Part I: How to build a house of bricks in any season

(Part 1 of 3)

Remember the story of the three little pigs?

Everyone does. But we relegate the story to children’s lit and condescendingly forget that these cute little porkers bring home an important point about the choices we make when we embark on building something worthwhile — like choosing the foundation on which we live our lives.

The first pig built his house of straw and the second one built his house of sticks and went partying till the cows came home. Enter the big bad wolf.

Hankering for crispy chicharrones, he came down huffing and puffing and blowing both houses down in a snap, much to the utter dismay of the two hapless, lazy porkers.

Running for their lives with their curled, tiny tails and the hair on their chinny, chin chin a-quivering, they dashed over to safety, straight to the house of their other stolid, somewhat stodgy brother pig who had built his house methodically, meticulously, slowly, brick by solid brick.

Enter the big bad wolf again, now crazed with the thought of wolfing down not one but three pigs. He does his blustery huffing and puffing… well… you know how the story ended (that is, unless Disney produces a blockbuster sequel with their spin on the ending.)

Any structural engineer will agree with the third porker and allude to the biblical reference about a house built on a rock and the wind and rain could not prevail upon it.

He will tell you that solid foundation work taking stress points into account is basic in building anything of value that’s meant to last. The same is true in living one’s life.

I am certain there are countless other pointers hundreds of thousands can add to the growing pool of knowledge that hopefully, translates to wisdom in this continuing saga of human life. In the interest of brevity I’ll cull out only 15 bite-size pointers, released in 3 bursts of 5 pointers each.

1. Get your ducks in a row. Set your priorities. Align your time, decisions, actions and resource allocation according to your set of personal priorities: health, happiness, family, peace, wellbeing, wealth, time, fame, recognition, and applause. There’s a whole menu to choose from. You choose what’s important and what’s not. Without an internal value system and a firm sense of direction, you’re more than likely to be distracted by the many pitfalls along the way. Consider technology and its spawn, social media, as a double-edged sword. It can either help or hinder, depending on how you use it. As a tool, it is awesome but become obsessed with it and you’re a goner. FOCUSED MINDFULNESS is the antidote to all distractions.

2. Ask for HELP. Fold that ego to the size of a postage stamp. There is help out there. Use it. We need others to help us on the first get-go during the first years of scrambling, scraping and just getting our bearings straight. Don’t be too proud to ask and seek out only those who mean well. Don’t forget to say thanks and show appreciation to those who have helped you every step of the way. There is a place in Hades for the grossly ungrateful.

3. Open your mind. Be informed. Observe the patterns of human behavior and the seasonal patterns of life. We are living in the throes of the Age of TMI (Too Much Information). The challenge is in sorting out the essentials from the ton of crud out there particularly on the internet. But above all, fear not the predictions of doom and gloom. If TV or social media are your constant companions, you will become a fearful, paranoid nutcase. The cycles of boom and bust, recession and bumper crop years happen over and over again with the regularity of night and day. More often than not, life is a roller coaster ride, with its thrills and spills. Enjoy it. Learn to live and move with the seasons. As Ecclesiastes reminds us, “There is a season for every purpose under heaven.”

4. Slow down. Pace yourself. There is a learning curve that most of us will have to go through. There are a select few who can hit the ground running but for mere mortals, like you and me, we have to take a step at a time, at least in the beginning stages. Small mistakes and errors in decision-making are rectifiable; the big ones on the things that truly matter, will set us back years.

5. In going for the brass ring, know the price you have to pay to get it. America’s middle class is growing once again after a decades-long lull. The economy is on an upswing after being in the doldrums. In hindsight, globalism which began Post-Reagan under 4 presidents had put in place policies which severely crippled the American middle class as they shifted jobs and industries outside of the country.

This is a season of optimism so take the opportunities presented in realizing your dreams, whatever you conceive them to be. But you have to be willing to pay the price. And no, you can’t cheat. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. There is no free lunch. You may be achieving your goal of a whopping six figure income that allows you the material status you seek, but see and understand what the price of putting in 16 hour shifts or taking on double or triple jobs is doing to your own health, your family, your marriage and your sanity.

Yes, only God knows how long seasons last. Man proposes. God disposes. But in any season of darkness or light, that delicate balance achieved by a steady, prayerful family life laser-focused on God as the center of it ALL, is still the key.

(Next week: The second of 3 parts)

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail monette.maglaya@asianjournalinc.com,

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