Let’s play self-help zenists, shall we? A lot of people have made a lot of money doing so (cynical bastards, unite!). Below is an edited extract from a post that first appeared on Zenhabits.net. It’s copyright-free for everyone to share. Obviously I extracted only the money and business related parts. For pointers on feelings, hearts and so forth, head straight to the Zen place. Here we go:


I have six lovely children — one of them now an adult, and a couple more almost there — and I give a lot of thought to what I think they should know as they grow up and go out into the world.

What could I best teach them to equip them for life?

This is what I’d like them to know:

You are good enough. Most people are afraid to do things because they are afraid they’re not good enough, afraid they’ll fail. But you are good enough — learn that and you won’t be afraid of new things, won’t be afraid to fail, won’t need the approval of others. You’ll be pre-approved — by yourself.

You can start your own business. As a young man, I thought I needed to go to college and then be employed, and that owning a business is for rich people. That was all wrong. It’s possible for almost anyone to start their own business, and while you’ll probably do badly at first, you’ll learn quickly.

Spend less than you earn. Thirty percent less if you can manage. Most people get a job and immediately spend their income on a car loan, high rent or a large mortgage, buying possessions and eating out using credit cards. None of that is necessary. Don’t spend it if you don’t have it. Learn to go without, and be happy with less. Put away some of your income to grow with the power of compound earnings. Your future self will thank you.

Get good at discomfort. Avoiding discomfort is very common, but a big mistake. Learning to be OK with some discomfort will change your life.

Learn to love healthy food. It’s all a matter of adjusting your tastebuds, slowly and gradually.

The things that stress you out don’t matter. Take a larger perspective: will this matter in five years? Most likely the answer is no. If the answer is yes, attend to it.

Learn to be good at change. Change is the one constant in life. You will suffer by trying to hold onto things. Learn to let go and learn to have a flexible mind. Don’t get stuck in what you’re comfortable with, don’t shut out what’s new and uncomfortable.