A Short Guide to Starting, if You’re Struggling

By Leo Babauta

I know a lot of people who fall into a slump, losing the habit of exercise, procrastinating with work, slipping into a bad diet, and generally not feeling motivated.

It’s hard to get out of a slump like that.

It’s hard to get going again, to get started when all the forces of inertia are against you.

Here’s how to get started, in just a few easy steps.

  1. Pick one thing. Pick just one change. People who want to change their lives usually want to change everything at once. But trust me, one change is enough for now: go for a short walk, do a few pushups, eat a fruit for breakfast, do a 5-sentence journal every morning. Not all of these, just pick one! Focus on it for the next month.
  2. Send a friend an email. Just a quick email, asking for help. Tell them you’ve been slumping, but you’re going to stick to one change. Ask them to keep you accountable — if you don’t do what you promise every day for a month, you owe them something big (or embarrassing). Make it something powerful, so you definitely won’t allow yourself to fail.
  3. Promise to do something ridiculously easy. Tell your friend you’re going to do something every day — but something super easy. Again, go for a 5-minute walk. Do just a few pushups every morning. Do a journal of just 5 sentences each day. The easier the better. Again, trust me on this one. You want it so easy you can’t say no.
  4. Create unmissable reminders. Put a huge sign somewhere you won’t miss it. Reminders in your email, calendar, phone. Ask people around you to remind you. Put a rubber band around your wrist. Don’t let yourself forget!
  5. Build trust with a single step. Every day, you just need to take one step. Just write one sentence in your journal. Just do one pushup or yoga pose. When you take that step, do it mindfully and with gratitude and joy. Smile. Enjoy that tiny victory. With that step, you’re building trust in yourself. When you see yourself want to put it off, pause. Breathe. Stay with the urge to run away but don’t let yourself run. Smile, and do the habit anyway.

With every single step, you’ll feel better. When you finish that step, take the next one. You’ll trust yourself more and more, and eventually you’ll be able to add another small habit, then another the month after. And soon you’ll be kicking butt, happy you’re moving in a good direction, smiling with gratitude with every good thing you’re doing for yourself.

zen habits

What’s the Most Loving Thing You Can Do?

By Leo Babauta

The question I’ve been asking myself lately, before I do anything, is a deceptively simple one: “What’s the most loving thing you can do in this situation?

Now, that might sound corny to some of you, might seem irrelevant to most of you. But give me one minute of your time to explain.

I’ve been experimenting for awhile with letting go. Not running when I have uncertainty, fear, discomfort. Not acting on my fears or frustrations. Not letting these things drive me, but sitting still with them instead, and facing them with courage.

That’s wonderful, but what if you actually need to act? You could sit still all day, but then you’d never help anyone, never create anything, never do anything.

So there’s a need to not act, to sit still … and there’s a need to act. How do we determine which is which?

By asking that question. “What’s the most loving thing you can do in this situation?”

When you’re about to take an action (including running away, going away from uncertainty to comfort, procrastinating, going to distractions or comfort food) … stop and sit still.

Turn inward and see if fear or stress is coming up, see if you’re feeling uncertainty and wanting to cope by getting control. See if you’re trying to comfort yourself, or to lash out, to close down.

In this case, the most loving thing you can do is nothing.

The most loving thing you can do, for yourself and others, is to sit still. Face the fear and uncertainty. Not act out wanting to control these emotions, wanting to comfort yourself.

But in other cases, you want to take action. Doing your work, for example, could be something that helps you or your team or the world. Taking care of someone, talking to them, being there for them, serving them … those can be very helpful things to do.

In these cases, acting to help yourself or someone else is the most loving thing you can do.

If I’m going to read with my kid, take a walk with my wife, clean the kitchen for my family, write a book for my readers … these are loving acts.

If I’m running to check email or social media because I want something easy to do instead of writing that book for my readers … the loving act is to sit still and face this discomfort, fear and uncertainty.

When I’m talking to someone out of frustration, the most loving thing I can do is to refrain from trying to criticize or control them or be defensive. Instead, I can face this frustration. When I calm myself down, I can talk to them in a loving way and try to help them, try to empathize with them, try to be there for them.

Each time I’m about to act, the best thing I can do is ask that question: What’s the most loving thing you can do in this situation? I might not always remember, but when I do, it is always a helpful question.

Note: If you’d like to dive into mindfulness, check out my Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness here.

zen habits

Habit Guide Ebook, Habit Mastery Video Course, and Mindfulness Seminar Available

By Leo Babauta

I told you guys earlier about the Kickstarter campaign for my Habit Zen app, but today I wanted to share three special rewards that I included in that campaign: a habit guide ebook, my new Habit Mastery video course, and a one-day mindfulness seminar with me in San Francisco.

These are three new products I’ve been creating, and I’m offering them in this campaign for the first time.

I think they’re some of the most important things I’ve created, so I’m going to share some details about each so you can grab them before the campaign ends (in less than 2 weeks) if you want.

Habit Guide Ebook

Similar to the Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness short ebook I released last month, this is a concise guide for beginners — the mechanics of how habits are formed, the common obstacles to sticking to a habit and how to solve them, and some key habit skills. This is something you can read in a couple of sittings, but put the exercises into practice over a month to learn the fundamentals of creating new habits.

I’m writing this book now, and hope to finish it by next month, and release it either at the end of October or sometime in November. It’ll be sold separately as a regular short-read ebook at $ 4.99 here on Zen Habits, or as a package for $ 9.99 with some additional instructional videos. But you can reserve your copy of the ebook and videos now by supporting my Habit Zen app project on Kickstarter!

Habit Mastery Video Course

I’ve been working on this course nearly all year, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever made, I believe. It’s pretty much all written, and now I just need to shoot the videos and package it together as a course.

Why is this my best product yet? Because it’s intended to take you into the intermediate and advanced stages of habit mastery, not just the beginner level. Because it’s guided by video lessons and a series of exercises designed to give you the skills you need to create all kinds of habits, if you do the work. And because it’s focused on the meta skills of habit creation (and quitting habits), not just specific habits (like exercise or meditation).

I’m really excited to offer this video course. I plan to sell it early next year for about $ 300 (or $ 400 for the premium level), but again, you can get in on it while supporting my Kickstarter campaign (and I could use the help!).

Habit Webinars

I didn’t mention this in the title, but in the Kickstarter campaign, I’m offering a series of webinars on creating habits. Similar to the habit guide ebook, these webinars (you could get just one, or the whole series) is intended to give you the basics of forming habits, and to help you overcome common obstacles. The difference? These webinars will be live, online, and I’ll answer questions you can ask in the chat.

I find the webinar format really useful — I offer a 25-minute (or so) talk, and then answer audience questions, which is always an enlightening process to watch, even if you don’t ask any questions. But I encourage you to ask questions, because that’s when the real learning happens. I love doing webinars, and I hope you’ll join me (note: you’ll get access to these webinars if you choose a higher reward level).

One-Day Mindfulness Seminar (in person)

OK, this one is really special. It’ll be a live seminar, in person, in San Francisco. For one day, next Spring (date will be determined by a poll of all attendees).

I’m limiting this reward to 15 people for now, but I might sell a few more spots in this webinar here on Zen Habits later this year or early next year. I want to keep the group small.

Why is this special? It’ll be the first seminar I’ve ever created like this. I’ll work with the small group of attendees to develop some powerful mindfulness skills over the course of a day, using hands-on exercises that I’ll be supervising and offering feedback on. This isn’t just about being present or living in the moment — it’s about dealing with fears and procrastination that might be holding you back, struggles with frustration and anxiety, finding more focus to do the work you love and are meant to do.

In addition to the mindfulness training, we’ll eat some of my favorite vegan food in San Francisco, have a tea tasting, and eat some world-class chocolate. Yum!

I hope you’ll join me by backing my Kickstarter at the appropriate level.

zen habits

Not Doing All the Things We Want to Do

By Leo Babauta

I think we’ve all been there: we’ve signed up for the gym, signed up for a class, bought an ebook … and then not used it.

We’ve had hopes of learning to draw, to program, to play a musical instrument … and then promptly failed to do so.

We’ve had the best intentions for a project (maybe starting a blog or writing a book). We’ve had the best intentions for our day, to be productive and kick some butt.

And then our plans fall apart. We fail to live up to our hopes.

Why is this? What’s wrong with us?

In my experience, there are a few key obstacles:

  1. We are overly optimistic. We think we’re going to be able to do about 2-5 times what we can actually do. We only have so much capacity, only so much energy, only so much time in the day. But we are not very good at estimating any of those, and we also think the things we want to do are going to take way less time than they’ll actually take. Optimism beats us every time.
  2. We don’t account for the little things. This goes hand-in-hand with the optimism, but when we’re thinking about our plans, we don’t think about all the tiny things, like maintenance tasks, that need to be done in order to accomplish our plans … or even just to live. We don’t think about showering, brushing our teeth, getting dressed, cooking, eating, cleaning up, doing laundry, driving, getting gas, answering a thousand and two emails, taking phone calls, using the bathroom, and so on and so on. We just aren’t wired to be able to calculate all of that.
  3. We fail in the face of resistance. When we have the choice to focus on what we hoped to focus on, or do some busywork or go to one of our comfortable distractions … resistance comes up. And our habitual, conditioned response is to shy away from the resistance. Sometimes we have the motivation to overcome it, but most times we put things off, because beating the resistance isn’t easy.
  4. We don’t have the right environment. A big part of whether we succeed at overcoming the resistance is whether we have an environment that’s conducive to keeping us on task or holding us accountable. For example, if we are a part of a team, and they are counting on us to get a project done by the end of the day … we will be more motivated to overcome resistance because we don’t want to let them down. But let’s say no one will know if we procrastinate for an entire day … and there are lots of tempting distractions staring at us from the browser … we’re less likely to get things done. And if people in our lives are actively against us taking a class or learning an instrument, we’re less likely to do it. Accountability, supportive people, the presence of distractions … these are some key parts of whatever environment we’re in.

These are things we all do. There isn’t a person among us who is immune to these problems — certainly not me, nor anyone I know.

So what can we do? It turns out there are a few key habits we can form to help with these problems, and some of them are going to seem obvious now that we’ve identified the causes.

Solutions to Key Obtacles

If you want to actually put that class or gym pass to use, if you want to get that personal project done or read that ebook you bought … here are some suggestions that I’ve found to be powerful in actually doing what I hope to do:

  • Know that you probably only have 3-4 hours a day of productive time to get projects done, get important work done, read books, learn stuff. The rest of the time is spent on sleeping, eating, personal maintenance, transportation, meetings, calls, email, distractions, shopping, cooking, errands, taking care of kids or hanging with friends, and so on.
  • Block out what you can do in that time. Exercise, writing, reading, learning, a few important tasks.
  • Now cut out half of those. The things you want to do are going to take twice as long as you hope. If you have some time left over, bonus! Use that time not on distractions but on the tasks you cut out.
  • If you want more productive time, cut out some distractions, TV, online reading. But you’ll probably only be able to add another hour a day.
  • Set up a good environment for each project you want to complete — if you want to learn guitar, have some accountability and someone who will be supportive, even if that means finding someone online. Set deadlines and have people who count on you to get your project done. Go somewhere for 30 minutes where you won’t have any distractions.
  • When you’re ready to focus on the thing you hoped to get done … face the resistance instead of running from it. Stare it in the face. See that it’s not that bad. Know your deeper reason for wanting to get this done, and remember that this reason is worth facing the resistance and pushing on despite that discomfort.

I hope you find these useful. I’ve used them to learn things, to get projects done, to stick to exercise programs, to do things with my kids. I’m far from perfect, I forget these things all the time, but when I remember to do them, I am much better at living up to my hopes and dreams.

zen habits

Dealing with the Sweat-Inducing Fear of Launching a Major Project

By Leo Babauta

Last week, I launched my new app, Habit Zen, on Kickstarter. Immediately the fears started surging through my body.

What if people hate this? What if no one funds it? What if I publicly flop in front of a million people?

And what if it gets funded, but I do a horrible job at it?

Fear grips you, and doesn’t seem to want to let go. You start worrying about every little thing, start getting desperate, start trying to figure out ways you can control the uncontrollable. Letting go would be the answer, but it’s not so easy. Fear rules with an iron grip.

But what is my alternative? I could never do anything big, never push myself into the wild territory of fearfulness, never try anything difficult that I might fail at.

Launching something big is freaking scary, but also it’s what I need to do to grow.

So here’s what I do:

Ask myself what my intention is. Why do I want to do this project? Is it to look good, to accomplish something awesome, for my ego? Or am I doing it to help people, out of love? How much do people need this help?

The truth is, if it’s for my ego, I probably shouldn’t push through the fear. It’s not worth it. But if I’m doing this for someone else, it’s worth the struggle. I should definitely make myself go through the fear if I think people will benefit from this.

Ask friends if I’m crazy. It’s possible that I’m deluded. So I ask people I trust: do you think I should do this? If I have good friends, they’ll be honest with me. They might be crazy too, though, so that’s worth considering. 🙂

My friends told me to do this. They’re supportive, and they don’t let me back out of stuff just because I’m scared. Thanks guys! It also helps to calm my fears if I have voices of sanity talking to me.

Stare the fear in the face. I am very likely to try to run from my fear, hide away in some safe comfort zone, or run to try to control my fear somehow. It’s a defense mechanism, and I’ve conditioned myself to do it for years.

Instead, I’m trying to teach myself to just sit still and face the fear. Look at it kindly in the face, and see what it’s like. What kind of courage does it take to stay with my fear? What is it like to not run? I try to explore this, with curiosity.

And what I find is that it’s not so bad. Fear can make me panicky, but when I face it, I find that it’s not the end of the world. Not such a big deal.

Stop myself from taking desperate actions. When I’m fearful, I can do desperate things. Anything to try to get things to turn out the way I want. But the desperate things are often harmful, not helpful.

So I’m trying to get myself to breathe, and take a more rational look at the actions I want to take. Ask myself questions like: am I doing this out of fear, or is this actually going to be helpful? Am I doing this because of ego, or will others benefit from this action? What would happen if I do nothing? Is there a better action I can take?

And once I calm down, the actions tend to be less self-centered, and more compassionate. When I remember.

Give myself compassion. If I’m filled with fear, I like to look at the scared part of me like it’s a little kid. We’ve all been that scared little child before. And instead of ignoring the scared child, instead of scoffing at the child … why don’t we just give it a little compassion? By sending love towards this fear, I can get it to calm down a bit, and not run.

What I’ve found is when I give myself compassion, I learn to trust that things will be OK. They won’t necessarily turn out the way I want, but they’ll be just fine. I’ll figure things out. I’m a good friend to myself, and a good friend will help you pick up the pieces when things fall apart. And they will. I’ll be there with compassion when that happens.

Tell myself to plunge into the water. I’ve stood at the edge of ice-cold waters before, dreading the iciness that would shock my body. And no matter how long I stood there, dwelling in my fears, it didn’t help.

What worked for me is just diving in, without thinking too much about it. Stop the dwelling, and just plunge. Brace myself for the shock, and accept that it will be uncomfortable. And that the discomfort would be temporary. And worth it.

With this latest project, I know there will be overwhelming fear. I know that things could collapse. And yet, I’m taking the plunge anyway. I’m going to trust that things will turn out differently than I hope, but that I’ll be OK anyway.

If you’d like to help allay my fears, go ahead and help fund my Habit Zen app on Kickstarter!

zen habits

Help Me by Funding My Habit App on Kickstarter!

Habit Zen

By Leo Babauta

I’m creating a habit app, and I need your help.

It’s just a web app for now, and it’s already in its beta testing phase. It’s called Habit Zen, and (eventually) it will be the first app to really help people overcome resistance and stick to habits.

But although I’ve put about $ 20,000 of my own money into this project (with two developers and a designer), I have run out of money.

So I’m asking you to help me build this … by funding my Habit Zen project on Kickstarter.

I’m excited about this Kickstarter campaign, because 1) you’ll be able to become a part of this project that means a lot to me, and 2) I’m offering some exclusive rewards if you help fund this project (I’ll get to those in a minute).

So what is this habit app, and why should you care?

Right now, it’s a web app, and a simple habit tracker. Nothing to get excited about … except that it will become better and better as people use it. That’s because I’m going to run big habit experiments to figure out what helps people stick to habits. What habits are better to start with? How long should you do them? Is it better to have an accountability partner, or a group? Rewards or consequences? I’m going to use this app to test these questions and many more.

So we’re going to learn, together! It’s going to be like a crowd-sourced habit learning project, and I’ll share the info publicly on this blog. And use it to make the app better at helping you get good at creating habits.

It’ll also (eventually) help people create personal habit formulas that will adjust over time to help them create a habit plan and stick to it.

It’s going to be a web app for now, but I hope to create a phone app next year. In the meantime, if you help fund the project, you can become a beta tester and help me learn and make this project really great. I hope you join me!

Check out the Habit Zen project here, and fund me!

Kickstarter Rewards

I’ve created some rewards that I think are really great … and I can’t wait for you to check them out:

To encourage you to help me build this … I’m creating some rewards that will be exclusive to this Kickstarter campaign (depending on what level you fund):

  • Habit Ebook: As we speak, I’m busy writing a short ebook on habits for beginners. It’ll cover all the basics, common obstacles, best techniques, and some tricks I’ve learned in my own experiments. This will come with a few videos as a bonus. I hope to be done with this by December.
  • Habit Webinar: I’ll hold a live video webinar online, talking about the basics of forming habits … and you’ll be able to ask questions that I’ll answer live.
  • Beta tester (early adopter): You’ll get early beta access to the web app and help us with the habit experiments! It’s already working at its most basic level, and your feedback will help us improve it as we add features.
  • Habit Webinar Series: Similar to the above webinar, I’ll hold a series of three webinars that will help you go from habit beginner to beyond, including talking about common obstacles, and some advanced skills that I’ve been learning.
  • Lifetime pro access: Once we launch the premium edition (next year), people who fund at this level (and above) will have lifetime access to all the premium features without having to pay each month. For life.
  • Habit Mastery Course: This is going to be a $ 300 course that I’m hoping to offer online early next year (either January or February). It will be 3 months long, with video lessons (about 1-2 per week) and assignments/challenges. It is designed to take you to the advanced habit level, if you do the work.
  • Mindfulness seminar in San Francisco: I’ll be holding a one-day seminar on mindfulness, in person, in San Francisco next spring. The date hasn’t been set yet, so don’t choose this if traveling to SF will be a problem. We’ll work on dealing mindfully with fears, obstacles, uncertainty and more. You pay for your airfare.
  • Spend a weekend with Leo: Want to spend time with me 1-on-1? Come to San Francisco and we’ll hang out, talk about your personal development (if you like), meditate, eat my favorite vegan food, drink tea, hike around to my favorite spots. We’ll even stay together in an Airbnb apartment (separate beds) if you like, with the Airbnb included in the cost of this funding level. You pay for your airfare though.
  • Leo comes to your city: I’ll fly to your city, anywhere in the world, to hang out with you! I’ll even give a talk at an event or at your company, whatever you like, if you want. We could work on a personal development plan for you. Or just hang and have fun. Airfare is included up to $ 2,500 (USD) — you pay for anything above that if airfare is more expensive than $ 2,500.

Of course, which of these you get depends on which funding level you choose. 🙂

Help me build this by backing the project here.

zen habits

The Unprocrastination Challenge for September

By Leo Babauta

This is the month you are going to kick procrastination’s butt.

And no, you can’t read this article later!

We are all victims of procrastination. It chases us around daily, causing us to run from the tasks we really want to get done, run to distraction and busywork and email and … everything but the things that really matter.

Procrastination has been controlling us for too long.

This is the month we take a stand. This is the time we decide to stay instead of avoiding, to focus instead of running.

Are you ready for the Unprocrastination Challenge? Yes, you are. No, you can’t do it later.

I’m issuing this challenge to you today, for the rest of this month.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Commit publicly (on social media, to your friends, family and coworkers, however you want) to doing this every day for the rest of this month.
  2. Each day, spend just 5 minutes doing an Unprocrastination Session (see next step).
  3. Pick an important task to focus on, clear away all distractions, set a timer for 5 minutes, and do nothing but that task.
  4. You cannot switch tasks during this session. You cannot check on something real quick. You cannot get up to clean something. You can only sit there, with that one task, and either focus on the task or sit there and do nothing.
  5. When you get the urge to switch tasks, don’t switch. Just stay with the urge. Watch it, let it surge, then let it fade. Return to your task.
  6. When the timer goes off, success! You can keep going if you want, or take a break and go again, but neither is necessary. Just 5 minutes a day is all that’s required for success.
  7. Yes, even do your 5-minute sessions on the weekend. Pick a personal project to focus on during those days if you like.

That’s it. Just commit, pick a task every day, set a timer, and do nothing but the task or sit and watch your urge to switch. Pretty simple, right?

What you’ll notice is that you get the urge to switch a lot. That’s normal. These sessions allow you to see the urge, and to face the urge instead of habitually running from them.

What you’ll also notice is that the urge is not a big deal. We run in fear, but really it’s not that scary. It’s no reason to panic. No big deal.

What you might find is that you’re able to get a lot done if you don’t let yourself run. Project will get further than ever. You’ll be on top of your study or work schedule. You’ll get those taxes or dreaded paperwork done. Important work gets done, which is amazing.

I have used this method to get better at focusing, and now do several of these sessions each day. And even more amazing is that I can now deal mindfully with urges to procrastinate on things like exercise, reading, making healthy meals, and more.

No, I’m not cured of procrastination … I don’t think we ever will be. But I now know that each urge is no big deal, and I can focus. That has changed so much for me. You can do it too.

Need Some Help?

If you’d like to go deeper into this practice, and learn to overcome the obstacles you might face, I’m teaching a course for the rest of this month called Unprocrastination + Focus in my Sea Change program. It’s not too late to join!

We’ll have twice-weekly video lessons to go deeper into motivation, distractions, dealing with urges, focusing on important tasks (and how to choose them), Flow, and more. We’ll get into some skills like interval training, pausing, resetting and more.

In addition, we’ll have:

  • Daily challenges and reminder emails
  • A forum to discuss the lessons and problems you’re having
  • A challenge to do a daily Unprocrastination Session for the duration of the course

I hope you’ll join me — try Sea Change for a week for free (then $ 19/month after that).

zen habits

Self-Help List

By Leo Babauta
  1. Say thank you to everything and everyone, even to your grief and those who frustrate you.
  2. Ask how you want to use this gift of a day.
  3. See this moment as the most important moment in the world, and don’t wait to be happy.
  4. Do every task out of love for someone else, and yourself.
  5. To make better habits, put everything you have into small steps. And ask for help.
  6. Travel lighter, pack fewer fears.
  7. Overcome procrastination by sitting with one task, not letting yourself run from discomfort.
  8. One thing at a time.
  9. See discomfort as no big deal.
  10. Ask yourself how you want to spend your one wild and precious life.

zen habits

Short Read: The Zen Habits Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness (ebook)

Mindfulness Guide

By Leo Babauta

I’m happy to share with you a new “short read” ebook that I’ve written: the Zen Habits Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness.

I’ve written this for absolute or near beginners, who would like to bring mindfulness into their lives … or who are struggling with:

  • Procrastination
  • Creating better habits
  • Frustration, disappointment, feeling stuck
  • Relationship problems
  • Being content

I’ve found that mindfulness is the fundamental skill to deal with any of these struggles. And in this short ebook — which you can read in one sitting if you feel like it — I not only talk about why this is true, I share some simple exercises for developing the skills to deal with any of these struggles.

I don’t promise miracles, and you’ll have to do the exercises to get decent at these skills. But they work, in my experience, and I hope they help you.

The Short Ebook & the Package Deal

I’ve written this intentionally as a “short read” … and so I’m pricing it low ($ 4.99), so more people will be able to buy and use it.

But I’ve also created a package with the ebook (in 3 formats) along with three guided audio meditations that go along with the exercises in the book.

You can buy just the ebook here:

Buy the Ebook

Or buy the package with the audio meditation downloads here:

Buy the Package

Who Should Buy This

This is aimed at beginners to mindfulness, and anyone who is struggling.

Don’t buy this if you:

  1. Have years of experience meditating
  2. Are great at creating habits
  3. Don’t procrastinate
  4. Are content and happy
  5. Know how to deal with stress and anxiety
  6. Won’t actually read the book

However, do buy this if you:

  1. Are new or fairly new to mindfulness
  2. Struggle with changing your habits
  3. Tend to procrastinate
  4. Would like to start working towards contentment and peace
  5. Are ready to take action and read the book and do the short exercises

The book won’t solve all of these problems, but it will help you develop skills that will be helpful in all these areas. It’s a great start, at the very least.

Book Formats

I’ve written the book in PDF, Kindle (mobi) and iBooks (epub) formats. You can buy them all in one compressed file here for $ 4.99:

Buy the Ebook

If you just want to buy the book from the Amazon Kindle store, you can buy it here for $ 4.99. That will only be the Kindle format, though. I would love it if you gave me a good review and/or rating! (Note: It’s available in all of the global Amazon stores.)

If you just want to buy the book from the Apple iBooks store, you can buy it here for $ 4.99. That will only be the iBooks/epub format, though. And again, I would love it if you gave me a good review and/or rating! (Note: It’s available in all of the global iBooks stores.)

Finally, I have the three formats (PDF, mobi, epub) plus a package of three audio guided meditations for $ 9.99 that you can buy here:

Buy the Package

Table of Contents & Sample Chapters

If you’d like to see the table of contents, plus the introduction and first chapter, you can download/open the PDF here:

Table of Contents & Sample Chapters

Questions

You have questions, I have answers.

Q: What do I get when I buy the ebook?.

A: If you buy it using the blue “buy the ebook” button above, you’ll get a compressed zip file … when you decompress it, there will be a folder with the PDF, epub (for iBooks) and mobi (for Kindle) files. If you buy from the Kindle store, you’ll just get the Kindle book. If you buy from the iBooks store, you’ll just get the epub version. And if you buy the package deal, you’ll get the three formats plus links to download three audio guided meditations that I’ve recorded.

Q: Is there a print version? What about an audiobook version?.

A: No, sorry. This is only being released as an ebook.

Q: I bought the package, but where are the audio files?.

A: Open the “Read me” PDF file in the folder you downloaded … there are links to download the audio files in the Read me PDF.

Q: Did you do the design yourself?.

A: No, I wish! The cover was designed by Dave of Spyre, and the interior was designed by Shawn Mihalik.

Q: I’m hugely disappointed and want my money back!.

A: I’m sorry to hear that. There’s a 100% money back guarantee on all my books. Just email support@zenhabits.net and we’ll give you a full refund. I don’t want unhappy customers.

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An Overlooked Factor in Creating Positive Change

By Leo Babauta

I’ve created more positive changes in the last 11 years than I can count: from health and fitness to mindfulness and happiness; from productivity and finance to clutter and relationships.

There are lots of factors that are incredibly important in creating any positive change: starting small, taking small steps all along the way, finding motivation and accountability, finding the support of people around you (or finding it online), learning to mindfully notice your urges to quit.

These are all super important. But there’s another factor that most people overlook: how you feel about the change.

This is what I’ve learned in the decade-plus since I’ve been doing this, for myself and helping other people:

  • If you’re not in the mood to take the small steps you need to make the change, you’ll probably procrastinate. Same if you’re overly tired.
  • If you feel excited about the change, you’ll take the steps.
  • If you miss a couple of days, you feel discouraged and are likely to not even want to think about it. We’re very good at avoiding thinking about uncomfortable things.
  • If you can keep the good feeling going, you’ll form a habit or make the change you want to make.
  • Other people can be discouraging, or they can be encouraging. This makes a lot of difference.
  • We ourselves can talk to ourselves (in our heads, what I call “self talk”) in a positive, encouraging way, or we can talk to ourselves in a negative, discouraging way.
  • It’s easy to get stuck in a negative mood, where you just don’t think you can do it and give up caring. Our minds tend towards the negative. We put up resistance whenever we think about making changes.
  • It’s also possible to get into a positive track, where you’re feeling great about the changes and want to keep going. This is amazing. But it doesn’t always last forever, so you have to be mindful of how you’re feeling.

You can see from all of the above how important your attitude is, your mood, your feeling about the change. You can see that it’s affected by how you’re feeling each day, your tiredness and stress levels, how encouraging or discouraging other people are toward you, and how you talk to yourself.

So putting all that together, let’s talk about some actions you can take to get better at this overlooked skill.

How to Be Awesome at Feeling Awesome

It’s not possible to always feel positive and upbeat. I don’t even recommend it — lots of us try to block out or avoid any negative feelings whatsoever, and this means we’re rejecting a whole range of feelings. I used to buy into this idea, but now I let myself feel down. I let myself feel discouraged, sad, frustrated, irritated — and accept these parts of myself instead of rejecting them.

That said, you can take actions to put yourself in the mood for positive changes. It’s helpful to be mindful of your mood and what effect it has on you.

Here are some actions you can take:

  • Practice mindfulness of your feelings and self talk. When you’re procrastinating or resisting taking steps you know you should take, turn inward and notice how you’re feeling. Are you tired, discouraged, stressed? Are you saying things like “I can do it later” or “I deserve a break”? Become aware of what’s going on inside and how it’s affecting you.
  • Be accepting of your mood. Instead of rejecting or avoiding your discouraged feelings, just stay with them. Be a good friend to them. Notice that you’re having a hard time, and give yourself love. In this way, you develop a trust in yourself, and you see that the mood isn’t anything to panic about, it’s just a passing feeling.
  • Learn what puts you in a positive mood. By practicing mindfulness, you can see that some activities get you in a funk, while others might make you feel great. For me, going for a walk or doing a workout always make me feel great. Taking a shower, having a cup of tea, and meditating are other great ones for me.
  • Find encouragement. Surround yourself with people who will support you, hold your feet to the fire, give you positive vibes. When you have a friend like this, hang out with them more. Negative people, hang out with them less. I’ve found they just drag me down. Look to online communities if necessary.
  • Be mindful when you miss a couple days. This is a danger zone, I’ve found. Missing a day is no big deal, but missing two days often feels discouraging and people quit at this point. Ask friends for help if you’ve missed two days. Take the smallest step to get moving again.
  • Take small positive steps. When I’m in a funk, the smallest positive steps are all I need to get myself in a positive mood for taking more small positive steps. Identify the smallest step you can take, and put everything you have into it.
  • Be forgiving. You’ll mess up. We all do. That’s OK — it’s not a straight, linear process, but a messy one. There’s learning, there’s missteps, there’s lots of starts and stops. That’s how life works, be less attached to doing it perfectly and instead grateful to be doing it at all.
  • Find joy in every step. You’re not doing this to get to some great destination at the end. Each positive step can be a joy in itself, a place to smile and breathe and find gratitude. What a wonderful thing to be where you are!

In the end, none of this is easy. But by shining a light on this process, we can take it from an overlooked area that’s holding us back, to something we explore with curiosity and wonder.

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