Saturday, February 25, 2017
The secret of Happiness: live life in the slow lane
When I began sharing my advice over social networking sites on the internet, answering real-life questions on Twitter and Facebook, I did not anticipate the response — an outpouring of emotion from countless strangers.
As a Zen monk and former professor at a small arts college in Massachusetts, U.S., I am used to being asked for advice on dealing with life’s challenges. I like to talk about the value of slowing down in our busy lives, and sometimes I write notes to myself that I then share, too.
It makes me profoundly happy that my simple messages can inspire people and help them. I still remember a young mother who had lost her husband in a car accident and who sent me a heartfelt thank-you note for saving her from committing suicide: she said she had never thought before about loving herself, because love for her always meant giving it to someone else.
And a graduate, discouraged after not finding a job, read my supportive words and gave the search another try, finally landing a job. When I read his news, I was overjoyed for two days, as if I had landed the job myself.
Above all, slow down and take the time to savour your thoughts. Remember, it isn’t the outside world that is a whirlwind; it is only your mind. The world has never complained about how busy it is…"
Above all, slow down and take the time to savour your thoughts. Remember, it isn’t the outside world that is a whirlwind; it is only your mind. The world has never complained about how busy it is...
I hope there will be something in among these sayings and reflections that will help you, too. Above all, slow down and take the time to savour your thoughts. Remember, it isn’t the outside world that is a whirlwind; it is only your mind. The world has never complained about how busy it is...
None of us can know, or want to know, every single thing that happens in the world. If we did, we would go crazy with the overload of information. The advice in this section is about slowing down and being selective, to enable your mind to cope. When you are so busy that you begin to feel overwhelmed, remember that you are not powerless: when your mind rests, the world also rests.
TEACHER WHO INSPIRED ME
By all measures, I was an average kid. I was of average height, from a middle-class family, not the brightest student nor a troublemaker. But my elementary school teacher, Mrs Lee, predicted great things about my future. I was scared of her, until I visited her house to play with her son, who was my age, and discovered she was a kind and loving person, who only appeared strict when she was in the classroom.
‘You are going to be a good student and a role model for your friends,’ she said. ‘You will become a great person who brings wisdom and happiness to a lot of people.’
My young heart was moved beyond words. From that day, I studied very hard and was determined not to disappoint Mrs Lee. I think I have become who I am today thanks to what she said that afternoon.
If you are raising a child, remember it is OK for your child to do well in one area and not so well in others.
Are you a controlling parent? Are you devoting too much attention to your child? If the answer is yes, then turn some of that attention toward your parents. If you are good to your parents, your child will learn how to treat you in the future.
Some say they don’t really know what they are looking for in life. This might be because instead of getting in touch with how they feel, they have led their lives according to other people’s expectations. Live your life not to satisfy others, but to fulfil what your heart desires.
Establish a goal for the week. There’s a big difference between having a goal and not.
Even if you have just a modest dream, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to others about it. By the time you tell ten people, it is more likely to come true.
To get food unstuck from a frying pan, just pour water in the pan and wait. After a while the food loosens on its own. Don’t struggle to heal your wounds. Just pour time into your heart and wait. When your wounds are ready, they will heal on their own.
When trust is shattered, when a hope is dashed, when a loved one leaves you, before doing anything, pause your life and rest. If you can, surround yourself with friends and share food and drink while slowly letting out the bottled-up stories of betrayal, disappointment and hurt.
A VERY modern dilemma: There are countless television channels but nothing interesting to watch. Too many choices make people unhappy.
There is a famous Buddhist saying that everyone appears as buddhas in the eyes of the Buddha and everyone appears as pigs in the eyes of a pig. It suggests the world is experienced according to the state of one’s mind. When your mind is joyful and compassionate, the world is, too. When your mind is filled with negative thoughts, the world appears negative, too.
Things I liked when I was young but now couldn’t care less about: aeroplane journeys, all-you-can-eat buffets, horror movies, staying up all night. Things I enjoy now I am older: Mozart, brown rice, meditation, spending time alone, regular exercise. We change without realising it. We are in the midst of change now.
When you have to make an important decision, don’t lose sleep over it. Just take the special medicine called ‘time’ and wait. Your subconscious will search for the answer. Two days later, or three, the answer will dawn on you as you are waking up, taking a shower, or talking to a friend. Put faith in your subconscious mind and give yourself time.
When I first became a professor, my heart pounded at the thought of meeting my new students. I was filled with eager anticipation, like a teenager about to go on a date. I gave my students a little more homework than the other professors, as I felt the urge to teach them as much as I could.
Then I began to realise that my eagerness was creating some problems. A few appeared tired and seemed to lose interest. Students began coming to class without having done their assignments. I began to feel disappointed and hurt. When I examined the situation more clearly, I realised how unskillfully I had been conducting myself. The class was just one of four the students were taking.
Important as the subject was to me, the other courses were equally important to them.
After this realisation, I altered the class to find an appropriate balance between my passion for teaching and my students’ capacity to learn. To my amazement, the students noticed the difference almost immediately and began to respond positively.
Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim says the secret of happiness is to live life in the slow lane
Only when we know how to control our passion can we work harmoniously and effectively with others.
The most dangerous people are those who have passion but lack wisdom. If you want to predict how a politician will act after winning an election, look at how he lives currently and how he has behaved in the past. A person does not live the way he says he would. He lives the way he has been living.
Trying to convince someone to adopt our views is largely the work of our ego. Even if we turn out to be right, our ego knows no satisfaction and seeks a new argument to engage in. Being right isn’t nearly as important as being happy together.
If you shove others aside on the way to success, you will be pulled under once the tide changes.
LOVE IS THE BEST REVENGE
Even if we possess our dream house, a luxury car and a perfect body, we will be deeply unhappy if there are problems in our relationships. In my 20s, I went on a backpacking trip round Europe with a close friend from my monastery. The sights were wonderful, and we appreciated each other’s company.
But after seven days of spending every moment together, we’d run out of things to talk about and both became irritable.
So the following morning I suggested we take different routes and meet up at the hostel that night. At first, setting off alone, I felt free — but I soon missed my friend. Eating alone was a chore, and I didn’t bother to take pictures of any landmarks.
When we met again that evening, though, we had lots to talk about and were delighted to see each other. This experience taught me how easy it is to take our relationships for granted.
If you want a friend to remember your birthday, remember hers first. If you want your husband to give you a massage, give him a massage first. If you want your children to watch less TV, turn off your TV first. Don’t just wait for what you want to happen. Act first.
The flaw that you immediately notice in someone you meet is probably a flaw of yours, too. The reason that what bothers you about someone is the first thing you notice is that you share the same flaw.
Do you often feel lonely at work or in school? Perhaps your heart is closed off to those around you. ‘I don’t get her.’ ‘I’m better than her.’ ‘We’re on different wavelengths.’ If you think this way, how could you not be lonely? Open your heart and have a cup of coffee with her. You will soon see she is not that different from you.
When you are disappointed, don’t wait too long to say so. When you bottle up your feelings, the river of emotion swells, making it difficult to cross over and speak calmly.
The best way to get even with someone who has left you is to meet someone new and become happy again. Plotting for revenge and remaining jealous after many years is a formula for endless misery. The best revenge is love.
When we hate someone, we think about him a lot. Unable to let him go, we begin to act like him. Don’t let him become a long-term tenant of the heart. Evict him right away with a notice of forgiveness.
Many conflicts in our lives can be resolved if we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Try to look at things from their point of view. If you consider only your side, you are no different from a child.
There are only those who know their shortcomings and those who do not. Nobody is perfect. If someone looks perfect, that is because you don’t know the person very well.
Are you moving up? Are you doing well? Then see whether you are succeeding at the expense of others, or along with others.
It is embarrassing for a monk to talk about his first love, but she was an American missionary whom I met by chance on the streets of Seoul in South Korea, where I was born. She taught me English, and I made her mixtapes of the music we both loved.
But this love was fated to be one-sided: she was due to return to the U.S. and her boyfriend after six months, and as the hour for her to leave approached, I felt unbearable sorrow. Love was happiness and acute pain at the same time.
Five years later, I was living in America and on a road trip with a friend. We drove through her town, and I stopped in for coffee. To my delight, I met her husband: he was a kind-hearted person, like her.
Today, when I think of my first love, I no longer feel sorrow, only a deep gratitude to the universe for introducing me to such emotions, that made me feel truly alive.
To cook something delicious, you need time for the ingredients to marinate. To build a lasting relationship, you need time for trust to develop.
We can determine how close we are to someone by asking: ‘Can I act like a little kid in front of that person?’ When we love someone, we feel like a little kid in our heart.
In elementary school, I met a tall girl who made fun of me. Later I learned she was doing it to get my attention. That was my first insight into the complexities of human psychology.
A casting director auditions many actors but recognises the right one as soon as he walks in. It can be the same with a new house, a diamond ring, a future spouse. If you are hesitant, you might not have found the right one.
When I walk around New York City in my grey monastic robes, I often encounter young boys who expect me to be a Kung Fu master like Bruce Lee. The playful side of me wants to strike martial arts poses, slowly raising my arms and right leg. The more serious side reflects that these boys have a lesson for me — never to judge anybody by their appearance. By the same token, I must not allow myself to become too concerned with how I look to the world. After all, if I meet a friend for lunch, I will probably not remember what she was wearing a week later, or what her hair was like. So why would she commit trivial details about me to memory?
Life is like a slice of pizza. It looks delicious in an advertisement, but when we actually have it, it is not as good as we imagined. If you envy someone’s life, remember the pizza in the ad. It always looks better than it is.
There are many more ordinary hours in life than extraordinary ones. We wait in line at the supermarket. We spend hours commuting to work. We water our plants and feed our pets. Happiness means finding a moment of joy in those ordinary hours.
Have you ever selected a cheaper dish from a menu than the one you really wanted, only to regret your choice when it arrives? Always go with your first choice if you can afford it. It is better than a life filled with regrets.
Wherever you go, cultivate a sense of ownership. If you see litter in a church, library, or park, pick it up. As you take ownership, your life will have more purpose, and people will notice your good example.
Wear confidence. It is the height of fashion.
Not everyone has to like me. After all, I do not like everyone. Certainly for all of us, there are politicians, co-workers, clients, and family members we simply cannot stand.
So why should everyone like me? There is no need to torment yourself because someone dislikes you. Accept it as a fact of life; you cannot control how others feel about you. This is a problem only if you let it bother you.
Dream big but start small. A small adjustment can have a big effect on your life. For example, if you want to be happier, start by going to bed half an hour earlier. If you want to lose weight, drink water instead of soda. If you have an important project, then start by getting your desk organised.
Knowledge wants to talk. Wisdom wants to listen.