Zen Habits Favorites

Zen Habits Favorites

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Zen Habits Favorites features select blog posts written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.


Creating the Habit of Not Being Busy
Oct 11 • 8 min
One of the most common problems among people I work with and coach is the feeling of always being busy. And then it becomes a rationalization: I can’t honor my commitments because I’m too busy! I can’t be with my family or friends because I’m too busy. I…
The Moment You’ve Been Waiting For
Jul 28, 2019 • 3 min
Our lives are spent building up to more important moments, later, the moments when we’ll be happy. But when those moments come, we’re not happier. In fact, we’re already looking ahead to the next big moments: an upcoming trip, a big project being…
The Magic of Seeing Everything as Sacred
Jul 1, 2018 • 3 min
When we wake up in the morning, many of us automatically go on our phones or computers and start reading, checking messages, responding to things, and moving through our online world on autopilot. We go through our day like this as well, managing as best…
Mental Resiliency: Letting Go of the Guilt of Not Getting Things Done
May 6, 2018 • 4 min
It happens to all of us: we don’t get done what we hoped to get done, then we feel stressed or guilty about it. It’s time to let that go, because it’s not helping us. We can build resiliency around this, with a little mental training. And it will help us…
Why I’m Always in a Hurry, & What I’m Doing About It
Jan 14, 2018 • 4 min
I’ve come to realize, more and more, that I’m always rushing. I rush from one task to the next, rush through eating my food, impatient for meditation to be over, rushing through reading something, rushing to get somewhere, anxious to get a task or project…
A Guide to Dealing with Dissatisfaction with Ourselves
Oct 29, 2017 • 5 min
The more I talk to people about their struggles, the more I realize that we all have some sense of dissatisfaction with ourselves. I have it, and I’d be willing to bet everyone reading this does too. Consider some of the ways we’re dissatisfied with…
A Mindful Shift of Focus
Sep 3, 2017 • 7 min
Throughout the day, we get frustrated, irritated, angry. We are frustrated in traffic, when a loved one doesn’t behave the way we like, when someone tells us we’re wrong, when technology doesn’t work the way we want, when dinner is ruined, among many…
Let Everything Breathe
Apr 2, 2017 • 1 min
As you sit here reading these words, you are breathing … stop for a moment and notice this breath. You could control the breath, and make it behave as you like … or you can simply let yourself breathe. There is peace in just letting your body breathe,…
What’s the Most Loving Thing You Can Do?
Mar 26, 2017 • 2 min
The question I’ve been asking myself lately, before I do anything, is a deceptively simple one: “What’s the most loving thing you can do in this situation?“ Now, that might sound corny to some of you, might seem irrelevant to most of you. But give me one…
Removing Ourselves From the Center of Everything
Jan 29, 2017 • 3 min
When we go about our day, we tell ourselves a story about what’s happening … and at the center of that narrative is a single person. Ourselves. When I talk to myself about how so-and-so is inconsiderate or treated me badly, when I tell myself that it’s OK…
Your Internet Habits Create Your Reality
Aug 7, 2016 • 1 min
Each of us has a different reality. And we’re creating that reality, and can shape it in many ways. We tend to think of reality as something external and absolute, like the sun shining down on us on a hot, lazy afternoon. That sun is really there, whether…
How to Want Very Little
Jul 31, 2016 • 4 min
There’s a part of today’s consumerist world that drives us to want more, buy more, act on our impulses, hoard, spend to solve our problems, create comfort through shopping, seek thrills through travel, do more, be more. What would happen if we broke from…
My Most Important Productivity Method
Jul 24, 2016 • 3 min
You can read entire books on productivity, dozens of blog posts, and implement half a dozen different productivity systems. But at the end of the day, you’d have gotten nothing important done. The truth is, productivity is fairly simple, in theory. Even…
Why We Struggle with Change
Jul 17, 2016 • 4 min
We think we need to improve ourselves and our current situation, because we’re dissatisfied (at least a little bit) with how things are. We have a drive to improve, improve. So we strive for change — exercise more, eat better, read more, be more mindful,…
The Miracle of Suspending Mis-Belief
Jul 10, 2016 • 3 min
Would it seem miraculous if you could dissolve anxiety, fears, stress, frustration, anger … by making a small mental shift? The answer might lie in thinking about how we watch films. Last night, I was watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy with my kids,…
This Moment is Enough
Jul 3, 2016 • 3 min
I was in a plane descending into Portland for a quick stopover, and I gazed upon a brilliant pink sunrise over blue and purple mountains, and my heart ached. Instinctively, I looked over to Eva to share this breath-taking moment, but she was sleeping. I…
A Mini-Guide to Not Being Frustrated All the Time
Jun 12, 2016 • 5 min
Pretty much all of us experience frustration on a daily (or even hourly) basis. We get frustrated by other people, by ourselves, by technology, by work situations, by small crises that come up all the time. You know you’re frustrated when you find…
Opt Out: A Simplicity Manifesto
Apr 10, 2016 • 6 min
Our lives become filled, even controlled, by the things we think we need to do. We think we can’t live without these things, but actually, we can. We can opt out. Think about how busy our lives have become. Think about how distracted we’ve become. Think…
Our Everloving Quest to Control Our Lives
Mar 13, 2016 • 7 min
Almost our entire lives are spent in a quest to gain control, security and comfort in our lives. Unfortunately, we never really get it, so we keep trying, relentlessly. This is the main activity of our lives. What would happen if we stopped? We could be…
Constantly Worried About How Others Perceive Us
Feb 7, 2016 • 1 min
If someone tells you that they don’t care what other people think, they are fooling themselves. None of us are free from this worry. Everyone is trying to look good in the eyes of others. Everyone stresses out about how they look, how they’re perceived,…
Practicing Non-Judgment
Jan 31, 2016 • 2 min
We go through our day judging our experiences, other people, ourselves: this is good, this is bad. If all goes well, most of it will be good, but more than we realize, we dislike certain experiences, things about people, about ourselves. We “like” online…
How to Deal with Your Family’s Bad Habits
Dec 6, 2015 • 5 min
Have you created healthy habits for you, but haven’t gotten your kids or spouse on board? You’re not alone — lots of people get frustrated when their loved ones don’t want to create healthy habits. I’ve had a bunch of people write to me about this,…
The Time When We’ll Be Present & Content
Nov 22, 2015 • 1 min
Today, I only have questions. We’re striving for happiness and contentment, but when will we be there? I think we often see a time in the future when things will be better — we’ll have a better relationship, job, house, health situation, financial…
The Most Important Moment
Nov 15, 2015 • 3 min
Something I forget a lot, and have to remind myself about a lot: I’m not on my way somewhere. This moment isn’t just a stepping stone to get to another place. It’s the destination. I’m already here. I’m not on my way to a more important moment. This…
The Place Where You Are
Jun 21, 2015 • 1 min
We rush through our days with so much to do, so much we should be doing, so much we’re missing out on … but how often do we stop to appreciate the place where we are right now? I don’t mean to focus on the journey, because that’s many different places ……
The Elements of Living Lightly
Jun 14, 2015 • 7 min
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” ~Eckhart Tolle Today I’m going to suggest a small change in mindset that could change your life. I won’t keep you in suspense. Here it is: think of nothing that happens as either…
Practicing Slowness & Being Present
Apr 19, 2015 • 1 min
In our rush to get through the tasks of our day, to complete our errands and answer emails, to look at the next video or link we find … when do we think we’ll find happiness? If it’s not here right now, when will it come? Maybe we think it’ll come when we…
7 Strategies for Facing Your Internet/TV Addiction
Apr 5, 2015 • 4 min
How do you beat something so addictive as the Internet, or TV — things most of us find ourselves increasingly immersed in, all day long? I won’t get into the whys of curbing an addiction like this — I’m going to assume you already want to make a change.…
The Anti-Bucket List
Mar 22, 2015 • 1 min
Have you ever made a bucket list? For me, they’re incredibly seductive — I love reading other people’s bucket lists, and making my own. But here’s what happens when you make a bucket list: * You put this huge burden on yourself to get the list…
How to Find Your Life Purpose: An Unconventional Approach
Oct 5, 2014 • 6 min
Let’s say you’re feeling unmotivated, unsure of yourself, aimless, can’t find your passion, directionless, not clear on what your purpose in life is. You’re in good company — most people are in the same boat. Now, there about a million things online…
The Heartbreaking Cruelty of Comparing Yourself to Others
Sep 21, 2014 • 4 min
We all do it: we look at what others are doing and wish we were doing that too. Or, alternatively, we scoff at what they’re doing and judge them, and see ourselves as better. One makes us feel bad, the other makes us feel superior. Neither makes us happy.…
How to Be Prepared for Anything
Aug 31, 2014 • 7 min
‘Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.’ ~Marcus Aurelius There are various ways to prepare yourself for what might come your way, whether that’s a tough…
Constant Task Switching
Jul 13, 2014 • 3 min
I know I’m losing focus when I’m constantly jumping around from task to task. This is a “red flag” for me — a sign that I’m doing something wrong. You’ve done it too: switching from one browser tab to another, opening various emails and other messages,…
The Fear of Being Found a Fraud
Jun 20, 2014 • 6 min
My friend Brian asked me yesterday what my biggest fear might be, and the first fear that came out of my mouth was: “The fear that people will discover I’m a fraud.” The truth is, this fear isn’t something I think about a lot, but it’s often present in…
The Frustratingly Slow Pace of Making Changes
Jun 15, 2014 • 3 min
‘The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.’ ~Moliere There’s something in all of us that seems to want the changes we’re trying to make in our lives come as soon as possible. If we’re trying to lose weight, we want those abs to show up within a…
The Incredible Importance of Sleep for Habits & Motivation
Jun 8, 2014 • 3 min
For a long time, I underestimated the importance of sleep. Sure, I know that sleep is important for health and happiness and all of that … but it wasn’t until I learned two things that sleep took on a new importance for me: * If you don’t get enough…
The Reality of This Moment
May 4, 2014 • 2 min
As you sit here reading this, pause and expand your awareness beyond your computer/phone … what is the reality of this moment? You’re reading, and there are a bunch of other tasks you want to do on your computer, yes … but there’s also your body. How does…
Procrastination is a Mindfulness Problem
Mar 2, 2014 • 6 min
We all procrastinate, and by and large, we all know the solutions to our procrastination. I put off writing this article (ironically, I know, and yes I know you’ll put off reading this article) by doing a bunch of smaller tasks, for example. They were…
The 7 Habits of Calmness
Feb 23, 2014 • 6 min
I have come to believe that high stress, constant anxiety over tasks and work and life, social anxiety … is all a part of the modern way of life. Most people just don’t feel a sense of peace, of calm, of serenity, throughout their day. I have to admit…
Zen Productivity
Feb 16, 2014 • 7 min
This morning I had a ton of work to do, and I felt the anxiety building, the moment I woke up and started thinking about all that work. Instead of getting moving, I watched my anxiety. It’s an interesting feeling of rising panic, of adrenaline shooting…
Letting Go of Judging People
Feb 2, 2014 • 5 min
One of the best changes I’ve made to help me be happier is learning to see judging other people as a red flag. Now, I’m not going to pretend I don’t ever judge other people — I think it’s either a built-in method all humans have, or something we develop…
A Method to Find Balance
Jan 26, 2014 • 3 min
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,…
Make It Your Job
Dec 22, 2013 • 2 min
When you’re feeling resentful or angry about something, it’s worth stopping to consider why. This morning, I woke up to a dirty kitchen, and as I do most mornings, I started cleaning it up. Washing dishes, wiping counters, putting dishes away, and so on.…
Toss Your Expectations Into the Ocean
Nov 24, 2013 • 3 min
‘Act without expectation.’ ~Lao Tzu How much of your stress, frustration, disappointment, anger, irritation, pissed-offedness comes from one little thing? Almost all of it comes from your expectations, and when things (inevitably) don’t turn out as we…
how to be less busy in a busy busy world
Nov 3, 2013 • 6 min
Most of us are pretty busy, just about every day. Some like it that way — being busy is almost a status symbol, as it shows you’re important and productive and a go-getter and achiever. If you’re in a power meeting and sending emails on your Blackberry…
Simplify: Let Go of Your Crutches
Sep 15, 2013 • 7 min
‘Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it is idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits etc.) can do the journey on their own.’ ~C.S. Lewis I know people who travel with several huge suitcases and carry-ons for…
Living the Quiet Life
Sep 1, 2013 • 4 min
When I first started simplifying my life, about 8 years ago, I remember my life being much busier. I would say yes to everything, and go to lots of social stuff, and drive everywhere doing a crazy amount of things, rushing wherever I went. By crazy I mean…
Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life
Aug 11, 2013 • 5 min
Think about the major problems in your life — from anxiety to lack of regular exercise to a bad diet to procrastination and more. Pretty much every one of these problems is caused by a fear of discomfort. Discomfort isn’t intense pain, but just the…
The Worry That You’re Doing the Wrong Thing Right Now
Jul 14, 2013 • 6 min
It’s first thing in your workday, and you open up your email. There’s a host of messages, old and new, asking for your attention. You also open up other inboxes in social media and the like. You quickly go through them and get a picture of what you need…
9 Rules for a Simpler Day
Jun 30, 2013 • 5 min
Our days fill up so fast, and are so rushed and filled with distractions, that they seem to be bursting. It’s a huge source of stress for most people, and stress is perhaps the most important factor determining whether we’re healthy or sick. So how can we…
Achieving Without Goals
May 26, 2013 • 8 min
Have you ever had a long amazing conversation with a friend, that took all kinds of turns neither of you could possibly have expected when you started the conversation? Wasn’t it awesome, to riff off each other, to explore unforeseen territory, to be free…
Expanding the Envelope: A Method for Beating Anger
May 12, 2013 • 5 min
Here’s what I’ve been learning about anger in the last few years: it’s purely because of selfishness. Almost every time we get angry, it’s because something isn’t going our way. I’ve been practicing a method for beating this selfish anger, and I call it…
There’s No Task Easier Than No Task
Apr 7, 2013 • 2 min
“Remember that there is no code faster than no code.” – Taligent’s Guide to Designing Programs What’s the fastest way to get a task off your to-do list? Just delete it … or don’t put it there in the first place. When we read articles and books on…
The Habits That Crush Us
Mar 17, 2013 • 5 min
‘Don’t panic.’ ~Douglas Adams Why is it that we cannot break the bad habits that stand in our way, crushing our desires to live a healthy life, be fit, simplify, be happier? How is it that our best intentions are nearly always beaten? We want to be…
10 Simple Ways to Live a Less Stressful Life
Mar 3, 2013 • 6 min
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” – George F. Burns Stress is a major problem for many people — a hectic,…
It’s Not Too Late to Change Your Habits
Jan 20, 2013 • 4 min
A (slightly) older reader wrote to me recently, wanting to know how to change her bad habits ingrained after so many many years of doing them. She wanted to know, “Is it too late to change?” And I can understand the feeling. Doing bad habits for years…
The Five Things You Need to Know About Finding the Work You Love
Dec 30, 2012 • 6 min
“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers … If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs in a Stanford…
25 Ways to Help a Fellow Human Being Today
Dec 16, 2012 • 8 min
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama Too often the trend in our society is for people to be separated from either other, to be cut off from the great mass of humanity, and in…
15 Ways to Create an Hour a Day of Extra Time … for Solitude
Nov 11, 2012 • 7 min
One problem with our complicated lives these days is that many of us never find time to spend alone, in peace, without being bombarded with noise and information. There’s no time for solitude and quiet contemplation, and as a result, we have stress and…
A Guide to Cutting Back When You Feel Overwhelmed
Sep 23, 2012 • 9 min
There is more to life than increasing its speed. – Gandhi There are days in everyone’s life when they feel overwhelmed by the stresses and tasks and projects and phone calls and emails that weigh upon them. Yes, even the minimalists like me get…
5 Powerful Reasons to Make Reflection a Daily Habit, and How to Do It
Sep 2, 2012 • 6 min
It’s New Year’s Eve (where I live), and I’ve been doing a lot of reflection over the last year. It’s the perfect time of year to look back and reflect on what you’ve done right this year, to learn from what you’ve done. And on further reflection, this…
Why You Should Celebrate Your Mistakes
Aug 26, 2012 • 3 min
When you make a mistake, big or small, cherish it like it’s the most precious thing in the world. Because in some ways, it is. Most of us feel bad when we make mistakes, beat ourselves up about it, feel like failures, get mad at ourselves. And that’s only…
How to Be Childlike
Aug 19, 2012 • 5 min
“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso Sometimes I lounge lazily in bed, in the middle of the day, with a couple of my kids and just abandon my worldly concerns, and just play. Or I’ll sit and…
The Comparison Trap
Aug 12, 2012 • 2 min
I love reading about other people’s work setups, I really do. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. I’ll read about another blogger’s computer setup, or what kind of notebook and pen he uses, or how he works standing up or on a treadmill or while doing…
The Art of Handling Criticism Gracefully
Aug 5, 2012 • 7 min
‘Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.’ ~Bertrand Russell If you’re going to do anything interesting in the world, criticism is an unavoidable fact.…
Quashing the Self-Improvement Urge
Jul 29, 2012 • 6 min
One of the driving forces of my life for many years was the need to improve myself. It’s one of the driving forces for people who read my work as well. It’s an incredibly pervasive urge: we are always trying to improve, and if we’re not, that’s something…
the lost art of solitude
Jul 22, 2012 • 5 min
“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.” ~Henry David Thoreau You don’t need to be a monk to find solitude, nor do you need to…