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

Cause and effect, or coincidence?

Today I was typing at the computer while listening to a track on my iphone.  At precisely the same time that my finger touched the key board, the music skipped or jumped.  At first my mind connected the two events, but then I remembered that the track always jumped at that spot.  The timing was coincidental.  How many false connections have our minds made; shaping our vision of life?

I think we all understand the link between cause and effect.  The trick is to be sure you are connecting the proper cause to the proper effect.

Modern Zen Stories VII - Interacting with others

The theme for this week's collection of the best reads on the net is interfacing with others.  Most unhappiness in this world could be avoided if we were more mindful of our dealings with other beings.

If you ejoy reading, please take the time to share with others.  Share stories, pics, or links on Facebook, g+1 a post you like, or just tell your friends.

Have a mindful week. 

Dan Garner

Don't assume I know what you mean on Psychology Today.

Hello I love you on Be more with less.

Respond Instead of Reacting: Speak Your Truth, Not Your Fears on Tiny Buddha.

Daily Connect: Self, Other, and Politics on the Inter-Dependence Project.

What makes you "click" with someone else? on Barking up the Wrong Tree.

The easiest way to thrive as an outlier on Seth Godin's blog.

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


Yesterday I published a short piece on burning bright; giving all that you have with no attachment.  To do this, we must be honest.  We cannot give all that we have when we are trying to be someone we're not.  We cannot give all that we have when we are trying to give something false or borrowed. 

I don't schedule my posts to time them for maximum impact.  I generally write an article the minute that the idea comes to me.  I publish almost immediately and then I am done with it.  That is who I am.

Don't pretend. Don't try to fit in.  You have your own place in this world.

Burning Bright

"When you do something you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself."  - Shunryu Suzuki

Good morning.  Give life all you have today, expecting nothing in return.  With no attachments to outcome, we are free to enjoy whatever happens from our best efforts.

Email your troubles away

"May the wind take your troubles away" ~ Jay Farrar

You can't really get rid of your troubles that easy, or can you?  Many of our troubles are imagined or they are magnified by our lizard brains.  A solution is just around the corner if we would let go of the fear. 

Give yourself room to breathe.  For just a day let your troubles go.  What if everything went right?

Compose an email with your troubles and send them away.  Send them to anyone or no-one.  If you'd like to send them to me send them to Dgarner23 at Gmail dot com.  When you hit the send button, let'em go.  Give yourself a break.  Let the wind take your troubles away.