There’s a book that I’ve already read 3 times this summer, once in English, once in Korean, and once as an audio book. Okay, well, then technically I only *read* it twice. Anyway, the book is called “The things you can see only when you slow down” or 멈추면 비로소 보이는 것들 in its original Korean. It’s written by Haemin Sunim, a Korean Zen Buddhist monk, who looks surprisingly young on the cover of a book filled with so much wisdom. The book is divided into 8 chapters, each beginning with a short story about his personal experiences relating to the topic, which may be “mindfulness”, “love” or “relationships”. Then each of these stories is followed by several short, yet very deep, quotes on the topic. The one that resonated most with me was the passage called “being right isn’t important, being happy together is”.

I always had a pretty strong sense of what I felt was right or wrong, and I could be quite insensitive toward others if I felt that they had wronged me in any way. Needless to say, this has caused me to have a few run-ins with people from time to time, rarely with the desired outcome. This book has been a game-changer, and I gladly recommend to anyone who cares to listen. There are a few passages that I’d like to share with you guys here, specifically on interpersonal relationships. Because after all, no matter how great your success or your wealth may be, failing to build and maintain meaningful relationships will cause you to be unhappy.

Life teaches us through our mistakes. When you make a mistake, simply ask yourself what you were meant to learn from it. When we accept such lessons with humility and gratitude, we grow that much more.

~

Many conflicts can be resolved if we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Try to look at things from their point of view. If you consider only your side, you are no different from a child.

~

If I want to convince someone, I first listen attentively and try to understand them. Even if I am right, they won’t be convinced until they feel heard and respected.

~

When a wise person wants something from others, she first does what she desires from them, exemplifying rather than asking for it.

~

Maturity comes with experience. One lesson of maturity is that we should not take our thoughts too seriously, and must learn to curb our ego and see the bigger picture. Being right isn’t nearly as important as being happy together.

~

인간관계에서 생긴 문제를 풀 때, 왜 상대가 내 마음을 알아주지 못할까, 왜 내가 원하는 대로 해주지 않을까, 이런 마음에서 출발하면 문제는 절대 풀리지 않습니다. 왜냐하면, 상대에 대한 이해가 아닌 나의 요구부터 시작되었기 때문입니다.

As much as I want to improve my Korean when I study, or my physical strength, health and endurance when I exercise, I also want to improve myself spiritually and become a better and more compassionate person. Obviously, just reading this book will not take me there, but I believe that the key to a balanced, mindful, and compassionate life lies somewhere between these pages. For someone without any religious ties, this book has become my bible, and I find myself turning to these pages again and again for enlightenment and inspiration.

I highly recommend this book, as it transcends any religious borders and resonates with people of all ages. And to all my fellow Korean-learners, why not challenge yourself to read it in Korean? Let’s all strive toward being a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday, always.

Here’s a song that someone very special shared with me a long time ago. Listening to it always warms my heart while reminding me of what kind of person I want to be. 어제보다 오늘, 오늘보다 내일 너만 있다면 행복할 것 같아~

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