Thursday, September 21, 2017

An Experiment on Blessings and Curses

Not so long ago, I saw an experiment by Dr. Masaru Emoto on the effects of speech or vibrations on water. He claims that our intent behind what we say has an effect on water, as water stores information (although not the same way materials like silicone store them). Since rice is a dish cooked with a lot of water, Dr. Emoto used that in his experiment. Here's how the experiment goes: prepare two jars with a bit of rice in them. And everyday, speak to the jars. To one jar, speak only positive things. To the other, speak only negative. After a few months, one would see that the negative jar would mold significantly more than the positive jar.

I searched on YouTube, and there were a lot of people who had tried it. Some even added a third "ignore" jar. And while that third jar had different results, the positive and negative jar always had the same results: The positive had very little mold, and the negative was almost fully green with molds.

It seemed too magical for this world to be able to affect something like this only via speech. So I decided to try the experiment myself. I prepared 3 bottles: positive (green thread), negative (purple thread), and control.

Yesterday was the fourth day of the experiment, and already, there were results, albeit just a little.

Control had a little bit of white molds. It's not so apparent with my camera, but a few grains already have white fuzz covering them.

The negative  bottle had a spot of very visible yellow green molds (front left).

And the positive bottle had no molds at all.

It's only the fourth day, so let's see how much more the difference would be in the coming weeks. But even at this point, it's already apparent. The experiment proves true.  The intent behind the speech really does have an effect on the molding of the rice. And if it affects rice because of its water content, then, since we, humans, are 70% water, it would follow that it would affect us, too.

I've always been fascinated with words. And I've seen how words affect people's lives. I used to be a president for a socio-civic women's organization, and we've seen how some mothers in the depressed areas in effect "curse" their children into a life of poverty and hardship. The words are sometimes out of bitterness. And sometimes, they are merely carelessly thrown words. But we've noticed that when mothers tell their children, "Ang tanga mo kasi." (You're so stupid) or "Wala kang kuwenta." (You're useless) or "Mabubuntis ka lang ng maaga, tapos iba-iba ang ama." (You'll get pregnant young and your children will have different fathers), the children usually live up to it.

On the other side of the spectrum, an encouraging word, whether meant deeply or said lightly, seems to also have positive effects on people. It may not be a big thing for us to tell team members when they're having a hard time in the beginning that it's really a little hard starting out, but that they just needed to keep at it as it would be easier in the long run. But I've seen how people have held on to those words like a lifebuoy of hope. And it keeps them going.

There was even an incident where our president in the game developers association was asked by a high schooler about advice in pursuing games as a college course. And our president casually said that he shouldn't give up his dreams. And years later, the kid showed up smiling in one of our events, thanking our president for the encouraging words. He was able to overcome his difficulty thanks to our president's encouraging words. And our president was doing his best not to cry because he hadn't realized how his words had so helped this young man.

We had a guest in the office yesterday. He was Japanese, and he was asking me why I didn't have a lot of Japanese friends when I was studying there. I told him it was probably because I gave up too soon. But it was already a few weeks into the school year and my Japanese classmates still had that barrier that prevented me from being too close. I gave up trying after that.

He told me  that most Japanese people were like that even to fellow Japanese people. Even he experienced that. But one day, on his first trip to New Zealand, he experienced how people were so welcoming. He was on the verge of tears when he was recounting this, and I could see how that experience had really touched him. And I realized how lonely he must have been in a society that didn't want to bother each other. That realization pulled at my heartstrings. It made me think of how lonely I had been in Japan, but I only had to endure it for three years. Not a quarter of a lifetime as he had. And at least, even then, I had people a four-hour flight away whose words welcomed and encouraged me. I have a dad who would light up whenever I stepped into the room, a mom who tells me I can do anything, siblings to discuss my harebrained ideas with, and friends who would stay up until 2am with me and assure me that I'm successful, beautiful, intelligent, and most importantly, loved.

I wanted to hug him and tell him the world was not so cold, that the rest of the world had words to give that made one feel welcome, wanted, and even loved (but I restrained myself because he's Japanese and the last time I hugged a Japanese, she stiffened).

Words, and the emotions behind them, can alter the lives of people, and the rice experiment is a smaller snapshot of how that power works.

*9/25 Updates
It's 8 days into the experiment (I'll stop here). The negative rice is really green now, and significantly has the most molds out of the three.

The positive rice has some molds also, but not as bad as negative rice.

And control has almost the same amount of molds as positive rice.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Extracting the Thorns

I think, after simply deciding that I wanted to be happy, one of the most practical things I learned in life when it comes to joy is just simply to pull out the thorns in your life that make you unhappy. I realized that sometimes you don’t have to put up with some of them, and the next step to find joy is simply to pluck out the things that stress you out. (Surprise! Surprise!) It sounds so simple and obvious now, but mind you, I had put up with some hardships for a long time. The reasons were usually because:
  • I felt that to keep going through the hardship meant I was strong
  • My pride prevented me from letting go
  • It had become my reality, and to let go, even if you know it’ll free you, felt very uncomfortable
  • I was punishing myself


But there is one part about extracting thorns that I’d like to expound on. I’d like to talk about relationships a bit more. It’s a topic that pulls at my heart because I’ve seen several friends of mine separate with their spouses, and it’s devastating. Of course, I’ll never know the full extent of what really happened between them, but I’ve seen how my own parents struggled, too. Let’s just say I know a lot of people who would have left their spouses for less. But my parents pushed on. I’ve seen both of them learn each other’s languages of forgiveness and love (My Dad washes my Mom’s car whenever he’s sorry. My proud Chinese father has difficulty verbalizing, “I’m sorry.”), and really find ways to mend and strengthen the relationship. The reason I’m talking about this is because you might think that when I say, pluck out the things that stress you out, and your spouse stresses you out, you’d think to leave him or her. One thing I believe that takes higher precedence than joy is love. And to pluck out the thorns in relationship is not necessarily to leave one’s partner (unless there’s physical abuse going on), but to sit down together, truly talk and seriously address the things that trigger the negative reactions in each other, and really love each other.


Of course, that entails certain compromises and decisions, but ultimately, humans react to certain stimuli, and instead of just addressing the reaction, it would be a good idea to talk it out and see what the trigger causing the reaction is. The trigger is the thorn you pull out. Not the spouse. I’ve seen how those things go in my parents’ relationship. The feelings are really seasonal. You may think you can no longer live with him or her at the moment, but a year after, you’re lovey-dovey again. Not the sweet young butterflies kind of lovey-dovey, but the mature I-worked-hard-for-this-to-work kind of love, which isn’t a bad thing. It feels a lot different. It’s a kind of love where you know the other party isn’t perfect, but you choose him or her anyway. And at the same time, you don’t take abuse, but work things with him or her to make the relationship work. It’s an I-love-you-with-my-eyes-open kind of love where you’re both in control (which, ironically, is achieved by relinquishing control). Things eventually quiet down as long as both parties decide to work things out, let go of what they think they deserve, and not give up.


Going back to stressors, one of the things that really stressed me out are the debts I needed to pay. If you have debts, what do you do? I’m sure the answer is pretty obvious, right? But for the longest time I refused to take that route, giving countless excuses to not do it. But take off the excuses, what is the simplest answer to the lack of money? Get a job.


Here were my excuses:
  • I’ve never worked in corporate before. Nobody will take me.
  • No job will be able to give me enough salary to pay what I need to in a month.
  • Everyone thinks I’m so expensive. No one is giving me a chance.


But when I had decided to get a job to get my finances in order, and called myself out on my whining, here were the truths that I knew that toppled off my very flimsy excuses:
  • I’ve never worked in corporate before. Nobody will take me. - Nobody wanted to work with your company when you started out, either. What did you do? You did cold calls. You emailed. You set meetings. You knew it would take a hundred inquiries to bag one deal. And you did it. You’ve never worked in corporate? Send out a hundred resumes then. One is bound to say yes.
  • No job will be able to give me enough salary to pay what I need to in a month. - Aim for the larger corporations, then. And one thing I learned in life is if you ask for it, someone will give it.
  • Everyone thinks I’m so expensive. No one is giving me a chance. - You are expensive. Find a company that can afford you then. And why are you waiting for a chance? Did you wait for a chance with your game company? Of course not, you broke down doors. What’s happened to you?


And so, yes. Sometimes it’s as simple as sending out those hundred resumes. One company replied. They needed a Japanese-Speaking Operations Manager. I got the salary I wanted. And my debts are slowly getting paid off with each passing month. The thorn has been plucked.


Another stressor in Manila, which I know a lot of people can relate to, is traffic. It took me two hours each morning to get to work, and another two hours in the evening to get home. What’s the solution?


I now walk ten minutes to the office from my new place.


Summary

After deciding that you’ll do what you can to find joy, the next thing to do is address the problems that stress you out or make you unhappy. More often than not, the thing that prevents us from acting on those stressors are our pride or our being comfortable in our current situation, even when we know we need to get out of it.