Take a second to ask: What are the most important things in life?


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A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the remaining open areas of the jar.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”

“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

Author Unknown

More than words…


This entry is dedicated…

To all the well-respected speakers and the organizing committee of the 4th University Scholars Leadership Symposium.

To all of delegates at the symposium who have contributed to its success.

To all of my friends who have walked into my life in the most graceful way I could ever imagine, and will stay in my heart for the years to come.

To myself, who have learned the lessons that can’t be taught anywhere else.

And to you, whoever is reading this, because you have made the right decision to know more about one of the best international events about humanitarian issues in the world.

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The symposium means so much to me as the way it does to many other people. It has brought me…

FRIENDSHIP. LOVE.

With more than 700 delegates from 45 countries in the world, this symposium brought together the nicest and friendliest people who care about alleviating world poverty. Though it was impossible to meet and talk to everyone in the symposium, I managed to make so many new friends and remember their names as much as I could (it was hard to be honest, but remembering someone’s name is one of the sweetest things we can do).

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The symposium has connected me with the people that have become my soul mates. Even though we just met for a few days, I feel as if we have been friends for years and we can share everything together without hesitation.

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We learned, we ate, we sang, we played, we laughed and we cried together. We were so happy together, sharing moments, sharing life…

Love is sometimes that simple. We love each other unconditionally, and I’m grateful that we found each other in the crowd.

 KNOWLEDGE.

All too often we pursue the knowledge that helps us get a better job and we forget about the kind of knowledge that helps us live a better life. The symposium has provided us the latter. We had the chance to listen to and learn from the people who have devoted their entire life for a better world and give them our warmest hugs.

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Thank you, Bam Aquino, Peter Baines, Pushpa Basnet, Geraldine Cox, Ibu Robin Lim, Tony Meloto, Simerjeet Singh, Pamela Wigglesworth, Lloyd Luna and Francis Kong for sharing your experiences and giving us so much inspiration to make ourselves better people and the world a better place.

“ A day well spent brings a happy sleep at night. A life well spent brings a happy death” ( Simerjeet Singh)

Remember to respect the soul of other people” (Robin Lim)

You have to believe in your dreams before everyone else does” (Pushpa Basnet)

Problems are always there, but we can choose the only problems that relate to what we care” (Miguel Bermundo)

The purpose of going to university is to have the capability to learn” ( Francis Kong)

We can’t change what happened, but we can change what happens next” (Peter Baines)

Start young. Start early.” (Pamela Wigglesworth)

REALIZATION.

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Since the very first day I came to Manila, I have seen so many homeless people and poor children on the street. They sleep alongside the bay, on the pavement, in their tricycles and in doggy tents. Street children who are just from 3 to 10 years old will run around you, with their hands open asking for food and money. Looking at these people keeps me aware of what we take for granted. We are so lucky to be able to afford good accommodation, good food and even travel around the world while so many other people have to live on the streets, eat anything they have and have never stepped out of their own city. Poverty is just a “global issue” when you read about it in newspapers, but it becomes a pain when we really witness it with our own eyes.

I have learned how to treasure what I have right now, and I feel blessed that I was not born in poverty like those children. We cannot choose how we are born. We cannot choose how other people are born either. God does. However, he doesn’t do so for free I believe. We have to give as much as we receive. We don’t know when we will be in the situation that needs help from other people, so why not open our heart and share what we have with those in need?

HAPPINESS.

For every single day of the symposium, I was always happy. I was happy to meet new friends, to learn from the speakers, to hang out with my buddies, to give a hand to building schools for children. We smiled, we talked, we laughed all the time. The happiness I felt was so huge and deep that it is still resonating in my heart right now.

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There are little things that could make me feel like I was the happiest person in the world. How happy I was when my friends told me that they loved me so much. How happy I was when I saw people around me laughing and talking cheerfully. How happy I was when the children at Quezon ran to me, called my name and hugged me so tight. How happy I was when I played a game with these little kids and they liked it! How happy I was when I received some little gifts from my friends even though we had just known each other for a few days. How happy I was when I knew that I became a special friend to them.

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This is a life changing experience to me and many other people I believe.

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Dear my friends who have shared this time with me: Stay passionate. Stay positive. Stay focused. Keep your fire burning. I have faith that we can together make a lot of differences in the world.

Dear others, I strongly recommend that you attend this symposium next year. It will definitely be something that you will never be able to forget. Life is short; we had better spend it well. Time is finite; we had better spend it wisely.

Experience it, try it, and feel it in your own way.

With LOVE

Michelle Tran

10 August 2013

Can money buy happiness? Yes, if you know how to.


I’m sure you have at least once seen or heard this saying : “Money can’t buy happiness”. Well, it seems wise, but not adequate.

I would say, money can buy not every kind of happiness, but some, or even many happy feelings. The better thing to say is: it all depends on how you spend it, and on the context as well.

Recently I have a friend coming back to Vietnam just to spend 2 weeks with her family. She spends a lot on the flight ticket, which is equal to what we normally spend for a 3 month stay. She is having a great time with her parents and her little sister at home now, and this happiness can’t be sought from anywhere but her house. What she bought is the flight that brought her back to her beloved family. I know many people who haven’t seen their families for years because they can’t afford a flight back home. Things would be different if they have more money, right?

Maybe money is not everything. But we always see everyone chasing after well-paid jobs, companies looking ways to have more and more profits. Even we as students are going to uni because we want to secure a good job, which will help us to live a good house, drive in a good car and eat in good restaurants in the future. Money does a lot for us. We understand that, but we tend to go to great lengths to get more money , forgetting about its purpose: using money in a way that actually brings us happiness.

The best way of using money to buy happiness is here: buy experiences, especially with the people who matter to you most. The more money you have, the more experiences you can buy, and therefore the happier you will be.

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What my friend bought was physically a flight ticket, but it allowed her to meet her family, which was a great experience.

A businessman I know spends some time on staying at home with his kids rather than meeting his clients. You may say money doesn’t involve here. But, look, he forgoes the money that he can earn from his business to get some time with his family. Isn’t he using the money he should have earned to buy that happiness?

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(By this picture I mean money buys the means to get happiness)

It will be endless to talk about the wonders of money being used in the right way. You can buy a good car, but you won’t feel the true happiness until you pack up and go on a picnic with your family by that car. You can buy a great smart phone, but you won’t feel the true happiness until you use it to keep in touch with an old friend from the other side of the world. You can buy a nice house, but you won’t feel the true happiness until you open the door inviting your friends to visit you for a dinner and hear them complimenting how beautiful it is. The bottom line is, just use money for the people and things you care.

There are heaps of ways to buy happiness. Here are just a few that I got from an article:

1. Buy Time

2. Buy Experiences

3. Buy Quality

4. Buy Knowledge

5. Invest in Yourself and Others

6. Bring People Together

7. Buy Good Health

8. Buy Now, Enjoy Later

9. Appreciate Simple Pleasures

Click here for the full article.

Well, it all comes down to experiences I suppose. But this list gives us a more specific direction on how to leverage our money and get more happiness.

I will end this blog with a great story:

A man came home from work late, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year old son waiting for him at the door.

SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it?” replied the man.
SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.
SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “If you must know, I make Rs.100 an hour.”
SON: “Oh,” the little boy replied, with his head down.
SON: “Daddy, may I please borrow Rs.50?”

The father was furious, “If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I work hard everyday for such this childish behavior.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.

The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy’s questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?

After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down and started to think: Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that Rs.50 and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door. “Are you asleep, son?” He asked.

“No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.
“I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier” said the man. “It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here’s the Rs.50 you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, smiling. “Oh, thank you daddy!” He yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

“Why do you want more money if you already have some?” the father grumbled.
“Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied.
“Daddy, I have Rs. 100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?

Please come home early tomorrow I would like to have dinner with you”

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he
begged for his forgiveness.

This is a short reminder that it is good to earn money to buy happiness. Money absolutely buys happiness. But focusing too much on earning money takes us away from simple happiness in life. So, earn money, but more importantly: SPEND it.

The father in the above story can spend money to buy happiness by forgoing his pay, coming home an hour earlier to have dinner with his son. Restraining from earning more money is just another way to spend it as well.

🙂