My friend, Elene at elenedom.wordpress.com, sent a copy of this to me thinking it might resonate – it definitely does. Written by Leo Bahauta, this list is his suggestion about how to create ZenHabits – I thought it was cool – I have added some of my own comments.
7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless
Post written by Leo Babauta.
From ZENHABITS smile, breath, and go slowly. zenhabits.net/glide/
Take what you want from this list. I find these things work, but your mileage will vary.
1. Do less. This is my productivity mantra, and it’s counterintuitive. I actually don’t believe in productivity, but instead believe in doing the important things. Do less, and you’ll force yourself to choose between what’s just busywork, and what really matters. Life then becomes effortless, as you accomplish big things while being less busy.
2. Having less is lighter. Start asking yourself if you really need everything you have, or if you just have it out of fear. Start to let go of what you have, so it doesn’t own you. And then, as you have less, you feel lighter. It’s wonderful.
3. Let the little things go. People who struggle often fight over little things. We obsess over things that don’t really matter. We create resistance instead of letting things glide off us. Let the little things go,breathe, and move on to the important things.
4. Clean as you go. I haven’t written about this for a long time, but early in the life of Zen Habits I wrote about the habit of cleaning as you go. Instead of letting the cleaning pile up, put things away when you’re done. Wash your bowl. Wipe the counters clean as you pass them. Sweep up dirt when you notice it. By cleaning a little bit at a time, as you make messes, cleaning up becomes a breeze, and it’s never difficult. By the way, this applies to everything in life, not just cleaning.
5. Make small, gradual changes. Most people are too impatient to follow this advice — they want to do everything at once. We have so many changes to make, but we don’t want to wait a year for it all to happen. As a result, we often fail, and then feel crappy about it. Or we don’t start at all, because so many big changes is intimidating and overwhelming. I’ve learned the hard way that small changes are incredibly powerful, and they last longer. Gradual change leads to huge change, but slowly, and in a way that sticks. And it’s effortless.
6. Learn to focus on the things that matter. This is implied in the items above, but it’s so important I have to emphasize it. Swimming (or any physical activity for that matter) is best done when you do only the motions that matter, and eliminate the extraneous motions. Stop thrashing, start becoming more efficient and fluid. You do this by learning what matters, and cutting out the wasted activity.
7. Be compassionate. This makes dealing with others much more effortless. It also makes you feel better about yourself. People like you more, and you improve the lives of others. Make every dealing with another human being one where you practice compassion.
I think my favorites are: Breathe, clean as you go – because it offers a way to create structure and balance without too much thought or action; and practice compassion.
And I think the idea of doing less is interesting – I have some thoughts about this. I understand the negative connotation of lazy and how he is shifting the perspective of lazy. I do not fully accept his underlying perception of the communication of lazy from ones body.
I will say that I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of going with the flow and not pushing the river – and to the extent that following or riding the flow is “lazy” then I am in agreement.
I take the position that going with the flow is an active process and not a lazy lack of attention, but rather an earnest, attune, active response to information; as is resting choosing to do less as more and listening to the clarifying messages from within about the importance of balance rather than over action/yang energy. Doing too much, having too much, over-abundance – can create a lack of balance within the cosmic order of things that will need rectification. How that plays out is different for different people but as in the I Ching there is a need for balance, I view that a person’s life requires such balance – a great accomplishment and great abundance has a deep loss generally attached to it.
His idea of gradual change is lovely; it incorporates the elements of change that most trick us up – inertia and fear. If you embrace the change and feel joy about it you can then shift into a new way of being more easily and with a more sturdy reserve. This is an obvious thing when working in therapy. Those that change quickly and make too big a change find they lose their reserve and fall back into old habits. Those that shift slowly , gradually and with a sense of renewal and light excitement create new habits that complete eradicate the old pattern so no falling back is available.
Joy and breathing are definite keys in my opinion.
You can follow the links to some of his other ideas within the body of his list. I found his ideas on compassion to be poignant and beneficial ideas for creating a life focused on compassion.
Habit comes from shifting and practicing the shift in an active, consistent, ongoing way.
See if you can find a few things in the list to increase how you live simply so that you can create a sense of fuller living; rather than running from event or commitment to commitment – feel deeply, breathe, experience each moment and each event and see if your life isn’t both less full (of required events) and more full (of deep emotional experiences, living).
Doing more can be interpreted as the number of things outlined on your schedule and the depth of experience in each event. Going for the latter is what he seems to refer to as being lazy and what I refer to as having an active, fuller attention. Regardless of what you call it – we each seem to be suggesting that more living and being comes out of doing less while being more fully present.
See you tomorrow.