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Monday, March 1, 2010

Sweat the Small Stuff

Zen practice is famous for the peculiar notion that "little things matter." As Charlotte Joko Beck wrote (in Nothing Special: Living Zen):

How do we brush our teeth? How do we sweep the floor, or slice a carrot? We think we're here to deal with "more important" issues, such as our problems with our partner, our jobs, our health, and the like. We don't want to bother with the "little" things, like how we hold our chopsticks, or where we place our spoon. Yet these acts are the stuff of our life, moment to moment. It's not a question of importance, it's a question of paying attention, being aware. Why? Because every moment in life is absolute in itself. That's all there is. There is nothing other than this present moment; there is no past, there is no future; there is nothing but this. So when we don't pay attention to each little this, we miss the whole thing.

Whatever we're doing--washing windows, driving kids to school, trimming our fingernails--if we do it with full attention, it takes on a significance that raises it above the mundane. That leads to happiness.

So pay attention to the details. Be in the moment, no matter how trivial that moment may seem. "Sweat" the small stuff.

You'll be happier.

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