(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general-2/happy-family-life/life04.html)
Grandmaster Wong, his wife and children
One of the most wonderful things that I have been gifted through our trainings and especially through Sigung’s wisdom and help is to enjoy a happy family life. It is one of the greatest gifts, I think, to love and feel loved within a family.
I would like to contribute the following question:
We are all different. We think, act and feel differently i.e. have different needs, aspirations, walk of lives etc. Apart from sharing our love and joy with our family members (family in a narrow and more wider sense), what are the skills and how can we train them to understand the other person better in order to be able to nurture them more effectively?
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Indeed, having a happy family life is one of the greatest gifts in life. It is also one of the values we cherish in our school. As I have said often, we do not just practice chi kung or kungfu, we apply what we have learned to enrich our life and the lives of others.
We think, act and feel differently i.e. have different needs, aspirations, and walks of lives. It is precisely important to realise this fact in order to have a happy family life.
Let us look at the needs, aspirations, walks of lives and other relevant factors of our blood family and our Shaolin Wahnam Family.
We are all different. We think, act and feel differently i.e. have different needs, aspirations, and walks of lives etc. Apart from sharing our love and joy with our family members, both in a narrow and more wider sense, what are the skills and how can we train them to understand the other person better in order to be able to nurture them more effectively?
The first skill is to realise this difference. For example, we in Shaolin Wahnam have enjoyed the benefits of our arts, and naturally we want our immediate family members to have these benefits too.
It will be foolhardy and bring a lot of unpleasantness to force our arts on them. Although they are our brothers and sisters, fathers or mothers, nieces and nephews, they live their lives differently. Let them live the lives the way they want. Do not try to force them to live their lives the way we want. It is their lives.
But we can show by examples. If you happened to have an illness and recovered by practicing our chi kung, tell them not only the effect but also the joys of your practice. Remind them that you need to put in effort. If they do not listen, that is their choice, and also their right.
You now live life healthy and happily. Tell them that it is the result of your practicing chi kung. If they want to have this health and happiness, they can practice our chi kung. They have to pay the fees for the training, and most importantly they have to practice everyday. It won’t take up too much of their time. they need to practice just about 10 minutes a session, twice a day.
If they do not spend the time practicing our chi kung, they would waste the time anyway, and probably remain sickly and unhappy. But it is their choice. Don’t pay the fees for them, or force them to practice if they do not want health and happiness. Realising this difference in choice is very important in sharing love and joy with them, or at lease avoiding dislike and unpleasantness.
An excellent way to develop this skill is mental clarity and realisation. Our arts give us mental clarity. What is needed is to realize the different needs and aspirations.. You also show by personal example. You yourself, practice our arts everyday.
Another important skill is to talk about things that they like to hear, not about things you want to talk about or you want them to hear. What you say must be truthful. Don’t lie to them to make things pleasant.
For example, your brother may want a better paying job. Don’t tell him that he has no money. It is not what he wants to hear though it is truthful. Don’t tell him he can strike a lottery. It is what he wants to hear but it is unlikely to be truthful.
Tell him that he can find a job that he likes and pays better, but he must make the effort to find it. If he just continues doing his job, it is unlikely his boss will give him more money, or a better paying job will come to him. But, if he chooses not to look for a better paying job, it is his choice. He chooses a low-paying job over putting effort to find a better paying one. Don’t nag him saying that he has no money or that there are plenty of better-paying jobs outside..
Another excellent way to share your love and joy with your family members, irrespective of whether they are in your immediate family or part of the Happy Shaolin Wahnam Family, is to have regular get-togethers. Such get-togethers may be picnics, outings or dinners.
For your immediate family, you may have to organise such get-togethers. It is easier for our extended Shaolin Wahnam Family. Your regular class is a good get-together where you can practice your skills of sharing love and happiness. You can also attend my regional courses or intensive courses to share love and happiness with other members in other countries.
It is common, especially in immediate families, that family members spend their time playing with their mobile phones instead of with other family members. You may have to suggest a rule that mobile phones are not allowed in such family gatherings. If anyone has to take an important call, he (or she) must do so briefly away from the gathering, and come back to the gathering quickly. If he does this often, he has to shut off his mobile phone. Taking calls is not as important as sharing love and happiness at a family gathering.
A better way is to lead the conversation so skilfully that other people voluntarily shut off their mobile phones. The topics of conversation must be so interesting that they involve everybody in the gathering. And you must be ready to be a good listener, not speaking most of the time.
You may, for example, start the interesting conversation by saying, “Mom, tell us how you keep our family together when we were small”, or “Dad, how ddi you spend time with our family when we were tiny children?“ If anyone is disinterested, for which you must be on the lookout, you can ask that someone what he thinks of the conversation. If his answer is short, like “Interesting”, ask him to tell the gathering what he finds interesting.
You may need to pay for the gathering to get it going. Paying some money is certainly worthwhile for you to share your love and joy with your family members. Later, you may suggest that family members pay a share of the gathering, or take turns to pay for the gathering. If any of your family member is unable to pay his share due to financial difficulty, you may secretly pay for him without others knowing so that he will not feel embarrassed.
If anyone does not attend the gathering, you can suggest a heavy fine. You may say something like “The gathering is in honour of our dad and mom who sacrificed much for our well being. It is insulting to them if you don’t attend.” Of course you dad and mom won’t be paying for the gathering.
If you follow these golden guidelines, you will make your family members more loving and caring for one another. The guidelines are:
Recognize that different people, even your family members, have different needs and aspiration. Let them live the lives they want. Do not force them to live the lives you want.
Say something pleasant and truthful in their presence. Do not say anything that may hurt their feelings or sensitivities. Organize family gatherings regularly. Mobile phones are not allowed in such gatherings. Lead the conversation so that everyone will enjoy the gathering.
But how would you develop these skills or abilities. These skills or abilities are related to mental clarity and internal force. If you have mental clarity, not only you realise the importance of having a happy family, you are also in a better position to acquire the skills or abilities for it.
You need internal force to learn the skills and carry out the abilities. If you just know that having a happy family is important, that is not enough. You must be able to make your family happy. Internal force will give you the necessary energy.
The training in our school gives us mental clarity and internal force. They will make our family happy if you carry out the suggestions mentioned above. Having a happy family life is a wonderful value to cherish. But you need to put in some effort to be successful.
Grandmaster Wong, his wife his son and daughter-inlaw and grandchildren
The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on Happy Family Life in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.