If you ever feel like you’re drifting through life, living consciously could prove to be a handy anchor. Living consciously isn’t about having all the answers and making all the right decisions. It isn’t about floating peacefully through life without any struggle. It’s simply, doing things with thought and knowing why you are doing them.
It’s a skill that needs practice. Although it sounds like a lot of work, eventually it will turn into a habit that will turn into a lifestyle. And it’s certainly a lot less painful than following an unconsidered path that leads to feeling lost years later.
Living consciously empowers you to take the reins of your life and savour it, rather than going through the motions on autopilot.
‘But why should I bother? My mind is already a minefield!’ This is valid.
Although it sounds like living consciously is more work – it’s not – it’s just a different way of living. Living life on autopilot still takes time and effort. You’re still going through motions, feeling emotions and making decisions. By choosing to live consciously, you are at least choosing what you want to put your time, effort and even thoughts towards.
Where to start living consciously
Living consciously is all about making sure that the actions you take and the decisions that you make are well thought out. It makes perfect sense that you start your conscious living journey with the person that matters most – yourself.
First, understand that you are not your thoughts. Radical right!? You have thoughts, but you aren’t them. Creating separation from your ‘self’ and your ‘thoughts’ gives you power over them. This is essentially what mindfulness and meditation are about. They’re a practice of taking a step back and observing your thoughts. That’s it.
This is a helpful skill to have when you start to live consciously, because you understand that the thoughts you have don’t dictate the action you should take in a situation.
You’ll naturally react to things and the first manifestation of a reaction is an internal dialogue. But this doesn’t have to form the basis of your response to something. For example, a friend might say something that you disagree with. Your inner voice might get deeply offended and even angry – but your response can be completely different. You have the power to see those thoughts in your mind, and choose to respond in a different, more measured, calm and considerate manner regardless of how you feel or what you think. You can consciously respond! Magic!
Being conscious about your thoughts, why you are having them and whether they are worth acting on helps differentiate your emotions and biases from your sense of self. It will give you the space for perspective, reasoning and empathy that can help you choose how to respond in many different situations. In short, being conscious of your thoughts gives you the power to choose which ones will serve you best.
With What You Value
What do you care about? What kind of life do you want to live? What do you want to achieve? These are all important questions that too often, go unanswered in our busy lives. Most of us have a rough idea of what we care about deeply. It could be valuing time with loved ones, social issues, or self-care. The more concrete we are about our values, the more beneficial they become.
If we lived life according to our values, instead of living without direction, or worse, being guided by other people’s expectations – we’d be much better off. Take time to consider what you value and practice bringing these values to the forefront of your consciousness.
That way, more of your decisions will be based on what you want and care about.
Within Your Home
Broadly speaking, living consciously at home is about being mindful of how our home serves us. Rest and refuge are an important part of our wellbeing, so the space that we live in should cater to that.
When you’re at home, you should feel relaxed, safe and filled with joy. Will filling it with more things add to that or take away from it? Asking that sort of question the next time you consider buying something new and bringing it home is living consciously. The goal isn’t to have less stuff, or spend less money: it’s to understand why you want something and decide whether the reasoning is beneficial for you.
Living consciously at home isn’t just behavioural, it’s also about having a deeper understanding of what we bring into our home. The products that we consume at home, be it food, skincare or home cleaning products have an impact on us physically too. So, to live consciously would be to understand how these products affect us.
Simply asking the question: ‘will this make me better or worse off’ is living consciously. If you decide that yes, ‘this chocolate will make me better because it will make me happy’ – that’s living consciously. So is the choice to DIY your skincare because you value natural ingredients.
The flow-on effect of considering your product choices is knowing more about them – and this is a good thing! Knowing more about what is in your products, where they came from, who made them and where your money goes isn’t a prerequisite of conscious living, it’s a very positive by-product.
It gives you more confidence in your products, empowers you as a consumer and can even shape the world around you.
With the Natural Environment
Living consciously with the natural environment is part of understanding how your lifestyle and consumer choices impact the planet. This means that you use what you know, or try to find out more about your impacts on the environment, then act. It doesn’t mean that you’ll always make the right choice, or that you’ll even be fully confident with your choice. This is because everything is connected and the world is fraught with issues – this is inescapable. But by being more conscious about how your actions impact the environment, you can take some of the burdens away.
Every small bit counts.