Building Good Habits

by Leo on 31 March 2010

This post by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits originally appeared at his site on 24 January 2007. The article has been revised for Success Daily.

I love the simple philosophy of Zen Buddhism, find peace in zazen, and love the minimalist aesthetic. I chose Zen Habits as the title of my blog because it describes its philosophy in a concise way.

The “zen habits” philosophy is all about simplifying, improving your life, being mindful. But I believe that any changes in your life — especially ones that are worth making — are ultimately achieved by building good habits. Do I want to complete a marathon? Then I must cultivate the habit of running four or five 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.

Good habits aren’t born overnight. You can’t tell yourself, “Hey, self, I’m 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’re fooling yourself.)

No, good habits must be cultivated through daily practice. It’s my belief that you must practice a habit, as focused as possible, every day for a month. When I only practice a new habit for a week, it doesn’t take hold. But when I stick with a habit for a month or longer, it does take hold. 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 my mistakes.

The zen in “zen habits” is simply a way to remind 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.

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