Inspired by Zen Habits…

I have read Zen Habits for years now- once of my fav blogs. Here’s the latest. ENJOY.

 I follow these regularly and find them to be TRUTH for how to live with peace and balance and flexibility..

Ideas for an Awesome 2015

If you follow these ideas for the next year, I think you’ll create something truly amazing:

  1. Create habits, not goals or resolutions. Resolutions are like wishful thinking, that fade away inevitably as the year’s newness wears off. Goals are great, but it’s hard to juggle 5-10 new goals when you have a lot of other things always going on. Instead, focus on one new habit at a time, and give it your full attention, until it becomes automatic. Then do another new habit. After a year, you could have 12 new habits, and you’ll be a lot closer to any goals you might have wanted to reach.
  2. Be all in. Most people fail at their resolutions because they write them down, start taking action, and then let themselves quit when things get hard. But what if you committed to doing the habit of meditation in January, or you’d have to give up your favorite food for a year? What if you had to pay $10,000 if you missed two straight days of meditation? Would you stick to the habit then? Of course you would — because you’d be fully committed. Find a way to be all in, and you’ll make your habits stick.
  3. Focus on weekly adaptations. Most people try to focus on something that will take a year to achieve, but you lose motivation, and what if things change during that year? Instead, focus on one week at a time. That’s a doable chunk of time — you can do a week at a time, but you can’t really do a year at a time. And each week, see how you can adapt what you’re doing so that your method gets better and better over time. Review how you did, find the obstacles, and plan around them for the next week.
  4. Find your crew. You can do great things on your own, but you’re much more likely to get them done if you have a group of friends who are holding you accountable, and who you’re holding accountable too. Hold each others’ feet to the fire. Root each other on. Hold regular meetings to make sure everyone is staying on track, and don’t let your crew fall off track.
  5. Fill your year with curiosity and a learning stance. Many people get discouraged if they fall off their goals or habits, but that’s because they have an all-or-nothing mindset. They see failure as evidence that they can’t do it. Far from it: failure is evidence that things need adjusting. It’s a way to learn, so that you can get better. Be curious about what will work for you, about what this new habit will be like (instead of having a preconceived idea), and about what happens when you make adjustments. See all your successes and failures as learning, not a sign that you are good or not good. With this flexible mindset, you’ll be able to weather out any kinds of disruptions, missteps, obstacles or changes.

Balance..

A Method to Find Balance

By Leo Babauta

Despite the insipid title of this post, work-life balance is a bit of a myth.

Sure, we work too much, don’t have time for all the other things we want to do, are always tired, eat convenience food or comfort food rather than nutritious or nourishing food, never have time for solitude … but that’s the life we want, right?

OK, maybe it needs a bit of readjusting. Work and life and learning and relationships and health are all really the same thing, and so “balance” is perhaps the wrong word, but adjusting our lives to our aspired priorities is not a bad thing.

A friend recently asked me how I balance my personal lives and all my projects, and it made me pause and think. And that pause, and the thinking, is really the key to it all, I discovered.

So here’s the method I use.

  1. Pause regularly. In our lives, we are so busy and caught up in what we’re doing that we have no space for thinking. I build regular pauses into my life, so that I have some space for thought. What kind of pauses? I use morning meditation, drinking coffee in the morning with my notebook, my morning shower, a walk alone, tea or a run or other meeting with my wife or a friend, as space for thinking about my life. Pause regularly to create space.
  2. Zoom out. When you take a pause, zoom out from the close-up view, so you can look at the big picture. What are you doing with your life? What kind of person do you want to be? Are you making decisions in the aggregate? What are your priorities? And are you living those priorities? You don’t need to think about all of these things during each pause, but use the pauses for this kind of thinking.
  3. Readjust. When you notice that you’ve been spending too much time on the computer, and too little with your kids or other loved ones, make a note of it. When you notice that some important projects are being neglected, or you don’t have time for exercise, or your diet has gone to hell and settled in there, make a note. Think about what adjustments you can make.
  4. Now actually block off time. Making a note and mental adjustment is great, but it’s meaningless without action. What kind of action can you take to adjust how you actually spend your time? Make a commitment, on your calendar. Not one that you’ll skip when the time comes and you’re browsing your favorite sites. A commitment you’ll keep. For example, if you want to work out more, make a regular date with a friend to go for a run or do a bodyweight workout in the park or go to yoga class or go to the gym you signed up for 11 months ago and never use. Make a regular date. If you want to work on a project, make an appointment to go to a tea house or library for 3-4 hours just to work on that project. Or commit to a whole week of working on your novel. Tell somebody about it, and better yet commit to getting them the work by the end of the week (or whatever period you choose). Make the time, solidly.

That’s the method. Four steps, done regularly.

Life is a constant readjustment. It’s whether you readjust consciously that makes all the difference.

Thanks Leo.

I read this blog all the time. Thanks Leo. you continue to support & enrich my life. zenhabits.com

zen habits: 12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools


12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 11:09 AM PDT

By Leo Babauta

The focus of my life in recent months has been living mindfully, and while I don’t always remember to do that, I have learned a few things worth sharing.

The first is a mindful life is worth the effort. It’s a life where we awaken from the dream state we’re most often submerged in — the state of having your mind anywhere but the present moment, locked in thoughts about what you’re going to do later, about something someone else said, about something you’re stressing about or angry about. The state of mind where we’re lost in our smartphones and social media.

It’s worth the effort, because being awake means we’re not missing life as we walk through it. Being awake means we’re conscious of what’s going on inside us, as it happens, and so can make more conscious choices rather than acting on our impulses all the time.

The second thing I’ve learned is that we forget. We forget, over and over, to be awake. And that’s OK. Being mindful is a process of forgetting, and then remembering. Repeatedly. Just as breathing is a process of exhaling, and then inhaling, repeatedly.

The third is that mindful living isn’t just one thing. It’s not just meditation. Nor is it just focusing on the sensations around you, right now in this moment. I’ve found mindful living to be a set of very related tools, perhaps all different ways of getting at the same thing, but each useful in its own regard.

I’ll share them in this post, and hope that you’ll consider each in turn.

Why You Should Care

Why bother to spend the time learning these tools? Is it just for some ideal of living a peaceful, stress-free life?

No. A stress-free life doesn’t exist, but these tools will definitely make you more prepared to deal with the stresses that will inevitably come your way.

But just as importantly, they’ll help you overcome the fear of failure and fear of discomfort that’s holding you back, that’s keeping you from making positive changes in your life.

These tools will help you launch your new blog, start a business, write a book, put out your first music album online, find your purpose in life, become the person you’ve always wanted to be.

This is what I’ve found. I’m certain you’ll find these tools just as useful.

The Toolset

This list, of course, is not complete. It’s a collection of things I’ve been learning about, and am still practicing, things I’ve found useful enough to share.

  1. MeditationMeditation is where mindful living starts. And it’s not complicated: you can sit still for even just 1 minute a day to start with (work up to 3-5 minutes after a week), and turn your attention to your body and then your breath. Notice when your thoughts wander from your breath, and gently return to the breath. Repeat until the minute is up.
  2. Be Awake. Meditation is practice for being awake, which is not being in the dream state (mind wandering into a train of thought, getting lost in the online world, thinking about past offenses, stressing about the future, etc.) but being awake to the present, to what is. Being awake is something you can do throughout the day, all the time, if you remember. Remembering is the trick.
  3. Watch Urges. When I quit smoking in 2005, the most useful tool I learned was watching my urges to smoke. I would sit there and watch the urge rise and fall, until it was gone, without acting on it. It taught me that I am not my urges, that I don’t have to act on my urges, and this helped me change all my other habits. Watch your urge to check email or social media, to eat something sweet or fried, to drink alcohol, to watch TV, to be distracted, to procrastinate. These urges will come and go, and you don’t have to act on them.
  4. Watch Ideals. We all have ideals, all the time. We have an ideal that our day will go perfectly, that people will be kind and respectful to us, that we will be perfect, that we’ll ace an exam or important meeting, that we’ll never fail. Of course, we know from experience that those ideals are not real, that they don’t come true, that they aren’t realistic. But we still have them, and they cause our stress and fears and grief over something/someone we’ve lost. By letting go of ideals, we can let go of our suffering.
  5. Accept People & Life As They Are. When I stopped trying to change a loved one, and accepted him for who he was, I was able to just be with him and enjoy my time with him. This acceptance has the same effect for anything you do — accept a co-worker, a child, a spouse, but also accept a “bad” situation, an unpleasant feeling, an annoying sound. When we stop trying to fight the way things are, when we accept what is, we are much more at peace.
  6. Let Go of Expectations. This is really the same thing as the previous two items, but I’ve found it useful nonetheless. It’s useful to watch your expectations with an upcoming situation, with a new project or business, and see that it’s not real and that it’s causing you stress and disappointment. We cause our own pain, and we can relieve it by letting go of the expectations that are causing it. Toss your expectations into the ocean.
  7. Become OK with Discomfort. The fear of discomfort is huge — it causes people to be stuck in their old bad habits, to not start the business they want to start, to be stuck in a job they don’t really like, because we tend to stick to the known and comfortable rather than try something unknown and uncomfortable. It’s why many people don’t eat vegetables or exercise, why they eat junk, why they don’t start something new. But we can be OK with discomfort, with practice. Start with things that are a little uncomfortable, and keep expanding your comfort zone.
  8. Watch Your Resistance. When you try to do something uncomfortable, or try to give up something you like or are used to, you’ll find resistance. But you can just watch the resistance, and be curious about it. Watch your resistance to things that annoy you — a loud sound that interrupts your concentration, for example. It’s not the sound that’s the problem, it’s your resistance to the sound. The same is true of resistance to food we don’t like, to being too cold or hot, to being hungry. The problem isn’t the sensation of the food, cold, heat or hunger — it’s our resistance to them. Watch the resistance, and feel it melt. This resistance, by the way, is why I’m doing my Year of Living Without.
  9. Be Curious. Too often we are stuck in our ways, and think we know how things should be, how people are. Instead, be curious. Find out. Experiment. Let go of what you think you know. When you start a new project or venture, if you feel the fear of failure, instead of thinking, “Oh no, I’m going to fail” or “Oh no, I don’t know how this will turn out”, try thinking, “Let’s see. Let’s find out.” And then there isn’t the fear of failure, but the joy of being curious and finding out. Learn to be OK with not knowing.
  10. Be Grateful. We complain about everything. But life is a miracle. Find something to be grateful about in everything you do. Be grateful when you’re doing a new habit, and you’ll stick to it longer. Be grateful when you’re with someone, and you’ll be happier with them. Life is amazing, if you learn to appreciate it.
  11. Let Go of Control. We often think we control things, but that’s only an illusion. Our obsession with organization and goals and productivity, for example, are rooted in the illusion that we can control life. But life is uncontrollable, and just when we think we have things under control, something unexpected comes up to disrupt everything. And then we’re frustrated because things didn’t go the way we wanted. Instead, practice letting go of control, and learn to flow.
  12. Be Compassionate. This sounds trite, but compassion for others can change the way you feel about the world, on a day-to-day basis. And compassion for yourself is life-changing. These two things need remembering, though, so mindful living is about remembering to be compassionate after you forget.

The Practice

OK, that seems like a lot to digest and remember, right?

Well, there’s hope. I often forget all of this stuff, but then I remember, and say, “Ah, I was doing it again!” And then I practice again.

And then I forget, but I reflect, and I learn, and I practice again.

This is the process of learning mindfulness. It’s forgetting, and then remembering, again and again.

And it’s worth remembering, again and again.