Sunday, September 20, 2015

Being Content vs. Striving to Improve - Why We Need Both

Most people want to live as happily as they can. They want to get the most out of life because they realize that our time is finite and short. And because of that, we better do what’s right.

But there are certain ideas that can confound us as we search for happiness. One of which is the concept of contentment versus improvement.

There is an often-stated maxim that says to be happy is to be content. And I would bet that you’ve heard this mentioned more than a few times before. Maybe it was told to someone who’s trying to do too much but still can’t find satisfaction. Or to overachievers who can’t seem to get enough of what they want in life and therefore always need to have just a little bit more.

On the other hand, there is also a totally contrarian view that can be found in the heap of self-help books available today. This philosophy is based on the premise of self-improvement. People are being goaded to continually strive for betterment. To not be satisfied with what they’ve got but to aspire and work for something better.

From the looks of it, contentment and improvement are two diametrically opposed ideas. But are they really? Which one should we really be giving serious thought to? Is one better than the other?

To be sure, both of these ideas deserve merit. We do need to be content and almost certainly have to strive for improvement as well if we want to be happy.

Experience With Contentment

In my long struggle to wean myself of materialism, I have come to a realization that I can be content with what I have. Mainly, I argue that I shouldn’t make the acquisition of stuff the source of my happiness. There are countless studies showing that a new toy or gadget or whatever material things bring temporary happiness for an average of three months only.

Although, getting good quality products is also important as long as those products fulfill a need. Buying the best home or the best quality car I can afford is prudent in my book. These are things that I need. I don’t buy them out of envy or vanity.

But to be driven to accumulate just for the great feeling it gives temporarily is a sign of misplaced discontent. And the never-ending quest to have more money and acquire more stuff would not address the underlying problem of unfulfillment.

It shouldn’t be the driving force of your determination to succeed. It may be a manifestation of accomplishment for some people who engage in business, but it ought not to be the cause of your life. It shouldn’t be the sole purpose of why you do what you do.

Rooms For Improvement

On the other hand, I continue to strive to be a better father, lover, son, brother, friend and fellow human being. I think that there is no shortage of areas to improve on when relationships are involved. And because we are social creatures, our happiness depends on the quality of our relationships.

I tend to be a quiet person but I try to talk more often because that’s how relationships are started and strengthened. I don’t really like going to parties and celebrations with a lot of people but I make the effort to show I care. I spend too much time at work but I also try to make time for my family and strive to give them priority.

These are some of the areas that I have to improve on. These are areas where I believe I can do something. Where I choose to do something. I am not content with just accepting who I am all the time. I needed to go out of my comfort zone to get better. It’s not easy and I’d rather not do it, but I still choose to do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why We Should Focus on Our Strengths (Not Our Weaknesses) to Contribute

All my life I’ve been trying to change myself by focusing on my weakness. I have been constantly concerning myself with ways to improve my flaws for I believed it would help me achieve more.

For instance, I was pushing myself to learn sales. I’ve read several books on it and even did a part-time sales job. I knew I wasn’t good at Sales.

Photo Credit: KayVee.INC (Creative Commons)
I thought that it was a roadblock that has kept me from being more successful. I was of the impression that Sales is the one area where I needed to excel to develop myself fully. I thought it would improve my communication skills and my people skills.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Introverts In Action - Perception is Different from Reality

When I was young, I remember people telling me that I should learn to speak up more often. I was just too quiet for a lot of them. Sure I got the occasional praise for being well-behaved. But mostly, I got admonitions to fix myself. My teachers would tell me to participate more. They like students who were loud and active. They have little appreciation for those quiet-type such as I was. I guess they figured the reason I was not speaking out is because I had nothing to contribute, which was not a good sign.
Abraham Lincoln was a successful introvert
So I can understand what my daughter must be feeling when people tell her the same thing. She tends to be shy around other people she doesn't know. She is quiet and well-behaved in school to the point of seeming passive. Her teachers are concerned a little bit about it so they involve us, her parents, to encourage her to be more active. But sometimes I feel as if this was the exact same thing that happened to me.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Deal with a Detached Passport Cover in the Philippines

I recently had the misfortune of having to deal with a detached passport cover. I thought it was no problem and didn't think I had to have it fixed. In fact, when I saw that the cover was detached, my first impulse was to fix it myself by stapling it back to place.
Detached Passport Cover
It was a stupid idea and I was glad I didn't have any stapler available when I had that urge to do it. It would have rendered my passport unusable right there and then.

The last page of the passport actually states that any unauthorized alteration, addition, etc. are strictly prohibited and would render the passport invalid. It was part of the "Important Reminders" that I never bothered to read.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Electric Vehicles Running on Philippine Roads Today

We all know electric is the future of transportation. It’s non-polluting and it’s a heck of a lot more efficient than the combustion engines we find in vehicles today. Both of these advantages means going electric is good for the environment, people’s health and energy independence.
Photo Credit: Roberto Verzo (Creative Commons)
The only challenge in moving to electric is the initial cost. It’s more expensive to build electric vehicles than it is to make gasoline cars. That’s because rechargeable batteries are expensive.

But that does not mean we should stop the adoption of electric vehicles on our streets. Because that’s the only way we’ll see progress with it. We need to try it out to make ourselves ready for it.