Ep 15: Abundance vs Scarcity Mindset from a Buddhist Lens (Ft Daylon Soh)

Ep 15: Abundance vs Scarcity Mindset from a Buddhist Lens (Ft Daylon Soh)

Daylon  00:00

When you’re jealous, it means you come from a place of lack. If you think, “I don’t have enough love, I don’t have enough wealth or I don’t have enough fame,” you need to have this mindset whereby, okay, you’re detached from the outcome of whatever it is, but then you’re still pursuing it. And you have to accept the fact that other people also deserve love, wealth and fame and all these beautiful things and successful things in life. And you’re okay with it, Knowing that if you keep sharing your gifts with the world, you’ll be able to find a way to kind of receive it, provided that you don’t block yourself from receiving it.

Kai Xin  00:40

Hey, friends, this is Kai Xin and you’re listening to the Handful Of Leaves Podcast where we bring you practical Buddha’s wisdom for a happier life. Is an abundance mindset, just another fad out of a self-help textbook? The mindset of abundance is typically associated with getting rich and attracting wealth, and it can seem pretty materialistic and driven by desires of wanting more, or that’s what I thought. But after speaking to Daylon, I realised that that couldn’t be further away from the truth.

Kai Xin  01:18

In this episode, Cheryl and I chat with Daylon to uncover what an abundance mindset is, and what it isn’t. This mindset embodies kindness, generosity, and sympathetic joy, which is very much aligned with the Buddha’s values. Daylon shared many personal stories that really put into perspective how we can practise the mindset of abundance in real life. Stay till the end, to hear his story about how he got out of a depressive period in his life when he felt stuck and only had $10 left in his bank account.  We also explored how we can find opportunities and rise up even when we don’t feel enough, or don’t have enough, or sometimes, even just not believe we deserve more. Cheryl literally had a mindset shift during the recording, turning her from a skeptic to a believer.  Now let’s dive right in!

Kai Xin  02:14

 Hello, good to see you. Daylon. Hi. Hello. Today we’re going to talk about the topic of abundance. But before we get into that, can you just give our audience a quick introduction of yourself?

Daylon  02:28

I’m Daylon, I run an education company called Curious Core, and we specialise in helping mid-career professionals to transition into the future of user experience design and product management. We also do corporate training for companies like GIC as well as Maxis in the same view as well, we call them tech light skills. My interest is in education as well as in gaming, and I sometimes find myself reading that’s why we call our company curious core because I really very much enjoy the process of learning and growing. And that’s what our company is about.

Kai Xin  03:14

Nice, that makes two of us. And I think three of us. All of us are curious people. And we are going to have a lot of curious questions today because you were the one who suggested the topic of abundance. Could you share a little bit more about why this topic? And how has it shaped you to become who you are today?

Daylon  03:32

Yeah, I think this topic is really important in many hidden ways because when I help mid-career professionals to transition, we realise that it’s not just about their technical skills, it’s also about their self-confidence, and beliefs, whether they believe that they have embraced this new identity and whether they believe that they can make it in terms of that transition, and a lot of them do not have that belief, right, and they don’t actually see it. I do realise that mindset becomes a limiting factor in the transition process.

Daylon  04:14

In business, as well as in professional careers, we also see that cascading as well. When you have a business owner who does not believe that they deserve the success that they have or deserve the wealth that they have, then they will almost most easily lose that wealth as well without that mindset of abundance. Or they will gain it in a very difficult way. Whereby it’s very, very painful, you know, they break a lot of relationships as they are kind of gaining it. So I think is this such an important topic because it has changed and shaped my thinking and my life in so many ways, whereby I hope all listeners today will be able to leave the audio conversation with Insights and the ability to gain what they want in life with ease and grace.

Cheryl  05:05

To help us get a little bit more understanding of where we are right now, whether we have the abundance mindset, and how has it shown up in your life, we will be using a couple of icebreaker questions for all of us here to just see and you know, use as a ruler and see where we are. So the first question for all of us here: Do you constantly find yourself focusing on what you don’t have, instead of what you have?

Kai Xin  05:33

I used to always focus on what I don’t have, I guess living in a very competitive society. It starts from school, and like, why are my friends getting ahead of me? And why do I study so hard, but I still can’t get an A grade? So it feels very effortful and tiring. Over the years, with the help of Buddhist teachings, I have learnt to control what I can and don’t control what I can’t. And I think just shifting to the cup half full rather than empty philosophy. It’s been a journey. How about you Daylon?

Daylon  06:04

Yeah, I think that’s great. Because I also do tend to focus a lot on what I don’t have, especially when I’m younger, like I will see like, “Oh, my friend has this computer that can play all the computer games. And it’s like, all upgraded, and they have like the latest PlayStation.”  I’ll compare that I don’t have the latest PlayStation and I also want to get the latest PlayStation. So it becomes like trying to acquire a lot of material possession. And even after acquiring it, sometimes I realised Oh, actually, it just feels joyful for a while. And after that, I don’t feel as good anymore. So these days, I try not to focus on what don’t have, I try to focus on what I have and be appreciative of it.

Cheryl  06:51

Yeah, I think that makes it, something common for the three of us. I also used to have this feeling of like, and it’s pervasive, it’s everywhere. From comparing who has more friends, you know, when you’re in secondary school and seeing the size of your cliques to now you know, what projects you’re doing at work, who has the coolest project? So I think what really changed for me was during COVID, where there’s literally very, very few things that we could control. And that was when I was forced to start thinking, What can we really control and what we can’t, and from there, help us to be a little bit saner as well and, and find some happiness.

Daylon  07:29

If you only focus on what you don’t have, you will never feel enough. Without that feeling of being enough, you always feel like there’s a sense of lack. And since we’re talking about an abundance mindset here, right? If you’re always and constantly in a state whereby you feel like you’re lacking, then if I put you in a country that has multiple opportunities and resources and wonderful infrastructure, you will still complain, you will still feel like there’s a lot of things that’s not enough. And I think that’s Singapore, by the way, right? Kind of known as a country full of complainers.

Kai Xin  08:11

Yeah, I totally agree. And I think it also can dull our minds, it becomes so depressing. Like, that’s the only thing that we are thinking about, and it’s not very constructive, isn’t it? So just now we talk a lot about comparing these external aspects of our life, but it does manifest internally as feeling not good enough. And I do observe it is the core of a lot of problems. That sense of not being good enough. And perhaps today we can learn from you how to get past it.

Daylon  08:40

Sure, I’m sure we can learn from each other as well.

Cheryl  08:42

I just to link it a bit as well. Do you guys feel like you’re not good enough, like personally and how to evolve?

Daylon  08:52

I thought I didn’t have this problem. Initially, I thought  I was always like, quite good at what I’m doing. And professionally as person, I’ve seen myself growing professionally as well like doing better than most of my peers quite early in my 20s. So I always thought like, hey, actually, I don’t feel inferior to other people in any way. But then I realised that there was still that thinking in other aspects of my life that I wasn’t really aware of. And this was made apparent to me when I went for coaching sessions. I engaged a life coach, and I realised that I had this sense of lack or the sense of like, not loving myself enough. So I think one thing that the coach suggested to me is like, maybe you can put in your calendar every day to remind yourself that I am enough. So that’s what I did.

Kai Xin  10:00

I have had a similar experience. Also, I learned this from going through a therapy course and coincidentally, the advice was also to remind yourself that you’re good enough, but not on a calendar on a mirror so that you see every day, and with your reflection.

Kai Xin  10:17

 I was just reflecting on the question. And I feel like I picked up this sense of lack in primary school, especially because I was a bench player. So I played basketball but was always a bench player. And I think just you know, those silly mistakes make me overly apologetic, as I felt a need to compensate. And it just gets worse. Moving to secondary school, being roped into the basketball team again, and becoming a recreational or team player instead, so, I think I always feel not as good because everyone is like, a lot better, or I felt very average. I didn’t realise until I went through like the therapy course that this is the underlying problem. And it shows up in little things. Like when people were to praise me, I would deflect the praise, and not really receive them with grace, or acknowledge that, yeah, there are some parts of me that are good. So I guess I’m still learning how to shift that perception.

Cheryl  11:21

I really love what both of you are sharing. And I find a lot of similarities. I think I used to get a lot of sense of superiority. When I was doing sports, that was all throughout my primary school, I was training badminton, and pretty decent in it. But when I moved to Singapore, around 15, or 16, I moved into a very elite school called Methodist Girls School, where basically my classmates had parents who were in government, top lawyers with like, 30 Ferraris or something. And then that was when the whole sense of inferiority came up. I was like, Oh, my God, I am so poor, I have no idea what YouTube is, all the cool stuff that generally people who are richer, were buying at that time. All I had was 2nd generation phones and things like that. So then that sense of superiority turned into a sense of inferiority. And somehow, it got stuck very deeply, because I was bullied as well. So that inferiority, combined with a sense of, you know, being ostracised, hit really deep and permeated all the way to adulthood as well. I think through Buddhism and time, I realise that it’s not about feeling good or bad enough, you’re just like that due to causes and conditions and accepting that and still finding room to improve every day. It’s an attitude that is helpful, to me, at this point.

Daylon  12:37

Yeah. So I think like the first icebreaker question you asked, it connects to the feeling of lack, right, which is related to the topic we’re covering today. And then the other question you mentioned is about how much you love yourself, how much you care about yourself, and how much you find yourself worthy. And both of these questions connect very nicely to what we’re talking about today, which is abundance.

Kai Xin  13:03

Yeah. And maybe you can share a little bit about the difference between feeling a sense of lack, or some people will call it scarcity and feeling a sense of abundance, like, how do you know which one? Which side of the coin are you’re at?

Daylon  13:17

I think a simple way to understand the difference between a scarcity mindset and an abundance mindset is whether it is conditional. A lot of times when we talk about scarcity is very conditional, whereas abundance is more unconditional. For example, if you have this scarcity mindset, which is usually passed down from generation to generation, such as, “if I work hard, I will earn more money. ” It sounds like good advice. But actually, if you dig deeper into it, it means that for any money that you earn, you will always have to work hard for it. You will never get money easily. And it sounds very weird, right when I say maybe you can get money easily. Because it doesn’t mean it has to be illegal, or through any nefarious means. But it’s true. There are actually people who have great business ideas, and they earn money actually very easily. So connecting working hard to earning money, I wouldn’t say it’s the most abundant mindset. In fact, I will classify it as a more scarcity mindset because it’s conditional in that sense. With an abundant mindset on the opposite end, whereby if I am sharing my talents and adding value to the world, I’m being paid in multiples. So this is not conditional, right? This is like if I am someone who has talents and everyone has talents that they are sharing with the world. They will be able to be rewarded in multiples in this case. So, one, you have this feeling of restriction, I must work very hard, depending on how much energy I can give. So if I work very hard, then I get the money, then that other is like a feeling of expansion whereby, oh, okay, I’m really going to receive it because of my gifts and my talents. And I have abundant gifts, and I have abundant talents that I’m able to express in this world. So it’s a very different mindset shift.

Kai Xin  15:29

Could you elaborate a little bit more about the unconditional part? So you’ve explained the conditional pay, maybe some examples?

Daylon  15:38

So like what I mentioned earlier, like, if we tie something to a condition, then it becomes very (transactional)- if I do this, then I will get this. Whereas if I’m naturally in an abundant mindset, there are no conditions in the abundant mindset. It is more of a fact whereby it has already happened, or it is happening, or it’s about to happen. And it’s a feeling of expansion, whereby, you know, the pie is not smaller, because we have to divide it, but the pie gets bigger, and everyone has more share of the pie. So this is like, very, quite different in this in this sense.

Kai Xin  16:21

How do you think that would show up in a day-to-day setting? Because I can also understand that some people might have this cognitive dissonance, okay, if it’s already there, then what do I work for?

Daylon  16:37

So you still have to work for it. Like, I’m not saying that you don’t have to put in the energy, right, you don’t have to set an intention. Those are definitely still important. But the idea of an abundance mindset is to make sure that you don’t block yourself, and you don’t cause any friction, whereby you can receive opportunities where you’re able to allow your gifts to express themselves fully and then receive the opportunities.

Daylon  17:06

 Just like what you said earlier Kaixin, you mentioned when someone praises you, you will reject the praise like is nothing, right? You were trying to write off the praise. So that itself is somewhat of a scarcity mindset whereby you are not receiving the gift that is being given to you, which is praise. You do that often enough, you start believing that you’re not worthy, right? You do that often enough that people stop telling you that you’re good, right? But if you say and you accept the praise with grace, you say, “Oh, thank you so much. I think you did well over there as well, thank you so much. You know this is not my only effort. This is also like me trying to, I’m really trying my best over here.” If you receive it with grace, it also gives people the opportunity that acknowledgement that says it’s okay to praise Kaixin, right, it’s okay to tell her that she’s good. Rather than a signal to the person, like, “Please don’t praise me ever again, because I don’t deserve it.”

Kai Xin  18:14

I think there needs to be a little bit of clarification here because it’s a fine line between the intention when praise is received, and then you have the humility to acknowledge it, and still let other people also take the credit and not just have it for yourself, versus thinking that you don’t even deserve it. So yeah, I think it’s for listeners to look inwards to see what is the mental energy and mental state. Going back to what you were saying that the energy or the state is very expansive. I think people can feel that radiation, rather than be limited by the resources that they have on hand. That is, thanks for bringing back that example.

Cheryl  18:55

I’m just very curious, is this an either-or case, right? You either have an abundance mindset, or you have a scarcity mindset, or is it a situation where both can coexist and you can succeed as well?

Daylon  19:07

Um, I haven’t actually seen it being situational. I think generally if someone has a scarcity, mindset, their actions, their behaviour, and the things they say their thoughts tend to be more on the side of scarcity, tend to be more restrictive. Either this restrictiveness could come from self-imposed, restrictedness or actual constraints in the situation. Yeah, so I haven’t seen a hybrid or in-between, it’s either you have it or you don’t have it. Maybe there is a chance whereby someone is still trying to correct it right. So maybe they catch themselves like okay, like this scarcity mindset is not really fully abandoned, let me correct myself a little bit. So once you’re on the other side, right, I think you tend to think, oh, what can I do to collaborate with this person? What can I do to ensure a win-win partnership? What can I do to, you know, accept this love with grace?

Cheryl  20:20

Because when you see no limits, you’re constantly finding opportunities, by scarcity, all you see are boundaries, and you’re just stuck and trying to try to find the best space for yourself within the limited constraints.

Daylon  20:32

Yeah, absolutely. I think there are so many self imposed limits that we put on ourselves. And some of it could be conscious, and some of it could be unconscious. We learned a lot about these conditions from our parents. So if they believe that, you have to have a good job, and then you’ll be successful in life, or you can only be a doctor or lawyer, then you’ll be successful in life, then we tend to follow that narrative. Because since young, they’ve been telling us that don’t go and be a road sweeper, you know, don’t lie, or you must study hard. Or if you don’t study hard, you will be a road sweeper, you will be a pilot, that kind of thing.

Cheryl  21:19

And I think it’s way more than just coming from parents, it’s actually our cultural conditioning, and especially the competitiveness of society as well. I remember in high school, or just generally studying, when you have notes, you have the best answer or you have a website that has good resources, you kind of want to hide it from everybody else, and make sure nobody else does better than you.

Daylon  21:40

That is scarcity because you believe that if you help others to win, you can’t win. And I think it’s also like how the school system is designed. It’s about force ranking the first, second and third.  There is no, like everyone does well, where everyone gets a distinction or anything like that. And even when I was teaching at the Polytechnic, they will force a bell curve to rate the students. So you can never have more than, say, 20% of people getting ‘A’ in a class, even though they might be doing well as well.  But because of the forced bell curve, you can’t tell everyone, he actually did very well. So I think this is what we call a zero-sum game – for me to win, you have to lose. And actually, that’s not how the world operates. The world doesn’t necessarily operate in zero-sum conditions.

Cheryl  22:40

Is having an abundance mindset, the same as chasing for abundance, which means, you know, like, wanting more, wanting the next opportunity, wanting the next property? And if so, wouldn’t an abundance mindset be an unhealthy mindset? Because it seems like there’ll be no end to the meet the chase?

Daylon  23:01

Yeah, I think that’s such a wonderful question. I believe both of you would probably be more well-versed in Buddhism than I do. But I think in Buddhism, we speak about this idea of desire and attachment. Because we are attached to the outcome, or we have a certain expectation of something, therefore, there will be that disappointment. And having that desire and attachment is actually like a bottomless pit. This is true, I agree. Like if you constantly have that is kind of like never enough. And there’s that constant pursuit of, of material possession. I think if you want more love, wealth and fame, I do believe that you can’t hate or be jealous of others, who have love, wealth and fame. Because when you’re kind of like jealous, it means as you come from that place of lack. If you think, I don’t have enough love, I don’t have enough wealth, or I don’t have enough fame.

Daylon  24:00

 I think (one should be) holding on to the idea that in life, I could potentially lose all of these material things and be okay with it as well, and be open to receiving more of it so that I can use it as a force of good. What I’m trying to say is that you need to have this mindset whereby, okay, you’re detached from the outcome of whatever it is, but then you’re still pursuing it. And you have to accept the fact that okay, other people also deserve love, wealth and fame and all these beautiful things and successful things in life. And you’re okay with it. Knowing that if you keep working with it, if you keep sharing your gifts with the world, you’ll be able to find a way to kind of receive it provided that you don’t block yourself from receiving it.

Kai Xin  24:52

So it does sound to me like it is a misconception to say an abundance mindset means we always have to be chasing. It’s actually because you are content with what you already have, there is no more greed right, or wanting, which is the bottomless pit like you’ve mentioned. And yeah, it ties very nicely to Buddhism. In fact, if we already enjoy what we have, then we also grow, because it can be very unhealthy if we see other people as enemies, and then we don’t necessarily feed our virtue of generosity or grow our own wisdom of even like renunciation. It’s not just about, you know, giving material wealth, but it’s also the mindstate, am I less stingy, when it comes to interacting with other people or even, you know, sharing materials? Do I want other people to be successful? There’s also another concept called sympathetic joy means when you see other people succeed, you actually feel happy for them. And I think that is an abundance mindset in itself, where there’s nothing to lose, and you’re happy, not at the expense of others, vice-versa.

Daylon  26:01

Yeah, I definitely believe in what you just mentioned in the later part. I think a lot of why we feel like we don’t want to give or we tend to be a bit more protective of our own resources and what we have is maybe because of that ego, and it’s back to conditioning again. So I think it’s very important to understand that control is an illusion, and the need for control comes from our ego, to manage things and to plan things our way. But the truth and the reality is, life doesn’t go our way. Life actually has its own plans, and it’s how we kind of surf together with what life gives. The water analogy is kind of like a wave, right? You have to kind of move along with it. It’s kind of like having this dance together with life. And you can’t actually control how the outcomes.

Kai Xin  27:04

I’m wondering because we keep mentioning that our society is quite competitive. How realistic would it be for us to cultivate this quality? You have been in multiple MNCs before? I’m pretty sure it’s quite competitive, sometimes even political, how has this abundance mindset helped you? And then how can you inspire our listeners to say, hey, actually, it’s possible?

Daylon  27:29

I think it’s always easy for me to say, hey, looking, looking back and saying, oh, okay, after going through all these things, is actually pretty easy. But that’s also not the truth. I think it’s, it’s a practice, just like mindfulness. You have to be consciously practising mindfulness,  Mindful eating, mindful, walking, you know, or even meditation. So all these things are like a muscle. The same thing comes to an abundance mindset as well, you must treat it as a muscle that you need, to practice. You need to kind of think, Oh, if I’m reflecting in my journal, Or if I’m reflecting on the interaction I had with someone, is that actually the best interaction I can have?  Is that is that interaction with kind intention, right, is that an interaction with an abundant mindset? And just really asking yourself and challenging yourself? So the short answer is, it’s not easy, Because it’s so easy to default, to shrink your world, so easy to be protective of yourself. Very, very easy, very, very difficult to feel a sense of expansion.

Daylon  28:47

Because when you expand, there’s always that risk, you’re taking opportunities or taking risks. So I don’t blame people, when they want to protect themselves, they want to do the same things that they used to do, they want to defer to what they are familiar with. So it’s important to actually practice, to stretch yourself to be mindful of the quality of your interaction. And as you do that, over time, you will realise that this muscle gets stronger. And as this muscle gets stronger, it becomes easier for you to just show up, be present and be abundant in terms of that mindset. And if you get into any conflict of is anyone around you tries to drag you into a conflict, you’ll feel like you don’t even want to go to the conflict because you’re in this state whereby, wow, this is just like, I’m, I’m just so expansive. I’m so joyful and joyfully abundant, and  I don’t even want to be bothered by this small issue. It’s like if someone knocked on my shoulder, I don’t even want to be like bothered, I don’t even want to change my state because someone knocked on my shoulder, I don’t want to be like, thinking about that. I don’t want to like get too particular I buy my friend lunch, you know, or dinner, and then my friend didn’t buy back lunch.

Cheryl  30:16

And you write in a little notebook.

Daylon  30:21

I don’t even want to think about that, because I want to be in this state of abundance, because I believe that, you know, like, this is for good. Whatever happens, happens, and it’s fine. And everyone is, you know, trying their best in their life and doing what they can. So you have this mindset of abundance, and it then has sort of a cascading effect, to how you feel compassionate towards the rest of the world and your interactions with other people as well.

Daylon  30:51

Your goal is not to become Mother Teresa,  it’s not like you to become a saint, the goal for you is to get stronger in this muscle of abundance. And as you get stronger, you’ll start to see more results in your life, you start to feel that your quality of interactions with people is better, and you start to feel like when someone offers you an opportunity, you won’t start to doubt, hey, is this person trying to, you know, cheat me or something like that? You don’t start to think about the negative stuff. But I also say, with this caution,  it doesn’t mean you throw your critical thinking mind and your logical mind window, we still need to actually retain that. Because that is how we function as human beings with higher-order thinking. So being abundant doesn’t mean that you destroy your logic and your critical thinking like out the window, and you don’t check and stuff like that.

Cheryl  31:48

I really like what you’re sharing. I think what stood out to me, as I was listening to you was really on the idea of understanding the kind intentions (we can have) and also reflecting on the quality of interactions that we’re having with the people around us everyday. And I was just tying it back to you know, even this podcast, even chatting to you, I would say probably a scarcity mindset, when it shows up, it will be one where you know, as a podcaster, I will be thinking “how can I look the best? How can I appear the smartest in the room?” Then, when we’re thinking about (having an) abundance mindset, it changes the whole dynamic? How can I offer everyone here a space to share to add value to this conversation? And I think that will really shift the conversation into something that is so much more relaxed and much more wholesome as well.

Daylon  32:47

I love that. And I think that’s an important distinction around me versus we. If you live in this idea of a me centred universe, it’s all about me, it’s very ego-driven.  Whereas you live in a we-centred universe, you stop focusing on yourself too much, because I think that feeling of entitlement, that feeling of being a complainer, It’s that feeling of, “oh, I’m a victim, I’m, I deserve better.” Those are actually not very healthy mindsets, I would say.

Kai Xin  33:21

And I’m also just reflecting on our conversation and how we’ve got connected Daylon. Many years ago,  we we caught up, and then I remember, many meals, we talked just very casually, not really expecting anything in return from that connection. And many years later, you know, helping each other in our career-referring businesses, I thought there was just something really beautiful.  When I asked whether it’s realistic, I think it’s in the sense that, perhaps some people might think, people might take advantage of us if we are overly generous, or we have this mindset. And we don’t stand for ourselves. But I don’t think it’s true. In fact, when we collaborate, we synergize, we have more resources to share and to create better things than as we are alone. So I thought that was really beautiful, real life example.

Daylon  34:11

Yeah, I know. It’s definitely I mean, theory, it sounds very nice. And I know it’s very difficult to put it into practice. But like I say, No, it’s about little stretches,  Like this, shifting your mindset bit by bit, you know,  what’s the next level, I can take this to. If, let’s say for example, let’s go back to the example my my friend didn’t buy me dinner.  Instead of just mulling over it and getting upset with your friend that didn’t buy you dinner back, what’s the next best intention that you can bring to it? Maybe you can think about oh, you know, like maybe my friend is busy, or maybe like you might be actually dealing with something in their business and all that. So now you’re introducing compassion. Now you’re introducing empathy, that’s a really stretch really?

Kai Xin  35:01

Yeah, I fully agree. And, again, it’s a lot more healthy. I just wanted to read this quote that I found from an article talking about abundance. So it says, our inner abundance radiates a sense of worth value and ease of having something to give the world and enjoying doing so. So it’s very unconditional, we’re just there to give, not expecting anything in return. And then Jack Kornfield, which is the author, later went on to say, without abundance, we can be in the midst of riches and feel like a hungry ghost.

Kai Xin  35:38

I found that to be so powerful is like what you said at the very beginning, we are living in very well-developed countries, and we have a lot of resources, but yet it is always that sense of not-enoughness. And yeah, I just thought, there are so many different ways that it manifests in our lives. I’m also thinking to bring it further in terms of how we can keep this actionable, you know, day-to-day practice, perhaps I can start first having some thoughts and ideas, drawing reference from the Buddha, you know, when he was trying to seek the truth, if he worked to have that limiting belief, and to just stop at the teacher who taught him whatever he could, and then he has already kind of been on the level of the greatest teacher back then.  And if he had that scarcity mindset, he would have stopped and said, Okay, I’ve hit a roadblock. That’s it. I such as ended, but because he believed in something more, and he has this abundance mindset, I believe, he then went to uncharted territory and paved his way to enlightenment, and the future generations, like us, have so much to benefit because of his perseverance. So I think the abundance mindset manifests itself in a form of generosity, perseverance, and a lot of, you know, just the act of sharing and being in the moment, I am wondering, how does it manifest for you in day-to-day life?

Daylon  37:10

I think I should also share a personal story to help, so it doesn’t feel like I’m preaching to everyone over here.  I actually have been in situations where I feel a great sense of scarcity. These are situations whereby I am almost in a state of depression. There was once when I was 24, and this was me starting my first business. I had $10 in my bank account, and it just reflected back to me that I will not have enough for lunch tomorrow. That was how bad it was. And it served as a constant reminder that, okay, I should really, really not just be more prudent in how I spend my resources. But also, what happened after that was that I managed to get a client to pay earlier. From that, I was able to kind of get back from that downfall itself. Another situation where I almost fell into a depression, was when I chose to quit. After I quit, I couldn’t find a high-paying job. Because I couldn’t find a high-paying job and still had rent obligations, I still had sort of this lifestyle to maintain, I just fell into this state of depression, whereby I live in such a great environment.  I was renting a condominium in Marina Bay.  I just was really, really not happy with my life at that point in time. I had a great career, but I choose to give it up because it didn’t align with me. And I know it’s not my path from that sort of lack state. I really felt a great sense of lack, but thankfully, what I did in order to force myself out of that state was to do two things.

Daylon  39:07

Number one was questioning some of the things that I had beliefs about. And the question was, hey, do I believe this is going to be a state, this state of a thing is going to last for the rest of my life?  I didn’t believe it. I believe I have some sense of control over my life, and I believe I have some sense of control over my life, so there’s something I can do about it. And actually, with those two beliefs, I was able to kind of manage myself out of that depressed, depression episode. And another thing I did was to force myself to give to charity at that point in time because I felt so much lack at that point that I really felt like I need to do something counterintuitive. Intuitively I felt, I need to do something so I just forced myself. I gave to charity and by doing so, even though I don’t seem to have enough, it helped me get back that and cultivate that sense of actually I do have enough, I’m able to give. And if I look at it, I am resourceful. I have the means and the ability to actually find the necessary resources to give back. And it’s just a matter of time away, reverse this situation. So the mindset of giving, I believe, is like the practice,  It’s like, something that you do consistently and constantly. And now I put all my charity giving, like on the auto deduction, it really just forces me to and remind myself that I, I always have enough to give to others. As I am receiving success, wealth, opportunities, and love, I always have enough to give back to society always have enough to give to others. So that then becomes a sort of like a practice in this case.

Kai Xin  41:00

 It’s so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story. And I suppose if materially, there really isn’t enough to give, we still can give words of kindness, words of affirmation, encouragement.

Daylon  41:13

or even a smile. Like, even if we don’t have anything in the world, the least we can do is to give a smile.

Kai Xin  41:20

Yeah, that’s so true. And a smile can really change people’s life or even save lives. So I guess this very nicely sums up the episode where we talk about the abundance mindset to how it shows up in different aspects of our lives and giving it’s a very big part of it. And sometimes when we compare ourselves with the scarcity mindset, it says a lot on the conditional, Very material things, even when it comes to giving ultimate like, oh, do I materially have enough things to give? But I think through the conversation, I realised there’s so much more. And it’s all about bits and pieces step by step. Of course, it’s not a leap, we give away every single thing and let people step over us. But it’s really, more realistically, how do we look for opportunities and not block ourselves from them because of our limiting beliefs? And how do we constantly pave the way to uncharted territories? Yeah, so that’s, that’s really beautiful.

Daylon  42:21

I think great questions are gifts as well, someone wants to tell me the quality of questions we ask in life, determines the quality of our life. So I’ll leave every listener with a question. And I hope there’s something you think about. So with regard to an abundance mindset, my question is, where do you prefer to spend your energy? And in which state do you want to fill your days?

Daylon  42:51

 Because if you prefer to spend your energy thinking about things that constrain you and limit you, and you prefer to be in a state whereby you feel trapped, then that is the energy and the state of your life, and it does spill over to the rest of the aspects of your life. So I always say that if you want to hold greater wealth and greater success, you do need to have a bigger cup to receive it. And this mindset is essentially having a bigger cup.

Kai Xin  43:21

Very nice. Thank you so much for leaving us with that question. And I hope all listeners would carry on daddy’s having a bigger cup to fill. Thank you.

Daylon  43:33

Thank you. Thank you so much, David. You’re very welcome. And thanks for the opportunity to share.

Kai Xin  43:39

I hope you find this episode useful. And you’re able to distinguish between what is a scarcity mindset and what is an abundance mindset. And catch yourself in your day-to-day interaction whenever discussing the mindset pops up. And I hope you can gradually allow yourself to receive with grace and also to be more generous and to rejoice in other people’s success and make this world a much better place. Till the next episode. I wish you stay happy and wise.


More about Daylon Soh 

Daylon is a corporate executive turned education entrepreneur who runs a training institute, based in Singapore & Malaysia, focused on helping professionals and businesses grow their careers and business with User Experience (UX) Design and Product Management.

Daylon is a Buddhist by faith and has been a pescatarian since 2016.

More about Daylon and his work: 

https://curiouscore.com/

https://sg.linkedin.com/in/daylonsoh

Special thanks to our sponsors of this episode: 

Alvin Chan, Tan Jia Yee, Siau Yan Chen, Tan Key Seng, Ven You Guang, Soh hwee hoon, Baey yuling.

Ep 0: The start of an imperfect but beautiful journey

Ep 0: The start of an imperfect but beautiful journey

You’ve got the Handful of Leaves Podcast here to tackle all these big and small issues in life from a Southeast Asian perspective! We cover topics like mental health, finance, career, to the juicy details of sex, and we are not afraid to ask the tough questions. 

Hosted by two friends Kai Xin and Cheryl who crossed paths and bonded over a shared curiosity of “Is there more to life?”, we hope to share practical Buddhist wisdom that uplifts your mind and heart for a happier life!
Join us as we laugh and cry and embark on a roller coaster of an episode 0 premiering Episode  This Sunday at….on….. All platforms. 

In Episode 0:  We learn more about the two hosts, Kai Xin and Cheryl as we dig deep into our hopes, fears, insecurities and bare it all out for you! We also talk about why having representation as an Asian Buddhist Podcast is so important and share our hopes and aspirations for this season!

Resources: 
Amaravati Buddhist Monastery (UK)
Article on Spiritual bypassing – I have let go. Or have I?
Article: Which type of Buddhist are you?

Listen directly on spotify with timestamps.


Cheryl  00:11

Hello, and welcome to the Handful Of Leaves podcast. I’m your co-host Cheryl,

Kai Xin  00:27

and I’m Kai Xin, bringing you practical Buddhist wisdom for happier life. 

Before we start this episode proper, if you are new to Handful Of Leaves, we are a boutique Buddhist Publication, featuring stories by Asian writers on topics such as relationships, mental well-being, work, finance, productivity, and the list goes on. Through sharing these stories, we hoped that individuals like yourself would be able to navigate the complexities of life just a little better, and to lead a happier and more fulfilling life. 

In this episode, we’re going to share why we started this podcast. You’re going to know Cheryl and I as individuals throughout our backstories.

Towards the end, we’re going to get into some pretty deep conversations and answering some tough questions.  That’s the part where Cheryl made me cry. Well, we hope that you’ll take away something useful. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe. Now let’s begin.

Cheryl  01:31

So, can you tell me what made you want to start a podcast? Because Handful Of Leaves is already a blog.  Why go into a different format? Why Audio? Why not just blogs and the stock videos that is already there. I’m not sure about you, but I feel that people enter deeper conversations in a podcast format.  It’s not like I skimmed through something in two minutes, right? Or I can go on Tik Tok or Instagram, but what is the value? Not to say that articles don’t add value. I think our writers are doing a good job. But I want to learn more. When they write stories, I’m curious to know how do they derive a particular thought or idea. That’s why I think this podcast acts as a platform for us to discover that more and to go beyond.  Yeah, because it’s candid, right? And it also really brings a human out, rather than just you know, behind a picture or behind a couple of words.

Are there topics that you’re excited to learn about in this podcast?

Cheryl  02:31

I’m just particularly interested in like just exploring the unknown, because you don’t know what you don’t know. Of course, they are topics I’m interested in, like relationships, love, career, and so on. But sometimes through conversations, you really dig up a perspective that you didn’t even think about before. And you question assumptions that you already have, and your blind spots. And I think that is something that I really look forward to that only conversations can kind of dig out. Yeah.

Kai Xin  02:58

Were there assumptions that you have but you invalidated them after listening to a conversation or a podcast?

Cheryl  03:07

I think this is a conversation, not a podcast. I was talking to someone who went through a bad breakup, and they were in the relationship for five years.  Before talking to the person, I had a very fixed idea on how a person should deal with grief. I have this picture of them, just hiding in their room and crying forever. Then just disappearing. But once I spoke to them, I realised that some people’s way of coping with grief is actually through getting into another relationship almost immediately.  So, I think from the conversation, I learned to not judge people so much, because I understand that everyone is really in their way, just having suffering and wanting less of that suffering. The way that I am accustomed to seeing or the way I feel that it’s the right way to deal with it may not apply to everybody and to be open minded of the different ways people could work with their grief. 

I was also talking to another person who lost her daughter in a car accident. And then it was just very interesting to see how an accident like that actually caused her to become a very cold mom. From the outside, usually you’ll see a cold mom would mean that the person is not good. You immediately jump into judgement, right? Not a responsible mother. How can she be like that? But when I spoke to her, I realised that it was really because of her need and wanting to protect her children from her pain. She didn’t want her pain to seep out to them and affect the way they interacted with the world.  I think like from these two stories I’m sharing it’s really about allowing yourself to see the human before letting your judgement get the better.

Kai Xin  04:59

Yeah, I think there are a lot of layers to a person that will determine how they act, how they behave. I totally resonate with what you said about judging. I find myself guilty of that. I mean, who doesn’t?  And one thing I hope this podcast can do it also for me to peel the layers of the onion, to see that there’s actually many different perspectives to look at one same topic. It’s not to say that who’s right or who’s wrong, or like, who’s better or who’s not so good. But it’s just to have that nuanced perspective and increase the level of empathy. Life is not so black and white and right, and whatever stories and decisions that we make, or live by then, hopefully, you know, to interviewing different people and having the chit-chat sessions, we will make more informed decisions, and live happier lives, I suppose.

Cheryl  06:11

Handful Of Leaves’s vision is to offer practical wisdom for happier life. I’m curious, like, what’s the most important, either a piece of advice or most important thing that has changed your life towards a more like a happier trajectory?

Kai Xin  06:32

Well, I don’t think I can pin it down to one specific.

Cheryl  06:35

Cannot. It must be one.

Kai Xin  06:38

Okay, I wouldn’t say that advice made me happier. But it did inform my decisions in life that contributed to my overall well being.  I’ve shared this story with you and with many others before, which is my trip to UK. Okay. So, a little bit of background for listeners.  I started a business when I was 19. And I hustled a lot, a lot of burnout, sleepless night. So I was two years in and I needed a break. Some people call it soul searching, or a trip to find yourself. Something in me was pulling me and I went all the way to UK, to Amaravati, a Buddhist forest monastery. I stayed there for more than a month. And I’ve met different people from different parts of the world, and that’s very interesting to me: why they are there. Because it seems like everyone is searching for something.  And there was this lady whom I spoke to, when we were doing the dishes in the morning. I realised that she stayed there for a really long time. I think she was there for more than two months. And I was very curious as to 1. Doesn’t she need to work? 2.Why stay there for so long?  What does she want to get out of it? Maybe like myself, people were asking me the same question. 

Something hit me when she said, she used to work at a hospice, which I thought was a meaningful career. So I asked her why she stopped? And she said that, over the years working there, she realised there was a pattern. People were coming and going, and of course, people, you know, passing away. There were a lot of regrets. And the regrets are not around, how much time one can clock in the office, or how much extra work that one has done. But it’s a lot about family, as well as doing what their hearts desire.  And that helped her to reprioritise what she wants in life. And then this whole accident, existential thing, right, like what is life all about, which brought her to the monastery. And then she realised there’s something beyond even like, she’s doing such meaningful work, she realised there’s something beyond, which is to like, free our hearts from all this dissatisfaction and she wanted to gain more wisdom.

Why it left such a deep impression all the way till now, I think it’s been almost seven years is because after I came back, I started to wonder, what am I so busy for.  I was doing like a lot of things, not just on the business side but also volunteer work. Then, I realised I was neglecting a lot of important parts of my life like family.  So how it helped me be a happier person was that every every single time when I would to embark on certain projects or work on certain things, I would ask myself, “What is this for? What’s the purpose?” So, I became very purpose driven. And that became my Northstar. And whatever I do, even if I’m busy, I would know that this is something that I want.  So, if I were to live a short life, hopefully, I woud have less regrets and, I would time box and carve out time for my family on weekends. Because when they are working, Sunday is the only time. You know things like that. So, it helped me prioritise a lot in life and generally, I think, live quite a happy life. 

It’s important for me to clarify this: So, busy has a negative connotation where people would say that if you’re busy, you’re kind of doing the things that you don’t like to do, or you would rather not do. But for me, I would differentiate it from being occupied. So, from an external point of view, I might be doing like 10,000 things. And people might say, Kai Xin is very busy. But I feel like I’m occupied. And that’s because I am doing the things that I like to do, like recording and starting this podcast. So yeah, it’s important to differentiate that. Having said that, I do have my busy period, where I wish I would have less on my plate. So it’s about finding that balance.

Cheryl  10:47

Yeah, it makes sense. And I guess my question to you then is like, how do you find that balance?

Kai Xin  10:54

Yeah, we’re definitely gonna cover more of that in the next episode, How To balance contentment and ambition. So I would save that for the episodes. Stay tuned.

Cheryl  11:04

I think why being apart of Handful Of Leaves is important to me personally, is because I think there are a lot of Buddhist resources, but there’s not a lot of Buddhist and you know, youth-focused and Asian resources available. I still remember, I don’t know if it’s something that you can relate to, but when I was a teenager, and when I was having crushes on people, I would be reading Tiny Buddha —  signs that a crush likes you back or like, you know, things like that to get advice, and really just how to navigate through all these kinds of things.  Of course, it is helpful. A lot of the human conditions are very universal in the sense that sometimes we struggle with depressive states, or sometimes we just do not know how to deal with stress and anxiety. But I think having content that can help to acknowledge the nuances in our Asian upbringing, like in our culture of being not so expressive in saying that you like somebody, for example, just using that same relationship picture again, will really help people to feel seen. 

And I think sometimes I find it very ironic, because if you think about it, like the first Noble Truth is about life is unsatisfactory, right? There’s a lot of suffering. But a lot of times when we listen to Dharma, which is the Buddha’s teachings, it is always so theoretical, idealistic, and I find it so ironic when it doesn’t bring the human piece together. So, I think for me, being vulnerable is very important. I at least want to be a part of bringing the voice of telling stories of telling the truth, whether it’s nice to hear or  not nice to hear, and ensuring that these stories are told, even if it’s difficult to tell.  And I think that’s very important, because, if your experiences are being acknowledged, with, you know, with the nuance of Asian and young and stuff like that, it really helps you to bring to life what it means to be a Buddhist as a human, rather than Buddhism as a religion, which can be very dry and very theoretical.

Kai Xin  13:31

Yeah! I definitely resonate a lot with what you said. So three things.  First, about the nuances in the Asian context. In the Asian context, we are very conservative. So there are certain things even relating to mental well being it is not until the recent years that I think our society starts to open up more on this topic. But previously, it was a taboo subject, right?  Or like to talk about your relationship issues openly without the fear of being judged, etc. In those areas, we can help people to connect the dots better to really navigate all the complexities in life and to apply more of the Buddhist wisdom and principles to lead something that’s more fulfilling. And also to recognise that it’s not about saying, “Oh, let go!”, “This too shall pass!”.

I think that is where the second point comes in. Sometimes it can be a little bit idealistic to say, “Oh, if I’m spiritual, or I’m religious, then I have to uphold certain moral conduct and there is no room for failure.”. If we were to do something bad accidentally or because we are still work in progress, there can be a lot of guilt tripping, or a lot of feeling like we are not good enough. And it’s very tempting to just throw in the towel because everything or everyone else seems to be doing well.   Then, we might feel, “Am I really cut out for this? Maybe, not so much.”.  So, I think a big part of why we started Handful of Leaves is also to paint a holistic picture and to say that it is a journey, to show the vulnerability of people. When they are growing spiritually to say, it’s not just a destination, but there are so many bumps on the road, it will be bumpier at the start, and the journey will be smoother towards the end. So we are hoping to be with people along this journey. 

Then, I think the third thing is more about the application. If you read the the discourses, and you really understand how the Buddha taught, he tailors his teaching to different people. To merchants, he would speak in a very different way. And he uses a lot of analogies and brought it very close to home, and taught things that can be applied.  I think why it feels that sometimes the teaching can be very dry is because we might, or rather the teachings that we hear might be disconnected from our day to day struggles. So it’s kind of a very blanket approach to say, ‘Oh, yeah, just be kind. Oh, yeah. You know, don’t think too much about it.’. And then there’s a lot of spiritual bypassing.  And how can we apply in a practical sense? Say, if I’m dealing with workplace politics, or like if I’m dealing with relationship issues. Example, now in the Asian context, the COVID phenomena is children moving out of their parents place. I went through that journey. And it was such a weird concept to think about, because Asian parents are like, ‘Why do you want to leave the family when you’re not even married?’. And, you know, thoughts like, ‘Are you abandoning us?’.  And there’s a lot of like…

Cheryl  16:36

Filial piety?

Kai Xin  16:39

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the whole filial piety thing. So, I think it’s about meshing all these together. Number one, how can we make it more nuanced in the Asian context? Number two, how can we show the holistic picture to say that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and that’s perfectly fine? Then, number three, bring it close to day to day and say, How can I take small steps to improve my life?  Let’s backtrack a little bit. I’m not so sure how you started Buddhism, I hear bits and pieces of stories. But when I first came to the Dharma, and learn about Buddhism, it was it was such an eye opening experience. Because I’ve always associated Buddhism to something that is very ancient and very ritualistic.

Cheryl  17:25

Not relatable.

Kai Xin  17:27

Yeah! Also because it’s an Asian upbringing, right? It’s so unrelatable, because you’re not allowed to question. And then I feel that the faith is so blind. When I first got to know the Buddhist teachings, I was like, ‘Wow! This is completely opposite from what my parents have taught me!’.  Even the whole concept of like going to the temple, it’s not the Buddha’s teachings. There’s a lot of like, Chinese culture infused, a lot of rituals. And it is not to say that the rituals are not helpful. But I think a lot of us, if you were to ask 10 Singaporeans, what do they know about rituals? I would say, nine of them or like 9.5 of them would say, ‘I don’t know, just go pray, go to Kwan Yin Ma temple and pray for good luck. I usually go there during exam period.’.  When I’m like, going through certain life challenges, difficulties.

Kai Xin  18:20

yeah and if I can’t find answers within, then you have to seek out, for divine intervention. But then I realised actually a very big part of Buddhism is about finding the answers within, which is so ironic. I hope that, you know, through this podcast, and also the content that we post on our website, people would be able to find that clarity in their journey of growth. And it’s content that I personally wish were out there many years ago but are not.

Cheryl  18:47

I think, really, the power in Buddhism is really when you’re able to apply it into into your life. Like there’s no point saying, Oh, I understand impermanence. Theoretically, I understand the concept of non-self. It really doesn’t help you at all, if you can’t apply it to help you to be someone who’s more compassionate, less judgmental, and less critical of yourself and, and others.

And I think perhaps it’s it’s the disconnect in the kind of Buddhist teachings they’re exposed to, right? Maybe it was just never linked to how we can apply in our workplace, for example, or how we can be very skillful in applying in our family relationships. So I think, hopefully, this podcast can connect the dots for people and really enrich their lives in that sense as well. But I do feel that more important is also planting the seeds to liberating oneself from like suffering completely. 

You mentioned earlier that you want to highlight that this is kind of a journey with ups and downs. And I think on top of that, it’s not just ups and downs, but also to illustrate the different kinds of journey everybody could be on by sharing as many stories as possible. Someone could be, you know, maybe just completely new to Buddhism and finding it extremely challenging. But someone could be maybe a couple years in to the path, feeling that their faith is wavering a bit, or someone who’s like, crossroads of wanting to renounce but then the family is pulling them back. So it is really about showing the different journeys a Buddhist could be on and the different flavours that it could entail.

Kai Xin  20:38

Everyone’s life is different, right? The monastic life is not for everybody. And just like how the corporate life is not for everybody. So, hopefully..

Cheryl  20:47

That’s a very nice comparison.

Kai Xin  20:49

Yeah, it’s so true. So through the like, the journey as well as gaining all these different perspectives, hopefully, one would be able to, again, make a more informed decision to what they feel most at peace with. It’s not so much about what other people want, but having the clarity within on what’s best based on..

Cheryl  21:10

and that’s the most important.

Kai Xin  21:11

Yeah, that’s the most important. Based on the readiness, the capacity, and everything. It is not to shoebox ourselves to one mould to say all Buddhist’s should be like that. 

Chery 21:21

Maybe get to know us a little bit more! So, Kai Xin, how did we meet?

Kai Xin 21:23

I think your story and my story is very different. Yeah, different versions. To be honest, I can’t remember fully how we met. I vaguely recall, it was through a camp. You came all the way from Malaysia to Singapore, just to attend the youth camp. And that was a few. How many years ago 5? 6? 7?

Cheryl  21:45

More than I think about seven years ago, maybe around 2014.

Kai Xin  21:50

Wow, we’ve known each other for eight years, or some would say many lifetimes. I always remember seeing you at the meditation session. So we have like this Tuesday sit at one of the Buddhist centres. You’re always there.  And a fun fact is now we are housemates because I had this random concept of hey, it would be so nice to live with a Dharma friend. And then we have another friend of ours who was also renting and I just floated the idea that it would be good to have a dhamma house together. And we are housemates now.  I think how I really got to know you more and then we became a lot better friends through working on Handful Of Leaves — getting feedback relating to the website and relating to the content. And yeah, just naturally, I think there was a lot of like to and fro…

Cheryl  22:52

completely inaccurate

Kai Xin  22:53

Alright. Present your version of the story.

Cheryl  22:58

So yes, we first met camp. I need to tell the story you when you were really awkward. I think I met you and for some weird reason, I decided to go up and tell you that I admired that you meditated a lot. And then you were super uncomfortable. And I was thinking to myself, ‘this Kai Xin hates me forever.’. And then I kind of just stayed away from her every other time I saw her.

Kai Xin  23:25

Wait, I have to cut you there. I mean, wouldn’t it be awkward if someone just randomly comes up to you and go, ‘Oh, Cheryl, I really think that you are a very good meditator or  you meditate a lot.’. I mean, it’s out of no where. It’s like seeing a lizard like popping out of no where.

Cheryl  23:43

Why you will compare this to a lizard. That is terrible!

Kai Xin  23:46

Okay, sorry. You are much better than that. I mean, you can’t blame me for being awkward. Now, continue.

Cheryl  23:55

No, people would have graciously accepted the compliment. But anyway, our paths didn’t cross. And then I moved to Singapore and then there was the regular meditation at BF (Buddhist Fellowship) where I would occasionally see Kai Xin. And then, yeah, we didn’t really get close because it was more of hi and bye, and how was your meditation kind of short conversations.  And then coincidentally, she asked me about the Handful of Leaves feedback. That is correct, that is so far true. And I think what bonded us was like the deeper curiosity to I don’t know, life? The approach of how to be better how to be a nicer person, kinder person and discussions around that. And then yeah, somehow we just became housemates, and podcast-mates.

Kai Xin  24:46

Now that you mentioned I can recall because I had very deep conversations with you about friendship. And then also because like, I’ve moved out from my parents, right. I mean, back then we weren’t housemates yet. And there was a transition.  And yeah, I think through a few conversations you kind of ask very deep questions. And of course, I have to give very thoughtful replies, which can take days.

Cheryl  25:12

Weeks

Kai Xin  25:13

Fun fact about me, I take really long to reply people, especially if they are texts that makes me think I don’t want to just reply people while I’m like multitasking, because I don’t think it’s going to be thoughtful. So yeah, because it takes so long, it is like snail mail. And then just a wall of text, and very deep conversations, which I really appreciate.

Cheryl  25:37

But I guess, you know, I one question is, what is a question I should ask you but I think I don’t know enough about you to ask?

Kai Xin  25:48

How would you respond to this yourself?

Cheryl  25:50

Eh. You don’t question me with a question. I think this question is for you to own. You can rephrase it as you like, but essentially something that I don’t know about you yet that you would like to share.

Kai Xin  26:03

I don’t know this, this is so hard to start because I think you know a lot about me, but I’m not so sure whether there are certain assumptions that you have made in the process that I might have a backstory to say, actually, the assumption is false. What are your current assumptions of me? Like? How would you describe me as a person?

Cheryl  26:28

Oh sorry, my internet is very bad! (Joking)

Kai Xin  26:32

I mean, it’s a very tough question.

Cheryl  26:34

True. Not sure. But I think you could be someone that could be very hard on yourself. And you will probably tend to extend more compassion to other people than to yourself.

Kai Xin  26:48

I am quite hard on myself. As to whether I’m compassionate to others, I think this is an assumption that I would have to, like invalidate. Funnily enough, I used to think that I’m quite a compassionate person. I wouldn’t deny the fact that I do compassionate stuff, but I’m not as compassionate as what other people think.

Cheryl  27:13

It’s funny that you say that. Because I think if we would, say, just ask any mutual friend, I think compassion will be one of the terms they would probably associate you with.

Kai Xin  27:23

Is it because of the things that I do? Or say? How did that assumption come about?

Cheryl  27:29

I think mostly from your actions. You help people proactively.

Kai Xin  27:32

I actually don’t do that proactively, which is something that I discovered. So I think COVID brought a lot of learnings, I have come to discover that I’m not such a compassionate person, because during COVID period, I’m pretty much a hermit. And to some degree didn’t really help with my whole mental well being. I was just alone. And I don’t proactively reach out to friends. And I guess friends just think that I’m fine, because I’m usually the one reaching out to them. And I realised the reason that was the case was because if you’re in sight and if I see your suffering, I can’t just unsee it. I would then reach out to you and help.  But if you’re out of sight, I wouldn’t keep you in my mind all the time. Yeah. So I wouldn’t say I’m compassionate enough, or like, in the way I want to be.

And so I think some people would then see the first part. Yeah, Kai Xin, you’re being too hard on yourself. Like there’s a pattern.  I think I’m compassionate, but not as much as what I think other people associate me to be. One thing I’m really guilty about, like, is when I got out of my hermit mode. And like, some of my friends actually reach out to me to catch up and then I realised that actually many of them are struggling.  I was struggling as well. And then I felt like I could have reached out to these people. Why am I so selfish, just thinking about myself? It’s not like I was deep in the pit. There were days when I’m just savoring my alone time and I don’t want to talk to anybody. And then it got a little bit unhealthy.

Cheryl  29:20

But you’re enjoying it. Why is it unhealthy?

Kai Xin  29:22

There’s a tipping point, right? At first, I enjoy it. But then I realised too much solitude is not conducive. Because I don’t interact with people, I don’t get triggered. And I can just be in my own world. I don’t broaden my perspective. So it becomes unhealthy when I am just with my own thoughts, and that it comes more unhealthy if my thoughts are not healthy, then it becomes a very

Cheryl  29:52

vicious cycle, but it could also be that expectation that Kai Xin needs to help as many people as possible? The expectations you have of yourself, which nobody kind of imposed on you?

Kai Xin  30:04

I wouldn’t say I have like very ambitious goals, like a lot of people to say, I want to have like a million people and you know, overcome poverty. For me, I don’t think I’m driven enough to say that. But within my capacity, I want to help.

Cheryl  30:21

It’s very interesting, I guess how I perceive you and how you perceive yourself. It’s almost contradicting the certain extent. I think this just goes to show how much perception is so subjective, and to always, you know, be open to seeing people as they are, rather than seeing people as a reflection of your own ideas.

Kai Xin  30:50

I think it’s interesting that you think that I’m very compassionate. I mean, I like I would appreciate, I appreciate that and think that as a compliment. But I also realise it can be quite unhealthy to some point, because I’m not sure whether people hold on to certain expectations of me. Because I’m always the one reaching out to people hence. I don’t need to reach out to people you get what I mean?

Cheryl  31:19

Hence, people don’t need to reach out to you, you mean? You’re the person that is always caring, and people forget to care for the carer?

Kai Xin  31:26

Yeah. And they kind of just assume that I’m fine when sometimes I’m not.

Cheryl  31:31

So all our listeners here, personally, please reach out with a heart shape. She would appreciate it very much.

Kai Xin  31:39

Yes! Not that you can see me but I’m, I’m giving a heart sign. \ Yeah, I think it was quite a tough learning for me to come to realise, actually, I do need a lot of care. Because I used to be the person to say, ‘Oh, self love, I can be self sustaining.’.  To some degree, I still believe that. But I realised it’s important to have the option to lean on others as well. And it’s especially important in times when I personally don’t have the strength to be on myself.

Yeah, so please break the stereotype that I’m all sound.  Because like someone ever, one of the youth, came to me and said, ‘Kai Xin you are so perfect.’. I was like, wow. And it really affected me in a negative way. I mean, not that a person had any bad intention. I think it just stems from a place of admiration. But I felt so bad for myself. Back then I used to post a lot on social media, I would share my learnings. And you know, I was starting out and I was connecting with a lot of people. It’s part of the process of growing a startup.  And people would say like, well, because you’re doing so many things, like I’m so disappointed in my life. I don’t know something in me just can’t sit well with being the cause of somebody else’s unhappiness. I know, I’m not directly causing them (to be unhappy) because it’s not like I have any ill intention. But just the thought of having that option where people look at me and then they feel sad about themselves, what the hell I don’t want that. I would rather not be seen as successful if it makes you sad. 

Then, I think I start to downplay a lot of my successes. I think also to some point, sometimes it can be a little bit annoying for some people. They might think why can’t just accept that you have achieved certain things? Why do you always have to have to say that actually you are still in the process of learning and there’s so much more.  I think one of the friends also said, ‘why can’t you just accept praises?’, which is something that I find very hard to do, which I’m still in the process of trying to learn. 

So, when people have certain stereotypes of me, it’s almost like an ideal, like idealism? And they project it on me. I feel scared. Because what if one day I do something that is out of line and un-compassionate? What would they think of me? I have flaws. You know. If they see me as a perfect person, then I have no room to be imperfect. It’s a very scary thought.

Cheryl  34:19

And you’re just human and definitely as a human you are vulnerable, you have flaws. You’re not perfect. You’re really just learning.  And when there’s this kind of expectations put on you it kind of restricts how you could be free as well as a person. And I think if you look at celebrities, like why all of them kind of have a sudden rebellious phase is because of all the expectations that all their fans put on them to be this ideal person. So they just kind of need to really break that mould by doing something completely extreme.  But also, like you’re not responsible for other people’s insecurities, and I don’t know, I feel sorry that you have to feel like there is the need for yourself to minimise your glow just so that you don’t shine so bright.

Kai Xin  35:12

Oh you are making me tear up. Why does this get so heavy? Help

Cheryl  35:24

Virtual hug!

Kai Xin  35:26

Let me grab a tissue. This conversation has taken a turn. We’ll be right back.

Cheryl  35:32

Sorry. That’s my expertise making people cry.

Kai Xin  35:35

Sorry, continue.

Cheryl  35:38

No, I mean, there’s no should or should not because it’s really your journey, but rather learning to own your space. And I think just standing, standing proud probably that long. And yeah, really people’s insecurities are not something that should affect you.

Kai Xin  35:52

Intellectually I know that and I am trying to learn that. I mean, even starting this podcast is a little bit daunting.  Let me blow my nose.

Cheryl  36:09

ASMR to nose blowing begins in 3,2,1.

Kai Xin  36:16

I was saying even starting this podcast is daunting, because I’m putting myself out there. And I mean, you are also putting yourself out there. And I think we, to some extent, want people to learn to very personal experiences or like tough conversations like this right from our guests, or like from both of us. And it puts us okay, I can’t say for you, but I feel like I’m in a very vulnerable position.

Cheryl  36:45

It is very courageous of you also to do that.

Kai Xin  36:49

Hesitating, try to like process? Yeah, I think it’s daunting because for for many years, I have stopped putting myself out there. And in moments when I do, it’s to like, I mean, it’s nothing about me, right? It’s like getting support for maybe fundraising projects, or perhaps its work I feel obligated to because, I mean, like, if our company achieved something, or if me and my co founder choose something. Yeah, like, I feel obligated to publicise it, to share that joy. And I’m struggling a lot. Because I feel like when I do that, I, and then put on a higher pedestal. And it’s very tough for me to come back.

And I’m, then I realised it’s a learning journey to say, I can use or leverage my glow. Or if I were to have a glow, I can leverage that to, to help people. But then also not to be too hard on myself to say it’s my responsibility to help people or it’s my responsibility when somebody else feels bad. And I hope that I can show more sides of me that are vulnerable so that it breaks this stereotype that everybody has on people, like, oh, just because a person is out there. It’s life that I want to lead or like you, you look at them from a place of admiration, rather than inspiration. It’s very different, because admiration is like, wow, you know, I wish I could be like that, versus inspirations like, I can do that. Let me try.

Cheryl  38:39

It gives that sense of empowerment back to the individual. Rather than, like, oh my god, yes. Or like self criticism, right? Like, I suck so bad. Like, I would never be like that person.

Kai Xin  38:50

I also want to just make a disclaimer, it’s not like I am like super successful or anything like that, but it’s just in a closer circle of friends, they seem to think so of me. I just cannot fathom the amount of stress and things that most successful people will go through or I wouldn’t say successful, but people who are more out there who are more exposed. Yeah, I can’t imagine how it’s like for them because I’m not even putting myself out there and I’m really feeling stress. What about them? So, I just want to make sure that I navigate this in a healthy way.  A request also on air: I hope that I can lean on you as a co-host to to pull me when I’m straying off the path or when I’m being too hard on myself or when I get a little bit fuzzy with the situation.

Cheryl  39:46

Yeah, and I think like my only hope for you is that like, I don’t know, like wherever your journey takes you to greater heights and brighter stars and brighter glow is to remain true to yourself, and telling the true story, being always being vulnerable and never ever feel like you need to be perfect and then like painting a fake image of perfection or whatever, you know, being those uptight and snobbish people.

Kai Xin  40:16

Which is why, like shout out to Khema, one of our Dharma friends. I was asking her for advice for his podcast. And she said it shouldn’t feel like a performance. And why it hit me so deeply is because exactly what you said just now, it shouldn’t feel like it is decorated, or I’m putting up a show just because I want to maintain a particular image. I mean, we still want to do quality shows but in terms of like the content, yeah, you get what I mean?  Well, I hope you get the answer from your question about what is something that you don’t know about me that you want to know more about? Can I throw the question back to you?

Cheryl  40:54

Yeah, but I think first and really thanks for answering it, truthfully, and not taking an easy answer. You went through the real answer. So thanks for that. Opening up very courageously.

Kai Xin  41:07

Yeah. Thanks for giving me space.  I think I’ll describe you as like a ball of sunshine. You’re 笑点 (laughing point) is rather low. And it feels like anything makes you happy. I think it’s something that’s very good to have but I also know that of course, there are really downtimes for you as well. And my impression is perhaps you might not necessarily be very ready to show that to people. I do feel like you’re talented. But you also deny that.  Yeah just from your rolling of eyes. And…

Cheryl  41:47

this is so uncomfortable.

Kai Xin  41:54

I feel like sometimes you can downplay your personal strengths or like qualities. You feel like you’re very nua, you’re not a very determined person. But I disagree. I mean, just look at your whole journey of becoming healthier, and your fitness journey, I truly think that it’s not something that everyone can do.  Personally, I’ve tried to keep fit. I mean, ever since I’ve graduated, I haven’t been very actively exercising. But you you stayed true to your word. And it’s like you you set your goal on something or determine and you go all out, you know, I’m not sure whether you see that in yourself. I have a lot of other assumptions. But yes, so these are things.

Cheryl  42:42

A few more! Buying myself time.

Kai Xin  42:45

I feel like you care a lot for others, and you want to hold a space for them. But sometimes it might also come at the expense of, you know, holding space for yourself. And you might downplay some of your qualities, like your good qualities and strengths. When you’re seeing others, right, it’s like, ‘oh, how come they are able to structure their thoughts so well? Or why are they able to answer questions on the fly?’. But I realised the context is very different. Because it’s not that you can’t do it. I mean, you do it really well. But it’s just in a situation or it is a topic that you don’t blossom in, when there’s a there’s a misfit misfit of role, then you would think that you’re not good at it. But it’s not that you’re not good at it. It’s just that you’re in the wrong place. But you have all these good qualities that will make you thrive if you’re in the right place.

Cheryl  43:43

I don’t think these are necessarily assumptions. I think these are more observations, which I think you’re quite right, in pointing out. I think I’m by no means super successful or anything. But I think I do share similarities with you in the sense of the need to downplay a little bit.  So, just for context: I come from a family where,  my sister is not the smartest in terms of grades. We used to get compared a lot and I usually did okay in my exams. Then, like a lot of things as well such as when I was younger, I eat food faster my sister didn’t eat fast and and she would get caned for that. So I think inevitably I was felt like I need to make myself smaller in that childhood context so that she doesn’t get scolded or, you know, get like, reviewed negatively. 

And I think that also comes up in my life now. I feel I really need to kind of attune because I also do not want people to think a certain way of me. And I also do have maybe stronger negative self-talk, maybe some insecurities. So then, I guess that fear of being perceived a certain way, plus my own negative self-talk makes me just very fearful of doing things on my own.  So for example, like this podcast also, I hesitated doing it on my own. And then when you asked me also, like, hesitating so much, because I think the question of like, who would want to listen? Will I be able to produce good enough content, will I be engaging enough? These thoughts were often in my mind, and even up to today, before we were recording, I was stressing over it.

So, I think I’m still working on myself, like trying to, I guess, find what space I should be in to thrive.  But at the same time, also, being patient with myself to really take things one step at a time, because it’s impossible to want to conquer everything at once. And, yeah, it’s just I think, I guess, balancing know that long term, incremental growth, still being courageous enough to put myself out there and trying different things. And being more open to failures, rejections and see where that eventually leads into.

Kai Xin  46:32

I hear that whatever you’re doing stems from a place of care. Like, I mean, it’s quite similar, right? You don’t want to shine so much, because you’re afraid that that might cause other people to have a certain negative repercussions or that there’s some for comparison involved. And you don’t want that. Then at the same time, that’s also you comparing yourself with your own standards. I’m just curious, like, why don’t you want to do things for your own sake? Or just now you mentioned something about, ‘I may not want to start a podcast on my own? I don’t want it.’. Why is that the case?

Cheryl  47:15

Yeah. I don’t know why I always have that feeling of like incompetence, I won’t know how to do it. Yeah. And I think that has stopped me from a lot of things. From along of side hassle, so maybe important decision. Like career decisions, and even I think, even like relationship boundaries that incompetency and feeling not good enough. So I’d rather not pursue it because if I’m involved, I destroy things. It is always a result of comparison. It’s always never about ‘I feel incompetent’, it is always ‘I feel incompetent, as compared to X, Y, Z ideals, expectations, people.’.

Kai Xin  47:18

I wouldn’t say that (you’re incompetent). I mean, going back to admiration versus inspiration, right? Like, would it help to reframe how you compare, because comparison is healthy. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a benchmark, and we also have like, something better to work towards, right. And it’s how we use that comparison to inch forward rather than slight backwards.

Cheryl  48:40

I think a healthier comparison would be looking at things in a more balanced way, which is not just comparing using my weak spots, but also comparing with my strengths, if it makes sense. So I get a balance, self esteem, rather than one that is leaning towards more negative.

Kai Xin  49:00

Yeah. And then you will realise actually, there are a lot of positive traits that you can compare with. Thanks for sharing.

Cheryl  49:11

Thank you for opening the space as well. And I think you’re very astute in your observations. I think it’s more observations than assumptions because I think they’re fairly accurate.

Kai Xin  49:23

So, what is season one all about?

Cheryl  49:28

The general theme of it is, of course, covering a lot of different areas in life, finance, relationship, career, things that are generally important for us to function as a person in society. But more importantly, really exploring how we can do that with ease and balancing out the demands and the rigour of it to be able to achieve success in any of these areas but doing it in a balanced and happy way. Because after all, we are seeking for practical Buddhist wisdom for a happier life.

Kai Xin  50:10

Practical that leads to happiness. In terms of the format wise, it would be an alternate between interview style with experts in the field and also chit chat sessions like what we are doing right now to share my perspective on a single topic. And if any of the listeners you have questions that you want us to talk about or discuss, you can subscribe to our telegram channel, and put your comments there any thoughts and key takeaways. Of course, it will be really helpful if you click the subscribe button on Spotify as well as YouTube. And we have a lineup of speakers, Tan Chade-Meng, the author of Search Inside Yourself, as well as the book Joy On Demand. We also have a very popular Buddhist teacher, Sister Sylvia Bay, and we have sister Amy on board as well and many more speakers.  If you would like to hear from other speakers or interesting people you want us to chat with, let us know in telegram channel. Cheryl and I, we wish all of you listening, stay happy, healthy. And if you’re not happy, that’s fine. It’s all part of a process and we are excited to be on this journey with you.

Cheryl  51:25

See you in the next episode. Thank you! Bye bye!


Resources: 

Amaravati Buddhist Monastery (UK)

Article on Spiritual bypassing – I have let go. Or have I?

Article: Which type of Buddhist are you?

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