This is good stewardship.

I respectfully submit that we all be more others-centered.  Let’s be more interested and concerned about the lives of others, as we live our lives responsibly.  I see too many people so focused on their own cares and affairs.  Being considerate to the needs of others is not chic.  Being sacrificial and helpful to others is not sexy.  Unless we benefit in some manner, reaching out to others and being there for them becomes a distraction and an inconvenience.  This dismays and disappoints me.

Apathy is indeed the opposite of love.  Being indifferent, uninterested and unconcerned about others is choosing to not “love thy neighbor.”  If we want to be loved, let’s practice sincere, meaningful love for others.  If we want to be cared about, let’s deeply, unabashedly care about others.  If we want others to be concerned about us, let’s show an honest and genuine concern without hesitation.  Treating others how we would like to be treated definitely reflects profound wisdom and is a timeless principle to live by.

ME! ME! ME!  For many of us, our words, thoughts and actions reflect this self-centeredness.  We live life as if “it’s all about me.”  This is rubbish!  Egotism is extremely unattractive.  Conversely, humility and altruism truly make all of us beautiful.  The most beautiful people are those who are modest, respectful and benevolent.  Let’s embrace, enjoy and emit beauty by humbly and unselfishly being concerned with the welfare of others–family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances, colleagues, and, yes, even perfect strangers.  Kindness is never wasted.  Generosity is never feckless.  Copiously sowing seeds of love will inevitably enhance joy, peace, security and meaning in our lives.  Let’s replace selfishness with selflessness.


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Holiday Hope and Healing

Hello, Everyone,

During this time of the year, we celebrate various holidays—Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year.  Even if you don’t observe these holidays (everyone deserves love), it still is a time when we are surrounded by fantastic food, fun, fellowship, friends, family, festivities, and frivolities.  Many fond memories are built year after year.  Yet, for many, there is little or no happiness, hilarity, home or hope for the holidays.  Some of us may not have a “home” to go back to, no family or friends to rejoice with, no celebrations to attend, no fond memories, past or present.  Some of us might be suffering from a health issue, going through a divorce, have lost a job or home, have a sick family member, struggle being a single parent, or just experienced the loss of a loved one.  With all these worrisome hardships, seeing others engaging in all the merrymaking and revelry exacerbates our sadness, confusion, and loneliness.

If you have great holiday memories from the past, and this year is no different, I am happy for you.  My hope is that we all can bring some hope and encouragement to those who are lonely, discouraged and not as cheerful.  It is a time to be thankful.  A time to reflect on who we are and where we are heading.  A time to self-introspect and make resolutions to enhance the quality of our life.  A time to show goodwill to others.  It would be a better world if we have this spirit all year round.

For those of us who do not have much fun or festivities, family or friends during this time of the year, my heart goes out to you.  There is hope for the holidays!  I have found myself in this situation and state of mind many times in the past.  What cheers me up is doing something nice for myself, even if it is a party of one.  Make yourself a pleasant meal including dessert, buy yourself a nice gift (if your budget permits), go see an enjoyable movie, or just cozy up in your bed or on a sofa and watch a classical movie like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Carol.”

Other ways to make fond memories during the holidays is doing volunteer work and giving back to the community.  This month, several friends and I did some volunteer work, and we are deeply blessed to be used as tools in bringing some hope and joy to the poor, lonely, hungry and disadvantaged.  In past years, I had the privilege of volunteering to make and serve Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas meals for the homeless.  Amazing experiences and memories!  I love being used to put smiles on faces and love in hearts.

Can you think of someone you can help during this season—cook a meal, give a present, or just keep company?  Are there some clothes or items around the house you can donate to Goodwill or The Salvation Army?  Are there volunteering opportunities in your community?  Let’s visit some lonesome senior citizens at a senior living community (many do not have any visitors; totally breaks my heart).  Let’s visit our homeless brothers and sisters at a rescue mission.  Let’s visit discouraged runaways at a shelter.   Tending to our cares and concerns is essential, but, as I shared in previous blogs, “When we give, we truly live!”  When we seek to help, we heal.

Whether we are joyful and surrounded by family and friends, or we feel lonely and empty, let’s all honor and show a spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill to all.  Living outside of ourselves, being sacrificial, giving life, light and love to others—all this will present us a deep sense of fulfillment, joy and peace.  This is the true meaning and spirit of Christmas, and my prayer is that we commemorate and celebrate the legacy of Christ!

As 2012 will soon be a memory, I encourage you to write down some goals for 2013.  Let’s be intentional about optimizing our total wellness—physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, financially, socially, etc.  When we set goals for ourselves and do our best to achieve them, we will add meaning and purpose to our life, even if it takes us a while to reach them.  I cheer you on!

Thank you for your time and attention.

Let’s Embrace and Emit Love!  Light and Darkness cannot coexist.

© 2012 Fitness YOU Deserve  All Rights Reserved

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Gold Medal Moments

Have you ever had a gold medal moment?  The 30th Summer Olympics games are taking place in London.  I admire and applaud all the amazing athletes.  I enjoy watching all the nations converge and compete against each other.  The pomp and passion, sites and splendor, courage and competition, talents and teamwork…the magnificence and memories will last a lifetime!

When Olympians win the gold (I am sure silver and bronze also), an extreme elation, ecstasy and exuberance engulfs them.  They are on top of the world.   They are champions.  They are the crème de la crème.  A sense of honor and happiness pervades their being.  Their blood and bruises, sweat and sacrifices, and tears and trials have paid off.  All their diligence, discipline, determination and dedication have proven to be golden.

Gold medal moments do not just happen.  They are achieved with much verve and vision, patience and persistence, courage and commitment.  They require us to be dogged and not defeated by distractions, disappointments and other things that can drag us down.  They necessitate keeping close company with caring and concerned companions, and staying away from those who drain and diminish us.  They need us to be humble, honorable and honest with ourselves and others, and rejecting a hubris and hostility that doom us to our downfall.

Let’s strive to achieve gold medal moments in our lives.  They may not entail fame or fortune, but we will definitely feel a sense of admiration and accomplishment.  They may not entail the awe and adulation of millions of people, but we will absolutely attain self-respect and the respect of our loved ones.  They may not entail our being rewarded with medal or money, but we will certainly enjoy the fruits of our labor and loyalty.

My gold medal moments have changed my life for the better.  Comforting and cuddling drug-addicted premature babies.  Feeding and fraternize with homeless runaway children.  Comforting and caring for those who were lost, lonely and listless.  These enriching experiences did not result in fame, fortune or a fan club.  Nonetheless, they helped to mold and make me become an individual of integrity, insight and industriousness.  Their rewards come in the form of fulfillment, contentment and encouragement.

Altruistically investing in the lives of others, becoming more self-realized and self-respectful, growing to be less self-centered and more others-centered, maintaining healthy boundaries with myself and others, being a good steward of my body and belongings, mind and money, spirit and skills…these are some of my lifestyle choices that have propelled me to accomplish my gold medal moments.  And the bliss and blessings of these moments last a lifetime!

-Etienne-

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Attitude Determines Altitude

What happens in us is just as important as what happens to us.

Our attitude, more than our aptitude, determines our altitude.

Memories make what we are; dreams make what we will be.

I stumbled upon these statements last week.  They made an indelible impression on me.  They caused me to ruminate about their significance.  I cogitated on how they apply to us.  These three declarations are certainly not banal or brainless platitudes.  They engender much enlightenment and encouragement.  They can enhance our self-image.  They can enthuse our lifestyle.  They can enliven our self-improvement.  They can enrich our relationships.   They can edify our spirit.  They can energize our overall quality of our life!

What happens in us is just as important as what happens to us.  An abuse, accident, crime, divorce, illness, unemployment, foreclosure, death, war, injustice, put-down.  A birth, smile, wedding, job, raise, vacation, pet, faith, friendship, compliment.  We all know that what happens to us has an impact on us—whether near or far, minor or major; negative or positive; past, present or future.  The external circumstances, situations and events we face in life can affect us on many levels—physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, vocationally, spiritually.  Equally significant, how we think, reason, contemplate and process also has copious effects on how we act, react, enact and interact.  And how we act, react, enact and interact can ascertain whether or not we develop or decrease the quality of our lives and whether we are thriving or just surviving.

Our attitude, more than our aptitude, determines our altitude.  Our attitude (our feelings, outlook, worldview, way of thinking and processing), more than our aptitude (our ability, skill, talent, intelligence, propensity), can influence our altitude (how successful we are).  And how successful we are is not necessarily equated to how much money we can amass.  In my opinion, true success is defined and determined by how much love, joy, peace, security, compassion, authenticity, altruism, integrity, self-awareness and wellness we can achieve.

Let’s strive to revive and merrily thrive, not just be alive and merely survive.  Let’s endeavor to ensure that what happens in us remain positive, pure and propitious.  Let’s give our best to beget an attitude that is honest, honorable and humble. When we are challenged with our fears and phobias, anxieties and angst, let’s make a conscious decision to not feed them, for this will debilitate and defeat us.  When we are plagued with our pessimistic and poisonous thoughts and feelings, let’s choose not to nourish them, for this will discourage and diminish us.

Memories make what we are; dreams make what we will be.  It may be our status quo to be afraid and anxious.  It may be our natural inclination to be negative and nervous.  We may have learned from our parents to be unmotivated and unbearable.  We are a product of our past.  We cannot go back in time and change things.  We cannot modify our memories, so let’s cherish the fond ones and allow the frightful ones to make us better individuals.

Our past may have damaged us; it does not have to demolish us.  Our upbringing may have shaped us; it does not have to shackle us.  Our childhood may have enfeebled us; it does not have to enslave us.   Let’s not be defined and confined by the troubles and traumas of our past.  Though we can be molded and controlled by our near and distant past, our identity is not bound by it.  Let’s free ourselves to live up to our full potential.  We can purposely and proactively be productive with our present and fruitful with our future.  We can dream big and work toward a better, bolder, brighter future.

Let’s understand the roots, not just the symptoms, of our actions and attitudes, reactions and reflections, feelings and fears.  Let’s be real, feel and start to heal.  Let’s starve our negativity and feed our positivity.  Although we may feel fearful, we choose to be faithful.  Although we may feel helpless, we choose to be hopeful.  Although we may feel lost and lonely, we choose to surround ourselves with genuine love.  Faith, hope and love…let’s allow their presence and power heal us.  It truly is a choice, and life is full of choices.  It truly is our decision to soar or sink, succeed or sabotage.  Let’s choose life, and one of excellence, exhilaration and exuberance!

Etienne

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