19 February 2011

Lowering your standards is the key to happiness

Research has shown that the Filipino people are one of the happiest (if not the happiest) people on earth. Where else would you see people smiling and waving at the television camera while their houses are burned down to ashes, or while they're sitting drenched in rain because the flood waters have reached the level of their roofs? I think this is so because Filipinos always tend to see the good in the bad. It's a shame that things don't come easy in life.

Just a week ago, I was having a one-on-one beer drinking session with my boyfriend. While we were playing with our newly bought "babies", a street child approached us asking for money. She was eleven years old, but she looked a little too young for her age. But although she was short and thin, she had slippers on her feet (which has now become a privilege for street children) and she attended school somewhere in Malate. Going to school in La Salle, I'm used to seeing the less fortunate begging for money, and I wouldn't give a peso on a regular day. What attracted me to this kid was the way she asked for money: "Ate, pahingi naman po ng barya, pleeeeaaaaase!" It was a rarity that kids like her would have been taught to use the word "please" when asking for something. I gave her a five peso coin, on the promise she wouldn't use the money for anything other than food.

These kids have nothing -- they don't have food to eat on a regular basis, some kids don't even have clothing, and some would be seen sleeping on the streets or the LRT staircase. More importantly and most heartbreaking, they don't have a future. But somehow, they manage to smile -- about what, only they would know.

I pray all the time these days -- I say my grace before meals and give thanks before I go to sleep. But tonight, I prayed like I haven't prayed in a long time. It might sound weird to some, but to be honest, it was very fulfilling -- like I've forgotten how it feels. I thanked the Lord for all the material things I love using, the things that make me feel like I'm rich and possess high social status. I thanked Him for the life he has given to me, but most importantly, I thanked him for the people around me. My little brother, who has given me utmost joy since the day he was born. My stepdad, who treated me like I was one of his own. My mom, who (even though we're not on good terms) I'm thankful for because she shaped me to be the person I am today. My best friend, Grai, who I can talk to about anything and everything without the fear of being judged. My boyfriend, Lorenze, who always makes me laugh and who has always been supportive of my every move. And lastly, my papa, who has taken me in with no questions asked, who's given me love and affection, who taught me the importance of trust, who taught me to be independent and responsible and to take matters into my own hands.

All my life, I've wanted a Mac. I have it now and I use it everyday. I wanted an iPhone, I got it. I can say that I'm well-traveled at a young age. But you see, these are the things that make life superficial. These things can only distract, but can never ever fulfill the emotional needs of people. That's why I still truly believe that the best things in life aren't free and that money can't buy happiness. 

Before I started writing down this entry, I had a main point. But as I wrote down everything that came to my mind, I lost track and now I can't remember. I could still go on and on about everything and I might not even get my point across. So I'll just leave you with this:

Happiness depends upon ourselves. 
I've written this quote on my mirror to remind myself every day that my happiness lies in my own hands -- that life is what I make it. That there is no such thing as destiny or fate; rather, there are paths and choices. That life is a never ending road; there's no such thing as dead ends.


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