How To Live a Zen Lifestyle

There's good reason to live a zen lifestyle. Consider what a life of peace and calm and no stress would look like.

What would you give for a simple, calm mind?

Many people would spend copious amounts of money to achieve such a life.

The thing is, you don't need to live in a cave as a monk to live a zen life. Living a zen way of life is available to everyone right now regardless of the situation. It comes down to choice first then practice second.

In this article, I'm going to give you some ways to think about your own life and how you could build your own version of a zen lifestyle.

First, let's define Zen.

Zen is a school of Buddhism that originated in China. It focuses on self-restraint, meditation, mindfulness, and the nature of things.

Here are some zen quotes you can use to start thinking about how to build a zen lifestyle for yourself.

When thoughts arise, then do all things arise. When thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish.-Huang Po
“Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish your opinions.”-Seng-ts' an

So you aren't here because you need a philosophy lesson. Instead, you're interested in bringing calm into your life os you can live with peace of mind and calm. You are looking to build a zen way of life.

Is this possible without an intense study of philosophy?

100%, yes.

But studying the great thinkers of the past can help you tremendously.

Personally, I like interpreting quotes and translating those into my own thoughts. I find this my best way to understand the subject matter without reading large academic texts.

So we will look at some ways to build a zen way of living by analyzing zen quotes.

“To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.”

  • Bodhidharma

If all you did was remain in the present, you would end much of your suffering. Most stress is rooted in the past or future.

Consider that a moment. Think about the things that bother you, upset you, stress you out. Now realize that every single one of them is based on something from the past or something that may or may not happen in the future.

To truly remove suffering, you want to be as in the moment as possible.

It is outside the scope of this article, but I highly recommend you spend time looking into a basic mediation practice.

Zen lifestyle principle: remove judgment.

“Wise men don't judge – they seek to understand.”-Wei Wu Wei

Removing judgment is one o the best things you can do for life happiness and satisfaction.

Think about how much time is wasted on judging other people.

Humans are prone to this because it kept our ancestors safe and thriving thousands of years ago. But now we live with billions of other humans all around us, so we are not adapted to constantly have to form decisions about other people. This requires a lot of energy, and so many people end up using simple heuristics to quickly label people and fit them into a neat little box.

This is obviously prone to error, considering it uses shallow level data points to form a conclusion.

You want to avoid all of that as much as possible. Don't even play the game. Detach completely from a need to judge at all.

I've found that small minds are always seeking to label things. Great minds don't do that, probably because they have figured out the futility of it both in energy waste and in the closed-mindedness it promotes.

Zen lifestyle principle: simplify

To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss. -Bodhidharma

The minimalist movement has grown in recent years. This is due to the overstimulated and overabundant consumerist society we live in.

All of this constant new flashy nonsense takes a tool. It takes a toll on our mental health.

Our ever-connected digital lives create negative effects on our mental health. We have become addicted to the new and novel, to a constant supply of dopamine triggering bits of content. This has made it so that when we aren't plugged in, we get a consistent form of low-level anxiety as if we are missing out on everything that's going on (FOMO).

Technology has made us impatient, polarized, radicalized, to name a few side effects.

The problems of society like America are problems of abundance, not scarcity.

We have too much of everything, and that's why we run into problems.

A huge step in the right direction for building a calm and peaceful zen way of life is keeping things simple.

Consider selling all your extra stuff, especially if any of it has value.

Stop buying new things you don't need. Repair things rather than throwing them away. Etc.

This also happens to be great advice for your personal finances. Who woulda thought a zen lifestyle would be good for your bank account?


Zen lifestyle principle: cultivate calmness

"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone."–Alan Watts

The noble-minded are calm and steady. Little people are forever fussing and fretting. Confucius

We respect the stoic resolve of the individual that is calm under pressure.

We all want to be like that. We all want to respond unemotionally, with calm, when someone tries to rile us up.

We always think about the things we should have said—or shouldn't have said–after the fact.

We kick ourselves because we didn't think of that earlier.

Calm under pressure takes practice. It does not come easily. You can take baby steps in your everyday life by recognizing opportunists for practicing your calm muscle.

When you're driving in traffic if someone cuts you off take it as an opportunity to say nothing. Take a breath. Let it go. Don't respond.

If you do this enough, you'll get to a point where most things won't get to you. This will give you a huge advantage in daily life since you won't be beholden to the same whims of life that most people are.

Things are always going to happen, so we might as well be the best we can be at responding to them.

Additional ways to build a zen lifestyle way of living

  1. Read up on Buddhism to find other ideas to support your zen perspective.
  2. Read the Stoics to help you remain calm and unresponsive when things don't go your way
  3. Listen to philosophy youtube videos and podcasts as well as other related topics like minimalism, stoicism, etc.

Life is a short process.

You and I will never know when our day has come. This is why it is imperative to invest time into a zen practice so that we can eliminate much of the suffering that comes with living.

We will never become completely zen, and that's ok. What we can do is constantly learn and evolve and get better at practicing Zen.

That's the key to a zen lifestyle.