How to Ding Sum



There are 5 steps to the process of Ding Sum. Each step flows naturally into the next, and each step is important as it sets the foundation for the steps that follow. Ding Sum guides us through the process of reducing stress by helping us to carefully think things through. When we follow the steps of Ding Sum, we can make good decisions and do something to help a situation.

  • 1. Stop – Calm down. Stop all our thoughts to quiet our reactions.
  • 2. Assess – Review all the facts of the situation. Find out what is truly going on.
  • 3. Decide – Decide what we will do to help the situation and benefit all involved.
  • 4. Do – Follow through on our decision and do it.
  • 5. Re-evaluate – Review what we did and how it turned out. Look for how we can improve for the next time.


The first step is stop. Once we catch ourselves having a negative thought and reacting to a situation, simply silence our thoughts and stop for 3 seconds. The sooner we stop our reaction, the faster we can get a grip on ourselves and calm down. Stopping is critical because it prevents us from doing things in the same old negative way. Instead, we can deliberately change course and make a positive change. Stopping also removes the reactions that bias our judgment.


The second step is assess. The first step of stop helped us calm down and remove our personal biases. Now we are ready to look at all the facts of the situation. With a clear open mind, we thoroughly consider all the information. Who is involved? What are they really saying? What do they want? How can I help? Make sure the facts are solid undistorted facts, not speculation or opinion. When we actively ask questions to find out details, we get a more complete picture of what is happening. Then when we try to come up with real alternatives to help a situation, we are working with good unbiased information that leaves nothing out.


The third step is decide. Now that we have calmly assessed the situation and looked at all the facts, we create options and decide on the best way to handle the situation. To help us make a good decision, Ding Sum uses the guideline of “for the benefit of everyone.” This guideline helps us decide what to do based on the goal of benefitting everyone involved including ourselves. In order to benefit everyone, we must consider other people and their point of view. Then, figure out what we can do that is most helpful and appropriate. When we decide to benefit everyone, our decisions are directed towards positive actions, as we help others, solve problems, and decrease stress.


The fourth step is do. We have stopped our reactions, calmly assessed the situation, and decided on a way to benefit everyone. Now it’s time to do it. Carry through that good decision to good action. Maybe it’s taking the time to really help someone. Maybe it’s being flexible and following through with that apology to clear the air and work things out. The point is that in order to resolve the situation, we have to do the good decision. Otherwise, the situation is left still brewing, just waiting to explode. The best way to solve a situation is to do something helpful, right then and there, so the stress doesn’t pile up and overwhelm us. If we take care of each problem as it comes up, we can remain calm throughout the day. Then we make real progress towards changing ourselves and we reduce stress for ourselves and others around us.


The fifth and last step is re-evaluate. What was the outcome of our decision and the actions we took? If we made a mistake and things didn’t go well, we learn from what went wrong and determine how we can handle it better next time. If things went well, we learn what we did right and determine how we can improve and do even better.

When we re-evaluate, we also review how we did the first four steps of Ding Sum. Did we just react or did we remember to stop and think? Did we consider all the facts? What did we miss? How did things turn out? What can we do better? Re-evaluation helps us learn from our mistakes as well as our successes. Re-evaluation is important because it helps us keep learning so we always improve. It prepares us for the next day, the next hour, and even the next moment as we gain new information for how to use Ding Sum better.

When we first learn to Ding Sum, it takes time to use all 5 steps. We’re not used to thinking according to steps and we may have trouble just remembering to use it. But with effort, practice and experience, it gets easier to use Ding Sum. The steps start to flow more naturally and quickly. In fact, our goal is to use all the steps in 3 seconds. Ding Sum in 3 seconds can go a long way in reducing stress. By stopping our negative reactions and doing something helpful instead, we prevent potentially troubling situations from erupting.

Practicing Ding Sum is about trying. The more we try, the more experience we have, the better we get, and one day, Ding Sum can become our natural way of thinking as we reduce our stress each and every day.