Often, there are moments in life where things go spiraling down and we hit rock bottom. The days where we feel as if we have been consumed by darkness and that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. In this seemingly awful situation, we long to have a helping-hand from anyone, or anything. Some turn to those closest to them and some to books, movies, music, etc. But there is only so much they can do, and in the end we are the ones in control of our healing.
Those who have been in similar situations (and one who might also be a bookworm) may have heard of Haemin Sunim, a South Korean Buddhist teacher, writer and the founder of the School of Broken Hearts in Seoul. Sunim’s second book, Love for Imperfect Things was the number one bestseller of the year 2016 in South Korea and became available in multiple languages in 2019. Of course, there have been a ton of books that teach us on how to get through loss and grief, but rarely is there one that claims struggles can be a blessing.
“When we become kinder to ourselves, we can become kinder to the world.”
Sometimes, things do not go our way and suddenly there is this feeling of anger towards the world. Words like “why did I fail?” or “why is it that no matter what I do, the universe seems to not be in my favor?” are what we often hear when situations like this happen. However, if we change the way we think and practice self-compassion, we might see the world in a more forgiving perspective—one where everything seems more manageable. With gratitude, we can lessen the pain of feeling like we deserved a different outcome of what has happened and not slip into self-pity.
“It’s okay that you have flaws. How could our lives be as clean and white as a blank sheet of paper? Life naturally takes its toll on our bodies, our minds, and our relationships. rather than choosing a life in which you do nothing for fear of making a mistake, choose a life that improves through failure and pain. And shout out loud to your struggling self, I love you so much.”
Sunim ends every chapter in this book with pages of advice in verse, and the one on “The Power of Hugs” reads:
“Because I have experienced pain, I am able to embrace the pain of others. Because I have made mistakes, I am able to forgive others their mistakes. May my suffering become the seed of compassion”
In experiencing loss and grief, we tend to be more vulnerable and open to others whether we like it or not. Moments during or after a painful experience makes us more alive to the glimmers of connection. Natasha Lunn explains this “strange gift of loss” in her book Conversations on Love that when you receive kindness like that from someone you don’t know, I think that is a form of love. It’s a random connection to another soul who thinks you might need help. I now have a greater appreciation of that power of kindness and love, that beautiful undercurrent that exists between us all. What we gain from being aware of these connections is feeling loved, not just by family but by strangers who offer random acts of kindness.
Sunim's book reminds us that we are all imperfect, that we all struggle in our life and work, and that we are all worthy of love.
“Those of you who are reading this, if you have family or friends who are going through a hard time, please remember to give them a warm hug now and then. Who knows, you really might extend their lives—and yours, too.”