Say welcome to a small new habit during Advent

The end of one year, and the beginning of a new one, is always a good time to take stock, but not an easy time to do so. Diaries get packed with social engagements, deadlines, and travel. The Zen-Buddhism concept of simplicity truly helps to get started with simple, small steps and to make changes last.

Making changes to a complex life needs to be easy

Any decision to change one’s life, in such a complex context, needs to be extremely simple and easy to follow. Zen Buddhism is predicated on principles of simplicity. Leo Babauta explains it with characteristic minimalism in his blogpost

Start with a small, single change

In order to make any change in one’s life—whether it’s to get out of debt, become fit enough to run a marathon, or get on better with your family—he says, start with a single change. It should be small; not a goal, but a tiny first step. It could be to run for ten minutes; to spend two minutes drawing; to prepare a healthy work lunch for one day a week or to spend one family evening without a mobile device. It could be to stay in hard conversations for a moment after you want to leave, and spend that moment trying to listen.

Turn changes into habits

Babauta advises that to turn changes into habits, it’s important to make the change tiny, and let it embed: he suggests making one change every four to six weeks. Having experimented on himself, he also advises addressing one thing at a time, rather than trying to solve problems simultaneously.

A series of small steps makes it possible

He’s boiled down all his teachings into a series of steps that you can apply to make any change, no matter what your situation”:

  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.

Don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged

The beauty of the method is that its smallness removes the problems that result from many self-help recommendations and resolutions: too often they leave people quickly overwhelmed by the task in hand, or swamped by a sense of failure. The change should be so small it’s not hard to do. What takes rigor, for people drenched in stimuli and commitments, is identifying something that is truly small enough.

Start your own daily journal with DAYCATCHER Digital Diary.

Keeping a diary with DAYCATCHER helps to record and process experiences in depth and to record very extensive chains of associations with a date, picture, title and text. When you read your catch later, you remember again how the whole day felt experienced with all senses. But it also leads to the fact that one consciously seeks to enrich the daily routine, the everyday life with new experiences, because just these lead to new positive memories. Even into old age.