Do you feel like life is happening to you?
Like you’re a feather being pushed along by a random wind over which you have zero control?
Are you disinterested, passionless, or void of motivation?
We’ve been there.
Thankfully, there’s a way to turn things around: live consciously.
But what’s all “the conscious talk” really about? Is it new-age mumbo-jumbo?
Or is conscious living something you should be thinking about, too?
Could it significantly improve your life?
Let’s dive in.
- What Does It Mean to Live Consciously?
- Why Is It Important to Live Consciously?
- 11 Ways To Live Consciously To Make Each Day Count
- The Catch-22 of Conscious Living and How To Overcome It
What Does It Mean to Live Consciously?
Some people confuse living “consciously” with living “conscientiously.”
Though fully aware people tend to be conscientious, they’re not the same.
Conscious living involves awareness; conscientiousness is about diligence.
So what exactly does it mean to live your daily life this way?
In some ways, it depends on the case. But generally speaking, people who live consciously are:
- Aware of their emotions and behavior
- Have a lot of self-discipline
- Excellent at regulating their reactions
- Realistic, compassionate, and thoughtful
- Skilled in time management
- Easily able to acknowledge and apologize for their mistakes
Why Is It Important to Live Consciously?
Living consciously is one of the better ways to navigate life.
Not only does it slow things down, allowing you to appreciate more, but it’s great for your mental and physical health. Benefits include:
- Smarter Decision Making: When you’re more deliberate, you make better decisions.
- Increased Life Satisfaction: Life is much more enjoyable when you have clear goals and a healthy sense of self.
- More Money: Thinking before acting keeps you from buying things you don’t need. You’re also likely to make more when living a conscious life.
- Kinder to Others: People who are more aware of themselves and their surroundings are usually more sensitive to other peoples’ feelings and limitations.
- Better at Life Overall: Life can be more difficult than needed when living according to someone else’s plan. When you take control of your goals and decisions, the sailing is usually smoother.
11 Ways To Live Consciously To Make Each Day Count
If you want to, as they say, “thrive instead of just survive,” conscious living is a must.
But don’t fool yourself into thinking it will be a cakewalk.
Conscious living takes work.
Hey, nothing worth having is easy to get, right?
How to live consciously, however, is the question.
So let’s look at 11 ways — or perhaps it’s 11 steps.
1. Find Your Interests
For some, one of the most challenging things to accomplish on the conscious living path is determining what you want to do with your life.
It can be especially tough for people emerging from a life of depression or anxiety — because a prolonged state of either can be a torturous exercise in abject apathy. You’re not interested in doing or learning anything.
But force yourself to try new things to discover your passions. Once you do, a fulfilling new world will open up to you.
Bonus Tip: If apathy or depression fog your clarity and prevent you from discovering your passions, consider talking to a therapist or life coach (or both). A therapist can help you ferret out the causes of your apathy and confusion, while a coach works with you to figure out actions to take and holds you accountable.
2. Decide Who You Are
Yes, we have free will. But we’re a lot more influenced by our friends, family, and society than we think.
After all, when you live someone else’s dreams and mimic other people’s behaviors, life can be a slog because you don’t enjoy a sense of self.
You’re always chasing the crowd and prioritizing someone else’s standards.
When you get to the marrow of your essence — faults and all — you become much more comfortable in your own skin and less judgmental of others.
Moreover, you’re better able to see your life better, which leads to improved decision-making.
Bonus Tip: Journaling is a super way to find your center — your truth. Committing to just 10 minutes a day can make a world of difference.
3. Set SMART Goals
In a 1981 issue of Management Review, George T. Doran introduced the idea of working SMART, a mnemonic framework for goal-setting, which stood for:
- Specific: Specific benchmarks are much better than vague ones.
- Measurable: Goals should be quantifiable.
- Assignable / Achievable: Whether you’re working on a team or setting personal goals, they should be delegated or reachable.
- Relevant and Realistic: All milestones related to the project should contribute to the ultimate goal and be within the realm of possibility.
- Time-Related / Time-Bound: Goals should have a time frame to encourage forward momentum.
Bonus Tip: When setting goals, break them down into micro-steps and tackle them one at a time. Also, don’t try to do too much at once. Start with one thing.
4. Learn To Manage Your Time
People who live fully awake have superior time-management skills. They juggle their days optimally because they have a clear vision of where they want to go and don’t waste time on unnecessary actions or relationships.
Start small by scheduling a single day. If you don’t stick to it the first try, keep giving it a go. Self-discipline and time management are muscles. The more you exercise them, the stronger they get.
Bonus Tip: Self-discipline and time management are super skills, but they don’t come easily. Don’t let early and frequent failures throw you off your path. Persistence pays off.
5. Align Your Decisions With Your Core Values and Goals
“Should” is a concept that wields considerable control over most peoples’ lives. Too often, however, “shoulds” are dictated by other people.
Living consciously means sculpting your own “shoulds.” What are the goals that you genuinely care about? Is your life a reflection of others’ viewpoints and judgments? Or are you passionate about your opinions, hopes, and core values?
Bonus Tip: Life can be miserable when you’re living for someone else. Work hard to pinpoint your values and passions accurately. Be curious. Question your upbringing and make sure it genuinely aligns with your nature.
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6. Practice Self-Awareness
Self-aware people are much more at ease than folks who let life lead them by the nose.
The goal is to know yourself inside and out. What are your triggers? Why do you have them? What about your personality? Is it a trauma product, or have you worked through your baggage and muck?
Self-aware folks are also in-tune with how others perceive them, which can be helpful professionally and personally.
Bonus Tip: Self-awareness is a valuable asset. It also makes people more pleasant to be around. As such, it’s wise to develop some.
7. Engage in Mindfulness Practices
Do you meditate? Have you ever tried yoga? What about journaling or mindfulness exercises?
In the not-too-distant past, these suggestions may have sounded too “woo-woo” for many people. But the studies are in, and scientists agree they’re all beneficial and help support excellent physical and mental health.
So why not give it a shot? You may find
Bonus Tip: Maybe formal yoga or meditation isn’t your thing. Instead, try stretching daily and spending at least 10 minutes of quiet to clear your head.
8. Spend Wisely
We live in a consumption-saturated world. It’s gotten to a point where we buy impulsively and may not even realize when we do!
But people who live in the present moment think carefully about every purchase.
They ask themselves if the object under consideration is a need or a want and are realistic about their budgets.
Bonus Tip: The less TV or streaming you watch, the less you’ll spend. Too much also dulls the brain.
9. Adopt a Growth Mindset
People who live with a growth mindset tend to find that perfect balance between humility and confidence. They’re always looking to improve themselves and are fully aware that they don’t “know it all.”
Be careful, though, not to focus too much on life’s material aspects. It’s perfectly fine to want nice things.
Striving is not a bad word. Just remember that growing as a person will feel much better in the long run than being preoccupied with money and status.
Bonus Tip: Try not to worry about keeping up with the proverbial Joneses — or Kardashians. Instead, focus on self-improvement, and use only yourself as the only barometer. As Theodore Roosevelt first said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
10. Mind What You Watch
We are what we consume — both physically and mentally.
If you spend your life eating junk food in front of reality programming, there’s little chance of living up to your potential.
Studies prove that binge-watching audio-visual programs dulls your cognitive abilities. Alarmingly, it affects the part of the brain that controls impulses. People addicted to television or streaming may experience a devastating and elongated period of arrested development.
Bonus Tip: Avoid consuming more than one or two hours of shows a day. Doing that will keep you sharp, motivated, and in the best possible health.
11. Cultivate Humility
Arrogance keeps people from reaching their professional and personal potential. For starters, nobody likes a know-it-all. Secondly, humility keeps you curious — and curiosity keeps you interesting, motivated, and malleable.
Bonus Tip: Do an arrogance check on yourself once a week. Are you getting a little too big for your britches? Is your ego getting in the way of your success?
The Catch-22 of Conscious Living and How To Overcome It
We’ve discussed the benefits and explored some examples of living consciously — so we’ll leave a ballast in the form of a little warning:
Don’t let conscious living mutate into stubborn righteousness.
Some people take the idea a little too far. They begin to believe their opinions and viewpoints are the only truth and never take time to assess their own behavior and conditioning.
Part of conscious living is being aware of your surroundings, sensitive to other peoples’ struggles, and appreciative of their strong points.
Avoid arrogance pitfalls by checking in with yourself regularly. Could you be the wrong one? It’s tough to admit our faults. Apologizing is an art, and it isn’t often easy. But the more we do it, the easier it gets. And the easier it gets, the more pleasant you’ll be, and more positive experiences will present themselves to you.
Living consciously is a smart way to live your life. Ultimately, you’ll feel more fulfilled, less anxious, and squeeze more enjoyment out of life.