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The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down – Haemin Sunim

7th June 2022
The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down book cover


The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down is translated from Korean to English by Chi-Young Kim. The author hopes this book can inspire the reader to connect with his/her kinder and wiser side. Since its title looks interesting, I decided to give it a read. I would like to find out what I can see.


Haemin is a Seon Buddhist teacher, writer and the founder of the School of Broken Hearts in Seoul. Sunim is the Korean title for a Buddhist monk or Buddhist nun.


The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down has a prologue, 8 chapters, and an epilogue (Your Original Face). Every chapter has 2 themes.

Chapter 1 is Rest. It has 2 subchapters: Why Am I So Busy?, and When Life Disappoints, Rest a Moment.

Chapter 2 is Mindfulness. The 2 themes here are Befriend Your Emotions, and When You Are Feeling Low.

Chapter 3 is Passion. Its subchapters are Temper Your Eagerness, and Being Right Isn’t Important; Being Happy Together Is.

Chapter 4 is Relationships. Its 2 themes are The Art of Maintaining a Good Relationship, and The Journey of Forgiveness.

Chapter 5 is Love. Its subchapters are First Love, and I Love Your Ordinariness.

Chapter 6 is Life. Its theme are Do You Know Kung Fu?, and Three Liberating Insights.

Chapter 7 is The Future. The subchapters are One Word of Encouragement Can Change the Future, and When You Look for Your Calling.

Chapter 8 is Spirituality. Its themes are Long-Lost Cousins, and Two Spiritual Paths in One Family.


The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down contains life advice from a Buddhist’s perspective. I will share some points which are enlightening.

The world we see is a limited one that our minds care about but it is the entire universe to our minds. Thus, your world and my world would be different. To understand something, set aside our preconceptions and observe it quietly so that the object of our examination reveals what needs to be understood. We learn through mistakes in life. The author also discusses the power of subconscious mind, which is almost like The Secret.

Change is inevitable, so embrace and welcome it. However, we need to remember that people only will change if they suffer tremendous hardship or have a life-altering experience.

Feelings are often born from a matrix of condition beyond our control. We are neither our feelings nor the story our minds tell about us to make sense of them. Do not try to control other people as we cannot control even our own mind. It is the same as medicine. No matter how effective the medicine may be, it can taste like poison if you force someone to take it.

When someone does not like us, it is not our problem but theirs. Do not be fooled just because someone is nice to you at first as you would not know how long their kindness lasts.

Happiness means finding a moment of joy in ordinary hours. Sprinkle life with humour and let go of your ego. Evaluating the present through the memories of the past can cause sadness.

The author said that being right isn’t nearly as important as being happy together. But what if someone is truly wrong? Should we just let them embarrass themselves? I beg to differ. However, I agree with him that if you get angry while debating right and wrong, you have just conceded defeat with your enraged voice.

The road to happiness lies not just in finding a good job, but also in learning to enjoy what you are asked to do. He advises the reader to reconnect with the meaning and purpose of work by focusing on how the work is helping others. But if there is really no meaning in the job, I think we should just quit and find a more fulfilling job. He also notices that the reward for someone who works hard is more work. This is a cruel irony.

Love, not righteous words, has the power to change people’s lives. In relationships, assume you will need to give more than you receive, so you would not be disappointed. In truth, most things we do for others are for ourselves if we are brutally honest with ourselves.

I encountered one thing that I am definitely guilty of in the book. I often use the sentence “I will have whatever”. However, it is the vaguest and least effective statement. I shall try to avoid this sentence and state my mind clearly in the future. Do not gossip as gossip can be cathartic in the moment, but it travels fast and can bite you back.

The author was embroiled in a controversy about his lavish lifestyle in 2020. Nonetheless, the wisdom in this book is not diminished by his behaviour. To sum it up, I will end with this sentence from the book:

“Life is like theatre. You are assigned a role. If you don’t like the role, keep in mind that you have the power to re-create the role you want.”


  1. Nothing is intrinsically good or bad. Good or bad is always relative.
  2. A person does not live the way he says he would. He lives the way he has been living.
  3. If you envy someone’s life, remember the pizza in the ad. It always looks better than it is.
  4. How you speak is often more important than what you say. And actions speak louder than words.
  5. Life isn’t a hundred-meter race against your friends, but a lifelong marathon against yourself.


3 out of 3 stars

Interested in The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down?

You may get the book from through the links below*.

Get the print book from Kinokuniya Malaysia here

Get the ebook from Lazada Malaysia here

*Disclosure: The above links are affiliate links. Thus, I may earn a small commission when you purchase the book through these links.

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