Once an unhappy young man travelled all the way up a mountain where an old master lived. He came to the old master and lamented that he had a very sad life. He asked for a solution.
The old master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it.
“How does it taste?” – the master asked.
“Terrible.” – spat the young man.
The master chuckled, then asked the young man to take another handful of salt and follow him for a walk to the nearby lake. The two walked in silence to the lake and the master instructed him to put his handful of salt into the lake. The young man was confused, but bent down to swirl the salt into the lake.
The master said, “Now drink from the lake.”
As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”
“Refreshing!” – remarked the young man
“Did you taste the salt?” – asked the master.
“No.” – said the young man.
The old master sat beside this troubled young man, took his hands, and said, “The struggles and stress in life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of stress in life remains the same. But the amount we taste and feel that ‘pain’ depends on the container we put it into.
So when you are facing tremendous stress, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of self. Stop being a glass and letting the struggles of life overwhelm you until it feels terrible. Become a lake. Let the pain enlarge you, even refresh you, so that it can make you stronger.”
As a student in Singapore, feeling stressed is practically inevitable. We are constantly pressured to do well and to be at the top of our game. We are also constantly bombarded with homework and CCA commitments. If we do not learn how to mindfully relieve the pressure and regain control of our lives, stress can be very harmful for our physical and emotional health.
Listen to calming music. Go for a run. Confide in a close friend, or watch a funny video and laugh out loud. No matter how stressed you may feel, remind yourself that you ARE in control of YOUR life.