Happy Family Life

Sifu Chris Didyk, Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Eugene Siterman in New Hampshire, USA


In all my years being your student I have witnessed how you successfully bring out the best in people. That is really an inspiration for me and it would be wonderful to have that skill so I can apply it to every relationship that I have. Many times, it is specially challenging with family. Could you please share with us your secret?



This is an interesting and important question that compels me to look more closely on my philosophy of life. I believe that a person’s attitude towards life, like whether he brings out the best in other people, looks at life negatively, or indifferent to what is happening around him, depends much on his life philosophy, which in turn depends on his environment and upbringing.

If a person ‘s life is difficult since childhood, and he came from an environment and education background that restrict his professional and intellectual expansion, it is unlikely that he looks at life favorably. On the other hand, if his life is full of luxury and he is well protected by his government and society, he may become bored, resulting in his being indifferent to life.

I happened to come from a good family and educational background that nurtured a healthy attitude towards life. My family was poor which meant that I had to put in effort to succeed. I came from a very good school, considered by many people as the best school east of the strategic Suez Canal, which provided me opportunities for learning and leadership.

Hence, I developed a very good philosophy of life. I knew that we had to put in a lot of hard work if we wanted to succeed. I was also a leader in my schooldays, being the captain of my school table tennis teams, the chairman of the Art Club, an instructor of the school swimming club, the President of the school lion dance team, and an assistant scout master of my scout group.

My scouting days also enabled me to be joyful towards life. I clearly remember that Scout Law number eight demands that “a scout smiles and whistles at all times.” Hence, even in times of difficulties, I maintained a joyful spirit.

Most importantly, I practiced very good kungfu from the best masters I could find. My kungfu training, which included chi kung, not only gave me good health, vitality and longevity, but also mental clarity and a lot of internal force. Thus, I had good ingredients to put into practice my wholesome philosophy of life.

Basically, I find life is a joy. Everyday is our birthday. But we need to know how to find the joys and beauties of life, and realize that there is also a lot of suffering. We need to know the limits of our abilities. There is much suffering and injustice that are beyond our control. If we can right wrongs, we would do so, but we can still find the joys of life despite its sufferings. This principle is in line with the teaching of Zen, that Zen practitioners can live in societies without being contaminated by societies.

An important ability to find the joys of life is to find joys in our daily duties. Our daily duties are not only joyful, but also beautiful. You are more likely to find joys and beauties in your work if you appreciate the truth that the job you do provides you the source to feed yourself and your family if you have one, as well as to provide a roof above your head at night. If you are a boss, appreciate the truth that the people who work for you, provide you a comfortable life.

When you return home, appreciate the fact that your wife or husband is not the person who just happened to marry you, but is the person who sacrifices the best part of her or his life for your well being. If you are not married, it is time to get a good husband or a good wife. There are literally thousands of men and women around you. You just have to make a good choice.

I was lucky to have a good family and educational background to develop a healthy philosophy of life. For those who are not so lucky, those who came from difficult or luxurious background, and whose philosophy of life is unhealthy, can change their philosophy of life to become healthy. It is easier than changing your job, or changing your house. But it still needs effort.

More importantly, it needs a will to change. You will be much motivated to know that you will benefit tremendously if you make this change. If you happen to look at life indifferently, or worse till negatively, change to look at life with joy and beauty. Start with everyday things and duties.

If you are looking at your computer, appreciate how joyful and beautiful to have a computer. People in the past, even the very rich and powerful, did not have this facility. If you are sitting on a chair at a table, feel how joyful and beautiful your chair and table are. Those caught in busy traffic, or working in the open, may not enjoy such joy and beauty.

What should you do if you happen to be caught in busy traffic, or to work in the open? If you are in busy traffic, realize the fact that by being anxious or impatient, won’t help; it will definitely make things worse. Once on a German expressway, I was caught in a traffic jam with my wife for 3 hours because of a motor accident ahead. Th traffic just couldn’t move. I was lucky because my wife was with me. We talked about old times, and the 3 hours passed quickly. But if I were alone, I would appreciate the God-given 3 hours, recalling the common complaint by many people that they had no time to do anything.

If you were working in the open, appreciate the fact that you could work in the open. Think of those who are sick in hospital, or old people who have nothing to do at home. To work in the open is actually a welcoming thing, and you should enjoy your work.

Before we can bring out the best in other people, we ourselves need to have a healthy philosophy of life.

When you meet people, see the good side of them. There are three ways to see people. We can see their bad side, we can be indifferent, or we can see their good side. Unfortunately, most people are indifferent, and many see the bad side. If you can see the good side of others, you will have one of the secrets to bring out the best in them.

Let us take a simple example of someone walking across a street. Appreciate the fact that he is wholesome to walk across the street; he is not sick or invalid.

Suppose a car knocks him down. Appreciate the fact that he is still alive, and subsequent treatment in a hospital will save him.

Suppose the accident is fatal. Appreciate the fact that it is not the end of him. He is liberated, and his soul is set free. Wish him well in his afterlife.

Seeing the good side of people does not change the present. If an accident is fatal, it would not enable the victim to live again. But it will make you feel better, and it will enable you to bring out the best in people.

Actually, seeing the good side of people can change the future. Many people outside our school may not understand it, but many in our school have both the understanding and experience that the mind is a very powerful thing. When you wish peace and happiness in his afterlife, you actually contribute to his peace and happiness. After all, our phenomenal world is a creation of mind.

It is also necessary to realize the freedom of choice. This is especially important to family members. Our students have derived a lot of benefits from practicing our Shaolin Wahnam arts, and they want their family members to have similar benefits. But if the family members choose laziness over practice, for example, it is their choice. Let them live their lives the way they like. Don’t try to force them live their lives the way you want.

To bring out the best in people, you must have the skills to do so. If you don’t have the skills, or even when you have the skills, you should tell them of the opportunities for improvement. If someone is sick, ask him (or her) to get well, like seeing a doctor, then practice genuine chi kung. Not only he will not be sick again, he will also have other benefits. If someone has lost his job, ask him to get a better job, or be his or her own boss.

However, if that someone does not want to get well or get a better job, it is his choice. Let him live his own life.

We can bring out the best in others if we follow the following secrets. We, ourselves, must have a healthy philosophy of life. We look at the good side of people. We tell them opportunities to improve themselves.

Happy Family Life

An old picture showing Grandmaster Wong (front right) and some sea scouts

The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on Happy Family Life in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.