Zen and the Art of Modern Day Thriving, Part 2

zen sand art featured telmo32 on Flickr Creative Commons
Written by Brant David

Can you be a zen master of modern day culture? Brant David explores.

aNewDomain — I started exploring ideas about how you can remake yourself, approach life differently and generally have a positive and power-giving outlook through a Zen lifestyle in a part one of this series. With a good mentality, you can change the world — and for sure it will change the world inside you.  Here are more modern life Zen tips, below.

zen sand art

Feel your world expand when you stay out of debt and pay yourself first. The United States, especially when it comes to its young adult population, is a debt-ridden society. It is a horrible fact. There are times when going into debt is necessary. Most people would never become homeowners if they couldn’t take on  a mortgage. But the fact is,  most debts people accrue are avoidable. Your guidepost rule: If you can’t buy it with cash or pay off the credit card purchase in full within 30 days, don’t buy it right now.

As far as “pay yourself first,” this was a primary principle of personal finance that I taught my clients in my former life as a MetLife financial advisor. It means that whenever you get paid, before you go giving your money to the butcher, the baker, the lightbulb maker or some lender, you put aside some of that money — for you. You earned that money, so why don’t you keep some of it, instead of blowing it all?

When you stop living paycheck-to-paycheck or beyond your means through debt you will soon feel a new sense of power. You’ll also discover a sense of self-control, finding that you have the money for the more important things you truly wanted.

Your employer is your client. I once knew a man who had owned his own business. He told me that one day it dawned on him that his employees — and his suppliers — were trying to put him out of business!

Don’t be the typical employee, caught in an adversarial or embittered relationship with the hand that feeds you. You don’t want to be that guy. If you are an employee, stop seeing the owners of the business you work for as your adversaries. Stop seeing them as dumb people who get in the way or mean people who are exploiting you or cheating you out of your fair share. Rather, think of them as clients. You remain employed and make yourself eligible for increased pay by satisfying and impressing that client, who also happens to be the one that pays you.

Tor those of you whose end goal is to quit your j-o-b and work for yourself, that’s fine. That is the attitude that will ultimately enable you to support yourself and assume responsibility for what you do best. If you’re not there yet, view your employment as a practice and as a apprenticeship in being self-employed.

Put the health of your body and mind first.  That old saw is true. If you have your health you have everything. What good is it for you to be wealthy or famous while you’re miserable, addled, constantly tired, in pain or dependent upon pharmaceuticals?

One immediate thing you should do is radically change your diet to become healthier. The right food is a far better medicine than any prescription drug. The diet you settle on needs to be a habitual, lifelong way of eating, not some “program” that you use for a little while to repair yourself.

So why not end that sugar addiction for good? Sugar is linked not just to diabetes and obesity, but also to early skin aging and all kinds of various disorders that will get you in the end.

And you’d better move. A lot. Go against the grain of today’s pervasive sedentary culture.  Many of us, of course, need to sit a lot for work reasons and that’s part of the problem. That’s why we as a society sit around on our arses too much. Make a real effort daily to get up on your feet and move — especially when you are not at work.  Who says that you need to sit down to watch a TV show? Who says that the only way to relax is to lay back with your feet propped up in an easy chair? Be creative. And take a walk.

Never sacrifice your health for the sake of the pursuit of money.

zen contemplative thought

It’s all about intent. No, I’m not talking about those good intentions that we know pave the way to hell. It’s true that good intentions come with ill consequences, in the same way that pharmaceuticals come with horrible side effects. With good there is bad. But I’m talking about living your life “deliberately,” as Henry David Thoreau described so well in his masterpiece, Walden Pond. Do you intend to live? Or do you intend to sit around, letting life pass you by?

So many people live their lives unconsciously. They are on automatic pilot.They’re told what to do by untried memes, by ill-planned narratives, by government, by religious tenets they’ve never reflected on, by subconscious impulses and drives absorbed but never thought about, by media, by friends and so on. Instead of being taken for a ride by life, get in the driver’s seat. Drive your own circumstances and your own reactions. Drive even the bad and undesirable circumstances. If not you, who?

Read books. Yes, I am advising that you read actual books. Get away from your precious RSS feeds and the never ending stream of ad-suffused Internet news “stories” that comprise your reading material. Buy some real books. Kindle books are fine, but I think printed books are better. Unplug for a bit, just get hold of some books and lie back and read.

Good books are considerably more difficult to write and assemble than news stories, especially Internet news stories. This means that books contain more thought and more depth. The person who wrote the book took far more time to create their work than the Internet “journalist” or blogger did. There is depth in a book. The book’s author invested far more energy through research or interviews, revisions, staring out the window and simply contemplating. The thoughts in books are long, long thoughts. As yours can be.

For aNewDomain, I’m

Brant David McLaughlin — aka Brant David — is a Milford, NJ-based senior writer for us here at aNewDomain. Follow him at his +BrantDavid Google+ page. Email him at Brant@aNewDomain.net.

First/Featured Image: jack” by telmo32 via Flickr Creative Commons

Second Image: By Pedro Ribeiro Simões via Flickr Creative Commons