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About Us

By Leo Babauta

So who am I, and what do I know about unschooling?

I'm Leo Babauta, creator of Zen Habits and mnmlist. I'm the father of six kids (well, one is an adult now), married to the beautiful Eva, and we live in San Francisco (formerly lived on Guam). I don't know everything about unschooling, don't have all the answers, but I do love it and am passionate about it and tell every parent I meet about how amazing it is.

Eva and I started homeschooling our kids about 5 years ago, and quickly adopted the unschooling philosophy. Here's the rundown on our kids:

Life Appreciation

On Words & threads

At one point or another, I was induced with the idea that I needed a personal mantra. The source for this idea was probably some article about stressed out people in a magazine, and me being a very stressed out person at times, found the idea fitting but also cheesy. Nonetheless, I came up with “Exhale stress, inhale appreciation.” I was thinking of a word to encapsulate all negative feelings I harbor, and a word to explain most good feelings. Stress- not sorrow, not anger- is what that came down to: stress about school, general anxiety about using my time wisely and following the right path, stress about friendships or lack thereof, etc. It also seemed that all good things came down to the idea of being grateful, of stepping back and recognizing that life is pretty amazing.

I interpret the idea of a mantra as something that comes up as a core thought, but leads to an action. For me, and probably for most mantra-makers, this is the breath. Literally, I breathe out releasing stress, and on the next inhale feel my mind filling with appreciation for my life. Although I may have just painted a picture of this mantra being very important to me and playing a big role of my daily life, it is really not that at all. And this is precisely why it’s special. I created this phrase long ago, yet at sporadic times of need it surfaces. It’s grounding and somehow, in an intermitted way, has a lasting effect on my mental framework.

If we can appreciate what we have in a specific moment, all of the negative energy in the world can subside, even if only episodically, and in that moment we are experiencing the purest form of happiness.

When I break it down further, I see why I am thankful. There’s more than could be thought consciously in my millisecond-long mantra, but its all down there and tied into that breath. This is the way I can reconcile a life of privilege and a life of self-inflicted stress.

Truly, I believe that this concept can be true for anyone, relative to his or her life. Regardless of class, the amount of food you have, how much you can spend on jeans, who you have relationships with, or what your education is, you still should have something to be thankful for. Even if, or even better, the thing you are thankful for can be the Earth, your life, or a memory.

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