0302 – Do you love your life?

So I’ve been battling gastroenteritis (a.k.a traveler’s diarrhea) the whole week. It was is pretty bad. Vomits and stuff. But you probably didn’t wanna know that. I just put this in here because my friend told me not to write about my sickness. Heh.

Now… In all seriousness, this is an issue very dear to my heart. Self-love.

Once in a while, you read about lives of fellow beings that make you think hard about your own. Once in a longer while, you actually meet a compelling life force in person who makes you stop and really introspect. That life force can be similar to yours, but often it is vastly different, and unfamiliar. So unfamiliar that you can hardly imagine what would be of you if you’d lived the same way. And I mean that in the most neutral way possible–to me there is no such thing as good life or bad life; it’s just life as it unfolded at that moment.

You get to meet a handful of life forces like these over the course of your life, and I believe every encounter has a reason behind it. This life force that I’ve just met, who’s become a good friend of mine now, he’s quite a character–a free spirit who lets life take him to places, to try new things–sometimes strange, sometimes scary, sometimes wild, sometimes plain absurd. Quite unfamiliar to my own life indeed. Anyhow, the freedom to roam has given him a wealth of experiences and memories that only add to the vibrancy of the life force. He still has dreams, and he has his down moments, but in general–and I quote–he “loves [his] life so much it’s ridiculous.”

That’s what made me pause.

Do you love your life?

It’s not often that you meet someone who’s fully experiencing the joy of life. So whenever I meet one, I rejoice. And smile. It’s a marvelous gift–to love your life. A rarity. A gem. It doesn’t come easy to me at all.

I rarely give myself enough credit. It sucks, but it’s not something I can change overnight. I am one of those who dream of changing the world. Sometimes I dream about becoming famous. Sometimes I dream about being rich. Sometimes I dream about living in my world.

Alas, I wake up. Every time.

But dreams need not be all about the future. Because dreams can sometimes be enabled in the present. One can dream of freedom. One can dream of happiness. One can dream of love. One can dream of these things and grant them to oneself. Because we all do deserve our own love and affection. Life is not always easy. We know our potential and where we can go, but we miss out on all the beauty along the journey if we only just go. In a way, I feel ironic saying this since I haven’t fully convinced myself of this yet, but I believe many of us share the same sentiment.

 

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”-Rumi

 

May we all be wise.

 

For love of the self, and love of the world.

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0282 – We are so so poor these days

<EDIT 04/07/2012: Added link to the source of the graph on the right, which I forgot to put in earlier. My apologies.>

When we talk about a nation’s progress, we often talk about the GDP. A steady increase in GDP, consistent with the infinite growth paradigm, the notion that a country’s wealth and GDP can increase forever. A high GDP per capita means that a country is rich, and a lower GDP means the country is relatively poor.

This is a false paradigm.

Many of us are so so poor these days. Continue reading

0279 – President Clinton: Set Yourself Free

I’m at the Clinton Global Initiative University meeting in Washington DC this weekend. It’s been a great experience talking about social change and sustainability in the presence of Bill Clinton, Usher, Madeleine Albright, Usher, and 1000+ enthusiastic, dedicated students with strong moral compass. Talk about star power! Apart from the stars though, the passion in the room is palpable. It’s one of those gatherings where you get to hear about way cool projects and the myriad of ideas that others have for a better world. Another inspiring weekend. We need to make something like this an official part of the curriculum.

Anyway, I want to highlight one thing that President Clinton said yesterday about freedom. People do things for many different reasons. Some lost their way and ended up in prison or even death. A question was asked about what can people do to overcome the obstacles in life when all else seems lost. President Clinton said that everyone of us need something to set ourselves free. He shared the story about Nelson Mandela, who was released from prison in a historic event in 1990. It was an emotional moment captured on video.

Nelson Mandela preaches acceptance and forgiveness for all, and he even asked the people who captured him to become part of his staff when he was elected president. President Clinton said that this was a really wise political move that kept the country stable, but he also asked Nelson Mandela this: “When you got released, you must really hate those guys.” Mandela responded with something like this:

“I was. I was filled with hatred and also fear; I haven’t been free for a long time. But I realized that if I continued to be angry, it’s like I’m still in prison.

Wow.

Many of us are imprisoned without knowing it. Whether it is the GPA, the resume, the salary, the physical appearance or something else, it is time to set ourselves free. Let it be. Let life flourish. Let yourself find true joy.

0278 – The role of TED talks in shaping our future

If you haven’t heard of TED before, where have you been?!

March 29th 2012 marked the 3rd time the TEDxUofM conference was held. Again, I was inspired by the stories that the speakers have to share. From sustainability to education to films to meditation, these talks were delivered by incredible people with passion, dedication and strength of character. It always makes me evaluate what I’ve done in my life and where I’d like to see my self in the future. In a way it kinda humbles me when I hear about the things that these people have done – I just wish I’m that awesome. With that said, TED speakers have my fullest respect and praise, for being able to get to that stage requires unparalleled commitment and perseverance.

What one can do with the TED talk is a somewhat different story. TED’s mission is simple: spreading ideas. This basic concept has become a whole lot more than that to me. To me it signifies the limitless possibilities that each individual have access to. It signifies the range of people, both like-minded and differing in opinions, that is working towards positive change for our society. It showcases the movements that prove that individuals can in fact make a difference, even when faced with the most daunting of circumstances.

I dream of being on the TED stage one day. I dream of having an idea that is worth spreading. I dream of the day where I can realize that the work that I have done on this planet means something to someone. I have hope that this day will come. And I hope the same for you.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a talk that I just watched by Leymah Gbowee. Leymah received the 2011 Nobel Peace Price for her work on empowering women in Liberia to end the civil war and dictatorship in her country. Enjoy!