As we grow and age, many of us fall into the trap of letting life control us rather than controlling life ourselves. When we lose touch with conscious living and let ourselves be swept along instead, we can often lose touch with ourselves, our dreams, and our happiness. When we forget to live consciously, we miss out on so many things that make life worth living.
Our goal in this article is to teach you how to embrace conscious living, stand against the flow, and make our own way in life. When we live consciously, we get so much more out of each day than we would otherwise. The importance of conscious living becomes clear very quickly when you realize what you’re missing out on!
What Is Conscious Living?
Conscious living can mean different things to different people. However, in a broader sense, conscious living means to gain a deeper, greater appreciation for the things happening around you in the present moment. Rather than worrying about what will happen tomorrow or what happened yesterday, someone who lives consciously takes in everything around them in the present.
Conscious living as a concept developed from the desire to connect one’s mind more deeply with their soul and self. Conscious living is almost like living in a state of deep thought, pondering, or meditation. Consider that you are eating an orange, for example. While a typical person would see the orange as an orange, someone who is practiced in living consciously would see the following:
- The orange tree that the fruit came from
- The rain that watered the orange tree
- The soil that feeds the tree and the fruit
- The farmer that tended the tree and grew the orange
- And so on
Conscious Living Every Day
You might be wondering what the benefit of conscious living is. While a greater understanding of the world at large is a fundamentally good thing, not everyone will have the time or the desire for such a thing. However, conscious living shows its usefulness in the way that you use it, not in its definition. Conscious living, as we said before, can take different forms for every person, and as such, it affects everyone differently.
Conscious living has only two steps: awareness and consumption. Awareness is the process of understanding how everything around you affects you, your life, and everything else. It refers to the interconnection of all things, especially how they relate to you.
Consumption, on the other hand, is the act of putting your new-found awareness to work. Perhaps you’re more aware of your bad habits now, and by using your awareness, you can glean knowledge on how to fix these bad habits, too.
Conscious living is all about the connections between all things. Imagine yourself as an entity that takes in and gives out things in equal capacity. What do you take into yourself every day? Are these things good, bad, or neutral to your well-being? Are you giving out positive things to the environment, or are you hurting the people and things around you? These are all consumption-related questions that you should ask yourself.
Tips for Conscious Living
It’s not difficult to learn how to live consciously. However, there is a bit of a learning curve. Since everyone reacts to the process and learns it a bit differently, the way you learn how to cultivate your own awareness may be totally different than anyone else. However, there are plenty of applicable tips for living consciously, so if one strategy doesn’t work, there are plenty of others for you to try.
Learn from What You Want
Asking yourself what exactly you want from yourself and from life is the very most important part of living consciously. Knowing what you want out of life is the first step in removing yourself from the flow going on around you. When you do not know what you want, it’s easy to get sucked up in what’s easy, what’s convenient, or what others want for you.
If you find that you often don’t have an opinion or a stand to take on things, now may be the time to develop one. When you have an opinion on something, it doesn’t mean that you’re rude; rather, it means that you’re well-informed and aware of what’s going on in the world around you. This aligns itself well with living consciously, so make sure to inform yourself and formulate your own opinions on various topics.
You may be judged for having an opinion. Just as you are free to have your own opinion, others are just as free to judge you for it. However, this just means that you will be more aware of the thoughts, perceptions, and personalities of the people around you. If someone else you encounter does not share your opinions or views, they will either engage in a discussion with you about it, or they will make it known that they have no desire to do so.
Either way, if you come across someone that does not respect your views or your right to your opinion, it may be better that you avoid them anyway. One of the benefits of living consciously is the ability to see the true natures of those around you. In this way, you can be much more selective about the people you choose to be your friends and those you avoid.
One of the main purposes of living consciously is to become more cognizant of your own happiness. When you don’t know what you want, it’s impossible to pursue it, of course. Everyone does things for other people out of obligation or caring from time to time, but we can lose the sense of what we want for ourselves when we do this too much.
There are some things in life that we simply cannot get out of doing, no matter how much we dislike them or how they make us unhappy. However, we can make efforts to change these things. To illustrate:
- You can’t just stop doing a job you hate one day since you depend on your job for your livelihood. However, you can take steps to change your situation and work towards your dream job instead.
- If you hate your living situation, you may not have the finances or the opportunity to change it right away. However, with the right preparation, research, and saving habits, you can work towards getting a new place in time.
- You may need to follow certain rules in the workplace, such as a dress code or curfew. However, you have the option of appealing the rules you don’t like, finding work somewhere else, or even just ignoring the rules.
If something truly makes you unhappy, you have the power to change it. If it is worth your time and energy to change, you should try to change it! Every person on this Earth has something different that they want to work for change in, and this will be an essential step for you, too, on your path to living consciously.
Mindfulness is often thought of as similar to consciousness. In a way, mindfulness is one step on the path towards living consciously, and it’s also an important tool in the conscious individual’s arsenal. Mindfulness is knowing the effect that your thoughts, words, and actions will have on the people and things around you.
For example, someone who is not mindful is probably not too careful with their words. While this may not cause trouble for them all the time, there may be times when they offend others as a result. Mindful people, however, are conscientious about how their thoughts and words will be received. They are more willing to speak gently, diffuse tense situations, or avoid speaking altogether if they have nothing nice to say.
Not just words have consequences – actions do, too. In the same way that they watch their words, mindful people monitor their own actions, too. Mindful people are excellent at attracting sensitive friends who may not feel comfortable around the un-mindful, and they can get along with most anyone where a clumsier individual might not.
Have you ever taken the time to just listen to the thousands of things going on around you? At any given time, even if you’re in a peaceful or meditative setting, innumerable things are happening in your immediate vicinity. Life forms are reproducing, your own cells are multiplying, and even the air itself is shifting, moving, and changing.
If you’re entering a contemplative state, take the time to catalog everything that breaks the silence around you. Allow these things to draw you further into the world’s interconnectedness, and consider how they make you think and feel. Some things to pay attention to are:
- Your breathing and heartbeat
- Birds, insects, or frogs singing outdoors
- The hum of buildings around you
- The sound of the wind as it moves through and around various things
- The temperature and feel of the air on your skin
- The motions and breathing of any others in the room with you
You don’t need to have the TV on or music playing to feel conscious and at peace. Once in a while, especially when meditating, take the time to enjoy the silence around you and take note of everything else that you’re connected with today.
Practice Letting Go
Letting go is an art form that all too many of us have problems with. Whether it’s forgiveness, selfishness, or attachment, it sometimes seems against our very nature to let go. However, we must overcome our natures and work towards letting many of these things go. While you don’t need to set ridiculous expectations for yourself, just working towards letting one unnecessary thing go can help you more than you might think.
We are often taught that the more attachments and symbols of wealth we have, the better off we will be. However, because of this, we tend to underestimate the positive effect that purging unnecessary things can have on our lives. This can be people, things, or even lingering grudges that are holding us back.
Material things are the easiest to let go for most of us. It may seem frivolous, but take the time to go through one room in your house next time you’re feeling particularly conscious. Pack everything you haven’t used in the last year or two into a box or a trash bag, then give these items to your local donation facility. Doing this clears up your mind and your living space for things that can bring you joy in the present instead of the past.
Embrace Your Pickiness
Pickiness is often regarded as a bad thing. However, while pickiness isn’t always something to be celebrated, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, either. Pickiness is an integral part of what makes us unique individuals. If none of us were picky, there would be nothing to tell us apart from our neighbors, personality-wise.
As such, there is no reason to feel self-conscious about your pickiness and your other quirks. While we can sometimes bear the brunt of teasing if we’re picky or quirky, it truly is nothing to be ashamed of as long as you keep it under control. Pickiness to the point that you can no longer enjoy life to the fullest is counterproductive and does need to be brought under control.
Your pickiness is what makes you you, but it isn’t the only thing that makes you you, either. Remember never to take your pickiness too far or to expect things that are outside of your means. If pickiness goes too far, it can quickly turn into snobbishness or entitlement instead, and these are things to be avoided at all costs.
Some small things that you should feel comfortable being picky about include:
- Your friends. There is no reason to keep negative, unsupportive or otherwise derogatory people in your life.
- Your food. We all have different tastes, and you have every right to eat the things you want to eat. However, be careful not to restrict your diet to the point that it affects your health.
- Your clothes. Your clothing style is all your own, and you should never be afraid to express that. Whether your style is long or short, baggy or tight, or bright or dark, it is special and unique to you.
Tune-In and Tune-Out
This section refers to two different things: tuning in and tuning out. Tuning in refers to attuning yourself to what you want and need, just like we discussed earlier in the article. Tuning out refers to turning away from society’s demands for you and making your own path. While our society is a wonderful thing, it has no right to tell you who you should or should not be.
If you’re looking to live consciously, you should already be working on your attunement with what you want and need. However, tuning out of what society pressures you to do is just as important. While it’s important to act inside the law and live a respectable life, within those bounds, you should be whatever and whoever you want to be. No one has any right to tell you how you should act, dress, or speak.
The way that society expects you to live is by no means the only way. However, this way is based on the best way, so it can be good to follow it if you’re feeling unsure. Earning enough money to live comfortably and still saving some every month, for example, is an essential part of growing up and securing your own livelihood. However, how you do this is entirely up to you.
It’s important to have faith that you as a person are valuable, unique, and special. As such, living consciously involves fostering your own confidence and courage in yourself and the way you decide to do things. To be self-aware and live in a conscious, open way, you need to be confident that the choices you make are correct and entirely yours.
As such, believing in yourself and your own choices is a precious trait to gain as you travel your road towards conscious living. Feeling confident in your choices and ideas, whether they’re right or wrong, is one of the hallmarks of a conscious individual. As an added bonus, the consciousness that you’ve gained on your journey will help you to make informed decisions, helping you to feel even more confident in them.
Confidence in your lifestyle choice is important, too. It’s common that those who do not live consciously do not understand (or have no desire to understand) those who make the effort to live consciously. When facing derision, scorn, or discrimination from others, it’s important to remember why you made those choices and what got you to where you are today.
Just Say No
You might think that saying “no” would be counterproductive when trying to foster an open, conscious mindset in your everyday life. However, living consciously is tied exceptionally closely to living happily and pursuing your own wants. So, in order to promote this happiness, it’s important to get more comfortable with telling others “no.”
We have all acquiesced to a request or demand of someone close to us at some point because they were important to us. Either we cared about how they thought of us or we cared about them as a person, prompting us to do something for them even if we didn’t want to. This is normal, and in moderation, it’s perfectly okay. However, it is very, very easy to lose yourself in pandering to others if you let it grow out of control.
Taking time to yourself is important even for unconsciously-living human beings, and even more so for those of us who live consciously. As such, you will need to practice saying “no” to people more. Before saying yes to something that you don’t want to do, try to consider the following:
- Will you hurt the feelings of anyone close to you if you say no?
- Will you harm any important relationships if you say no?
- Do you care if you answered “yes” to either of the previous questions?
- Will saying yes benefit you? Will saying no benefit you?
- Do you really want to do this?
No one can force you to do something that you don’t want to do. Sometimes, our ability to say “no” is contingent on the ramifications of saying no – like at work, for example – but there is always a way to pursue your “no” if it is something you truly desire. Like we touched on before, if there is something you really want to say “no” to, you can always get there eventually, even if it takes time and effort.
Embrace Your Truths
Reality is a strange thing. Every single person on this Earth experiences reality in a slightly different way thanks to the way our human brains work. As such, you must stay faithful to your own interpretation of reality, not anyone else’s. After all, someone else’s reality may be entirely different than yours, and what they think and feel may not apply.
It’s very important, then, to keep several truths, morals, and ethics close to your heart at all times. Who do you believe in? Do you believe in a higher power, or do you believe in something else? Do you stand behind your family, or have you left them behind? What essential life lessons have you learned over the course of your life that have made you who you are today?
Embracing your truths also means to stay true to yourself in other ways. Being honest with yourself is of primary importance. It’s not possible to open up your mind, body, and soul to the connectedness of everything around you if you’re not honest with yourself first. Once you’ve gotten honesty with yourself down, being honest with others comes next, and this can be just as difficult, if not more so.
Respect Your Time
One of the very few unchangeable factors that limit our human lives is time. Time marches on every single day, regardless of what we do to slow it down or speed it up. It’s important to respect time itself as well as the time we have since time itself is unchangeable and immutable. When we waste our time, there is no way to get it back.
As such, your time should be one of your most precious possessions, if not the very most precious one. None of us have any way of knowing when our time will run out, so we need to treat our time with the utmost respect and care. However, what we deem to be important enough to use our time on varies widely between each of us, and that’s perfectly okay.
Some people believe that their time is best spent working hard, achieving, and learning new things. This is an excellent self-view, but it is not the only correct one. In fact, the human who decides their time is best spent lounging all day is just as correct as the one above. Your time is yours alone, and what you decide to do with it, as well as what is the most important thing to do with it, is yours to define.
Meditation is one of the most important tricks for planning a more conscious lifestyle. When we’re in a meditative state, we are naturally more aware of what’s within and around us, so the practice of meditating is excellent for developing a conscious living state. Whether we meditate to look inward or to look outward, the act can only help us.
Meditation is also an excellent activity to add to your routine because of how flexible it is. Meditation can be done just about anytime, anywhere – if you have the right tools, that is. You might need a set of noise-canceling headphones or a pair of earplugs if you plan to meditate in public, but in the same way, the sounds of a bustling city can be just as therapeutic for active meditators. Not every meditator does so in perfect quiet.
Setting aside time for daily meditation is a reliable way to get started, but meditation is workable into just about any routine. Meditation can be worked into something like a short lunch break with a bit of creativity, and it can also be done while doing other things, such as jogging, working, or listening to music.
Meditation can also last for varying amounts of time. You might find those short bouts of meditation work best for you, or you might find that you can only truly interconnect when you have a decent stretch of time to spend by yourself. Alternatively, you might prefer to meditate with another person or under the direction of an expert or guide. The beauty of meditation is that it is flexible enough to be used in all of these scenarios, so you can always choose which works best for you.