Best Books to Read to Change Your Life: Everyday Zen: Love and Work

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“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

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Secret: You can improve your life without changing anything.

Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck reminds us to stop thinking life will be better at some other point in time. (After work. Your day off. When you finish that project. When the kids go to bed. When the kids come to visit. When you lose weight. When you become enlightened, etc.) Anytime we judge the present moment as somehow inferior to some imaginary future moment, we are not truly living. Life is happening right now, regardless of what judgments and internal dialogue we might bury it under.

It is easy to spend our days going from one task to the next while most of the time the chatter in our minds is about something else entirely. Joko uses clear language to reveal that the quality of life we seek is always available to us. We just have to learn how to stop missing it.

And that’s where practice comes into the picture. Why should we bother to meditate? Life is busy, how can it possibly be worth our while to set aside time every single day for meditation? What is the point of trying to stay in the present moment? Anyone who has tried to stop the constant thinking that goes on in our minds knows it is almost futile! Everyday Zen might not convince someone who has never meditated to start a daily practice, but those that have already glimpsed the benefits of meditation will find Joko’s teachings compelling.

The book is a compilation of Joko’s talks, so the teachings are geared for people who are already interested enough in meditation and enlightenment to attend a zen lecture. It does contain a bit of zen terminology, but its powerful message reaches far beyond any one tradition.

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