wikiHow to Have a Zen Attitude

Three Methods:Finding Peace in Your LifeRecognizing Your FeelingsGiving Yourself Some Space

Having a Zen attitude means finding mindful awareness of the present moment. This will help you release yourself from stress, anxiety, frustration and anger. Instead, focus on positive thoughts and actions that will help you relax and respond in a more balanced way to your everyday life. Letting go of what you can’t control, acknowledging your feelings, and taking time for yourself will help you maintain a more positive outlook on life.

Method 1
Finding Peace in Your Life

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    Let go of what you can’t control. You are the only entity that you can fully control. Your thoughts, actions and feelings are what you are able to change. The actions and thoughts of anyone else, on the other hand, are precisely what you cannot control, perhaps despite your best efforts. Learn to let go of what other people think and do, and turn your focus back onto yourself.[1]
    • Give people the benefit of the doubt. If you think you’ve been wronged or mistreated, evaluate the situation from a third-person point of view. Consider that the offending person might not be aware of what they’ve done. Give them the benefit of the doubt and consider they are just unaware.[2]
    • Alternately, if someone has disappointed you, think about your expectations. Are they realistic? Were your expectations communicated to the other person? It might help to talk to that person, for example, to clarify how the miscommunication happened.
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    Look at the bigger picture. Putting things into perspective will help you balance the way you approach life. This goes hand in hand with letting go of things you can’t control. Ask yourself what else is happening in the world that might be contributing to a negative situation.[3]
    • When thinking about an issue that you can't control, make a list of factors out of your control that impact this issue. For example, if you are having trouble finding a job, think about the downturned economy or the outsourcing of jobs in your industry.
    • Reduce worry by asking yourself if something will matter in an hour or a day from now.[4]
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    Control or change the aspects that you can control. When you empower yourself to take control of certain things, you can feel more adept at maintaining a calm attitude.
    • For example, if you get riled up at the morning traffic, consider controlling your interactions with the traffic by changing the time that you leave in the morning, or taking mass transit.[5] Don’t give your mind more fodder for stress, anger and frustration. Instead, reduce these things so you can clear your mind.
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    Focus on what’s going right. Remind yourself about what is positive about your life and what is happening that helps you move forward.
    • Make a list of things that are going well for you. Review this list periodically or post it on your fridge as a reminder.
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    Visualize a positive outcome. While you may not be able to control exactly how things will turn out, you can give yourself a sense of what the most positive scenario will look like. This will also stave off negative thoughts by refocusing your mind on positivity.
    • Use a picture to help you visualize what you want. If you need a new or better car, take a picture of your ideal car at a dealership. Tape it to your fridge or bathroom mirror so you can see it every day.
    • Use affirmations to help you visualize your positive outcome. These statements will help you envision achieving what you want to achieve. You might say, "I am running my own successful business and I have lots of happy clients." Repeat this message to yourself throughout the day to maintain focus and positivity on achieving your positive outcome.[6]
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    Appreciate the journey. When you don’t achieve a certain result, it can be discouraging or frustrating. Look for the silver lining in this event. If you’ve been laid off from your job, for example, you might be frustrated and angry. But consider how this may open other opportunities for you, or how it might give you more time to be with family during an important time.[7]
    • Try to appreciate and revel in the spontaneity and uncertainty. It can be unnerving, but if you are open to all possibilities, you can start to see where positive developments can happen.[8]
    • Keep a gratitude journal. Write down a few things every day that you can appreciate about your surroundings or your present life situation. Look over your writing at the end of every week to see how much you have to be grateful for.[9]

Method 2
Recognizing Your Feelings

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    Observe and address your anger. Take 15-30 minutes to observe your anger. Sit comfortably in a quiet room where you will be undisturbed. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. Think about your anger. Where do you hold it in your body? Does your head hurt? Are you clenching your teeth? Are you flexing your shoulder muscles?[10] Do you associate your anger with certain colors or shapes?
    • Now open your eyes. Breathe in through your nose. Then breathe out through your mouth.
    • Write a list of the things that are making you angry. These can be large or small; nothing is too insignificant or silly. Remember, this is a time for you to observe and address your anger, rather than hide from it.
    • Choose the top 3 things that make you angry, and make a short list of 3 strategies that can help remedy these situations. This will help you take control of your own feelings and make sure you feel empowered to change what you can change.
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    Pay attention to your stress. Sit in a quiet room for about 15 minutes. Breathe deeply and close your eyes. Think about where your stress sits in your body. Are you storing it in your shoulders? Your neck? Your legs? Are you tightening your fists?
    • Recognize your stress, saying, “I am aware of tension in my back.”[11]
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    Check your response to a negative situation. If something negative happens, observe your feelings. You might feel angry or stressed or sad, which is fine. But don’t let those feelings consume you. Choose to view the positive angle of a negative situation. For example, if you missed your bus and need to wait for another one, take advantage of the extra time to treat yourself to coffee.[12]
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    Try not to take things personally. People may say rude or mean things to you or about you. Keep in mind that this is their own agenda, not yours. Their unhappiness does not need to make you unhappy.[13]
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    Smile when you feel down. When you have negative feelings, it is hard to stop yourself from wallowing in them. But having a Zen attitude means not getting mired in bad feelings. Take the first step in lifting yourself up by smiling. A great big smile will momentarily trick your mind into thinking more positively, helping pull you out of a rut.[14]
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    Counteract negative thoughts. When you get into a negative space, your mind tends to run wildly, linking one negative thought with another one and compounding the negativity. In order to help your mind link different, more positive thoughts together, practice the following training exercise:
    • Take about 30 minutes to listen to your inner thoughts. As your mind wanders, you may begin to hear some negative inner talk, such as “I am a terrible person. I forgot my mother’s birthday.” Immediately counter that talk with, “That thought doesn’t serve me. Goodbye thought!”[15] Tell yourself a more positive thought, layered with compassion, to reassure yourself of your value and worth. I have a lot on my plate right now. I’ll make a list so I can keep track of details.”

Method 3
Giving Yourself Some Space

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    Start the day off right. Having a positive morning routine can help set the tone for the entire day. Wake up to your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual. Spend a few minutes in bed, take some deep breaths, and assure yourself that today will be a good day. Tell yourself that this is a chance for a fresh start, which will help you center yourself for the rest of the day.[16]
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    Take time in your day for yourself. Finding pockets of time during the day to help you let go of problems, consider remedies or solutions, or treating yourself will help you maintain a Zen attitude.
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    Slow down your activities. Constantly rushing around will add to your stress and make it harder to maintain calm. Take time to enjoy activities like cooking, walking or writing. This will also help you feel more in control over things in your life.[17]
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    Meditate daily. Meditating will give your mind some much needed space to process everyday stresses. Choose the same time of day in order to get yourself into a routine. This is often best at the beginning of the day, when you are preparing for the day. Meditating doesn’t need to take very long, so adjust the time to what works for you. Start with a minimum of 5 minutes and work up to 10 minutes, then 25 minutes.[18]
    • Take a minimum of 5 minutes to sit quietly and comfortably. Focus on your breathing, drawing in full, deep breaths through your nose and into your lungs and stomach. Breathe out slowly and deliberately. Count to 4 on the inhale, and count to 4 on the exhale.[19]
    • Keep your eyes open with a soft focus. You can close your eyes if this feels more comfortable to you.
    • As your mind begins to wander, bring it back to focus on your breathing and to resume counting the breaths.
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    Get lots of rest. Sleep is a naturally healing technique that will help you remain calm and ready to tackle the day. Plan to go to bed at a regular bedtime every night and aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.[20]
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    Unplug your tech devices. Turning off distractions such as your phone or computer will go a long way to uncluttering your mind. Social media and email encourage you to respond to people’s needs and requests instantly and constantly. Taking time away from your electronic devices will help you clear your mind.[21]


  • Learn more about Zen practices by trying Zen meditation (Zazen). Read "How to Begin Zen Meditation (Zazen)."
  • Look for a Zen Buddhist temple near you to participate in group meditations.

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Categories: Zen | Happiness & Optimism