Better Living

We’re Always Training Something

Our repetitive thoughts and actions can ingrain certain behaviors, to our detriment or benefit
BY Leo Babauta TIMEJuly 30, 2022 PRINT

Every day, we go through a set of actions that’s training our minds in the long term.

Sometimes we’re training intentionally: We meditate, practice focus, get ourselves to start a workout, resist temptations, and so forth.

Mostly, however, we’re training unintentionally, such as when you press snooze on the alarm clock, look at social media for 30 minutes, or beat yourself up for something you’re not doing. These are probably things you’ve already trained yourself to do, and you’re reinforcing them each time you do them.

I’m not pointing this out to make anyone feel bad—this isn’t about making ourselves feel wrong for how we’re training ourselves. Goodness knows we do that enough.

I’m pointing this out because it gives us an opportunity—we can put awareness and intentionality into what we’re training, every day. This can change how we do everything, which can create a different way to show up for our lives and a different set of results.

For example:

  • If I wake up and check messages and social media, would I like to spend that time in meditation and journaling instead? Or perhaps I would like to create a planning session and stretch to start my day?
  • If I take breaks by watching videos, would I like to spend those breaks going for brief walks and stretching instead? Or would I like to read a book if I’ve been meaning to read more?
  • If I go about my daily tasks by constantly switching between tasks and multiple distractions, would I like to train myself to enjoy singular focus instead?
  • If I toss my clothes on the ground after I take them off to shower or change, would I like to place them where they belong and start to take more care in my life?
  • If I rush through everything as if I can’t wait to be done with it all, would I like to spend more time actually caring about each task and activity, giving it my full attention?
  • If I treat people as annoying interruptions from my work, would I like to instead turn toward them with my full attention and love?
  • If I stew in frustration about what someone else said or did, would I like to take care of my emotions and see the light in the other person instead?
  • If I put off my most meaningful tasks and projects for busywork, would I like to prioritize them and find the structure that will actually help me turn toward those tasks?
  • If I eat mindlessly whenever I’m stressed, would I like to bring compassion to my stress instead and eat slowly, mindfully, and joyfully?
  • If I treat my workouts like a chore to be put off or rushed through, would I like instead to treat them as sacred sessions to take care of my miracle of a body and to bring joyful health into my life?
  • If I’m judgmental about others, would I like to bring curiosity and compassion instead?
  • If I complain about the world around me (including myself), would I instead like to find gratitude for the miracle of life?

You can see that this is an opportunity to shift everything we do—and more importantly, shift how we do everything.

This practice takes a great degree of awareness of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, but it’s an awareness that we can develop with intention and practice, which is exactly how we train something new: intention and practice.

What would you like to train in this moment?

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