The Art of Living

The Art of Living
December 31, 2013 Sue

As we come to the close of yet another year and boy don’t they seem to come sooner and sooner these days, I always tend to reflect on the past year but more importantly where I want to be in the next year. A whole fresh year ahead, a clean slate – as the kids would say a do-over. How do you want to do over your year??

I came across this article “ My Pursuit of the Art of Living ” by Leo Babuata on his blog ZenHabits and so much of it touched a chord for me that I wanted to share it with all of you.

The part of the post that was most relevant to me was working on relationships rather than gathering “things”.  Great goal for next year.

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.

My Pursuit of the Art of Living

By Leo Babauta

For many years I simply lived, and got by.

But in the last few years, after learning a bit about habits and mindfulness and simplicity and love, I have changed my approach to living.

Now I see living as an art form, to be studied and played with and practiced and mastered. Of course, few ever master the art of living, and I don’t know if I ever will. Probably not.

But I can pursue this art. I can appreciate it when others do it well. I can learn about it, through experiments and observation and introspection.

My pursuit of the art of living is only just beginning, but I thought I’d share a bit about this pursuit with you, my good friends.

Beginning the Pursuit

The journey begins with a single step, a wise man said, and for me that first step is simple:

Admit I don’t know.

Learning begins by emptying your cup, so that you can fill it with what you find. Emptying your cup means getting rid of pre-set opinions.

I don’t know what the art of living is, but I am curious.

And so the path is one of open hands, of curiosity and finding out.

And it’s one of bare feet, of being open and naked, willing to be exposed to life and chaos.

It’s about clear seeing, mindfulness turned to seeing reality as it is, without trying to make things rosy or conform to the story you tell yourself.

Clear seeing, naked, open hands, curious without knowing. That’s the path that I’ve found, so far.

The Art Emerges

With clear seeing, I start to see why I (and others) suffer, why we stress and get mad at each other and want more and more.

And now I can start to apply the art of living to my days.

Here’s what I practice with, imperfectly:

  • Compassion. Instead of being angry or frustrated, I find the pain in others, and open my heart to them. This includes compassion for myself.
  • Gratitude. Life is filled with wonder, and the people around me as well. I try to open myself to that wonder, and be grateful it’s there, instead of complaining.
  • Joyfear. Joy is an awesome thing to have, but joyfear is present in the powerful moments in life where joy and fear mix, where we’re taking chances and doing something outside of our comfort zone that both excites us and makes us face the possibility of failure. I now embrace these moments rather than avoiding them.
  • Not avoiding discomfort or uncertainty. When we avoid discomfort, we are limited by our comfort zone, and new learning and new ventures become impossible. When we avoid uncertainty, we only stick to what we know. But we can purposely become good at discomfort and uncertainty, by practicing in small bite-sized chunks, over and over.
  • Staying with the moment, even when it’s hard. This is the hardest of all. “Living in the moment” sounds wonderful, but actually staying with the present moment isn’t ever easy. Try it: with your eyes open, sit still and stay with the sights and sounds around you for 1 minute, without your mind wandering away from them. If you don’t notice your mind wandering, either you’re an experienced mindfulness practitioner, or you didn’t notice when your mind wandered.
  • Relationships are everything. Getting what we want, having things our way, having control, being right … these things matter nothing compared to relationships. Imagine being in your death bed at the age of 80 … will your sense of being right and in control comfort you when you have no good relationships, no one who has loved you? Put relationships first.
  • Not holding on to expectations & judgments. Expectations and judgments prevent me from enjoying what I have, from enjoying the simple presence of someone else in my life. I practice with noticing these expectations and judgments, and practice with holding them loosely, letting them go.
  • Letting go. This is the art of living in two words: letting go. It’s letting go of judgments, expectations, wanting to be right, wanting to control, fear of discomfort, fear of uncertainty, fear of failure, fear of boredom, comparing myself to others, wanting distraction, being irritated, complaining. It’s noticing when I’m holding these, and letting go. Loosening my heart’s grip on any of these, and letting go. And then letting go again. And again.

And so the art of living is a practice, one that doesn’t end, that doesn’t have a mastery level. It’s a constant letting go, a constant picking up again, and then letting go again. And falling, and getting up without beating myself up.

The art of living is the art of getting back up.

Happy New Year!!

Comments (16)

  1. Suzanne 3 years ago

    What a great post Sue. Loved the article you shared. May all of your dreams come true in 2014. Happy New Year. xo

    • Author
      Sue 3 years ago

      So great to hear from you Suzanne- all the best to you in 2014!

  2. susan medyn 3 years ago

    Thank you Sue. i will print this out and tey to read it wvery day. What a gift you have passed on to me.

    • Author
      Sue 3 years ago

      So glad to have you stop by Susan and to know you enjoyed it!

  3. Belinda Rose 3 years ago

    Wonderful post Sue! Thank you for this! Many blessings for a wonderful 2014!

    • Author
      Sue 3 years ago

      Belinda- Happy New Year to you too! Thanks for stopping by- good to hear from you.

  4. Michele 3 years ago

    What a great post! This article you shared…very wise words and great reflection for the new year. I love the part about emptying the cup! Very powerful for me right now.

    • Author
      Sue 3 years ago

      So happy to hear that it resonated with you, Michele. I think 2014 will have a lot to offer.

  5. Maryse 3 years ago

    Great reminder that it is up to each one of us to choose how to live Life. I’m not a huge fan of “do-overs”. I prefer to think of it as a new step in a fruitful journey. Thank you for this!

    • Author
      Sue 3 years ago

      Maryse- so glad you stopped by. I hope you have a wonderful journey in 2014. Looking forward to hearing more from you

  6. The art of living is the art of getting back up…..so brilliant and beautiful.
    And a big cheers to working on relationship
    and keeping love at the center.
    Your heart and your art are such joy….thanks for the always
    nourishing share,
    Jennifer

    • Author
      Sue 3 years ago

      Jennifer- part of my “artful” joy is having wonderful friends like you sharing their thoughts. Thank you for always coming by

  7. Susan 3 years ago

    Love and letting go, that about sums it up for me. Mostly the love part. But letting go is a biggie for me as well, releasing what bothers me because really, why be bothered by anything…

    May 2014 be everything you want and MORE.

    • Author
      Sue 3 years ago

      Susan- the whole act of releasing takes some practice doesn’t it?? Here’s to a love filled 2014!

  8. Naomi 3 years ago

    Sue, this is beautiful. I’ve been thinking more about what I truly want to attract in my life, and this helps. Thanks for sharing.

    • Author
      Sue 3 years ago

      Naomi- so glad you stopped by! I too have been thinking about those important things in my life – looking forward to what the new year brings!

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