Review of Zen Habits 2015

This week I did not have a book lined up to read, and neither was buying a new one really on the table. So I decided to read a whole year’s archive of a blog I occasionally read: by Leo Babauta. Here is my review.

Rating: 3-4/5 depending on the article

One sentence: Good advice and tricks on general life skills such as not procrastinating or worrying.

The themes that run through Leo’s posts are those of self-awareness, compassion, living lightly and being grateful for all the amazing things that we already have. Every moment is already perfect and we forget this by hurrying and wishing for an ideal future or regretting the past.

A constant reminder is to start small and change gradually. This is well-known and simple advice yet most people (including myself) do not heed it, and then fail. Starting small we can use that victory to change the stories that we tell ourselves. We change the stories and then our life changes as well. Frequently, reality is all right, but the stories we tell ourselves make us miserable.

During 2015 Leo attempted some challenges, invited people to join him and gave good advice on learning, fitness and health. During his Grand Travel Experiment, he attempted to work, exercise, meditate and not overeat while travelling with his family through Europe. He used a point system combined with choosing specific times when he would work first thing in the morning. This took the choice out of the matter and he did the work even when he didn’t want to.

In a post that stood out, he related good finance habits to hygiene. You don’t have to do them every day, just regularly. A few simple habits and some mindfulness are the difference between finances that worry and depress and peace of mind that underpins a positive outlook towards the future.

We can all do with more compassion. For ourselves and others. Watching ourselves we begin to realise that all the unwanted behaviour of others is just because they are hurting too, not because they are bad people. Knowing that to fail is to be human we can act from complete acceptance and love of ourselves. Because change is inevitable, and we do not need to make ourselves feel bad in the process of doing so.

His advice to fail faster was also very interesting. I had never previously considered iterating habits in 3-day cycles and reviewing after each test. I imagine that it would be very effective and give useful feedback much faster than reviewing after a week or a month. It is a lot easier to see it as an experiment if you change it every few days than when you try to maintain a specific action for weeks or months.

I never before considered why the Model T Ford was named model T and not model A. It was very interesting to read how Ford’s business partner forced him to ship, overcoming his perfectionism. The eventual result was that 5 years later the T Ford was highly influential and a landmark of automobile history. Failing faster definitely results in more learning, something that I have been neglecting in my own life.

This dive into the archives was interesting and instructive. As usual, I am left with more information than time to implement. I like the feeling of abundance that comes from knowing that I have more strategies and techniques than I know what to do with. It is enjoyable to choose one that I find the most exciting and then practising that.

Now I want to find a new source of material. The blogs I read have become stale  and familiar to my taste. I desire fresh blood and unique perspectives.

To happiness, and beyond!




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