The Effortless Life by Leo Babauta

The Effortless Life

RATING: 7/10…READ: May 15, 2013

A quick read by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Slow down. Reduce your need for accomplishment and always trying to live in the future. Stop doing shit you don’t want to do and start focusing on the shit you do want to do.

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What if we stop measuring our worth by our accomplishments? Who we are will always be more important than what we do. Try doing nothing. Even just for five minutes. We become anxious and want to open a new tab, check email, read the news, talk to someone, do a task. And that’s just for five minutes—what if we did nothing all day? If we remove false needs, goals, expectations, and purposes, we strip away the need to do much of what we do. We can then be left with an emptiness that can be filled only with what’s necessary, with what’s natural, with what’s beautiful.

No matter what path you find, no matter where you end up, it’s beautiful. There is no bad path, no bad destination. It’s only different, and different is wonderful. Don’t judge. Just experience.

Notice if you start to wish things weren’t the way they are. If you wish someone else didn’t do something, notice that. You have expectations, and you wish people or the world could meet them instead of doing what they actually do. Toss those wishes in the ocean too. Now accept things, and move on.

Examine one of your made-up needs, and ask yourself why it’s such an important need. Ask what would happen if you dropped it. What good would it do? Would you have more free time and more space to concentrate and create, or less stress and fewer things to check off each day? What bad things would happen—or might happen? And how likely is it that these things would happen? And how could you counteract them?

How much more skillful, soulful, and useful could your best work get if you didn’t spend so much energy pushing yourself into doing stuff you hate?

Something meaningful to do? You don’t need to change jobs—just help others, in any way you can. Help coworkers to succeed. Be there for friends when they need you. Spend time with loved ones and encourage them. Volunteer to help the needy. Improve your community in small ways. •Need others in your life? Find a neighbor and make a friend. Volunteer and be friendly. Hang out with coworkers. Be considerate, friendly, positive in all human transactions.

Let go of those expectations, and stop trying to force people to conform to the expectations. Those are an imagined ideal anyway. Instead, motivate through inspiration, make things fun, and focus on what’s important: the relationship. The struggle is never as important as the relationship.

Instead of trying to improve yourself, you can spend your time helping others.