#MindfulMonday: Salt of the Earth

I have a happy, bubbly friend named Nicole. One day, at a teatime catch-up session, she said I was the ‘salt of the Earth’. I said, “What’s that? I’ll have to go look it up on the Internet.”

She was highly amused, but explained it nonetheless. The metaphor ‘salt of the Earth’ was apparently used to describe good people. Oh, thank you! That is really sweet. ūüėÄ

I was so amused, I wrote a haiku about it. ūüėČ

Salt of the Earth

Salt of the Earth

The salt of the Earth
That was what Nicole called me
Makes me smile every time

Khor Hui Min
30 November 2015

 

The origins of the metaphor

Do you believe that people are fundamentally good?

‘Salt of the Earth’ refers to simple, fundamental goodness. In speech and writing, it can be used to describe a simple, good person. The Oxford Dictionary defined the salt of the Earth¬†as ‘a¬†person or group of people of great kindness, reliability, or honesty.’

Where did this term or metaphor originate from, you might wonder. Well, it actually came from the Bible, Matthew 5:13, which is the thirteenth verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It is part of the Sermon on the Mount.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers, who are mainly fishermen and other simple people, ‚ÄúYe are the salt of the Earth.‚ÄĚ

The positive¬†meaning in ‘the salt of the earth’ was likely made¬†in reference to the value of salt, which is reflected in other old phrases, such as¬†– the aristocratic and powerful of the earth were ‘above the salt‘ and valued workers were ‘worth their salt‘ (Phrase Finder, n.d.).

A metaphor for goodness

Let us see the goodness in others.

It is flattering to be regarded¬†as good, reliable and honest, to be the so-called salt of the Earth. However,¬†it is good to know that people still prefer to see goodness in others, rather than the contrary. There should be more people like Nicole around. ūüôā

Why should you see goodness in others, because seeing the bad qualities is a whole lot easier for most people? Wait a minute… Why is it easier for most people to see the bad qualities in others? It is simply because they had a whole lot more practice in seeing the bad stuff, as compared to seeing the good stuff. Most people grow up absorbing the lessons and examples of the people around them, their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc., ultimately internalising these qualities and making them their own. Rarely do young, impressionable children question the very fundamental beliefs, concepts, characteristics and¬†habits of their elders.

Thus, if they had grown up with unhappy role models, disillusioned with what life gave them (or did to them, as some like to think of it), carrying the baggage of their lifelong disappointments around with them, the children will eventually end up with the same mindset in adulthood, not knowing that there are better alternatives out there.

However, it is possible to break away from this cycle, if the person in question realises that the mindset or the way of thinking he/she inherited or learnt is negative and bad for him/her in the long run. It is even bad for health – imagine being angry all the time – the blood pressure always goes up high, the heart rate increases when the body¬†should be at rest… that is bad, isn’t it? Also, when one is always agitated, perhaps ruminating on irksome people, situations or things, it will be harder to sleep at night, leading to poor sleep quality.

Choose to see goodness in others

Perhaps a shift in perspective is all it takes.

If you are one of those people who look at the rotten, sordid side of life every day, perhaps it is time to stand back and assess the situation.

“Look how he abused me and beat me,
How he threw me down and robbed me.”
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.

“Look how he abused me and beat me,
How he threw me down and robbed me.”
Abandon such thoughts and live in love.

In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.

The Buddha, Dhammapada

We are our thoughts. We are what we think. If you think you are unhappy, so you are. If you think you are a victim, so you are. If you think you are a failure, and so you will become a failure even though you are not.

Choose to see the beauty and goodness in other people. See that your wife cares for your children every day (in spite of having to juggle a full-time job and house chores). See that your mother is concerned that you work late all the time (she shows it by calling you to nag). See that your child is lonely, and needs your attention and love (he shows it by throwing tantrums, sulking, and drawing pictures all the time). In so doing, you are focusing on the goodness, the good intentions behind the actions (caring wife, concerned mother, lonely child), rather than the negatives (wife who is bad in time management, nagging mother, difficult child).

In addition, we should focus on the good qualities of people. For example, your wife is a good cook, and she is a good problem-solver. Your mother has a great memory and is very good in Tai Chi, even though she is 70 now. Your child excels in arts and sports. Do not focus on the negatives, such as your wife has no fashion sense, your mother is fickle-minded, and your child does not have an affinity for science and maths.

Perhaps a shift in perspective is the tip of the iceberg – a start towards a better life, inside-out. Remember, practice makes perfect. ūüôā

 

 

Advertisements

RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #72 Life & Give

After being MIA from Ronovan’s Haiku Challenge for a few weeks, I’m finally back at haiku writing again. I just missed the deadline, I think, but I shall write my haiku anyway. ūüėČ The two word prompts are ‘life’ and ‘give’.

haiku-challenge-image

Challenge of Life

What challenge endured
What would you and I but give
For a life well lived

Khor Hui Min
24 November 2015

Mindful Monday: Practice Being Thankful #mindfulmonday

In our modern lives, we rush from point to point, meeting to meeting, event to event. In the past, we did this in a relatively private setting, and only our family, close friends and colleagues knew how busy (or not busy) we were. However, with the advent of social media, everybody seemed to want to outdo each other to show how marvelously interesting or exciting their lives were. When did our lives become a reality show and privacy become old news? People who could afford to lead exciting lives full of holidays, parties and glamorous events drew envy, while those who could not afford to do so, suddenly had a reason to feel incomplete or lacking in some way. Most do not realise that this is an unhealthy trend.

Being thankful1

Realise that You Do Not Need to Keep Up with the Joneses

As the saying goes – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Let the flashy neighbours buy their new car. Your 5-year-old car is doing fine. Of course, it might have a hiccup once in a while. There might be some repairs required from time to time, or some new parts, but that is just wear and tear. Keep the bonus you would use as a downpayment for a spanking new car for a rainy day instead, and forget about getting a loan to buy that hot red two-seater convertible you have been eyeing for the past week.

Let your old school friend buy the latest smartphone model, for which he declared he was going to queue outside the shop for from 7am onwards on launch day. Yours is only a year old. It was the latest model when you bought it and it still serves you well, without any problems.

Let your colleague buy the new eight-thousand-ringgit piano for his musically gifted daughter. Your son is enjoying his guitar lessons and your old guitar, given to you by your father on your birthday, is still is good condition. Stop thinking about getting an eight-thousand-ringgit violin and switching the boy to take violin lessons.

Realise That You Have Many Things to Be Thankful For

Do not look at what you do not have. Instead, look at what you do have.

Of course, your neighbour’s spanking new car looks gorgeous. But one day, it will grow old and your neighbour will grow tired of it, and the neighbourhood will stop¬†ogling at it in favour of something else that is new and exciting.¬†As with all things new, it will one day become pass√©, or old news.

Furthermore, your old school friend’s smartphone will attract an orbit of curious people wanting to check out the latest model, but it might not necessarily be the best in the market, or trouble-free. Sometimes, it is better to let people test the latest model first, then give their reviews. Based on informed and unbiased reviews, you can then decide if buying the new phone is indeed worthwhile. If you are unlucky, your latest model might come packaged with hardware weaknesses or software glitches.

Lastly,¬†if your kid loves playing the guitar, let him be. Do not try something funny, or you will end up with a kid that will not¬†play any musical instrument at all. Kids are a force to be reckoned with and you want your kid to be cooperative and on your side. ūüôā

Instead of dwelling on what you do not have, make it a point to think of what you do have. If you do not have the habit of having such thoughts, try making a list to help you along. Stick the list on our fridge door, or on your car dashboard, or at the side of your computer monitor screen.

You do not need to copy somebody else’s list. Your list is custom-designed by you, and is only applicable for you. Here’s an example:

Being thankful

Your list does not need to be long, grand or complicated. It can have only three items, or it can have ten. It is entirely up to you.

Make It a Habit to Think of Things You are Thankful For

We all have to start somewhere, sometime. Why not now?

If you do not have the habit of being thankful for all the good things in your life, then you have to kick-start the habit. Here are some things you can do to help you along:

  1. Take 5-10 mins a day to think of everything you are thankful for. You might want to make it the same time every day, just to help make this habit-forming exercise a bit easier. For example, when you wake up every morning, or right before you go to sleep. If you want to take it a bit further, you can meditate quietly on the topic of thankfulness for 10 mins a day.
  2. Try to observe your thoughts. Once you find that you are thinking of something you are unhappy or dissatisfied about, for example, your boss did not appreciate all the articles you wrote for the company website, try to switch this thought with something you are thankful for, such as your mango tree bloomed for the first time since you planted it in the garden five years ago. You will have mango fruits soon!
  3. The little things count. In fact, the little things make the biggest difference. Being thankful is not about lavish things and big gestures. These are infrequent and far between. What are you going to do in the meantime, while you wait for the next one? The little things are small, and might seem insignificant, but they make the most difference because they happen every day. For example, the cheerful admin lady who wishes you good morning every day, or the old friend who calls you to ask you how you are getting on and tell you the latest good news about your ex-classmates. They might be common and even mundane, but they help to brighten up even the most dull and boring day.

So, make it a habit to be thankful. Maybe it will not make much of a difference in your life, but maybe it will make you smile more often, or even sleep better at night! Who knows? ūüôā

Here’s to new beginnings and¬†better days to come. ūüėÄ

 

Note:¬†I was inspired to write my¬†Mindful Monday posts after reading¬†Silver Threading‘s Mindful Monday articles. Please visit her blog to¬†read her latest Mindful Monday post, entitled How to catch¬†more zzzz’s. ūüėČ

 

 

 

 

 

Home

It’s has been a very eventful and hectic time, and as a result, I have not¬†posted anything for perhaps two to three weeks.¬†My apologies for the silence. Perhaps you will find the following poem an enjoyable read. I wrote it a while back for the Malaysian Writers FB group poetry challenge, which happens every Wednesday. The prompt word was ‘home’, and it made me think of what I defined as my home.

Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

HOME

Home is where the heart is
It is with me; wherever I go
Home is not a turtle’s shell
It does not require moving
Home is not a nest of grass
It does not require building
Home is not filled with objects
It does not require warehousing
Home is a feeling
It comes from within
A feeling of comfort
A sense of belonging
Where I am
I take home with me


Khor Hui Min
10 September 2015