When we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form, we fail to see opportunities for joy that are right in front of us.
At Integrative Counsel, we draw from many pools of wisdom, including Eastern philosophy. Zen, a school of Mahayana Buddhism, can help people declutter their overactive minds and live life with a more positive outlook. It is full of practical tools that you can use to live a peaceful and happy life. More than that, it helps you awaken your creativity. Zen wisdom shows you that you can return to your birthright of strength, purpose, and meaningful connection. Here are 5 pieces of Zen wisdom that you can apply to your life:
Start observing yourself
As humans, we have millions of thoughts and emotions a day, and we put so much weight on them, making us attached to the way we feel. Zen Buddhists believe that the root of all suffering is attachment. Start to view your thoughts and emotions as clouds passing by. They aren’t permanent, so don’t judge them or identify with them too much. The thoughts and feelings are not good or bad, they just are. You can focus on them and make them grow, or you can let them float by and dissolve on their own
When you focus on what you are grateful for, you attract more happiness and abundance in your life. You are still human, so it’s normal to be grumpy about something like having to work to make money to live the life you want. However, when you are so attached to how you think your life should be that you fail to acknowledge and enjoy the present moment, you miss out on the joy of life. Be grateful that your life is imperfect, and that there is so much more to learn and live for that you don’t even realize at the moment. Repeat this affirmation: I now express complete gratitude for all the wonderful people, meaningful relationships, learning situations, wondrous opportunities, magical successes, and unconditional love in my life.”
Practice Zen wisdom by doing one thing at a time
Do it deliberately and slowly. Do it completely. Do less. What’s the point in overwhelming yourself with task after task? How is that any way to live? When you do this, you make it so your life is an unsatisfactory race to the next thing. Allow yourself to live peacefully in the present moment.
Release yourself from your ego
Start by observing your mind. What negative thoughts are you habitually thinking? Then, try to distinguish between your ego’s voice and what is actually going on. When something unpleasant or inconvenient happens, the voice of our ego often tells us stories that aren’t true, making us irritated, sad, or angry. When you let go of these limiting stories, you can free yourself from your ego, breathing in the present moment with peaceful self-awareness.
Let go of your resentments
One of the five hindrances in Buddhism is ill-will, or byapada. By fostering anger and negativity towards others, we can only allow those feelings to grow in ourselves. An old Buddhist proverb tells the story of two monks who are carrying an ungrateful passenger on their backs for a long leg of their journey. When the ungrateful passenger is finally let off, the younger monk dwells on the indignities they both suffered at the passenger’s hand. The older monk replies: “I put the passenger down miles ago. Why are you still carrying them?”