This appendix is a quick reference of the key concepts in this book, along with an outline for the Habit Plan I’ve asked you to create in this book.
Mind Movie: The story, ideals, expectations, plans, goals, fantasies that are playing in our minds most of the time. This movie is something we’re often unaware of, but comparing reality to this movie (and having reality come up short) is a major cause of our frustrations, stress, procrastination, and fears. Try to see your Mind Movie: what ideal do you have of the new habit, and how realistic is this?
Childish Mind: The part of your mind that wants things to be easy and comfortable, and will try to avoid change, get out of discomfort, procrastinate on difficult tasks.
Create Space: Pick one small habit, and give it focus in your life.
Make it easy: Make your habit ridiculously easy — just take one small step.
Make a Vow: Find a deeper reason for making your change, such as out of love for someone else, or not wasting this dewlike life, so that you won’t give up so easily when your Childish Mind rebels against discomfort.
Rhythm of a heartbeat: Attach your habit to a trigger, which is an event in your regular routine that occurs right before the habit. You’re going to develop a heartbeat rhythm over time, a double pulse, so that when the trigger happens, you’ll immediately do the habit.
Create a groove: Set up roadblocks and incentives to keep yourself on the new habit path you’ve chosen. These include little rewards, enjoying the habit, having an accountability partner or group, setting up consequences.
Create reminders: Set up physical and digital reminders so that you don’t forget to do the habit once the trigger happens.
The Greased Slope: Create accountability for your habit, and consequences for not doing your habit, so that you’ll stay on track.
Take the first step: A small step that’s easy, because movement begets movement.
Create positive feedback loops: Make your habit social, and be mindful as you do the habit.
The spotlight of mindfulness: It helps us see things that are normally in the dark — our discomfort, our resistance, the beauty of the moment as it is.
The mirror of change is self-reflection: It deepens our learning and helps us to correct our course when we’ve made mistakes. This adjustment based on feedback is crucial. Start a one-sentence journal to create the tool of self-reflection.
Grow a Plant: Don’t attach to the outcomes of your habit, but focus on the environment you create, the effort and intention you put into it and enjoying the process.
Shine a light on invisible urges: These urges act in the dark recesses of our minds. Use mindfulness to watch these urges and not be beholden to them.
Noisy Children: The things that we’re resisting, that are irritating or frustrating us … these are things to be appreciated, just like noisy children when we’re meditating. See every frustration as a noisy child, something you can find appreciation and gratitude for.
Lace up your shoes: When you’re not feeling like doing the habit, find the smallest possible version of the habit (like just lacing up your shoes when you don’t feel like running). This is your Minimum Viable Habit — just do that on the days you feel resistance and call it a success.
Passing clouds: Our resistance, our frustration, our feelings of loss, our urges, our anger … these are all passing clouds. You can watch them float by and know that they will eventually pass completely. They are separate from you and temporary.
Plum blossoms: A reminder that everything is impermanent … and that this is beautiful. Embrace the transience of everything in life, including yourself, your relationships, your life. See the beauty in change. Let go of holding onto the way you want things to be.
The beauty of the mountains: A reminder not to be focused on the destination, while missing out on the beauty of the present moment.
Flow of water (vs. train tracks): Instead of letting yourself get derailed when things change, adopt a flow mentality, and flow around changes. When an obstacle gets in your way, just flow around it.
Habit Sprints: A method for improving your Habit Plan over time (see Habit Plan Template below), by doing the habit in week-long stints and then doing a review at the end of the week. The review is the key to the method. If you review your week and you had obstacles, add potential solutions to those obstacles to your Habit Plan, and the habit will then evolve to be better and better over time.
The Heart of Any Problem: Every problem we face is essentially the same — it’s our Childish Mind clinging to the Mind Movie. If we can loosen up on this attachment, and accept and appreciate reality as it is, we can deal with any situation (see Zen Habits Method below).
The Zen Habits Method
For dealing with any life changes, loss, illness, frustrations with others, unhappiness with ourselves:
- Spotlight: Be mindfully in the moment.
- Plum Blossoms: See everything as change (impermanence), and embrace it.
- Create a Space: Deal with things as they come, one at a time.
- Mind Movie: Don’t be attached to expectations and ideals.
- Grow a Plant: Focus on Intentions, without attachment to Outcomes.
- Childish Mind: Let go of the Self that wants the ideals.
- See the Mountains: With Appreciation and Gratitude.
- Dewlike Life: Don’t waste a moment.
The Habit Plan Template
- Start date:
- Specific habit:
- Review dates:
- Asking for support:
- Potential obstacles:
- Who will you share the plan with?
More Advanced (you can add these later)
These aren’t necessary to put in the plan right away, but if you have any problems, be sure to address these in your reviews.
- Ensure that you start:
- Mindful reward:
- Make sure you don’t miss 2 days:
- Deal with disruptions:
- Cope with stress, boredom, loneliness, tiredness, sadness:
- Socialize the habit:
- Removing temptations:
The Habit Plan Template, Quit Plan, and other resources can be found on the Resources page.