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There are generally two groups of people as far as awareness is concerned. Those that are wired to think before acting… and those who inherently act impulsively. Pausing to collect your thoughts, and considering the consequences of your actions, are habits of conscious people.
As you may imagine, there's much more depth to practicing conscious living, and I'm excited to explain how living aware has dramatically changed my life. I went from merely existing, like a ship without a sail, to living on purpose. I wish that you, too, can experience the joys of living with your mind's eyes open.
To accomplish this task, I will help you understand what it really means to live consciously and provide 7 strategies for developing that lifestyle. You'll get a quick glance at the personality traits of conscious people to determine which of these strategies can help you live more mentally aware.
What Does It Mean to Live Consciously?
Conscious living is a way of life that is deliberate and well-thought-out. The lifestyle largely involves maximum awareness of yourself, immediate surroundings, and the world at large. Awareness at these various levels helps inform your day-to-day decisions and influence how you experience life.
Some Zen experts and spiritual gurus call it living “awaken” or with your eyes wide open at the conscious and subconscious levels.
The lifestyle is driven by a mindset where you seize control of your speech, actions, habits, behaviors, emotions, desires, intentions, and purpose. Also key is your ability to recognize how your behaviors affect others, from your closest relative to a distant stranger.
Note that people sometimes confuse the term “conscious” with “conscientious.” The key difference is consciousness refers to living aware. “Conscientiousness” implies a desire to diligently and thoroughly perform tasks.
Living Consciously vs Passive Living
You're living awake and aware if you’re actively and decisively creating your life. There is careful thought behind every decision, big or small, that can affect your life and the lives of your loved ones.
As you can see, the practice isn't about being self-centered or selfish. Although self-awareness is a component, the mindset transcends the self and extends to being mindful of loved ones, strangers, and even the planet! There's more. Individuals who live consciously are in touch with their thought patterns and belief system. The awareness empowers them to shift their mindsets to improve their quality of life.
Passive living is essentially drifting along to wherever the proverbial tides take you and settling for whatever befalls you. Decision-making is at the unconscious level and you aren't even sure why you're doing a certain thing. Isn't it time you started taking control of your life and living on purpose?
Activating the Unconcious Mind to Live Consciously
One study suggests that many decisions may be made at the unconscious level to protect our minds from overload. Since we aren't really able to introspect at the unconscious or subconscious level, those raw thoughts may lead to impulsive actions.
While unconscious living may equate to unintentional living, a study of The Unconscious Mind suggests that conscious thinking is intentional, controllable, and accessible to awareness.
Perhaps we can intentionally push thoughts from the unconscious to the conscious mind to make decisions in support of our desires, health, and well-being. This is probably why self-awareness and mindfulness are promoted as pathways to living consciously.
Consciousness as a Personality Trait
Do you frequently feel as if you didn't accomplish anything at the end of the day? There were times when the days went by and I couldn't account for a large portion of what occurred. These are signs of living obliviously and without purpose. A sense of a lack of purpose may explain why many people feel unhappy, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled.
On the flip side, there are people who live consciously with ease. It might be innate or they are applying the secrets of consciousness to everyday life. These folks tend to have more satisfying life experiences and greater personal and professional success. You can recognize them from the following traits:
Fortunately, you can develop these traits over time and shift to a higher level of consciousness.
Are You Living Consciously? Key Questions to Ask Yourself
The answers to these questions can help determine if you're living proactively.
7 Practical Ways to Live Consciously
Are you ready to shift to a higher level of consciousness? I'm about to share seven key strategies that have worked for me and hope they will make a positive impact on how you live your life going forward.
1. Set achievable goals
Think of goal setting as creating a map to direct your life. Both short and long-term goals are equally important. Setting goals for personal and professional development is actually a sign of a growth mindset. However, things like improving your standard of living and developing healthy habits require awareness of how to accomplish them.
Those with a higher level of consciousness are able to take things a little further and set what are known as realistic goals. Why set goals you don't have the time, skills, or resources to achieve? Realistic goals are the SMART way to go.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. By using this strategy, you'll have clarity on whether you should pursue a particular desire, to begin with. Clarity cuts down on wasting time and money on dead-end projects or relationships that add no value to your life.
2. Manage your time well
There's a popular saying that goes, “Time once lost cannot be regained.” The one I like the most is, “Time waits on no man.” Like money, time is a resource that needs to be managed carefully if you wish to effectively run your life. Use it wisely because you cannot get it back or those time-bound experiences you missed.
Deliberately focus your time and energy only on things that can boost your quality of life. Ask yourself, “Will doing this [thing] positively impact my health, education, career, relationships, or reputation?” Then ask, “Do I truly need this?” Your answer can guide your action.
Managing your time well means you'll have more to spend on self-care and doing activities with loved ones. Life feels more balanced and fulfilling when you achieve all those things, most if not every day.
3. Make decisions that align with your core values
Don't just go along with what everyone's doing. To live consciously is to have a solid idea of who you are as an individual. The awareness extends to knowing the core values and beliefs that shape you. Making life choices that are good and healthy for your well-being becomes easier once you know your personal value system.
People will have a tough time trying to lead you astray. Of course, you'll value people's opinions but won't allow them to impose their beliefs and ideals on you. You'll stand up for what you believe in and distance yourself from people and things that don't align with your lifestyle.
Those who know what they're about and have a hardcore sense of morality aren't easily led astray by circumstances. Like them, you understand that life is filled with challenges and setbacks, some beyond your control. Your sense of awareness can be the one crucial thing that prevents you from making bad decisions to cope.
You understand that unhealthy choices lead to negative consequences and are conscious enough to avoid them.
4. Practice self-awareness
Self-awareness isn't just a concept being thrown around. Knowing yourself and why you do what you do is a key way to live consciously. Being self-aware is also one of the steps to living a life of purpose and feeling like you have a place in the universe. But what does self-awareness really mean?
Psychologist Shelley Duval defines it in her book, A Theory of Objective Self Awareness. She wrote:
“Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don't align with your internal standards. If you're highly self-aware, you can objectively evaluate yourself, manage your emotions, align your behavior with your values, and understand correctly how others perceive you.”
Moreover, the ability to self-regulate keeps you from making emotional and impulsive decisions. In her article, What Is Self-Awareness and Why Is It Important?, BetterUp's Executive Coach, Meredith Betz, said that developing this rare trait is important because it allows us to assess and change course when necessary.
Furthermore, we're able to question our actions to see whether they reflect our personal beliefs.
5. Try mindful living
Mindfulness is an aspect of self-awareness and is one of the keys to living with consciousness. The benefits include stress reduction, reduced anxiety, and an increased sense of well-being. Due to the effectiveness of mindfulness, some behavioral therapists include it as part of cognitive therapy.
To be mindful means to be “conscious or aware of something” in the present moment. Part of the mindfulness technique is learning when to observe your thoughts and feelings and let them go and when to take action.
If you truly desire to live on purpose, the journey requires consciousness of what you're doing, and why you're doing it. You're able to think before you speak and act. It becomes easier to make the right decisions and take responsibility for actions that are harmful to self and others.
Recognizing the effects of poor behavior is an aspect of self-reflection. Looking inward is part of the process of developing healthy attitudes that support your core values.
Note that it's okay to include meditation, yoga, journaling, and positive affirmations as part of your mindful living activities.
6. Spend wisely
Raise your hand if you buy everything you can get your hands on? How many are things you don't need or can't put to use? How many are stored away in public storage you're also paying for monthly? Don't worry, I won't judge. I've had my fair share of impulsive shopping.
Impulsivity (lack of self-control) is a hallmark of unconscious living, and it goes beyond unnecessary spending. As you begin to consciously do things, you'll find yourself making well-thought-out purchases, consuming less, and discarding less.
Those who live a minimalistic lifestyle demonstrate the spend-wisely strategy so well. Their goal is to buy only the basic things necessary to sustain life.
Interestingly, many people who engage in impulsive shopping don't have disposable income, to begin with. Credit card debts and the risk of going bankrupt increase with wild spending.
Truth be told. Living more aware taught me to control the impulse to splurge. Making the shift could mean more income in savings and for use on things like college education for our kids.
7. Take on a growth mindset
Mindset is everything! Your life experiences and overall quality of life depend on it. A growth mindset is key to professional success and happier, healthier living.
Having a positive, forward-thinking mentality often inspires us to make changes for a better life. With a growth mindset, you're aware that you live in a changing world. You also believe your intelligence, skills, and talents can be developed to accommodate changes.
A person with a fixed mindset is typically unwilling to develop new skills or change behaviors that will help them progress. Luckily, mindsets can change and improve with time and effort, similar to how you can develop new habits.
According to a report by Stanford University, “By understanding, adapting and shifting your mindset, you can improve your health, decrease your stress and become more resilient to life’s challenges.”
Final Thoughts on Ways to Live Consciously
Knock! Knock! Time to wake up! Now that you know what it means to live in awareness and how to develop a conscious mindset, are you prepared to do the work? There’s no right or wrong way to live consciously. It all depends on your personal circumstances. You can also research other suggestions for raising your consciousness not discussed here, but here's the bottom line… increasing consciousness is a gradual and intentional process. I recommend you create this new lifestyle by making one change at a time. And keep at it until your life reflects proof of intentional living.