1-Sentence-Summary: Everyday Zen explains the philosophy of a meaningful life and teaches you how to reinvent yourself by accepting the grand wisdom and energy of the universe and learning to sit still, have more compassion, love more, and find beauty in your life.
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Favorite quote from the author:
Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck – what is that? Beck only began studying Zen at 48, but she believes it to be the philosophy of living a meaningful life. In her book, she explores the power of living in the present, becoming more grounded, and dealing with problems by accepting them first.
Mastering this philosophy will transform the way you live and relate to your experience on earth. By focusing more on your spiritual self and the bigger picture rather than material things and everyday ups and downs, you’ll become happier. You’ll see it takes a lifetime of living to get to your highest potential and therefore stress less.
Let’s start with three of my favorite lessons from the book:
- To become Zen, you must learn to love and accept your fate.
- Learn the difference between decisions and problems to alleviate negative emotions in your life.
- Death is crucial to life and acknowledging that can bring you a lot of peace.
Now, we’ll dig deep into each lesson and scoop out all the valuable insights they have to offer. Here we go!
Lesson 1: Groundedness and loving your life are the key to a Zen state-of-mind.
Similar to the Stoic philosophy, being Zen promotes loving your fate and the present moment. Living by some self-imposed standards that you inherit from society and the expectations that come with the conventional definition of success will only hurt you in the long run. Instead, work on being happy with what you currently have and loving your fate. Why? Because even if you don’t, it won’t change a thing.
You’re still going to be living in the same body, having the same soul, traits, and the life you’re living. Therefore, why not choose to love it and decide that your life is more about the “right here right now”, rather than “when x will happen, then I’ll be happy”? At the end of the day, it’s truly just a matter of choice, of perception, and the more you work on your mind and the way you relate to your experience, the more you’ll enjoy life.
In the process, you’ll encounter hardship, such as discomfort, sickness, negative emotions, and many other challenges. However, as soon as you learn to accept those as a natural part of human development, life, and your present moment, the less they’ll affect you. Therefore, this is the key to becoming Zen, or unbothered in the life journey you’re enjoying every day, just as it is.
Lesson 2: Make problems turn into decisions, instead of making decisions turn into problems.
From the moment we wake up, to the moment we fall asleep, life is all about making choices. However, many of us relate to those decisions as problems. Whether we like it or not, we’re going to have to face them anyway. Imagine how your life would look if every day you woke up you’d be upset with the fact that you have to choose whether to eat breakfast or brush your teeth first.
So if the nature of life implies decision-making, why get upset with the big ones? You have to brush your teeth, or you have to move to a different city. At the end of the day, they’re decisions to be made. Start your day with the premise that you’ll make decisions, and lots of them. Turn this into your mindset and acknowledge that as a universal truth about life, and when you’re faced with decisions of greater importance, hold on to this idea.
Why? Because even if you don’t, you’ll still have to go through the process, make a final choice, and go through with it, and it’ll happen many times in your life. Eventually, all of us have to answer questions like: “Where will I live?”, “Who am I going to share my life with?”, “What will I do for a living?” – and so, there is no need to add extra pressure to these decisions by turning them into problems or losing sleep over them.
The lesson here is to stop turning decisions into problems, but rather view them the opposite way. You don’t have problems, you have decisions to make and live with.
Lesson 3: Impermanence is just another word for perfection.
Practicing Zen comes with acknowledging that everything, from the flowers in your garden to your life, is impermanent. The circle of life comes with birth, growth, and death, and that’s the beauty of it. Just as you’re reading this, cells in your body are dying to leave room for new cells to form. Instead of fearing and opposing this natural part of life, why not accept it and live with it? Doing so will bring you a lot of peace of mind, along with a feeling of contentment.
Just think about it – without the death of plants and animals, there would be no debris, buildup, mud, and room for new ones to grow. The same goes with forest fires, and eventually, with us, humans. Destruction and death allow for life to recharge and restart. Therefore, Zen implies a state of renunciation. Acknowledge the beauty in the fact that time goes by and leaves room for death and rebirth behind, and that everything eventually passes – but in a good way! Everything you’ll do, good or bad, will eventually be forgotten. Therefore, you can either live your life in fear or live it fully and unapologetically.
Truth be told, there’s a lot of hope in the idea of death. Not in a macabre way, but in a way that gives you strength to pursue your peace, your purpose, and the life you desire. Therefore, according to the author, impermanence is synonymous with perfection, because it determines you to find new beginnings, accept the nature of life, make peace with time passing by, and leave no trace behind eventually, allowing you to live your best life.
Everyday Zen Review
Everyday Zen explores the idea of living a meaningful, peaceful, fulfilling life by embracing the idea of Zen. By delving into concepts such as death, love, and the grand energy of the universe, the book offers its readers a wider perspective on life and a way to live more meaningfully. Reading this book will make you feel more grounded and in touch with yourself and the life you were born into by teaching you how to accept your fate and make peace with everything that comes in your life.
Who would I recommend the Everyday Zen summary to?
The over-stressed 40-year-old person who can’t find balance in their life, the 35-year-old person who wants to discover how to live in Zen, or the 70-year-old person who feels like they want to explore their spiritual side in depth.
Last Updated on October 5, 2022