Zen in ten

November 29th, 2007

Because one thing leads to another, here is my contribution to total life fulfillment in 10 seconds or less:

1. Make your bed. The state of your bed is the state of your head. Making your bed enfolds your day in respect and gratitude.

2. Use butter. Be generous with yourself and others; there is no need to skimp or settle; there is always enough; and it tastes much better that way.

3. Say hello. This is a genuine act of true love: to give and accept friendship for no good reason.

4. Floss your teeth. It really will keep your teeth and gums in better shape; you will feel good about it; and, most importantly, you will no longer have to lie to the dentist.

5. Slow down on the yellow light. Save yourself the effort of making an excuse.

6. Be quiet. Nearly all of conversation is complaining, blaming or criticizing, which is so much fun until someone gets hurt. Silence never judges. It is infinitely kind.

7. Rake the leaves. Not because you’ll finish and not because there is a prize, but because somebody has to.

8. Answer. There is nothing in life that doesn’t belong here. Listen when spoken to; answer when asked. Pay attention and look people in the eyes.

9. Exhale. This is what it really means to let go. Every other form of letting go is just imaginary. If you call yourself a “control freak” – and who isn’t – remind yourself that you already know perfectly well how to let go. Then exhale. You’ll feel pounds lighter right away.

10. Be. Forget all about this list; you already know how to live and you’re doing it beautifully; there are no rules required, and no authority elsewhere.



  1. I’m so glad Shawn came up with this topic; I’m really enjoying seeing the different takes on it. I’m going to go exhale right now.

    Comment by Mary P Jones (MPJ) — November 29, 2007 @ 10:59 pm

  2. REAL butter; there is no substitute!

    Comment by Mama Zen — November 29, 2007 @ 11:35 pm

  3. Wow- I have a lot of work to do!

    Comment by Noisette — November 30, 2007 @ 12:13 am

  4. My husband IS NOT A CONTROL FREAK. He is just not.

    How does a person who practices Zen produce anything if living is enough? How can I, for example, learn to balance the here and now with my passions?

    Yes, butter … I totally agree.

    Comment by Shawn — November 30, 2007 @ 2:43 am

  5. this is a fabulous list. i love it. “use butter” is perfect advice for living fully.

    Comment by Phyllis Sommer — November 30, 2007 @ 4:43 am

  6. You can put butter on toast! You might enjoy this essay: Bust Your Toast Rules. Your post and it fit nicely together.

    Comment by Kathryn — November 30, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

  7. Noisette–yes, it is the work of non-working. And Shawn–as you know, that does not mean idling your body, just your mind. Be passionate about the here and now. No need to be passionate about the over there and then. When the future arrives, slather it with butter and eat it with gusto.

    Comment by Karen — November 30, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

  8. Floss! Yes, forgot about lying to the dentist, I can stop lying to myself. The thing that scares me about floss is getting all tangled up in it, sort of like how I complicate things in life.

    Comment by Shannon — November 30, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

  9. Use real butter. And cream. and forget those “snack cakes” that I believe are supposed to take like chocolate but do not.

    p.s. I made my bed this morning. and how marvelous it felt.

    Comment by bella — November 30, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  10. I wish you had said more about cell phone etiquette: there ought to be LAWS against that one! 😀

    Having abandoned the practice when I left home, I am only recently rediscovering the value of number one. Without having heard it written, I’d not have thought of it, but now that I have, that one is tops.

    Wonderfully well done. Kudos.

    Comment by Not the Mama (Gary) — November 30, 2007 @ 6:48 pm

  11. Gee guys, I’m inspired to write a book now! And guy (Gary) I agree about cell phones but I think we addicts and abusers already know what the law would say. We just don’t pay attention. (That’s rule #5)

    Comment by Karen — November 30, 2007 @ 7:39 pm

  12. You sound like a mother, and aren’t mothers always right?

    Comment by Mika — November 30, 2007 @ 9:39 pm

  13. I especially like #10 for the simplicity of it. And thank you for posting the link to the 10 Grave Precepts. I hadn’t seen that before.

    Comment by Moanna — December 1, 2007 @ 1:34 am

  14. I love your rules. Especially #10.

    Comment by Shelli — December 1, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

  15. Love the butter! Yes, thank you for that. And my rule to add–if you think butter is bad, please don’t tell me about it.

    But make the bed? The pain! My dad’s 2nd wife insisted the bed be made, and if the sheets were not PERFECTLY even on both sides, and the corners not done EXACTLY as she’d instructed, she’d yank everything off and make us do it again. So, sometimes I do make the bed, but I tend to do it very badly. I suppose the rule for that is–let it go…

    Comment by marta — December 3, 2007 @ 3:38 am

  16. Love this list. Thank you.

    Comment by shauna — December 6, 2007 @ 7:28 am

  17. […] learned this quote many years ago, when I first stumbled upon Karen Miller’s blog. I had an on-off relationship with this mantra. There were many times when I woke up and was in a […]

    Pingback by Your Bed, Your Head – Marie Sapuay — August 7, 2019 @ 7:17 pm

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