7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless

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This post was written by Leo Babauta, originally for Zen Habits.  Republished here with permission.

Life can be a struggle at times.  I’ve been learning what causes that struggle, and what works in making life easier, better, smoother.  Here are 7 little things that make life effortless.

7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless

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7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless

Life can feel effortless, like you’re gliding along, if you learn to swim smoothly, to glide, to stop fighting the waters of life and start using them to buoy you up.

I stopped thrashing and fighting, and started gliding and enjoying the swim.

Today, I thought I’d share a few things you can do now, to make life feel more effortless.

Take what you want from this list. I find these things work, but your mileage will vary.

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1. Do less. This is my productivity mantra, and it’s counterintuitive. I believe in doing the important things only instead of “productively” accomplishing things that don’t matter.

Do less, and you’ll force yourself to choose between what’s just busywork, and what really matters. Life then becomes effortless, as you accomplish big things while being less busy.

2. Having less is lighter. Start asking yourself if you really need everything you have, or if you just have it out of fear.

Start to let go of what you have, so it doesn’t own you. And then, as you have less, you feel lighter. It’s wonderful.

3. Let the little things go. People who struggle often fight over little things. We obsess over things that don’t really matter. We create resistance instead of letting things glide off us.

Let the little things go, breathe, and move on to the important things.

4. Clean as you go. Instead of letting the cleaning pile up, put things away when you’re done. Wash your bowl. Wipe the counters clean as you pass them. Sweep up dirt when you notice it.

By cleaning a little bit at a time, as you make messes, cleaning up becomes a breeze, and it’s never difficult. By the way, this applies to everything in life, not just cleaning.

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5. Make small, gradual changes. Many people are too impatient to follow this advice — they want to do everything at once. We have so many changes to make, but we don’t want to wait a year for it all to happen. As a result, we often fail, and then feel bad about it. Or we don’t start at all, because making so many big changes is intimidating and overwhelming.

I’ve learned the hard way that small changes are incredibly powerful, and they last longer. Gradual change leads to huge change, but slowly, and in a way that sticks. And it’s effortless.

6. Learn to focus on the things that matter. This is implied in the items above, but it’s so important I have to emphasize it. Swimming (or any physical activity for that matter) is best done when you do only the motions that matter, and eliminate the extraneous motions.

Stop thrashing, start becoming more efficient and fluid. You do this by learning what matters, and cutting out the wasted activity.

7. Be compassionate. This makes dealing with others much more effortless. It also makes you feel better about yourself. People like you more, and you improve the lives of others.

Make every dealing with another human being one where you practice compassion.

7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless

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