Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius
I used to look for complicated answers to simple questions. Even the way I structured my sentences (in every language that I am fluent in) seemed knotty and puzzling. My teachers made their life’s mission to prove that my strive to complicate things would never get me anywhere and that there is no point in creating more pitfalls and problems for myself where there should be none.
Life’s no picnic, but why do some of us, myself included, tend to over-exaggerate and complicate their lives by reinventing the wheel over and over again? And are we not aware of the self-imposed amount of stress we land on our heads because of that notorious tendency?
For years, I was blindfolded. I didn’t see the point my teachers were trying to make. For years, I didn’t understand the notion of Zen movement. I didn’t understand the magnitude of simplifying.
In my mind, simplifying meant that I had to take all the clutter, I didn’t use and give it all to charity… But there is so much more to it.
Zen ideas are still new to me, and I have a lot yet to grasp.tough, here’s what I’ve learned so far.
10 Essential Zen Habits for Everyday Life
1. You Are You. Pull out of Comparing
Letting go of comparing is one of the essential things to learn.
I remember myself twisting my head around in the classroom comparing myself to other classmates and trying to evaluate (like that was even possible) who was better than I was and who was worse than me. That created more tension than I could comprehend… And then it turned into a negative habit that I couldn’t escape for many years.
The more I compared myself to others the less good I felt about myself. The less good I felt, the deeper I went into a dark place distancing further from the world and people. Shutting down from and eliminating everyone. I thought that it was the way to live.
Naturally, everything comes to an end. There came a turning point which hit me like a baseball bat. I understood that I did not want to stay in that dark place anymore, so I had to let go of the need to compare myself to anyone.
When we compare our lives to someone else’s, we are far from the place where we feel grateful for the beautiful things, people and life we have. That creates tension and resentment that grows bigger inside and looks like a dark chasm that we dig deeper with every second that we spend being ungrateful for what we have.
Be grateful for what you have and let go of comparing
2. Ditch Competing
Imagine this. You run and run and run trying to make it to the finish line competing with someone who started his race 30 minutes earlier. Or you try to jump from chapter 2 to chapter 20 just because someone else is already there.
The only person worth competing is our past selves, and I know that you already knew that.
3. Withdraw from Judgements
It’s easy to jump to conclusions and judge the world according to our list of what is wrong and what is right.
We are different. We come from various countries, backgrounds and each and every one of us has a unique set of beliefs. What is yellow to me may seem golden to someone else and guess what, it’s fine.
I used to lash out at anyone whose opinion wasn’t going hand in hand with mine. I used to judge people so meticulously that I completely forgot how to love them and strive for connection… The more I judged people, the wider chasm between us was getting.
Unfortunately, there is no way for me to switch bodies and minds with someone to get what they are going through that makes them act in a particular way. There is always a reason behind any action. And we all carry on with our battles every day.
The less heavy judgments there are in our thoughts, the lighter our thoughts are.
4. Dump Anger for Good
When you feel that burning anger as if you are about to lash out – nothing seems to be able to stop that avalanche.
Once I was so angry, I got so hot, and my head was splitting… I wanted to stick my head into the freezer to cool down. I didn’t like the feeling.
I can recall at least 100 times I would act out with anger on something or someone. I would get angry and say some things I didn’t even mean. But when anger transfers into huge fireballs and hit people you care about – no amount of regrets afterward is capable of erasing them from the memory of individuals. Yes, they might forget what you said. Unfortunately, they will never forget how those words made them feel. That association will stay somewhere in the subconscious.
This is why practicing mindfulness is vital. This is why it’s important to be aware of the feelings and emotions inside and have a better way of releasing them… by calming down that fire with understanding and forgiveness.
I never say it’s simple, but the more you let go of your anger, the less of your vital energy gets caught up in its fire.
5. Discontinue Regrets
Regrets never work. Regrets will never make us travel through space and time to change the past… to modify the things we wished were better.
Whenever I catch myself in the past dwelling on my mistakes, I would go and shake my head to invite new thoughts of gratitude towards present and all the right things (even if something went wrong according to me in the past).
We are in this place and time right now because of all the things we did and choices we made.
6. Withdraw from Worrying
It seems to me sometimes that anxiety and stress became attached to us, they are like those parasites that only will not give us a break.
One friend once told me that worrying is like that fire that destroys all the good things in the present by simply not letting us enjoy the good that we have. Like fire destroys things turning them into ashes, worrying destroys our lives.
7. Drop the Blame Game
I was reading one interesting book recently where the main character would go into his past and come back with a list of people and things that played out wrong and held him a victim of circumstances. He was whining about everything, blaming each and every single person in his life for the “wrong doings” accusing them of holding him back from his true potential.
What a wimp! – I thought. And then an aha moment came out of the blue like a freezing shower on my head. “Hang on a second; this reminds me, someone… ME!” It was hard to look in the mirror and admit that I was the only author of my reality. And I am the only one responsible for the way I react to it. I have to take responsibility for my actions, thoughts, and outcomes and stop blaming anyone…
But most importantly, we are in control of our emotions, and we have the power to change.
8. Quit the Guilt Trips
Guilt never gives us any control over the past. It never prevents us from the blood-chilling punishment either. Notice exactly where you feel guilty and why. See the ways you punish yourself. Those punishment patterns may be hidden or may drift on the surface. Be aware of that.
Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Focus on your present and future. You are wiser than you were yesterday so take your life experience as an advantage to move forward with your head held up high.
9. Fear Must Go
When I reflect on my past the only things I regret are the chances and opportunities I didn’t take because of my fear. MY fear was bigger than any attempt to try.
I understand now that fear was a stopping mechanism that kept me safe inside my shell. On some level it did.
But as one saying goes: all amazing things in your life happen on the other side of your fear. And I believe that it’s true.
We all have a fear of something that could happen or something that happened before, and we fear that it will come back again… Personally, I think that life’s too short for sitting and waiting for all storms to pass simultaneously. We must attempt to go beyond fear and transform the energy of fear into the creative power that we all have inside.
10. Laugh About It
Whenever I slip into my slightly old patterns that I agreed to change – I laugh!
Instead of bashing myself for slipping, I laugh and encourage myself to do better next time. There are no deadlines in the school of life. It’s only up to us how far we go in our personal development at our own pace and in our own time.
Create more space in your life by letting go of unnecessary things…
photo from vk.com