In place of resolutions

New Year's Day is a great time to start anew. It is a great chance to improve our lives and start new habits. The problem with resolutions is that to some they seem overwhelming.  One little slip and often we feel that we have failed.

It is possible to initiate great change without resolutions.  Instead of great goals or lofty plans, why not put some productive procedures in place - daily routines that are known to produce desired results? Instead of a resolution to lose 25 pounds, why not commit to eating healthier and going to the gym on a regular basis?  Research your diet, keep healthy eating in mind, go to the gym regularly, and you will lose will lose weight.  Do these things until they become habit. Your life will change.

Although goals can be inspiring, they can be limiting as well.  This quote from Leo Babauta explains it well:

" have to open your mind to going places you never expected to go.  If you live without goals, you’ll explore new territory. You’ll learn some unexpected things. You’ll end up in surprising places. That’s the beauty of this philosophy..."  ~Leo Babauta.  (Read the entire post here on Zenhabits.)

Below are examples of routines that I have put into my life.  They have worked well for me.

Morning routine:
1.  Five minutes of silent meditation and contemplation.
2.  Read something positive - The Optimist Manifesto, The Happiness Pledge.
3.  Write out a list of things that I am grateful for.
4.  15 minutes of meditation designed to clarify my intentions for the day.
5.  Three mornings a week I go to the gym.  On the days that I do not work out, I read something inspiring.

1.  Consciously perform at least three acts of kindness.
2.  Be mindful of my diet and eat healthy foods. No processed foods except for rare occasions.  Simply eliminating fast food and prepared foods goes a long way towards eliminating unhealthy chemicals, additives, and excess calories.
3.  Spend a few minutes of time towards spirituality.  This is in addition to my morning routine.  It varies - sometimes I read something spiritual and ponder it, sometimes I just clear my head and try to see the beauty in the Universe.
4.  Dedicate time to building stronger relationships.  At work, at home, or long distance - I try to remember to stay connected and bring deeper meaning to my relationships.

These are just examples.  I have found that by following these routines my life expands every day.  It allows me to focus on doing the right thing without attachment to outcome.  I do have goals, but what matters most is that my life is constantly improving and I am constantly developing.  In place of lofty resolutions try implementing a few good practices into your life.  You'll be surprised at the results.

Watch this video where Leo debates his philosophy with Tim Ferris.

Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta on Goals from Leo Babauta on Vimeo.

Since so many people are concerned with their health at the beginning of the year, I'd like to link to a book that will revolutionize your views on a healthy diet.  I'm warning you it is NOTHING like the food pyramid. I've been on this diet for a while and have lost weight, blood pressure is down, and cholesterol numbers are down as well.

ZenPresence - Ideas for meaningful living.

Good night

A wonderful piece to listen to as you fall asleep. Don't think, just listen...meditate and feel the stress and strain leave you.

Good night,


Zen Presence - Ideas for meaningful living.

The limiting aspect of limits

Image: garysan97 on Flickr

The Universe that you see around you is the result of billions upon billions of experiments.  Billions of mutations, changes, and adaptations.  Some of them work, some do not.  Some go on to be highly successful for a while, then fade ( dinosaurs ).  Some just keep adapting and getting better ( humans ).

Years ago, in a book by Carl Sagan,  I read of a principle concerning complexity and the envelope of possibility.This principle is widely understood by scientists -as the range of possibilities and complexity widens, both greater success (good, beauty) and greater failure (evil, ugliness) are possible.  You cannot limit the possible 'bad' without limiting the possible 'good.'

When I hear people criticize our youth for their piercings, their tattoos, or music; then blame these things for the decline of civilization, I cringe.  Here is the diatribe that was falsely attributed to Bill Cosby and provoked this article. Many of today's trends and fashions are not to my liking either, my tastes were formed years ago.  I do, however; see the beauty in change and variety.  Without it this world would be static and ugly.

If you are fearful and want to limit the possibilities in your life, fine; but please quit trying to limit the rest of the Universe.  It will move on with or without you. - Ideas for a meaningful life, Zen in modern life.

Please don't read this on Christmas

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.  I've included several more photos with quotes below and link to Jewel's Christmas version of 'Hands', listen to the empowering words and bring them into your life.  These are my Christmas cards to you.


Take a minute to be mindful and appreciate what you have.  I hope that you are not reading this on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  Please spend time with someone you love and remember that we are never alone.

Merry Christmas,


Smile, you're alive.

Smile, you're alive. You survived the apocalypse. You can do anything.

Life is fragile and precious



Simple life, quiet mind

Snake Oil

Simplicity allows you to achieve more

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Is it important?

As I listen to the many conversations that I hear each day, my own included, I wonder at their purpose. We ramble about the weather, a sporting event last weekend, a television ad...... I know we're just trying to connect or to fill an awkward silence, but why all the meaningless jabber? 

Why do we have so much to say about trivial things and so little to say about important things?

When was the last time that you spoke your heart to your spouse, your mother, or your child?

Did you voice your true opinion on company policy the last time that you talked to your boss or business partner, or did you just say what they wanted to hear?

Are you giving of your true self in your conversation?

Are you bringing something to the table or just showing up?

Is it important?

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Last Minute Giving

I know it's kind of late in the game to be thinking about Christmas gifts, but not for me.  I always wait until December to start my Christmas celebration.  Short and sweet makes it more meaningful to me.

We do not give many material or commercial gifts.  We give books, donate to charity in people's names, and give a few homemade items.

It's not to late to donate in someone's name.  Many charities budgets rely heavily on year-end giving.  Below are a few charities that you may consider donating to.

Feed someone, long-term, with these charities:

Feeding America

Mental Health Charities

Give the gift of knowledge

Books change people's lives.  Share ideas and knowledge.

Shop Amazon's New Kindle Fire

Shop Amazon Gift Cards - Perfect Gifts Anytime

Disclosure: I do not receive any direct benefit if you choose to donate to one of the linked charities, but we all win.  I will receive a small commission from Amazon if you click on a link above and purchase from

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

If you want to master life then...

If you want to master life then master your emotions.

Are you tired of feeling powerless or out of control?  Do you want to call the shots in your life?  If so, then read on.

Emotions are a result of our total mental state including our conscious and subconscious thoughts.  Without deep attention we become slaves to our emotions.  Using mindful methods and awareness we can identify and label our thoughts, understand them, and finally manipulate or control our emotions.

Why is this important?  You will either master your emotional state or it will master you.  Do you really want to be a slave to the moods and fears of your unconscious mind?

When fear and uncertainty dominate our mental landscape we retreat. For most of us, our fear of pain or failure is stronger than our desire for success so we limit our  risks and adventures to feel safe and in control. When we limit ourselves we often become listless and passive. Your life becomes mechanical.  After a while you may experience frustration and quite possibly depression. This is a downward spiral that can result in an ugly ending.

Step one in pulling out of this deadly tailspin is to observe.  Look at your moods.  Dig deep to understand the source of any fears or doubts.  Identify your thoughts as useful or not useful.  Take responsibility for your emotions.  It may seem overwhelming at first, but it gets easier and you will gain power.

Step two is to change your emotional state.  Force of will doesn't always work.  Take a walk in the sunshine, go somewhere where there are children playing, or listen to music.  Positive mantras or videos can be a great aid for changing your mental landscape.

With a positive mental state you can begin to take charge of your emotions.  Learn to be grateful for what you have.  Identify the source of any negative emotions that remain.  A bitterness or cynical attitude often points to a hidden belief that needs to be brought to the surface and analyzed.

Finally, use positive emotions and associations for self motivation, and to develop courage. If you must, use negative associations to push you out of stagnant situations. Tell yourself that you will rot if you keep doing the same old thing. The key here is for you to be in charge. Sometimes it is appropriate to feel regret or fear.  Feel it, face it, understand it, and move on.  Don't let the myriad fears of your reptilian brain dictate your life.

What is Zen Buddhism?


As you reflect on the horrible news of the shooting of innocent school children yesterday, remember that children all over the world face this type of violence every day.  This is not to diminish the tragedy in Connecticut; it is most definitely a tragedy.  Let it serve as a reminder of unnecessary violence happening around the world every day.

What can we do?  We can become angry, pass stricter laws, argue over gun control, stir up anger and hate, arm our schools and raise our children in fear - or - we can be mindful, offer empathy, smile a little more, treat each and every person we meet with respect, and try not to create the conditions that give rise to such tragedies.

Please choose mindfulness and  empathy.

Read I am Adam Lanza's mother


Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

The Masks

Photo by liber

"Just be yourself".  Is that not stupid?  Who else could you be?

Well, that's a good question.  I would argue that most of us spend a great deal of time pretending to be someone other than who we truly are. 

Have you ever noticed how many different faces you put on for the various people you encounter throughout your day?  Have you ever noticed how differently you act around a colleague or business partner than you do around your family? 

The reality is that most of us have many different personas.  In Latin the word persona means mask.  Do you have something to hide?

The problem is that we start to believe that this is who we are, but which one?  We get confused and lose our 'true selves'.  It takes a lot of courage to remove the mask and just be who we truly are.  Start by looking in the mirror, you might be suprised at who you see. 

Life is a lot more beautiful without the mask.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.


The cost of being certain is high. 

You hear so much about the cost of being wrong. 
What if you invest in that and it fails? 
What if you move there and you don't like it? 
I know it sounds like a good job, but how can you be certain?

You cannot be certain of anything, ask 120,000 laid off postal workers.
If you do not take risks, you will never accomplish anything.  That is certain.
That means that waiting until you are certain will cost you your life; a meaningful one anyway.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.
Zen is art.

How to live, knowing that you will die.

When we are young most of us don't think we are going to die; not really.  Sooner or later we are reminded that this life is impermanent.  Maybe its a gray hair, the death of a friend or family member, whatever; it hits us... we will not be here forever.

So how do you live when you know you are going to die? You may not be able to choose how you will die, but you can choose how you will live.  ( See To Live. )
I can't make your decisions for you but I can share how I want to live; knowing that I will die.

Live here and now ( See  Tomorrow. )

I try to honor every moment and to be mindfully present instead of always worrying about the future. Does it make sense to waste today worrying about tomorrow?  Will we turn around and do the same with that day?

Do not waste a day. ( Read  Life is Fragile and Precious. )

I disconnected my cable television months ago.  I enjoy the odd program, but I will not waste a large part of my life watching other people live.  I'd rather be living my own life.

Give it everything that I've got. ( See Burning Bright. )

The best feeling in the world is to be totally exhausted after doing something hard and worthwhile.  Knowing that I give a task or a cause my best effort is all of the success I need.

Be myself ( Read Being Real. )

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."  ~Judy Garland

My life has become so much more rich and meaningful as I have learned to listen to my inner voice and be my true self.

Have a purpose ( See 10 Goals .)

When all is said and done, I want what I have done to matter.   Choose a set of principles, values, or beliefs to incorporate into your life.

Be kind and helpful ( See Kindness. )

This sort of goes with above.  Being kind and helpful is a purpose.  Life can be hard sometimes.  I like to think that I've made it a little better for at least a few people. 

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." ~ Steve Jobs

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.


If you haven't already seen it, please visit my guest post over at Slow Your Home.  Brooke was very generous to allow me to write for her wonderful blog

There is absolutely nothing that I can add to this beautiful poem.  Please share if you enjoy it.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

5 Things you need to know today

1. Your life is impermanent.

Self explanatory.  No matter what your spiritual beliefs, this life has limits.  Cherish every moment.

2. Life has whatever meaning you give it.

So many people, myself included, waste so many years searching for a pre-packaged purpose to be placed at their feet.  Save yourself some time.  Create a purpose from your values and beliefs.  Creating a list of principles, values, and beliefs is a good place to start.

3. You can ( and do) make a difference.

Everything you do ( or don't do ) makes a difference.  No man is an island.  All of your choices affect everyone else in your life in one manner or another.  Are you adding value?

4. Almost any mistake can be corrected. 

Learn from your mistakes but don't dwell.  Don't live in the past.  Correct your mistakes and move on.  When necessary, ask forgiveness.

5. You are not alone.

You are never alone.  Distance yourself from the negative people in your life and connect with the positive people.  Sometimes just surrounding yourself with  positive people can make all of the difference. 

Other popular articles:

10 Goals worth sharing

12 Reasons I'm a Minimalist

Being Happy With Less

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Why I write to celebrities

Why do I write to celebrities like Neil Young, Seth Godin, James Altucher, Diane Balch, and Bobby Flay?  It is not to seek favor or to lavish praise. 

I do it for two reasons:

1.  To learn.  I learn about the person that I write.  How do they respond or do they respond at all?  Some I never hear back from, some respond with a quick acknowledgement letter, and others actually spend a few minutes writing a nice, thoughtful note.

2.  To remove limitations.  I lived too long with self imposed limitations in my life.  Often we feel that we are not good enough or rich enough or whatever enough to associate or interact with people of celebrity status.  If we don't feel good enough, maybe we're not.  Now I am.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

One little change

Small steps, every day for big change.

Other articles on

To live


Call me by my true names


Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Questions to ask daily

I've learned and forgotten many lessons in my life.  I've hit bottoms, found healing, found answers, and pulled myself up only to get lazy or forget the lessons learned.  In an effort to ensure that I don't lose my way any longer I've developed a few systems.  One of those systems is to have a list of questions that I ask myself daily.

1.  What are my intentions today?  Look at this one from every side.  What do I hope to accomplish and do these goals align with my overall purpose?

2.  Am I being honest?  There are several aspects to this question as well.  Am I being honest with myself?  Am I being honest to others?  Am I proud of what I am doing?

3.  Am I taking care of myself?  Am I eating healthy?  Am I getting enough rest?  Am I spending enough time with myself through meditation or other quiet time?

4.  Am I living up to my potential?  Am I being creative?  Am I using my time wisely?  Have I analyzed my plan of action to see if it is effective?  Am I adding value?

5.  Am I being spiritual (in my own way)?  Am I in touch with who I really am?  Do I take the time to acknowledge what I am grateful for?  Do I know what I stand for?  Am I contributing to making the world ( or my world ) a better place?

Make your own list similar to this one.  Review it at least weekly, if not daily.  You will still have good days and bad days, but if you use your list of questions and stay honest with yourself then you will find that you don't stray too far off course.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Tomorrow never comes

Have you ever awoke and said to yourself "It is tomorrow?"  Of course not, because it is always now.  Tomorrow never comes.  

To live your life fully invested in something that doesn't exist and never will, doesn't make sense. You are missing so much.  Be present.  Be mindful.  Notice your life and those around you right now.

The holiday season is an exceptional time to be present. Your life is now.

"Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be"
                                                                                                                    ~ Eckhart Tolle

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Modern Zen Stories XII - Thanksgiving links

Thanksgiving links.  I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember to be grateful.

Why I'm not preparing for Christmas on Aberrant Living

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Recipes on Gluten-Free Goddess

Food and Sensuality on Food Philosophy

Thanksgiving Trends on The Bitten Word

6 alternative ways to spend Thanksgiving on The Elephant Journal

Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie on Youtube

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

51 Great Ways to Relieve Stress

    1. Breathe deeply, feel your chest expand and contract.
    2. Shake some one's hand.
    3. Give someone close a massage.
    4. See the humor in life. Read a joke, watch a comedy.  Laugh out loud.
    5. Meditate for 15 minutes or more.  It generally takes at least 10 minutes for the mind to settle and tensions to start to fade.
    6. Make a journal or diary entry.  Empty your troubles onto the page.
    7. Cry if you feel like it.  Crying is your body's natural way to release stress and rid of toxins.
    8. Tell someone if you are angry.  Don't keep it bottled up.  Tactfully express your feelings.
    9. Tell someone you love them.  Don't assume that they know.  You'll feel better and so will they.
    10. Write down your worries.  List them, make a plan, and let them go.
    11. Spend time outdoors.  Being outdoors lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and helps to provide an overall feeling of well-being.
    12. Ask yourself "What if everything goes well?" Quit being pessimistic.
    13. Neaten up your surroundings.  Clutter increases anxiety.
    14. Live in the moment.  Now is all that exists. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
    15. Eat something healthy.  Eat mindfully appreciating each bite.
    16. Take out the trash or wash dishes.  Accomplishing menial tasks brings on a feeling of well being.
    17. Say no to someone.  Don't over-commit.
    18. Avoid doing any one thing to excess.  Even fun things bring on guilt and stress when over done.
    19. Dress up.  Look good - feel good.
    20. Recycle.  Do a good deed.
    21. Help someone.  Helping others reduces stress and gives a sense of purpose.
    22. Take a day off.  Give yourself a day for enjoyment. 
    23. Give to a charity. Feel good about yourself.
    24. Make a grateful list. List everything that brings joy to your life.
    25. Sing out loud. 
    26. Make a list of your greatest accomplishments. Give yourself credit for what you have achieved in life.
    27. Call an old friend and say hello.
    28. Try something new, something small at first. Expanding your world gives a sense of ability and accomplishment.
    29. Forgive yourself. Realize that you've done the best you knew how at the time.
    30. Do strenuous exercise. Exercise is good for stress relief and a sense of healthiness.
    31. Read a short story.
    32. Listen to music. Play your favorite song.
    33. Stretch. Reach for the sky. Twist your body in ways you've never done. Feel your aliveness.
    34. Do something you believe in. Make a stand and feel good about it.
    35. Find the answer to a problem.  Research something that troubles you and find a solution.
    36. Smile at a total stranger.
    37. Do your job well.  Feel good about how you do what you do.
    38. Write a letter.  Surprise someone with a hand-written note.
    39. Take a nice warm bath.  Use bubble bath, bath salts, or whatever makes you feel special.
    40. Drink a cup of warm decaffeinated tea.  Savor each swallow.
    41. Spend time with friends. Surround yourself with people that make you happy.
    42. Sit in the sun.  Face the sun and feel the warmth spread through you, relieving all of your tension.
    43. Refrain from gossip.  Gossip brings a short sense of thrill, but is often followed with guilt, regret, and stress.
    44. Make a list prioritizing your values.  A sense of self and purpose relieves stress.
    45. Treat yourself with a piece of chocolate.  Chocolate is healthy and provides a sense of well being.
    46. Stroke or play with a pet.
    47. Encourage someone that needs it.  Be positive with others and feel good about yourself.
    48. Roll in the grass. Roll around like a kid until you feel young again.
    49. Fantasize.  Imagine your greatest fantasy. Make it real.
    50. Play a game.  Be a child again and have fun.
    51. Have sex.  Sex is one of nature's greatest stress relievers.
Please add any suggestions in the comments below.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.


Modern Zen Stories XI - Best stories on the net

Image credit: anoldent on

Welcome to Modern Zen Stories XI, a collection of the best independent content offered on the net this week.  If you've come across some interesting articles or stories then please share them in the comments.  If there is a topic that you would like to see more often then please let me know that as well.

Have a great weekend.


Sluts at the Halloween Ball on The Altucher Confidential

When to go with your gut on 99u

The antidote to perfectionism on Slow Your Home

How to Live Consciously in Every Day Life on Myrko Thum

The Four Great Bodhisattva Vows on The Endless Further

Lungs of the Planet on Earthism

Home Remedies for Congestion.. on Common Sense Homesteading

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude on A New England Girl

Music by The Hare and the Hounds - a small independent band.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Weird is normal and vice versa

Every one of us is unique. No two of us are the same, so why do we try to fit in, to be normal?  I would argue that, in addition to a natural human trait to want to belong,  the creation of the norm has mostly been a product of marketing in the last fifty years or so.  Mass production is cheap. Create a norm using television and radio, encourage everyone to conform, and you've created a mass audience to sell mass produced products to.  It worked very well for a while.

Wanting to belong is okay, it is normal.  Having large corporations and media conglomerates define who we should be is not normal, it is oppressive.  Depression, stress, and a general dissatisfaction with life are all symptoms of what happens when we try to meet someone else's expectations.

 The world has changed in the last few years.  As the internet has opened our world of choice and expanded our ability to communicate with other people that have similar opinions and interests, we don't have to conform to connect.  There are others out there just as weird as we are.

You don't have to be someone else's version of normal. Be weird. Be yourself. That is normal.


To explore this topic further I recommend We Are All Weird by Seth Godin.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

10 Goals worth sharing

The following list is from Satya Columbo at .  Satya was reflecting on the differences between the United States and the jungles of Central America, where he'd just spent eight long months, when he discerned this list.  They mirror my own values so closely that I  had to share. 
Number 10 is set apart because it is my own. 
  1. A clear and present mind rooted in the truth of who we are;
  2. A life that’s dominated by love over the quest for property, prestige and wealth;
  3. A foundation of generosity over greed;
  4. The freedom to live our lives in alignment with the highest values we envision for ourselves and the world;
  5. A life that’s filled with recognition of the abundance of all that we have vs. obsessing over what we don’t have;
  6. The fundamental groundedness in nature — in the beauty and wisdom, the abundance and flow of the earth;
  7. A clean earth, clean environment, and clean water for all humans and all life;
  8. Simplified, minimized consumption — focused on sustainability;
  9. A Life driven by happiness, joy and celebration of the gifts that we have.
10.  To serve and help other people do the same.

If these ideas or goals resonate with you then please share.  Thanks for reading,


Make Your Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home. Click Here!
Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Modern Zen Stories X

This is the 10th edition of Modern Zen Stories.  I spend hours each week reading hundreds of blog posts and articles.  I present you with the best of what I find in each episode of Modern Zen Stories.  Some weeks there are themes, others not.  I like to mix it up.  This weeks topics range from stories about Hurricane Sandy to the upcoming holidays.

Have a mindful week.

Dan Garner

I wish I had a poem to offer On the IDP blog.

The cry of the earth on The Endless Further

A community vineyard grows in Cleveland on

Buckeye on the Showmenaturephotography blog.

Breaking bread with mindfulness on Freedom from the known.

The Best Pumpkin Crème Brûlée You'll Ever Have on A Cup of Jo

Ulitimate clutter free gift guide on Slow Your Home

If you enjoy outdoor pics take a look at a few shots from last weeks camping trip here .

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.


Money is just paper.  It has no real value.  Our home does.
Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.


Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Greed Kills

“Greed, envy, sloth, pride and gluttony: these are not vices anymore. No, these are marketing tools. Lust is our way of life. Envy is just a nudge towards another sale. Even in our relationships we consume each other, each of us looking for what we can get out of the other. Our appetites are often satisfied at the expense of those around us. In a dog-eat-dog world we lose part of our humanity.” 
~ Jon Foreman

There is a large divide in America between the haves and have-nots.  It is apparent in politics, on the news, and in the streets.  You hear about the 47%, the 1%, the 99%, etc... I think that the reason for such a divide is simple - greed.

I do not begrudge wealth.  Abundance is great.  I wish everyone was wealthy.  Many wealthy individuals have brought enormous gifts to society.  Their inventions, the products that they bring us, and the jobs that they created have benefited many.  The production of wealth can benefit all.  What I do have a problem with is greed. 

If you are productive, driven, and offer products or services that people are willing to pay for then more power to you.  If you have gifts and talents that you share and are paid handsomely to offer, then we encourage you.

So who or what do I ( and many other discerning individuals ) have a problem with? The corporations that spend millions of dollars developing and advertising food products that are bad for us and then respond "We can't control what people choose to eat."  Drug companies that hide studies showing that their products are harmful to the human body and spend billions marketing them anyway.  Corporations that bribe Senators so that laws are passed to benefit them with special priviledges or advantages.  Senators that take bribes and betray the people that elect them.  Need I go on?  Greed crosses a line.  It places money above adding value.  Profits in line with value added are great.  Profits due to lies, manipulation, and greed are evil.  Greed is responsible for war and much of the ugliness in our world.  Greed kills.

I begrudge no man or a corporation's wealth - if it was earned honestly and with good intentions.  We must hold businessmen and politicians to the same standards that we expect of every-day citizens.  The excuses 'it's only business', 'it's politics', etc... need to go.  Hold every person, corporation, or entity to the same standards.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Survival mode

Preparing for hurricane Sandy, here on the Outer Banks, I'm concerned with only the essential. Frivolous things don't matter. I'm thinking of safety for myself, my family, my neighbors, and my pets. I'm not concerned with my bank account, the football game, or politics.

I already live a minimalist lifestyle, but now I'm thinking about taking it a step further.  If the storm took half of what I own, would I miss it?  Probably not.

Survival mode is no way to live your whole life, but it helps to put things in the proper perspective every now and then.

I hope everyone is safe.


P.S. - If you like outdoor photography heres a link to some pics from my camping trip a few days ago.  * Zen Outdoors*

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

20 Great Blogs You Should Check Out

I will not be publishing an episode of 'Modern Zen Stories' this week.  I will be following my own advice and be disconnecting ( link ).  I'll be camping with no computer, cell phone turned off, and enjoying some outdoor recreation. 

Instead I thought I'd leave you with some great blogs or sites that I've discovered that are small enough to be under the radar.   I hope you enjoy.

Simplicity or Minimalist Living

Inspirational / Self Improvement

Castles in the Air

Just plain fun


Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

This video got over 35 million views?

This video got over 35 million views.  


Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Facing Winter

I love fall.  I know, who doesn't?  Crisp cool air, clear blue skies, and the smell of wood fires in the air.  With major holidays just around the corner you'd think I'd be care-free and full of joy, but there is something at the edge of my mind.  Winter.  The knowledge that the cool crisp air will turn cold and damp, the blue skies will turn grey, and that it will be dark before I'm even home every day looms in my head. 

I wish I could take my feelings about winter and turn them around.  Even more so, I wish I could enjoy this moment for what it is.  It is autumn.  Let tomorrow take care of itself.  That is what Zen is all about after all.

I'm not sure why I dread winter so.  It  usually ends up being my most productive season.  Each year,  as I'm forced to spend more time indoors, I find myself reading new authors, pondering life's deepest secrets, meditating, and working on self-knowledge.  I always emerge stronger following a long hard winter, yet still I resist. 

There's a lesson in there somewhere.


Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Modern Zen Stories IX - Most interesting stories this week

This weeks collection of the best stories of the week are an eclectic bunch.  Just interesting stories that caught my attention.  It's nice just to read amusing articles now and then.  If you have an interesting link or post to share then please leave a link in the comments.

Have an interesting weekend!


 10 Reasons to vote for me for President  A little humor mixed with twisted truth here on

19 Incredible Human Accomplishments and

8 Uses for Epsom Salt both on

Cheap Places to Travel on the US Dollar on

How to Generate a Brilliant Idea in 20 Minutes or Less on

Civilization by Seth Godin

Greed: The Ultimate Addiction on Evolution of the Self

To leave a live link in the comments you will have to use html ie:
<a href=""> ZenPresence</a>

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

SHARING - Reaching out

My previous post Lessons Learned

So why do I bother to spend several hours a week on this blog?  I'm obviously not a writer.  I make a few pennies a day in advertising so that's not it.  I do it because it gives me a chance to share my ideas and connect with others.  There are no boundaries or limits.  Anyone with Internet access can read what I have to say.  I enjoy that.

I also read a lot more since I began blogging.  I read tons of blogs for content ideas and for pleasure. 

One thing that I've noticed since I started reading so many blogs - there are a lot of people afraid you might advertise your blog or toot your own horn on 'their' blog. WHO CARES?  I don't want you advertising Viagra or anything similar, but if you want to comment on subject and leave your blog or web address then go ahead.  I'd be pleased to share it with others as long it is not off-color ( I will check).  I would even encourage you to please provide links to like content in the comments whether it is yours or not.  I'm interested in reading other views and seeing new ideas.  I hope you are too, so please share.  Use whatever name you like.  PLEASE SHARE

Please go on to see my previous post Lessons Learned

Dan Garner

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned (again) yesterday:

Be true to your higher self.

Principles before outcome.

Checking my email more than twice in a day is a waste of time.

There is rarely news of any importance on Yahoo, USA Today, or any other major media site.

I waste a lot of time worrying about things that are not truly important to me.

Don't try to fit in.

Music can turn any mood around.

Life is beautiful.

Spend 5 minutes picturing yourself at the end of your life to regain your perspective.

Have a good day,


Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

To Live

To live, to walk, to breathe, to touch this earth is a joy and a privilege.  Remove from your life any beliefs that prevent you from realizing this.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Using the power of intention

intend - 1. to direct the mind on;  2. to have in mind a purpose or a goal.  Merriam- Webster

Our mind is a very powerful tool. Used correctly it can assist us in achieving almost any dream.  Used incorrectly, or not at all, we drift or randomly change paths. 

Before I discovered how to harness the power of intention my days went something like this:
Most mornings I would wake with a foggy mind.  Random thoughts, subject to my mood and last nights dreams passed through my mind so quickly that I was barely aware of many of them.  I would try to focus enough to get through my workout, shower, and get to work.  It could be hours later before I gained any real focus.  I 'd go through my day's routine not being sure why I was doing half of the things I did. 

Then I discovered a better way

What if  I clarified my intention?  Through meditation and quiet time I could clarify my big picture intention for life. I could use this knowledge each morning to clarify my intention for the day. What if I knew each day what I intended to do?  I don't mean the routine, I'm talking about my deep-seated intention.  Why am I going to work, writing that blog, or teaching that class?  What do I intend to achieve?  By clarifying my intentions, I could not only make it clear what my objectives were, but I got a chance to remove any impurities that might mingle with my best intentions.

With this sort of clarity you can achieve so much more.  Intention focuses our energy and brings about certainty.  Certainty gives us power - focused power.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

I'm not afraid and that's not good

I'm not afraid right now, not even nervous. I'm fully confident and that's not good. Why you ask? I am not that strong. I am comfortable right now. Yes I am fairly confident in my abilities to get by in this world, but who wants to just get by?

 If I had mastered life and were a great Zen master then it would be okay (maybe) to be just bathing in contentment, but I am not.  Being fearless right now could only mean one thing - I'm in a rut.  Time for a few changes.  Nothing stays put forever; if you're not moving forward then you are losing ground.  Time to push forward out of my comfort zone.

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" ~ Neale Donald Walsch

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Modern Zen Stories VIII - Stories about happiness

How I Quit My Job, Moved to a Foreign Country, and Became a Ninja on The Change Blog

Things not to worry about at The Art of Non-conformity

10 things to say yes to for a happier life on The Positivity Blog

How to release neediness on

7 lessons learned from a 7 year old on PositivelyPositive

And to finish the list, I would like to leave you with an article by Elle on her great blog, Reflecting a Life.  Elle's article 'Outsmarting the tips and techniques trap ' is about going slow.  Don't try to overachieve on self improvement.  Take time to enjoy who you are while trying to improve one step at a time.  Be happy now.

Have a happy weekend,

Dan Garner

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life


If you are hurting or suffering today, realize that you are not alone.  Open up to those around you.

If you see someone hurting or suffering today, let them know that they are not alone.  Open up to those around you.

We must recognise that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.
~ Dalai Lama

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life

5 ways to achieve simplicity

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” ~Hans Hofmann

Simplicity does not equal boring, or plain.  Simplicity can be beautiful.  A life of simplicity can be rich and full of meaning.  Why simplify?  Read my article from a few weeks ago, '5 ways simplicity allows you to achieve more'.

Now for 5 great ways to achieve simplicity in your life:

1.  Create a map

Your plan to simplify starts with a map or plan, if you will.  If you just start hacking things out of your life then you might not be happy with the results when you're done.  You need to be sure that what you remove is not essential to who you are.  We need to identify what is important to us and essential to our well being to know what we are aiming for.  Spend some time defining who you are and what is important to you.

2.  Eliminate conflicts

After defining what our values are and who we want to be, the next obvious step is to eliminate the things that are in conflict or get in the way of what is important to us.  Does spending hours in front of a television conflict with your priority to spend time with family?  If so, reduce or eliminate it.

3.  Set up routines

Establishing routines and streamlining our household tasks can really save time and wasted energy.  In addition to time saved performing a task with a well designed routine, we spend less time deciding how and when to do something. 
  • When you cook, cook enough for at least two meals. 
  • Shop on the way home from work so that you won't waste time or fuel getting back to the market   on a day off.
  • Set aside specific times to check email and social networks so that you are not on the computer all day.

4.  Think long term

Buy things that will last.  Plant perennials in your flower garden.  Grow vegetables that keep producing for a long season.  Maximize the yield from your purchases and activities.

5.  Find your sweet spot

Find out what is 'just enough' for you.  Just enough is the sweet spot where you are happy but not burdened with extra responsibility.  Anything more than just enough costs more time, money, and effort to maintain.  Maybe going out to eat once a week is just enough.  Maybe playing one sport instead of three gives you the exercise and camaraderie that you need in your life.  You'll have to find your sweet spot for yourself.

Taking just these five steps can really help reduce the complexity of your life.  I hope you find your life more manageable and enjoyable.

Related articles:

8 thoughts about simplicity and money  on Happy Simple Living

A little support on Simple Living with Diane Balch

20 ways to simplify & save on Simplify Magazine

No news is good news - Disconnecting


Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life