2009 Edition

CIM Class 1972 web site publication.

"The history of free men is never written by chance, but by choice; their choice." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Goals and Discipline

Cle S. Estrera, Jr.

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.” - Sandra Carey

Changing the future.
     Have you ever looked back at your past and started wondering – What would have been if I had done such and such thing? What would have been if I had pursued an Engineering career instead of Medicine? What would have been if I had accepted another position and lived in another state? What would have been if I had married someone else or stayed single. Etc....

     I don’t know about you but I do look back at my past every now and then to reflect on my own experiences and learn what went right and what went wrong and also to remind myself where I came from and how life used to be. All too often I find myself grateful of my past choices and decisions that brought me to where and what I am now. The past tells me that it’s the choices I make every day that determine the direction of my life and that ultimately leads to my own destiny. It gives me a better idea of where do I go from here. Einstein once said: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

     Of course, other than to learn from the past and appreciate the things you had done that brought you to where you are now, it’s useless to think of the past, for the past can never be changed. And the present is what it is. In other words, regrets, if any, must not be allowed to stand in your way to the future. So, think of re-designing your life now. Don’t succumb to the fatalistic thinking that at your age, it’s too late to change the course of your life, let alone re-design it, for your time in this world is now very limited. Age has taken its toll. But to allow age to dictate what you can and cannot do and to tell you to simply wait for the end to come, is a fatal way to live the rest of your life. It’s almost like having a death wish. The fact of the matter is - young or old - it’s not within our choice how long we will live, only how well we will live.

    So what can we change as far as our own life is concerned? The only thing we have the opportunity to change is our own future. Of course, we cannot determine our future, for there are so many things out of our control, but we can shape and steer it. Thus we can do something before our future becomes the present. We first have to keep in mind though that we cannot change the destination of our life overnight, but we can change the direction of our life overnight. We can change and improve our way of thinking, adopt a more positive attitude, make conscious and better choices, and then focus on self-discipline to achieve whatever goals we set, and reach whatever destiny we desire. But then again, some of us would probably say, “I’m too old for goals. My time to be ambitious is past gone.”

The corrupting influence of success
    Goals don’t have to be big or ambitious, or don’t have to involve money, wealth, glory, pride, power and position to be worthwhile and significant. Certainly, one can have a goal of becoming a millionaire and there is definitely nothing wrong with it and in fact, it’s commendable. But the most important thing though is not the million dollars you achieve in the end, but what person you have to become in the process of becoming a millionaire. Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger, to mention just a couple of young successful individuals, had all the millions one can only dream of, and the glory one can only wish for. But what had become of their lives and their beings? Their successes, glory and money pulled them in the wrong direction.

     Like drugs, money, success and glory can be addicting. They have a way of corrupting your mind into thinking that the more you have and the more you successful become, the more secure and happier you’re going to be. So you desire for more and more of them and no longer satisfied with your present status, let alone contented with what you have. You’d become more and more competitive and you’d measure your progress and success by comparing yourself with others. Since your focus is on having more, there would never be enough for you. Such relentless struggle in its pursuit for a goal is stressful and exhausting. It can take its toll not only on yourself but also on your family. Worse, it can ruin your relationship with others, for you don't hesitate to put yourself in front of them in any situation.

    I guess it is human nature to do what we can to be better and have more than others, believing that it’s the only way we can live a happy life. The art of living a happy life however is not having more of what we want, but getting better at enjoying what we have. Happiness is not the same as fun and pleasure in which money, power and position can play a significant role to have them. Happiness is a more durable feeling of well-being and peace of mind, a quiet satisfaction with one’s life. Sexual encounters and drugs, for example, may give you the fun and pleasure and the highs you seek for, but not happiness, for when they’re gone and all too often they do, they leave you with the feeling of emptiness and even loneliness, not to mention the feeling of guilt and even fear. Happiness is different. You are satisfied with yourself because you feel strongly that you’ve done and are doing your best to take care of your responsibilities, meet your obligations, and to live your life.

    I must admit that in these day and age, it’s hard to define success and it’s hard and even impossible for most of us to be happy with just what we have. In this upside-down culture, everyone is constantly bombarded with the pernicious promise of happiness and, even worse, being told that we all have the right to be happy. And if we are not, we could be, if we just get ourselves a new car, a new outfit, a new TV, etc. The messages everywhere, subliminal they maybe, in every magazine you pick up, or in every billboard you turn to see, or every TV show you happen to watch, are fueling greed and envy, making people dissatisfied with what they have, persuading them they could change their condition, be happy and successful and beautiful if only they have some gorgeous new thing, or if only they have a new lover, or a new girlfriend, or a new face, or a new pair of silicone tits. Thus to be happy is a challenge you encounter everyday, a challenge that sometimes roils the mind to a rapid boil, making it hover between enthusiasm and despair.

    Because the exhausting struggle to be the best, have more and be successful requires so much time and is often endless, as a result, you’d have no more time to use for adoring your families, cherishing your friends, and living your lives. And by the time you stop and think, you wonder where have all the time gone. But this time though your body is already weakened by the unrelenting stress and the wear and tear of age, and your mind is already too tired to think. That’s when you have become really old.

     So, for Jackson and Ledger, drugs were needed for their body to rest and relax, and their brains to function and forge ahead. Their hearts became empty and despite being surrounded with friends and fans that were crazy about them, they were lonely. So early in their lives, they were beckoned toward the silence of the tomb and sad to say, they unwittingly followed that path. So is money, glory, pride, power or position really all that makes a goal worth pursuing for?

Worthwhile goals
    A goal to learn something different or to increase your knowledge, deepen your understanding, and sharpen your problem-solving skills and become a better person than what you have been is quite significant. Think how much better your judgment or decisions would be if you learned how to better distinguish between facts, opinions, assumptions, and accusations. You'd avoid judging others by the gossips you've heard.

    A goal to spend more quality time with families and friends, iron out differences or patch up conflicts with sincere apology and forgiveness and improve relationship is also significant. By just thinking of your loving and harmonious relationship with your children, spouses, friends and other love ones, it gives you a pleasant feeling and even peace of mind. Doesn’t it? Relationships are essential. They are the backbone of our existence. You can gain every possession in the world, but if you lose your relationships, what good has your life been?

     A goal to get interested in another hobby like gardening and appreciating nature may not be significant, but it can help improve your way of thinking by soothing the mind. Gardening in particular not only only gives you a sense of control and accomplishment, it also makes you feel like you’re reconnecting with mother earth, with the natural world and with all the processes that keep us alive. When you start eating the fruits of your labor from your organic garden, it gives you the satisfaction that you've eaten something real, a true nourishment. - something not tainted with pesticides. Written in the Botany of Desire is this: "The garden is a place of many sacraments, an arena - at once as common as any room and as special as a church - where we can go not just to witness but to enact in a ritual way our abiding ties to the natural world."

    There is a universal law that says, “Thoughts are causes and conditions are effects.” Our thoughts are the primary creative forces in our life. We create our entire world by the way we think. When we change our thinking, we change our life—sometimes immediately. Thus it is not the world outside of us that dictates our circumstances or conditions; it is the world inside us that creates the conditions of our life

    If a goal is too big to achieve, it’s probably not a goal anymore, it’s most likely a wish. But even a wish can be achieved by discipline. In achieving a goal, any goal for that matter, there are three essential elements needed – time, effort and imagination, and it takes discipline to have all of them. It takes discipline to have the time and the effort to do what needs to be done to achieve a goal. It takes discipline to work on our imagination. Think about the many mistakes or missteps you’ve made that could have been avoided or prevented if you only had the discipline to use your imagination.

    What makes discipline difficult to have is that we have already programmed our mind with many habits and routines that are hard to break or get rid of and replace even if we know that our mental programming is often counterproductive or is working against our well-being. And it is hard to reprogram our mind. Take eating habits that our mind is already programmed to, for example. It takes a lot of discipline to curb our appetite to maintain weight, let alone lose the extra weight we carry. It takes discipline to put yourself on a regular exercise program to improve if not keep your health. And it takes a lot of discipline to stop and keep yourself from rationalizing your own lack of discipline.

    Motivational speakers, Chris Widener and Jim Rohn, wrote that basically we suffer two pains in our lives – the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. There is no question about it – discipline is a struggle, often a pain in the neck. Try getting into a treadmill and discipline yourself to use it at least every other day for 30 to 45 minutes, or to walk around the neighborhood as your regular exercise program. With the initial aches and pains all over your body when you wake up in the morning, it’s a pain or a fight just to do it again. Yet if you discipline yourself to go through the aches and pains and go on with your exercise program, those aches and pains would slowly go away, or at least your tolerance for them will increase. You’d improve both your physical and mental health and feel good about yourself.

    Suffice it to say, if you’re willing to go through the pain of discipline, you are likely to avoid the pain of regret. The thing about it, as Widener and Rohn said, is that the pain of discipline weighs only ounces while the pain of regret weighs tons. Yet too many people ignore discipline until there is no more time for them to go back and redo their lives, for their body had already aged way too far or is suffering from a crippling disease, become fragile and weak, and their spirit is no longer willing. For lack of discipline, they could not do what they longed to do. They failed to consider one certainty and that is, the end of life will come for every one of us, and sooner than we want. So they spend their final days suffering from the crushing weight of the pain of regret.  All they have left is a wish for more time – a wish that will never be fulfilled.


Smiles, laughs or chuckles

"After a certain age, if you don't wake up aching in every joint, you are probably dead. "

    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."

     Two little kids in a hospital lying on stretchers next to each other outside the operating room.
     The first kid leans over and asks, "What are you in here for?"BR>    The second kid says, "I'm in here to get my tonsils out and I'm a little nervous."
    The first kid says, "You've got nothing to worry about. I had that done when I was four. They put you to sleep, and when you wake up they give you lots of Jell-O and ice cream. It's a breeze."
    The second kid then asks, "What are you here for?"
    The first kid says, "A circumcision."
    And the second kid says, "Whoa! Good luck, buddy. I had that done when I was born. I couldn't walk for a year."

     An Amish woman was driving her buggy to town when a  Highway Patrol Officer stopped her. 
    "I'm not going to cite you," said the Officer. "I just wanted  to warn you that the reflector on the back of your buggy is broken and it could be dangerous." 
    "I thank thee", replied the Amish lady. "I shall have my husband repair it as soon as I return home." 
    "Also," said the officer, "I noticed one of your reins to your horse is wrapped around his testicles. Some people might consider this cruelty to animals, so you should have your husband check that too." 
    Again I thank thee. I shall have my husband check both when I get home." 
    True to her word, when the Amish lady got home she told her husband about the broken reflector, and he said he would put a new one on immediately. 
    Also", said the Amish woman, "the policeman said there was something wrong with the emergency brake." 


A great poem from an Unknown Author

"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again." ---Og Mandino(1923-1996), Author of The Greatest Salesman in the World

     I read of a man who stood to speak .
    At the funeral of a friend.
    He referred to the dates on her tombstone,
     From the beginning...to the end.

    He noted that first came her date of birth
    And spoke the following date with tears,
    But he said what mattered most of all
    Was the dash between those years.
    (1934 - 1998)

    For that dash represents all the time
    That she spent alive on earth...
    And now only those who loved her,
    Know what that little line is worth.

    For it matters not, how much we own;
    The cars...the house ..the cash,
    What matters is how we live and love
    And how we spend our dash.

    So think about this long and hard...
    Are there things you'd like to change?
    For you never know how much time is left,
    That can still be rearranged.

    If we could just slow down enough
    To consider what's true and real,
    And always try to understand
    The way other people feel.

    And be less quick to anger,
    And show appreciation more
    And love the people in our lives
    Like we've never loved before.

    If we treat each other with respect,
    And more often wear a smile..
    Remembering that this special dash
    Might only last a little while.

    So, when your eulogy's being read
    With your life's actions to rehash...
    Would you be proud of the things they say
    About how you spent your dash?


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