Everything Is a Practice

Every frustration and challenge becomes a precious opportunity
By Leo Babauta
Leo Babauta
Leo Babauta
Leo Babauta is the author of six books and the writer of Zen Habits, a blog with over 2 million subscribers. Visit ZenHabits.net
November 11, 2021 Updated: November 11, 2021

I have a client who has completely changed his life—it’s been a complete transformation, and it’s breathtaking.

One of the most powerful things he’s brought into his life is the practice of self-compassion. It changed everything.

But one of the next most powerful things he created for himself is the view that everything is a practice.

Man, what a ridiculously valuable way to frame our lives!

Every difficulty that comes up is simply something to practice with.

Every frustration with another person is a practice ground, and the other person becomes your teacher. Bow to them with gratitude!

Normally, we think of these difficulties and frustrations as something wrong with us, the other person, or the world. With this kind of view, every failure is another reason to feel bad about ourselves. Every frustration with someone else is a reason to shut down to them or lash out at them. Everything wrong with the world is another reason to feel discouraged.

But what if, instead, we just took it as something to practice with?

Some examples:

My work is overwhelming. OK great, let’s bring awareness to the feeling of overwhelm, be with it mindfully, and examine the view that has you creating this feeling of overwhelm. Can we practice shifting the view? Getting in touch with our inner peace? With this kind of practice, every time we feel overwhelmed is an opportunity to get in touch with our inner peace.

Other people can be so frustrating! Absolutely … and also, can we practice being with this feeling of frustration (even expressing it fully as an emotion), noticing what view we have of others that creates our frustration, and maybe finding a more expansive view that lets us feel compassion for the other people? Maybe even seeing them with love and wonder? Then every frustration with others becomes a way to practice compassion and wonder and expansiveness.

This task is too hard, I don’t want to do it. Yep, I have that too! So can we practice being with our resistance, noticing the view that has us thinking of it as a burden, and instead finding a more open and joyful view of the task? Can it become a place of play and curiosity and adventure?

Every challenge, problem, frustration, failure becomes a place of beautiful practice.

Life becomes a playground and place of exploration.

What a magical place this world is!

Leo Babauta
Leo Babauta is the author of six books and the writer of Zen Habits, a blog with over 2 million subscribers. Visit ZenHabits.net