#WW: 🧙🏻‍♂️Accepting feedback…Hogwarts style

#WW: 🧙🏻‍♂️Accepting feedback…Hogwarts style

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

When someone says that our work sucks, how do we feel? How can we better receive feedback when our work ain’t up to someone’s standard? We explore filtering feedback and improving our interactions with others. We also draw wisdom from Will Smith to show the other side of him beyond the slapping incident.

1. Filtering good and bad feedback like Harry Potter

2. Meeting someone for the last time

Filtering good and bad feedback like Harry Potter

Credits: The Tiny Wisdom

What’s going on here

Brian, from The Tiny Wisdom, uses Harry Potter’s interaction with Voldemort to teach us creative lessons on receiving feedback. This fun and creative comic strip covers ways we can better deal with feedback that we may not like. Sometimes, our best might not be enough for the world. Harry Potter teaches us how.

Why we like it

As we navigate through work-life, we often find our work being criticised or scrutinised. This can make us question our self-worth and quality of work. This is a nifty way to figure out whether the feedback should be taken or cast aside.

“When someone told you something about your work — good or bad — you ask them: why?”

Wise Steps

Taking feedback non-personally. We often attach strong ownership to our work and get emotional swings through praise or criticism. Building the feedback muscle makes us take a pause before engaging with the feedback.

Read the Harry Potter comics here

Read more on the science and art of receiving feedback here

Meeting someone for the last time

people standing on white round building during daytime
Unsplash

What’s going on here

Will Smith, a famous actor (also infamous now for the oscar slapping), shares one of the most important lessons he learnt and how he applies that to everyone he interacts with.

Why we like it

This video is short but impactful. It makes you think deeper about the relationships we hold and the way we interact with others.

“Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.”

Wise Steps

Try to greet every being as if it is the last time you meet them. Because tomorrow is not promised never go to bed hating someone or saying nasty things. Had an argument? Internalise, forgive, and re-engage with one another.

Enjoy the video here or below!


#WW: 👵🏻 Which part of you is living in the past?

#WW: 👵🏻 Which part of you is living in the past?

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

We often laugh at friends who do not know the latest trends/ Netflix movies/ social terms. However, we rarely think that we are ‘out-of-trend’. Today we explore how we can check on which part of us is still living in the past. To seek within and not outwards. Stay wise!

1. Are you operating on Windows 95?

2. Two monks carry a woman differently. What can we learn?

Are you operating on Windows 95?

flat screen computer monitor turned on
Unsplash

What’s going on here

Adam Grant, a famous writer who writes about work-life, shares a post about rethinking our opinions and views. We often laugh at others who are ‘outdated’ in the products, films, and services they use. However, we often miss looking in the mirror for the outdated opinions we hold.

Why we like it

Adam challenges us to look deeper by first forcing us to confront the values that we hold. His post provides a nice trigger for us to recollect on changing our views and even friendships to become a better version of ourselves!

“The best way to stay true to your values is to stay open to rethinking your views. What have you rethought lately?”

Wise Steps

Have a deep thought about what values you hold close to your heart. Is there a need to rethink them? What grudges do you hold that no longer serve you?

Read it here or below

Want to challenge your old beliefs? Grab his book here!

Two monks carry a woman differently. What can we learn?

body of water surrounded by trees
Unsplash

What’s going on here

Two monks meet a woman stranded at a raging river. The senior and junior monk makes their own decision on how to approach the lady. The video highlights clinging to form vs substance.

Why we like it

This short video makes us reflect on the principles behind why we walk the Buddhist path. To let go of our preconceptions of what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and focus on the present moment of what needs to be done.

“The junior monk was carrying the burden of what the senior monk had done as an emotional baggage”

Wise Steps

Does something ‘trigger’ you no matter what the person’s intention? Reflect on what you are clinging so much to that it is worth giving up your happiness for.

Enjoy the video here or below!

Want to learn more about the art of letting go? Venerable Ajahn Chah’s book Food for the Heart might help!


I’ve Let Go (Or have I?)

I’ve Let Go (Or have I?)

TLDR: As “spiritual people” we might go through difficult events thinking we have transcended them – but actually, it may have just been spiritual bypass. To truly let something go, we must first find a way to meet ourselves and our suffering.

A phenomenon I’ve often observed within me is spiritual bypass. According to clinical psychologist John Welwood, this is the tendency to use spiritual explanations and practices to avoid facing unresolved emotional issues and psychological wounds.

Why It’s Problematic

With spiritual bypass, we may go through something traumatic and then pick out a line of Dhamma and think, “Yeah, the Buddha said this and he’s right, so I should get over it now.” 

For example, say someone close to you has passed away. Spiritual bypass in this situation may look like telling yourself that “everything is impermanent” and that “death is natural, it happens to everyone” so “I shouldn’t feel grief”.

 You use the Dhamma to rationalise the grief away – but without healthily processing the emotions that naturally arise.

This is problematic because externally, it may appear like you’ve been able to transcend the suffering, completely unaffected – but you haven’t actually done the real work of processing the painful experience and unpleasant emotions that come with it. 

Without properly taking the time to receive these things and truly let them go, they might stay repressed, festering away until they come back to bite you in the a** later on.

I’m Buddhist, so I Should Just Get Over It

Something that can make this tendency worse is a strong attachment to “being Buddhist”. You may hold yourself to very high standards, putting pressure on yourself to “be strong” and “get over it”, thinking you need to be unfazed by suffering. 

“I am Buddhist, so I shouldn’t be angry. Instead, I should be contented.”

“I am Buddhist, so I should be beyond such petty emotions.” 

“I am Buddhist, so I should be able to let go of suffering.”

From my experience, this can be a kind of conceit. It’s a deluded expectation stemming from a heavy attachment to a “Buddhist identity” – an idealism about how your practice “should” look like, instead of working with what actually arises.

 You may feel guilt or aversion around the unwholesome thoughts, intentions and desires that inevitably arise. And because of the shame, you want to hide them away, from others and even from yourself.

But what happens when you don’t allow yourself to process all that? 

It doesn’t just disappear. Instead, it gets buried in the heart and resurfaces later on.

In my late teens, I experienced several traumatic events and at the time, spiritually bypassed them and then left to study abroad (which was a niceee, biiig distraction). 

Years later, when I returned home during the pandemic to familiar conditions with lots of quiet, idle time, many of those unresolved negative emotions and thought patterns began to resurface. 

It was surprising because for the last three years I thought I was “fine” for the most part. But evidently, I had just swept things into “the basement of unawareness”. Now that they’d reappeared, it was time to clear out the basement – to finally meet myself and deal with the repressed suffering.

This was important because, as Pema Chödrön says, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know”.

So, How Should We Approach Suffering?

We know that everything is impermanent. We know that everything decays and dies one day. 

We often know the Dhamma very well on an intellectual level. 

But if intellectual understanding was all it took to let go, then everyone would be enlightened, wouldn’t they?

How do we apply the Dhamma beyond just a conceptual level?

In Thai, one of the terms for the mind is jit jai – “mind and heart”. There’s an ambiguity in the language that likens the mind to the heart. To me, this seems to say that processing things up in the head is not enough – we must also deal with them on an emotional level.

One of my favourite authors, Yung Pueblo, says “Manage your reactions, but do not suppress your emotions.”

Certainly, if there is, say, anger in the heart, we should take care to ensure that it doesn’t leak into our actions and speech in a way that harms ourselves and others. We might have to suppress it for that little while, but then we should make sure to process it healthily later on – this is necessary so that it can really be let go of. 

Of course, this sounds straightforward in theory, but it takes a lot of skill to acknowledge these emotions without indulging in or avoiding them. 

One way I practice receiving negative emotion is by being mindful of how it feels in the body. Focusing on how anger physically feels and changes helps me to receive it without indulging in it or denying it. However, I find this difficult to do for certain emotions (e.g. depression, which tends to lure you in and make you want to wallow in it), if I have a strong attachment to the issue at hand, or if my mindfulness is weak at that time.

Apart from mindfulness, the Buddha recommends five ways to remove distracting thoughts, which you can read about here. What works for you may depend on your temperament.

Letting Go of Repressed Dukkha

A process I find effective for dealing with old negative emotions is this:

1. Returning to familiar conditions in which the trauma took place can cause these old emotions to resurface. So if a situation is too triggering, remove yourself from it to prevent unwholesome speech and action.

2. Find a way to calm down. Interestingly, Ajahn Munindo suggests that meditation might not be that helpful at this time. If you’re completely agitated but try to meditate, you might just be mentally proliferating the whole time. Or you might just be tranquillizing yourself and not feeling your emotions – making it a form of spiritual bypass! What has worked for me is doing something physical with that energy, such as taking a long walk.

3. When you’re calm enough, receive the emotion. Let yourself feel all of it. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to vent, do it with a trustworthy friend. I remember a story by Ajahn Sumedho, who had so much aversion towards a particular visitor to the monastery that he sat down one day and just began writing out all his anger –completely unfiltered, not trying to be nice or reasonable or “a good monk” – until there was none left. This is acceptance and release.

4. I find that receiving the emotion comes hand-in-hand with developing insight around it. When your mind is calm enough to look at the situation, you may develop new perspectives and understandings. These “paradigm shifts” are the real good stuff that helps to create lasting “liberation” from the issue. Bit by bit, they help you make sense of the experience and let go of it.

For me, this process usually takes place over a few days. You may also find that you have to go through it multiple times. That’s because, after some time, these habitual mindsets that we carry can become cemented in the psyche, becoming our “default mode”. Reframing these thoughts can thus be very challenging – so don’t be afraid to even seek guidance from a therapist.

To quote Yung Pueblo again, “If the pain was deep, you will have to let it go many times… Letting go is not a one-time event, it is a habit that requires constant repetition to become strong. Sometimes the reaction to the pain is so deep that you will have to observe and release the tension repeatedly to fully cleanse the wound.” 

With each cycle, you might find that you let go a little bit more.


Wise Steps:

  • If you realise that something within your heart is unresolved, the first step is to let it come to the surface. Practice loving-acceptance.

  • Recognise your triggers and set boundaries for yourself. If certain situations are too much to handle, remove yourself from them. When you feel stronger, you may test the waters further in the future – but for now, protect your mind.

  • Having to deal with old trauma may feel like you’re regressing, but it is actually progress. Be patient and kind with yourself throughout this (often painful but rewarding) process.
Mindfulness Of Death Leads To A Fulfilling Life. Here’s How.

Mindfulness Of Death Leads To A Fulfilling Life. Here’s How.

TLDR: When we don’t understand death, life can be very confusing. Recognising death’s uncertainty, we not only do what we like but do what matters.

Death is a reality no one likes to talk about. An ex-co-worker passed away lately and so did a friend’s sister. Throughout my life, I have seen the passing of family members to acquaintances. Either by illness and even accidents – some were sudden while others took a while to die. They include the old and the young. Reflecting on death inspired me to write about the mindfulness of death. However, being mindful of death does not mean we constantly lament and harp on this fact till the last breath. It is about how understanding death helps us live a good life.

Awareness of Death

The unique ability of humans is our ability to be more aware of death compared to less intelligent life on earth. Despite this awareness, we do not pay much attention to it. What do I mean by paying attention to the reality of death?

We do not pay attention to the fact we have no control over the timing of our death. But yet we try to control everything else in our lives. We aim to live a good life measured by what we have or have not. We try to control our environment and others for this good life to happen. When in reality, if we cannot control when and how we die, how much control can we have over life?

This does not mean we give up on life to be lazy and lie down to sleep all the time. But the lack of awareness of death’s uncertain timing is a big reason most of us live stressful, discontented, and sometimes acrimonious lives.

The Good Life Is Linked To Death

When we don’t understand death, life can be very confusing. This is one of my favorite sayings of Ajahn Chah, a forest meditation master. A simple way to look at this could be imagining our last moments at death. I have reflected on this a lot. What would be the thoughts running through my mind in the last moments?

Do I want to busy myself and sweat the small things in my life? No.

Do I want to spend my life in a state of discontentment and blaming others for obstructing my well-being? I must admit, I had begrudged others in my youth but also noticed I was really unhappy. It is not something that I want.

Having a good career and boasting about it wasn’t part of my plan too. I saw early in my life how fame and wealth come and go. Through my reflection, I saw how nothing really mattered in our striving because it will all be forgotten with time. If I died and became nothing, would having fame, having a fantastic career, and having good food or living in a big house give me a sense of satisfaction at death? Even if I had a loving partner or family, I had to leave them at death and there is no satisfaction at all – having lost my mother to death made me realize this.

That was what I reflected on in my youth. There was mindfulness of death in me. But I had no answer to what makes a fulfilling life. I focused instead of doing what I liked.

Mindfulness of Death Helps Us Let Go

Growing up I had thought the purpose of life was to achieve things and be satisfied at death. Only to realize that satisfaction never lasts. There was this constant thirst to fill the emptiness of the heart.

What filled my heart was recalling the good I had done in my life. Lifting the spirits of an intern in my company to helping another youth find stability in her career and life. Recalling how I had helped others filled my heart. The achievements I had at work could not really remember. Even if I did, they did not fill my heart, compared to how I was able to help others in little ways I could.

A good life should be a life that is relaxed and joyful, without guilt or regrets. To be relaxed is to be able to let go at every moment. We could have goals in life. Goals from learning a new skill to climbing the career ladder.

Understanding that we can never really have full control of people or of our environment, all we can is to do what is needed at this moment and then let it go.

To let go does not mean we are lazy or we do not care. To let go is to know that we don’t know what will turn out the next moment so there is no point thinking or holding onto it. Even if we want to help someone, that person may not want to receive help. So, we can only take whatever opportunity there is to help and let go rather than force a person to receive help or to expect an outcome.

Filling Our Own Hearts

What really matters is our heart. Mindfulness of death in every moment allows us to let go. Letting go we allow ourselves to grow in patience and inner security. Patience because we allow things to unfold from our actions without needing control. Inner security because mindfulness of death makes us aware of our mind, speech, and action. They all have a consequence on our conscience. This helps us become responsible for our actions. It would not be very pleasant to die with regrets of hurting someone or living a selfish life with the time we have.


Wise Steps:

  • Calling to mind our last moments allows us to let go of the trivial negativities that we hold so closely.
  • Knowing that many things are truly not within our control, to cultivate patience without the need for control.
  • To guard our hearts against regrets and guilt, develop compassion towards ourselves and others so that our impending death may be peaceful.