Book of the Month Jan 2023 ‘Zen Habits’

‘Zen Habits’ by Leo Babauta

Numerous surveys indicate that more than 90 percent of New Year’s goals fail, so why not try to focus on creating some ‘Zen Habits’ instead?  ….

I often recommend this book to my clients, when we do a regular reflection and assessment of their ‘current reality’ and their ‘inspiring vision’, we can then assess what are the top 3 or 4 habits that are going to make the biggest difference to their progress and how to put those habits into action.

Becoming more personally productive whilst also becoming more personally fulfilled is a subject I have conducted many workshops on for the last 15 years now, so this book is right up my street and I have to say that like the book a lot!

In my opinion if most people were to implement just 20 percent of what is covered in this book over the coming year, I am confident that (all things being equal) they would mostly likely have one of their most fulfilling and most successful years ever!

Zen habits, implies that the book is about ‘spiritual habits’, however the first half of the book is predominantly focused on what I define as ‘practical personal productivity’ habits. In the second half of the book the author focuses more on what he refers to as ‘habits that enable you to live more consciously’ I love both categories of these habits and of course there are several habits such as conscious breathing that not only help to centre you mentally, emotionally and spiritually, but actually increases your productivity and your levels of creativity.

To summarise the essence of this book in one sentence I would say it is to help the reader to …. better identify and implement habits in a manageable way, that simplify all aspects of their life, so that they can be more productive and more fulfilled life.

The author of this book is the creator of a very successful blog the book features a collection of content from a number of years of his blog.

At the beginning of the book the author states that in just 2 years of applying what is in this book, he achieved many things including the following:

  • Became a regular runner and completed a triathlon
  • Lost 30 pounds in weight
  • Became a vegetarian
  • Started a successful blog ‘Zen Habits’
  • Doubled his income
  • Created his dream ideal, minimalistic simple home

The author says from the outset “It is better to learn by doing than to learn by reading or listening.” He realises that him saying this is something of an oxymoron as you are ‘reading his book’, but he is stressing the importance of people to taking action on the concepts he presents in the book.

One great quality of the author, Leo Babauta, is that he does not to present a ‘one size fits all’ approach to getting more out of life, but he presents his own results and interpretations of many concepts and ideas and leaves it completely up to the reader to take or leave his findings. Leo Babauta also does something else I like, which is that he recommends several other books and authors such as ‘Simplify Your Life’ by Elaine St James, which I have added to my list of books to read.

You don’t have to read this book in one sitting, you can read some and apply it and then after making progress you can re-visit the book. The habits and tips in the book cover everything from a habit / strategy to deal with your email in-box to a habit to expand your compassion and connection to others.

Simplicity – De-cluttering
Decluttering would appear to be a fundamental habit that is a foundation to simplifying and getting more out of life.

Top decluttering tips include breaking it down into manageable chunks like 1 drawer or shelf for a limited time period.

Go through and put everything into 3 piles 1-Trash, 2-Give away / sell, 3-Keep.

Be merciless – other than important financial, legal documents or family heirlooms, if you have not used something for over a year it is unlikely that you need it.

Similar rules apply to ‘digital decluttering’.

Do 3 Highly Important Tasks a day
Start your day by having 3 non-negotiable priority tasks that are important you your life vision.

Simplify Your Commitments!
Make and inventory of all your commitments.
Reduce your life commitments down to those commitments that really add value to your life.

The author says that he no longer watches the mainstream media news and rarely watches tv.
Commitment includes ‘Single Task Focus’ i.e. focusing on one task at a time.

The Art of Doing Nothing
Doing nothing can be a ‘waste of time’ or it can be an ‘artform’.  The author explains, how if done in the right way and at the right times, ‘doing nothing’ can make you less stressed, more relaxed and enhance your wellbeing, as well as making you significantly more productive and more creative!

The core components of ‘Doing nothing’ are breathing, relaxing and simply ‘not thinking’.

I found it amusing that the author says that he does not want to call this ‘meditation’ as that word puts some people off attempting it.

Some of the author’s tips for ‘decluttering your mind’ include:

  • Breath and Focus on breathing
  • Write down the stuff that is rattling around in your head
  • Identify what is essential and what is junk
  • Keeping a Journal can really help with both clarity and accountability
  • Re-think how you sleep

The later chapters in the book present habits that support and expand you spiritual and emotional life experience, these are habits that enhance your levels of compassion and deepen your connection with yourself and other people.

If you are serious about wanting to simplify your life so that you can get even more out of it, then this book is one of the best I could possibly recommend.

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