Fail to Succeed

Having just read the New York Times article “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” I can’t help but nod in agreement.  Yes, to have an education, finish school, graduate from highschool or even a college degree does not ensure you will have a successful life.  A degree does not guarantee that you won’t jump off the balcony because of a broken heartache, nor does it guarantee you will know how to handle the stresses of life and stop yourself from falling victim to a nervous breakdown.  Traditional schooling paid attention to grades, to achievement tests, to placement exams and all the while, they forgot about focusing on the student’s character.  How do they handle stress? How do they interact? Are they a good person?  Do they think of other people?
The article mentions how those who succeeded in college were not always necessarily the ones who scored the highest in class and got the best grades.  They were the ones who knew how to get up after they failed.  They were the ones who knew how to handle a failure, a bad grade, and move on.  They sought for help and worked hard with a determination to succeed.  They were the ones who graduated from college despite coming from a background where college degrees were not the norm.

I think the same applies to everyday life.

Once out of school, out of the safe confines of classrooms and professors, being out in the world can be a pretty daunting task.  Whether you succeed or not depends a lot on your character.  How resourceful are you? Do you know how to ask for help? Do you know how to treat other people?  Are you aware of other peoples’ feelings?  Most importantly, do you know how to get up after you’ve failed?

If you never fail, if you are never allowed to fail, then you would never know how to pick up yourself after having failed.   That’s why you hear stories of girls committing suicide because of heartache and students who kill themselves because of a bad grade.  They didn’t know how to handle failure. They were never allowed to fail.  They thought failure meant the end of the world.  They grew up protected from failure.

It’s important to know that it is OKAY TO FAIL.   That I think is an important lesson everyone should know.  It’s okay to fail. Failing doesn’t make you a bad person.  We are humans. No one is perfect.

Failure in itself is a learning experience.  What’s more important is to ask yourself, what did you learn from that failure? What went wrong?  Once you realize this, you can move on so that you won’t repeat the same mistake again.

That’s a trait for success.  That’s what makes the difference.  Because you have failed, you know its pitfalls and you know how to avoid them.  Therefore fail to succeed.  Success cannot be gained without first failing.

Here’s to learning!

The Sweeper

On the street where I live, the streets are always clean.   Every morning an old  man, who lives in a little unimposing house in a corner, gets up and sweeps the streets.  I call him “The Sweeper.” He’s not paid to sweep the streets.  He is an inhabitant of the street, yet every morning he sweeps the street for everyone.  He gently moves down rows and rows of houses with broom in hand sweeping away trash, leaves and whatever else is left on the street.   He asks not for recognition, he asks not for notice, he asks not for money.  He sweeps the streets because he wants to.  He sweeps the streets because he has a good heart.

It’s not easy to find a man like him in this modern day where no one wants to do anything for free.  Everything now must be bought, be exchanged, be in response to another good action.  It reminds me of what Thomas Hobbes wrote in the Leviathan about man being innately selfish.  The Sweeper, however, sweeps because he wants to. He is not selfish.

I have not talked to him, but early mornings around 6am when I am rushing out to run, I’d see him already sweeping.  From the looks of his age, he must be many years past retirement.  Perhaps a decade or more.  I assume he started sweeping to keep himself busy, as a form of exercise, but I could be mistaken.  One day, I shall have to park the car and have a chat with him.

I wonder what pushed him to start sweeping. I wonder what his life is like. I wonder what he thinks. I wonder what he was before we all know him as “The Sweeper.”  I wonder if he has any family.  From what I see, his only companions seem to be the dogs that wander around his house and watch out for him while he sweeps.  Some days, I’d see him sitting on the street in front of his house surrounded by the dogs.  They love him.  Dogs know who have a good heart.

I wonder if there ever was a day he wanted to give up and just not get out of bed.   Rain or shine, he
is always there.  He is like a reminder of times past.  A time when Bangkok was less cosmopolitan, less busy, less hectic, and more loving.
I am thankful that on this earth there are men like him.  He reminds us that sometimes life isn’t about always doing things in expectation of returns or compensation.  Life can be about giving.  It’s about doing what gives us pleasure.  He need not be boastful, yet his goodness shines out far and wide.

Thank you Sweeper for reminding us all.  I wish you a pleasant, healthy and good life.

Watch What You Carry

Health is a very important part of our lives and being in poor health can be detrimental to one’s quality of life and affect greatly our lifestyles. It can also affect our postures and our characters. Imagine someone who is constantly at pain when walking or their arms and shoulders give them continued problems. If you watch them, every now and then they’d stop walking, maybe walk crooked or suddenly rotates their shoulders in an upward movement as if some strange tick was making them move. No matter how good looking they are, or how well dressed you are, this sudden tick of the shoulder can give the person next to you some doubts to your sanity.

Shoulders used to be a big problem area for me and I realize also for my colleages. Afterall sitting at the computer ten hours a day typing and clicking away on the computer isn’t exactly what humans were designed to do. We’re supposed to be hunters and gatherers. That’s how our ancestors lived. Nowadays, we sit, eat, and sleep.

My shoulders used to be perpetually tight and whenever I go have a massage, the lady would shake her head and tell me I have to come more often. (I always wondered if this was their way of making me a regular customer, but it felt good nevertheless.)

Now massages are a great way to relieve tight shoulders and heal those aching muscles, but they are not getting to the root of the problem.

What I discovered to be my main problem was the height of my keyboard, mouse and the bag I carry. The first two I am sure you all know what I am talking about: Ergonomics. Make sure you are sitting ergonomically when you work. Keyboards should be at level where you can just drop your arms down and your shoulders are relaxed.

If you do a lot of powerpoint and excel, like me, I suggest you invest in a mouse of your own. For awhile I had lots of trouble with my hands. I didn’t have energy to write with my right hands and they felt somewhat out of place and twisted. It was awful and annoying. Luckily, Alex got me a wonderful ergonomically friendly mouse by logitech called “Trackman.” I got the cordless optical version and I have to tell you it works wonders. Your wrist stays still the entire time and I no longer have any problems with my right wrist and hand.

Another problem that was causing me trouble was my handbag. (Yes ladies, if you are reading this, handbags can be a big problem for your shoulders.) I like to put a lot of things into my handbags and throw it on my shoulder. If I’m out walking around, I can be carrying it for hours on end. My shoulder ends up carrying all this extra weight and unknowingly, your shoulder has to lift a little to keep the handbags from falling off.

I switched to a handbag without a shoulder strap so that I won’t throw it on my shoulder. I went through my belongings and threw out things I didn’t need. Discount cards are now left in my car. Nowadays my shoulder is less tight and I feel much better. I don’t need massages as often and it feels more balanced.

To be even better would be to take up Yoga and stretch the tightness away. I keep doing it on and off, but if you can do it regularly, your body will thank you for giving it a good workout.

Now I better go stretch my’s been a long day infront of the screen for me. Take care everyone!!