Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | May 10, 2010

Zen Reaction and Behavior

Perhaps the thing about zen is seeing things clearly, seeing things for what they are. The way of the worldly can be very absurd, very controlling, very manipulative, very entrapping. It’s very easy to get caught up in the bullshit of things because we do have to make our way in this world and a lot of times feel we have to play the games that people play. But perhaps the truth is, this really doesn’t ever make us happy, or work.

The zen way is a way of seeing clearly and letting people knock themselves out with their own nonsense. It’s hard to remain in the center and allow things to arrange themselves, but it’s a whole lot wiser. Life and people are like the weather, following all the patterns: snow storms, hurricanes, drizzles, gentle breezes, clear blue skies, hale, and on and on. When the tornado lands(in the form of a person), run for cover and let it run its course. And don’t get swirled up. You’ll only get spit out at high speed.

A small example of this is the behavior of people coming into the store to return a pair of shoes. Their behavior has been conditioned by past experiences to come in mad as hell ready to kill and raise holy hell, and to stretch the truth of things pretty far. As often as I can, I disarm the returning warrior with a big smile, and the question, “what did you bring me,” as if they were bringing me a present. If they are in the right, I refund their money cheerfully. It’s part of the business. If they are completely in the wrong, well, they get tai chi’d and sent along their merry little way.



  1. There’s nothing quite like being nice to customers. It always throws them off. Whenever I’ve been in customer-facing roles I found that niceness and genuinely caring about their issues made most “angry” customers turn into far more pleasant ones.

    I’m glad to have made their days better. Anger’s such a pain to carry around 🙂

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