Simple Ways To Be Zen (-ish) & Get Your (Mental) Shit Together

This is the edited and updated version of an article I wrote, previously posted in The Borneo Post Seeds.

I admire and envy Zen people. As for me, I hardly remember my day. LOL. I decided to try out some zen stuff and adapted it into more down-to-earth habits. (For beginners.)


1. Focus on one task at a time.

Forget about multitasking, pay attention to nitty-gritty details. Take it slow. Do it moderately obsessively. I know this might sound strange, but I do achieve Zen while doing dishes. I washed so well and the results left me feeling utterly satisfied. Mundane but it made me want to do more productive things. It's addictive. So feel proud when someone complains about how slow you are. (Thanks, man.)

2. Create rituals and have a system.

I created a simple ritual for myself in the morning before I go to work or start my day. While showering, I start systematically from hair to toe. It truly has a stress-relieving element to that act, same as when you organize your stuff in order. And in each sub-tasks I have in my showering task, I focus and concentrate on doing them well. For example, when I get to my face, I cleanse and exfoliate and give myself a nice massage, and talk up to myself like a psycho. It boosts your self-esteem too when you are sending yourself the message that you are taking care of yourself well. (Almost like meditating.)

3. Breathe.

When I say 'zen', I can pretty much bet that some people think about a floating monk in hardcore meditation, in his orange get-up and bonsai plants everywhere. Snore. Meditation is as easy as breathing. I am sure you know how to do that already - just DEEPER breaths.

While you are doing that, you are actually giving your body and brain an oxygen boost – visualize that! Your cells start thriving with freshness and everything starts to work better. This is especially true for your brain cells – you become more alert and attentive. You actually feel better instantly.

4. Good thoughts and energy.

Fill your mind with nice thoughts - no matter how abnormal that may feel. Help others. Smile. Speak words of encouragement and not of slander and gossip – and then let all that good energy flow through you in everything you do and everyone you encounter. Just be a fucking good person for once haha. Don’t let bad things or people affect you, you are in control of your mind. Blow them off like you don't even see them (add on a glazed look with a creepy smile - if needed).

5. Stretch.

I do like this a lot – stretch slowly and hold. Imagine yourself limbering up and growing taller with every stretch. Do this first thing in the morning and throughout the day as needed. Be aware of your body and keep that posture right.

6. Prioritize your time for rest.

Rest is important. Do not assign too many things in a day. Do not rush. Give yourself ample time. In between tasks throughout the day, allocate some time in between for breaks. Give yourself some quality sleep and get enough shut-eye. Make sleep a luxury activity at the end of every day. Invest in a bed that closely resembles a fluffy white cloud in heaven.

7. Live simply.

I was a broke person. Not I-can't-afford-an-iPhone broke. I was rice-and-eggs-all-day-err-day broke. The simplicity of zen suited me. I said no to consumerism easily and adopted the just-don’t-buy attitude. Well I do need stuff, I shop the sales and second-hand stuff. Close enough. Try to enjoy more the things money cannot buy, such as friendships, families, lovers, caring for others, volunteering your help to the needy, your hobbies, etc. Do free stuff. I'm frugal and cheap AF - so you can ask me for suggestions lol.

8. Minimalism with everything.

I like to carry only the essentials with me when I go out. Keep your workstation as clutter-free as possible, same goes for your dressing table, your bathroom, your car, etc. Wear as basic as possible. The less things you have, the more Zen you can be. And with the things you do have, go for quality. Try to be basic and minimal. Even make your meals so.


Try lah. Chill.