January 2010 Edition

CIM Class 1972 web site publication.

A Concept of Gratitude

Cle S. Estrera, Jr.

"There are those of us who are always about to live. We are waiting until things change, until there is more time, until we are less tired, until we get a promotion, until we settle down -- until, until, until. It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we begin living." -- George Sheehan

Gliding through
    I hate to admit this but for many years I’ve struggled with the concept of gratitude. Is gratitude a form of giving up or surrender and thus a poor strategy in life? For if you are satisfied and thus grateful with the way things are, you’d lose your enthusiasm to make them better. Would you not? So why struggle and strive for more? It’s like when you settle for whatever you get, you’re not likely to push harder to get more. Are you?

    It took me into my 50s – Oh, hell, I’m on my way and almost there in the mid 60s, trying to keep all my marbles - before I came to begin associating gratitude with appreciating the way life is and realizing that although life seldom matches our hopes and dreams, it never fails to be exactly what we need. Indeed there is no easy way through life. Many of us have to struggle every day just to keep things the way they are, and struggles are often frustrating. We often wish, plead and even pray to be spared of them.

    Certainly, there are days that are devoid of struggle, but most days are fraught with it. But those of us who have learned to accept and appreciate struggles as part of the process of life must have noticed that we glide more easily through every day. We've also noticed that the pain of struggle first beckons and then pushes us forward to new solutions for tired old situations. Then we realize that struggles strengthen us, enrich our character, and temper our emotions.

Being grateful
    Growing up in a family and culture that rarely if ever acknowledged, let alone appreciated for any good thing you’ve done and never even heard of “thank you” as though it’s an embarrassing phrase to say, slowly I realized that it’s rewarding to be grateful for and feel good about something – and there is always something to be grateful for and feel good about. Even struggles are something to be grateful for. Notice that we need struggles to stretch our capabilities. We need sorrow to appreciate laughter. We need boredom to discover joy in small blessings.

    The pastor in the Disney classic – Pollyanna – said in his sermon: “If you look for the good, you will always find it. And if you look for the bad, you will also always find it.” I must admit though that sometimes particularly in one of those difficult, frustrating and depressing situations, it’s not easy to go looking for the good, let alone find it. And it’s not easy to accept and appreciate anything in such situation. You’d become bitter, sad, angry, or irritable that at the slightest provocation, it’s easy to fly off the handle, or break down and cry. Some people would say that it’s in this situation when your belief in God is essential because if you don’t believe in God, then you have no one you can really trust to turn to. At the height of your rage and valleys of sorrow, it's easy to succumb to drugs and alcohol to forget or numb your pain. Feeling like a condemned man watching the carpenter build the gallows, you would dance with the devil if it means getting out of your predicament.

Seeking balance
    There is nothing wrong with striving for more or pushing harder to make things better. But for a good life to live and enjoy, there has to be a balance between wanting more and appreciating enough. Thus we should be grateful and appreciate whatever we have, even as we strive for more. The trouble is that many of us constantly overlook things we could enjoy now for what we think will make us happy later.

    Keeping our focus close on things of tomorrow, we rob ourselves of the chance to see more than one little slice of life everyday. So we struggle and suffer every today in order to be happy tomorrow. We have no time or we no longer able to think of “counting our blessings.” We fail to realize that not being grateful with what we have denies us the ability to be happy.

    One paradox in life is that we live in a moment of time that is constantly becoming the past, yet will affect a future that we cannot predict and control. So think of things you can enjoy today, for even if you can have the things you want tomorrow, you may not be in the mood to enjoy them, for between now and then, anything can happen.

A New Year's Resolution
    Well, my friends, it’s another New Year to live and hopefully enjoy. Last year was a great year for me. My older daughter got married and I had good times with my grandson who has become attached to me just as I’m attached to him. Most of the time, the little kid doesn’t even care about his Mom and Dad when I’m around. He’s 14 months old now and he’s learning fast, very curious that he wants to get hold of anything that catches his eye which we always allow with few exceptions to satisfy his curiosity, learn and develop courage. He broke many of the Christmas decorations just so that he can at least hold the vacuum cleaner with me. Sometimes it’s scary but we leave him alone to climb up and down the stairs. Luckily, he only stumbled one time and fell but at the bottom step and so he didn’t get hurt that much. But he learned to be a little careful the next time. He is a joy and there is never a dull moment with him. I hope those of you with grandchildren have enjoyed yours too.

    Now may I suggest something simple for a New Year’s Resolution instead of the complicated ones that many people do and soon fail to follow? After all, simplicity is more satisfying than complexity. There is less pressure and is easy to follow. And a little bit of discipline means success.

    So why not resolve to reduce your upsets, angers, frustrations, or resentments by 50% in the coming year? To do this, every time you get upset or angry regardless of with who or what, record the time and day like in a calendar and keep it, and then later on mull on it as to what made you upset or angry. Was it worth it?  Could it have been avoided, or could it have been stopped rather than escalated? What was your part or responsibility in it? You’ve got to have to understand that you are responsible for your own feelings. To be angry is a choice just as to be happy. Anyway, would you rather put all the blames on someone else or on something as a way of making you feel better and thus maintain your status quo of the vicious cycle of upset, angry and blame? Is that a good strategy of growing older and wiser, or getting old and wise? If you come down with the realization that it was at least part of your fault, then apologize to the person for your bad, rude or inappropriate behavior. As long as it’s sincere, late apology will remain effective.

    At the end of the year, take an inventory of your resolution performance and perhaps you can share your “profits and losses” with the rest of us at the end of next year. How about it?

Happy New Year, Everyone!



A Great Poem

“Yesterday is a dream. Tomorrow is a vision. But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”-- Author Unknown

    This poem is an excerpt from One More Day, written by Linda Ellis, a talented and terrific inspirational writer, author, speaker and poet.

              This day, this precious, wonderful gift has been bestowed upon me free!
              And whatever I choose to do with it remains entirely up to me.

              I could squander these given hours, treat each task as if it’s a chore
               and mark this day off my calendar like so many times before.

               I could overlook the blooming flowers and ignore the sun’s warm light
               before it inevitably sets again, turning my gift of day to night.

              I could dwell upon mistakes I’ve made and cry regretful tears
               and live my life in the shadow of my own anxieties and fears.

              Or I could make a resolution, before one more day has passed,
               that I shall live it to its fullest, live it...as it if were my last.

              Then I shall, as I awaken, relinquish my fret and my sorrow
               and accept one more day to love and laugh, with no guarantee of tomorrow.

              At night, as I lay down my head only to wake again, I’ll pray,
               and if I do, then I’ll thank God for giving me one more day.



Smiles, laughs or chuckles

"Wit penetrates; humor envelopes. Wit is a function of verbal intelligence; humor is imagination operating on good nature." ---Peggy Noonan

    A Hollywood director was shooting a big budget movie on location in the desert. One day an old Indian came up to him and said: “Tomorrow rain.” And sure enough the next day it rained. A few days later, the old Indian appeared on set again, sidled up to the director and said: “Tomorrow storm.” And sure enough, the following day there was a fearful storm which brought a temporary halt to filming.
    The director was hugely impressed by the old Indian’s weather predictions and told his secretary to put the tribesman on the payroll. However, after a number of other successful forecasts, the Indian didn’t show up for three weeks. So the director sent for him. The director said: “I have to shoot a big scene tomorrow and I’m relying on you. What is the weather going to be like?”
    The old Indian shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know. Radio broken.”

    A woman appeared as a contestant on a TV game show and did so well that she was in line to win 100,000 dollars jackpot if she could answer tomorrow night’s question correctly. While she tried to calm her nerves, her husband sneaked into the TV studio and found the question. The he rushed home to tell his wife.
    “Guess what,” he said, “I’ve found the question you’ll have to answer tomorrow night. It is: ‘What are the three main parts of the male anatomy?’ And the answer is: ‘The head, the heart and the penis.’ All you have to do is say that and we’ve won the 100,000 dollars! So remember” head, heart, penis.”
    The wife eventually dozed off but kept waking up in the night, unable to remember the answer. Her husband reminded her: head, heart, penis. But when she woke up in the morning, she had forgotten it again. So he reminded her: head, heart, penis.
    Come the evening and she appeared on the show. The tension built up as the quiz-master asked her: “For 100,000 dollars, what are the three main parts of the mail anatomy? You have ten seconds in which to answer.”
    “Er, the head.”
    “Very good. Six seconds.”
    “Um, the heart.”
    “Excellent. Four seconds.”
    “Oh, er, oh, darn. My husband drilled it into me last night and I had it on the tip of my tongue this morning…”
    “That’s close enough! You’ve won 100,000 dollars!”

    A mother and father were worried that their son would refuse to learn Math at school, so they sent him to a Catholic school which had a good reputation in the subject. But after his first day at the new school, the boy came home, ran straight to his room and slammed the door. This behavior went on every school night for the next two months, at the end of which the parents were asked along to meet the teachers. The feared the worst, but to their surprise, their son’s Math teacher revealed that the boy was doing excellent work and was top of the class.
    “So what changed your mind about learning Math?” they asked the boy when they returned home.
    “Well”, said the boy, “on the first day I walked into the classroom, I saw a guy nailed to a plus sign at the back of the room, and I knew they meant business.”

    A man went to a restaurant in Madrid. He ordered the house special and was brought a plate with potatoes, corn and two large meaty objects.
    “What are these?” he asked the waiter.
    “Cojones, senor,” said the waiter.
    “What exactly are cojones?”
    "They are the testicles of the bull that lost at the arena this afternoon.”
    Overcoming his initial reservations, the man decided to try this local delicacy and found it very tasty. Indeed he liked it so much that he returned the following night and ordered the same again. The waiter appeared with the plate of potatoes and corn, but this time the two meaty objects were much smaller. Nevertheless, the man ate them and thoroughly enjoyed them.
    “What were they?” he asked the waiter afterwards.
    “Cojones, senor. "
     “No. I had cojones yesterday and they were much bigger.”
    “Ah, yes, senor, but the bull does not lose every time.” 




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