#WW: 🇸🇬 How nations thrive and die. Buddha’s advice to a King

#WW: 🇸🇬 How nations thrive and die. Buddha’s advice to a King

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

To all our Singapore readers.. happy national day! Today we reflect on what Buddha advised a king on how nations come together and how they weaken. In addition, we look at the diverse nation we live in. May we always grow in the path of peace!

1. Following these 7 principles fosters harmony in a nation. Buddha’s advice to a king.

2. A Fresh Take on Different Faiths in Singapore

Following these 7 principles fosters harmony in a nation. Buddha’s advice to a king.

Image of King Ajatashatru, who wanted to invade a country

What’s going on here & why we like it

Buddhist Door, a blog focused on Buddhist stories, shares how Buddha advised a king to NOT invade a country because that country followed 7 principles that strengthened unity. One of them includes protecting the rights and safety of women! Buddha was being skilful in dissuading the young king as it would have led to unnecessary bloodshed. However, the ultimate outcome was one that ended with blood on the streets.

As they quarrelled among themselves, their united front collapsed. This time the clever minister sent a message to King Ajatasattu: “Now is the time to attack.”

Wise Steps

Yes, you probably are not running a nation but rather part of an organisation (work/ community/ youth group). Reading these 7 principles is still useful in the way of running these groups that you work with. What are some ways you can implement them? What are some missing pieces in your organisation?

Read the article here.

A Fresh Take on Different Faiths in Singapore

What’s going on here & why we like it

Ophelia, a HOL contributor, shares her thoughts on national day and how there are different colours of religions coming together in the melting pot of Singapore. She explores how different acts in religions converge towards similar meetings. If we could all look deeper, we just might learn something new!

It is natural to agree and disagree; to identify and cluster, what more to differentiate and – god forbid – discriminate. Yet, how often do we understand each other?

Wise Steps

Take a chance to know more intimately the rituals of other religions, you might learn something new and shed away prejudices that you held!

Enjoy the article below!


4 things I never realised until I studied overseas…during a pandemic

4 things I never realised until I studied overseas…during a pandemic

TLDR: Being stuck in lockdowns isn’t the best way to start university, but here’s what I have learnt! Studying overseas allowed me to have an open mind and embrace challenges as they came. 

“Congratulations! The world is your oyster.”  

Like many undergraduates studying abroad, studying overseas was a significant milestone for me. I had many aspirations for personal growth, academic success and ultimately, a successful career. 

Though I had many worries about what the future may bring, I knew that it was something I have longed for. I couldn’t contain my excitement as the days approached – the start of my journey in England! 

Groups of students were at the airport with their friends and family, but I was alone pushing the airport trolley. It was a familiar yet strange feeling to be at the airport. This time was unlike all previous trips: I felt uneasy and lonely. 

This was just the beginning of my journey. It was later filled with moments of unexpectedness. An identity I thought was solid was shown to be transparent.

Here’s what I have learnt during my year abroad:

1. Being at peace with my emotions

Lugging heavy luggage up and downhill, then up a few flights of stairs marked my arrival at college. A physical workout I never expected at a world-class institution. 

Then, came my greatest shock: 2 boxes of food that were for half a month of quarantine. Hot meals that I expected to be delivered to my room were merely my wishful thinking. 

Instant food and more junk food greeted me as I rummaged through the boxes, only to find out that I was given the same food ration daily. 

The reality was vastly different from what I had expected. I was disappointed because I had high expectations of university life. One disappointment after another coupled with homesickness just made things worse.  

Being in an unpleasant situation, I learned to slowly acknowledge and accept my emotions. Recognising that emotions were fleeting and impermanent calmed me down. Labelling my emotions made their fleeting nature more obvious.

I was more mindful when unpleasant emotions arose and l grew to be more gentle towards myself. Unhappy times would eventually pass, and so would happy ones. 

I started to live in the present and realised I had limited control over the future. We, humans, desire pleasant feelings and want to cling to them, while quickly escaping from unpleasant ones. 

Suffering is experienced when things do not go according to our wishes. We feel uneasy and become reactive towards the unfamiliar.

My comfort food was a warm bowl of noodles and not potato chips in the cold weather. I learned to be grateful for the food which provided me with energy instead of viewing it as an unpleasant meal. 

All conditioned phenomena are impermanent; When one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (dissatisfaction). This is the path to purity.” Dhammapada Verse 277

2. Learning to slow down

In Singapore, I was used to the fast-paced life where everything has to be done quickly and efficiently. We are always in a rush to complete yet another task. 

In England, I began immersing myself in my surroundings and noticed the little things. I took time to enjoy the brilliant colours of the autumn foliage, sheep grazing the field, birds chirping at dawn and dusk and the paw prints of bunnies when winter arrived.

I made so many discoveries when I slowed down to observe. 

The little things which I once paid no attention to were the ones I looked forward to each day. 

By relaxing my pace of life, I started to appreciate the people, culture and environment. I was slower in jumping to conclusions and was more willing to understand and learn. I was responding and not reacting to different situations

I felt happier and more relaxed by focusing on what I had, rather than worrying about the future.

3. Staying calm in the face of challenges

One of my favourite places to take a walk

Stuck in the middle of a pandemic, I had to do my laundry, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc., amidst many assignments and exams. These were previously handled by my parents in Singapore.

Moreover, schoolwork greatly increased in depth and breadth compared to polytechnic. There were much more readings, preparations for seminars, and numerous modules to handle.

Besides, I was studying a subject that was foreign and needed more time to understand the content. The accumulation of the tasks and workload consumed me.

I was experiencing high stress, yet I need to increase my productivity to complete my tasks. Thankfully, I managed to set aside time to find some solutions to get me through these difficult moments. Having exposure to the Dhamma through groups like BFY and NPBS gave me the tools to get through these moments.  

– Meditation 

Before a study session, I would calm down by doing a short meditation. This was beneficial in decluttering thoughts and giving clarity to focus on tasks. 

Day-tight compartments

Day-tight compartments prioritise focusing on the task we have at hand, without being trapped in the past or future. 

I would plan out my agenda for the day and break it down into small manageable tasks. Having a plan assures me that I would be able to complete my agendas on time. 

During each study session, I would focus on my planned tasks. However, if important stray thoughts arose, I would jot them down and attend to them later. 

4. Being appreciative 

Being away from my family and friends made me realise their importance and how much I have taken them for granted. 

All the little things that I have taken for granted all these years, such as a bowl of home-cooked food or even a short face to face meet-up with my friends and family were the ones I yearned for. 

These made me more appreciative of the unconditional care and support that I once took as given. Now that I am back at home, the experience abroad reminds me to spend more quality time with my family and do more for them. 

Even though I am currently back in Singapore, studying abroad was one of the most memorable times –  wonderful memories and the ones that made me grow. 

It made me realise the impermanent nature of things. I was once full of hope for where my educational journey in England would bring me, but ultimately things change, and so do my purposes. This is truly anicca.


 Wise Steps:

  • When an unpleasant situation arises, observe & label the emotions you are feeling and note your reaction to them. What can we do differently the next time it arises?
  • The next time you’re on your daily commute, take time to observe your surroundings and the greenery that surrounds you.
  • Identify methods that calm yourself down in the face of adversities (meditation/ taking walks/ day-tight compartments)
#WW: 🎣 Are you a dying fish playing a social media game?

#WW: 🎣 Are you a dying fish playing a social media game?

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

Today, we look at two stories with the theme of endings. One talks about how we might inevitably kill our self-confidence. The other talks about our unwillingness to face the uncertainty of death.

1. Here’s how we unwittingly devalue our accomplishments

2. The dying fish fighting over water and the lessons we can learn

Here’s how we unwittingly devalue our accomplishments

flat screen computer monitor turned on
Unsplash

What’s going on here

Liz and Mollie, a famous Instagram page for doodles, shares a poignant image of how we shatter our confidence just by simply scrolling through social media. The caption provides greater reflection for those of us who consume social media before we get out of bed in the morning.

Why we like it

This post reminds us of how we can do a disservice to ourselves by scrolling through social media. We often try to use social media to distract us from boredom…only to find ourselves feeling guilty for not moving fast enough/being good enough/being smart enough. This image is an easy reminder to not over-scroll on Instagram.

“If you’ve ever found yourself scrolling and self-loathing, remember that we usually only get to see people’s highlight reels.”

Wise Steps

Set an Instagram timer using its settings to make you pause through your scrolling. This prevents you from going into a loop of self-loathing.

Read it here or below

Want a more tangible way to grow? Check out Liz’s book on embracing emotions at work!

The dying fish fighting over water and the lessons we can learn

body of water surrounded by trees
Unsplash

What’s going on here

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu, a monk famous for translating loads of suttas into English & his uber-low voice, talks about how the impermanence of life can really motivate us to be better people. You could die today, are you ready to go? This 12 mins talk reminds us that if we don’t pull our act together, no one is gonna do it for us.

Why we like it

Venerable Thanissaro challenged us to look at our minds right now, and see if we are like fish fighting in a pond that is being drained of water. His calm narration would lure you back to reality and see what is truly important. This talk reminds us of how things are uncertain and how we can’t control our bodies & health.

“The world is drying up and the fishes are beating each other for whatever water is left.”

Wise Steps

Contemplating the impermanence of life can ground us in the present moment and guide us to prioritise the things that matter most in life. There is work to be done and we can’t be complacent.

Enjoy the talk here or play it below!


#WW: ☄️ Chaos at the office and how we can work with it

#WW: ☄️ Chaos at the office and how we can work with it

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

The last public holiday felt like ages ago. The office space or your team feels chaotic. How can we work with chaos? How do astronauts cope with stress?

1. Astronauts, Heartbeat, and our unpleasant emails

2. Chaos at office! How to deal with it the Buddhist way

Astronauts, Heartbeat, and our unpleasant emails

blue and white cartoon character

What’s going on here & why we like it

Ryan Holiday, a famous stoic, shares how astronauts are chosen for their missions into space and how they keep regulated under stressful situations. We like how Ryan brings astronauts’ training into how we can train to deal with adversity even better!

“Often times, the way we respond to something makes it worse. We tell ourselves something is unfair.”

Wise Steps

How often do we prepare ourselves for hardship? Wanting things to be how we want them to be rather than the way things are? Running through scenarios of negativity that one might face in the day prepares one for the uncertainty that might lie ahead.

P.S. “Premeditatio malorum (“the pre-meditation of evils”) is a Stoic exercise of imagining things that could go wrong or be taken away from us. It helps us prepare for life’s inevitable setbacks and develop resilience in the face of uncertainty. “- Ryan Holiday

Check out the awesome Tiktok below!

Chaos at office! How to deal with it the Buddhist way

brown wooden house near green trees during daytime

What’s going on here & why we like it

Pema Chodron, a famous western Tibetan nun, shares how we can deal with chaos in the best way possible. She provides us with 3 ways we can deal with chaos such as going to places which scare us and using poison as a medicine.

“We breathe it in for everybody. This poison is not just our personal misfortune, our fault, our blemish, our shame—it’s part of the human condition.”

Wise Steps

Pema Chodron introduces us to the Buddhist contemplation and meditation of Tonglen. Taking in the negative energy from ourselves and others and emitting the positive energy into the environment. Super cool and worth a short at visualisation/ contemplation

Check out the article!


#WW:  😅 Stop saying ‘my condolences’ to those who are grieving. Here’s what you can do instead.

#WW: 😅 Stop saying ‘my condolences’ to those who are grieving. Here’s what you can do instead.

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

As July begins, it is say goodbye to the first half of the year. We look at two stories of comforting others who are griefing. We often find ourselves saying ‘My condolences’…can we do better?

1. How NOT to show empathy

2. How to write a condolence message

How NOT to show empathy

black and white printed textile

What’s going on here & why we like it

Calm Collective, an awesome Singapore mental health organisation, shares a quick guide on showing empathy and the pitfalls to avoid. This is a succinct carousel post on how we can do better when helping friends through their hardest times.

“Compare their experiences with someone else. This gives them the signal that their emotions are not important”

Wise Steps

When engaging with friends who are in tough times, whip out this post to avoid the pitfalls. Train yourself to be mindful in your responses.

Check out the awesome post below!

How to write a condolence message

two hands

What’s going on here & why we like it

Option B, an insta page dedicated to mental health shares on how we can write condolence message. Spoiler alert: It is more than saying ‘My condolences’ which tends to ring empty. We like it as it is actionable and also gives you ways to approach those who are greiving.

“Acknowledge the supreme shittiness of the situation”

Wise Steps

Apply active listening and empathy when engaging with friends who are in need of a ear. Saying filler phrases like “I am sorry for your loss” can be replaced with better phrases like “Is there anything I can do for you right now?”

Check it out below


#WW: ☁️Floating through zoom calls? It is okay to feel lost

#WW: ☁️Floating through zoom calls? It is okay to feel lost

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

These are uncertain times. With lay offs happening across industries especially in the tech sector, we might feel this creeping anxiety of being retrenched. For those of us who see our colleagues get retrenched, we might feel lost in our careers. That’s probably okay and human to feel that way. Here are 2 articles to get you through these tough times

1. It is okay to feel lost. We all do.

2. Prolonged Uncertainty is a pain. What can we do about it?

It is okay to feel lost. We all do.

From Tiny Wisdom

What’s going on here & why we like it

Tiny Wisdom, a blog focused on short stories of wisdom, shares a deep comic strip about floating through zoom calls and wanting to be somewhere else. It might just be the comic strip that you need. It connects with us as readers as it is simple in its message and reminds us that it is okay to not ‘have it together’.

“I may not be able to be the person I want

But if I can’t be one thing,

That doesn’t mean I can’t be something.

Wise Steps

Remind yourself that while it is easy to think that you ‘are not the best’, it is important to acknowledge that you are trying your best too!

Read the article here.

Prolonged Uncertainty is a pain. What can we do about it?

Cr: estherperelofficial

What’s going on here & why we like it

Instead of lashing out or screaming ‘I am stressed’, what are some ways we can approach all the uncertainty swirling in our lives? Esther highlights 4 ways we can do better in prolonged uncertainty. We like it because it is very much aligned with Buddhist teachings of identifying emotions, removing obstacles, reflecting, and helping others

“Connecting with the past and tying it to the present can give perspective, and encourage us in times of struggle.”

Wise Steps

Pay attention to what you pay attention to! What we consume and how often we consume news, debates, and social media can negatively affect our anxiety about prolonged uncertainty.

Enjoy the advice below!


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