Zen attitude

3 Tips for Having a Zen Attitude


Having a Zen attitude means being alert to the present moment. This will help you release stress, anxiety, frustration, and anger. Instead, focus on positive thoughts and actions that help you relax and respond to everyday life in a more balanced way. 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.

Find peace in your life

Let go of what you cannot control.

You are the only thing you can fully control. Your thoughts, actions and feelings are what you are able to change. Everyone else’s actions and thoughts, on the other hand, are exactly what you cannot control, perhaps despite your best efforts. Learn to let go of what other people are thinking and doing, and bring your focus back to yourself. When in doubt, use other people’s actions in their favor. If you feel that you have been wronged, or that you have been mistreated, evaluate the situation from a third party’s perspective. Take into account that the person who insults you may not be aware of what they have done. When in doubt, use her actions in her favor and realize that she doesn’t know any better. Alternatively, if someone has disappointed you, reflect on your expectations. Are they realistic? Did you communicate your expectations with the other person? It might help to talk to the person, for example, to clarify how the misunderstanding came about.

Look at the big picture.

Putting things into perspective helps you balance the way you approach life. This goes hand in hand with letting go of things that you cannot control. Ask yourself what else is happening in the world that might be contributing to a negative situation. If you’re thinking about a problem that you can’t control, make a list of the factors that are beyond your control that are affecting that problem. For example, if you’re having trouble finding a job, think about the poor economy or job outsourcing in your industry. Reduce your worries by asking yourself if anything will matter in an hour or a day.

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’re irritated by morning traffic, consider controlling your interactions with traffic by changing the time you leave in the morning or taking public transit. Don’t feed your mind to stress, anger, and frustration. Instead, cut down on these things to clear your head.

EXPERT COUNCIL Wellness Expert Nicolette Tura is a Wellness Expert and Founder of The Illuminated Body, her wellness and relationship consulting service based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nicolette is a 500-hour Registered Yoga Instructor with a Psychology & Mindfulness major, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)-certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, and a Holistic Living Expert. She received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and her master’s degree in sociology from San Jose State University. Nicolette Tura, MA Wellness Expert Face your feelings so you know what you may need to change. When you are Zen, you can go with the flow and not fight back. Even if you have thoughts that you want to escape from, you should remember that this is your momentary truth. Then focus on what you can do to change it, accept it, manufacture it, or reshape it.

Concentrate on what’s going right.

Remind yourself of what is positive in your life and what is happening that helps you move forward. Make a list of things that are going well for you. Check this list regularly, or stick it on your fridge as a reminder.

Visualize a positive outcome.

While you may not be able to control exactly how things turn out, you can get a sense of what the most positive scenario will be. This will also ward off negative thoughts by refocusing your mind on confidence positivity. Use an image to help you visualize what you want. If you need a new or better car, take a picture of your ideal car with you from a dealership. Stick it on 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 visualize how you will achieve what you want to achieve. You could say, “I run my own successful business and have tons of happy customers.” Repeat this message to yourself throughout the day to keep you focused and confident in achieving your positive outcome.

Appreciate the trip.

Not getting a specific result can be discouraging or frustrating. Look for the silver lining in this event. For example, if you were fired from your job, you might feel frustrated and angry. But think about how it might open up other opportunities for you, or how it might give you more time to be with your family more during an important time. Try to appreciate and revel in spontaneity and insecurity. It can be unnerving, but if you’re open to all opportunities, you can start to see where positive developments can take place. Keep a gratitude journal. Each day, write down a few things that you appreciate about your surroundings or your current life situation. At the end of each week, look back at your writing to see how much you have to be thankful for.

Acknowledge your feelings

Observe and address your anger.

Take 15-30 minutes to observe your anger. Sit comfortably in a quiet room where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Think about your anger. where do you keep it in your body Does your head hurt? Are you clenching your teeth? Are you tensing your shoulder muscles? Do you associate your anger with certain colors or shapes? Now open your eyes. Breathe in through your nose. Then exhale through your mouth. Write a list of things that make you angry. These can be big or small. Nothing is too insignificant or silly. Remember, this is the time to observe and address your anger, not to hide from it. Pick the top 3 things that make you angry and make a short list of three strategies that can help alleviate those situations. This will help you take control of your own feelings and make sure you feel empowered to change what you can change.

Watch your stress.

Sit in a quiet room for about 15 minutes. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Think about where in your body your stress is located. Do you hold it in your shoulders? on your neck? in your legs? do you clench your fists Acknowledge your stress by saying, “I’m aware of the tension in my back.”

Check your reaction to a negative situation.

If anything negative happens, monitor your feelings. You could be angry or stressed or sad, which is okay. But don’t let these feelings consume you. Choose to see the positive side of a negative situation. For example, if you missed your bus and have to wait for the next one, take advantage of the extra time to treat yourself to a coffee.

Try not to take things personally.

People may say rude or mean things to you or about you. Remember that these are their views, not yours. Their dissatisfaction need not make you dissatisfied.

Smile when you’re depressed.

When you have negative feelings, it’s hard to stop indulging. But being zen means not getting stuck in bad feelings. Take the first step in picking yourself up by smiling. A big smile tricks your mind into thinking more positively for a moment, which helps pull you out of the rut.

Counteract negative thoughts.

When you get into a negative zone, your mind tends to go haywire and connect one negative thought to another, condensing the negativity. To help your mind connect more positive thoughts, practice the following exercise: Take about 30 minutes to listen to your inner thoughts. As your mind wanders, you may begin to hear negative internal chatter, such as, “I’m a terrible person. I forgot my mother’s birthday.” Immediately counteract this talk: “This thought does me no good. Bye, thought!” Tell yourself a more positive thought layered with compassion to reassure yourself of your worth. “I’ve got a lot on my mind right now. I’ll make a list so I don’t lose sight of details.”

Give yourself some space

Start the day right.

Having a positive morning routine can help set the tone for the entire day. Let your alarm clock wake you up 15 minutes earlier than usual. Spend a few minutes in bed, take a few deep breaths, and assure yourself that today is going to be a good day. Tell yourself that this is a chance for a fresh start, which will help center you for the rest of the day.

Take time for yourself during the day.

Finding slots throughout the day to help you let go of problems, contemplate remedies or solutions, or treat yourself will help you maintain a Zen attitude.

Slow down your activities.

Constantly rushing around adds to your stress and makes it harder to stay calm. Take time to enjoy activities like cooking, walking, or writing. It will also help you feel like you have more control over things in your life.

Meditate daily.

Meditating gives your mind some much-needed space to process everyday stress. Always choose the same time of day to get yourself into a routine. The best thing is often at the beginning of the day when you are preparing for the day. Meditating takes a long time, so adjust the time to what works for you. Start with a minimum of five minutes and work your way up to 10 minutes and then 25 minutes. Take at least five minutes to sit still and comfortably. Focus on your breathing, taking full, deep breaths through your nose and into your lungs and abdomen. Exhale slowly and consciously. Count to four as you breathe in, and count to four as you breathe out. Keep your eyes open with a soft focus. You can close your eyes if that feels more comfortable for you. If your mind starts to wander, guide it back to focusing on your breathing and counting the breaths again.

Get tons of rest.

Sleep is a natural healing technique that helps you stay calm and ready to face the day. Plan to go to bed at a regular bedtime each night and aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.

Unplug your tech devices.

Turning off distractions like your phone or computer is half the battle when you’re clearing out your mind. Social media and email encourage you to respond immediately and continuously to people’s needs and requests. Taking time away from your electronic devices will help clear your head.


Learn more about Zen practices by trying Zen meditation (zazen). Look for a Zen Buddhist temple near you to participate in group meditations.


About the Author

Maggie Murray

Maggie Murray is a freelance writer with a decade-long track record of helping people lead healthier lives. Her areas of expertise include fashion, travel, gift ideas, and personal budget planning. Maggie is also a big fan of TheKrazyCouponLady.com. That's why she gets an A+ in saving money!