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zen habits: Why Zen Habits?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why Zen Habits?

First, I love Zen. I named one of my dogs Zen. I've read it, tried it, love its simple philosophy, love the meditation and love the aesthetics.

But I chose Zen Habits as the title of my blog because it describes the philosophy of the blog in a concise way.

This blog is really about setting and achieving goals, and the numerous goals that I want to achieve. But I believe that goals -- especially ones that are worth reaching -- are ultimately achieved through the building of good habits. Do I want to complete a marathon? Then I must cultivate the habit of running 4-5 times a week. I must cultivate the habit of positive thinking. It also helps to become an early riser, a healthy eater, and a non-smoker, as I've done.

These habits are not born overnight. You can't tell yourself, "Hey, self, I am going to become an early riser, starting tomorrow morning!" Well, you can tell yourself that, but if you think that it's going to happen so quickly, you are clearly delusional.

No, these habits must be cultivated through daily practice. It is my belief that you must practice a habit, as focused as possible, every day for a month. When I only do it for a week, it doesn't take hold. But when I've done it for a month or longer, it does. And that doesn't mean that I'm successful each and every day ... but the important thing is that I try, and when I fail, I learn from those mistakes.

In addition to the habits, I hope to post Zen-related stuff now and then, just to give me a peaceful feeling and to justify the use of the cool blog name.


cuteblackcats said...

Zen is not about achieving goals or getting things done, and I am curious where you got that idea. I think you are vastly misunderstanding it and using the word "Zen" like a brandname to make yourself feel cooler.

Leo said...

Hi Paradox ... thanks for the comment. I think what you've expressed is a common misunderstanding about my blog, and I'm glad you've given me the chance to clear that up.

I've never said that Zen is a way to achieve your goals, although in a way it certainly could help you do anything if you look at it in a certain way. No, I understand that Zen is a religion and a philosophy, as well as a way of life. I didn't mean to use it as a brand ... I only used it for my blog because the idea of creating habits in a Zen-like way appeals to me personally.

The Zen of the title of this blog is simply a way of reminding myself to be present, to live simply, to keep myself centered and at peace as I make my slow journey to creating good habits and achieving my goals. That's all. I am not a Zen monk or a follower of Zen, although I do try to practice zazen when I can. I've never studied under a teacher, although I have read some books on Zen and have read many real Zen websites (as opposed to mine, which isn't one).

I hope this clears things up and I apologize for the confusion.

Anonymous said...

The name is misleading if the blog isn't specifically Zen-related (and it can't describe "the philosophy of the blog in a concise way" unless it does!). I glad to find your blog because I thought it was in fact written from the perspective of a Zen practioner. But I was disappointed to find that the name is just another example of the word "zen" being co-opted because of some perceived coolness factor.

From the description of your blog, it sounds like something like "Cultivated Habits" might be a more fitting name.

Leo said...

I'm sorry if you were disappointed. I didn't mean to use the word because of its coolness factor ... as I said, I simply use it to be present, to live simply, to keep myself centered and at peace as I make my slow journey to creating good habits and achieving my goals.

Thanks for the comment and suggestion!

Anonymous said...

I love the name --and think it fits wonderfully to your blog. I'm a wellness coach who helps people with many of the goals-orientation(s) that you suggest, and you have a wonderful direction for this.

Perhaps those people who are jumping on the "impreciseness" of the name are not being very Zen themselves, which would not get overexcited about someone else's choices. Zen is both doing and not-doing, but it's about simplicity. A true Zen blog might actually be one word: "breathe", or "sit", but that's not helping people initially. Real Zen is almost complicated in its simplicity for many people.

Leo, you have a great site and I read it everyday. A name is a name is a name: it's the pathway that counts, not the moniker.

Leo said...

wow, lauren ... thanks for the great comment! this blog has been most rewarding for me, hearing wonderful things from my readers. if you enjoy the site and find it useful, i am happy.

Anonymous said...

I think Zen Habits perfectly describes what you're doing here. The whole idea of Getting Things Done is removing the busy mind to allow oneself to focus on here and now.

You made a connection and it works for you - I suspect many others feel the same way.

Thank you for your contributions thus far!

Leo said...

@Erik: Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.