Today I put away time to read a new book by Leo Babauta, titled, "Essential Zen Habits." This short guide to forming habits has outlined some important tools for forming new and essential habits, and how to get rid of bad habits which are consuming your life. Leo focuses on looking at the positivity in your life and living in the present moment (otherwise known as mindfulness). Practicing this mindfulness and quiet contemplation of the events which happen in our day to day lives, help us to put things in perspective to the bigger picture... For this past week, I have set reminders for myself to practice mindfulness and meditation during activities such as eating, showering, walking, and studying.
Some of the key points which also Babauta outlines in the beginning chapter of Essential Zen Habits talks about our constant struggle with creating new habits and finding the motivation and power to overcome and get rid of bad habits. The book starts out with a spectacular quote which says, “The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” -Okakura... Now I took a little time to reflect on what this quote means to me and how I can apply it to my life. Okakura is saying that the experiences we encounter and how we tackle situations in everyday life are affected by our surroundings. Life in this context is referred to as an art- which to me, means that it is something that you have to practice, or learn from. Life in itself is considered an art, since it is completely unique to every individual- which allows it to take on a different meaning based upon the trials you face, and how experienced you are at the art form. By constantly readjusting our surroundings, we do not get caught up in falling into routine or the rut of life- something that is very hard to get out of if you become comfortable where you are. This upcoming year, I will make its goal to constantly out myself In new surroundings to help me overcome certain fears of mine- including social interactions with large groups, and public speaking.
Leo then goes on to talk about our "Mind Movie," this is the projector in our minds that tells us the fantasy of how we want our lives to play out. For instance in my own Mind Movie, I have this dream of running under a four minute mile, being very successful in my career, traveling all over the world, going on a mission, and starting a family. The point behind this is that even though our mind thinks that it has the best intentions, in reality it is actually hurting us. As we create this fantasy in our minds of what the perfect life would be like for us, it causes us pain, frustration and anger because we are not achieving or aquiring these goals with all of our efforts.
Sadly, our mind is like a little child... In theory, forming a new habit might not even seem that hard- doing one simple task for a few seconds or minutes a day, and doing it on a consistent basis. It's so easy, but then why do most of us fail to achieve this simple task of forming a new habit? The answer is that our mind likes to seek comfort and likes a like that is pleasurable and orderly- meaning that it likes things the way they are. This can be a big problem if you are trying to form a new habit which might take a few seconds or minutes a day, but your mind resists or gets you to not do the habit by making excuses. Changing habits does not come immediately, you have to be committed and driven-holding yourself accountable for getting it done.
To make this change in ourselves in order form a habit, we must follow these simple steps
1. Pick one new easy habit that you can do every day- this might be doing a few push ups, walking outside for a few minutes, taking time to stretch, writing in a journal, or even reading a book.
2. Don't start the habit right away- take this following week to review the first step above and to anticipate the start of the habit.
3. Create a vow to yourself to stick to the habit-review in your mind what the reason for starting the habit is. By doing this, you will have a strong motivation and drive to do the habit.
4. Block out time for the habit- make it a priority in your life and imagine the benefits it will give you if you stick with it.
5. Set a trigger and reminder for the habit- tie your habit to something you already do every day, like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and before you go to bed... Just find something that triggers the habit.
6. Start small- start out will a small habit and over time increase the duration.
7. Try to enjoy the habit- don't look at the habit as a chore, but as something to be grateful for.
8. Practice being mindful- by being in the moment- while doing the habit, you will appreciate it more and enjoy the present moment.
9. Watch your Mind Movie- see what you're telling yourself about what you want to see in the future, and imagine how practicing the daily habit will help you to reach that goal.
10. Start a journal- write down your feelings and experiences that come with starting the new habit, and how you can focus on making it a part of your life.
11. Practice daily- weave the habit into your day.
12. Increase gradually- as the habit becomes easier to do, increase the time you are doing the habit, or increase the intensity.
Hi, I'm Josh Stoeltzing. I am a Freshman at BYU Provo, I participate in track and field, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, I play the piano, I'm LDS, and I love to explore the world and learn about new things.