Life Requires Grounding in the Supernatural

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We only live once in this world. As rational beings, we are creators of meaning. What makes our life meaningful would depend on our ultimate goal we set for our self. This ultimate goal we envision for our life is what basically guides us in our daily living. Its achievement can ultimately make us happy. The quality of our happiness would depend on our ultimate goal in life.

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If our ultimate purpose is to seek wealth, then our happiness would consist of gaining profit in our investments, increasing savings, achieving dominance in the market, creating new breakthroughs in business innovation, etc.

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If our ultimate purpose is to chase pleasure in food, sex, alcohol, or other forms of addition, then our happiness will be enjoying and prolonging pleasure in our bodily senses.

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If our basic aim is to love for God by serving others, then happiness would be spiritual consolation and the joy of serving God’s poor and underprivileged. If our aim is to change society for the better by fighting oppressive social structures and regimes, then our ultimate happiness can consist of personal joy upon seeing that some of our reform efforts are realized in society. In short, the ultimate purpose we set for our life can determine the quality of our happiness in daily living.

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Almost all philosophers agree that to live a meaningful life requires grounding on something supernatural that transcends the self. It requires a deeper reflection and question on where we came from and where we’re going to in our life. Finding the ultimate meaning and purpose of our life is crucial in order to provide focus and happiness in our daily living. Drifting in life without a philosophy or sense of purpose that guides us in daily living is tragic. Without an ultimate goal and a sense of meaning of what we do everyday in life could not provide us with a true and lasting joy and happiness.

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We know that material happiness is fleeting and temporary. A person who love cars, for instance, would be happy to acquire a new one. But after a few days the feeling of excitement and pleasure of having a new car would surely evaporate that lead to another craving or desire for another fantastic car that he or she can boast of to friends and society.

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Or if one’s happiness is based on pleasure such as food, sex, drugs, or pornography, the material joy is indeed fleeting and endless. He or she may end up spending his/her entire life chasing the insatiable want of the human senses. This is hedonism and materialism: “Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we will die!” Surely life is more than what we eat and consume! Thus, we need to search for higher spiritual values in life than mere pleasure seeking and material satisfaction.

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The need for grounding one’s life in something supernatural is supported by some research studies of social sciences and sociology on resilience. People who are religious with strong spirituality are more resilient or able to “bounce back” during disasters and tragedies in life than non-religious.

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They are also more able to withstand the vicissitudes of life and able to face serious problems with peace and humility since they have strong faith in a Supreme being and know that their ultimate destination is beyond the earthly life.

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Enjoy the little things in your life and be contented. Christ loves you!

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Don’t Worry while Waiting Your Turn in Life  

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The song of Diana Ross entitled “It’s My Turn” reminds us that we just have to wait for our turn to achieve what we want in life. Society has opportunity structure for us. We just have to wait for our turn. When it comes, we can be proud to say:

“…It’s my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you’ll understand
This time’s just for me

Because it’s my turn
With no apologies
I’ve given up the truth
To those I’ve tried to please

But now it’s my turn
If I don’t have all the answers
At least I know I’ll take my share of chances
Ain’t no use of holding on
When nothing stays the same….”

Yes, life is always in a state of flux! It can sometimes become cruel to us. It has its ups and downs. We have to wait for our turn to allow life to bring us up when we’re down. It rarely provides an opportunity for things we immediately want to address our problems. After a painful break-up, for instance, with a romantic partner, we immediately wish to find someone who is much better and loving than the person who causes us pain to stop the hurt inside our hearts. Or after being bullied by a person or group when we’re young in school, we wish to find power and support to depend  ourselves and assert our right! Or after a devastating defeat in a major contest or competition when we’re humiliated in front of a lonely crowd, we immediately want that the event could have been reversed and we be declared a sure winner!

Just Wait, Society has Opportunity Structure!

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But life does not work the way we want it to be. It has its own opportunity structure conditioned by social forces of society we’re living in. We just have to wait for our turn to be raised in the platform of success and public admiration! Jack Ma, one of the richest men in China and the founder of the Alibaba Group, was rejected many times by Harvard Business School for his applications. He encountered a series of failures in building his business empire but remained persistent and waited for his turn to achieve success! I also know a fine lady who underwent a series of frustrations with her former boyfriends and eventually married a decent and religious man. They are now living happily as a couple in the United States. Steve Jobs was also struggling before his innovative ideas became a reality. But it took years of patience and perseverance before his vision of Apple became a success!

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Waiting for society to give us the right opportunity does not mean being passive. While waiting, we have to do our part to prepare for the upcoming “break” society can offer us to succeed. Since society has its own opportunity structure, we have to prepare ourselves for the right “turn” society would offer us. If one is experiencing a failed relationship, he or she must do something to forget the past and move on to find the right partner in life! S/he must place himself/herself in situations which can allow him/her to interact with people who can offer him/her the right love and affection. So also with people who experience failures in business. They have to find ways and prepare for the next opportunity to come!

Waiting One’s Turn and Humility

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Waiting for our turn for opportunity to favor us and accept that there are things in life that we cannot immediately change requires a virtue called humility. People who encounter a series of problems  indicates a lack of humility. Recklessness is sometimes a fruit of pride and lack of humility and acceptance that we are just a cog in a big machine called society. Humility and right timing is the key in solving one’s problem and attaining success! And when society’s opportunity structure opens up again and offer us the road to success and happiness, we can bravely say:

“…It’s my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you’ll understand
This time’s just for me

Because it’s my turn
With no apologies
I’ve given up the truth
To those I’ve tried to please…”

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Christ says: “Do Not Worry, You are More than What You Eat”

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25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your lifea]”>[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6: 25-34).

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Anthony Bourdain’s Suicide and the Limits of Popularity

The tragic death and suicide of the Anthony Bourdain this week is an eye-opener for some of us who want fame, wealth, and popularity at all costs.

Anthony Bourdain is an American celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian, and CNN television personality who starred in programs focusing on the exploration of international culture, cuisine, and human condition. He was considered one of the most influential chefs in the world by many commentators. He first became known for his 2000 bestselling book “Kitchen Confidential: Adventurers in the Culinary Underbelly”.

To many people,  Bourdain had enjoyed all the fame and material rewards due to top celebrities idolized by millions of admirers. But only few people, most probably only his closest friends and relatives, knew what he had actually gone through in his private life. Since celebrities appear happy in front of TV cameras and usually secretive about their personal life, we assume that their being rich and famous is the ideal goal in life.

But things are not what they seem. What appears from the outside may not be from the inside.

The irony of public life is that the more people become popular to the public because of their extraordinary talents and abilities, the more they lose their freedom and ability to mingle around with the poor, ordinary people, and their fans without fear of being hurt and lowering their social stature. Many people aspire to be like Anthony Bourdain, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, and all other top celebrities because they are praised by millions of fans around the world. But they may not be fully aware that to be rich and popular implies moving more to your own private life and inner sanctuary to find peace and consolation with your loved ones and away from the noise of screaming fans. It also requires nurturing a strong social bonding with their inner circle of friends which can reduce the risk of committing suicide.

People’s lives have two dimensions: The public and the private.

In the public sphere we project ourselves based on what our bosses, managers, or producers and directors, in the case of show business, who will tell us what to do in our jobs. The public arena is the stage of our public performance but the private sphere is our backstage where we return to our true selves and meet our own family and inner circle of friends, and relatives.

Life can be ironic. Anthony Bourdain and the rest of the celebrities may had appear happy with their fans and people who surrounded them, but in reality all that transpired could be just for the show dictated by directors, scriptwriters and producers. If Bruno Mars, for instance, could appear very happy singing in front of his adoring fans during his concert. But after that? He could return lonely to his hotel if he has no intimate and loyal friends and relatives who would support him outside his public performance. Robin Williams, another famous actor who committed suicide, could be indeed very funny and appear joyful to his fans in the movie or TV screens, but deep indeed as a private person he was lonely and hurting inside and longing for genuine love from people who surrounded him. But this seemed not his case when Williams once said:

Anthony Bourdain’s life was not easy. Although he was successful in his career part of life, he was a lonely man in private life. Before he became famous, he struggled against his drug addiction and alcoholism. He was a chef in a huge mega city of New York where social alienation is high. He was not also successful in his married life, being divorced twice. Research shows that men tend to suffer emotionally more than women after breakups or divorce. He probably hurting privately with all his past marital separations. Bourdain only has one child. If he has many children who are very supportive to him despite these divorces, he would not probably commit suicide.

Celebrities are actually lonely in front of “lonely crowd” during their public performances.  Loneliness would even be greater if celebrities do not have their own supportive inner circle of family members, close relatives, and friends who could console them in times of personal crisis and trouble. The social integration theory of Emile Durkheim states the level of social integration of people with their social groups is connected with the risk of suicide. The more people are attached with their social groups, such as family, peer, kin, or organization, the lesser is their risk of committing suicide. Communal support  can prevent depression and egoistic suicide.

Celebrities can be prone to depression and suicide if they have a weak social bonding with their social groups. Some rich and famous are able to manage stress and pressure in their public life as celebrities because they are able to maintain their strong bonding with their families and friends who provide a strong support system to their work and career.

Bourdain’s death can provide us an important lesson: Life is not all about popularity and material success! Life is being and not having. Whatever blessings we receive in life must not hinder us from searching and pursuing a spirituality and finding the true meaning of life beyond material happiness. Bourdain became very busy after he became a celebrity that he found less time to enjoy life with his loved ones. In one of his interviews, he longed to be just a father to his daughter, to enjoy the moment of being just a dad, not a celebrity! Spiritual joy is therefore more lasting than material happiness! What makes smile in our journey to the next life is not our material success and popularity, but the joy and happy memories we have created with our loved ones and with people we care about.

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