Do you ever marvel at those people who can be in complete tranquility, yet in the midst of total chaos? Those people who are just… irrevocably at peace? Whose inner peace radiates far beyond the events of their external environment?
Surely, you’ve met a few.
Did you know that these people aren’t born with a genetic predisposition to serenity? They were born into the same biologically human body that you were, they have just wired their brains to make these zen habits their normal state of being.
But guess what? You can, too — it just takes some re-training of the mind and re-focusing on developing new habits.
Luckily, this article (right here) is to help you move into developing these peaceful zen habits. The more you can remind yourself of these simple methods, the more quickly they will become naturally part of you.
7 Life-Changing Zen Habits to Adopt Today
“Breath is the link between mind and body.”
— Dan Brule
Yes, you knew it would be on here, so we’ve made it number one.
Breath is so very important. Whatever your situation, it is essential to be aware of the fact that your mind and your rate of breathing are completely entangled— rapid, out-of-control breath results in an erratic, out-of-control mind. On the contrary, calmer, controlled breathing equals a calmer, controlled mind. . . And we all realize that importance of a calm, controlled mind (especially when it comes to zen habits and peaceful living).
Generally, seven deep, focused, deliberate breaths will be enough. This is the simplest, quickest trick; once you reap the benefits of this new habit, you will be hooked and you will (very soon) find yourself doing it naturally.
2. Tell a new story
“You have to begin telling your story in a new way. You have to tell it as you want it to be.”
— Abraham Hicks
One of the most profound ways to make new habits stick is to begin telling a new story of yourself.
If you keep telling yourself how short-tempered you are, yet you are yearning to become much calmer, you are telling yourself the wrong story — how can you expect to move forward when you are constantly looking backward?
Look forward, and step into a new you. Tell your story the way you want it to be, and it will become.
Affirm to yourself, daily:
“I am the (your name) that contagiously spreads love to all that I meet.”
“I am the (your name) that is calm and resilient.”
“I am the (your name) that loves beyond comprehension and is powerful beyond imagination.”
“I am the (your name) that ____”
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
This, too, is a zen habit you perhaps knew would be in here.
Did you know that when you smile, regardless of whether it was outwardly generated or not, your brain throws a happy party?
In scientific terms, the simple act of smiling releases neuropeptides that directly combat stress. Happy, peaceful hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin, are released when your beautiful smile spreads across your face. As well, your body, blood pressure, and heart rate all relax.
So, yes, when you feel happy, you smile. However, the simple act of turning the corners of your mouth towards the sun (assuming it’s in the sky) can conversely create a feeling of peace and happiness.
What a fantastic daily habit to get into: simply smiling. Your smile is magic.
4. Reprogram your perception of suffering
“’Difficulty’ is the name of an ancient tool that was created purely to help us define who we are.”
— Paulo Coelho
Suffering is only suffering when it goes unjustified.
For example, if you go to the gym and work out, the burn your muscles feel is intense and painful, but you never think, “ahh, this is suffering.”
Why not? Because you have justified the suffering— you understand that the uncomfortability you are currently feeling means that you are growing stronger.
On the contrary, when you are in the situation of, say, having to move furniture, you feel this same burning sensation in your muscles. However, this time, you don’t see the strength you are creating, and thus, it causes suffering. You wonder why the couch is so heavy, how much longer until it’s over, and if you really need to move into a new house. The suffering is present because you haven’t justified the uncomfortability; you haven’t noticed that you are growing stronger because of it.
It goes this way with everything— when we are uncomfortable, it means that we are growing. With this mindset, for example, you can perceive a long line at the post office as a teacher of patience, rather than a horribly timed nuisance.
Try switching your perspective: these are not tormentors, they are teachers. You are not suffering, you are simply growing— you are working out at the gym.
This change in perception is something peaceful living beings possess; it is what enables them to sit in tranquility amid the chaos. By creating this new habit of changing your perception, you too will find yourself in a state of peace within any storm.
5. Go into nature
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir
In our modern worlds, we easily become so distracted: media, screens, internet, television, billboards, commercials, people wanting our attention, constant noise, constant mental clutter. This distraction from ourselves, and from the world as it really is, causes us to become so disconnected and, generally, a bit frazzled.
In this case, the best thing to do is to disconnect.
Go into nature. Take a hike, or sit. Turn off your phone. Turn off your music. Listen to the sound of the river and let its serene melodies wash the clutter from your mind. Open yourself back up the world. Sit there in silence until you re-feel the soul of the world breathing all around you. Re-sensitize yourself to the life and beauty all around you.
This is an amazing zen habit to adopt. Whether or not you are able to make it a daily habit, do it as often as you can.
6. Be present
“Where ever you are, be ALL there.”
— Jim Elliot
Almost always, we keep one foot in the future and one foot in the past— this awkward stance causes us to poop on the present. Pooping on the only thing you really have? This should be fixed as often as possible— beyond just a daily habit.
As often as you possibly can, look around you. Clear your mind. BE HERE NOW.
You are going to miss this moment. Take those deep breaths.
“Meditation is the antidote to all the poison of your life. It is the nourishment of your authentic nature.”
— Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
These last 3 zen habits are all of the same realm of reconnecting— to the world, to the present moment, and to your soul. Of course, meditation is a zen habit. You, most likely, knew it would be in here, as well. Mediation and peaceful living are synonymous.
With this type of deep connection to yourself, inner peace is inevitable. The outside world will hardly phase you because you will soon realize how incredibly powerful it is to be connected to your higher self.
Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting on a special pillow with Native American flute music, incense, and candles (although that all does sound quite nice). Meditation can be anything.
It is simply time for you to get to know yourself— to be with yourself. It is time to feel yourself as your lungs breathe and your heart beats.
To meditate is to either listen to and acknowledge your mental chatter, or to quiet it. It can be doing yoga, it can be running, it can be doing the dishes, getting lost in a dance trance to techno music, it can be sitting criss-cross applesauce with Tibetan singing bowls and palo santo. . . Whatever it is, it is presence, and it is knowing thyself— essential to true, peaceful living.
If you would like to try a more traditional form a meditation, a guided meditation, the wonderful Vishen Lakhiani guides in a highly recommended meditation here: