More practical wisdom

Philippine Star
Sunday, August 5, 2007

In an earlier column titled “Practical Wisdom,” I posted simple but profound and very helpful advice and observations from relatives, friends and acquaintances. I got a lot of responses and so I thought I should share some more.

This batch includes precious wisdom I remember from books, from my readers, and from friends in my mailing list. Some of them are quite unique. Here’s more practical wisdom:

• When Mommy is not happy, no one is happy.

I got this from my brother Jake who simply adores his wife. In many homes, Mom is the center of the universe, and her comfort or happiness index is the true barometer of peace and warmth in the house. I know some readers may feel that such a guideline would tend to “baby” wives and mothers too much, but I sense most husbands and sons would appreciate the wisdom in keeping their wives and mothers happy. The center, after all, has to hold.

To the women who are reading this, consider yourselves lucky if your spouses adhere to such wisdom. And appreciate him since he is a man who knows how to appreciate you, and how to keep the peace!

• A person who is aroused has no conscience.

Actually, my high school friend Kenny’s father put it more crudely than that. After struggling with an attempt to explain the birds and the bees to his precocious son, hemming and hawing as he tried to sound dispassionately scientific, he simply blurted it all out in a simple sentence. Succinctly but with great clarity, and while wiping off his heavy perspiration, he advised Kenny: “Son, remember this. An aroused prick has no conscience.”

• You can’t plant a tree in the morning and expect it to bear fruit the next day.

I first heard this from a teacher who chided us, his students, for cramming for exams only on the night before. More than any other metaphor, this drove home completely for me the idea that you cannot have access to all the knowledge and the wisdom you should have been working to acquire the entire semester and expect to have it all at your fingertips by studying furiously overnight.

• Leave a tender moment alone.

Thank Billy Joel for this one.

Sometimes, it’s good to be distant, or at least to know when not to react in the usual way. Not everything needs to be said, or explained. There are many situations in life when the best response is a subtle, or even a quiet one. Restraint is a virtue.

I think of moments when all I wanted and needed was someone to just listen to me unburden, not to give me advice or tell me what was good or bad for me. Sometimes, withholding the need to advise or preach may be the most appropriate response. But it is one of the hardest things to do.

Silence itself says so much more about compassion, appreciation and understanding of what’s going on than a smart riposte. In fact, to comment at all may be intrusive and could violate the unfolding tenderness or fragility of the moment.

• To be good at something, you must be willing to be bad at it.

This I got from Julia Cameron who wrote The Artist’s Way, and I fully subscribe to it.

I know people who won’t try anything new — a sport, a hobby, a new skill or a new job — unless they are assured of success. And because of this, they end up not trying anything at all. They are too afraid to fail and too fearful of anything outside their comfort zone. They dread the uncertainty that learning new things invites.

But there’s the rub. You will never know if you are good at anything unless you try it. And the best way to try it is to be unconditional about the initial outcome. I say do it for curiosity, or because you’ve always wanted to. Give it your best shot, even if only to find out that it may not be for you.

• Sometimes it is better to be sorry than safe.

The author of this is an executive of MTV who had to explain to his board of directors in New York why he almost lost the rights of MTV to broadcast in a Scandinavian country. In hindsight, he explained that he had proceeded too quickly and his decisions were too bold for comfort and so he earned the ire of some officials.

While I generally believe in the wisdom of caution, I believe that if one always takes the safe route, he or she will not grow to full potential. There are times when we must seize the moment and courageously leap into the unknown. From our mistakes, we can at least learn something. Repetition and safe thinking are really just more of the same.

• Wanna feel abundance with just 10 dollars? Give it away!

I heard this from Neale Donald Walsch, author of the world-famous Conversations with God books, when he gave a talk in Manila a few years ago. He was underlining the point that one who can share what he possesses freely and spontaneously is rich and abundant regardless of how much he has. On the other hand, a person who is miserly and will not share anything despite owning millions or billions has a mindset mired in poverty and will never experience abundance. Amid his wealth, he feels only deprivation.

* * *

I am inviting everyone to join the 33rd run of my walk-the-edge workshop entitled “Tapping the Creative Universe.” TCU is a workshop where participants can uncover, face and overcome the issues that block their productivity, creativity and joy. This highly acclaimed workshop will awaken you to who you really are and make you creative for life.

Join this six-night workshop on August 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 13, 7 to 9 p.m. at 31 M. Jocson St. Loyola Heights, QC. The cost of the sessions is P5,000.

To reserve a slot in this life-altering workshop, or request a syllabus, call 0916-8554303 and ask for Ollie, call 426-5375 or write Jim at

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13 years ago

I love it!

13 years ago


13 years ago

hi jim, i loved your “practical wisdom” blog entry but i love “more pratical wisdom” more! its so so true – “when mommy is not happy, no one is happy”. haha! ask madison next time you see her. 🙂
when are you having TCU in Sydney? I’d love to join if my schedule permits.

13 years ago

marlene, thanks. I will hold TCU in Sydney sometime in October and will let you know. I love talking to madison. swarap siya magkwento.