May-June 2006 Edition Vol. 6 Issue 3

A free Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

Editor's Column

“A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” – – Walter Gagehot

Intelligence - Part 3

Cle S. Estrera, Jr.

The Brain
    Not too long ago, I read an article in the newspaper about right-brained, left-brained and whole-brained thinking. I can’t really remember now what newspaper had I read it from. It’s probably either The Wall Street Journal or The Richmond Times Dispatch. It’s about the two different sides of the brain that are said to control two different modes or styles of thinking. I did some further reading and research on it in the Internet lately and it’s considered a theory although research studies have been done.

    According to the article and the Internet information, most of us have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking although some of us are more whole-brained and therefore equally adept at both modes. What interested me was that we can learn to think whole-brained, or become whole-brained thinkers. Or, if our dominant thinking brain is the left brain, we can learn to develop right-brained thinking, and vice versa. First we need to know the differences between right-brained and left-brained thinking as laid out by the researchers.

     The thinking of a person using left-brain tends to be logical, sequential, rational, analytical, objective, and looks at parts. The thinking of the one using right-brain tends to be random, intuitive, holistic, synthesizing, subjective, and looks at wholes. The way I understand it is that basically, right-brained thinking is geared toward being more creative, intuitive and inventive, and thus more flexible because he looks at the whole picture and not stuck with details. In other words, right-brained thinking is about creativity and flexibility. On the other hand, left-brained thinking is geared more toward logic, accuracy and meticulousness or attention to detail, and thus more rigid, for accuracy and attention to detail would demand rigidity. While left-brain thinking is based more in terms of the way things are, right-brain thinking is based more in terms of the way things ought to be.

    Since rigidity makes you more likely unable to tolerate mistakes and failures, left-brained thinking could mean frustrations and frequent flare-up of temper, for in the imperfect world we all live, mistakes and failures are sometimes the results of decision and action. They are parts and parcels of the process of life. They should become our teachers and guides in making better choices, rather than enemies and hindrances to keep us from moving on and taking chances.  Anton Chekhob said: “One must be a god to be able to tell success from failures without making a mistake.”

    Yet sometimes mistakes and failures make us believe we are less than others and so we hold back or be lazy. After all, being a loser is easy. But the truth is, we are just as good as everyone else. We simply have to learn to utilize more of our right brain and be flexible enough to see our mistakes and failures as stepping-stones along the pathway of our growth, or as bumps to caution us every now and then in our forward movement. Now consider this, have you ever learned from your successes that made you strong? Have you ever heard of a humbling success?

    On the other hand, mistakes and failures often make you adapt to the new situations or new circumstances where you think you can achieve what you want if you only work harder, if you are only willing to go to the distance. From such experience, you learn to appreciate the benefit of persistence and perseverance, and the wisdom of avoiding useless and self-defeating patterns of behavior. You become more courageous to make decision because you become more willing to take the responsibility rather than to indulge on rationalizations to justify your flaws and quit even before the first bump on the road. Gene Stratton-Porter said: "We never know the timber of a man's soul until something cuts into him deeply and brings the grain out strong."

The thinker
    Again, the way I understand it, right-brained thinker is curious, eager to learn, and being imaginative, he derives fun from challenging himself by creating, inventing and discovering new things. He sees the world in his own unique way, and he is a non-conformist. He takes responsibility for what he does and he considers mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn more and to become better. On the other hand, left-brained thinker likes being in control of everything every time. Focused on logic and accuracy, he is hesitant to pursue new ideas or try new things because results of such ideas cannot be logically predicted with certainty and accuracy. They make him feel vulnerable to losing control. Thus he is most comfortable with set patterns and routines. He likes knowing what to expect from day to day. He is not comfortable with change because his reasoning tells him that change could mean disruption of his lives, a break in the routines that would only cause “unnecessary” discomfort. It’s not logical.

     To quote a great jazz song, the left-brained person can be put this way: “I’ve got the world on a string sitting on a rainbow; got the string around my finger. What a life, what a world; I’m in love. Life is a beautiful thing as long as I hold the string…..” The right-brained person on the other hand, has this way: “The world is gone mad today; gets bad today ….. So, though I’m not a great romancer, I know that I’m bound to answer when you propose….Anything goes..”

     If you’re left-brained, you are said to be good at communication and persuading others because the left side of the brain controls verbal ability and reasoning. If you’re right-brained, you are said to have a talent for creative writing and art. Right-brained prefers daydreaming, music, philosophy, and sports, while left- brained prefers dogs, reading, peace, and quiet. Whether these research findings are true or not, I took the online test and the result seems to fit the description of my mode of thinking. The test result told me that I am 15% left- brained, and 85% right-brained. Indeed I daydream a lot especially when I’m attending a medical conference, and I often think of philosophical thoughts especially when I’m jogging or riding my bicycle. In fact, I get most of my philosophical ideas while I’m jogging or bicycling. Yet I have to admit that if I took the test 15 or more years ago, the result would have been the reverse.

The old life
    In my old life, it didn't take much for me to get frustrated because I was too rigid, always wanted to be in control of everything, always insisted on logic and reason especially on my children before doing anything, always concerned of what the outcome might be, never realizing that it's wiser to do something even if it turns out to be foolish than to do nothing. Wisdom is often acquired from foolish mistakes. Having short fuse and nuclear temper, when mistakes were made especially by my children or family and even my own, I would detonate and explode with thunder-like verbal tirade, leaving my throat sore for the next few days. Arguments that almost always led to a yelling contest were routine. Moreover, having low self-esteem, I was self-centered, and what little self-respect I had was eroded by my self-seeking actions.

    I behaved like I was a god. I felt like if other people would only listen to me and do things my way, everything would run smoothly and things would be better for everyone. My life was ruled by selfishness and egocentricity, fashioned by closed-mindedness. I often imagined the world revolving around me, often behaved in ways designed to convince others that I was better and more important than everyone else, and I almost always wanted to have things my way. As a result, I tended to think, act, and react in extremes. I still do but only occasionally. It's really amazing how significantly my life has improved since I stopped trying to be omnipotent.

    For so many years I wasted my energy on trying to look happy outside while the tension and turmoil were eating my inside like acid. As I started to contemplate, I realized that if God has given us intelligence, judgment, the power to reason and the free will to use as we choose, then it's all up to each of us to use these vital personal resources to live our lives and have peace of mind. So as I looked back, to borrow the lyric from Peter Gabriel's song In Your Eyes, "without a noise, without my pride, I reached out from the inside", I saw that most of my problems and unhappiness were the results of my misuse of these God-given resources. My intelligence was inhibited by my tendency to delude myself. My judgment was distorted by my low self-esteem, resentful attitude, and oversensitivity. My power to reason was weakened by the intensity of my emotional involvements, all too often taking things personally, making me defensive. But it was my overriding self-centeredness, more than anything, that was the cause of most of my difficulties and unhappiness.

     I sought to be understood rather than to understand, to be approved and admired than to acknowledge and appreciate my abilities as blessings, all too often having a motive to be credited for things I would do for others than simply do the things the best I could without the thought of reward or credit, almost always thinking of what I could take than what I could contribute, and often looking for who to blame in the presence of a problem, sometimes wishing for an opportunity to say, "I told you so!", rather than try to see what action I could take to alleviate the problem. As a result, I was feeding my mind negative ideas about myself, and instead of a wonderful servant, my mind became a terrible master. Charles Kingsley said, "If you want to be miserable, think about yourself, about what you want, what you like, what respect people ought to pay you, and what people think of you."

    So, I believe God wants us to think whole-brained, or to think using both sides of the brain to be able to really appreciate the vital personal resources He has given us. He wants us to find happiness and peace of mind for ourselves by the proper use of these resources. Thus to me, using these resources properly and positively the best each of us can is the best way of showing our gratitude, appreciation, and reverence to God - the best form of worship. If you think about it, prayer is about reaching outside of ourselves, about stepping outside of our egos, our instincts, our all-consuming troubles - a total opposite of self-centeredness.

     Incidentally, the article also mentioned about many different companies whose executives are mainly left-brained thinkers. Most of these companies went bankrupt and the rest were on the verge of bankruptcy because their left-brained executives were too slow to innovate. These executives were hesitant to take risks. They fought every inch of the way against change or innovation that didn’t make sense to them, against trying some creative ideas, constantly arguing to wait and wait for more data to analyze, making their companies lose the opportunity to become competitive.

The paralyzing emotion
     All too often what keeps us from using our right brain and deciding and taking action is fear – most of the time an ego-generated fear like the fear of failure, the fear that what we do might only make us look bad. Fear makes us resist change and thus keeps us stuck with our mode of thinking, stuck with the status quo. It’s like a voice within us that whines and warns and whispers messages designed to scare us and keep us out of balance.

     Regardless of age, every one of us can learn and develop right-brained thinking if we want to and we are lacking of it. The same energies that we are squandering for resisting change can be channeled into positive, creative and imaginative pathways. But we need to admit and acknowledge our fear so we can face, understand and overcome it. Many of us would deny fear because we don’t want others to know we are fearful, or ignore it because we don’t want to be disturbed by it.

    Worry or anxiety is a form of fear. Fear or any of its form is the dark side of thought; its substance is rooted only in the mind. But it makes us do things we might never agree. In its worst form, fear paralyzes us. It steals our will power, diminishes our strength and immobilizes our defenses. Fear also closes our minds to potentials and possibilities. Since we are the ones actually creating our fear, we alone can control, master or destroy it. But we can’t control something we don’t admit, acknowledge and understand. It’s only by admitting or acknowledging fear that we’d be able to understand it, for we’d become willing to confront it and start asking ourselves what have we got to lose by taking action, or by trying something different or something new that we are afraid of or uncomfortable with? Believe me. It’s fear that this man from Camotes can’t dance. I just don’t have the time yet to take a lesson and learn to wiggle my butt gracefully or sensually to make me feel like dancing.

    Fear is actually a great motivator. It’s like a red light on the dashboard, a warning sign to do something. Consider this, why do we subject ourselves to colonoscopy every certain number of years if not for the fear of what’s inside our bowels? Had early man never experienced fear, the human species would not have been civilized. Fear causes a series of physiological changes to occur for primitive man to survive in the jungle, to fight back when challenged. It forced man to learn how to engage his mind and it’s how we, Homo sapiens, evolved. Man learned to use and rely on his mind to survive, and educate himself, mainly because of fear.

    Fear has all too often been the underlying cause of human conflicts and wars, for the emotion behind anger, envy, hatred, and resentment is fear. Think about it and try to examine your fear. Why would you get angry if you’re not afraid of something? If you’re angry with your son, for example, for doing something you don’t want him to, it’s because you’re afraid of what might become of him. If you’re envious with someone, it’s because you’re afraid that that someone might get way too good to make you look bad and leave you behind. Fear is the main reason for pre-emptive strike. Fear is what drives the Muslim terrorists to terrorize the West. They are afraid of what freedom might do to their culture and beliefs, and of losing control of their own people.

    Fear has everything to do with our anticipation of the future, and has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of the present moment. Tom Payne, a Career Development Expert said: "We can't fear the past. Fear is a future thing. And since the future is all in our heads, fear must be a head thing." Uncertainty is the source of our anxiety or fear and sad to say, the future is always uncertain. To quote a lyric from the song of Hilary Duff: “In a moment, everything can change…”

    Suffice it to say, we’ve got to learn to control our fear to be able and be ready to accept change, because when we talk about the future, changes can occur beyond our control. As much as possible we should learn to let go what we have been used to, for if we'd spend our energy clinging to what we have and what we've been used to, then we'd have no more energy to let anything new to our lives. The future is all too often unpredictable. As the song goes, "the future is not ours to say. Que sera, sera. “ So fear can be controlled or mastered, at least minimized, not by clinging to the kind of life we've been used to and hang on or try to keep what we have, but by simply accepting life as it unfolds, trusting that a loving God will provide us with what we need.(To be Continued)


CIM News

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” -- Carl Sandburg

Another Grandpa and Grandma
     Dr. and Mrs. Siegfred Jalalon of the CIM Class 1972 just had their first grandchild, a son, from her daughter in California. The baby was born on June 2, 2006, healthy and strong, ready to punch Fred on the nose. It's okay, Fred. It's a punch that makes you feel good. Just take him to the Kentucky Derby every now and then. By the way, Fred regrets to inform us that he is unable to attend our reunion because he is going to the Philippines for a medical mission.

CIM Alumni Reminder
    Those who plan to attend our alumni reunion in Las Vegas on July 5-9 at Caesare's Palace, do not procrastinate and send your registration now. The registration form can be printed from our ASOCIMAI web site if you don't want to register and pay online. The form has Dr. Evangeline Ecarma's residence address to send your registration and check to. A $50 surcharge will be imposed for those who register late or register on site. Well, if your procrastination is worth $50, then don't worry about it. Just pay it with a smile like you know it's your responsibility, because you've been reminded enough already. So don't play dumb when you finally decide to come and join with us in Vegas. Pay the surcharge and be a good boy or a good girl. Otherwise register now! Pay now and have fun later!


Laughter, the best medicine

"The sound of laughter has always seemed to me the most civilized music in the universe." ---Peter Ustinov

    Once there was a little boy that lived in the country.
     They had to use an outhouse, and the little boy hated it because it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter and stank all the time. The outhouse was sitting on the bank of a creek and the boy determined that one day he would push that outhouse into the creek.
    One day after a spring rain, the creek was swollen so the little boy decided today was the day to push the outhouse into the creek. So he got a large stick and started pushing. Finally, the outhouse toppled into the creek and floated away.
    That night his dad told him they were going to the woodshed after supper. Knowing that meant a spanking, the little boy asked why.
    The dad replied, "Someone pushed the outhouse into the creek today. It was you, wasn't it son?"
    The boy answered: “Yes.” Then he thought a moment and said, "Dad, I read in school today that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and didn't get into trouble because he told the truth."
    The dad replied, "Well, son, George Washington's father wasn't in the cherry tree."

     A truck driver was driving along on the freeway. A sign comes up that reads Low Bridge Ahead! Before he knows it, the bridge is right ahead of him and he gets stuck under the bridge. Cars are backed up for miles. Finally, a police car comes up.
    The cop gets out of his car and walks around to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, "Got stuck, huh?"
     The truck driver says, "No, I was delivering this bridge and I ran out of gas."

    A distraught senior citizen phoned her doctor's office. "Is it true," she wanted to know, "that the medication you prescribed has to be taken for the rest of my life?"
    "Yes, I'm afraid so," the doctor told her.
    There was a moment of silence before the senior lady replied, "I'm wondering, then, just how serious is my condition because this prescription is marked 'NO REFILLS'.


From the E-mail Collections

“To me, faith has always meant giving God the benefit of the doubt, living and acting on the assumption that the world is hospitable to honesty, generosity and kindness.” ---- Rabbi Harold Kushner – author, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Before forwarding certain messages
    All of us using e-mail must have received all kinds of stories, appeals for help, virus warnings, etc. in our e-mail's Inbox, and some of these stories and poems are attributed to authors who did not write them. Of course, we do not know that, and we are urged to pass them on or forward them to all our contacts. You all must have noticed that for almost a couple of years now, I haven't forwarded messages anymore that I am urged to pass on, not that I don't care about those warnings and those children or young men and women, or family who need help according to the e-mail messages, but most of these messages are not true. Although most if not all of us feel like it's our civic duty or moral obligation to pass these messages on, I believe it's not good to pass something on that is not true despite our good intention except perhaps the humor and jokes.

    Many of us must have received several months ago an e-mail message about a radio commentator (I could not remember whether he was the commentator or one of the listeners) who, not only accused and criticized Filipinos of being lazy but that according to the message, this commentator also stated that Filipinos are pretentious Asians who love driving Japanese cars because they want to think of themselves having the same ancestors as the Japanese or Chinese, etc. The message was circulated continuously and I would not be surprised if all Filipinos with e-mail have received it. I felt sorry for that commentator because he did not really say such things. Sad to say, it was treated like it was true, making most Filipinos especially those in the U.S. angry.

    The bible tells us to "seek the truth, and the truth shall set you free." This is not limited to the truth about our faith in God, but the truth about our daily lives or about our way of life, about what we believe. In these day and age, truth has become more and more subjective, more toward what you believe than what it really is. Many people especially those in the media and in politics know this and thus they are exploiting our way of believing. They give us their version of truth because they know that it's not the truth, but what we are made to believe that matters. The media and Hollywood, for example, have repeatedly depicted President Bush as a mental or intellectual lightweight and even a dumb president, at least not in the same league with such brilliant guys as Al Gore and John Kerry. But the fact is, Bush and Kerry both went to Yale University where Bush had a higher grade-point average. Also, Bush scored higher than Kerry on intelligence tests that both of them took in the military. Gore went to Harvard, where he finished in the bottom fifth of his class 2 years in a row.

    What I'm trying to show and suggest is that if you want to seek the truth, keep your mind open, think honestly and judge fairly, and these would lead you to the truth, and the truth shall set you free of unfairness, biases and prejudices. Do not just believe something is true all because others believe that it's true. If some degree of suspicion helps keep your mind open, then by all means, maintain it. But try as you can to avoid basing your opinion, let alone your judgment on suspicion alone, for suspicion has a way of letting your imaginations run wild. Even for a good Christian, it's not a good practice.

     So if you receive an e-mail that is too good to be true like the Nordstrom cookie recipe, or something that brings charges against someone or some company, or a message designed to appeal to your generosity or emotions like a missing girl, etc., stirring your emotions like Love Potion Number 9, be at least cautious. Your good intention is not enough to keep you from sharing the guilt and responsibility. It's not a civic duty, let alone a moral obligation to ruin someone's integrity or some company's reputation with false charges and accusations. If you are not sure it's true and you don't have the time check for it on the web sites below, just don't forward it.

    Now here are the web sites that check on hoaxes, urban legends, unbelievable stories, etc., and check for stories' factual basis.


The Paradox of Time
    Now here is a good homily that has been passed around in the Internet or E-mail for quite sometime, although only a portion of it, not the whole text. This homily called The Paradox of Time had been attributed to the comedian George Carlin. Because this is more serious and very penetrating or as the common expression "it hits home," to attribute to a comedian, I looked for it and did some reading research mainly from the web sites above.

    This sermon or homily is actually written by Dr. Bob Morehead, a Seattle pastor. Sad to say, this pastor was forced to resign in 1998 because of allegations that he sexually abused at least 17 members of the church. Well, sometimes good thoughts and wisdom come from people with flawed character. We would have to learn to separate the substance from the source, the ideas from the character, to be able to learn from these good thoughts or ideas. Now the sermon in its full text:

    The paradox of our time is we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways but narrower viewpoints. We spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy less. We have bigger houses but smaller families; more conveniences but less time. We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more experts yet more problems; more medicine but less wellness.

    We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom and hate too often.

    We've learned how to make a living but not a life. We've added years to life, not life to years. We've been to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space.

    We've done larger things but not better things. We've cleaned up the air but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom but not our prejudice.

    We write more but learn less. We plan more but accomplish less.

    We've learned to rush but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information and produce more copies but communicate less.

    These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

    These are the days of two incomes but more divorce; fancier houses but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill.

    It is a time when there is much in the showroom window but nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you and when you can choose either to share the insight or hit delete.

    Remember to spend time with your loved ones because they are not going to be around forever. Remember to say a kind word to someone who looks up to you because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

    Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and doesn't cost a cent. Remember to say "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for some day that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

For all the fathers
    When the Good Lord was creating fathers, he started with a tall frame, and a female angel nearby said, “What kind of father is that? If you are going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers up so high? He won’t be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping.”

    And God smiled and said, “Yes, but if I make him child-size, who would children have to look up to?”

    And when God made a father’s hands, they were large and sinewy, and the angel shook her head sadly and said, “Do you know what you’re doing? Large hands are clumsy. They can’t manage diaper pins, small buttons, or rubber bands on pony tails or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats.”

    And God smiled and said, “I know, but they’re large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day, yet small enough to cup a child’s face in his hands.”

    And then God molded a long, slim legs and broad shoulders, and the angel nearly had a heart attack. “Boy, this is the end of the week, all right,” she clucked. “Do you realize you just made a father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?”

    And God smiled and said, “A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a child on a bicycle, or hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus.”

    God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had ever seen when the angel could contain herself no longer. “That’s not fair. Do you honestly think those large boots are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?”

    And God smiled and said; “They’ll work. You’ll see. They’ll support a small child who wants to ‘ride a horse to Barnbury Cross’, or scare off mice at the summer cabin, or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill.”  

    God worked throughout the night giving the father few words, but a firm, authoritative voice; eyes that saw everything but remained calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an afterthought, he added – Tears. Then He turned to the angel and said, “Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a mother?”

     And the angel shuteth up……

Happy Father's Day for all the fathers out there!


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