Sitting at a dinner party table, a young mother lamented over her three-year-old we, who has been giving her quite a headache. Apparently, the child had resorted to all kinds of pranks, which really annoyed the mother to no end. One of the other mothers at the party commented: “Paano lagi kang busy? Your son is merely seeking your attention. You know, for children, negative attention is better than none at all.”
How true, I thought. How wise, too. I am amazed at the creativity of little children and what they can do to call their parents’ attention no matter what it takes. Is it not true that we notice children when they do naughty things? We are quick to correct them. Yet, when they play quietly in their room, we hardly go in to commend them for playing so well with each other.
Once while sitting in a lecture, I remember people quickly commenting on one misspelled word that the lecturer wrote down on the whiteboard. Why is it? Why do people often notice mistakes before anything else?
I must admit that used to be one of my weaknesses. I was quick to point out mistakes when projects were undertaken at the EDSA Shrine. I was uncomfortable finding good points or qualities in others and even more uncomfortable when I had to tell the people concerned that they did a good job. It was more natural for me to correct the mistakes and ask people to improve on their weaknesses. It took a courageous friend to bring that to my attention.
I know that many people like me to see mistakes before they see the good points. And after noticing the good points, what seems to be more difficult is approaching and congratulating people for a job well done. Somehow, our old programs or some voice from the dark seems to whisper, “Huwag mo nang sabihin, lalaki pa ang ulo!” But the truth, is that really the case? Will not that person feel more loved and appreciated and consequently passed that feeling on by loving and appreciating others too?
It is pretty much like analyzing what would happen if we studied what was right with people instead of what was wrong with them. I often hear it said, ” You see, what is wrong with Filipinos is…,” or “Alam mo kasi ang masama sa atin eh…” It makes you seriously wonder if there is anything right with the Filipinos at all.
If we studied what was right with people more than what was wrong with them, we would indeed have a whole new way of viewing the world. Let us try it. Before retiring to sleep every night, if we could count all the achievements, joys, and successes of the day, I could see everyone going to sleep with a bright and fulfilled disposition. If we did the reverse and thought of all our mistakes for the day, we would probably go to sleep depressed.
It is the same with people. Once you start looking for strengths or good points, they become more beautiful. The nice thing is that it reflects on your face when you think beautiful thoughts. You tend to play the game of life with more vitality and candor. It is like a runner on the way to the finish line. He cannot win or continue running if he thinks of the pain in his legs. He must focus on more positive things aside from the finish line.
Let us remember the three-year-old. If his mother gave him a few minutes a day to praise him for everything he did well, I am confident this little boy would start to behave. He will make it a point to have his mother sit with him again to tell him how beautiful he is.
Studying and focusing on our strengths will make us understand the difference between good and great. It gives winning a new meaning. An average or a good player will define winning as getting the better score. To a great player, winning means doing things right and moving toward overall perfection. Of course, this does not mean you must completely close your eyes to your weaknesses. No. It just means that you need to focus on something other than them. Weaknesses must be managed: and address. It is not healthy to dwell on them.
Imagine if God were to dwell on all our sins and failures. No one will ever get to heaven. Imagine if Jesus dwelt on Peter’s denial of him; Peter would not have become the rock upon which our Church was built. Instead, the Lord saw a singleness of purpose in Peter’s leadership qualities. Jesus saw beyond Peter’s weaknesses and faults. How wonderful that God is like that with us, too. He sees beyond our frailty. He believes in us and sees all our good points. He is constantly there to help us rise above our weaknesses. He certainly is the best person to call to help us manage all our weaknesses. Why can’t we do the same for ourselves? Sure, we must acknowledge our weaknesses to keep us rooted in the truth, but there is no use focusing on them unnecessarily to the point that they paralyze us. If we do this, we will tend to see only a grim picture before us.
God believes in us. He gave us our life and asked us to be the steward of other life forms also. Do we believe enough in ourselves and our goodness to give back to God a hundredfold return on His original investment?
Christ died and resurrected from the dead to tell us that He won over evil, over weakness. He wants us all to be winners. We have to think like winners. Like marathon runners, we cannot focus on the “pain in our legs.” So as you drop this newspaper today, try and find one of your strengths. Focus on this strength. Work on it to perfection, with constant practice. Don’t ignore those weaknesses; manage them.
If you are a parent, take a good look at your children. Find their strengths. Complement them about them. I assure you you will see a bright change. The change in them might take a while, but the change in you will be dramatic.
RUNNING OR STUMBLING
Jesus Our Light