Monday, October 17, 2011

Zen Habits: How I Changed My Life, In Four Lines

This original post was written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. In this post, he showed how changing one's life can start with small, baby steps, just taking one step at a time. I believe in taking small, baby steps.  Since he has released his copyrights (read here) for all his posts and allowed it to be copied and be reproduced, etc., I have taken the liberty to reproduce it here (in its original form) to share with my readers.

Original Post written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits:
‘What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.’ ~ C. S. Lewis
Changing your life can seem an incredibly tough and complicated thing, especially if you’ve failed a great number of times (like I did), found it too hard, and resigned yourself to not changing.

But I found a way to change.

And I’m not any better than anyone else, not more disciplined, not more motivated.  I just learned a few simple principles that changed my life.

I’ve written about them many times, but realized they’re spread out all over the site.

Here is how I changed my life, in a nutshell.

The four lines you’re looking for are at the bottom.

How I Started Running

In 2005 I was sedentary, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make exercise a regular habit.  At the end of 2006, not only was I running very regularly, I finished my first marathon. These days I can run a half marathon race at the drop of a hat, have run several marathons.

How did I do it? I started with just 10 minutes of running a day. I focused not on how hard it was, but how much I enjoyed the movement and the outdoors. I increased slowly, until I could run 15 minutes, then 20, and later a couple hours. I was grateful for every run I was able to take.

I got healthier, fitter, slimmer, happier.

How I Started Eating Healthier
In 2005 I was overweight, and addicted to junk food. I ate fast food, chips and cookies, fried meats, anything fatty or sweet or salty … and I had no idea how to change. Today, I am 70 lbs. lighter, I eat almost all whole, real foods (almost nothing processed), I eat a sweet treat now and then but am happier eating healthy food.

How did I change? I started with small changes like drinking more water, eating more fruits and veggies, cooking at home more and preparing my lunches for work. One at a time. I gradually improved my diet, eventually cleared my fridge and pantry of junk, and stopped going to fast food places. I found healthy foods I really loved. I was grateful for every delicious healthy meal I ate.

I felt better about myself, trimmed down, and feel great every single day.

How I Got Out of Debt
In 2005, I was way over my head in debt — it was so bad, I had creditors calling me, and I would ignore my phone calls. I struggled to make it paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes didn’t even make it — I had to borrow money from friends and family. It was one of the most stressful times of my life. At the end of 2007, I celebrated with my wife Eva when we paid off our last debt and were free!

How did I do it?  I started one little change at a time: I started cutting back on expenses a little, saving a little at a time, paying off the little debts and then the bigger debts, found some breathing room, and saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I gradually changed my financial habits and got into better shape. I was grateful for every debt paid off, every dollar saved, every inch of breathing room.

I’m debt free and will never go back. It’s the most liberating thing ever.

And On and On
I was planning on writing the same capsules for how I decluttered and simplified my possessions, how I started focusing and accomplishing more, how I turned my passion into a living, and so on … but the truth is, the story starts to repeat itself.

I used the same principles, over and over. More on that in the nutshell below.

And Then I Gave Up Goals
About two years ago, I started to give up goals. Just as an experiment.

It turns out, I could still accomplish the same kinds of things, but I just didn’t plan it out. Instead, I just followed the same principles (more on those below). They still work, even without goals.

People say I can give up goals because I’ve already accomplished a lot … but the truth is, I can give up goals because I have learned a few things that work, and realized they work with or without goals. And if you follow these things, you can change your life, with or without goals.

The Nutshell Principles
So what are the principles that changed my life, repeatedly?

If you read the brief stories above, you already know:

1. Start very small.
2. Do only one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be grateful for every step you take.

In programming, this is called an algorithm. It’s a series of steps that you can apply to make any change, no matter what your situation.

It works. This is the Zen Habits method, the Change Your Life App, in four lines. I hope it helps.

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits
My gratitude to Leo Babauta for his generosity in allowing his posts to be copied.  Something good just have to be shared.

Leo Babauta is a simplicity blogger and author.  He created Zen Habits which is a Top 25 blog with over 200,000 subscribers,, and his best-selling books focus, The Power of Less, and Zen to Done.  He is a former journalist of 18 years and lives in San Francisco with his family.

He has awakened me to many simple, basic principles in life which I've forgotten or have been ignorant of. I hope that you too will find these life tips useful and will apply them in your life.

You can visit Leo Babauta's original post here.

What do you say? Do you think this will work for you?

P.S.  This sounds serious, doesn't it?  I'll post something funny for the next one, ok?  Look out for it on Wednesday.


  1. :)

    If you want you can join the giveaway!

  2. Hey Asni! Come by my blog when you can, my latest post includes you :)


Thank you for reading me and for leaving your comments. I appreciate each and every one of them. Much love and joy to you! Namaste!