The five powers of life

This semester has been challenging for me. Thich Nhat Hanh’s celebrated book The Art of Power gives me much useful advice on dealing with pressure. Here I want to share some of the main points in his book.

Thich Nhat Hanh advocates us to develop the five powers — faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration, and insight — progressively to achieve and maintain happiness. “People who have faith can move mountains”, he says. I am starting to realize the power of determination as I challenge myself.

Concentration is beautiful because it gives us a feeling of “in the zone”. An athlete who trains all day long are less likely to get the most of his training than one who regularly takes breaks to reinvigorate himself. Studies have shown that working in 90-minutes intervals is the most productive. When we relax, we should relax completely — an often neglected aspect of concentration.

Insight requires substantial accumulation of knowledge and proactive thinking. Novice Kung-fu fighters only see the acts and marvel at their sophistication; Kung-Fu masters have their philosophy in mind and responds to each situation with ease.

It is all too easy to get blown away by the difficulty in the process of challenging yourself. Just remember to be like water — flow at your own speed, carry your poise, and reflect things as they are. If you want to start your own mindfulness practice, Deer Park Monastry has a great guide here.

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