Monthly Archives: June 2019

Where Has “Positive Thinking” Brought Me?


“Positive thinking” as a concept is like a narrow street that seemingly leads to nowhere. When you embrace it and take the first few steps forward, it would make you feel like you’re not going anywhere.

Consider that normal. When you venture into the unknown and leave your comfort zone, it’s normal to feel iffy. It is your old negative mental programming taking control of your thought processes. As you take a few more steps forward, doubts would start to set in and you’ll be tempted to go back where you came from. That temptation to abandon the journey just beginning would become stronger when people around you start saying how crazy you are to even believe that “positive thinking” works. But should you succeed in conquering all the negative chatters and take the courage to just keep on walking you would soon hit the main road.

The main road that narrow street called “positive thinking” leads to is “personal growth and development.” That was what I personally discovered.

When I decided to dive deeper into “positive thinking,” I realized that it is but the tip of the iceberg. “Positive thinking” is not the main thing. “Personal growth and development” is.

My journey to “positive thinking” started with my accidental discovery of a “self-help” film. I stopped by a stall selling old (pirated) DVDs of old movies. The label (title) of the one of the DVDs – “The Secret” – caught my attention. It intrigued me. So, I picked it up thinking that it’s either a mystery-thriller or a sci-fi movie.

I described in full that encounter with “The Secret” in my essay entitled “Beyond Positive Thinking.”

It is that “self-help” film that got me into positive thinking. For me, anything that advocates positive change is worth my time and worth trying. I though I had nothing to lose but everything to gain when I decided to give it a try.

When I watched that film for the second time, I took off my “critic’s hat” and emptied my mind of all those philosophies that tried to filter all the information the film conveyed and was leading me to analysis paralysis. Anyway, all of those philosophies – all of those isms – which I previously learned were seemingly not leading me to what I want to be and what I want to achieve. Honestly, at that point in my life, I was not even so certain of what I really wanted to be and what I really wanted to achieve. That “self-help” film offered me an option, an opportunity to try another system of beliefs that might help me have clarity of purpose.

I really thought then that my PhD would transform me into the best version of myself. I was wrong.

So, I took a leap of faith and embraced “positive thinking.” I walked down that narrow street that seemingly led to nowhere. I struggled but succeeded in overcoming doubts, in shooting down skepticism, and in turning a deaf ear to the internal and external negative chatters.

And I don’t regret that decision I made.

Then I probed deeper. I read existing literature about “positive thinking” and watched lots of videos about it. That’s how I came to discover that it (“positive thinking”) is the narrow street that leads to the maid road called “personal growth and development.”

“Positive thinking” is the springboard to “personal growth and development.” The former is the key to unlocking the latter. I strongly believe that only when a person develops dispositional optimism, when that person expects good things to happen, and when that person hopes that he/she could be a better person and live a better life  that he/she would become open to the idea of undertaking the necessary steps to venture seriously into growing and developing further as a person.

When I reached the end of that narrow street of “positive thinking” and got to the main road of “personal growth and development,” I confirmed that indeed it (“positive thinking”) is just the beginning of the journey. The road ahead is long and winding. There’s much to be done. After the “thinking” comes the “doing.”

I discovered that in order to experience meaningful growth and development as a person, it would take more than “positive thinking.” There are other requirements aside from having a positive mindset. There are other things that ought to be done and these are what the gurus of “personal growth and development” commonly describe as the practices and habits that made extremely successful people who and what they are. These people became the best versions of themselves and had found the happiness, good health, and wealth they sought because of such practices and habits.

These practices and habits are actually very practical ones. They are not magical and out of this world stuffs. They are as follows: knowing your whys; embracing a solid belief system; goal setting; short and long-term planning; managing time effectively; developing self-discipline; practicing mindfulness; being purposive; becoming self-sufficient; and living a balanced life.

These are the things that Brendon Burchard, Tom Bilyeu, Jim Rohn, Wayne Dyer, Les Brown, Joe Dispenza, Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Simon Sinek, John Maxwell, Mel Robbins, and the like, recommend to people intending to maximize their potentials.

The above-mentioned experts in the field of “personal growth and development” pointed out also that extremely successful people have a common hobby – reading. They also practice meditation.

What I consider as the most significant among those practices or habits of people who reached the pinnacle of success in their fields of endeavors is “living a balanced life.”

“Balanced life” is a concept difficult to define definitively. It is so because people have different priorities and live different kinds of life.

But when I sifted through the works of advocates of “personal growth and development” I saw a common pattern about living a “balanced life” that made me understand what the concept is. And it is not rocket science.

Firstly – as people work hard to achieve what they want in life – money, degree, fame, and what have you – they should not disregard their health and relationships. Not disregarding health means eating the right food, getting enough rest, and exercising regularly. Not disregarding relationships means not forgetting that you have a family and friends needing your attention too.

Secondly (and lastly) – become a well-rounded person. Becoming a well-rounded person means bearing in mind that you are a physical, intellectual, emotional, and a social being (insert spiritual if you happen to believe in God). You should strive to develop in all these areas.

This is how far “positive thinking” brought me – to the discovery of these “personal growth and development” practices and habits. They seem to be simple, but believe me, they  are easier said than done – especially if you have a fixed mindset and you keep looking at life and the world using a negative perspective.


father and sonI sorely miss the best  dad in the world – Mussilini De Villa Ligaya.

My dad was a clever good-looking Batangueño with a great sense of humor. That’s the best way to describe him.

He was a merchant. He would buy different products (clothes, kitchen utensils, blankets, mosquito nets, etc.) from Divisoria and sell them in far-flung barrios (villages) in the provinces of Central and Northern Luzon. He would bring me along once in a while especially during summer time. I was so fascinated by his capability to interact with people, make them laugh, and convince them to buy.  There were times that my father challenged me to initiate and close deals. I tried so hard to copy his good business acumen.

Aside from teaching me how to communicate with customers, my dad also impressed upon me when I accompanied him in his business sorties the values of hard work and patience. We perspired, huffed and puffed, as we carried the products he was selling and walked together through muddy rice paddies to reach homes of potential customers in places which the vehicle he hired could not reach.

Those were the times that I realized that whatever we want in life will not be served in a silver platter.

My dad was the reason why I developed fondness for reading. He was a voracious reader. Everyday he would read three newspapers – Bulletin Today (now Manila Bulletin), Tempo, and Balita. He did not spend a single day in high school but he was so good at English. He was my first English teacher.

He was also the reason why I included “teaching overseas” among my career options. Way back in the late 1990s, when I informed my dad that I was about to complete my Master’s, he asked this question – “How much would your additional degree add to your monthly salary?” I gave him a rough estimate of what would my monthly pay be should I get that graduate degree. He shook his head and told me that my cousins (and the husband of a cousin) who have no Master’s but are working as seamen are receiving salaries three (3) to five (5) times higher than mine.

In no way that my dad undervalued education. He was the one who pushed (and helped) me to get a college diploma. He merely challenged me to maximize the returns of whatever degrees I earned. That night, I revisited my career path and included ESL teaching abroad as an option.

My coming here to South Korea to teach was not an overnight decision, it was a part of a plan – a plan that was influenced by my dad.

I love you dad!


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INAY iyong damhim
Pagmamahal at pagtanging
Sa bawat taludtod padadaluyin

Maka-ina daw ako!
Aba’y dapat lang.

Kung ang ina ang anak ay ‘di malilimutan
Ang anak  – ina’y ‘di puwedeng talikuran.

Ako’y nakarating sa gustong paroonan
Dahil nilingon ko sinapupunang pinaggalingan
Sinapupunang pinaglagakan
Ng buhay kong sa Panginoon ay hiram.

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Kay dami ninyo sa aking naituro.
Maraming… maraming salamat po!

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…na magtiwala sa kakayahang angkin
…na sa Panginoon laging manalangin

Hindi ka perpekto INAY
Subalit mahal kitang tunay.
Bigkis nating Diyos ang pumanday
Mananatili hanggang sa kabilang-buhay.

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