How to stop looking for other people’s approval

The practice of mindfulness can help you to have faith in yourself. If you look deeply at things, we have our own way of understanding.

The kind of insight that you have concerning people and things is confirmed by your daily experiences, and you believe in your insight. If you really believe in your insight, then you have confidence in yourself. 

If you practice mindful breathing well enough, and you find it helpful, you will experience joy, happiness, and peace while practicing, and you will have reason to believe in its effectiveness.

Then, even if a thousand people said that mindful breathing is useless, you would still smile. Because you would know from your own experience that mindful breathing helps you to be fresh, to be peaceful, and to be happy. The opinions of other people cannot make you abandon your conviction, your belief.

The notion of beauty differs with every person. Something can be very beautiful to one person, but not to others. The notions of beauty or ugliness are only notions, and you are not affected by others’ opinions.

You are a flower in the garden of humanity. You are not less than this. You belong to the kingdom of God, like any other wonder of life. If you have that insight, if you know that you have the seed of compassion, of joy, of happiness in you, then you know that you have value. If you believe in the existence of these qualities, transmitted by your parents and ancestors, and that you are a continuation of them, then the opinions people have of you will have no effect. You still continue.

During the war in Vietnam, I worked for peace. My community did not take sides in the war; we wanted reconciliation. We did not want the North and the South fighting and killing each other. And we believed that to be the truest, the best, most beautiful path to take: the path of compassion.

The warring parties looked upon us with suspicion. They thought that we were stupid. If you take the side of one warring party, you are at least protected by that party. If you don’t take the side of either warring party, then you are exposed to attack by both of them. But if you believe that your path is the path of compassion, the path of humanity, then you continue.

Millions of people believed that we were communists. They were afraid of communism; they wanted to kill communists. We put ourselves in danger. And other people thought that we were pro-American. Many millions of people misunderstood us, yet we continued on our path, because we had belief in our values.

I think if you continue to practice like that, you will be solid as a mountain. You will not be assaulted by any kind of opinions.

Good luck! 🌼

[This transcript has been edited for readability.]

Watch the short teaching here:


  1. Bowing with deep gratitude to you Thay & all of Plum Village community for your compassion, understanding, your wisdom & the joy you nourish in us, all fresh flowers in the garden of humanity ✨☺️🌻 ”In gratitude you have watered seeds of love in me, in gratitude I will water seeds of love in someone too” 🙏

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