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How We Lose Sight of the Profound Awesomeness of Life

zen stones habits

There are moments when we are able to soak in the incredible beauty of life, the preciousness of it, the awe-inspiring power of the world around us.

It is breath-taking, gorgeous, deeply moving.

But most of the time, we forget.

We move through our days like we’re in a daze, checking email and messages, saying hi to our fellow human beings without love in our hearts, jumping from one task to another, one distraction to another.

It’s like we’re in a dream, not fully aware of the life in front of us. Not fully awake to it’s immense beauty.

How do we lose sight of the awesomeness of what’s right in front of us?

It’s simple: we become acclimatized to our lives. Accustomed to our world. It becomes our “normal,” the background noise that we tune out.

When we see things every day — sunlight, trees, beautiful faces — we start to think we know it already. It’s normal, even boring. Nothing to be noted.

We walk by the deep blue flowers, the bright yellow leaves, the fresh green grass, the honeylike sunlight, and don’t even notice that it’s there.

We take for granted things that are truly magic: flying in a plane, the miracle of electricity, the instantaneous communication of the Internet, the unlimited knowledge at our fingertips, the loved ones in our life, chocolate.

We become accustomed, and then walk through life as in a dream.

This process of becoming acclimatized is normal. We all do it. As toddlers, we find wonder and delight in everyday things — have you ever seen a child chase after a bubble or butterfly, or laugh in delight at a bouncing ball? Then we get used to it, and ignore it all in favor of our phones.

I’m not criticizing any of us — we all do it, and it’s natural. But it’s good to know that we’re taking our world for granted. And then take actions to reverse it when we can.

Here’s how:

  • Develop a practice of looking all around you with childlike eyes, seeing everything afresh, as if you’ve never seen it before. See the wonder in the everyday.
  • Look around you, several times a day, and find small things that you’re grateful you have in your life. A cereal bowl to hold your oats and berries. A podcast. A window that gives you a beautiful view.
  • Try to look at one person a day as if they were the most beautiful being on Earth. As if they were worthy of your love, of looking into their soul and understanding the depths of their being. As if they have a gift to offer the world, and your gift is to witness it. As if they have a tender heart that wants to be loved, as if they have pain worthy of your compassion.

Open your heart to the world around you, and behold its truly magnificent nature. We have been given a powerful gift, of being alive and witnessing this world. Let’s not forget it.

Zen Habits is about finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness. My name is Leo Babauta. I live in Davis, California with my wife and six kids, where I eat vegan food, write, run, and read.
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