Friday, January 22, 2016

Life Gives You Want You Want

My uncle told me that.  I never really believed him.  That would be like having a magic lamp and a genie.  Life can never give you want you want, it just happens, and you just accept what happens.  I was not entirely having the happiest time of my life when he told me that.  I was having my own down time.

When things don't really go the way you want, you get angry, lonely, depressed and, some of us, get crazy.  I felt all of that, I became all of that.  However, one fine afternoon I suddenly had an epiphany.  Epiphany means "a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new way".  I remember my uncle used to say that there are already so many successful people in the world.  All we need to do is to follow their ways and we will be successful too.  It simply means, we don't need to experiment on trying to do stuff and see if it works, all we need to do is to emulate them.  Just like in mathematics, the same factors give the same product.

So, how do we make life give us what we want?  One of my favorite authors, Rhonda Byrne, said that we should fill our dominant thoughts with the things that we want and not the things that we don't want.  She is already a successful person in her field, so I will follow her.  I must admit, I had a hard time convincing myself to think, all day long, about the things I want.  Naturally, as a normal human being, we tend to think of the things we don't want.  I managed to shift my line of thoughts and somehow I learned.  Which is one of the reasons why I wrote this article.

My wife and I never really had the perfect proposal "will you marry me" drama, we had like "let's get married because the baby is here".  Applying my new acquired knowledge, I promised myself to always think about buying her a nice ring and doing the momentous proposal.  Take note, this was 3 years ago.  The proposal still didn't happen as of press time but I'm going to tell you is how I bought the ring.

My work lets me travel every month across the globe for which I am forever thankful to God.  I get to go to different airports and take numerous airplanes.  Duty free magazines are always in front of me during my flights but I never really mind them.  But two weeks ago, I was "suddenly" interested to open the pages and scan.  It's like someone whispered at the back of my ear and said "open the magazine".  Oh, sounds creepy.  My wife's birthday was coming up so I was trying to find her something as a present.  And there it was, a nice watch with a set of earrings.  I was happy I found them because they are not that expensive, but the best part is that they also come with a ring!  A lovely ring.  If you connect the dots, I now found my proposal ring plus many more.  It was offered to me by an unknown force.

That unknown force occurred to me again when I reached London.  I reached the Heathrow airport at 12 noon but I reached the hotel around 3pm, the immigration was full packed with people.  I wanted to go to central London that afternoon to watch a musical.  However, I never really felt like going, it's like not really in the mood, so to say.  I tried to buy a ticket to a musical online but I found out that the tickets are way too expensive if you buy it near the schedule date.  So, I decided not to go.  I just stayed in the hotel that afternoon, ate at McDonalds in the evening and went back to my room and slept.  Last November, I was so energetic to see London but this time was different, I lacked the energy.

The next day, I woke up early so that I can go to central London and take some pictures, my hotel was in Gatwick by the way.  And when I arrived at the train station I learned that the ticket was 25 or 30 pounds because it was peak hours, I was so disappointed because if it wasn't peak hours, the ticket would be like 12 or 16 pounds only.  Huh!  So, I walked back to my room feeling sad.  London usually has grey clouds in the sky and rains most of the time, and this is winter time, so the sun sets around 4-5pm, it made me feel sad with all the gray sky and the cold air surrounding me.  When I reached my room, I slept again and then prepared my things for my next flight.

I later learned that my flight was delayed for 4 hours so I had the chance to stroll around the duty free area at the airport.  I was looking at the perfumes and this lady came up to me and asked me if I would like to see some of their promotions.  Of course I would!  Then she showed me a whole shelf full of buy one get one perfumes!  Is this for real?!  Lacoste, Calvin Klein and Jean Paul Gaultier to name a few.  To make this short, I bought one, and got one!  Before I started to travel, I told my wife that I would buy a perfume for myself because the one I had is already empty.  It was all in my mind during the start of my travel and now I have it plus one!

London bridge / Tower bridge

Now, I understood why I was not allowed to go to central London at that time, why I felt not in the mood to go and why the tickets were so expensive and why the flight was delayed.  It brought me to my perfumes.  Life really gives us what we want but there is a catch, you have to think of what you want and making it your dominant thought.  And that unknown force, the one that guided me all throughout my travel, it is called God.  May the force be with you!

London was also in my wish list, and now I travel here almost every month.

Friday, January 15, 2016

I Chose Happiness

It was back in 2012 when I was lying in the males’ quarters, around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, in one of the busiest hospital in Cebu when I said to myself “I choose happiness”.  That moment became the most significant turning point in my life.

I was in deep deep depression, it’s what others would say – rock bottom.  Yes, I was hitting the rock bottom.  All the signs and symptoms of depression manifested in me.  I know this because I am a doctor.  It’s like when I look at myself in the mirror, I can spot the symptoms which I read from my Psychiatry book.  I had suicidal thoughts because death seemed to be a great escape from all the burden and misery surrounding me.  Negative thoughts occupy my mind most of the time and I always hear myself saying that I am not good enough. My face failed to hide my sorrow, even to the point that one of my mentor, a neurosurgeon, told me that I looked like a ‘zombie’.  Sometimes, I would stare blankly during a meal and my wife would snap me out of my daydream and she would ask if I was all right and I would lie saying "yes, I'm fine".  She knows that I’m stressed with work but she didn’t know how depressed I was.

It was not always like this.  I was a cheerful person.  I get sad sometimes because of the normal hiccups in life but never this miserable.  After the medical board exams, I immediately went into General Surgery training.  The start of the residency training was going quite well. The training program, by the way, was a 5-year course.  I was getting along with my colleagues and I loved reading my books and eventually I got high scores.  In the middle of my residency training, I got interested in Plastic Surgery.  I then learned that another government hospital in my place was going to open a Plastic Surgery Department, the first training offered outside Manila.  I got really excited. The prerequisite to proceed to plastic surgery is only 4 years general surgery training, so I figured I will not finish general surgery and proceed to plastics.  Many of the general surgery consultants did not approve my decision, they opted me to finish the 5-year GS training before transferring to a subspecialty.  But I did not listen, I was so fixed to become a plastic surgeon.

I transferred to the other hospital when I got accepted in the plastic surgery training.  I was the only resident in the program because, like i said, it was new.  The first few months were good, I was really high, I said to myself that it was what I was meant to do.  Problems started to come up after a while, my surgeries started to have many complications. I was being scolded almost everyday by my consultants.  My mentors were perfectionists, any minor detail that I would miss, I would be reprimanded.  I know, it's part of the game, its part of the training but I was not handling it well.  I was making good in the general surgery training and suddenly I'm a no good surgeon in this new training.  It all went upside down, I lost my touch.  I don't know if I got lazy in reading my books or I just lost hope in reading because I did not seem to know the answer to the simplest question my consultants threw at me during our mini conferences.  I was getting desperate and it went down into a vicious cycle.  More complications followed with more ranting from my mentor, even in front of other people.  It came to a point that I wanted to cry but I was not able to, I became numb to the pain and humiliation.  Each day I slowly slid down to the pessimistic path, and we all know this aggravated the situation.  I tried to stay afloat for 2 and a half years, but I wasn't successful, I was drowning in depression.  It was so hard to get out of bed in the morning, and all I saw in the world was despair.  I blamed myself for transferring to this subspecialty, I blamed myself for not completing general surgery, I blamed myself for not being good enough.  I was angry at myself and I was angry with my mentors.  I was anticipating that they would kick me out, and when that happens how would I feed my family?  My two kids are already going to start with pre-school, where would I get the money if I lose my job?  I do not want to go back to general surgery because I don't want to operate anymore, I was stressed out, all enthusiasm was sucked out of me.    I envy my colleagues who are very happy with their work.  I didn't appreciate my family's support.  I lost my appetite, I lost my sex drive, I became a zombie, I lost all hope.

In the middle of this crisis, I would sometimes go to my Uncle's clinic which was only a couple of blocks away, to have lunch with him.  When he saw me, he immediately knew what I was going through.  He advised me to listen to some of his audio books about positive thinking and self motivation.  He told me that there is a 'secret' about living our lives and that happiness is a choice and it comes from within.  I heard, but I did not listen, his advice just flew out of my other ear maybe because I was so depressed to listen to anything.  After lunch, I would go back to the hospital and lie down on the bed thinking about negative things even thinking about suicide.  However, one afternoon, I suddenly had an epiphany!  I told myself "I cannot continue to punish myself like this"  and in that instant I remembered the words - Happiness is a choice.  So I shouted the words in my mind, "I CHOOSE HAPPINESS!".   The next day, I went back to my uncle's clinic with my flash drive and copied all his audio books and videos.  Upon seeing my enthusiasm about all of these, he said, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear".  The first video that he advised me to see was "The Secret"  and that movie literally changed my life.

I was kicked out from plastic surgery training in the middle of 2012, I cried, I'm not ashamed to admit that, but it didn't really affected me that much anymore.  I knew that there will be more work opportunities that will come up. I am Catholic, so I replaced the word Universe with God because for me, they are synonymous.  I did not have a clue what I would do after plastic surgery but I just kept my faith that God will not abandon me.  I followed the teachings of "the secret", I started to give thanks with all the things around me.  I started to notice the trees, the sun, the clouds, the flowers, how wonderful the creations of the Lord are.

My cousin suggested that I apply as a doctor offshore, in an oil rig, I thought it was a great idea, the salary was great and the rotation was good.  I get to work in the rig for 28 days then stay home for 28 days and then vice versa, and the best part is, I am also paid during my time off.  So everyday, I visualized that I am already working in the rig and thanked God for the job as if I already have it. After 1 year and 5 months, I finally got the job. I also had many job opportunities that came my way while waiting for my dream job. I worked in three hospitals and was getting the money I needed for my children's education, pay off my debts and even put some money on financial investments.  I started to eat well again and also started to do some workout again.  I picked up my life slowly.  My life turned around because I shifted my thoughts and feelings to what I really wanted.  Instead of thinking about what I don't want, I focused my attention to what I really want.  So, I visualized my perfect home, my perfect job, my perfect car, my perfect vacation and my perfect relationships everyday.

My story doesn't end there, four months ago, I bought the third book "The Magic" and started to apply its principles in my life. After one month, I was able to buy my dream car and what was so cool about this is that it is exactly the same vehicle from the picture which I pasted in my vision board, I was getting goose bumps.  It was right before my very eyes, it was like magic.

Now, I continue to share my experience to my close friends and would tell them that all we need is to believe, have faith and give thanks. And one more thing, feel good!