Week 53 – Giving is better than receiving

Today I received many special gifts from some students who are staying at my home. They came from China, so the gifts are special because it represents the Chinese culture. I was very happy to receive so many gifts that I even thought at the time that I did not deserve much. It is very nice to receive gifts when we do not expect, because it gives us a taste of recognition and gratitude.

I know it is very good to receive something, especially when we are not expecting anything, but it is more important to give than to receive. Often we give and expect to get something back; in this case, we are not giving, we are doing an exchange instead. Paul mentioned in Acts 20:35 that Jesus used to say: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I know we live in a world where people are not taking time to think of others because they are too busy with themselves. We need to reflect on the things we can give. I was talking to my friend this weekend about children, about the most import things that they need to receive from their parents nowadays, we both agreed that what they need is time and attention! Your financial conditions do not limit you to give something to someone because you can give your time, something that you no longer use and so on. What can you give today? Stop for a moment and think, we have much more to offer than we imagine. God bless you.

Week 52 – What can you do in a year?

I am very happy today. This is my week 52, completing one year of writing this blog, and sharing my thoughts about life in general. I am blessed to have this opportunity where I have a space to share a little bit about what I’ve been learning in life. As I always say to everyone, the best university in the world is life and the highest certificate you can get is your experience.

I don’t know about you, but for me a year passed just like a week. I really don’t know where the year went. Many things happened around the world, many things happened around me. Writing through this whole year helped me to observe my thoughts more, because I do think a lot. It also helped me to express these thoughts through words. I wrote my blogs in different places in the world, in different situations. Sometimes I really wanted to write but sometimes I wrote just for the sake of writing. And some things I wrote and decided to leave on the side for a while and I still haven’t published yet. Surely I will publish them!

It is very funny how our minds work and how unexpected circumstances can really change the way we are feeling and thinking. We can do so much in a year. So many things and people can pass through our lives. God can use our lives considerably in one year. These things all depend on how we are acting from day to day. What have you done in a year? I invite you to have a moment of reflection and see how much God gave you. Think about everything, the good things and bad things. I hope that you can be grateful for all you’ve experienced in the last year. God bless you all and let’s keep having good thoughts!

Week 51 – How are you?

It is the predictable question everyone asks us when they see us. One thing that I did not understand when I first moved to London, 12 years ago, was the answer that English people used to give to this question: “not too bad!” I could not get this answer, because to me this used to sound and still sounds negative. It is the same, in my opinion, as saying “it could be better.” We can give all sort of answers to this question, it all depends on how we are facing our day. However, the majority of us choose to answer in the simplest way: “I am ok thanks.”

Sometimes we are not ok, but it seems that we need to show and shout to the world the opposite of what we feel. Why is that? Because we’re living in a world in which people prefer to live in their day-dream rather than face their reality. Some people prefer to enter into debts in order to drive a new car. Lots of people pretend that their family is the perfect one, but between themselves their lives are like a hell. The majority of us do not want to face the truth. To understand who and how we really are. Next time, when someone asks you the magic question: “how are you,” do not rush to give an answer. If you are not ok, try to understand why you are not ok. It is ok not to be ok! If you don’t want to discuss it with this person, don’t worry about it, but try later on to speak to someone else that you trust about your feelings. Or even better, speak to God. Spend a few minutes in silence with him, because He really cares how you are.

Week 50 – Observe what you are doing

We live our lives in a hurry these days. We cannot stop; otherwise we might miss out on something. You have to be on top of everything that is happening, not what is only around you, but what is happening in the world. In fashion, in football, in politics, in business, gossip, technology and so on. Our eyes are everywhere, looking for something that pleases us. And with all this information and the speed at which we are living, we may be leaving out important things from our lives.

Do you observe what you do in your day? From getting up in the morning to the time you go to bed in the evening? Do you observe your behaviour with people around you, especially those you love, or you think you love? Do you observe the way you treat your children? You’re giving them love and attention- or are you just treating them like any other possession, manipulating them the way you want?! Do you notice the way your behaviour speaks to your employees or bosses? Are you giving them real value?

Have you ever observed whether you’re only hearing those around you, or if you are really listening to them? The beginning of any change begins with the recognition of the need for change, it’s very simple. Take a moment and observe what you are doing with yourself and with the people by your side. If something needs to be changed, do it as soon as possible. Learn to recognise your faults and qualities through daily observation.

Week 49 – Take a deep breath

We all go through difficult times in life. Moments of change, moments of anger, loss,  pain, or concern, which we think will never pass. This week I witnessed a tense moment in the life of many British citizens. Here in the UK, we held a referendum to decide if people wanted to stay in the European Community or to leave. Much speculation generated much uncertainty, ever since our Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced the date of the referendum. For months we had fluctuations in the British currency, the Sterling, we had many investors campaigning to stay, and others to leave. We had politicians from various parties joining these sides to strengthen their ideas.

The long-awaited day has come, and to the sorrow of many and the joy of others, the vote was closed with a greater number of people opting out of the European Community. It was a shock to many people, because we know how humans usually react when facing changes. My point is this; the people who voted to continue in the European Community, unfortunately have to accept the wish of the majority, which is to leave. This makes us understand that we cannot control what is out of our control. It seems obvious, right? Yes, but we often want to control what we cannot, and with this comes frustration and stress.

I know it is not easy when we are going through times of suffering and uncertainty, to control emotions such as the worry that we feel. Questions begin to sprout in your mind, like: Will we be all right? Will we endure all this? Is our case resolvable? We may face times like this in two ways: We can be pessimistic, believing that our problem will never be solved. Or we can accept our present situation, believing that God is in control, and live out what Paul says in Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” So take a moment and take a deep breath, take another deep breath, and ask God to calm your heart, whatever you are going through. The calm can come in through those deep breaths and by recognising the power of our creator.

Week 48 – Motivation

Have you heard it said that: “motivation is what makes us get out of bed every day”? I believe that this is true; however we can have the wrong motivations. We can get up every day with different motivations: for example, if we are having an exam at school, we can get up in the morning very anxious, worrying about our performance, while at the same time the motivation to pass this exam is what puts together all the emotions and actions under our control. We can get up thinking about our job that we don’t enjoy like we used to. In this case our motivation can either be focussed on finding a new job, or even starting our own business, or we can accept the fact that this job is not really what we want, but we have lots of opportunities by being part of it (also the financial side helps).

We can have a wrong motivation by simply getting up every day and having a lot to do. In our minds we are super busy, and we need to do as much as possible. Our motivation is to see all the items on the list ticked off by the end of the day. This can be a wrong motivation, because it puts you under pressure by being busy all the time, while in reality you might not be being really productive. We need to have a time to reflect and discover what motivates us. We can live our lives fully if we understand what is behind our desires and dreams. What motivates you every day?  Family? Work? Friends? Love? We can often feel demotivated, but we need to remember that our great motivation is God. He is the main reason for our existence; he knows what goes on in our hearts and minds. Be motivated by God and you will see everything around you being transformed by his power. “Being motivated by God inspires me to be more like him” (Lia Prado)

Week 47 – Dealing with the root of the problem

Surely you’ve had a headache, or pain in any part of your body. Many people prefer to bear the pain and avoid drugs. Other people try taking drugs to relieve their pain. Sometimes the pain goes away, but unfortunately comes back because the symptom of the pain was treated, but the real problem remains rooted in them. Some problems are notorious and obvious, for example dehydration, where you may have severe headaches for not taking in the correct amount of water for your body. Or with your stomach, if you eat something that did not go down well, a pain can come as a sign of disapproval. However, there are other problems that are more difficult to diagnose, and for these advanced tests need to be done to find the root of the problem.

In our emotional lives there are also problems that can cause pain. These pains need to be cared for, but not only as symptoms. We need to find the root of the problem so that we can deal with it, and thus end the pain that torments us. This pain can be caused by hurt and resentment towards a person, and in this case you need to release forgiveness for your pain to disappear. Nelson Mandela said: “Having resentment against someone is like drinking poison and thinking it will kill your enemy.” All that we sow we will harvest also. Everything we create within ourselves will stay with us.

Sometimes we can have the pain of envy, wanting to be better than others, or to have more than others. In this case, we must learn to appreciate what we have and what we are. Sometimes we can have the pain of pride, and in this case we need to learn that alone we will often not get to where we want, and need to understand that sometimes we need to extend our hands and accept the help of people next to us. We have to understand that all our knowledge, certificates and positions do not make us better people, but rather prepare us to live in harmony with everyone and everything around us. I do not know what your pain is, but I can say from my heart and experience, do not just treat the symptoms! Go to the root of your pain and take it away, so that it does not destroy your mind and your heart.