Thursday, May 21, 2009

Toastmasters Ice Breaker Speech:
"The Simple Things"

By Mike Joseph G. Macapagal

“It’s always the simple things in life that makes us truly happy”

According to Confucius, life is really simple, but we just insist on making it complicated. Do you agree?

Think of the things that makes us happy or made us happy in the past. Are you happy with the thought of buying that dream condo? Don’t you love the anticipation of taking home that new BMW? I do, of course.

But what about looking at the sunset after a long day at the office? Getting home, seeing your children watching TV together? Spending a couple of minutes with your friends? Or how about remembering the time when you met your first love? Do these seemingly simple things make you happy?

My parents always told us that we should always dream big and strive hard to reach our dreams no matter what, but we must always think of the importance of being simple and humble in life.

Let me tell you a story about my childhood. We were pretty well-off back then, when I was a kid. If you knew me back then, you might even say that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I considered myself lucky, because as a kid, I could have all the toys that I wanted. I had an older brother and if you went into our room, you’d find the most expensive toys scattered everywhere. We could ask for anything that we wanted and we would get it. We were really fortunate back then because we lived a very comfortable life.

Everything was fine. That is, until my mom was diagnosed with bone cancer. I didn’t really understand the gravity of the situation at that time, for I was just 5 years old, but I knew that something was wrong. My mom, because of her sickness, had to undergo a lot of treatments, numerous checkups and she had to take a lot of medicine, which were really expensive. Pretty soon my dad had to quit his work in Ayala Land just so he could take care of my mom full-time. And shortly after that, our family had a serious financial crisis.

Everything changed. More so, when my mom died. We were no longer the kids who always had the latest and most expensive toys. After my mom died, my dad, to support the family, tried to put up and maintain a small repair shop, using what was left of our savings. He no longer had the high paying job that he once had. Everything was now different. The adjustment for the family was not easy, especially for me, because I was the youngest. All of us had to tighten our belts. It was really hard.

After a few years of raising us alone, my dad finally met someone who could help him in caring for us, his sons. She met our step-mom. Lucky for him! - But bad luck for us. My step-mom, she was the “monster mom”. Being the spoiled brats that we were, she was always scolding us. All-the-time. Clean your room, brush your teeth, clean yourself up! We really hated her!

But going back and thinking about it, I think my step mom was the reason our family got back on track. The timing was just right. She was the one who taught us brothers the importance of simplicity and the value of being close to ones’ family, that expensive toys are not everything. She taught us how to value our education. She with my dad, even with the money problems, worked hard just to send us to a good school, because they know that it’ll be a benefit for us in the future.

My parents taught us how to enjoy and be content with the simple pleasures of life. And I’m thankful to them because their lessons formed what I am right now. Because of them, even when facing the hardships in life, I can still truly say that I am happy.

Try to reflect and think of the times when you were happy. Was it when you purchased that new Nike shoes or that Louie Vuitton? Or was it when you were spending the afternoon with your family and friends?

The current times sometimes makes our lives more complicated than we can handle. It puts too much pressure on us. In such state, we must be mindful and make a conscious effort to not let life just pass us by. Sometimes try to stop and smell the flowers, admire the sunset, enjoy the little pleasures of life, which aren’t little at all, and most importantly, love life. Remember... “It’s always the simple things in life that makes us truly happy”.

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