Friday, November 4, 2016

The Way to Finding Powerful Human Connection

By Leo Babauta

As I write this, I’m sitting in cloud-filled rainforest at a retreat in Ecuador, surrounded by the calls of thousands of tropical birds and creatures, dense lush greenery, and some of the most open-hearted human beings I’ve ever met.

Before I came here, I had some anxiety about meeting everyone, worried what they might think of me, worried that I would be awkward at talking to everyone or not fit in. This anxiety made me not want to come. That would have been a huge mistake.

I realized that I was telling myself a story about how bad I am at public speaking, at meeting new people, about how unworthy I am of others liking me. This story was not helpful, and was getting in the way of me doing something with the potential to be amazing. So I asked myself if it was definitely true, and the answer was, “I don’t know.”

That “I don’t know” scares me. I decided I had to look at the “I don’t know” in a different way — so I told myself instead, “I don’t know, and I would love to find out. Who knows what I’ll discover?”

This helped me to get on the plane, and then I was forced to meet an entire group of 24 strangers. And I could see them as 24 people who were potentially going to judge me … or I could see them as fellow human beings, who have aspirations and who struggle, who have love for others and frustration and anger, who want to be better people and who are disappointed in themselves that they are not, who want to make a difference in the world and feel guilty that they procrastinate, who are beautiful but who judge themselves, who are so different from me in many wonderful ways but who at their core have the same tender heart of humanity beating with strength and fragility, just like me.

I met them, and smiled. I felt the anxiety coming up again, but I turned with curiosity to them. I felt myself wanting to run away and be alone and comfortable, but I tried to find their aspirations and struggles.

I opened my heart to them, and they came in with kindness. And changed me. And made the effort of overcoming my fear and anxiety of being judged and failing completely worth the effort, a thousand times over.

Human connection is not so common in our age of connectivity. We see lots of people but find our little cucoons to hide in. We don’t realize we’re craving a deeper connection with others until we find it.

It’s hard to connect, because cultural norms get in the way — we’re supposed to talk about the weather and sports and the news, but not our deepest struggles. We’re supposed to say cool or witty things, but not share our greatest hopes for our lives or the person we want to become.

It’s hard, but human connection is one of the most powerful forces available to us. We don’t realize we thirst for it, but we do, and the thirst is deep. When I find real human connection, it nourishes my soul, changes me, moves me to tears. I can’t count how many times I’ve cried this week. My heart feels raw, in a way that opens it up to further connection.

So how do we connect, when it’s so hard? I’d like to share some thoughts:

  • Put yourself in a place with people with your interests. This retreat is filled with people trying to change their lives and interested in mindfulness. That’s such a rare thing, to be with a group of people like this, but we each made the intentional choice to come here. Find a group like that — at a small conference, a retreat, group meetings, a running club, a tech meetup, anything. Do some online searches for ideas, but say yes to at least one.
  • Overcome your resistance. I always find resistance to meeting up with people, and big resistance to coming to give a presentation and meeting with a bunch of strangers. The resistance can keep us from ever getting out of our comfort zones. Don’t let it. The benefit of connection is so much greater than the resistance that you should push through it.
  • Smile, and be curious. When you meet these scary strangers, open yourself up. Smile, ask them about themselves, try to find out more. People often appreciate a good listener, and questions can start a conversation and keep it going.
  • Share when you can. While listening is better than talking, I’ve found that when I can be vulnerable and share my fears and struggles, people feel they can do the same. This is when you make a real connection, getting below the surface. It takes a little skill to know when you can open up, and how much you can share — you don’t want to share your deepest secrets as soon as you meet, but you can slowly open up, as the other person does the same. Some people are not comfortable opening up, so don’t push it too deep or expect everyone to want to make this kind of connection, but be open to it.
  • Open your heart. These are other human beings in front of you — and they have tender hearts and pain and hope just like you do. Open your heart and see who you find in front of you and appreciate who you find. Be yourself, and trust that you are worthy of others’ love as well. Let others in. Give hugs.
  • Connect in groups and one-on-one. If you’re at a conference or in a big group of 20 or more people, it can be hard to really find connection. I much prefer one-on-one, so I’ll try to turn to someone and start a private conversation if they’re open to it, getting to know them better. I also value small group conversations, from three to six people, and think they can be great bonding experiences and a lot of fun.
  • Don’t hide in your phone. Many of us have the tendency these days to use our phones when we’re in crowded public spaces, but when you’re going somewhere (like a conference) that has a lot of people, it’s a big mistake to shut yourself off. Instead, seek interaction, even if you feel awkward about it. I like to start off with a simple question, or sometimes with a simple joke that diffuses the tension.
  • Practice makes you better and more comfortable at it. I’m certainly not the world’s best conversationalist, nor the most comfortable talking in a group. However, I’m better now than I have been in the past, because I’ve been purposefully practicing over the last decade or so. I still have a long way to go. But it’s amazing to see the progress I’ve made, and the more I do it, the less nervous I get.
  • Use each other do dive deeper and find clarity. If you can have good one-on-one conversations, or even small group talks, challenge each other to go deeper into your struggles and challenges, aspirations and life purposes. You’ll often find a lot of clarity in these talks.
  • Use each other for continued support. I often offer to give someone accountability if they say they’ve been struggling to deal with a habit. Or if we’re both struggling with something, we might try to support each other’s efforts to overcome the struggle in the near future.
  • Make an effort to keep in touch. If you make a real human connection, find a way to keep up the conversation, and even meet again in person if it’s possible. If it’s not possible, make a skype date so you can talk face-to-face.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor to be any kind of expert. I still get nervous and awkward. But these ideas have helped me, and I hope they help you. Because simple connections with wonderful human beings have changed my life this week, and the power of the love from these connections has left me completely devastated.

from zen habits

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Soaking in the Wonder of the Emerging Moment

By Leo Babauta

Lately I’ve been using the image of an empty cup to find a more peaceful state of mind.

One of the most peaceful, meditative states is when you’re just open to noticing what’s around you and happening in the present moment. You’re just receiving the world around you (yourself included), soaking in the light, colors, shapes, sounds, touch sensations, just noticing.

When you’re completely open to noticing this moment, it can be amazing — you notice things you wouldn’t have if you were in your normal dream state, you start to appreciate little details of everything around you. Most of us miss this almost all of the time. We all walk around in a trance, thinking about what we need to do, spinning stories about what’s happening.

Here’s the thing: if our minds are full of thoughts and stories already, we actually can’t notice the present moment. We can’t see what’s all around us, when we’re caught up in our normal dreamlike state.

You can’t fill a cup up with the present moment, when it’s already full.

So I have been practicing emptying out my cup.

I notice that I have an emotional state or story that has filled my mind and is blocking me from noticing what’s in front of me.

I let all of that flow out of the cup of my mind.

And then I soak in the present moment, noticing the physical sensations of everything around me. Noticing my body and how it feels. Noticing what’s flowing through my mind.

Then, of course, I get caught up in my thoughts again. When I notice this, I empty my cup. I soak in the moment. Then once again, I get caught up, I empty my cup, I soak in the moment.

Over and over, I empty my cup. And that leaves me open to whatever is happening right now, the wonder-filled beauty and joy of the emerging moment.

from zen habits

Friday, October 28, 2016

Relax Into the Moment

By Leo Babauta

You might be surprised how often we’re resisting life.

If you assess your body right now, I bet you can find some kind of tension or tightness. For me, it’s often in my chest, but sometimes it’s in my jaw, face, neck or shoulders.

Where does this tightness come from? We’re struggling against something — perhaps we’re irritated by someone, frustrated by something, stressed or overwhelmed by all we have to do, or just don’t like whatever it is we’re faced with. This causes a resistance, a hardening or tightening. Everyone does it, most of the day.

It’s normal, but it causes unhappiness, an aversion to the present moment, struggles with other people or ourselves, struggles with the task we’re faced with. What I’ve found useful is the idea of relaxing into the moment.

Try this:

  • Notice where the tension is in your body right now.
  • Notice what you’re tightening against — it might be someone else, or whatever it is you’re faced with.
  • Relax the tightness. Just let yourself melt.
  • Face the same situation, but with a relaxed, friendly attitude.

And repeat as often as you can remember, throughout the day. Just use the phrase “relax into the moment” to remind yourself.

What this does is helps us to face the day with less tension and greater contentment. We struggle less with how other people are, and instead might open our hearts to them and see that they, like us, are struggling and want to be happy.

We might face a task with less resistance, and instead do it with a smile. We might just notice the physical space around us and start to appreciate it for the unique gift that it is. And in the end, we’re changing our mode of being from one of struggle and resistance to one of peace and gratitude.

from zen habits

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Little Changes Can Make a Huge Difference

By Leo Babauta

When I’m feeling down, I make a list of what’s contributing to the down-ness:

  • Didn’t get enough sleep
  • Overwhelmed by too much to do
  • Not exercising or eating well
  • Got in an argument with someone
  • Feeling uncertainty about something

So there might be five different factors contributing to a funk. That’s a lot of things to deal with at once, and so it can be depressing to think about all the things I need to fix in order to feel better.

I can’t fix everything at once, so I just start with one step. I meditate for a couple minutes.

Then I take on another step: I make a list of what I need to do. Pick a few I can do today. A few I can do tomorrow. Vow to focus on the first one on the list.

Another step: go for a walk, get my body moving.

Then another step: talk to the person I had an argument with, in a loving, compassionate way.

Suddenly, with these small steps, I’m starting to feel better.

I spend a little time with my son, playing with him, reading with him.

I take a nap.

I eat a healthy meal.

I meditate on my uncertainty, staying with it as long as I can, with compassion and friendliness.

I go to bed early, and try to get a good night’s sleep.

I focus on one small work task at a time.

And with each step, my mood improves. One step at a time, I help myself feel better.

These are small steps, taken one at a time, with as much presence as I can muster. And they make all the difference in the world.

from zen habits

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rings and Handstand Superpack is Now Open (until Friday!)

It’s here! Pop the confetti!


I’m super excited to announce that our new easy-to-follow bodyweight training system — The NF Rings and Handstands Superpack— is now open! 

I’d love for you to check it out and decide if it’s right for you! We’ll be showing you, step-by-step, how to gain complete control over your body, look like a gymnast, and perform like a Jedi — in your home or at the gym.

handstands-logo rings-logo

Remember Rule #1 of The Rebellion: “We don’t care where you came from, only where you’re going!” Young, old, big, small, male, female, or robot, the skills we’ll teach you in Rings and Handstands Superpack know no bounds, gender, age, or level of artificial intelligence.

We’ll meet you exactly where you’re at — whether you’re a beginner who’s nervous about training with rings or a super-advanced fancy person — and show you how to move your body in ways you never thought possible.

You CAN get in the best shape of your life, starting now. And we can help.

rings and handstands
Here’s just a small taste of what we have waiting for you in the Rings and Handstands Superpack:
  • 80+ HD individual video lessons: We’ll guide you through an effective and fun exercise system using rings and your own bodyweight  — starting with VERY basic exercises that anyone can do — and help you progress to some amazing new moves!
  • An easy-to-follow skill tree system: The problem I’ve found with other bodyweight programs is they don’t actually tell you when to level up to the next step! That’s why we’ve created skill-trees that update as you check them off — so you’ll always know your next step. No matter where you’re starting from, we’ll show you EXACTLY what moves to work on first —and we’ll guide you to the next level in your own time.
  • Professional goofball guidance: Me and Jim (aka Master of the Fitness Universe) walk you through a step-by-step system for building muscle, increasing strength, and losing fat — using only your bodyweight. Jim has 15+ years of experience learning and teaching this stuff.
  • Special Private Bodyweight Training Facebook group: The Nerd Fitness Rebellion rocks. (Of course, you already know this!)  Getting healthy and leveling up your life can at times be a little lonely – especially if you’re training in a different way – but it doesn’t need to be. That’s why you also get access to a special, private “bodyweight training” group where you can ask questions of other jedi-assassin-ninja-robots in training.

Me and the rest of Team Nerd Fitness are so excited to help you get started with these movements. We want to show you how to level up your fitness, get control over how your body moves, and surprise the heck out of yourself and your friends — all in the comfort of your home (or a gym if you prefer).

(Important: This is the ONLY time we’ll ever offer the Rings and Handstands Superpack at one affordable price. It’s open until this Friday at 11:59 PM Pacific — after that, we’re not sure when we’ll release either course again.)

If you want to find out just how much your body is capable of (hint: it’s a LOT), now is the time to act.

Training with a system like this has been one of the greatest surprises I’ve had with for MY personal physique, strength, and happiness. I am a different person now than I was 3 years ago, and training with a system like this been a game changer. I want the same for you.

Jim, Staci, and I can’t wait to hang out with you in the community with this course!

Let’s get weird!


PS- I’m sure you have lots of questions, so I took the liberty of answering a whole bunch of them (including a question about teleportation…) here on this page:  Click to get all the details.

from Blog – Nerd Fitness

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ultralight: The Zen Habits Guide to Traveling Light & Living Light (short read ebook)


By Leo Babauta

I’m excited to announce the latest “short read” ebook that I’ve written: Ultralight: The Zen Habits Guide to Traveling Light & Living Light.

Traveling light has become one of the joys of my life, shedding the extra weight in return for freedom, lightness, and energy.

This book contains my recommendations and methods for:

  • Breezing through airports
  • Cutting back on clothing
  • Minimizing electronics, toiletries, and more
  • Finding restaurants, apartments, recommendations for where to go
  • What you don’t need to pack
  • Developing a flexible mindset
  • My packing list
  • My favorite travel apps
  • Ultralight backpacking
  • And lots more

I also talk about applying these ideas to simplify the rest of your life, in a “living light” section of the book:

  • Living without too much stuff
  • Cutting back on clothing, books, papers, everything else
  • Finding digital simplicity
  • Dealing with the urge to buy

I’ve found that living simply and traveling light are wonderful ways to live, and I hope you’ll find use out of this book as I’ve tried to put as much useful information as I can.

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.

You can buy just the ebook here (in PDF, Kindle & iBooks formats):

Buy the Ebook

But I’ve also created a package with three videos to go along with the ebook:

  1. My favorite travel gear
  2. A packing video that shows what I bring and how I pack it
  3. How I wash clothes simply while traveling

You can buy the package with the video downloads and the ebook in 3 formats here:

Buy the Package


Here’s the table of contents:

Introduction: Why Travel Light? Freedom From Burden
Part I: Ultralight Travel

  • Chapter 1: Traveling Light Isn’t a Competition
  • Chapter 2: What It’s Like to Travel with One Bag
  • Chapter 3: Why We Pack Too Many Clothes, & How to Cut Back
  • Chapter 4: Clothing System
  • Chapter 5: Electronics
  • Chapter 6: Toiletries
  • Chapter 7: Water & Food
  • Chapter 8: What You Don’t Need
  • Chapter 9: Don’t Pack Your Fears
  • Chapter 10: What Bag?
  • Chapter 11: Getting Through Airports
  • Chapter 12: Apartments & Hotels
  • Chapter 13: Getting Around Cities & Where to Go
  • Chapter 14: Longer Trips
  • Chapter 15: Flexible Mind, Flexible Travel
  • Chapter 16: Useful Travel Apps
  • Chapter 17: Travel Miles & Cards
  • Chapter 18: My Packing List
  • Chapter 19: Ultralight Hiking

Part II: Living Lightly

  • Chapter 20: What It’s Like to Live Without Too Much Stuff
  • Chapter 21: Less Clothing
  • Chapter 22: Books & Papers
  • Chapter 23: Less Other Stuff
  • Chapter 24: Electronics & Digital Simplicity
  • Chapter 25: Dealing with the Urge to Buy
  • Chapter 26: A Final Word on Living Lightly

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 should be 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 two chapters, you can download/open the PDF here:

Table of Contents & Sample Chapters


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 companion videos 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 video files?

A: Open the “Read me” PDF file in the folder you downloaded … there are links to download the video 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 and we’ll give you a full refund. I don’t want unhappy customers.

from zen habits