Monday, January 28, 2008

Doing What Needs To Be Done

In Zen Buddhism, we practice focusing on the present moment. If you're eating, then you work on being mindful of each bite and enjoy it completely. If you're walking, you try being mindful of each step, paying attention to your surroundings as you walk.

Applying the same principle to most things in everyday life, the natural side effect, at least as I'm finding it, is a more frequent tendency to do what needs to be done. If I've eaten, I know I have dishes to wash. So I can wash it then, or wash it later. More often now, I find that in being mindful, I just take care of it now. Present moment, productive moment.

Notice I say "more often." There's a part of me that wants to do this in all aspects of life without fail, always doing what needs to be done. I think it's unnecessary to go to that extent, or at least to put any pressure on oneself to do so. You do what you can, and accept that some moments you might decide it's ok to do it later. It's ok.

In most things we do, our habits are shaping every minute who we are. This is unavoidable. What control you have is over what habits you want to cultivate, and what you want to weed out.

A lawn is not ruined with one little flowering weed coming out now and then, moments where you have decided you'll do the chores later. It's what we do most of the time that define us. Being present as much as you can, doing what needs to be done as much as you can, is enough. It'll lead to a happier you.

What do you need to get done today?

Every day we do things, we are things that have to do with peace. If we are aware of our life..., our way of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment, we are alive.

Thich Nhat Hanh

For a good site on cultivating mindful habits see Zen Habits


Blogger keri marion said...

I think that the ideas you've presented here and in PocketChanges in general (along with my own approach to Buddhism) have helped me to succeed in meeting many of my goals, simply by living in the present moment.

If I look outside the present, I keep it relatively close. Like instead of looking for the final end goal, I set up smaller, more quickly attainable goals.

It's like what you're saying in this post.

If I'm drinking a cup of coffee do I think about the end of the cup before I've finished it? Of course not. Do I think about the next cup before I've started it? No way!

I had a professor once who told me he likes to live life the way his dog does: Look, food! Yay! Look, affection, Yay! Look, naps! Yay!

Everything is a Yay! because the dog doesn't expect these things, he's just grateful for them when they arrive. Yay!

Thanks for the post, Jess, and keep readin' that TNH (so I don't have to.. hah)

January 29, 2008 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Journey said...

TNH, Yay!

Glad you're enjoying the posts.

And I agree, Dogs know how to approach life--they're very mindful types!

January 29, 2008 at 11:41 AM  

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