Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness. Zen Habits features: simplicity, health & fitness, motivation and inspiration, frugality, family life, happiness, goals, getting great things done and living in the moment.
Check out some of the amazing insights from Leo Babauta about changing our mindset:
1. Stop judging and stop expecting
Think of nothing that happens as either good or bad. Stop judging, and stop expecting. It’s a tiny change — all you have to do is say, ‘That wasn’t good or bad, it just happened, it just is.’ It’s tiny, but it takes practice. You will no longer expect good things to happen (or bad things), but will just take things as they come, and be content with whatever comes. This means you’ll no longer be disappointed, or unhappy.
2. Hamlet said, There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so
He was right. Without the human mind, things just happen, and they are not good or bad. It’s only when we apply the filter of our judgment that they become good or bad, beautiful or ugly.
3. Great Expectations
The second half of this change is just as small, but just as important: dropping expectations. Not lowering expectations, but eliminating them.
Think about it: when we have expectations, and things don’t go the way we expect (which happens quite often, as we’re not good prognosticators), we are disappointed, frustrated. It’s our expectations that force us to judge whether something is good or bad. When people disappoint you, it’s not their fault. They’re just being who they are. Your expectations are at fault.
4. judgments stop us from understanding
But why make this change? Why should we stop judging? Why should we stop expecting? Because judgments stop us from understanding, and can ruin our happiness. When we judge, we don’t seek to understand — we’ve already come to a conclusion. If we stop judging, we allow ourselves to try to understand, and then we can take a much smarter course of action, because we’re better informed by our understanding.
5. Be curious – seek to see things as they are
So how do we start doing this? In small steps, as always.
First, start by being more aware. Throughout the course of the day today, note when you make judgments, note when you have expectations, and when things don’t live up to them.
Next, pause each time you notice a judgment or expectation. Take a breath. Then tell yourself, “No expectations, no good or bad.” Repeat this, letting go of the judgment or expectation.
Third, seek to see things as they are, and to understand. Be curious as to why things are the way they are, why people act the way they act. Investigate, empathize, try to put yourself in people’s shoes. See the landscape of your life as it actually is, without the filter of judgments or expectations.
Next, take what comes. Experience it, in the moment. React appropriately, without overreacting because it isn’t as you hoped or wanted. You can’t control life, or others, but you can control how you react.
Then, accept. When things happen, understand why they do, without judgment, and accept them as they are. Accept people for who they are. Accept yourself, without judgment, as you are. This takes practice.
Finally, know that the present moment, being as it is, also contains infinite possibilities. And those possibilities are opened up once you see things as they are, without judgment or expectations.
6. FOCUS on doing
In the chaos of the modern world, there is a beauty in simply doing. We’re buffeted wildly by whatever emails, conversations, news, events, demands, that are going on around us. Our minds become a constant deluge of thoughts dwelling in the past, worries of the future, distractions pulling us in every direction. But all of that melts away when we focus on just doing. It doesn’t matter what the doing is: sitting, walking, writing, reading, eating, washing, talking, snuggling, playing. By focusing on the doing, we drop our worries and anxieties, jealousies and anger, grieving and distraction.
There is something profound in that simplicity. You are in the middle of your day today, and you’re caught up in the sandstorm of thoughts, feelings, to-dos, meetings, readings, and communications of this day.
Now focus on doing one thing, right now. Just choose one thing, and clear away all other distractions. Just do. The rest of the world becomes meaningless distraction. It’s just you, and your doing. And you realize: this is all that matters. In this, there is everything.
7. Life can be ridiculously complicated, if you let it
Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote, is the shortest guide to life you’ll ever need: “Smile, breath, and go slowly.”
For more inspiration, check out Leo Babauta blog Zen habits.