Posted: 05 Aug 2013 08:06 AM PDT
By Leo Babauta
When I reflect back on how much happier I am these days compared to my life about 8 years ago, I realize it’s not all a result of better habits (though that’s a part of it).
Here’s what I’ve changed that makes me happier:
Most of the time, that is.
In other words, I’ve developed a flexible mind.
This is one of the best changes I’ve made, because it gives me more peace of mind and happiness. It took some time to develop this mental habit, and I’ll share with you here why and how I did it.
Why Develop Flexible Mind
The root cause of frustration, irritation, anger, sadness is an inflexible mind — one that wants to hold onto the way we wish things were, the ideas we're comfortable with. When things don't go this way, we are then frustrated, angry, sad.
So developing a flexible mind is a way to be open to anything, happy with change, prepared for any situation. Think about it: if there's a major disruption in your life, it's only a bad thing because you're holding onto the way you wish things could be, what you're comfortable with. If you let go of that wish, the change isn't bad. It's just different, and in fact it could be good if you embrace it and see the opportunity.
It's about developing the ability to cope with change, to be flexible, to simplify.
How: Small Practices
You don’t develop flexible mind overnight — your mind isn’t as easy to change as your outfit. You have to develop mental habits with small changes, consistently over time.
Repeat however many times you like during the week, or a minimum of once a day.
Please note that you will not be perfect at this when you start. It's a difficult skill to learn, because we have emotional patterns that have built up over the years. It's good enough to become more aware of it, and to attempt this method once a day. Be flexible in your desire to get this exactly right. Practice it when you remember for the rest of the year.
Retreat: Flexible Mind, Flexible Heart
In September, I’m holding a retreat with S.F. Zen Center president Susan O’Connell called Flexible Mind, Flexible Heart: How to be Happy at Work.
It’ll be held Sept. 6-9, 2013 at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, a lovely retreat area near Santa Cruz, California. Tassajara has a meditation hall, hot springs, a river and hiking trails, very simple accommodations and wonderful vegetarian food.
Space is limited, so if you’re interested, sign up here.
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