It can be hard to find meaning and purpose sometimes. We spend so much time working and being busy that we forget to stop and look inside ourselves to see what we really desire in life.
Fortunately, humans over the years have encountered the same problem, resulting in valuable wisdom we all can benefit from.
Zen and Buddhist philosophy has contributed a huge deal to human thought on how we can live more peaceful and happy lives.
And today, we’re going to go through 11 important pieces of wisdom that can help us all live better lives.
1) Focus on one thing
“Don’t do any task in order to get it over with. Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention. Enjoy and be one with your work.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
This is a simple but key point that symbolizes an important aspect of Zen philosophy.
Focus on one thing is what it sounds like: focus on the task at hand without getting distracted. Whatever is in your presence at that moment, dedicate your attention to it fully.
Research suggests that we humans aren’t as good as we think we are at multi-tasking.
It might feel like you’re getting more done, but in reality, you’re probably not and the quality of work is undoubtedly slipping.
If you can commit to one doing one thing a time, you’ll be more engaged in each and every moment and more focused on doing better quality work.
2) Focus on the present moment
“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
To do something with every pulse of your being means to be fully concentrated on the present moment.
I’m not talking about tense, vein-popping concentration.
Instead, I’m referring to focusing on the present moment with a peaceful and sustained concentration.
You’re here, living right now, fully engaged with whatever you’re doing, and there isn’t anything else to worry about.
3) Let go of what you can’t control
“You can only lose what you cling to.” — Buddha.
Letting go of hang ups is a huge part of Zen philosophy.
When you realize the impermanence of everything around you, you begin to let go and enjoy the world for what it is.
However, throughout our lives, so many of us naturally attach ourselves to relationships, material objects, and circumstances in life.
But by wanting to keep these things fixed, we resist the natural way of change.
So, instead of continuing this trend, remove the friction by releasing attachments and allow yourself to flow with the universe.
(To learn how to let go of attachments that are holding you back, check out our guide to non-attachment here)
4) Own only what you need
Many of us desire and accumulate unnecessary possessions like it’s an addiction.
However, according to Buddhist philosophy, it can be harmful to desire superficial objects. It doesn’t lead to much meaning in life and it can leave you in an endless process of desiring when the excitement of owning these material possessions wears off.
The more you can remove “things” in your life, the less cluttered you’ll feel.
This doesn’t just involve material possessions, either. You can ask yourself what’s really important in your life, and focus only on your highest priorities.
A simplified life is more enjoyable and less complicated.
5) Embrace impermanence
“Impermanence and selflessness are not negative aspect of life, but the very foundation on which life is built. Impermanence is the constant transformation of things. Without impermanence, there can be no life. Selflessness is the interdependent nature of all things. Without interdependence, nothing could exist.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Many of us live our lives completely ignoring any thought that eventually we’re going to die.
But Buddhist philosophy says that this a huge mistake because being aware of our impermanence can be a great source of joy.
We’ll appreciate our existence so much more because we’ll realize that we might not get it again.
(To dive deep into different meditation techniques and Buddhist teachings, check out our best-selling eBook on how to use eastern philosophy to live a mindful and peaceful life here)
6) Live the Buddha’s middle way
The Middle Way basically means that we shouldn’t live in any extremes of life. Instead, we strive to keep a balance.
It’s an important principle that affects many parts of our lives.
Think about two important factors of life: work and family. By following this principle, you dedicate equal amounts of time to each, rather than focusing too heavily on either.
7) Practice meditation
By spending 20 minutes a day meditating, you can learn to calm your mind by focusing gently on your breathing.
(To learn more about meditation, check out our guide to practicing meditation here)
8) Live your life in service of others
The Buddha taught that to realize enlightenment, a person must develop two qualities: wisdom and compassion.
So if a fulfilling life is what you are after, or if you want to add some unexpected joy to your life, work in service of others.
And what better way to live with integrity than to put someone else’s needs before your own?
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