This post was written by Leo Babauta, originally for Zen Habits. Republished here with permission.
I’m a big proponent of slowing down, simplifying, doing less, and being less busy … but what if you can’t? What if your life can’t be made less busy — are you doomed to a life of anxiety and unhappiness? No. I’m going to share with you a very simple tool that might just transform your life. Here’s how to improve every moment.
- How to Be Happy Consistently
- 5 Beliefs I Changed to Be Happy
- 10 Things Happy People Do Differently
- 7 Common Ways to Be Happy in Life
- How to Be Happy Anytime
How to Improve Every Moment
This one little method will help you to:
- Be more present, so life doesn’t rush past you without you noticing.
- Enjoy every activity you do more, so life is better all the time.
- Feel more relaxed, so every day is as good as a vacation.
- Be ready to handle anything that comes your way.
Not bad for a very tiny method, no? Let’s dive in.
Busy vs. relaxed
Normally we have two different modes in life. There’s the busy of our everyday lives, and then there’s the relaxed mode, which happens when we have some unstructured time: vacation, a day at the beach, a spa getaway, some time in the park walking around.
Relaxed mode is one where we perhaps think less and feel more. We just soak in the sun, the sounds, the sensations. This is a child-like time, because it’s the mode that young children are in the most. We do our best to train kids not to be like this, so they can be good workers when they grow up and serve our corporate masters.
And so we grow up to be in busy mode most of the week, and if we’re lucky we get a day or two, maybe only an hour or two of relaxed mode. When the Internet sucks us in, we have less relaxed mode because the Internet keeps us in our minds, and we forget about the physical world around us.
How can we change this? How can we bring the child-like relaxed, sensory mode back into our everyday lives, not just during breaks and meditation/yoga time and vacations?
It’s not that difficult, if you practice.
The Zen State
When we are in relaxed mode, we notice the sensations of the wind and sun, the sounds of water and laughter, the brilliant colors of nature, the smiles around us, the grass or sand between our toes. We are feeling instead of thinking. The sensations of our bodies flow into our minds, and it makes us relaxed, happy.
We can re-learn this mode of being with practice. Do it now. You’re reading a computer or mobile device screen, so your mind is in the world of the Internet … but your body is in the physical world. If you’re sitting, you can feel the chair. Your back might be a bit hunched. Your fingers are on a keyboard or mouse. Is the air around you cold or warm? Are there sounds you can notice? Is your jaw clenched? Notice your breathing.
When you put your focus into physcial sensations, you are entering relaxed mode instead of thinking mode. It’s not that you’re completely relaxed, but you’re in the same state of mind as the times you are relaxed, like yoga or the beach or lazing away a Sunday in bed.
Once you learn to do this, you can do it any time. In fact, all the time.
If you’re taking a shower, feel the water running down you, soak in the temperature and the sound of running water. If you’re eating, taste every little nuance of the food, smell the food, feel the texture in your mouth, feel the movement of your hand going to your mouth.
Do this as you work, as you talk on the phone or respond to emails or walk to a meeting or drive to an appointment, noticing the sensations on your skin, the colors around you, the sounds of humanity, your breath coming in and leaving you. Do this at home, as you do chores or prepare food or clean up or get ready for work. Do this throughout your day, and you will be in a constant state of relaxation and enjoyment.
It will transform everything you do, if you do it. It will turn busy-ness into being present, harriedness into enjoyment.
Life will be lived, instead of ignored.
P.S. If you’re ready to improve your life and keep track of all your progress and goals, check out Your Best Life Planner. It’s a kit of 36 digital printables that help you plan your days with monthly, weekly, and daily planners, set goals, vision your future, create self care and gratitude lists, and so much more! Check it out here now and create your best life.