BY DR. VAL GONZALES
Here is a suggestion for consideration on how to gain a balanced perspective on life, one that brings inner contentment. Without integrating these insights, life will be frustratingly like a rocking chair that keeps one moving but leading nowhere.
1. Happiness comes from within
It does not depend upon what happens outside. If you cannot be happy with who you are inside, no amount of external items can give you inner joy. Here is the news: The promises of advertised products by the media are just that – promises. They are undeliverable.
2. How things happened cannot be changed
Many people spend inordinate amount of time wishing things should have happened differently in the past. “If Only” is the title of their daily song. This is waste of precious energy. The wish to make things happen differently will not be granted. Things happened the way they did. The fact needs to be accepted for one to move on.
3. Love for others stems from love of self
Altruism is like a piece of cake – you cannot share with someone what you do not have. This love is not romantic. It is a result of a hard look at self with all strengths and weaknesses and celebrating the whole package.
4. To seek help is not a weakness
If people decide to seek help when problems are just developing they would have prevented themselves and those who are close to them from needless suffering. It takes an enormous amount of courage to ask for help. And it takes strength to summon that courage.
5. Mistakes are unavoidable
To err is humanity’s indelible mark. It is not a question of “Will I make mistake?” It is a question of “How do I learn from mistakes I will be making?” The idea of potentially making mistakes frees one from the enticing lure of perfectionism and the need to do it right all the time, everywhere.
6. Maintain the balance between solitude and community
Both are needed in life. To be alone all the time can foster acute loneliness. To be in community all the time may result in burn-out. We need to be part of a greater whole but we also need to isolate our slice from the bigger pie. The former promotes validation while the latter could lead to quietness and inner peace.
7. Release that which is beyond control
It will be a happy day when someone learns to release that which is beyond his power to amend. What do you do with the traffic, weather, what others say or think, your family of origin, your personal appearance, or past experiences could determine to a large degree your journey to the land called “bliss.”
8. Welcome the opportunity to share
Life is not just about the “me.” Those who have learned the value of sacrifice can teach us a lesson or two about life’s meaning. The intent of experiencing prosperity is not to make one better off than others. It is to provide a golden opportunity to share to meet the needs of others. Failure to participate in this endeavour could stand as a major block to real satisfaction.
9. Advocate for truth with courage
There is an urgent need for this advocacy in society today. Lies and deceit seem to abound. Many will take the route of falsehood just to reach personal goals. In the end, falsehood breeds pretence which breeds hypocrisy. A noble young person would not like to model his life from that of a hypocrite! And a house will not stand whose foundation is a pretence.
10. Learn to learn from unpleasant events
This often calls for rigour in thinking. The difference between a contended individual from one who wallows in discontent is not the number of painful events for all are exposed to both pleasant sunshine and stormy rain. It is what these two groups think about these events. The former looks at them as cup half- full while the latter as cup half-empty.
11. Life is both body and spirit
It is well-documented that failure to take care of the body through nutrition and physical exercise results to either disease of excess or of inadequacies. Failure to care for the spirit is responsible for the spiritual hunger and thirst which is at the very core of the manic pursuit of its twofold substitute: materialism and addiction. The nurture must not be done to one without the other. Nurture of the body alone will yield good appearance but shallow. Nurture of spirit alone results in religious rigidity that lacks attractiveness to observers.
12. Learn to forbear and forgive
Forbearance is the ability to tolerate someone’s flaw. One is not surprised when somebody demonstrates a weakness. Therefore, he or she can take an offensive attitude or behaviour without getting easily offended.
Forgiveness is to release the offence and declare one does not wish to hurt anymore. Forgiveness makes restoration possible. Greater growth in relational harmony is fostered when both forbearance and forgiveness are demonstrated.
About Dr. Val Gonzales
Val Gonzales (PhD, LCDC, LPC) served as Senior Minister of Dallas Metroplex International Church in Dallas, Texas and does adjunct teaching at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas.
Originally trained in pastoral counseling, his work experience includes hospital-based program coordinator in psychiatry clinical research, program therapist with emphasis on individual/group counseling and family education, and triage manager for managed care. He has been active in higher education for more than 23 years.
Dr. Gonzales is an active member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors and the American Counseling Association. He is married to Chelly Molinos Gonzales and they have 2 children: Philippe Eirenaues and Tina Rachel.