109: Leo Babauta: Mastering the Art of Change

Leo Babauta is a simplicity blogger & author. He created Zen Habits, a Top 25 blog with a million readers. He’s also a best-selling author, a husband, father of six children, and a vegan.

He started Zen Habits to chronicle and share what he’s learned while changing a number of habits, including: Quit smoking (on Nov. 18, 2005), became a runner, ran several marathons and a 50-mile ultramarathon, began waking early, became organized and productive, eliminated his debt, wrote several best-selling books and ebooks, started a successful blog on simplicity.

Favorite Success Quote

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“The art of life lies in constant readjustment to our surroundings.” – Kazuko Okokaura

Key Points

1. Slow Down and Smile 

Seriously, I want you to take a minute right now, slow down, and smile.

Life happens so darn quickly and so few of us ever take the time to slow down and appreciate it.

As the week goes by, I want you to make a conscious effort just to slow down and smile.

Enjoy the little moments, focus on people that you love, stop worrying so much, and smile more.

I promise you won’t regret it.

2. Pick One Habit and Stick to It

If you want to change your life, then just pick one habit.

That’s it.

Not 3, not 5, and certainly not 10.

Just pick the habit that will make the biggest difference and commit to change it starting today.

Maybe you need to stop smoking, start exercising, start drinking more water, or cut out excessive porn and masturbation.

Pick your habit and commit to a change that you can stick to.

Don’t go crazy and overwhelm yourself.

Start small and work your way up.

3. Readjust and Recalibrate as You Go 

As you are taking steps to change your life and become a better man, you must occasionally take the time to readjust and recalibrate along the journey.

You might find that one habit is not as helpful as you imagined or that one change is much harder to stick to than you had hoped.

And that is ok.

Take time and reflect on what is working well and what is not and make changes accordingly.

4. Start Small, Really Small

If you want to change a habit, then start small.

Really, really small.

For example, if you want to start exercising every day, then just commit to putting on your running shoes and stepping outside.

That’s it.

You don’t have to commit to a 10 mile run each day.

Just decide that you will take this one small action.

It’s doable, it’s small, and it’s easy.

But what you will find is that once you step outside with your running shoes on, you will not want to go back inside and lay down.

You will want to run for at least 10 minutes.

Once you are running for 10 minutes you will want to go for 20, then 30, and eventually a whole hour.

And it all started with the simple act of putting on your shoes and walking out the front door.

5. Be Mindful of Your Urges 

If you are trying to overcome an addiction or a problem, you must start by gaining awareness of your urges.

Whenever you want to go and have a cigarette, become aware of your experience.

What is driving the urge? Why do you want to satisfy your need with a smoke? What is really going on?

Once you gain awareness of your urge, you can approach it mindfully.

For example, if you are tempted to watch porn, ask yourself “Why?”

What is going on in your life that is driving you to sedate with piexalated women?

The more mindful you can be of your urges and the emotions associated with them, the more power you will have over them and the easier they will be to control.

Influential Books

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Free audio book

Connect with Leo Babauta


The Times Have Changed. This is the Way Forward in 2024.

Here’s how I can help in my new FREE training on becoming a stronger Grounded Man:

1. The new path for men that creates a purpose driven life and doesn’t require you to lose your personal power, put women on a pedestal or sacrifice your goals.

2. Why men consistently settle and ignore the most important areas of life like the quality of their intimate relationships, social life and happiness and how to optimize all three without sacrificing professional growth.

3. The biggest mistake 97% of men make that breeds loneliness, breakups and emasculation that is absolutely reversible with this counter intuitive strategy.