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Three Zen Habits to Create a Better Lifestyle for You and Those Around You


Yes, kindness. Being kind is a habit. It goes hand in hand with mindfulness. Be aware of how you're speaking and interacting with other people. Listen and understand the other person's situation and point of view because when sometimes they do not align with your own, the thought of being kind can easily vanish. If you're practicing Zen, you should know by now that a lot of our thinking comes from self centered ideas. Put yourself in that person's shoes to get a better understanding. There is a scenario from one of my favorite books describing a cow in a parking lot. Imagine yourself driving to your local supermarket and seeing a space wide open in the very front. You get excited that you don't have to walk very far from the entrance. But as you're about to pull into that spot, some guy whips his car into the spot right in front of you and gives you a particular hand gesture that doesn't resemble a bird. Naturally, we would become livid as a response to such a gesture. In the same scenario, imagine that you're heading for that spot but a cow simply walks up and decides to lie down and rest within it. Seeing that would spark an entirely different reaction. Think about situations and how to handle them with kindness instead of brash reactions.

“Speak from right attitude. Ask yourself, “What do I really need to communicate to this person?” and refrain from venting your feelings for other motives. Check for self-indulgence, ill will, potential harm in one’s own words and actions. Ask yourself not only what must I say, but how must I say it.”

— Leonard Scheff, The Cow in the Parking Lot: A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger

Focus: Single Tasking Instead of Multitasking

We do live in a fast paced society. In order to get by, we tend to multi task to get things finished quickly. Whether it be working on multiple things at once on the computer, going through the drive-thru at your favorite restaurant to grab breakfast and eating it while you're driving to work, or just switching back and forth between apps on your phone and social media accounts, multitasking usually hinders our potential when working toward a nicely completed task. I've found that maintaining focus and single tasking yields better results. It can be anything from typing a research paper for college, cleaning around the house, to grocery shopping. If you free yourself from distractions, it may create more happiness from completing whatever it is you're doing. Take pride in doing it distraction free at your own pace. Here is an example, when I'm cleaning around the house I want get the job done and do it well while being distraction free. I take my cell phone and place it in a spot on silent, take off my smart watch so I won't get any notifications, I turn my computer off, and I will turn the television on to just play music. No advertisements, no commercials, just music. After that, I begin cleaning. I don't have texts, messages, emails, or any other notifications popping up to tempt me. By doing that, it allows me to just focus on a single task at hand. Anytime I happen to get distracted, because our mind can easily wander, I make a mental note that I'm "switching" or losing focus of the task at hand. Try practicing single tasking on a project whether it is big or small. It could be as simple as cleaning that "junk drawer" that usually exists in all households. You know the one I'm talking about. It's essentially a catch all drawer. Just focus on cleaning that drawer and organizing it. Once you finish, just step back and admire what you just completed. Smile.


Daily Routine

Create a daily routine that is unique to you. Something that will allow you to have as much time to render yourself stress free for that particular moment. One of my favorite things to do is rake the sand every morning in my zen garden. I have it sitting on a table top next to my bedroom and bathroom. I'll usually take a moment to rearrange the stones or create new waves in the sand after my morning shower. Any time throughout the day I tend to lose my mindfulness, I think back to the moment that morning when I was raking the sand and moving the stones around in my garden. It helps bring me back to a moment of tranquility and mindfulness when dealing with the fast paced lifestyle we live in today.

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