The journey to living more mindfully can begin at any time, whenever you make the decision to do so — and myriad benefits await
Letting yourself drift through life can be tempting, especially if you find decisions hard to make. However, this approach denies you the greatest experiences life can offer. If you begin wondering why you’re unhappy with your circumstances, consider these tips for living consciously.
The first step in living consciously is understanding who you are and what your situation is. What do you love doing? What do you believe? Are you healthy? Are you happy? You can’t create a fulfilling life experience without knowing your own goals. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you aren’t quite living consciously.
Determine what you want your life to resemble. You may want to consider practicing meditation. Get in contact with your inner thoughts and revel in the clarity it provides. Recognize that it’s okay to voice your opinions. It’s not selfish to say what you want as long as others are taken into account. When you pinpoint what makes you happy, think of ways to prolong it.
The next step in this process is accepting who you are. You’re not perfect. No one is. Allow yourself to let past mistakes go. If a bad past decision comes into your mind during the night, remind yourself of the present. Be thankful that the mistake happened so you could learn from it. This will help you begin the process of letting go. Find love for everything you are. If there’s a part of you that you find entirely unacceptable, be grateful that you have the drive to fix it.
Listen to Your Inner Voice
After acceptance, you should begin listening to your inner voice. The key here is to strive to live in alignment with your true beliefs and values. We can all be persuaded to act in a manner that may be incongruent, especially when we’re influenced by peer pressure, ego-based desires, or the myriad belief and behavior systems that we’ve downloaded from our parents, peers and our society setting. To live consciously means to be constantly monitoring whether these beliefs and patterns even ‘fit’ us anymore, and if not… change them. Listen to that inner, intuitive voice — it will guide you towards a life of alignment.
Reflect on Your Lifestyle
Next, reflect on how you are conducting your life. One important aspect of this is feeling. Without awareness of how you are feeling, you are more likely to practice unconscious decision-making. Does pondering a decision in one direction feel energizing or depleting?
Listen to your body — it will guide you. Look for those activities that give you more vitality and joy.
For instance, if your morning workout drains you, consider hydrating more, sleeping more, or even a pre-workout supplement. Next, think about your daily activities and job. Are you doing what makes you happy? Do your activities positively impact the world? If you are not excited to begin your work each day, it may be time to change your occupation.
Think on how much your choices are influenced by others. If you run each day with your friends but would rather swim, go with your gut. Does drinking a kombucha or green juice sound more energizing than a cocktail with a friend after work? Do that. This is when knowing — and following — your own desires comes in. Don’t let the agendas of others dictate how you live. Having two kids and a white picket fence might not be your thing, and that’s okay.
Finances are also important to consider. How are you spending your money? When you make purchases, give conscious consideration to their importance. If it is non-essential and doesn’t provide substantial benefit, save your money for something else. Does the idea of a certain purchase feel joyful and expansive or flat and constricting? Listen to that. By being more mindful with your monetary spending, you open up more opportunities for long-term investments. Create a plan for your finances. A tangible road map for what you want to invest in will guide your decision-making.
A final important part of the reflection process is analyzing what you can abandon.
Toxic entities in your life — relationships, foods, media consumption, etc. — aren’t worth the resulting stress and dissatisfaction. Have the strength to get rid of them.
Make Compassionate Decisions
The final step in living consciously is making healthy decisions in day-to-day life. Try to eliminate the negative emotions you feel. It’s human nature to be cynical, jealous or judgmental, but getting rid of these unhappy emotions makes room for joyful ones. Why waste time being angry at someone when you can choose to be happy? If forgiveness is out of the question, focus on resolving the issue to your best ability and moving on. Resentment will hurt you more than the other party.
Next, experiment in the art of appreciation. If you have dinner with your family every night, be thankful for it each time. If you see a beautiful vista, have gratitude for it. Even on tough days, there is something to be thankful for — celebrate that. Humans are quick to discuss unpleasant situations, but are prone to ignore the gratifying one’s right under their noses.
Live in the moment and welcome the now.
The practice of giving can also elevate the energy of your day. Monetary gifts and gestures of service are wonderful, but if they may not be an option for you, even the gift of acknowledgement or a compliment can go a long way. Giving doesn’t require an analysis of its merit, so carrying it out is a freeing and enjoyable experience.
Engage in keeping track of your ego. Letting the ego control your life creates superiority complexes, stemmed from insecurity and riddled with judgment. By recognizing that presence, you are taking the first step towards alleviating it. Don’t let it compare you with everyone else. You are enough. Keep the phrase “think before you speak” in mind during conversations. Your words can be more powerful — or harmful — than you know. Think of all the times you’ve over-analyzed an unintentionally hurtful phrase. If what you’re about to say has the potential to hurt, try and put it in an inspirational light. Lastly, think about what triggers any negative emotions you may have towards others. Experiment with ways to calm these triggers and find internal peace.
Making the transition to living consciously will cause an immediate change, and its effects on your life will be longstanding and powerful. You only have one lifetime, so don’t waste it on unnecessary or harmful behaviors. If you can truly listen to yourself and also practice compassion for yourself and others, you will begin living life more consciously and joyfully — and you’ll never turn back.
You may also enjoy reading BECOMING: Beyond Achieving, Acquiring, Doing…Who Are You Becoming? by Kristen Noel